I knew this broad was trouble the first time she stepped into the Barfing Beagle. She wore bad-girl blue jeans and a street-slut halter. On one arm, she cradled a Denebian Antimatter rifle, a real Conversation stopper. Her free hand held a cell phone to her ear. The fairer sex seldom patronized this bar.
"Which of those ass-kissing-weasels screwed the pooch this time?" she asked. A coy smile covered her face and her green eyes met the rheumy, bloodshot gaze of the patrons. She shook her flaming red hair and pulled her shoulders back making her puppies wink. She snapped the cellphone shut. Bartleby the Beagle lifted his head and belched. That's as close as he gets to barfing anymore.
"Which one of you dickless drunkards wants to help me find my Buttercup and Bluebell?" Pouty red lips announced. Tata Murphy fell off his barstool. Buzz Gaspar's false teeth landed in that rotgut he calls bourbon. Tiny Winterhalter spit his beer all over Benny Tillman. Petey Whitehorse grasped his heart and dropped out of sight behind the bar. Sten 'Bitch Face' McCackle vomited blood. The geeks in the compu-booths spewed coffee all over their keyboards.
"Come on, ass-faced motherhumpers. Anyone got the balls to step up?" Luscious, moist lips curled into a pout, which opened as the lady spit a chunk of chew onto the floor.
Father McClosky said, "Lady, I think they're in your bra."
She disintegrated him, then dropped a hand from the rifle and adjusted her balls. "Pussies." As she turned on a spiked heel and swayed her hips to the door, I realized: I've gotta start being less generous with the term 'fairer sex'.
Opening: Anonymous.....Continuaton: Lynn/Khazar-khum
"Sounds like easy money," Benny said to her chest.
"Yeah? Tell my face about it," she replied, pushing his chin up with the muzzle of her weapon.
"No need to get shorty," Tata told her as he pulled himself up onto his stool.
"Listen, jerk-offs." She put her cellphone and rifle on the bar. "If you can forget your hard-ons for one minute, I need help here."
"We're all ears," Buzz told her, pulling at his gargantuan left lobe.
"Yeah? Well, there's a cool hundred grand in it for you if you don't screw up. I need you t--" Her cellphone rang. "Jesus, what now?"
Not taking her eyes off the Beagle regulars, she picked up the rifle and blew her own head off. That red dye job wan't fooling anybody.
I thought this was really good, except for the cellphone. Any world with antimatter rifles is way beyond cellphones, even if it's--no, especially if it's a satire. Everything else was so wonderfully over-the-top; don't undermine it with a cellphone. Think up something better. Good job.
p.1 The description explains how you knew she was trouble. The last sentence doesn't follow the same train of thought. I'd delete it. You could make it the second sentence and move the broad's description to the front of the second paragraph, but I'd delete it. No need to capitalize "conversation" or "antimatter."
p.2 Can't tell if that question is addressed to the bar patrons or the cell phone. For that matter, I don't know what it means. I'd change "anymore" to "these days."
p.3 Questions aren't announced. Change "announced" to "asked politely." No need to capitalize "pouty."
I like this - the whole thing made me smile- both the opening- and the continuation.
The Barfing Beagle, the rheumy, bloodshot gazing, the dickless drunkards, the whole bit was a fun noir schtick.
I really enjoyed it.
Is this a short story or novel opening?
The images are fairly vivid to my mind. Good job.
I do find the first line a cliche. I'd ask to be shown "bad" through the other things in the story.
Also, if "I" am not featured in the other lines (and in this first bit the character "I" is not), I don't like its use here. It's as if the protagonist whose omniscient vision we enjoy isn't a page-one character.
Para one is showing mood. Cool. Is the last sentence necessary as a stand out ? Perhaps, "As the first female in six weeks to cross the threshold of the Barfing Beagle, her street-slut halter and bad girl jeans made the point of gender in spades."
Yea - still a little cliche but I'm working short here.
I do so hope Buttercup and Bluebell are ambulatory terraforming androids of a large rectangular shape ...
You know you have a good grabber here, author. I want to see more.
I wish I was unethical enough to steal the continuation and publish it as you read it. It makes great flash fiction. But that would be so wrong.
I like the unchosen continuation, too.
Thanks for the comments.
Here's the real continuation:
Her words raised my hackles. No one calls my friends dickless. I'm the real Richard Liss. It's on my birth certificate; PI to the stars.
"If you think you can handle a real man, I'm here for ya babe." Mort Herkimer, our appliance repairman, beat me to the challenge. He grabbed his crotch shook it at the broad.A single energy beam incised a hole in his chest about the size of a bowling ball. It cauterized the edges so neatly that Mort's wife had him stuffed, mounted and filled the hole with a goldfish bowl. She said he was a better husband dead than alive and that the fish were better company.
