Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Beginning 246

"Never convince me it's spring – freezing rain, icy bridges, flooding streams." Detective Sergeant C. Harold Blantan adjusted his plastic rain slicker. Cold water crept inside as he walked towards the accident. Traffic patrol had found the silvery, $70,000 extravaganza of a car – no skid marks, a broken guardrail, hood crushed into a tree, fourway blinking, "What’s so special that the Chief of D's woke me? It looks like every other wreck caused by late winter storms." Steam still poured out of the engine, trying to rise but rain beat it down.

"Ice cubes, Detective. CSI says green tea cubes." Lightning illuminated six or seven policemen picking up ice cubes. Blantan's Bluetooth earpiece crackled with interference.

"What the hell?" Blantan looked at the patrolman as if he spoke some alien language.

"Each ice cube has diamonds frozen in the center. The wreck tossed them all over. We picked up over 1000 so far."

Blantan held on to his cup of Starbucks Java Blend and made his way down to the wreck, careful not to lose his footing on the slick grass. "Lexus, huh?" he said as he looked inside the car. "Figures." The driver was slumped over the wheel. Blantan leaned in and pulled a business card out of his pocket. "Ryo Kobayashi."

The detective used his free hand to wipe the rain off his face and looked up to where the patrolman was standing. "Officer, you can just write this up as an RTA. There's no crime here." He took another swig of his coffee. "This guy's just a salesman."

Blantan struggled back up to the road. He surveyed the wreckage again while he drained the last of his coffee. "Last week pearls, now diamonds. Those damned Japanese'll do anything to get us to drink their stinkin' green tea."

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Anonymous


Anonymous said...

Great continuation!

You have an interesting premise here, Author. I'm certainly interested in hearing what benefit there is in freezing diamonds inside green tea cubes.

Anonymous said...

This opening certainly gets me thinking: Why hasn't the ice melted in the rain? How do you freeze diamonds in the middle of an ice cube? Why are the four-ways flashing? How do they know it's green tea?

Answers to come? I hope so.

none said...

I did wonder a little to whom the detective was talking.

But that was nothing to the anguish caused to my brain by the phrase "fourway blinking". I don't know what that means. It isn't in my vocabulary. Surely I don't have to look it up.

So, shall I apply my brain to deducing that it means the car's hazard lights are on, or, in the best tradition of these comment threads, suggest that the author spell it out in words everyone can understand?

Which to choose, which to choose.

(it's all right, EE, I'm certain my pills will start to work eventually)

Robin S. said...

Go buffy, go.

I like this. And anon 3:59 am, I'm guessing those ice cubes haven't melted because the rain is freezing cold, the bridges are icy, and maybe the wreck is recent.

I liked this; I'd read more to see what happens.

I like the frozen green tea ice cubes, and what the anonymous continuator did with them.

shaded-lily said...

Hilarious continuation!

I like this beginning, too. Good description and intriguing situation. (It was only on the second read-through that I wondered why the "lightning illuminated" the policemen -- are they working in the dark?) I'd definitely keep reading.

AmyB said...

I had trouble parsing the first sentence on first read. Did he mean "You'll never convince me..." or was he telling someone they should never convince him?

"Steam still poured out of the engine, trying to rise but rain beat it down." I like this image but the sentence didn't flow well; maybe it could be restructured.

I love the diamonds frozen in green tea thing! It's an intriguing start.

Loved the continuation!

Bernita said...

Don't think you need that first sentence. Otherwise, nice.

Dave Fragments said...

The author says:
It needs two characters. Detective Blantan can't just talk to nameless, faceless patrolmen and paramedics.

Bermita, yes the first sentence should be the car wreck. I have to work through the exact words.
However, Blantan still gets to say that line somewhere in the story. It's part of his "Noir" attitude.

AmyB, I know. That sentence needs work.

