Saturday, August 04, 2007

New Beginning 332

Five minutes to go.

Ryan tried to relax into the softness of the lobby chair and sized up the York Hotel. Ritzy. Too nice and classy for something so sordid. He’d prayed all the way over it was a practical joke, and no one would show up, but the note sounded too sinister even for one of his jackass friends.

He tapped his foot, fiddled with his watch.

Ah, to hell with relaxing. That sure wasn't going to happen. He pushed himself up from the leather and straightened his tie. Last chance to go to the bathroom, splash some cold water, and comb his hair into unflappable cool.

But when he stood up, he locked eyes with a man near the elevator. Holy shit. It was going to be blackmail then.

The guy was good. As soon as he spotted Ryan, he strode over with a big shit-eating grin and his arm extended like they’d known each other for years.

“Ryan! You made it. That’s great.” The blackmailer nodded to the lobby chair and Ryan fell back into the soft leather. The man took a seat opposite. “Sorry about the note. I figured sticking it under your windshield wiper was the best way.”

Ryan looked nervously about the lobby and cleared his throat. He glanced at his Rolex again, aware that he was late for an appointment with an important corporate client, and his BMW was parked on a meter.

“Check this out.” The man reached into his pocket and took out a thick envelope. “I brought some photographs.” Ryan’s pulse raced and he could feel sweat beading on his forehead. “You at a Sinead O'Connor concert, 1992. Your keynote speech at the Young Democrats Convention, 1986. Your . . . ”

Ryan winced. The bastard was ruthless.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: iago


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

He hadn't seen that face in years. Blake.

That cold winter night in Provincetown was a one time deal. Ryan had moved on, but apparently Blake hadn't.

Hockey practice had ended, and they had the rink to themselves. Blake had the moves, and Ryan figured it wouldn't do any harm to try it, just once.

Since that day, he couldn't live it down.

Blake raised one eyebrow, and held up the object in his hand.

It was a pair of figure skates.

Ryan closed his eyes. I'm screwed.


Ryan recognised the guy immediately. Then, a scuffing noise from behind the man and the colour drained from Ryan's face. He'd brought the donkey with him.


He walked over to the man and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Hi," Ryan replied to his boss. He pushed a wad of damp money into the man's hand.

"What's this?"

"It's - it's the money you asked for. It's your cut."

The boss laughed. "Ah, yes. Well?"

Ryan felt confused. "Well what?"

"How do you like our products?"

Ryan broke into a grin. "They work great. And we think we can get our neighbors to sign on. I can't wait to move up the pyramid!"


Ryan fell back into the leather chair, his hands shaking and sweat beading on his forehead. The man strode over and took a seat next to him.

"Well?" Ryan's voice wavered.

"I'm sorry it came to this, Mr. Ryan." The blackmailer pulled an envelope out of his pocket and slid it across the low table. "I discussed your position with the people I work for, and they are intransigent." Ryan slid a hand through his hair and let out a deep sigh. "I'm afraid if you don't accept the new Out of Print clause, then we cannot possibly finalize the contract."

Ruthless bastards.


"Ryan" continuation by Bill Highsmith

"How'd you find me this time?" asked Ryan.

"I saw your newspaper ad under 'Obnoxious Jerks,' said private detective Spenser Steele.

"One of my ex-wives took out that ad; I forget which."

"I work for the one who wants you to pay twice what you owe her or she'll rat you out to the one who'll tag you for six times that much."

"Would that be the one with a couple or three kids?"

"Yeah. Apparently, you're still married to this one."

"Damn . . . Do the kids miss their daddy?"

"Not really."

"Good. Should I sucker-punch you or run?"

"Do I look like I get beat up a lot?"

Steele looked like a Marine boxing champion, but Ryan hated running. The world went dark.

--Bill Highsmith

writtenwyrdd said...

"Good. Should I sucker-punch you or run?" Funny.

I thought this beginning is doing its job well enough that it was pretty hard to write a funny continuation; but apparently others have better humor skills than I.

At any rate, other that a small amount of overwriting that works against your attempt to create tension, this sets the scene well. I'd probably compress the first three paragraphs into one, omitting the repetitive actions (fidgeting, etc.) and some of the descriptives that don't really add to the scene (softness).

Anonymous said...

I think this has more punch:

Ryan tried to relax into the softness of the lobby chair. The York Hotel was certainly too classy for something so sordid.

Anonymous said...

Thanks EE, Writtenwrydd, and Anon...and where the crap is everyone else? I need critiques!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The continuations are awesome. LOL

Evil Editor said...

A lot of people catch up with their commenting on Sunday night or Monday.

Anonymous said...

Poor ignored author. I wasn't going to comment because I wasn't sure I was getting it. So take my comments in that light.

It was a sinister-sounding note. Got that. And it didn't indicate blackmail. Yet the MC is thinking the hotel setting is too nice for "something so sordid." Not getting that. If he doesn't know why he's meeting the note writer, how does he know the reason is sordid? The "practical joke" and "jackass friends" make the guy sound pretty young, which somehow for me didn't fit the image of someone about to be blackmailed.

Then Ryan locks eyes with a man and knows immediately it's going to be blackmail. The questions that popped in my head right then were:

1) Does he know the man? If so, why wouldn't he have seen the man earlier if he's been scanning the lobby waiting for someone? The man is *near* the elevator, not getting on or off.

2) Obviously Ryan has done something that can blackmail him. But that thought doesn't enter his head earlier?

3) If it's "going to be blackmail then," does that imply Ryan has been involved in so many other sordid things that he was unable to choose which one might be the intended target of the note writer? What choices were there for Ryan besides blackmail? Oh, he wants to discuss the ransom issue, or the goon's boss wants to know where I buried the body, or he wants to deck the guy who stole his girl, or is it that about that political mess I got tied up in during the last campaign? Ah, no. It's the blackmail issue.

But I don't feel on real firm footing here, so take all that as you may... Hopefully others will chime in as the weekend winds down.

Chris Eldin said...

I agree with everything Phoenix said.

My first read-through, I had two questions: How old is the character? Practical joke and jackass sound young, but ritzy hotel and someone wearing a tie sound older. So, that was confusing.

Also, the last paragraph confused me. Specifically, the last line about blackmail. There seemed to be a gap in logic--Phoenix explained this really well.

I do like details , but the softness of lobby chair isn't what I was looking for. If someone is waiting to find out if he's in trouble, I think he'd be focusing on the clerks at the front desk, what packages people are carrying, what people are talking about on their cell phones, odd-looking people, etc. I don't know. I've never been in a hotel lobby waiting to see if I'm going to be blackmailed or not, but I do think the characters eyes would be darting around and picking up some of this stuff.

I liked your voice, and would definitely read on. I hope you get more comments.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Phoenix and Takoda!

This story is about a very shady guy...Ryan is more of an anti-hero type. He has lots of things this could have been about besides blackmail (and lots of things he could be blackmailed for).

He is young (early 20s), but thanks to his family he has a pretty impressive job.

Thanks for the comments and advice!