Great Authors Steal.

That’s the line, right? Good authors borrow, great authors steal.

And I totally did. One of my main characters got up and went for an early morning run (he’s active duty, so even when he’s rolling out of his fiance’s bed in suburbia, there are habits.) However, as I’m very against both mornings* and running**, I needed a good source of description for suburbia by dawn’s early light.

However, Alma Boykin believes in mornings, and in the high arid plains of Texas, believes in exercising while it’s cool and the UV is not pouring down exactly like the rain doesn’t. So, I read through several of her descriptions of early morning walks, and, ah, liberally borrowed for scene setting.

And then I asked forgiveness, that being easier than permission. I think I got it. If I disappear, well, maybe I didn’t?

*Work offered me day shift, thinking that I’m senior enough I shouldn’t “have” to take swings. I didn’t quite make exorcising motions at them while yelling “Get thee behind me, Satan!”, but I did firmly turn down the “opportunity” to move “up” to a “better” shift. Ugh.

**I walk. I can walk faster across a one-million-square-foot facility than some people can run, but if you are running in industrial environments, things better have already gone pear shaped…

***

Twitch rolled out of bed to the inskin alarm twitching gently at his nerves. While Lizzes set a clock on her side of the bed, he preferred the internal alarm. Not only did he use it for many different mission-required go times, but it also didn’t wake her up. He hit the loo, started the coffee, and got his morning pushups done before the death rattle said the pot was ready. A quick check on his darling showed her still sleeping like an angel, with the ring he’d agonized over still secured on her finger. He gently closed the door, poured a go cup, and let himself out the back and down the stairs.

Gunny Halvorsen was already up and waiting with his own coffee. Twitch fell in, and they took off for the morning run, down streets just starting to stir. The sky was starting to streak with pink on the high clouds against the dark purple-grey of the night, and the eastern sky was glowing with impending day. The shepherd mix at the corner gave its usually friendly wag and soft woof, pacing them along the fence as they ran by, and their feet splashed through the overflow trickle from a pre-dawn watering at the house that cared a little too much about its perfect lawn.

The birds were already awake, making their morning chatter without any alarm calls, and intermittent traffic moved by on the main road two streets over, sound carrying above their breath and the sound of feet on pavement. The old lady at the one-story slightly tumbledown cottage who didn’t get out much had checked her mail recently; the box was no longer cracked slightly open from the amount of stuff inside, and Gunny nodded, looking happier for that as they went past.

Cutting back down the alley, the black raggedy-looking cat he knew at least three houses fed eyed them from on top of a fence, sitting smugly out of reach – if there had been anyone unknown, it would be looking a whole lot more like “el gato diablo” that the neighbors generally called it. Lizzes sometimes left food out for it, and whether it ate the leftovers, or the mice or rats ate it and then were eaten, Twitch figured Diablo would get the food eventually. Only when they arrived back at their shared back yard, feeling the burn of a good run and the peace of knowing all was well in their area of operation, did Gunny speak. “Well?”

“She said yes.” The fact still made him grin. I got her! She’s all mine! Forever!

“Good. She needs a combat vet to steady her; she’s too high-strung.” Gunny nodded, and stopped to take a long pull of coffee before fixing him with an experienced eye. “What’s chewing on you, son?”

“She’s going downrange, with her company.” He shook his head, and failed to find a smile. “I’m supposed to be the one getting shot at, not her.”

“Life’s full of risks. My wife followed me from base to base for twenty years, and while I was the one with twelve tours, she’s the one who isn’t here anymore.” Gunny was silent a long moment, and Twitch grimaced, not quite sure how to offer sympathy for that. Not quite sure he wanted to face the fact that getting Lizzes meant he could lose her, too. “If you didn’t want to risk her, you should have carried her until she found her a job with a purely civilian company, instead of getting her this contracting gig.”

“You saw this coming.” Now that Gunny had pointed it out, he could see it, too. What had he been thinking? He’d been thinking that he knew just who needed her field of research, and like a lieutenant, failed to think one consequence further than that…

“I wouldn’t have recommended her if she hadn’t already proven she can keep it together under fire.” Gunny took another drink, and smiled. “Next time, son, get her pregnant so she stays here and trains someone else to go downrange.”

“Working on it!” Twitch replied, and laughed. He ran a hand through sweaty hair, and looked up at her window. “I’ll go work on it some more now, in fact.”

“Get on with you. I don’t need an after-action report!” Gunny waved him off as they split for the separate back doors.

