Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New Beginning 623

The gunshot left Steve's ears ringing and heart racing. Black streaks highlighted the shredded pillow next to his head. He squinted at the gun in Jack hand.

"You nearly killed me!" Steve fumbled for his eyeglasses. Jack Coburn swatted his hand away with the pistol and motioned for him
to roll back.

"Effing Sammy lied. I caught him ready to run. The little bitch cried real tears while I blew the top of his head off," Jack's hands shook as he spoke.

"He's dead?" Steve asked. Dark red gore and dried blood smeared Jack's t-shirt. It was torn at the neck and exposed his chest.

"Brain splattered dead. I need a place to hide."

"Hide you?"

"What are you, deaf?" Jack knelt over Steve. He shoved the gun under Steve's chin and cocked the hammer. "Make me repeat one more time and your brains splatter. I said HIDE me."

"Deaf?" Steve said, trying to lip-read through the ringing in his ears that occluded all sound. He soon learned that his skills were sadly lacking.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Batgirl


V. Dunn said...

Oh... entertaining!

But I was a little distracted by Steve's exposed chest. For a moment I flashed to a Harlequin Romance novel cover which is probably not what you wanted to convey. Unless this scene is about to seque into passionate sex.

Not to mention - just how clearly *can* Steve see in the dark without his glasses? I know if it was me, Jack would be just one big blur.

Also, I think it would be "the little bitch cried real tears WHEN I blew the top of his head off". "While" sounds stilted.

I'd definitely keep reading this one. It sounds like a fun potboiler!

_*Rachel*_ said...

I'd go crying before/until blowing the head off, rather than while. A gun and a tear have different speeds, and having them at the same time feels wrong, like it's slowing the bullet to a crawl so Sammy gets time to cry. I wouldn't go with the when, because I'd usually interpret that as making the crying a result of the shooting.

I probably wouldn't continue; too violent for my tastes. But my tastes lean towards euphemism.

batgirl said...

As a painting-geek, I stumbled at the black streaks that highlighted a presumably-white pillow. I think even in hairstyling, highlights are a lighter colour than the surrounding hair.
Also, like V. Dunn, I stumbled at someone crying while his head was lowered. Until, maybe, but how long does it take to blow the top of someone's head off?
And the deafness. I don't know the calibre of the gun, but fired next to Steve's head, it seems to have left him in remarkable control of his faculties.
Other than that, yes, this does begin with a bang.

V. Dunn said...

Rachel - I don't know... grammatically, you're right, but if I was saying it myself, under those circumstances, I'd have gone all ungrammatical and said "when". I think "blew the top of his head off" can be taken as an event encompassing drawing the gun, pointing it, chuckling manically while the victim tearfully pleads for his life, and finally pulling the trigger.

On the other hand, I also like "before". It's both colloquial and logical, and should keep everyone happy.

Anonymous said...

Presuming, of course, that the nasty typo in the second sentence will be fixed, I gave the author the BOTD and continued. I agree with batgirl about the imagery of "highlighted" being incongruous with dark against light. Good dialogue. When I got to the part about the exposed chest, I wondered if this was going to be gay sex, but I didn't pause and continued on to the "Brain splattered dead" business.

My opinion on the sentence in question: the ". . . cried real tears before I blew the . . ."

I thought this was interesting and well-written even before I reached the end and saw Dave's name. I would read on.


chelsea said...

I can usually recognize your voice right away but I didn't in this. Were you holding back a bit? Either way, I still liked this passage, and didn't have many problems with it. I did trip up on the use of Jack's full name after you'd just referred to him as "Jack," and I'm curious as to why you chose "effing" rather than "fucking". I feel like a guy who just blew someone's head off wouldn't pause to censor his cursing.

For some reason, I really want to connect the sentences in paragraph four. Something like, "Steve asked, eying the red gore and dried blood on Jack's t-shirt. The way the shirt was torn at the neck, it looked as though Jack's own entrails were spilling out."

Ok, I took some liberties. But you get the gist. I always enjoy your work, Dave, and I would definitely read on.

Dave F. said...

These commentaries always give me more ideas than I thought possible.

"Effing" rather than "fucking" - I was being mindful of the readers who scold when I really unleash obscenities. Jack is a criminal having a nervous breakdown. Psychopathic schizophrenia sounds like a good diagnosis. At once brash, outrageous and homicidal alternating with despair, doubt and suicidal tendencies. He's trying to commit suicide by cop. That's why he didn't kill Steve.

As for entrails, well I think that's too much at the opening of the story. But making it a long sentence is a good idea. However, "eyeing" is not the correct word. I'll think on it.

I can usually recognize your voice right away but I didn't in this. This story feels different than any other I've written. Now I haven't a clue what those two sentences mean but the coincidence is nice.

No gay sex. The story is sexually hot but not with overt gay sex. Having them romp in bed would be so awful, cheesy, kitschy, so Spock Does Kirk, and so Mary Jane. Sex cures all! It even cures the psychopathic. Not hardly. That's my laugh for the day to tell the truth.

