Evolution of "Patricia Thirdday Gets To the Point"

Evolution of "Patricia Thirdday and the Unfortunate Sight"

What I have here are the three major drafts that resulted in the story, "Patricia Thirdday and the Unfortunate Sight." It would be better if you read "Patricia Thirdday and the Unfortunate Sight" first.

There were minor drafts in between each of the major drafts. Pruning, word changes, smoothing of flow. Including those would be getting a little ridiculous, however.

The goal of every Patricia Thirdday story so far is "startled laughter." Typically this startled laughter is caused by the nature of the malady or the cure. The starting point for writing each story has been the malady/cure pair.

Patricia Thirdday and the Unfortunate Foresight

Zen chimes softly announced the third hour of the afternoon. Patricia Thirdday smiled a small, pleased smile and stood up from her desk. The smile vanished when the intercom buzzed.

"Ms. Thirdday, we have an emergency referal from Dr. North."

"It is Wednesday. Wednesday is my book club day."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Good."

Patricia slung her sleek, white leather satchel over her shoulder and started for her office door. The door burst open and round man in a brown suit stumbled in waving Denise's stapler.

"I don't want to hurt anyone, but I must have help. I won't make it another day."

Patricia stopped, eyes narrowing. "It will cost."

"Anything. Anything."

"Sit on the couch."

Patricia back tracked to her desk, and sat in an arm chair next to it. The round man in a brown suit shuffled to the couch, never looking at Patricia. Patricia waited.

"I see things. Things that haven't happened yet, but will. Very ... specific things."

She waited.

"When I look at a person I see them having their next bowel movement." He wrung his hands. "I see them on the toilet, well, usually. At first it would be just a flash, but now it is all I see when I look at someone, no matter how long, like its on repeat."

"How do you know it is their next bowel movement?"

"Sometimes I am still with them when they go, and I recognize the bathroom they go into."

"Do you know what triggered these premonitions?"

"I walked in on a guy at a restaurant. But I knocked and he didn't say anything and the door wasn't locked!"

"It was traumatic?"

The man snorted. "And he bounced my head off the wall so hard I got a concussion."

Patricia let the man sob. Then: "I do not believe you."

The man gaped up at her. The moment he saw her he went rigid and turned pale. Slowly he pressed back into the couch as far as he could. Patricia raised an eyebrow.

"Or maybe I do." She reached for her stainless steel thermos and poured what looked like milk into a cup. Steam wafted off the surface. She took a small packet from her pocket, poured the contents into the liquid, and took the cup to the man. He drank it without a word.

When he woke up he was strapped into a chair resembling a dentists chair. He was upright and his head was immobilized. In front of him was the open door of a small bathroom. Patricia approached and applied clips to his eyelids so that he could not close his eyes.

"Wait, what are you doing?"

Patricia walked into the bathroom and lifted the lid of the toilet.

"No, no, for the love of god don't! Please, please." Soon it dissolved into screams and blubbering.

Denise knew better than to interrupt. After a short period of quiet, the office door opened and the man shuffled out, disheveled and ashen. He looked at Denise.

"She's a monster. You work for ... He stared. "I can't see you."

"Blindness or any other side affects of treatment are covered in the waver you signed."

"No, I mean, I don't see that. I see you. I see you!" He reached over the desk and grasped her face in both hands.

In one smooth motion, Denise removed a taiser from her desk drawer and applied it to the man’s shoulder. He fell to the floor twitching.

Patricia exited her office and stood over the man, satchel over her shoulder.

"Charge him triple."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"And tell the janitor we need more toilet paper."

Patricia Thirdday, Problem Solver, whistled as she left for book club.

There were a few problems with that draft. It was too long, for one thing. Also when I showed it to my wife, she didn't laugh and said toilet humor was cheap. She pointed out that there was one opportunity for humor and I was passing it up, the patient's discomfort about telling Patricia Thirdday the nature of his malady. So I lengthened that part of the story, putting in the euphamisms, and shortened it here and there.

Patricia Thirdday and the Unfortunate Foresight, second draft

Zen chimes softly announced the third hour of the afternoon. Patricia Thirdday smiled a small, pleased smile and stood up from her desk. The smile vanished when the intercom buzzed.

"Ms. Thirdday, we have an emergency referal from Dr. North."

"It is Wednesday. Wednesday is my book club day."

Patricia slung her sleek, white leather satchel over her shoulder and started for her office door. The door burst open and tall man with CEO hair charged in waving Denise's stapler.

"I don't want to hurt anyone, but I must have help. I won't make it another day."

Patricia back tracked to her desk, and sat in an arm chair next to it. The man strode to the couch, never looking at Patricia. Patricia waited.

"I see things. Things that haven't happened yet, but will."

She waited.

"You know. You've seen those movies where some poor schuck is driven crazy by the terrible things they see in teh future but can't do anything about."

"Do you think you are living in a movie?"

