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operation sunbeam
cassie and marlo listen in
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)

"The guys were bragging about bringing showgirls up to their rooms, getting them super drunk, and then trying to score with them right when the bombs went off. Typical Vegas-guy-weekend stuff. They were well into their 70s, though, so it was odd to hear their bravado."

Here she goes again. I've noticed lately I don't even need to ask questions she will just tell me anything, anything at all, barely taking a breath, like there's an hourglass only she can see with a ribbon of sand left to drop and she has to say Every.Single.Thing. before the sand is finally through.

"The operations had headings like Teapot and Sunbeam, and Bedrock and Quicksilver. And there were hundreds of tests. Tightrope. Checkmate. Small Boy. Zucchini. Chocolate. Bullfrog. Seafoam. Gouda. How can a nuclear test be named after cheese?"

Fascinating, but I wasn't up for a history lesson. No. Wait. That's not the right answer. I should be more interested in this and not, say, celebrity gossip. Those conversations are always surreal. "Did you see that Jen and Brad hooked up and Angelina is all pissy and vows to take all the kids and move to Cambodia? Oh.My.God. Can you believe it?" What is left to say to that. "Um, yeah, wow, that's a bag full of crazy, for sure." There's not even a trivia game question I can score on with information. Ooo! Ooo! It was in 2009 that Brad left Angelina! Pie for me! Oh, wait, what did she say about beauty pageants?

"Watching nuclear testing was quite the rage back then. Vegas created vacation packages around bomb viewing, and women competed to be Miss Atomic Bomb. Totally bizarre!"

Bomb-viewing vacation packages? Beauty pageants? We are totally screwed-up. Was that spectacle the reality television of the times? It sure doesn't sound like the historic idyllic 50s from "Leave It to Beaver." Gladiator vs. Lion. Part of every generation. Or maybe slugging booze and screwing showgirls was the last blast--nothing says !Live for Today! like watching an atom bomb explode. Oh, now she's on to the Indians.

"The Shoshone Indians constantly protested against the testing, but it didn't do any good."

Well, that figures. And there are few remedies for a situation like that. We can talk about peace with other countries all we want, building democracies and changing a country's direction, but we don't have a good track record with all that. Now I'm depressed. I can't think about what she's saying or the impact of nuclear war or displaced Indians. Maybe I do want to talk about celebrities. Fluff. Doesn't ask me to care for it, doesn't keep me up at night. Maybe I just want to--hold up, what did that guy just say to her?

"Yes, I did work at that gentlemen's club. Why do you ask?"
The Cassie and Marlo series is a serialized fiction experiment exploring social norms and the ridiculous things you can overhear if you're listening at the right time. For more on the project, click here.

This installment is open to workshopping. In the comment box below, please provide some constructive critique as to whether the shift in character POV flushes out the characters more.


Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou

more about tracey l. kelley


cassie and marlo listen in: part 2
by tracey l. kelley
topic: writing
published: 4.27.09

swimmin’ wid da fishes
with ankles chained by writer's blocks
by tracey l. kelley
topic: writing
published: 10.23.02


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