I have come to dislike the word "highlighted" -- I'm going to change it.

And "before " it is.

When you said: I think "blew the top of his head off" can be taken as an event encompassing drawing the gun, pointing it, chuckling manically while the victim tearfully pleads for his life, and finally pulling the trigger.
You hit the nail on the head. I want Jack to be the person that kicks dogs, drowns cats and eviscerates hamsters on bad days.

Seeing in the dark -- well, there's more to Steve than meets the eye (to borrow a phrase and to play on words)...

I have come to dislike the word "highlighted" -- I'm going to change it.

Men put their heads down and turn away when they cry. At least that's what happens the first time they cry and this is Jack's first time.

Deafness -- there's stuff happening in the story that you don't know. Someone fixes Steve's hearing and gives him lightning like reflexes, etc...

I probably wouldn't continue; too violent for my tastes. I am always wary of readers for that very reason. I think of readers like you when I hear criticism of "Twilight" as being sexless. Not everyone wants to read that stuff or wants to hear vulgar speech. It is an art not to use it and still get the emotional or dramatic impact. More than art, it's hard work.

This story is more cyberpunk than police procedural. There is no mystery to the murder but Steve's actions and what happens because of them begins a new age in mankind. (OH, is that a murky swamp-like pile of reeking poo poo that says nothing. I'm trying to figure out how to describe the story in 100 words or less and not 5000 words.)

I'm fixing the While/Which/Before problem.

Thanks for the comments.

Stick and Move said...

I didn't buy the dialogue. If Steve is anything like anyone I know, his first words wouldn't be whiny, they'd be more like "What the fuck are you doing you crazy son of a bitch!"

He wouldn't fumble for his glasses, either.

"Make me repeat one more time and your brains splatter..." Doesn't ring true to me.

Could be just me. I read a lot of Elmore Leonard and George Pelecanos. Pretty high standards to try to live up to when it comes to writing a violent scene.

Dave F. said...

Gee, no EE comment.

BuffySquirrel said...

Psychopathic schizophrenia sounds like a good diagnosis.

Not really. The DSM-IV doesn't even recognise "psychopathy" as a clinical disorder.

Perhaps you mean Antisocial Personality Disorder?

And cyberpunk? Not so far it isn't.

Dave F. said...

Damn blogger ate too many posts last night. One for EE, a big one.

Steve is surprised awake 3/4/5 times in the story, each surprise reveals something and changes the situation. We think he's saved himself and is helpin Jack run away. But when he isn't paying attention, a policeman walks in and spoils that and things turn around. Then things reverse course again and the penultimate surprise is pure sci fi. Sorry that's so cryptic.

I'm working on the dialog but this isn't police procedural. I am trying not to sound like a "noir" or a "detective" story,

Good for the DSM. I was just talking in a comment that one of the characters has had a breakdown and is bouncing between elation and depression.

As for cyberpunk, give it a chance. I'll try to post more of the opening but blogger hates anything long. I always lose long posts.

BuffySquirrel said...

No, Dave, you used the word diagnosis. That's clinical language. If you want to be casual, don't throw out terms like that.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked this, but the bit about smacking the guy with the gun hand bothered me--not because I've handled guns all my life and would never do such a thing; but because in my head it didn't sound like you blocked this out. I person who was under this kind of stress might do something like that.

Overall, except for that itty bothersome thing (which I think you can fix with a coule tweaks) I really liked this. It's a gripping scene. Brains!!

Dave F. said...

I stand spanked about DSM. I will never leave the house again unless I consult the DSM. the DSM is my bible not.

It's bothering me too. It is an awkward action. I have another version of that line and I have to think about them both overnight. Remember, you and I might never misuse a gun that way but a maniac in the heat of passion might not care. BTW -- After a relative did truly stupid things with a Ruger Single Six (22cal) of mine, I never even give people a first chance now. If I don't know, you don't even get to hold it.

Xenith said...

I found it confusing on the first read, partly because of the names thrown in out of conext, partly because it's mostly dialogue. Maybe slow down and put in a few words to make the where/when/who more concrete?

Also, I suspect the sort of reader this would appeal to would snigger at the use of "effing'. On the other hand, foul language in the opening paragraphs often comes across as "trying too hard for shock value". But then I've been grumbling about the use of obscenities and getting the balance right in my blog/LJ, and I don't think there is a "right".

Dave F. said...

I fixed the names business. You can always tell my early drafts by the names. Names are the second step in my writing. After the idea, I find a name that suits the character I want to create. I tend to write out the full name until the story takes shape and the character gets some development. "Coburn" disappeared as his character changed.

As for "Effing Sammy" or "Fucking Sammy" or maybe "Sammy Swampwater"... I have to finish the story and see how much the rest of the characters curse and carry on. Then will come the big decision -- take out all of the vulgarities or not.


BuffySquirrel said...

Ew, spanking Dave was definitely not on my to-do list.