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Author Topic: Emerald Hill Comix  (Read 164 times)

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Offline Manimal Claus

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Emerald Hill Comix
« on: October 31, 2019, 07:40:54 AM »
EMERALD HILL COMIX
A mundane story of normal people getting by in a small Canadian city of faltering glory. Ellie Jakomäki a freshly out of college officer worker grows interested in Warren Wasko, the new owner of downtown comic store Emerald Hill Comix. This is a story of the small worlds of two characters coming together and the little pieces that give the city it's character.


Chapter 1 : COMEBACK

Spoiler
NOTES : This is a very rough draft, I haven't edited it yet, I'm just writing to write again and worrying about making it nice later! Enjoy!

"Now Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more
They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back"

-Bruce Springsteen

       "I threw them all away, I didn't need them", Warren spoke softly, flipping through the pages of the latest X-Men comic. It was the same played out story, given in monthly installations.
       "Then what do you need?", Ellie Jaakimaki asked, leaning over the glass counter. Her brown purse hung down her back and she lightly stomped her black wedge sneaker against the carpeted floor.
       "Enough business to keep the lights on”, Warren replied. “Are you going to buy anything, or are you going to just question me all day?" Warren calmly slid the comic he was reading back into it's plastic board.
       Ellie pouted as Warren turned around to place it in a box on the other side of the counter. She pulled at the strings of her black hoodie and shifted her position. "I'm just curious,” Ellie said. “I've been interested in the kind of person who runs a shop like this.”
       Ellie stood up, looking around at the small but densely packed store. Comic books were neatly organized all along the walls, with newsstands full of new issues and racks of backlog. A section of graphic novels filled bookshelves that made up the back wall.A set of stairs lead to an even busier basement packed with comic boxes. One could spend all day in the shop and not even see every item in the store.
       "You must have nothing better to do with your time. There is nothing interesting about me, and there is certainly nothing I intend on telling you," Warren said as he adjusted his posture on the stool and went back to the computer. He typed furiously on the keyboard as he updated his online stock. Afterall, was a Thursday: the day after new comics were released.
 
       Typically every week he received a new shipment, of which he and a part time employee, paid half by store credit, distributed the issues into bags for all the people who had subscribed to the store. A customer could state the titles they were interested in and have them saved every week, for an extra 10% off. Hardcore collectors would specify which covers they wanted for each comic. In a small community such as Copper Lake, it was easy to get to know the customers and what they wanted.
       A tall old man strolled in through the open door and approached the desk. "What do you got for me this week?" Ellie shifted away, taking a good look at the man before walking towards the graphic novels. She kept an ear open for the ensuing conversation.
       "Let's see, Harold," Warren said,spinning around to the box and pulling out a bag filled with 15 comic books. "You amassed quite a bit. I didn't catch you last week."
       "Ah yes, the weather has been quite poor so I didn't feel like walking over. Otherwise I'd never miss my weekly trip," the old man said, standing with his hands behind his back. He wore an old jacket and dress pants. A beanie on his head stuck up. He was a unique fixture of the downtown area.
       Ellie peered at him through a comic rack, noting his appearance and mannerisms in her head. He took out a coin purse filled with dollar bills and slowly counted his money out.
       "Have you heard the news about that there new Batman movie? They say it's going to be real dark and gritty this time," Harold spoke, smacking his lips with each sentence.
       "They say that every time. I've been let down enough by these superhero movies. They aren't for people like us anyway," Warren spoke dismissively. Naturally the comic store owner was wearing his iconic Batman t-shirt. He could be seen on almost any day of the week wearing the old faded shirt.
       "Yeah but this director, the young fella, Anthony Orb, he seems to know his stuff quite well."
       "They all drop the same lines. Talking about how they took inspiration from the same graphic novels. The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, Year One. They talk about how they strive for an accurate representation of the character in the modern age, and every single time it's the same disappointment. Batman using guns, Batman killing people, and so on.”
    "This time could be different though, I hear they are going for a more realistic approach with less gizmos and gadgets."
 
