The Fine Art of Flopping

This month’s AW Blog Chain Challenge is a good one for me.  Setting the Scene: write a location description, and make us feel as if we are there. I’m lousy at this sort of thing, so it’s good for me to stretch a bit. I asked my husband to pick a location for me to describe and I got to work. Please click the links after the snippet to read writers who are much better at this stuff than me. I’ll be updating the links as more writers join the chain.

* * *

It had never been a pretty building. It had been built ugly and had only gotten worse as the years passed. The floors were uneven, the thinning walls held up by the multiple layers of paint and the hidden spaces crammed with a million cockroaches. It smelled of must and rat poison, of sweat and tears and hopelessness.

I spent my nights chain-smoking and listening to the neighbors through the open windows.

“Dude, remember the night Charlie took that beating and all the blood in the snow . . .”   followed by hysterical laughter and the sound of yet another beer being cracked open.

All the residents of the flophouse had stories, though people were careful never to ask. The woman who slunk down the hallway,  never ever making eye contact; the skinny guy who looked like he was dying of something painful. They all just sort of faded into the garish seventies wallpaper and the broken furniture and after a while everything seemed normal.

The bed had an enormous sagging spot right in the middle and it took a lot of mental strength to not think of all the people who had slept and sweated and fornicated in it. I was just the latest. Turning the mattress was not a good idea. The other side had an equally enormous stain caused by something I didn’t want to imagine, but couldn’t help pondering. My dreams were as vile as my surroundings.

Leaving was always a simple pleasure. From the dank gloom to the endless California sunshine, the possibilities were suddenly endless again. The palm trees, furry and overgrown, stood guard over the entrance, the crumbling steps splattered with the remains of a drunken date with a bad burrito.

I dreaded returning. Nevertheless, I called it home.

* * *

orion_mk3 – (link to this month’s post)
juniper – (link to this month’s post)
LadyMage – (link to this month’s post)
You are here
jkellerford – (link to this month’s post)
Ralph Pines – (link to this month’s post)
AuburnAssassin – (link to this month’s post)
pezie – (link to this month’s post)
Inkstrokes – (link to this month’s post)
WildScribe – (link to this month’s post)
Guardian – (link to this month’s post)
Lyra Jean – (link to this month’s post)
egoodlett – (link to this month’s post)
cwachob – (link to this month’s post)
Aheïla – (link to this month’s post)
faerydancer – (link to this month’s post)
TheMindKiller – (link to this month’s post)

About Diane Dooley

Writer, Mother, Geek
This entry was posted in Blog Tours, Hops and Chains, The Writing Life. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to The Fine Art of Flopping

  1. Katherine Gilraine says:

    I have the impression that those houses, dated and dilapidated, are dotted everywhere…and this is precisely how it feels to be in one of those. Nicely done!

  2. I think you did a great job! I think my favorite line was this one (how disturbed am I?): “The bed had an enormous sagging spot right in the middle and it took a lot of mental strength to not think of all the people who had slept and sweated and fornicated in it.”

    I know a flophouse is kind of a place for transients and you get kind of a dim vibe from the whole existence. But the line about the California sunshine makes it feel a little hopeful. Like the character might just make it out on the better end of things later on.

  3. ralfast says:

    Feels like the low point of the characters life, but that things can turn around. I was surprised that it was in California, I expected a dark mid-west city, maybe during the the Great Depression.

  4. J.D. says:

    You know what the worst part about reading that is? I kept thinking “Been there…” Sometimes we give up on the comforts of life to reach for bigger dreams.

    Very well done, I liked it, and it definitely reminds me of where I don’t want to end up. That’s the motivation of a place like that! The “simple pleasure” of leaving as you said… the joy of finding a way to get out of it permanently, too.

  5. Proach says:

    Creepy. I really feel for the person living there. This scene actually invoked a mixture of fear, sadness and concern inside of me. Well done!

  6. Dale Long says:

    And you are bad at this how?

    Wow! I love the image of all the desperate and hopless people fading into the wallpaper like odours! That is a definite “Damn! I wish I wrote that” moment.

  7. Lyra says:

    As I was reading this for some reason it reminded me of the short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the description of the bed and how he didn’t want to flip the mattress because the stain on the other side was of unknown content. Or at least he didn’t want to confirm what he thought it might be.

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  9. Jen says:

    This was excellent! You had me in your spell from the first paragraph to the last. I loved the opening paragraph, and when you got to the part of the cockroaches, I actually cringed. I could picture this place so vividly in my mind. And not only the place, but the feelings of hope and despair. Well done!

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  11. Ellen says:

    ewwww gross and I love it! the cockroaches, yikes. And the description of the mattress was perfect and horrifying 😉

  12. Ruth E Day says:

    Well, you’re better at this than I am. I’m absolute rubbish. I still have no idea what I’m going to pos t when my turn comes around…

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  14. Oh my, that was…wonderful! Fantastic, original descriptions really worked for me, especially this: “the crumbling steps splattered with the remains of a drunken date with a bad burrito.” :::drools with jealousy::::

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  18. I think you did a great job here. Lots of emotion written into it.

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