Writing 101, Day 8: Report on what you see. Get detailed without the use of adverbs.
Writing 101, Day 6: Character study of a person you have met for the first time, the past year.
I started a new job this week and couldn’t find time to write over the past few days. So, I’m going to infuse missed assignments into current ones.
I take my position in the driver seat. I step on the brake pedal and release the parking brake. A light on my dashboard goes off. Nothing to worry about though; it is just an indication that I am ready to move off. Instincts dictate I turn my head to check my side mirrors. I am blinded; not literally of course. My side mirrors are folded. It is deliberate and unwise. I am expected to gain my bearing from my ground guides.
I look through the large rectangular glass panel in front of me. A plethora of activities go on at the same time. A sea of burly figures trudge around with heavy metal chains in their hands. Perspiration glint in the Sun’s unmerciful rays as they roll off the pores of the hardworking men. They seem unaffected by the sweltering heat as they hook the chains onto the tanks and the ground beneath them. I search for a familiar face. I find my front guide crouched at a secluded corner of the vessel. He takes a last drag off of his cigarette and stubs it with the sole of his boot. He walks past a sign that says, ‘No Smoking in the Vessel’.
My guide mounts a tank, a few metres ahead of mine, to leverage himself. He scans his surroundings and makes eye contact with the rear guide. I sit upright in anticipation. He raises both his arms, signalling me to prepare myself. I engage the gear with ease and honk the horn. He directs me to move forward. Manoeuvring the bay of a ship, already parked with 12 other tanks, can be really tricky. But I trust him.
Just then, a figure appears from the corner of my windscreen panel. I recognise the imposing posture and pace of his walk. Goddamn it, what is Fred doing here?
Fred is a self-important pompous asshole.
There, I have said it.
When Fred speaks, he speaks about himself. If the conversation digresses, he deflects it right back to himself. The last time he caught me off guard, I was forced to gain useless information about his regal house in Los Angeles; rarely lived-in apartment in Singapore; the obscene price he paid for his watch; and how exhausted he was from having to do almost everything himself because he couldn’t trust his subordinates. That was a good 15-minutes of my life that went down the gutter.
Fred is the logistics consultant that the Army contracted to oversee the transportation of our tanks. A mistake, if you ask me. But I can understand why the Army was persuaded. The way Fred carries himself is exceptional. He speaks with charisma and exudes confidence. He sweet-talks you with his fake American accent, and you buy it. Perhaps, it takes skill to decipher his bullshit. Correction; you actually just have to work with him first-hand to decode him. When you strip him of his mask, you will see his eyes glisten with power, control and narcissism.
Fred positions himself in front of my guide and raises his arms. His signal conflicts my guide’s. I refuse to comply. I come to a halt and signal for them to work it out among themselves.
As predicted, my front guide loses the argument. He hunches his shoulders in defeat and walks away for another cigarette. Fred has the gift of igniting one’s desire for a cigarette to relief his ensuing exasperation. I suppress my need to roll my eyes and prepare to take instructions from the man I loathe.
He guides me close to the walls of the ship. I glance at the window on my right. All I see is silver metal. I cannot ascertain how close I am to it. Just then, I feel it.
I vibrate as my tank leaves its mark along the metal wall.
“Fuck! I am not going down for this shit!” I swear.