Exercise 2: write a story in dialogue
“Cody used to ride rodeo,” Wiley said, and dived into the lake.
“Really,” said Jan. She spread her towel out on the pier and lay down on it.
Cody nodded, “Yup”, and spat into his coke cup.
“I went to a rodeo once,” Kate said. “It was the first time I went on a ferris wheel, I think there were other rides as well.” She lowered herself into the water.
“Rodeo's not the circus,” Cody said. He leaned back on a post.
“Well what did you do then?” Jan asked.
“He rode bulls,” Wiley said. “He was real good too.”
Cody squirted brown saliva into his cup again. Jan rolled her eyes.
“You rode bulls?” Kate said. “That's insane.”
Jan looked Cody up and down, from his greasy baseball cap to his shiny metal-tipped boots. His stained University of Florida t-shirt was tucked hard into his jeans, loose on his skinny frame, held up by a leather belt with a huge silver buckle. Cody examined the contents of his cup.
“Whatever,” she said.
“Yep, he traveled all around. Competed in 9 states, from North Carolina to Arkansas. Even got offered a university scholarship.”
“Oh for god's sake. There's no such thing as a rodeo scholarship,” Jan said.
“Yes there is,” Wiley said, floating on his back. “And Cody would've gone to a good school, if he hadn't been trod on by that bull. Had to have his whole face rebuilt, and a metal plate for a eye socket.”
Everyone looked at Cody. He was concentrating on rolling a joint.
“If you aren't gonna swim, can you keep a look out for alligators,” Wiley said.
Kate stood up in the water.
“Sure,” said Cody, letting out a cloud of wet smoke.
“Alligators?” said Jan.
“Yep, all the freshwater round here's full of them. Cody comes out every night for a swim, and there's this one, every night, follows him out to the buoy and back.” Wiley indicated the buoy in the middle of the lake.
“You swim with an alligator? That's insane,” Kate said. She was looking hard at the nearest lake edges.
“Not with it. She leaves me alone, I leave her alone.”
“Oh right,” Jan said. “Where is it now?”
“Could be her there, could be a turtle.” He pointed to a tiny thing on the surface of the water ten or so metres away. Jan could hardly make it out at all.
“It's pretty small for an alligator.”
“Cody's got real good eyesight,” Wiley said. “He used to be a sharp-shooter in the military.”
“Really?” said Jan. “With his one eye.”
“Only takes one eye to sight a rifle,” Cody said.
“Cody was real good,” said Wiley. “He could take your head off from a mile away. They wanted to send him to Iraq, but he couldn't go on account of the metal plate.”
“Oh for God's sake,” Jan said.
Kate pulled herself up on the pier and was looking in the direction Cody had pointed.
“Don't you worry. Alligator's aren't crocodiles. They'll leave you alone,” Cody said.
“Unless you're unlucky,” added Wiley. “You remember Shaun? We were all swimming in the river, and he jumped in, and landed near on top of this alligator. She got such a fright, she turned round and bit his face off. Didn't kill him though – just swam off leaving him bleeding everywhere. Still, we had to go out and shoot her, case she did it again.”
“Jesus,” said Kate. “That's full on.”
“Once they've had human blood, you can't let them live.” Cody said. And spat.
Wiley shrieked and leapt up onto the pier clutching his foot. He laughed nervously. “Fucking fish bit my toe.”
There was another ripple in the water near the pier, the small turtle head rose up for a second, revealing a couple of feet of a long triangular head. It sunk down again, and moved off quickly through the black water.
“Fucking christ.” Jan was on her feet. “That was fucking huge.”
Jan and Kate stood watching the nearly imperceptible wake of the alligator.
“Don't you have them in your country?” Wiley asked. Him and Cody were laughing.
“We don't have anything. We don't even have snakes,” Kate said.
Cody raised his eyebrows. “No snakes?”
“You would've seen a lot since you came here though.”
“I've seen a few. Jan's been here two years though, and she hasn't seen any.”
Jan glared at Kate.
“You never seen a snake?” Cody stood up straight and stared at Jan. “That's the craziest story I ever heard.”