Tuesday, January 30, 2007
New Beginning 202
The man whose intestines would be on my floor in less than an hour walks out of the brick house. I watch from my car as he descends the steps sprightly and struts down the sidewalk.
I grit my teeth at his strut.
I put my car into drive and accelerate the new Audi with the headlights off. The car glides quietly into the dying night. He is whistling. I can hear it. He's happy, but he doesn’t have the right to be.
I turn on my lights and drive past him. He looks at the car but he doesn’t know who I am. I smile at him, but he doesn’t see.
I turn left a few blocks ahead, into a greasy alley. I get out and open the trunk. I grab my son's aluminum tee-ball bat. I crouch behind shrubs hugging the apartment building next to the alley. I hear his whistling louder now. I smell his arrogance. I hear his breath.
I see his shadow.
He walks past the shrub and I spring forward. He stops, perhaps hearing my knee crack as I spring from my crouch. I am faster, though. Such is the advantage of surprise.
I swing the bat down on his head just above his left ear. The crack sounds just like it did when my son hit a double with this very bat only a few weeks ago. Identical except that no one cheers me on.
The man drops. I don’t know how many blows it takes to knock a man out cold and how many to kill one. I guess that three might be somewhere in between. I swing down two more times, a little softer. The metallic plinks sound like my son’s ground out and single later in the game.
The man does not move.
I drag the lifeless body to my car like an infield drag mat and stuff it into the trunk. I'll need some privacy for what I'm going to do.
My home is a half-mile away. I pull into the garage and drag the body through to the kitchen. I get out a butcher knife and gut the bastard like a pig.
I look up and a cop levels his gun at me. I lunge toward the living room, but there’s already another cop, a tall one, blocking my path. They’ve got me in a rundown, like when my son got picked off first last week.
As the tall cop approaches, his eyes widen. “Mitch?” It’s Brian, the Bluejays coach. He looks at the pool of blood on the floor and back at me. “Say it ain’t so, Mitch.”
I drop the knife and hang my head, like my son did when he took that called third strike. My son, he’s only six, but he’s gonna be in the majors some day.
“You have the right to remain silent.” Brian slaps the cuffs on me and spins me around. “Just for the record,” he says, jerking his thumb toward the dead body, “Lou makes some bad calls now and then, but your kid was out by a mile.”
Opening: Chris Rylander.....Continuation: blogless_troll
Posted by Evil Editor at 8:37 AM
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I read this and thought, within the first paragraph, "Ah, he's read Darkly Dreaming Dexter."
This is a bit rough here and there, but overall very good, I thought.
I particularly liked "I turn left a few blocks ahead, into a greasy alley. I get out and open the trunk. I grab my son's aluminum tee-ball bat. I crouch behind shrubs hugging the apartment building next to the alley. I hear his whistling louder now. I smell his arrogance. I hear his breath."
The first paragraph in particular needs a bit of work, though. I think you indeed do get the attention with the first sentence, but it is by shock value of saying "whose intestines would be on my floor". I think you can find a better way to start. Also, "he descends the steps sprighly" isn't grammatical.
The very first sentence has a grammatical error. It should be "The man whose intestines will be on my floor in less than an hour..."
My personal feelings on present tense aside, I liked the opening. It has urgency and conflict and some good details. I like the voice. There were a few problems, like hearing the whistling while in the car; it took me out of the story as I tried to imagine hearing someone whistling in the night over the sound of my automobile engine. I know that's picky, maybe it's just me. Smelling arrogance also took me out of it. The smaller "plinks" with the bat didn't do it for me either, containing a bit too much reference to the son's baseball game. Blogless_troll wisely seized upon this for the humor in the continuation, which was great. Not knowing if this is a short story or novel length fiction, or where the story is going, my suggestion would be to tone down the game references, and maybe take another look at the sensory details. As far as the continuation, excellent!
I found this beginning compelling. I'd keep reading even though I didn't want to. :)
We'll probably see the continuation in the news one of these days. *sigh*
I think it's pretty good.