       "You're older than me Harold, I'm surprised they keep fooling you this way. It's the same cycle every time and the same movie every time. Haven't you grown tired of this?"
       Harold shook his head and grabbed his bag of newly purchased comics, "No Warren. I keep my imagination alive. My inner child is always excited."
       Ellie grimaced at the last sentence as she peered over from the manga she was pretending to flip through as Harold left the store. She found the conversation oddly interesting, and wished to know more about Warren's stance. She ran a hand through her jet-black dyed hair, fixing the messy bun on top of her head and neatly fixing her bangs which sat thinly over her forehead.
       She strolled back to the counter with a waltz to her step, "So, don't like superhero movies much, huh?"
       "No I don't. They haven't made a good one since Superman in 1978." Warren's eyes never left the computer screen as he hunched over, typing madly.
       Ellie leaned on the counter with her chin in hand, "You're talking like a bitter old man. I reckon you aren't much older than me."
       With a little bit of eye shadow and lipstick Ellie appeared to be more mature than she was, however the curious girl was only in her early twenties.
       "Irrelevant information, are you going to buy anything?", Warren gave her a brief glare before his eyes went back to the screen. He grabbed a bottle of Iced Tea nearby and tossed his head back, finishing it off in a few big gulps. For a guy of his age Warren seemed to adopt the habits of a middle aged man, despite being only 25.
       "No, I guess I'll be on my way. But I'll be back." Ellie strolled off casually, looking behind her to see if Warren's gaze walked her out. But the man was fixated on his work once more. Leaving Ellie all the more interested in the character and his business.

       In Copper Lake the downtown area was mostly run down with new businesses coming and going at a fast rate. There was an effort to try and bring life back to the area with trendy restaurants, clothes shops and record stores. The success rate however tended to be rather low and compared to an areas of higher population like Toronto and Winnipeg there was waning interest in such niche stores.
       However the comic shop still survived, carried on by Warren Wasko who purchased the business in the last days of its original owner Timmy Shustack. Emerald City Comix was the one business that stayed afloat among the ever changing and every degrading downtown.
       A person could seldom walk down the streets without being asked for change or cigarettes atleast once. Landowners held waterlogged run down buildings with no intentions of repurposing them, leaving many areas vacant, boarded up and left to rot. The efforts to revitalize the downtown where mostly fruitless, however many still tried.

       The bell on the door chimed as Ellie entered Speedy’s Records. She looked over to the man behind the desk and shot finger guns at him, “Hey Stebie!”
       “Eh kid what’s happening huh.” The older gentleman sat back in his chair, with his plump form fitting uncomfortably in a red bowling shirt and black pants belted up his waist. The Italian’s greasy hair was slicked back and he wore sunglasses and a golf cap to cover up his bald spot.
       “Not much, not much, just came to flip through.” Ellie magnetized to the new release section. Typically the only spot of the store a regular would bother to look at as the other areas where unchanging.
       Below her two younger boys where looking through the countless dollar bins on the floor. “This is bunk man, I ain’t see no Hip Hop.” One of them whined, pulling his black beanie down over his face.
       “They only stock real music here Terry”, the nerdy looking kid replied, carrying a stack of records under his arm. Ellie looked down with a grin, must have been two high schoolers on their lunch break given the time of day. She remembered being their age and getting into records for the first time and how exciting it was to build a collection.
       These days it was harder to find anything she wanted. She flipped with the hope that the next reveal would be a gem. Everytime she built herself up for disappointment. 
       “Vinyl is making a comeback eh?” the beanie wearing kid spoke.
       “It’s been making a comeback for a decade now, if there is to be a comeback it already happened”, the owner blurted out from behind the desk.
       The kid looked up with his mouth open for a second and then turned back to the records. “Sounds like my Grandpa,” he muttered.
       “Well it’s certainly become more popular since I started collecting, I’d say it’s on the rise.” Ellie chimed in on the discussion causing the high schoolers to look up at her.
       “They always say that, but where is it rising to? It will always be a niche market, it just happens to have become trendy like the cassette tape.” Stevie retorted speaking primarily with his hands.
 
       “What’s a casset tape?”, the dumbfounded high schooler asked to nobody.
       “It’s what all your Disney movies are on dooey!”, his friend fired back.
       “Uh noooo that’s VHS you idiot!” the other replied smugly. “So, you admit to having a collection?” his friend replied even more self-satisfied.
       “What’s wrong with that?”, Ellie titled her head looking at the high schoolers confused. 
       “Oh…I don’t know…nothing I guess”, feeling intimidated the boys turned their backs to Ellie and flipped through the rest of bin silently. 
       Ellie glanced over at the racks and turned to look at the rest of the small store. It was filled with racks and bins of records but nothing caught her eye.
       “Nothing this time, I’ll catch ya later Stebie”, Ellie finger gunned on her way out to which Steve put his hands up and pretended to fall back.
       “Ah, I am dead”, he slumped over prompting a small giggle from the girl as she strolled out.

