Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cheery Air Horns

On Monday, I intended to go to the beach, but instead I packed up my computer and my Manuscript Makeover book and sped to a meeting with Carol, my pre-read partner. I read her my last seven pages and got her critique. By the time we finished, it was nearly eleven and too late for a day trip to the beach.

Luckily we have the Columbia, the bluish-grey river dividing Oregon from Washington and I pointed my car to a park near the Interstate Bridge (I-5). I've written there before, with its quiet solitude, the gentle lapping waves as the sailboats race silently across the lazy currents and the rhythmic sound of traffic speeding over the bridge provides a white noise for zoning out. I hauled my computer and book out to a bench overlooking the water and propped my feet up on my bag, cracking open the textbook and setting my Starbucks beside me.


I came very close to spilling my coffee. The Chief side slipped toward the bridge and honked its air horn, sending a crowd of pedestrians spanning the bridge into a frenzy. The bridge tenders blasted out the horn used to warn the bridge is lifting. My eyes widened because the pedestrians spanned the entire bridge, hands joined. Instead of running to avoid the 531 foot lift span, they merely cheered and whistled and made a wild ruckus.

The bridge did not lift and The Chief split the warm air with its horn again. More passionate screams and cheering voices from the bridge. Behind me, as if on cue, a Burlington Northern engine pulled repeatedly on its horn, keeping time with the click, click, click of the wheels along the tracks.

Dogs barked. Crows squawked. A code three fire truck's siren whirred across the bridge toward Oregon, stopping ten feet from the firm solid ground on the other side. More siren wails joined in, from police and ambulance. The yellow flashing of the strobe light of a wrecker added to the fracas.

I slammed my book shut and squinted across the water. The only thing lacking were the porpoises jumping through hoops, for crying out loud. I downed my coffee, shoved my book into my computer bag and retraced my steps to my car.

At home, I could study with only Hobiecat and Schooner to disturb me.

And they did.


  1. Hahaha. You were competing with recovering addicts! "2,016 people climbed onto the Interstate 5 Bridge, linked hands and recited the Serenity Prayer." They were there to demonstrate there is life after drugs. I myself wonder if there is life after writing a manuscript, and fear merely another MS lurks. This is an endless process isn't it? And I'm sorry you didn't make it to the beach. It is more than okay to begin a pre-read by saying, "I only have fifteen minutes, get to the point."

  2. So what was happening on the bridge? Why were all the pedestrians there? Was it a protest? A celebration? A not-too-terrifying terrorist group that travels the world to disrupt writers as they work? Tell us more! :-)

  3. Not on your life. Our pre-reads are IMPORTANT. Limiting them to fifteen minutes would cause the type of stress I'm already experiencing by having to cut 13,000 words.

  4. Anonymous, it was an event for recovering drug users, from what The First Carol said. I didn't hear anyone recite the prayer. Maybe the blasting horns covered it or the clickety-clack of the train. Or the man shouting, "Billy Bob, Billy Bob, get back here right now. Don't you be runnin' off, ya hear?"

  5. Oh, I just saw The First Carol left a link on which we may click to get to the article in The Columbian.

    Thanks Carol.

    (A not-too-terrifying terrorist group to disrupt writers, indeed. HA) :)


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