American Psycho moves to the suburbs was my first thought. -V95
Loved the continuation--loved how it took the opening and wrapped it up.
The first paragraph made me like the unidentified man and believe the narrator is sympathetic towards him.
I suggest skipping the second sentence of the 1st paragraph--you don't need it. In the next line you give us what we need--the narrator's response, which also tells us the man is strutting.
Is it true the man doesn't know the narrator? Or just that he doesn't recognize him/her? If this is violent murder of a stranger, it's much creepier, but also much less understandable. I guess I like my fictional murders personal and cozy(!)
Knee crack, bat...crack--The "knee crack" made me thing the narrator is old, or that the author just didn't want the proverbial Leatherstocking twig cracking. But I didn't like the juxtaposition of these two uses of crack.
I'd keep reading if this is a short story. If it's a novel, I wouldn't because it's not my cup of tea.
This is really dark stuff to open a novel.
I sometimes wonder if this is the right way to start. I remember an interview with Vincent Price after the release of the movie "The Abomidable Doctor Phibes" where he describes the concept of the "face of ultimate evil" in relation to his movies.
His point was that no matter how bizarre the character, no matter how much fun you could have with a villian, at some point in the story, the character must reveal the Face of Ultimate Evil. The character can be bad, mean, nasty and vicious but then suddenly, surprisingly and shockingly, he or she reveals the true depth of evil, the true horror. Everything leading to that, no matter how bloody or horrifying, has to pale by comparison.
I have a few easy examples from the latest repeats of Arnold's Terminator series. In the first movie, the reveal comes near the end when the skeletal terminator walks out from under of the burning gasoline truck. It finally reveals that it is a machine, a relentless killer. The audience now sees the metal skull, the gleaming red eyes, etc...
It the third Terminator, the reveal is very subtle and very psychological. It occurs after the graveyard scenes where the terminator, the girl and John Conner are traveling in a camper. The Terminator answers the girl's questions but not Conner's. When Conner asks why, the terminator refuses to answer. When the girl (destined to be his wife and second in command), the terminator says that John Conner was dead. Conner fumbles and doesn't want to know the date but his wife-to-be, asks the terminaotr to answer - in matter-of-fact tones, the terminator relates that he killed John Conner, the time and the date and the reason he was chosen and that they will meet again in the future.
Imagine facing your killer, a killer who without sympathy, without regret, without emotion can relate to you the details of HOW HE KILLS YOU - the date, the time, the reasons. The movie is filled with great action sequences - - but this one small scene, (three people sitting in a moving vehicle and talking) is the emotional climax. And it resonants all through the rest of the movie.
Now why all these words?
Consider what horror, what villian, and how you reveal him to your audience. Perhaps this is too much too soon, perhaps not. Perhaps these are merely bad actions and the real evil is yet to come...
"I grab my son's aluminum tee-ball bat."
A gruesome note:
Aluminum baseball bats make a metallic plink and not a resounding wooden thump or home-run crack.
I can only guess that's the sound it makes when it hits a human body.
Boy, this reminded me immediately of Lee Child's Persuader, from the opening paragraph set up to the first person and sentence structure. Of course, Child's narrator is Jack Reacher, the good guy, and this narrator sounds like the bad guy. But, author, you might not want your readers to have that close an association, i.e., you might want to look at Persuader and retool a little. Good luck.
i have not read any of the books used for comparisons. maybe i should. it is good that most of you either can't tell who to sympathize with or think the narrator is "evil." that's what i wanted. he is not. he is the protaganist, and the man he eventually tortures and kills has done something awful and deserves to die (at least in the narrator;s mind).
This has got to be a female lead. What man would grit his teeth at another's strut? "He's happy, but he doesn't have teh right to be." The first is a jealousy reflex and the second a confirmation. I'm thinking a cross of So I Married an Axe Murderer and OJ's If I Did It.
Needs a little tightening up, but it's good stuff.
I dig the continuation :) Good job Blogless :)
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