10 comments

  1. “Good authors borrow, great authors steal.”

    Only please always remember to call it “research” (Tom Lehrer)

    Nice story-fragment.

  2. “Good authors borrow, great authors steal.”

    This has always been so…..

    “When ‘Omer Smote ‘Is Bloomin’ Lyre”
    INTRODUCTION TO THE BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS IN “THE SEVEN SEAS”
    When ‘Omer smote ‘is bloomin’ lyre,
    He’d ‘eard men sing by land an’ sea;
    An’ what he thought ‘e might require,
    ‘E went an’ took — the same as me!

    The market-girls an’ fishermen,
    The shepherds an’ the sailors, too,
    They ‘eard old songs turn up again,
    But kep’ it quiet — same as you!

    They knew ‘e stole; ‘e knew they knowed.
    They didn’t tell, nor make a fuss,
    But winked at ‘Omer down the road,
    An’ ‘e winked back — the same as us!

    https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/when_omer_smote.html

  3. Rudyard Kipling

    “When ‘Omer Smote ‘Is Bloomin’ Lyre”
    INTRODUCTION TO THE BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS IN “THE SEVEN SEAS”

    When ‘Omer smote ‘is bloomin’ lyre,
    He’d ‘eard men sing by land an’ sea;
    An’ what he thought ‘e might require,
    ‘E went an’ took — the same as me!

    The market-girls an’ fishermen,
    The shepherds an’ the sailors, too,
    They ‘eard old songs turn up again,
    But kep’ it quiet — same as you!

    They knew ‘e stole; ‘e knew they knowed.
    They didn’t tell, nor make a fuss,
    But winked at ‘Omer down the road,
    An’ ‘e winked back — the same as us!

  4. I even steal from myself. Especially when I manage a good fight scene. A few changes here and there and voila! I wrote one for a story I’ve never finished, that I think I’ve used (with changes!) four times now in other books. Only one person has ever mentioned it.

  5. Or something sparks a great idea. There’s a Donald Westlake novel (Two Much) wherein our hero starts a riot to escape being kidnapped by mafia goons. I always wondered what would happen if you met the man you used to start a riot a few years earlier. After he got out of prison for starting a riot. You don’t remember him because you escaped in the ruckus, but he certainly remembers you.

    That book’s waiting in the wings.

    That’s not stealing, exactly.

  6. I love dawn. I hate getting out of bed. Both things can be true.

    At one time I worked mids and while it was usually a partial shift because we went home when our work was done, I occasionally got to see the sun rise. And THEN go to bed. 😀

  7. Do people run carrying coffee cups? I certainly never have, but I’m a horrible runner. Whenever the cross country team wanted an easy day, they put me in front – and that was high school; I haven’t improved.
    got his morning pushups done before the death rattle said the pot was ready
    I hate the character, already 🙂
    The series I’m reading has stolen Miles Verkosigan (sp?). Our intrepid hero has all sorts of medical problems. I’m finally on the last book (#8). If there had been ten, I probably would have given up after number six, but I am curious how it ends and I do like the author.

  8. Hey, I am very much a night person. First off, I think my internal clock is actually 26-27 hrs, because I always rotate steadily around when unfettered to the Real World…

    That said, I also tend to gravitate towards nights… a lot of friends joke about me being a vampire. I believe my father had the same tendency, considering his typical jobs. My own suspicion is that my ancestors were the lot who guarded the camp at night, so they were night-oriented. It makes sense that a small strain of the population would have that quality, for exactly that reason. I have excellent night vision, for example.

    It’s not really a “wake up” thing, I have a high sugar metabolism (lots of sugar intake, and only as I’ve hit my late-50s and early 60s is there any diabetic tendency at all… still don’t have any obvious symptoms except my blood sugar stays higher than “acceptable”). Anyway, as a result, I wake up practically instantaneously — mornings, afternoons, nights — it would be hard to sneak up on me when asleep. I recall, when a kid, the camp counselors snuck into the bunkhouse and pranked a lot of the kids… I woke up and pretended to be asleep, while they put shaving cream in my hand. Wiped it off after they were gone, went back to sleep.

    But I’ve always avoided early morning stuff, because I always wind up shortsheeted on sleep, as I don’t fall asleep at night until it’s been longer than the time I would get 6+hrs of sleep on…

    All through college, I managed to avoid having any classes before 4th period (ca. 10am) until senior year, when there was a required course for seniors, taught by the Dept. Chairman, who ALWAYS scheduled the ONLY section 1st period…
    **Dick**.
    😛

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