"E kabo dara ju e kule lo"
Back to the business of writing a short story together!
By way of introduction, let me tell you a story.
Once the Uzbek folkloric hero Khodja Nasreddin was mediating between two people in dispute.
He said to one of them: "It seems that you are right!"
But when the other brought forth his arguments, Khodja said: "It seems that you are right".
Listening to them all, Nasreddin's wife said: "That can't be true, either this one or that one is right."
Khodja Nasreddin thought for a moment and replied: "Funnily enough, it seems that you are right too!"
So is our project: all inclusive and multi-faceted.
I had thought about writing a novella with you, using your input as separate chapters, but I have to stick to my initial promise: to write with you a short story.
What follows is an outline of the story, using your comments.
Let's start with the easiest part: location. Someone suggested Eastern Europe, so why don't we choose Bulgaria - as homage to that other Bush House writer-in-residence, the dissident Bulgarian Georgi Markov? Here's an epigraph written by him: "We're brothers, men are all brothers. Got it, you, bastard?"
I'll choose the small city of Burgas, which I know pretty well and feel comfortable describing.
Then - in an attempt to use as many of your suggestions as possible - I suggest we combine many of the ideas like this...
Dimitar - an unemployed man who returns home after years of world-weary travelling. He has been working in the West (a figure similar to Juan from suggestion # 5 and Boris - suggestion #18).
Alfred Cooper - an evangelical missionary priest with a love for science fiction, shortwave radio and gardening. Alfred has come to Bulgaria after the fire in his church left his daughter Alice disabled. (A combination of Vicar Alfred Handy - suggestion #10; Henrik, the German Buddhist monk - #5; Father Victor Killoran - a priest in Belfast #13; and an elderly man #3).
Alice Cooper - his daughter, a young disabled scientist - ichthyologist and campaigner. (With some features from the following contributions: a dizzy self-centred character - #11; Alice in Wonderland or rather Jessica - #22, a determined person - Daria / Dasha #16).
Events/lines of dialogue to be used
Back home Dimitar finds himself unemployed (#21, #5, #23) ans dispirited (#13, #15, #17) with a bleak future (#14). BBC World Service is on the radio (#15) and he hears the words "E kabo dara ju e kule lo" - "To be welcomed back from work is much better than staying at home and welcoming others back from work." (From the Yoruba) (#23).
Alfred Cooper has a random encounter with Dimitar saying "What time is it?" (as person stares at clock display on expensive mobile phone - suggestions #11) and he tells the story of the fire in his church, which left his daughter disabled and him with a feeling of endless guilt (the doll's house #1).
Alfred grabs a sci fi novel from his desk rather than the Bible (#10), there are glimpses into that book (#6 and #13). The phrase "I don't want to know about bloody meditation, Father Alfred. I just want a job and a girlfriend" comes up(#5).
While socialising online, Dimitar finds someone under the name of Alice Cooper (!), who is campaigning online for clean ecology (#4, #22). Include the phrase "And anyway, I told the truth, but I'm afraid I told a lie".
An exploration of Father Alfred and Alice's relationship, while she is in the state of "uncontrollable attraction" (#2), with flashbacks of Alice trying to save that notorious doll (#1, #22), being burnt and maimed, and saved by someone who lived that time in the church (#8). Include the phrases "I can't be the only one left alive?"
Alice decides to meet Dimitar (#16), who is concealing his identity under the pen-name 'Boris'. "The metal buckle on my belt was rusted when I got it back." (#20) "There is sorrow in birth". "Death is liberty. There is sorrow in life." (#6)
So what's next? How should the storyline between those three characters proceed? Once again over to you! Tell me how you think the story should unfold next.
"E kabo dara ju e kule lo."