Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Beginning 63

Bedlam's Way

Reginald Bigelow pushed aside the documents cluttering his desk and stabbed the intercom. “Send in General Arnold, please.”

He drummed his fingers until the door swung open. An orderly appeared, garbed in crisp dress whites. Jones by name. A nice kid. A good young man. But when Bigelow looked at Jones now, all he saw was a grey skull under pink flesh, waiting to bloom in death. He popped a Tums, then waved Jones out.

Bob Arnold waddled through the doorway, plopped his big ass down in the recliner, and wiped sweat from his forehead with the back of a hammy fist. “What’s up, Reggie? he said, his voice curiously high-pitched for such a big man. “What’s the goddammed emergency?” Catching the look on Bigelow’s face, his eyes narrowed, looking like two coals in a meat pie. “Uh-oh. Trouble?”

"It's Jones," said Bigelow, cutting to the chase. "He's been bitten."

Arnold's jaw flopped open. "My God. Do you think he's infected?"

"Of course, Bob. The bites are always infected." Bigelow leaned forward across the desk and lowered his voice. "I need you to go back to your office, real casually, and get your gun. Just act like nothing's wrong."

Arnold nodded, got up, and waddled out.

Bigelow smiled. Either Arnold would return with the gun, or Jones would be too gorged to pursue Bigelow as he made his escape. Either outcome worked for him.

Continuation: Braun


Anonymous said...

"But when Bigelow looked at Jones now, all he saw was a grey skull under pink flesh, waiting to bloom in death."

That's a good attention-grabber in my opinion. It makes me want to keep reading just to find out what the deal is.

However, the fat general ruins it for me. It is not realistic, but an old stereotypical cliche. There are no fat generals, period. Some may be a little overweight, but not by much and thay's because they are usually in their late fifties or older. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Maybe I've lived a sheltered life but I must admit ashamedly that I've never seen "two coals in a meat pie" and that simile (I think it's a simile?) didn't really enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

I'm lost when I read this. Where is it happening? Is it military? (General Arnold) Hospital? (An orderly). A military hospital? Is the nice kid, good young man just cannon fodder or is he ill? (First read I thought he had some horrible disease. Second read I thought cannon fodder.) Who, without a title, can order that a General be sent in?

And we get the picture that the General is fat--overkill--waddled, big ass, hammy fist, big man, meat pie (face)-all in one paragraph. Hit me over the head with it cuz I'm stoopid.

I didn't like the phrase 2 coals in a meat pie. Are there ever coals in a meat pie? The analogy seemed awkward.

There's some voice I liked (the nice kid, good young man...)and the writing's not bad but nothing has happened except some attempt at building suspense for the big disclosure that something has happened.

Since I'm not oriented in time, place, or even character, I'm not all that interested. I think that I wouldn't keep reading.

Sorry for the lack of enthusiasm. I liked the title a lot. Maybe there's something in your next paragraphs you can get to more quickly to pull me in. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I hated that line about the "grey skull under pink flesh, waiting to bloom in death". That and other lines (like the meat pie) make me think that the author is trying too hard to be "literary". An agent will puke at lines like that, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I didn't like the "meat pie" thing either. Left me scratching my head.

Also, isn't "hammy fist" kind of cliche now? I think I have read that exact description a thousand times, or else it just seems like it.

The writing is okay, but there is nothing that interests me here.

Anonymous said...

First I'll say that overall, I'm interested to hear more. It's seems competently written, even if the description of General Arnold is wildly overdone. So for the most part - good job.


I'm confused about the appearance of Jones. He walks in what I assume is Reginald's office, then leaves. He doesn't DO anything. I can feel that the author is trying to set something up here with the "grey skull under pink flesh" but it feels manipulative.

Bernita said...

Competent but please, a fat general is a tired, pseudo-menace cliche.
So is the "nice' orderly( who has "victim" tattooed on his forehead) I suspect.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why, when Bigelow sends for General Arnold, an orderly comes in, does nothing except get looked at, then leaves. And when I saw "General Arnold," my first thought was Benedict, not Bob. (I thought Bigelow was sarcastically referring to someone he considered a traitor.)

Your imagery lost me here: "[A]ll he saw was a grey skull under pink flesh, waiting to bloom in death." I thought, "Skulls aren't gray, are they? And how the heck does a skull bloom?"

Consider cutting back on modifiers somewhat: gray, pink, big (he waddles in, so we know his ass is big), hammy, curiously.

I like "Uh-oh. Trouble?" as a way to move things forward, but I'm already confused by that point. I think the writing is generally good and I'm curious about what's going on.

Anonymous said...

Three things. (1) What branch are we in? Dress whites are the Navy, but the Navy doesn't have generals. I mean, I don't know my military all that well myself, so it may be that an Army general could have a Navy orderly.

(2) Can General Arnold please please please be called something else? Because that name is already taken. General Arnold is Benedict Arnold, period. Same way you can't introduce General Dave Patton or Marshal Jacques Bonaparte.

(3) I agree with everyone else about the coals in the meat-pie. The image is just too strange.

Anonymous said...

This IS about zombies, right?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't understand the addition. Minion, what did you mean?

Anonymous said...

I suggest you keep either "nice kid" or "good young man" but not both. I agree with previous commenters to cut "with the back of a hammy fist" and absolutely get rid of the coals/meat pies -- saying he narrowed his eyes is sufficient.

I'd keep reading, to find out more about the setting, to learn why Bigelow sees visions of skulls when he looks at a young man, and to find out what's up. If indeed this is the us army you do need to rethink having a general with a fat ass.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really loved the writing here. (Jones by name. Nice kid. Good young man.) I'm right in character with Bigelow at that point.

Hammy fist might be cliche, but it worked for me. Of course, I can hide my own Easter eggs, so nothing really is cliche for me. I liked that description.

Two that stopped me: waiting to bloom in death, which just confused me enough to take me out of the story and one more vote to remove the meat pie. I just don't get that one, sorry.

Reads very well though, and I like the set-up to keep going. Something's brewing, and I'll definitely read on to find out what's up.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

re: the continuation

Jones is a zombie, or about to turn into one. The continuation is playing off the "bloom in death" line. Get it?

Anonymous said...

Or Jones is a vampire. The difference determines whether Jones gorges himself drinking the fat man's blood or eating his brain.

Anonymous said...

Zombies... vampires... It's all meat pie to me.

Anonymous said...

As the writer of the piece, thanks, everyone, for your comments.

Can't say why, exactly, but I get this nagging feeling that "coals in a meat pie" has to go. :)

Lots of other great feedback here. Thanks again!