Major revision…critiques welcome

Home James – By Sarah

“I’m gonna na…” the man stopped for a second, trying to remember what he was going to say. “..gonna… name my kid yer name! Benny!”
The inebriated man reached forward from the back seat and slapped his hand on his driver’s shoulder.
“Thas…’ow much I’s like ya,” he said proudly.
“Awh gees Jerry. I like you too.” Guy peeled Jerry’s sweaty hand from his shoulder and gently pushed him back against his seat. “I mean, Benny isn’t my name,” he said glancing in the rearview mirror, “but apparently you think it is, so I’m flattered.”

Being a designated driver wasn’t the most glamorous, well paying job in the world, but Guy found it strangely satisfying.
Sure, sometimes the clients threw up on the back seat, but it would be in their cars anyway.
That was part of their service, to deliver the inebriated…and their car…safely back home. That’s why they rode these sweet collapsible scooters from pick up to pick up. It was convenient and it spared the employees the smell of chum in their personal rides. Even so, Guy was never repelled by that sort of stuff.
He preferred to use it as a reminder of how he never ended up. Most guys in his situation would be there, sitting in their own puke, warding off thoughts of what they should have done or where they could be. But not Guy, he was better than that.
It was something completely different from the lifestyle he had lived in high school. It was a humbling job in comparison. No one ever forgot his name during his four glorious years at Lincoln High School. No one ever forgets the celebrities of their youth.

Guy whizzed past the high school on his way to the next customer pick up. It wasn’t the most direct route to the boulevard, but he liked riding past to see the football field.

His helmet cocked to the right as he starred at the road and remembered the last game he played on that finely manicured grass.

He kept the picture in his head as he got off his scooter and with a slight limp, walked over to call for what he hoped would be his last customer of the night.
To most people James was simply known as That Guy. He found this fact to be especially true in college where the few women he encountered would introduce him as “that guy who introduced them to so-and-so” or “that guy who helped me get my favorite cereal from the top shelf at Safeway.” Ever since this truth became apparent, his friends started calling him Guy.
“Hey Guy,” his boss greeted him as he walked into the break room.
“Hey boss,” Guy greeted the short, stubby man, then continued with a request. “I have a few things I need to take care of,” he said casually as he punched out his card in the clock. “Could I run the kindergarten tomorrow night?”
It was called the kindergarten shift because it was the night zone where children meet as they go out for their first times. The new kids would be totally hammered by 5pm and at home by 9pm. They guys usually requested this shift if they had made plans that night and wanted to get out of work early.

“I suppose,” murmured his boss, considering who could fill in, “but you know the drill. You have to find someone to cover you.”

“No problem, I’ve already made a few calls. If anything, I’ll pull in one of the older rookies.”

Guy finished his paperwork hastily and raced home. He had some serious planning to do. He’d found his chance tonight. He had to make sure he executed this play perfectly.
“Oh MAN!” he punched the air. He was so excited he didn’t know what else to do with all his energy. He had to tell someone what happened and get a second opinion on what to do.
“Hey Frank.” He’d decided to call Frank, his number one dude of dudes.
Frank answered the phone with a groggy voice.
“Crap Guy, it’s 3 in the morning.”
“I know, I just got off work. I figured you’d still be up. It’s Saturday.”
“I know, I would be but I…”
“You met someone tonight, didn’t you?!” Guy cut in, “Frankster, you old dog! It’s that cute red head you met the other night, huh?”
“No…well, yes, but it’s not like that,” Frank stumbled over his words, trying to clear the sleep from his head.
“Well…dish it out man. I’ve got quite a story to tell too. But I wanna hear yours first.”
“It’s nothing big. But yea, I have plans with the red…I mean, with Traci. I’m going to church with her in the morning.”
“Oh man, you’re working the choir? I never would have thought.”
“Yea,” Frank rolled over in his bed and yawned, “So what gives, what’s your story?”
“You’ll never believe who I picked up tonight…Marty Fields!”

Frank’s eyes shot open at hearing the name. Now things made sense.
“Dude, you’ve been drinking. Are you joking?
“The Marty Fields? You’re talking about the same Marty that ran off and married your girl after you busted your knee senior year, right?”

Guy felt his face grow hot as he remembered how Marty smirked at him as he wrapped his arm around Cassie’s slim waist. He remembered how the grass itched against his cheek as he watched them walk off the field; helmet’s clanking against each other on top of him.

“He didn’t steal her,” he snapped, “Her mother insisted….”

“Yea, yea Guy. I know,” Frank cut in, “her family pressured her to marry Marty because he was more ‘financially stable’” Frank made quotations with his fingers as if Guy could see him, “and in a better position to take care of her than you were.”

“I’d just busted my knee! For Christ’s sake, what was I supposed to do?” Guy started up as though he were under the interrogation like for the first time, “It’s not like the college market was lining up at our graduation – waiting to hand a scholarship to the first ex-quarterback, now wheelchair bound for three months, chum they saw.”

“Dude, it’s in the past and you’re walking again. So get over it and tell me what happened tonight.” Frank, sensing Guy’s rising anxiety again, quickly changed the subject. “You picked up Marty and then what? Did you fight him?”

“No. He was too sauced. I don’t think he recognized me. He and his buddies were still slop jawing shots when I got there.”

“So you just rounded him up and took him home? Not a word more?”

“I didn’t know what to say. Besides, it gets better. I ask him for his address, knowing very well where he and Cassie live….and he tells me to take him to his girlfriend’s place because it’s closer.”

