Monday, July 13, 2009

The 5,000-Pound Gorilla, by Mark Terry

Forgive me as I try to figure out the best way to manage this ... I've heard from a few people about posting schedules. Some people think I should post stories as I get them (I've got 5 so far). Others like the idea of posting them all on the same day. Here's my thinking:

1. If I post them as I get them, it reduces the amount of reading and allows people to more fully engage with each individual story. Good thing. BUT, as others have pointed out, it also means that some people will be posted later, and if two or three people went the same direction with the prompt ... well, you know.
2. If I post them all at once, it's a lot of reading, but it also has a nice event feel to it that I like. Then again, it's a lot of reading.

What do you all think?

Anyway, in the meantime, let's roll with the first story (selected on a random basis -- I literally rolled a die to pick which one is up. Guess what Mark? Your number [3] came up). At least for this week, I'll post one a day so we can discuss at our leisure. See you in the comments!

So without further ado:

The 5,000-Pound Gorilla

By Mark Terry

King Kong had climbed the Empire State Building. Well, not really. It was just a giant inflatable ape on the side of the building to promote another Kong movie. Mary did what everyone else did, though, she craned her neck and raised her hand and pointed.

“Hey, nice tat.”

Mary dropped her hand and looked at the speaker, a tall smiling man with a shaved head. “What?” She knew what he’d said and her face flushed, but she was going to pretend she didn’t know what he was talking about. A little voice in her head reprimanded her: That’s not the point, Mary.

“Your wrist,” he said, tapping his own. “I saw your tattoo when you pointed. Just like mine.” He pulled back the wrist of his sweater. Sure enough, on the underside of his right wrist was a tattoo identical to hers. In ornate script it said: La Bella Vita. Unconsciously, she covered her tattoo with her hand.

“I didn’t even know it was a Lindsay Lohan song,” he confessed. “I just liked what it said. ‘A Beautiful Life.’ Hell. I didn’t even know who Lindsay Lohan was.” He held out his hand. “I’m Jude.”

Hesitantly she took his hand. “Mary.”

After letting go of her hand, he took off his sunglasses to reveal warm blue eyes. He smiled and she thought he was a lot less menacing without the sunglasses. The shaved head was kind of sexy in a badass sort of way, but he wore a black sweater over a white T-shirt. Not so badass. Kind of a nerd.

He cocked his head and said, “Another King Kong film. In 3D no less.”

Mary followed his gaze. “I’ve never gotten the appeal.”

“Me neither. Besides, you go to a mysterious island that’s got dinosaurs on it, what do you bring home? The big monkey. Go figure. Hey, I’m sorry I embarrassed you about the tattoo.”

Mary felt her face burn. “It was, sort of, well, you know, one of those things.”

Jude cocked his head. “One of those things? Like, you got drunk with friends and they dared you, or you were trying to mark something, like, I don’t know, I have a friend who competed in the Kona Ironman Triathlon, and she had the ironman symbol tattooed on her foot. Like that?”

"The second one. Marking something, I guess.” Yes, she thought. Two years after Jim died. The tattoo was supposed to be a reminder, it’s time to move on with your life. To have a life. Maybe: get a life.


A guy in a mustard-colored cardigan and a bow tie approached them, a video camera in his hand. “I loooooovvvve Kong!” he crowed. “It’s like, my favorite movie of all time! The very best!”

In a totally serious voice Jude said, “Which one?”

“The first one, of course.”

“You mean the one with Jessica Lang?” Mary knew Jude was giving the guy a hard time.

“What?” the geek shrieked. “That awful piece of—”

Mary rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop giggling. She saw the gleam in Jude’s eyes and laughed out loud for the first time in, well, two years. “He’s teasing you,” she said. “Calm down.”

Jude said, “My favorite movie is Sleepless In Seattle. How about you?”

A guy who liked chick flicks. Keeping a straight face she said, “Transformers.”

He laughed. “One or two? I liked the first one better than the second one. I thought the dialogue was a lot deeper. I really—”

“Stop,” she said, laughing again. “I don’t know what my favorite movie is.”

The geek snorted and wandered away to bug someone else about the gorilla. Jude said, “Maybe you could remember over a drink. I hear there’s a smoothie bar right around the corner.”

“Or maybe the Chai Latte Mocha Madness up the street.”

“Or maybe, you know—”

“Yes,” she said, thinking about her tattoo. A beautiful life. “Let’s go have a drink. Maybe I can come up with my second favorite movie after Transformers.”

She and Jude strolled toward the corner, toward, well, what? A beautiful life? An open doorway, maybe? Jude interrupted her thoughts. “I bet your second favorite is Death Race 2000.”

Laughing, she said, “How did you know? It’s like you’re reading my mind.”

He tapped his wrist. “Must be karma.”


Jude Hardin said...

Gotta love a story where a guy named Jude gets the girl. :)

I'm not sure karma is the right word there at the end. Kismet, maybe?

Nice job overall, but I think some sort of tension, some conflict (internal, external, or both), would make the piece more interesting.

Melanie Avila said...

I certainly didn't imagine King Kong when I saw the picture and I love your take on the prompt.

This flows very well (I don't think I've ever read any of your work before) and I like how you worked in the tattoo detail. Funny about Ms. Lohan.

My only nitpick is at the end. He invites her for coffee, but she refers to it as a drink. Most adults (or maybe it's just me) think of a "drink" as something alcoholic, so that threw me a little. But that's minor.

Overall, well done.

LurkerMonkey said...


I liked it, too. It's a nice little scene ... and I laughed out loud (and immediately went back to the prompt) when I realized the guy was Jude. I thought, hmmm, it does kinda look like Jude.

I had the same question as Melanie did about the drink--but I thought she was inviting him to get an alcoholic drink instead of coffee. As in, "Forget coffee. Let's get drunk."

It's interesting to see what people picked up on and where they went with it. I myself spent a long time trying to figure out what that damn tattoo said, but I never did.

Melanie Avila said...

Jon, Spy and I had a conversation about what the tattoo said and neither of us could figure it out either.

Mark Terry said...

Thanks guys. This "drink" and "coffee" thing probably just means I've been out of the dating scene for, oh, most of my life.

I'm not sure what this thing is. It reminds me of the "meet cute" part of a romantic comedy. Now they try to have a relationship, but it falls apart and they have to get back together again.

Anyway, thanks Jon, fun to do.

Natasha Fondren said...

Oh cool, Mark! I just saw Transformers last night. It was a really odd movie. Just seemed patchwork or something. And I'm thinking of getting a tattoo for the exact same reason. :-)

I took it as "Forget coffee. Let's get drunk," too.

This is going to be fun! I like that you're posting one at a time, spread out a bit.

PS: If an idea occurs to me during the 7-hour drive today, I'll try to get one in before the deadline. I wouldn't hold your breath, though, LOL. Next month, for sure!

LurkerMonkey said...


Cool! You have until Monday, if you can fit it in.

LurkerMonkey said...


Thanks for going first (although the almighty dice really decided it). I had the same read on it: this was a "meet cute" type story. The real story follows ...