Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Western in 30 Days -- Zilch

Saturday--Sunday--Monday,  a long holiday in Japan, and a busy weekend with church activities. Results on Western. Nil. I'm not counting these days. But rather than leave you with nothing to read, here's something from a few years ago. Needless to say, I was not feeling up to snuff on that particular day.

The face, in a former day.

The face

The road, paved with intentions; the face fresh, with unwrinkled brow and forthright blue-eyed gaze. He decided to be an electrical engineer, but flunked calculus and organic chemistry in the same semester; played baseball instead. He joined the Marines, thought he'd make the Corps a career. Two years later, he was back in school aiming for a degree in history. He learned Japanese, went to grad school, fought with his advisor, quit. Worked to support a wife and son. Gave marketing a whirl, became export manager in Hong Kong. Fooled around. Sailed to the Chinese border and got turned back by CHICOM gunboats. Worked with Vietnamese refugees. Philandered, divorced; threw away two sons; wept, and gladly paid support. He jumped into the ad game, met that girl; eloped despite her parents' rage. He dreamed of sailing endlessly from bay to bay. She had a baby girl. He spun records until midnight, hawked ads by day, and tried to learn to write. Voyaging remained a dream. Two years of rejections, then an article to Dog Fancy, another to Scholastics, and a third to Highlights for Children. He wrote a novel. No one was interested. Scripps League Newspapers hired him as a reporter. He covered the voyage of the Hokulea, from Oahu to Tahiti and back. He won prizes. She was an only child and her parents were aging; they returned to Japan. They both wrote copy. She won prizes, and bore another daughter. He did more copy, and a TV series for a cable channel. He wrote short stories. No one was interested. Newsweek bought his advertorials, Japan Intersect ran his profiles, Tokyo Journal did his crime articles, Photonics International hired him to write on high-tech solutions, the International Herald Tribune came to him for news. He wrote poems and senryu. No one was interested. Another daughter came, and another. PHP took his book on business letters; Jitsugyo published the one on English loan words; he edited a series on Living in Japan; he wrote a book on English for Japanese scuba divers. He wrote a novel; no one was interested, so he wrote another. Same result. The face in the mirror, wrinkled and splotched, grew extra chins; the blue eyes now rheumy, myopic, squinty -- not the face for a book jacket. But the paved road remains, and he still tries. Still.

An artist's conception of what The Face may look like now.

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(c) Charles T. Whipple

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