“What the hell!? Is he not married anymore? Or was he too drunk to remember Cass?”

“Oh, he’s still married. I watched him fumble to pull his ring off his left hand to shove it on his right.”

“Dude, that’s a bummer.”

“I know. But not really. Don’t you see Frankster? This is my chance…”

“Man, don’t be lame. You can’t just knock on her front door and be like “Hey, your husband’s a jerk…but here I am!”

“Why not? I mean, she’ll be looking for a shoulder to cry on, right?”

Guy leaned back in his chair and pictured her tear-stained face and cute freckled nose, small and pink from sniffling.
“I’d just make my shoulder more-than-available. That’d be my in.”

Frank shook his head as he thought about it. “Guy, that’s kinda jacked, don’t you think? You’ve never been the kind to pull crap like that before.”

“I’m not pulling crap. She left me for Mr. Stability. She didn’t leave because she didn’t want me anymore. I know she’d take me back. I may not be able to give her financial stability, but I could give her what’s more important.” Guy sat up as he felt more convinced of what he was saying. “I could give her relational stability. I’d never leave her, I’d never step out on her….Not like him, Frank. Not like Marty.”

“Guy…” Frank tried cutting in.

“I’d be so much better…”



“It’s late. Go to bed man.”

“But I haven’t…”


The phone clicked as Frank hung up and Guy sat for a while with the phone in his lap. He thought of her.

He remembered how they used to sit on the bleachers after he got done with football practice, and she’d finished cheerleading practice. They’d talk about what life was going to be like when they graduated.
“We’ll have two kids, two cars, two dogs, and the two of us!” she’d say to him as she leaned back against his shoulder.
“What about our house? Are we going to have two houses? We’re probably going to need two houses to hold the two of everything else,” he laughed.
“No. Just one house,” she said, playing with the strings on his varsity sweatshirt. “But it’s going to have a red door. I like red doors, don’t you? It just has an open-arms, ‘come on in!’ feeling to it.”
“Can our house be sage?” He joked. He always laughed at how she had some fancy name for the most basic colors, like green.
She punched him flirtatiously in the chest. “Are you mocking my extensive color vocabulary, Sir?”
He didn’t answer. He just kissed her.


Guy pulled his scooter from the trunk and watched a dark-haired woman in a green dress greet Marty at the door. She placed one hand on his shoulder and stood on her tip-toes as she raked her long cherry red nails threw his short hair. Guy pulled the bill from his pocket and placed it on the console behind the steering wheel. He locked the door and turned to hand the keys to his customer.
His customer was still busy, going at it on the porch.
Then he got an idea.
He quickly pulled out his digital camera from the side bag of his scooter. They were required to carry one in case of an accident.
He knelt down along side the scooter, pretending to fix something, and aimed the camera at the lovers. He snapped a half-dozen shots and glanced at the screen to make sure they came out clear. Satisfied, he shoved the camera back into the bag. Straightening, he walked up to the couple and cleared his throat. They still didn’t notice him.
Giving up, he put the keys in Marty’s jacket pocket and set the coat on the bench next to the door and left.
He’d done his job.


Guy drove by the field again on his way to his next pick up. He’d asked for the kindergarten shift again because he had plans to surprise his wife tonight to make up for the fight they had last week.
It’s been almost two years since he won her back from Marty Fields.
He gave himself a pat on the back every time he pictured her on their wedding day. She was beautiful.

He pulled up in front of Drew’s Bar and Grill and found his customer hanging from his almost-sober friend’s neck.
“Heeeyyyy!!!” The man flapped his arm in Guy’s direction and looked back at his friend. “I guess thisss…” he stopped mid-sentence, distracted by an invisible spot on his friend’s shirt.

Guy folded and loaded his scooter into the trunk of the man’s car.
“So where ya headed buddy?” he asked as he carefully buckled the man in and tossed his jacket next to him on the back seat.

“My girlfriendsssss…….’spectin’ me. She’s…she’s,” he chuckled to himself as he saw his breath fog the window.

“Where does she live?” Guy asked patiently.

Sighing, Guy reached back and retrieved the man’s jacket on the back seat, and found his wallet in the pocket.

Slid under the plastic window in front of his license, Guy found a Target receipt with a street name scribbled on the back. Underneath the name, in familiar loopy cursive was written, “Sage house, red door….the light will be on.”
It was his address.

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One Response to “Major revision…critiques welcome”

  1. trademehalos says:

    Well, it may be a little late for commentary…but I liked the first version better. It makes the reader intrigued because you don’t really know what’s going on at first; but, there’s enough action to keep the story going without losing interest before you explain Guy’s background.
    This version seemed a little more ordinary. I was thinking Guy was older…out of college maybe, but he and his friend sounded like early year college guys because of “dude” all the time. Then I was thinking, “do guys talk like this on the phone with each other?” I’m not really sure because I’m not a guy…but they always say that they don’t call each other just to talk. 😛
    The transition from 2 to 3 was a little abrupt. I think maybe its the way you open it by saying he drove by the field again…making it seem like it’s the same night or the next night but it’s really years later.
    And the ending was sad! Although, it was unexpected, so if you were going for that you got it.
    I think if you figured out a way to combine both, the story would be a lot better. It would be a fuller more complex version, with everything you wanted to say. But…anyway, I liked reading both and your ability to write a very good and convincing story amazes me every time. (for example, how you came up with Guy’s nickname. Or the idea of putting in keychains in the first story…that was interesting. I’m not sure if I would have thought of that aspect of the business, but it was good).

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