Fiction Outtake: Chicken Scratch (the Early Years)


Another one inspired by the Weekend Wordsmith prompt, and posted in time for the Poetry Train. As always, if you’re new here and need some background about who is who, click on the names the first time they appear and you’ll be magically transported to a bio page. Just don’t forget to come back!

Mitchell was whistling when he got home after his guitar lesson; whistling was better than dancing, even though that’s more what he felt like. Since he’d graduated from lessons with Randy, things had been a million times better. Now when he and Trevor hung out down by the river and dreamed of making it big, he believed they’d get there, all right.

He stopped in the kitchen, snagged the bag of potato chips sitting on the kitchen table, kissed Ma on the cheek, and headed upstairs.

Ma called after him, “Get your homework done!”

“That’s where I’m going!” He put his back to the door, tenderly put the bag of potato chips under his arm, and shoved against the broken latch.

He turned around, stopped whistling, and dropped both his guitar and the potato chips.

Trevor was sitting at Mitchell’s desk. Well, it was supposed to be their desk now that they shared the room, but Trevor refused to use it. Something about being too cool for desks and homework and if the jackasses at school didn’t agree, they could throw him out already and save them all the daily hassle of chasing him out of the john when he needed a smoke.

“What’d Ma bribe you with?” Mitchell asked, lunging for his guitar. It didn’t matter that he had it in a hard case, it still might have been damaged.

“Nothing,” Trevor said and held up Mitchell’s civics notebook. The page was covered in what looked like chicken scratch.

Mitchell set the guitar gently down on his bed and went for a closer look at Trevor’s masterpiece. It looked even more like chicken scratch. He told Trevor so.


“Good?” Mitchell handed the notebook back and turned to his guitar, determined he’d actually look it over this time. No more distractions.

“Yes, good,” Trevor said with that sniff Mitchell knew all too well. “Have you seen one single rock star with an autograph you can make out?”

Mitchell didn’t bother to answer. No more distractions, he reminded himself.

“Of course you haven’t,” Trevor half-yelled, jumping to his feet and tipping the chair over backwards. “There aren’t any! And I’ll be damned if I’ll be the first.”

“Why not? After all,” Mitchell added with a sniff that mocked the ones Trevor handed out so freely, “you’re Trevor Fucking Wolff. You can’t be like everyone else.”

“Well, this time, I can be.” Trevor hugged the notebook to his chest. “Do you know how long it took me to write this messy? Fucking hours.”

Mitchell looked up from the guitar. “Shoulda spent that on your bass. You might actually get good.”

Trevor sneered and fixed the chair. “Here, golden boy,” he said. “Maybe I’ll go work on that.” He stalked out of the room, trying to slam it shut as he went. Between the broken latch and the fix Mitchell’s dad had put on it, the door just bounced back open.

In the hallway, Trevor kicked the wall. Ma yelled at him for it.

Whatever, Mitchell figured, so long as he had the desk back so he could get his homework done — once he was sure the guitar was okay. Trevor might not get any better on bass, so it was up to him to carry them both.

Maybe later, Trevor would show him ways to change his own autograph. Make it cooler. Which meant harder to read.

Chicken scratch, the handwriting of the rock star.

Mitchell grinned. That had a good ring to it.

Eeek. This is major rough draft. But it’s an outtake and that’s the idea. One day, I’ll clean these puppies up and let you take them home and sleep with them. Just don’t call them George.



  1. Breeni Books

    January 27, 2008 10:40 pm

    Rough draft or not, it pulled me in!

  2. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 27, 2008 10:41 pm

    Damn, you’re fast! I’m still looking it over for typos!

  3. julia

    January 27, 2008 10:52 pm

    I get a thrill when we go back to their youth. There’s nothing better to cheer up a creative person who still needs to keep looking into the future with tunnel vision, than remembering the big stars all started out as very green performers once. Love Trevor getting yelled at by the mom.

