Updated 10 July, 2004

Revised chapters:

AFTR1 - 2004
(revised, with lots of new material)
-changed from Ariel to Times New Roman font (easier on the ol' eyeballs!)
-Joanna's appearance (less Mary Sue-ish description)
-New:  Helen 'interviews' Big Al!

AFTR2 - 2004

Revised scenes:
-Lance and Pearl meet
-Joanna examines the key --- she's more greedy and less curious about where it came from.
-Joanna passes out, but doesn't throw up
-Big Al and Lance unpack.  Big Al's belongings are described, and show more of his personality.
-Introductory Big Al and Handy scene is extended.  More background info about the carnies.  Handy openly dislikes Joanna
-Helen fusses over Lance's injuries
-Joanna and Violet talk about the new guys.  Joanna is meaner
-Helen introduces Bonnie to Lance at the stables.  More info. on Bonnie
-Big Al is disgruntled at his barker's 'uniform'
-Joanna's flapper outfit is described a little differently
-Joanna is brusque to Strummer than he stands too close as she reads and much less concerned when Molly has a 'boo-boo'.  She's not the nurturing type.

AFTR3 - 2004
Revised scenes:
-Joanna and Big Al's conversation is much snarkier (and funnier, IMO) ;)
-Joanna doesn't wear a watch
-Molly isn't as eager to see the concert, since she's already seen it
-new scene where Violet and Joanna argue about being late
-less 'Mary Jo' (Mary Sue)--- she's attractive, but not gorgeous and bitchier than last time
-Strummer is the singer, not Joanna.  And he's wonderful!  Audience is less enthusiastic about Jo
-new scene where Pearl tries to get Big Al to dance with her
Comment from Will:  I really like this added scene.  You do a good job here of show some peoples’ personality quarks, such as Big Al’s refusal to be social, Pearl’s insecurity when it comes to guys and how she feels about being turned down, and Lance ability to take advantage of any situation.  I really brings out a lot for the chars.
-Molly doesn't ask Baloo to marry Jo, nor does she ask her to babysit her sometime.  Too cloying.
-Pearl isn't in the trailer when Jo changes, so their argument was  deleted
-Big Al gets the last word

AFTR4 - 2004
Revised scenes:
-Baloo and Joanna's date --- she's not quite as much fun or 'perfect'.
-Molly's bedtime changed from 7:45 pm to 8:30 pm.  It was too early for her
-Instead of "Vamoose! Giddyap!", Bonnie says "Git!" --- her horsey expressions were too weird
-changes in dialogue in the carney dinner scene.  Pearl doesn't tell Helen that Jo sneaks out after dark
-Jo's hometown, "Otisville" was changed to "Otisberg" (in-joke for those who remember "Superman: The Movie")
-Joanna resents the fact that he and Louie talk about Becky so much, and contemplates the idea of introducing Louie to Pearl.  She also doesn't ask him to save her a dance --- she doesn't want to touch him.  She barely remembers Kit
-Baloo and Joanna discuss work and travel.  She doesn't tell him about her past jobs, but does express revulsion at the idea of office work
-Louie handles the matter of Baloo's tab more subtly, since he's with a lady friend
-Instead of being a pool shark, Joanna is lousy at pool and nearly beheads Baloo by accident
-On the beach, they talk about kangaroos and milkshakes.  ;)
-Joanna is more vulnerable, and less sure of herself --- and much more aggressive! She's not the virginal type.  :D

Chapter 6 (more sarcasm in general, especially from Joanna)
Chapter 7 (lots of changes in dialogue... if you want to know exactly what, just email me)

AFTR8 - 2004
Revised scenes:
-added more to scene where detectives interview Big Al.

Will: Okay, okay.  How's this:  Al has a knife, but keeps it hidden in a hole in the side of his mattress that's against the wall--he's at a carnival and doesn't figure he'll need it there.  It's not a bar or a rough part of town and he's not threatened enough to carry it with him all the time.  Covie doesn't use it because he can't find it (Al hid it when he wasn't looking) and doesn't have the time to waste looking for it and is squeamish about it anyway.  Would he even know to look?  Hmmm… probably not.  I just wouldn’t want some reader to go, “Hey, Gidg --- why didn’t Covie get the knife?”  Since the cops don't search, they don't find it and Al is safe from jail.  I like it.  Those old instincts for self-protection from his rough and rowdy past never really go away.  *spoiler highlighted here --- change color font to black to read it*Will he be like this at all when he and Jo hook-up I wonder.  He’s actually a fairly mild-mannered guy.  His rough side tends to surface when he or someone he cares about is threatened.   I think he may have tried the bully route when he was hanging around with those bad kids at thirteen (shoplifting, etc.), but he doesn’t take pleasure in hurting anyone, unlike Joanna.  He just doesn’t have a taste for it, after living with an abusive father.  

 “I dunno.  That was months ago.” His heavy eyebrows drew together in concentration. “Wait a minute.  I was staying at some island inn… Louie’s something-or-other…”


“Do you remember anything unusual that day?  Any suspicious characters lurking around?  Someone who didn’t ‘belong’?”

Geez, who belongs anywhere?  The only one I can think of who stuck out was Lance Luke… he lives here too.  Dressed too fancy for the beach.  Kind of a pantywaist, but man, is he ever slick with the dames!”

“Ever work in a museum?” asked Archer.


“Just answer the question, sir.”

“Uh, no, but I saw one.  We had to go on a field trip in third grade and look at paintings.  That was a real snooze.  I liked the lady statues better – now that’s art.  And the mummies.”   The detectives exchanged a look. Not our guy. 


He shrugged irritably. “I only did it on It was a dare.  Give me a break, I was just a stupid kid.” He shrugged irritably. “It was a dare and I was stupid, okay?  Give me a break.”

 “When you were sixteen, your father left you and your mother.  My guess is his absence was partly to blame for your troubles.  You quit school and started working as a stevedore, unloading boats?”

“I had to work.  Pop cleaned us out.”  His tone was bitter. “We had to move into a boarding house.  Mom couldn’t even have a garden anymore.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Thursday cleared his throat. “By the time you were eighteen, you were spending every night in Bo’s Tavern after work, playing poker and competing in drinking contests.  How’d you get in so young?”

 “Why bother?” asked Archer derisively. “Going to a place like that, she’s pretty much asking for it.”   Grrrrrrr…. 
Joanna:  So are you, Arch-hole.

“She was crying.”  Big Al paused.  “A girl cries, you gotta do something.”  I like this part that shows that beneath the tough guy routine he has a moral honor code on how to act and treat women.  It’s a very glimpse into how Big Al really is.
(nods)  Yes.  This line is the key to his real self.  He’s never forgotten how his mother had suffered, and can’t stand to see any woman in distress. 

-Joanna suffers even more as she hides under Big Al's bed!  And finds 'company' when she gets back to her own trailer.  She has yet another phobia.  :D

Suddenly, she felt the hairs tickling the nape of her neck and froze. “Oh, no.”
Cody:  This is fantastic!  I really love it. :)  Their interaction is a lot more interesting and dynamic.  It makes more sense (to me).  Vi's got the same background Jo does, so I like this hint that Jo isn't the only one with intelligence, despite what she thinks.  The Jo-Vi scenes have always been my favorite parts of AFTR.

-Instead of writing letters to her family, Violet files her nails instead
-Joanna is even more goofy (bites a cufflink like a dubloon, to see if it's real gold)
-Violet tells Joanna off:

 “Vi, we just finished telling her I don’t have them.  How’s it going to look if I walk in there, saying, ‘Ooh, looky what I found – it just happened to be in our trailer after all’.”

“Oh,” Violet said, crestfallen. “I see what you mean.”

“I have an idea, though.  Lance wants everyone to think his cuff links are stolen.” Joanna scooped them out of her friend’s hand.  “So… let’s not disappoint him.”

What? You mean you’re stealing them anyway?”

“No, of course not.” Joanna pretended to be shocked. “I’m just borrowing them for a little while.  It’ll keep him in line.”

“Are you nuts?”

Joanna bit one as though it were a doubloon.  "Ow!"

Violet arched an eyebrow.  "What are you doing?"

She cautiously poked the sore tooth with her tongue, assuring herself that it was still attached. "Just seeing if it's real gold." 

"Oh, brother."

With a malicious smile, Joanna took out her spoon case out of its secret hiding place and put the cuff links inside, next to the key.  Amateur, she thought.

She sighed, seeing Violet’s frown. “Just for a month or so.  Then I’ll bury them and leave him a treasure map.  It’ll be fun.”

To her astonishment, the tigress took a deep breath, exhaled and looked as though she wanted to throttle her.  “You’re such a… brat, sometimes!”

“Hey!” Joanna looked up at her in hurt surprise. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Violet wheeled on her, furious. “It means that you’re driving me insane, that’s what!  Helen didn’t just search your trailer, you know, she searched mine too.  Do you ever stop to think of anyone besides yourself and your stupid little intrigues? At least Bonnie didn’t pull stunts like this.”

Joanna’s mouth fell open, but she was too stunned to say anything more than, “But---!”

“I saved your bacon just now and you don’t even appreciate it.  All you can do is go, ‘Oh boy, let’s have a treasure hunt!’  And then you lock yourself in here like a big baby and leave me outside until Your Highness decides that we’ve all been punished enough!” 

She tried to think of something scathingly clever to say, but her mind remained a blank slate, to be covered over and over again with the hurtful words brat and big baby.  All she could say was, “Vi, I didn’t mean…” Excellent.

“You didn’t mean what?  To cause my privacy to be invaded?  Or to make Helen cry?”

“What?” Now Joanna was genuinely distressed. “She cried?”

“Of course, she did! Joanna, you know you hurt Helen’s feelings.  After all she’s done for you!”

“Hey! I didn’t accuse her of stealing.”

“You were trespassing, you know.”  Silence.

“Jo, get it through your head.  She’s not your friend, she’s not your mommy, she’s your boss. When are you going to grow up?”

Angrily, Violet stormed out the door, banging it shut.

Joanna lay down on her cot, turned her back and stared angrily at the wall. The words would not stop echoing in her head.

She’s not your friend… she’s not your mommy.  She kept hearing the almost scornful tone, especially in mommy.

She’s your boss.  Grow up.

Helen.  Violet. She’d lost everyone who’d ever mattered to her.

She stared at the wall until her eyes watered.  Then she began to sob.

Cody:  This is great stuff, Michelle.  I'm glad somebody stopped being in awe of Jo and called her on her bratty behavior.  And yet (and believe me, I didn't think I'd ever feel this) I feel sorry for Jo, too.  Very, very well done. :)

Will: I really love this scene.  I agree with Cody about someone stepping up and telling Jo that her behavior is a little over the line.  You can’t help but feel for Joanna and how she felt hurt by Helen doubting her, but what Violet did was like a bad tooth that had to be pulled, and it needed to be done.  I like that ‘bad tooth’ comparison!  Very excellent way of writing it, making the reader feel for both sides.  Cody was a great help --- she thought Joey got away with bad behavior too much and everyone else (other characters) just went, “Oh, you know the way she is.” (eg: Helen and Strummer)  They’re going to be much tougher on her and most of the carnies dislike her, esp. Handy. You increased the hatred of Lance/Covie another notch with the improvements as well.  All in all great job! Thanks!  It means a lot to hear that.  J

Before he could retort, Strummer came out of the dining tent. As if by mutual agreement, they fell silent.  He was, after all, the boss’s son.

Hey Michelle,  

Very exciting happenings going on here, more severe battle lines being drawn between Fancy Pants Lance and Joanna, leading up to the climax between them.  Again you do Covington awesome, showing how panicked he can get when even his most miniscule plans don’t work.  Just give the guy a rattle and a baby bonnet!  :D  

As Cody said, you can’t help but feel for Joanna even though she had that little berating coming to her from Violet. That wasn’t easy to do --- I hate being yelled in RL, and I just felt it.  She may be trying to do the ‘right thing’, but she might need to rethink the reasons and the methods.  I do like her idea of leaving Covie a ‘treasure map’ to find his cufflinks.  This will be important later on.  It saves her life.  LOL!  I’m looking forward to seeing the parts that need to be added yet and the refinements that are yet to come.  Very good work!  J  

Thanks, sorry for the long delay,  


-changed the last scene (Helen lets Joanna win at cards... thanks, Cody!)

“I was worried about ye, spendin’ the night at that pilot’s house.  ‘e might’ve taken advantage of ye, if he hadn’t been a gent.”

If he hadn’t been a gent, he’d be walking funny.

“Helen, I know you mean well, but I’m a grown woman.  I know what I’m doing.”

“I ’ope so.”

“Well,” Joanna said awkwardly, rising to her feet. “So… we’re okay?” She tried to keep her voice casual, devoid of babyish pleading.  She would not beg.

“Of course we are, luv.  I just worry about ye…” Helen motioned for her to sit down again.  Reluctantly, she did so. “Dear, despite everythin’ that’s happened, I don’t mean to pry, but…ye ain’t happy, are you?”

Joanna blinked, not knowing how to reply.

“Did ye ever think -- now don’t take this the wrong way, luv – that maybe ye’ve had yer fill of carny life?  Maybe yer wantin’ somethin’ more?  Like a husband? Yer own ‘ome and some little ones scamperin’ in the yard?”

What?” Joanna started to laugh. Then she stopped. My own home… sure, why not?  But the rest of it?  Slaving away in some guy’s kitchen, ejecting one brat after another?

No, thank you.

“Surely ye’ve thought about it?  All sheilas do.”

“Not this sheila.”

“No, not really.”

“Well, then, what is it that would make you happy?”

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe ye should think about it, luv,” Helen advised,yer not gettin’ any younger.”

“Gee, thanks.”  Actually, she worried more about the opposite fate.  Never growing older meant one thing, and that terrified her.

It used to be enough to write and play music, to be able to sleep without keeping one eye open.  What did she really have to be unhappy about?  She had the bare necessities: food, shelter and a safe place to hide from them.  She could not confide in anyone, not even Violet, and especially not Helen. She had Helen, Violet and even boring, horse-mad Bonnie as friends; Although they may have wondered about the holes in the banal stories she allowed to seep out in casual conversation, they finally gave up pressing for details.  The new living arrangement was working well; Violet was also a loner and didn’t demand constant attention the way Pearl did.  Joanna sighed.

(moved down) What happened? What’s happening to me? 

She thought bitterly:  Lance happened.  (not ending this way)

Cody: Or maybe have more scenes of her genuinely enjoying herself, with no deep, dark, depressing thoughts or flashbacks.  Like the end of her date with Baloo.  She's not the best pool player in the world there, but she still has fun and laughs and enjoys herself.  Maybe a short scene where she and Helen are playing rummy without some serious discussion about coworkers or Jo's 'idiosyncracies'?  Ooo!  You could even throw in a hint that Helen's letting Jo win! 

“I know what we need,” Helen said suddenly, standing up.



“Helen, I don’t really…”

“Come on, luv.  Gin?”

Tiredly, Joanna said, “I don’t drink.”

“A cuppa tea then?”

“But it’s not four o’clock yet.”

Together they said, “Bugger that.”

Filler where they play cards

“I forget te ask… everything else aside --- did you and Baloo have a good time last night?”

Though she tried to keep her tone casual, Joanna’s face lit up.  “It was great.  She told her about Louie’s, about the Krackatoa Specials, the pool room and the dancing.  She was careful to leave out the beach.

“Sounds like ye really like this bloke.”

“Yeah, I do.  He’s so much fun and I had a wonderful time.  It wasn’t like a date at all.”

“The best ones ain’t.  Me an’ my Bill knew each other since we was kids in nappies, so there weren’t anything we didn’t know.  When we was six, our mothers sent us te pick berries for pies and we ate the whole bucket.  We both got sick, so we weren’t punished.  We played hide-and-seek and tag too.  We used te chase each other ‘round the schoolhouse at recess.”

Joanna had heard all this before, but the old comfort of being told stories was returning.  The tension in her shoulders eased somewhat, and her smile became more natural.


(Cody wrote this part)
Smugly, Joanna waved her cards "Gin!" 

Helen glanced over.  "Oh, so it is.  You win again.  I tell ye, Joanna, ye should have more compassion on your elders." 

Joanna grinned roguishly.  "I play for keeps." 

Helen discreetly turned her cards over and reached for the teapot, hiding a small smile.


End of Part 8


AFTR10 -- revised scene

“…after coating each spoon, cup and bowl with gold, they went to market and traded with their neighbors as usual.  Constant contact with these everyday objects, touching them, especially eating from them, had deadly consequences.   First the children, then the elderly, then finally the others… all dead.  That entire village was wiped out in a matter of days.”

Thursday regarded her, careful not to show skepticism.

"That's not all," she said quietly.  "The children and the old people --- they succumbed to the poison first--- they were the lucky ones."

"What do you mean?" Thursday asked, frowning.

"I mean that the others --- people from in their twenties to middle age --- they didn't die right away."  She swallowed.  "They went insane... psychotic.  They tore each other to pieces."

They fell silent. Then Archer gave a rude snort. 

“Well, that’s a nice ghost story.  We’re looking for facts, lady, not fairy tales.” 

“It’s not a fairy tale!” she flared, blue eyes snapping with anger. “I know it’s true.  When I first dug it up, I spent a few minutes studying it.  Usually this takes me about an hour or so.   I had to stop after a few minutes because I was feeling dizzy and weak.  Then I... had this urge to smash my shovel into my assistant's head.  It was only after I put the key in my knapsack for safekeeping and tied the pocket closed that I felt better.   I had to crawl back to camp to sleep it off.  Luckily I always wear gloves, or the lead might have been absorbed into my hands as well.”




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