Online Classified Ad:

Free Couch. Seen here barely used (except the smudge you clearly notice in this photo, but hopefully you are distracted by the oddly placed poster with the cliché aphorism). Come and pick it up – it’s yours. Pretty heavy. Bring three helpers to haul it now! Mint condition (except the deformed backrest, maybe a few days without my old man sinking into it the cushions will pop back into shape). Comfy and for sure usable. I promise to clean it.

“Hello, thank you.”

“Here for the couch.”

“Wait, let me clean it.”

“I can take care of it.”

“I just haven’t had the time.”

“What does that say?”

“The poster, right?”

“’Be gentle…”

“And forgive myself.’”

“an ampersand?”

“And!”

Online Classified Ad:

Free Couch. Just come and pick it up (and please don’t make comments on my décor, I need help – I really need help – but mostly I just need this daily reminder of someone I both love and hate to just go away). Comfy and for sure usable. I promise to clean it. (I have to remember to clean it – I promise, I promise to clean it).

8 Comments

  1. sara lippmann

    Randal, I’m so drawn to the psychology of this narrator who’s kind of a serious mess (the repetition of I promise, I promise to clean) — and I love how you use a Craig’s list add to access the emotional landscape of loss/anger/betrayal — it can be such a powerful construct — with the challenge being, how to express that imperative without stating it overtly? for example: to me, the heart of the story lies here: “I just need this daily reminder of someone I both love and hate to just go away” YES! and then someone comes to the door. I think there is also A LOT in that “and” and “ampersand” in terms of structure and movement of the story. That’s the key to movement. There is the hurt that drives the posting, and then there is a knock on the door. I’d encourage you to think more about this character — assuming the story is about the one who posts the ad, and not the one who answers the ad — or maybe that’s the fulcrum. This story might contain a pivot. This story can contain many things. It’s your story (Do you know Dolan Morgan’s story about furniture?) How might you use the limitations of form to express the emotional depth? If you keep this as a “hermit crab” form, how can you anchor it in imperative and bring us to that emotional takeaway, to capture that shift? Looking forward to what you do with it! Thanks!

  2. Meg Tuite

    Randal!
    I love this narrator. He tells the truth with such angst and please don’t get on him about his decor. He’s a precious mess. “And forgive myself.”
    “(except the smudge you clearly notice in this photo, but hopefully you are distracted by the oddly placed poster with the cliché aphorism).”So much to love in this! It’s a beautiful ride. LOVE!

  3. Nancy Bauer-King

    Randall

    I enjoyed every word of this. The poor guy with the couch really needs help – more than a promise to clean his piece of furniture. The dialog between the ads is perfect. Thank You!

  4. Todd Clay Stuart

    Randal, I really enjoyed this! You could consider cutting the dialogue completely and just do the entire story in classified ads, with each consecutive revision revealing more and more of his unraveling state of mine. Good work, man!

  5. David O'Connor

    Randal, I love how the free-conomics made this story, how many stories could we make just by giving stuff away. well played, wish there was more! Good job.

  6. Jonathan Cardew

    Loved the borrowed form, Randall! This works really well–love the revised ad! I wonder if you could just structure the story as classified ads with no dialogue in between–just a series building on each other.

    Great read!

    –Jonathan

  7. Trent

    Randal, this reminds me a bit of the “honest trailer” type of videos on Youtube!

    There’s a pit of information behind the photos and product descriptions of used items, or at least, what we don’t know about
    their backstory.

    Hope the guy will be OK though, if he doesn’t manage to get rid of it – (might be a way you could wand the story out even further
    with a sequel!)

  8. Jenn Rossmann

    What a cool concept for this story, Randal. I like the gradual revelation of the narrator’s state of mind, the repetitions. “Comfy and for sure usable” – this phrase really struck me, something about it seems to be trying so very hard. Really enjoyed this, thanks!

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