Ellie walked back to her car, looking to the crisp afternoon sky. A sun that wasn’t blocked by construction. In the city the buildings never stood overly tall, upon observing the entirety of the land from a mountain one could only pick out the old paper mills by the lake and a few apartment buildings as sticking out from the rest. 
       She liked the coziness the city brought, even though the downtown was getting rougher. And yet, businesses still hung onto life and she enjoyed visiting every week. Especially Emerald Hill Comix, a place with a pull and interest she could not deny.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2019, 07:31:23 AM by Manimal »

Offline Coryn

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Re: Emerald Hill Comix
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2019, 10:38:45 AM »
Manimal after getting to know you these past few years, it is absolutely amazing how your writing positively drips with your own life. But I guess they say write what you know don't they?

It was a nice first chapter! Definitely some edits for grammar and such that need to be made, and you shouldn't be putting different characters' dialogue in the same paragraph, but solid! Honestly though, Warren doesn't seem all that thrilled to be running a comic shop even when with a name like Warren Wasko you're destined to. Also, same on home for decrying the Michael Keatan Batman like this!

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Manimal Claus

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Re: Emerald Hill Comix
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2019, 07:37:44 AM »
Thanks for reading, indeed I take write what you know very seriously and do just that. I figure, I have my own world that I can share in writing and I love the mundane and small details. So I thought to write a story of my observations about things and share this, since it's my expression. I used to think my life was too boring to write about, and then I realized the joy in the small things that make me and my surroundings have character. This I all realized after KC when I made Post America, and for the first time wrote songs that where genuine and about my feelings & world. I found my expression and now it has carried over to my writing.

I have edited the first chapter again, I'm trying to find something that works. I have been reading the Foundation novels recently so I looked how the text was formatted in them and attempted that, since I've never really been a "writer" of anything but scripts before. and I haven't read books in a while, but now that I am reading again and everyday I am inspired to write once more.

Offline Coryn

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Re: Emerald Hill Comix
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2019, 10:36:56 PM »
That's how to be!

No blame on the formatting. Took me quite a long time to figure out that maybe I should look at actual published books in order to learn proper formatting (and yet I still struggle with some things). You just don't think about it when reading for pleasure.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Manimal Claus

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Re: Emerald Hill Comix
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2019, 07:29:25 AM »
Chapter 2 : GLORY DAYS


Spoiler

"Well time slips away
And leaves you with nothing mister but
Boring stories of glory days"

- Bruce Springsteen

       “Looking like another sunny day, you know I see some rain clouds coming down across the lake but then I see the sun so it’s all good. All is well, remember back in the 80’s when everyday was sunny? Those were the days, coming up next we have a fresh cut for you. From 1984 it’s Bruce Springsteen with Glory Days!”

       A voice droned from the radio, Ellie switched it off with a heavy sigh. “Once more people misunderstand the meaning of the song”, her eyes slowly darted around as she drove.

       Up ahead where two tall apartment buildings connected by a skywalk overhead. Between the buildings was a small area were old folks sat around, wheeling themselves about and discussing the latest drama. Who’s moving out, who’s moving in, who’s kid is doing what.

       Ellie parked her 92’ Chevy Impala and rolled out the door. The old black car was long and well driven. It had been Ellie’s car since she first started driving and in that time it’d seen a few mishaps. Mostly involving hitting poles and tapping parking cars during risky back outs due to its boat like size. But Ellie still loved the car.
   
       She walked with her eyes downward, the apartments here where often dingy and the tenants ranged from heavy drug abusers, down on their luck senior citizens and a bit of everything in-between. It was city Housing, where tenants would pay a fixed rate based on their annual income.

       As Ellie walked by the smoking area she was greeted pleasantly by the group of old ladies, “Good afternoon honey”, one of them spoke with a smile.

       Ellie nodded her head, “Hello”.

       “Goodness what a pretty young lady, she reminds me of my Grand Daughter!”, a brunette lady seated on her walker recollected as Ellie walked towards the entrance.

       “Which Grand Daughter? The one who stole all your money and served 18 months in prison?”, a bitter wrinkly lady fired back.

       “Oh Heavens”, the brunette replied as she lit another cigarette.

