Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Beginning 579

I knew that the high water mark of my time in the town of Hope was my coercion and corruption of Jimmy Monroe, forcing him into setting fire to the City Hall and to murder himself. My mistake was in staying in Hope an extra month.

Heroin addiction is not what it’s made out to be. I had discovered in my youth that addiction need not be fatal, or that it need be out of control. A visit with expatriate Americans on the Dam in Amsterdam turned up a number of old hippies and political activist types who had chosen heroin as their lifestyle, and further had the intelligence to go to a country where the marketing forces for the drug were not out to kill them. These older, and happier, ex-hippies made a desultory living at this and that, and scraped by without upsetting their neighbors or the system. In return for their complacent and quiet existence free of crime, the state organized clean junk for them to put in their veins. The drug-addicted were uniformly pale, but then, all the Dutch around them were, at least during the long, wet winters. My junkie heroes weren’t remarkably underweight, and they had beautiful creamy skin, and they seemed quite content.

Anyway, it was when I was in the Dam that I started a business helping teenage boys lose their virginity. It paid well, kept my crack habit fed, and didn't take up much of my time. On a good day, I could do a dozen in the space of an hour. On Sundays there'd be a queue round the block. It was while watching them stumble into my little room and fight their way out of their brogues that I came up with the idea of a lightweight, slip-on shoe made out of recycled plastics . . . What? Don't look at me like that! Okay, so I invented Crocs; does that make me such a bad person?

Opening: Scott Jones.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations (These were all good, tough decision):

"Uh, thank you. Uh. Ahem. Well, ladies I'm, ah, sure you'll join me in... in... giving Millicent a warm Hope Ladies' Circle send-off to her, ah, new life at the Restful Willows, uh, retirement home. Th-- Thank you, Millicent!"


And I have a confession to make. Those marks you saw on my arm, Sarah? Those aren't chicken pox scars.

Sarah shot her mother a look of alarm. Six thousand dollar dress. Ten thousand dollars for catering—not to mention the two thousand dollar ice sculpture. God knows how much spent on renting the church and the hall next door.

And now. Now her normally taciturn fiance starts to talk. Why the hell couldn't he tell her all this before the goddamn wedding?


"Thank you, Emily," said Mr. Newsome. "But I distinctly said that this was a what I did over the summer story assignment, not a fiction class."

Emily sneered. 7th grade was going to totally suck.


Evil Editor said...

There's no transition between the paragraphs. Either mention Jimmy or Hope early in paragraph 2, or start the whole thing with paragraph 2 or put paragraph 2 somewhere else.

writtenwyrdd said...

That transition from paragraph one to two really threw me. They sound like two entirely different, but interesting, stories, too.

Either one might make an opening; but if you choose #2, trim, trim and trim!

I'd have read on, though, because it was certainly different enough to get me curious!

Jeb said...

Love that continuation!

The first sentence is too wordy. "I knew that" at the beginning sucks the life out of everything that follows. Cut out "and corruption" as well as "forcing him". Lose "and to murder himself". It raises huge questions that are immediately lost under the barrage of back story about old-hippy heroin heroes. Further, the fire and murder as here presented make it seem like everything really interesting has already happened. So why read on?

"The high water mark of my time in the town of Hope was coercing Jimmy Monroe into setting fire to City Hall. My mistake was staying in Hope afterward."

That sets up the reader for a tale in which things are about to go horribly wrong. A forward-looking tale, not a rehashing of the past.

Then, since presumably the heroin element is important in our Narrator's motivation, introduce that element simply, ie "But all junkies make mistakes. Except, from appearances, the ones in Amsterdam, where..."

Speaking of paragraph two... not that the information isn't interesting, but it's in the wrong place. Anybody who is going to read about junkies coercing each other probably already knows about Amsterdam's drug policy, and even those who don't know are probably more interested in Jimmy Monroe and the fire at this point.

Khazar-khum said...

The transition is nonexistant--one minute we're in Hope, the next we're getting a lecture on the beauty of life as a druggie. It's really jarring. There needs to be something which sets up the second paragraph.

Something like this: "You see, heroin addiction is not..." and so on. That gives us some idea of the way this is going, instead of just sort of happening.

Beth said...

What everyone else said. This sounds like two different stories. Also, the first paragraph is wordy. And nobody says "the City Hall." It's just "City Hall."

On the up side, paragraph one was a promising start.

Xenith said...

There is something intriguing about the first paragraph, in a "want to read on" way, but that's gone in the second pagragraph. I lost interest halfway through.

I think it's because we have "something that happened in the past" and then "something else that happened in the past". Now I'm wondering if the first paragraph was written in an attempt to make the beginning more hooky? If so, it doesn't work. You still have a big chunk of backstory on the first page and backstory is dull unless we've come to care about the characters.

Also, in long sentences with too many words, the point of the sentence gets lost.

(Nice continuation Freddie.)

pacatrue said...

I just want to say that my son has been wearing crocs for 4 years straight. Good shoes for a little one.

Evil Editor said...

Typical transition: outcast...serial killer. Get that kid into therapy now.

writtenwyrdd said...

Paca lives in Hawaii. Crocs are perfect for that area. But I live in Maine and when I'm not wearing steel-toed boots I'm wearing Crocs. They are ugly but comfy.

freddie said...

I've never worn crocs, and I never intend to, because it seems to me the plastic or rubber or whatever it is would rub against your feet and cause blisters. I guess they don't?

That said, I too was thrown by the transition from the first to the second paragraph. The second paragraph feels a little info-dumpy to me. Well-written info-dumpy (unlike this critique), but info-dumpy all the same.

At any rate, Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!!

Anonymous said...

You blew it, Scott. Read Hunter S Thompson and try again.

freddie said...

Oh, thanks, Xenith. I think the chosen one was pretty funny, too.

Dave F. said...

I just read this today (Friday about 1pm - I'm visiting my house for the night)... And I think what some of the others said. the two paragraphs seem unrelated to each other. I like the first paragraph. It's good. It draws the reader right into the story. And I like paragraph 2 for some internal part of the story. It's like the speaker is justifying his life and the paragraph sounds real to my ears. Plus, the almost final thought of "creamy skin" is intriguing and offbeat.

But these two paragraphs don't belong together.