Go To The Next Room
Okay, so you know I'm writing for George RR Martin's Wild Card series, right? A month or so ago, he responded to my three part Infamous Black Tongue story. Lots of edits, lots of things to change. My story has to jive with the work of like six other authors - and none of us have read the other author's work! Just George. Master of it all, he is. And good thing, too, because he's an awesome editor. Everything he asked for - either to fit with other stories, or just editorial in general - made sense to me. So I rewrote.
Thing is, as I approached revising the end of one of the climatic scenes, I realized I had to make a change that George hadn't mentioned. When IBT has beaten down a particular baddy, he punches him one last time. Seeing him go unconscious, he says, "Go the next room."
Go to the next room.
Made complete sense to me, but I doubt it would make sense to anybody else. Why'd I write that line? Well, let me take you back...
When I was a young, spritely, twenty something Outward Bound Instructor living and working in Baltimore I spent one summer doing a long course that was urban based. We worked in partnership with the Yale School of Forestry. Basically, I spent the summer doing urban forestry with at-risk kids from inner city Baltimore.
On one of those days, we worked at some sort of men's home/shelter. We were given a tour of a the facility by a charismatic, talkative resident of the place, a guy that had lived his own hard life to get to the relative stability the home offered him. He had a great cadence to his speech as he led us around, a combination of street-smart slang and no nonsense gruffness that he somehow delivered with spiritual equanimity.
When he was done talking about a room, he would always say the same thing. "Alright? Got it? Good. Go to the next room." It seemed a strange, loose, kinda funky mantra at the time. And over the years it's come to have spiritual significance for me. Like, he wasn't just saying move your body into the next room so we can carry on with this tour. It's become an invitation to a higher plane. "Go to the next room, where rewards - or karmic retribution - await you." I've never forgotten it, and every now and then that phrase pops into my head.
That, in some strange way, was what Infamous Black Tongue was laying down on the villain in question. But without context I understand that it would mean nothing to anybody but me. Oh, and you - now that you've read this far.
Still, though, it doesn't make that much sense in that moment, so I cut it. Perhaps one day I'll write a story in which I can build that line and let someone deliver it in context. Here's hoping, cause I need to get it out of my system...