"Any other dickless wonders?" the broad asked. Bartleby the Beagle whined and hid his head under his stubby paws. I slipped behind a barstool. I'm five foot two, makes it easy to hide behind barstools. I pointed an old Earth 45 caliber revolver at her head, hammer cocked, brain-busting dum-dum bullet just waiting for my trigger finger to twitch.
"Put the raygun down or die, lady. You can't come into my bar and shoot up the joint like the Queen of the May. Have a little respect. We'd rather our lady patrons be polite and well, ladylike. Virginal even. But somehow I suspect you lack that virtue. So state your business or get out."
"Brave words, got the balls to back it up, little man?"
"Lady, you don’t know Jack from shit. I'm Richard Liss, the best damn detective on seven planets and if I can't find your Buttercup and Bluebell, no one can. I got four rules. First Rule, don't call me Dick and always pronounce the last name lease." She pursed her lips and listed starboard like a sinking boat. Her puppies lurched too taking every eye in the bar with them. I brought the pistol up to neutral lest it misfire and puncture those titties.
The opening has some amusing stuff, but in general I find the idea of writing a piece in the style of hard-boiled detective fiction to be very tired. Unless you have a truly new angle on it, it's just been done too many times before.
I liked this. I've never read a detective novel. I would read more. Nice Job, Dave.
My first thought was: Miss Snark is back!
This isn't my favourite style of writing, but I think it's well done.
Buttercup and Bluebell are three year old stallions that she wants to enter in the equivalent of the Kentucky Derby.
As for length, the only thing that keeps this from being novel length is a plot. Most of what I write has a plot that only lasts 2000 to 10,000 words. When I have gone to novella length stories, then I have more than one scene or one event in mind.
That's something EE and the minions don't talk much about because we deal with openings and query letters. But although I hate to outline and plan a plot out in advance, I'm taking a few stories and doing just that. Setting timelines and storylines (if the story is non-linear). It's essential to plot ahead of time. I have built engineering test units with 1000 valves and a utilities to run those experimental units. And I could look at the flowsheet and point to the valve number on the piping. I could even listen to the procedure in darkness and tell them what they were doing right or wrong. The procedure was 500 pages with all the saftey concerns. If someone said "we want to discuss the high pressure separator V-4, I could see it in my mind without a picture, flowsheet or being in the same room. BUT, BUT, BUT...
I cannot keep all the plot details in 80 to 100K words in my mind. For that, I need an outline. I cannot invent a story on the fly when it becomes novel length. I need an outline.
That's why once before I said - trust the technique. An outline is a technique.
I have to take the time to think about this story and plan out how long I want to sustain the parody. Right now, it's a Dick Francis parody (meaning it's about horses). I could make the lady into Brigid O'Shaughnessy and have Richard Liss and his boozy buddies running around chasing a statue. I have to think long and hard about that.
A real giggle and fun to read.
I thought the very beginning was amusing, but it became so over the top so rapidly the barrage of description stopped working and made me hyper critical instead.
I can't help but think this wasn't a serious entry. My apologies if I am incorrect.
The last line of the first paragraph jarred. The line of dialog is too coy, not giving us enough to go on. Might work better as is if you gave us a clue as to what she's about in the first para. (And, no, just having a gun isn't explanation enough.)
I like how this reads, but I don't know if I'd like it long enough to read a novel length version. This voice requires a lot from the reader, I think.
I was expecting you to say this was a short story type of thing. Or novella, as you mentioned.
As for plotting out, I feel like that depends upon the subject matter.
For me, plots are character-driven, and, as such, as the story unfolds while being written, I think the plot often unfolds as well.
I have an end game in sight, but getting there - for me- is not necessarily driven by a fully formed plotline.
Whatever length this ends up being, it's going to be a fun read. It's a caricature of all things cliche in detective stories.
Robin, I know what you mean about driving a story with one character or one event. However, I find that even at 5000 words, I need a page about the character and what he/she experiences or how he/she changes, and another page about the plot and whatever twist is involved in it. IF I don't, then I am doing all of that in revisions after the fact.
I can dump a story on the page in short order but to make it better, I have to do more work. If I don't the story becomes one-dimensional.
I've only read about three Dick Francis books, but this doesn't remind me of any of them. If you're parodying something, shouldn't people know what's being parodied, without having to be told...and still not seeing it?
Her words raised my hackles. No one calls my friends dickless. I'm the real Richard Liss.
My hubby worked for a pharmacy and he worked for a Richard Liss. Hubby and I always referred to him, at home, as Dick Liss.
I loved this - the Barfing Beagle, indeed! :-)
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