       Ellie greeted a duo of youth in sweaters in the entrance as she buzzed in the number 28. After a few seconds a voice chimed through “Who speak?”.

       “Hi, it’s Ellie just coming to visit.” Silence on the other end until the door slowly buzzed open, creaking along. Ellie looked behind her as the two guys crept in, prompting her to shut the door faster and shake her finger. “Buzz in,” she teased walking towards the stairs to make a quick escape.

    There was a policy of not letting in strangers, but Ellie had in the spur of the moment acted in a way that she feared could’ve got her in trouble. Her heart pounded as she raced to the third floor. She hoped not to see the two boys on her way down.

       As Ellie entered the third floor the smell of marijuana and eggs was in the air. The carpeted floor was covered with cookie crumbs. The walls where brick painted white and each unit was noted by it’s numbers painted by the doorway. 
 
       “Hello I’m Chris”, a short plump man who appeared to have no neck extended a hand as Ellie passed the elevator.

       “Huh….oh henlo”, Ellie awkwardly grasp his hand and continued walking. Her heart pounding as she turned the corner. It was an innocent interaction and she cursed herself for speaking so timid.

       Finally she reached room 309 and knocked on the door. She heard the TV turn off and something bump around. Before long the door opened and an older lady in a wheelchair looked up at her. “Ellie my dear, come on in,” the lady’s weathered face lit up as the young woman greeted her.

       “Up to anything new Ina?”, Ellie spoke, sitting on a green couch in the small living room. The unit had a kitchen, living room with two couches and a TV, two beds rooms, a closet and a washroom. The walls where white and the curtains were merely heavy blankets pinned into the wall.

       “Oh just my normal daily dying”, the old chuckled grimly, sitting back in her reclining chair. She had long grey hair and her hands shook as she sat still. She wore a black and white shirt with a fancy design and a comfy pair of old lady jeans that rode up her waist. She fit snugly in the chair, a peaceful expression on her face.

       “Oh Ina don’t talk like that! You’re only 65 you got a lot of living yet to do!”, doom talk was the constant in Ellie’s visits. 

       The lady held out her shaking hand, “My body is failing me dear, I can’t even play guitar anymore. And I still had sooo much more to show you”

       “It’s fine I’m a natural by now, check this out!”, Ellie grabbed the old Gibson acoustic in the corner and played a G chord, ringing a little out of tune. She turned the tuning pegs to satisfaction and began to play a small finger picking piece. Ellie’s black fingernails gracefully danced along the strings, Ina sat back with her eyes slightly open, observing the girl’s play style.

       “Nice eh?”, Ellie looked up excited.

       “Well the tune might be nice but you play it a little off dear. Why I’d say the fingering is all off, a lot of buzz and a few missed notes. But keep working on it.”. As was typical of Ina she gave nothing but criticism sandwiched with the smallest hint of encouragement. 

       “Ya I guess I’m still pretty *censored*ty at it”, Ellie’s face reddened as she put the guitar back and sunk in her seat, hands on her knees.

       “You are, but keep playing you’ll suck less with time.” The older lady chuckled looking at her TV stand where a few cassette tapes sat.
 
       “Say, did I ever show you the music I made when I was more human than I am today?” Ina asked.
Ellie’s eyes widened and she moved in closer. “No! You told me you where a Folk singer in your day and you jammed around but you never showed me anything!”

       “Well I was going through my old stuff, as best as I can, and I came across these old tapes here,” as Ina attempted to reach for the tapes with her shaking wrists Ellie stood up and grabbed them off the counter.

       “Holy, these are old”, Ellie opened the tape case and inspected the plain black cassette with the words “Ina’s Demoes 1976” on them.

       “Yes I recorded them on an old tape deck back in my better days”, Ina looked out the crack of the window that showed between the curtain and frame with a faint smile on her face.

       “This is amazing I can’t wait to hear these! Thanks Ina! I have a tape player in my car so I’m gonna listen right away!” Ellie was jumping in her seat excited at the prospect of finally hearing her old friend’s music.

       “Here, I’ll go make us tea dear”, Ina attempted to get up into her wheelchair before Ellie shook her head and stood.

       “No no no! You stay right there! I’ll take care of it!”

