Friday, July 07, 2006

Face-Lift 104

Guess the Plot

Duty Boy

1. A first-person, present tense, saga of toilet-training told by a three-and-a-half-year-old boy under enormous pressure to succeed.

2. When Captain Responsibility quits the superhero racket and goes on a three-day bender, it's up to his sidekick, Duty Boy, to take over his obligations.

3. Cub Scout leader Pius Piatro finds himself the focus of a national debate when he expels eight-year-old David Fenneman from Troop 212 on suspicion that David might be gay.

4. "Duty Processing," Alabama's controversial new system of legalized slavery, is working out great for business owners--until one of them is murdered.

5. A customs agent's son enlists on a pirate ship as the captain's boy, but finds the captain's idea of high seas thrills is nothing like his own.

6. Triple Crown winner Duty Boy is a dud at stud--until a stable boy goes beyond the call of duty.

Original Version

How much pain is one life worth?

David Ellis has found himself in the middle of a circus. [He is . . . the Ringmaster!] [On the assumption that there had to be a comic book character called the Ringmaster, Evil Editor researched the matter. Sure enough, the Ringmaster was a villain who took on the likes of Spiderman, Hulk, and Howard the Duck. Since my comic book collection includes issues 1 - 27 of Howard the Duck, I dug them out and looked for the one with the Ringmaster. It was number 27. At the end, Howard says to The Ringmaster, "So now it's down to you 'n' me, Ringo--unless you care to surrender!" And the Ringmaster says, "Capitulate to a duck!?! Are you mad??" Anyway, different ringmaster.] Protestors, TV news crews, human rights groups, and Hollywood directors are converging on Birmingham after the murder of a local businessman. But the victim and trial are mere side notes to the real issue: Duty Processing. [Couldn't they come up with a better name? Duty Processing sounds like what goes on in the colorectal system.] A controversial government program 25 years in the making, Duty Processing has taken work-release to a new low. Nonviolent criminals are given work contracts instead of prison terms, and what started as rehabilitation has, through the years, devolved into little better than slavery. [Slavery? I get it, you get caught embezzling, your punishment is working the drive-through window at McDonald's, and while you're handing people their food, Ronald McDonald is whipping you.]

Now a business owner has been murdered and a young DP is accused. As the suspect's advocate, Ellis is the only one protecting him from execution. [Maybe the only one officially protecting him, but the protestors, news crews, human rights groups, and Hollywood directors are probably mostly on his side.] Resisting every pressure to plead his client guilty and be done with him, David faces threats to his home, his family, his job, and even his life as the forces that profit from the DP system fight to crush his case.

DUTY BOY is a mainstream novel of 91,000 words that follows this case from the day of the murder to the trial's verdict. The completed manuscript is available, as well as a synopsis and sample chapters.


Evil Editor changed a few words rather than reprint the whole query with very few changes. I would have changed the term "Duty Processing," but couldn't tell if the author made it up, or if it's the actual name of a program.

How about including a couple examples of the jobs DP's have to do, and of how (besides the lack of paychecks) they're like slavery.

So, is the accused actually called "Duty Boy" in the book? Because that's kind of insulting, both parts. It also sounds kind of childish; when Evil Editor was a kid, some children referred to doodoo as "duty," rather than use the more sophisticated term, "caca." Don't know if that's still the case.


Anonymous said...

uh, huh-huh. You said dooty. uh, huh-huh.

Anonymous said...

It probably varies from state to state -- it sounds like work-release but here, work-release allows employed inmates to continue to work. I can't remember if they spend nights and weekends in jail or just weekends.

I'd give it a different title but I like the premise.

Anonymous said...

I liked the title; I thought it catchy and evocative. However, I've never heard caca called duty before. I think this is a regional thing, and the author and I are apparently living in the wrong regions.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I survived with just a few doodoo jokes.

This is my official response to the title - 'duty boy' was a rudely intended slang term used a couple hundred years ago for the young men who'd immigrate from Europe and have to pay off the trip with so many years indentured servitude. I thought it was subtle. :-)

Thanks, EE!

Stacia said...

I don't understand. Wouldn't the people who profit from the DP system have a vested interest in keeping it going, and thus want the client to be found Not Guilty? Why would they be fighting to crush David's case, when a verdict against him would result in such a huge public outcry that the DP system would be put in serious jeopardy? Remember Willia Horton?

Other than that it's a good query, I think, but that really threw me.

Hey, EE, according to my husband the comic stud, those issues of Howard the Duck are worth considerable money.

Anonymous said...

And there I always thought it was spelled "doody".

BTW, my crush on EE is increased tenfold knowing he has Howard The Duck comic books.

Daisy Bateman said...

I actually think the title kind of works, assuming it's a way to demonstrate the level of disrespect with which the convicts are treated. (Man, that's a convoluted sentence. I wonder if EE does comment postings.)

I googled "duty processing" and it seems to be some kind of computer term, involving "edge servers" and "bonded site management".

And I'd always thought of it more as "doodie".

Anonymous said...

Duty Free might be funnier, since the protagonist wants to be free, and people at the airport might buy the book simply because of the title.

Anonymous said...

My dad was a DP - a displaced person, nowadays known as a refugee. Threw me when I saw DP...though I'm sure many have no idea of that particular reference.


dan said...

"The Ringmaster originally had no inherent superhuman powers. His unique Top Hat has a swirling disk in the front which can send out a hypnotic beam and give him control of the minds of others. Tiboldt eventually had special hypnotic disks surgically grafted into his eyes. These implants allow him to mentally dominate individuals, but he still requires his hat to control large crowds.

With the Cosmic Ring, Tiboldt gained the ability to alter reality in a 15 foot radius around him." (from Wikipedia)