  4. Shesawriter

    January 28, 2008 12:08 am

    If this is a rough draft, Susan, then I definitely hate you…..

  5. bunnygirl

    January 28, 2008 2:09 am

    Fun stuff, even if it is a draft. I love it that Trevor is deliberately making his writing illegible. Sounds like the sort of thing I would’ve done. Or did. 😉

  6. Joy Renee

    January 28, 2008 4:39 am

    does Trevor ever come to realize that Mitchel plays him like a piano with broken keys? I’ve noticed this in other scenes. Mitchel has a way of getting Trevor to do just what he wants without directly asking.

  7. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 28, 2008 8:47 am

    Yep, guys, it’s a draft, as evidenced by the clunkers and bad blocking (notice how I never identify WHICH door Mitchell’s trying to open with his ass?).BR/BR/And no, Joy Renee, Trevor never lets on that Mitchell controls him. Just like Kermit Ladd keeps coming back for more manipulation, too. It’s that Mitchell charisma; what can I say?

  8. gautami tripathy

    January 28, 2008 9:03 am

    Rough draft? I don’t think so. It is that good..

  9. Jill

    January 28, 2008 11:47 am

    My dear Trevor trying to do something as everyone else? Darling, I like you different side! Didn’t I tell you and Susan that I like people that have a weird side!BR/And I hope it was not something Mitchell that he wrote on!

  10. Tempest Knight

    January 28, 2008 1:25 pm

    Love it!

  11. Camille Alexa

    January 28, 2008 4:39 pm

    Dude: I’m serious. Just go to Duotrope, use their search function to find small literary zines who accept reprints (who cares if they don’t pay — that’s not the point of your exercise) and start blitzing them with your outtakes for publication as micro shorts. You’ll get your boys out there in front of whole new audiences.

  12. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 28, 2008 4:41 pm

    I’ve thought about taking Roadie Poet that route, but the boys? BR/BR/My concern — and you guys can shoot me down and tell me I’m an idiot (I quite possibly am) — is that these outtakes make an assumption that the reader knows the band and has a clue what’s going on. Won’t a cold audience be turned off by that?

  13. Donica Covey

    January 28, 2008 6:28 pm

    TAG! BR/BR/Hey chicka! Just thought I’d liven up your place with a tag of me! So hop on over to my blog, and check out the Meme! Join in the fun!BR/BR/Huggles!BR/Donica

  14. Rhonda Leigh

    January 28, 2008 6:31 pm

    Good idea, linking your characters’ names to bio pages. Must steal linky idea. BR/BR/And now you’ve made me want to take a Guitar Hero break.

  15. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 28, 2008 6:56 pm

    Steal away, Rhonda! :DBR/BR/As for the Guitar Hero break, what are you going to do? Practice your autograph? BR/BR/Bwahahahaha

  16. Christine d'Abo

    January 28, 2008 8:51 pm

    I love all your writing hon. And your final drafts must ROCK!

  17. Christine d'Abo

    January 28, 2008 8:51 pm

    I love all your writing hon. And your final drafts must ROCK!

  18. Christine d'Abo

    January 28, 2008 8:51 pm

    I love all your writing hon. And your final drafts must ROCK!

  19. Gecko Rock

    January 28, 2008 9:16 pm

    You left me a comment, so I tagged you. Want to play? I’m counting to a hundred.BR/BR/

  20. Shelley Munro

    January 29, 2008 2:30 pm

    Well, I enjoyed it 🙂

  21. Wylie Kinson

    January 29, 2008 2:59 pm

    I like Trev, but I LOVE Mitchell.BR/BR/(Rough draft, my ass… You were totally up ’til 3am polishing this baby – haha!!)BR/BR/;)

  22. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 29, 2008 4:36 pm

    Nope, Wylie, sorry. I don’t stay up to 3AM for much anymore, sad to say.

  23. West Of Mars — The Meet and Greet » Blog Archive » Susan’s Inside Writing: For you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *