Friday, February 29, 2008

New Beginning 455

Every Friday night Johnny goes to a hotel bar, finds a woman with a cigarette, and asks for a puff. He’s never refused.

His lopsided grin and black curls are not handsome. He wears no watch. Johnny owns one suit which he wears on Fridays. Briefly. Women at this hotel-bar are looking for something raw and unpredictable.

This evening, Johnny takes the newly-lit cigarette from the woman’s hand. He is easily a decade younger. Johnny caresses her older fingers and takes a step closer. “You’re too beautiful for this,” he says, and drops the cigarette to the floor. Its flame rolls around and settles. Johnny crushes its embers in a slow, rhythmic tease. Her eyes are drawn to his feet. She thinks of youthful sayings and smiles. Johnny wears large shoes.

Women like a man with a sense of humor. Johnny knows. He grins. He's always grinning. He asks her to smell the rose in his lapel. She resists. She knows better. He shrugs and turns around.

Johnny's car is at the curb. He points at it through the window and beckons her outside. It's tiny, and a wreck. The doors could fall off at any moment. She shakes her head and makes for the powder room. She can do better than this clown.


Opening: Chris Eldin.....Continuation: Anonymous

22 comments:

Evil Editor said...

I'd read on. I don't even care if something happens soon, I've been drawn into the scene.

If it's supposed to be in someone's POV, it needs fixing, as she wouldn't know he does this every Friday or that he owns one suit, while Johnny wouldn't know she's thinking of youthful sayings.

Dave F. said...

My personal belief is that the best "pick-up" men are able to make the woman believe they "only have eyes for me" and "there's no other person in the world." If the "come-on" artist makes the woman feel she's attractive and special, there's not a conquest he can't make. That's what is going on here. Johnny by actions and gestures is saying "Your the one I want to pay attention to and make happy."

I like the sexuality of the opening. It simmers. It's romantic in a one-night-stand sort of romantic.

I don't agree with the continuation. This woman wouldn't be in this bar if she was sensible, practical and discriminating. This is a pick up bar where people go for intimate company.

Prem said...

I agree, this really drew me in. But,the disjointedness that makes this is walking a fine edge. The "big shoes" line at the end felt a bit off. Or at least out of order.

Personally, I would expect something to happen soon(more than the no-doubt ensuing sex). Murder, maybe.A sated johnny going on to his secret life as a hacker. Aliens dropping in. Something to spice up the semi-depressing banality of the routine as you've described it here. But these are just my genre preferences.

benwah said...

I like where it's going. Particularly the way you've set it up as Johnny NOT being a dreamboat.

I think the POV issue is a bit jarring, but if you simply omit "She thinks of youthful sayings" you solve that problem as well as the disjointedness.

Somehow "youthful sayings" makes me think "Johnny and Samantha sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G." Not "ya know what they say about guys with big feet, waka-waka-waka."

You make a good point, Dave. One of my buddies has this trick of tilting his head just a bit when listening to women -- he looks just like a puppy waiting for the can opener -- but it manages to convey "Wow, what you're telling me about how you got those shoes on sale at Jasmine Sola is the most important thing I've ever heard in my entire life." Like Billy Dee used to say "Works ev'ry time."

Scott from Oregon said...

Silly me finaly figured out the rules in this joint...

Ahhh... the sidebar...

I thought the piece written by a man, and the continuation written by a "looking out for" woman.

Things were heading down a nice path and then a new writer stepped in and said "Not with my auntie, no!"

I liked the first bit, and would read on.

Evil Editor said...

Actually, the new writer stepped in and said, Big shoes? He's obviously a clown! I'll give him a permanent grin, a squirting flower and a tiny car, and let the laughs roll.

Whirlochre said...

Just to let you know that the first line doesn't translate directly into Limey without a hitch.

If the idea of smoking a 'fag' can raise a titter in Ohio, then 'asking for a puff' will have them rolling in the aisles in certain parts of Norfolk.

I know what you're saying, of course, and it's only my innuendo alarm going off at random, but it did cloud my judgement about the opening line, that puff.

Otherwise, this lures me in, though I'm wondering why Johnny didn't caress the woman's younger fingers too.

I like how Johnny crushes the cigarettes's embers - but wonder if 'flame' is the best word to use as the butt descends.

BuffySquirrel said...

If Johnny goes through the same routine every Friday, he's hardly unpredictable.

Had problems with the POV shift, too. At least start a new paragraph when it shifts from his head into hers.

Wes said...

This one doesn't work for me, Chris. Perhaps it's me, but I perceive a few problems. The POV issue has been mentioned. In addition, I don't feel a consistent mood of the scene. It could go several ways: hot; sorrowful due to pitiful characters, bumbling; I'm just not sure. This could be because of the circumstances or events that aren't common in today's world. Men don't wear suits, particularly on business-casual Fridays, haven't heard "puff" in years, haven't seen a flaming cigarette, not sure what's attactive about grinding out a cigarette on the floor of a hotel, and a line that would get any man laughted at ("You're too beautiful for this,"). Yes, I get the bit about the large shoes. I'm not sure if Johnny is a player or a clown, as EE suggests. Some sentences confuse me. "Briefly." Not sure what this conveys. "She thinks of youthful sayings and smiles." I suspect she smiled, but it could be read as though she thought of youthful smiles.

Bottom line is that I'm not sure what mood is being set.

BTW, a story from a friend. She's a nurse and took an X-Ray of a man's knee. More showed up on the film than his patella. And he had small feet.

Robin S. said...

I really like the second paragraph, Chris - as you define him by what he is not, and what he does not do.

And I like the scene you've painted, because I feel like I'm standing in the bar watching.

I recognize this from your piece- good stuff.

Xenith said...

Lovely mood settting. It makes me think of something from the 40s or 50s (or possibly I've been watcihng too much Agatha Christie). If it's a modern setting you might want to do something about that soon :)

The last line jarred, because I didn't connect it properly with the one before, but starting a new paragraph where it slids into her POV would fix that too.

Sarah said...

'puff'? I'd go with drag personally. Not sure what the current slang is.

Love the tone and the voice here. A few issues already overly mentioned. Good job, Chris. I'd read on. Not entirely sure for how long. Depends on the genre.

Anonymous said...

I've been to a convention or two, and when I talk to female businesswomen who are attending, they often complain, at length, about the cliche that women who go down to the hotel alone are somehow only interested in getting laid, and why shouldn't they have the same professional freedom as the guys.

Of course, by the time we get back to her room, it's all forgotten about.

Polenth said...

Asking for a puff as a chat-up line, maybe. Stealing the cigarette and destroying it, not so much. I couldn't get past the fact that most smokers I know would have punched him. Standing between an addict and their addiction is not wise.

McKoala said...

I still like this, but EE may be right about POV. Does the suit go with 'raw and unpredictable'? Still loving 'briefly'.

ChristineEldin said...

Okay, okay! not puff. drag. how about fag drag? or does that sound like a cross-dresser?

heh heh!!

Thanks everybody!

I will delete the shoes line. That seems to be a given. Wes--you said you're not sure about the grinding of the cigarette---it's about the ceremony. A guy who's moving his foot in rythm, very close to a woman he just met. His thigh would be moving too. implied sex....

Oh well. Back to my fantasies...
;-)

And thanks EE!

Bernita said...

I have the feeling this hotel in not in America.
Has a more eastern Europe flavour in spite of his name.
Intriguing set up.

Wonderwood said...

I like this alot and agree with the POV comments. It's got a noir feel to it and I'm interested to see where it's going. I wasn't too sure about the cigarette putting out ceremony, felt a little over the top. Good job, Chris, I'd definitely keep reading.

Wes said...

OK. Got it.

Anonymous said...

Well, I thought the writing and the tone/setting were quick rich here, and I too was drawn into "your John". I thought the shoe line was funny. There's a sort of tongue-in-somewhere attitude here that I liked. And I would read more.

ME

Ello said...

I liked this - even the second time I'm reading it. It works for me - in a very sinuous way. Is that weird? That's just what I thought. And I agree that no puff and no shoes. But man that continuation really cracked me up!

writtenwyrdd said...

This is very visual and does pull me in, but the present tense here is a bit distracting.