Buffysquirrel, It's only 150 words, The fourway is on because the killer turned them before he wrecked the car to dispose of the body. The wreck smashes the dead body into the windshield obliterating his face.

Diamonds in ice cubes, think of why they need to hide diamonds - He's smuggling black ones, or thieving them from the smugglers. And green is the "in" decorating color. I don't know why they used green tea to hide the diamonds. I'm working that out in my mind today, maybe.

As for lightning, if you stand out in the rain, at night, after dark, and outside of the city lights, lightning strikes are long and do illuminate the scene in strobe-like images. That's what I'm trying to describe there. Leave the streetlights and go out drive in a park. An unlit road winding through barren trees just waiting for conspirators, thieves and traitors to do business. BTW - It is a very dark and very stormy night (GASP! I invoked the ultimate cliche). But dark and stormy nights are best for nefarious deeds in mystery stories. Just don't call them "dark and stormy"...

And I'm no longer anonymous for this opening.

Anonymous said...

Dave honey,

Pretty sneaky, in a fun way, to submit this anonymously.

Keeping those preconceived notions at bay?


Rei said...

Dave: As far as I can tell, Buffysquirrel isn't complaining about the fourway being on. She's wondering *what a fourway is*. Let me match that sentiment. Even google isn't helping; it must be a regional term. I give up; what is it? Is it the hazards, like Buffy thought it might be?

Bernita said...

If it's regional, it's a very big region.
Dave, I had the same problem with "make the plate" in my current WIP.
Choice between the slang/short form consistent with the pov or confusing the reader.
You may have to add flashers.

Dave Fragments said...

All four turn signals blink at once - that's a fourway flasher. I'll hunt out the proper term for whatever it is. I'm sure it's in my owners manual in my car. The one in my car activates from the top of the steering column.

The reason I wanted it on is that it is aanachronistic. It's a detail that points to murder.

I'll fix it, thanks.

Dave Fragments said...

Here is my revision:

Traffic patrol found the silvery, $70,000 extravaganza of a car – no skid marks, just a broken guardrail. The car's hood smashed into a tree, four-way flasher lights blinking, doors open and a dead body. Icy rain crept inside Detective Sergeant C. Harold Blantan's poncho as he walked towards the wreck. A white cloud of steam poured out of the engine, trying to rise before surrendering to the sleet and freezing rain. Lightning illuminated three policemen with flashlights picking up ice cubes from the car. Blantan's Bluetooth earpiece crackled with interference.

"What’s so special that the Chief of D's woke me? It looks like every other wreck caused by late winter storms."

"Ice cubes, Detective. CSI already analyzed them, they're green tea."

"What the hell?" Blantan looked at rooky detective Steve Reedy as if he spoke some alien language.

"Each ice cube has diamonds frozen in the center. The wreck tossed them all over. The Uniforms picked up over 1000 so far." Reedy lifted the sheet off the body. The man used to be handsome before his face met the windshield. Blood stained the lace front of his shirt and bowtie while mud covered one side of his tuxedo. He pressed the man's hands to the fingerprint pad and transmitted the fingerprints to the office.

"Smashed like that, how did he get all that mud on his tuxedo?" Blantan asked.

"Traffic patrol found him ten feet from the car sucking the mud. The rain's scrubbed footprints, skid marks. It's impossible to drive this car without a seatbelt. The Medical Examiner thinks he died instantly when his head smashed into the windshield."

"Or soon thereafter, wouldn't you think?"

"I think he was almost dead before the crash, or at least nearly dead. There's not enough blood." Reedy said.

Rei said...


Everyone around here calls them either "hazard lights" (hazards) or, less commonly, just "flashers". I've lived in Texas, Indiana, and Iowa, and not once heard them referred to as a "fourway".

What about hazards is anachronistic? Are you saying that people don't use them any more? If there's freezing rain, there's nothing odd about the flashers being on. I live in Iowa, and whenever there's a bad enough storm on the highway that normal speeds aren't safe, you see them all over the place. It's a good way not to get rearended when the weather is so bad that you're going 15 mph in low visibility, and you're worried that someone crazy going 60 is going to slam into you.

