short story

The Others

A while ago I wrote a story called, “The Others,” or also, “The Odders,” about a special bathroom for people who didn’t identify as either male or female – people who were confused about their gender, or perhaps weren’t yet comfortable using the bathroom of the gender they actually identified with. It was based on an article I read in The New York Times in 2006, about how a new bill in New York would allow residents to change their gender on official documents. But my bathroom in “The Others” was a little different – it was run by the mob.

I ended up writing two versions of this story – one that used the vernacular and one that didn’t. I want to share both beginnings of the story with you so that you can see how much the use of slang changes the way the story feels. I’d also love your opinions on which version you think works better.

But a warning – this piece is NSFW. Heavy on the foul language and themes. This is the mob after all!

Version One – Non-Vernacular:

Dear James Thurston

Reporter, The New York Star,

I’m going to lay it on you just like it happened. I got respect for the way you carved up those bums what were cheating on the welfare dollars. You’re my kind of newspaper man and I’m going to give you a chance to get the mob for all the shit they pulled on me.

You better be careful though, because the mob knows how to make it rough on everybody. They got the goods on everyone, maybe even your boss. One wrong move and you’re out. You’ve got to have guts to take on the mob. I kind of think you do, but be sharp and never let your guard down. They are dirty fighters, always throwing shit at you, never a clean blow. Whatever dirt there is that a human mind can think up, they know it; that’s their business.

I should have kicked their fucking asses, yeah I should have. I ain’t no coward but I never had the guts to do it until now. What a stupid jerk, that’s what I am, a stupid mother-fucking jerk. Thirty years of eating shit, now I wake up. That’s slow for you, slow and stupid. Thirty years in the shitter, thirsty years in charge of the Other’s shitter. The worst job even the devil could think of. Yeah, the devil would throw the worst sinning bastard into the Others and tell him “you’re in charge, schmuck, for the rest of your goddamned life.” That’s what the mob did to me – the ever-loving bastards. Fuck them all. They fucked me royally but no more. My time’s up.

That’s the trouble, get on the wrong side of one of those bastards and you’re cooked. They could have killed me, thrown me into the East River up to my ass in cement, but no, they wanted to have fun with my hide. So they slap my ass into this job working as the attendant for the Others shitter. It’s easy for them because the mob controls the Others.

Version Two – Heavy Use of Vernacular:

Dear James Thurston,

I’m goin to lay it on ya jus like it happened. I got respect for da way you carved up dos bums what were cheatin on der welfare dollars. You my kinda paper man and I’m going a give ya a chance to get der mob for all da shit day pulled on me. 

You better be carefull do because da mob know how to make it rough on everybody. Day got da goods on everyone, maybe even your boss. One wrong move and your out. Ya gotta have guts ta take on da mob. I kinna think you do but be sharp, never let ya guard dwon, der doity fighters, always throwin shit at ya, never a clean blow. Whatever dirt der is dat a human mid can tink up, dey knows it; dats der business.

I shoulda kicked dar funkin asses, yeah I shoulda. I aint no coward but I neva had da guts to do it til now. What a stupid joik, dats what I am, a stupid mother fuckin joik. Thoity years of eating shit, now I waks up. Dats slow for ya, slow and stupid. Thoity years in the shitter, thoity years in charge of the Odders shitters. Da woist job even da devil could think of. Yeah, the devil would tro da woist sinnin bastard inta the Odders and tell him “you in charge, shmuck, for da rest of your goddamned life.” Dats what the mob did to me – the everloving bastards. Fuck em all, day fucked me royally but no more, my times up.

Dats da trouble, get on the wrong side of one of dem bastards and your cooked. Day coulda killed me, throwd me inta the east, up to my ass in cement, but no day wanted ta have fun with me hide. So day slaps my ass into dis job woiken as attendint for the Odders shitter. Its easy for dem because the mob controls the Odders.

Any thoughts on which version is more successful?

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