"No." He shook his head vigorously. His hair never moved. "Something happened to me, and ever since, when I look at a person I see ... very specific things in their future." He shuddered. "Very personal things."

"Like their death?"

"No." He wrung his hands. "I see them .. dropping the kids off at the pool."

"You have a fear of domestic situations?"

"Sometimes they are making a deposit."

Patricia's mouth tightened. "Is this a joke?"

The man was rocking back and forth now. "No. No. I see them evacuate."

"At least now we are getting to something alarming."

"It's burial at sea."

Those you should just ignore. Can't apply to many people."

He was looking wildly around the room at everything except her.

"They're drowning the kittens." Spittle sprayed across the room.

"Nasty little creatures."

"I see people taking their next dump! At first it would be just a flash, but now it is all I see when I look at someone, no matter how long, like its on repeat".

Patricia let the man sob. Then: "I do not believe you."

The man gaped up at her. The moment he saw her he went rigid and turned pale. Slowly he pressed back into the couch as far as he could. Patricia raised an eyebrow.

"Or maybe I do." She reached for her stainless steel thermos and poured what looked like milk into a cup. Steam wafted off the surface. She took a small packet from her pocket, poured the contents into the liquid, and took the cup to the man. He drank it without a word.

When the man woke he was strapped into a chair resembling a dentists chair. He was upright and his head was immobilized. In front of him was the open door of a small bathroom. Patricia approached and applied clips to his eyelids so that he could not close his eyes.

"Wait, what are you doing?"

Patricia walked into the bathroom and lifted the lid of the toilet.

"No, no, for the love of god don't!" Soon it dissolved into screams and blubbering.

Denise knew better than to interrupt. After a period of quiet, the office door opened and the man shuffled out, disheveled and ashen. He looked at Denise.

"She's a monster. You work for ... He stared. "I can't see you."

"Blindness or any other side affects of treatment are covered in the waver you signed."

"No, I mean, I don't see that. I see you. I see you!" He reached over the desk and grasped her face in both hands.

Denise removed a taiser from her desk drawer and applied it to the man's shoulder. He fell to the floor twitching.

Patricia exited her office and stood over the man, satchel over her shoulder.

"Charge him triple."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"And tell the janitor we need more toilet paper."

Patricia Thirdday, Problem Solver, whistled as she left for book club.

That draft was better but still had problems. One was that it started too slow. These stories are so short it is imperative that patient meets Thirdday imediately. Another problem was the switch to Denise's point of view at the end. I still wanted to bring Denise in at the end, but I had to do it by bringing her into the office and therefor into Patricia's point of view. I also refined the euphamisms, and generally cut the story down to the bone. I managed to keep the bit about her going to book club, but I had to lose the leather satchel, which made me sad.

Patricia Thirdday and the Unfortunate Sight, final draft

"Ms. Thirdday, we have an emergency referral from Dr. North."

The door burst open and a tall man with CEO hair charged in waving Denise's stapler.

"I don't want to hurt anyone, but I must have help. I won't make it another day."

The man strode to the couch, never looking at Patricia seated at her desk. Patricia waited. He sat.

"When I look at a person I see ... very specific things in their future." He shuddered. "Very personal things."

"Like their death?"

"No." He wrung his hands. "I see them ... making a deposit in the 401K."

"You fear they will be destitute in their old age?"

"No. They are ... voting for President," he said quietly.

Patricia's mouth tightened. "Is this a joke?"

The man was rocking back and forth now. "No. No. I see them ... I see them ... evacuate the tunnel."

"At least now we are getting to something alarming."

He was looking wildly around the room at everything except her.

"They're drowning the kittens," he whispered.

"Nasty little creatures."

He jumped to his feet. "I see people going number two!" He sat back down and put his head in his hands. His hair never moved. "At first it would be just a flash, but now it is all I see when I look at someone, no matter how long, like its on repeat."

Patricia let the man sob. Then: "I do not believe you."

The man gaped up at her. The moment he looked at her he covered his mouth and nose with both hands, eyes bulging. Patricia raised an eyebrow.

"Or maybe I do." She reached for her stainless steel thermos and poured what looked like milk into a cup. Steam wafted off the surface. She took a small packet from her pocket, poured the contents into the liquid, and took the cup to the man. He drank it without a word.

When the man woke he was strapped into a dentists chair. He was upright and his head was immobilized. In front of him was the open door of a small bathroom. Patricia approached and applied clips to his eyelids so that he could not close his eyes.

"Wait, what are you doing?"

Patricia walked into the bathroom and lifted the lid of the toilet.

"No, no, for the love of god don't! What is wrong with you?" Soon it dissolved into screams and blubbering.

Patricia, back at her desk, pushed a button on her intercom. Denise entered. She walked to the dentist chair where the man was unconscious and brushed damp hair from his forehead.

"Will he be cured?"

"Of course. Charge him triple."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"If you have trouble with him you are on your own. I'm late for book club." Patricia Thirdday, Problem Solver, whistled as she left.