       “But you’re the visitor what kind of ho-“

       “Ina! I got it! Just relax okay!” Ellie stuck out a finger and walked to the kitchen. Ina watched with a grin as the young lady prepared tea for the two of them. Ina remembered being her age and being as mobile as she was. Despite only being 65 the older lady was stricken with Parkinson’s and various other diseases, the likes of which she barely understood herself.

-------------------------------------------------------- 

       “Yes that was Joni Mitchell’s first great album, but Blue I always thought was a masterpiece” Ina nodded as Ellie sat on the floor flipping through her record collection.
 
       “Okay I’ll try that one out then…and hey, what's this?”
 
      Ellie held up a black and white album with a series of weird pictures on the cover. It was a gatefold inside with a grungy design. It held two records with yellow labels. “Oh that’s The Rolling Stones. You’ve heard of them come on!”
 
       “Ya I have and I’m not a fan but I’ve never seen this album, it looks cool. Is it any good?” Ellie tilted her head in curiosity reading the album’s title, Exile On Main Street.
 
       “It’s okay, give it a try”, Ina said in almost a snobbish fashion.

        “Okay, you never really give me the straight good Ina. Don’t say how good it is or how bad it is. Just, oh ya it’s alright.” Ellie chuckled adding it to her pile of records to borrow. “I think that’s good for now, thanks as always!”
   
       “Never a problem dear, when I die I’ll leave all my records and tapes to you, I love to spread the joy of music”, Ina spoke all too peacefully. Ellie wondered what it was about old people that made them so eager to speak of their death in such a casual manner.
 
       After nearly an hour Ellie got up and left, saying goodbye and walking out of the unit with three records under her arm. There was a glow on her face and a skip to her step, seeing Ina always made her happy. Although they were unlikely friends there was a youthful spirit to Ina that made the two connect. Ellie having met Ina a year ago at the Farmer’s Market when the older woman was selling her baking and playing guitar for extra money at her booth.
 
       As Ellie hopped down the stairs to avoid the buildings single elevator, after a source of great traffic among the building’s six floors, she felt a tinge of nervousness. Remembering the boys she passed entering the building. Of course it was a silly fear and nothing had happened to the girl, but she couldn’t help but feel a nagging compression in her chest as she entered the main floor.
 
       With her eyes down and a hand on her purse she walked quickly to the doorway, nearly walking into an old man and his dog. “Hey careful there!”, the man called out bitterly as he pushed his walker along. Wearing his bus pass around his neck, he wore old stained clothes. Even his small dog looked like it could use a bath. 

“Ah…sorry”, Ellie mumbled picking up her walking pace. 
 
       Suddenly everyone felt like an enemy, Ellie tried to look in the opposite direction to anyone passing by. Her eyes peered to the side as the opposing buildings door opened. Every sound alerted her. “Stay calm”, she thought to herself as she walked quickly to the sidewalk. 

It was there Ellie saw the two boys from before she had closed the door on, sitting in the smoking area with another young man wearing a black hoodie.
 
       Ellie’s heart skipped, she looked around, seeing service vehicles in the parking lot and various people passing by on the sidewalk. She wasn’t alone. She looked for anything in the scenario to make her feel safer as she moved fast. She didn’t know if the boys looked up at her or not but as she bounded down the sidewalk she could feel eyes on her back. In fact, she felt like everyone was looking at her.
 
       She was conscious now of everything, where her sweater sat, the records in her hand, how her purse rubbed against her leg, the pull of her hair bun on her scalp. “Come on” She muttered quietly. There was no reason for her to feel so afraid, but this building had a reputation.
 
       It was less than a year ago two tenants broke out into a drug fueled fight about nothing and stabbed each other to death in broad daylight. Not to mention all the drug busts that she had become numb to whenever they were reported on the news.

       Finally Ellie reached her car, quickly producing the keys and diving into the front seat. She tossed the records on the front seat along with her purse and kicked the car into reverse.
 
       “Oh *censored*!” Ellie hit the brakes quickly, noticing a truck rolling down the lot. Her heart skipped, she had to recollect herself for a second before backing out and driving off. In a matter of minutes her mood had quickly shifted out of random fears. The downtown area was a dump and Ellie feared the time when these crimes would turn to innocent people. In moments like this, she felt like the prime target, even if she hadn’t done anything wrong.
 
       But as she reached the main road and drove off beside the railroad tracks and lake she felt calm again. “Oh damn!” She cursed realizing she’d forgotten Ina’s cassette tapes. Ah, well, she figured she could get them next time.