Dave Fragments said...

Oh, sorry. The hazard lights are standard equipment on the car. They aren't anachronistic.

The driver has apaprently put the hazard lights ON before he crashed. The car has wrecked into a tree by skidding, crashing through a guard rail and stopping in a tree.

Are we to believe that the driver had the presence of mind to put his hazard lights on to warn off others as he was skidding through the guard rail and hitting the tree?

NAH! So the flashing lights are anachronistic to the story of the wreck.

If you read the revised version (and I will fix the flahsers/hazard lights) you can see that the two detectives don't buy it either.

It seems after thr driver hit the tree and fatally smashed his head upon the glass (without wearing a seat belt) - he got out of the car and walked ten feet while dead.
yeah, sure - I got a nice plot of land in Brooklyn, too. You can buy it, cheap!

Anonymous said...

I liked this opening, Dave. It was intriguing and mostly efficient. Your rewrite works better, though I'm not sold on the steam "surrendering" to the sleet and rain. I'd work on that some more. I also wondered how one freezes diamonds in the middle of a cube, but you being a scientist, I'm sure you'll provide a believable explanation. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

Half fill your ice tray with water (or green tea). Freeze. Add diamonds. Top up with water (or green tea). Freeze again.

You can't do it with an automatic ice maker, though there's probably a machine available in Japan...

Anonymous said...

I lived in Iowa my entire life until two months ago, and I recall hearing "four-ways" (plural) used to mean hazard lights quite often.

Anonymous said...

Dave, your cops don't need the hazard lights as a clue to the suspicious nature of the "accident," with all those other clues you've just mentioned. So maybe just get rid of them (if they have no other function) and duck all the confusion.

Anonymous said...

" The rain's scrubbed footprints, skid marks."

No-one talks like this. No-one should write like this either, honestly - it's bad journalism/crime novel practice to use a comma instead of an 'and' or similar. Oh, and you're using 'anachronistic' to mean 'incongrous'. And the poster who said 'how do they know it's green tea?' was right - how would they know? No-one would lick one of the ice cubes! Otherwise -nice intriguing start. Keep going!

PLaF said...

Hi Author,
Steam succumbs to the freezing rain.
When the Bluetooth crackles with interference, then you go into dialogue, the reader assumes that’s what’s coming over the Bluetooth.
Chief of D’s…don’t like it. Try saying it out loud: cheefodees.
Unless there are aliens in your story, you don’t need “Blanton looked at rooky detective Steve Reedy as if he spoke some alien language.” Blanton can just eye the rookie (not rooky). Readers will get the impression of the master questioning the novice.
If by your earlier statement the killer meant to obliterate the dead man’s face to prevent the police from identifying the dead man, Blanton probably wouldn’t be able to tell that the man used to be handsome. It’s too vague a description anyway. Maybe describe the remains of a high forehead or graying hair at the temples, etc.
The report given by the rookie is disjointed and you lose a great opportunity to build tension. You might rework to give the report in a facts-first sequence, followed by what doesn’t add up.. i.e. The car came south on the highway, hit the guardrail and spun to a stop here. The victim blah blah blah. Funny thing is….”
“He pressed the man’s hands to the fingerprint pad…” When you say “he” on the tail end of describing the man, it reads like the dead man is doing the pressing, not the detective.
“I think he was almost dead before the crash, or at least nearly dead.” Er…what’s the difference?
“There’s not enough blood.” Are there vampires?
Sorry, could not resist. This part of Reedy’s report is a little thin. Not enough blood for what? Where, under the blanket?
Overall, I am really curious about the story and am interested enough to follow the clues. My concern is that the two men presented have the same voice. If I can’t tell the difference between them, it will be harder to keep reading.