Sunday, December 02, 2007
Writing Exercise Results
The task was to write a scene in which you're a private detective hired by a minion to spy on Evil Editor.
I had a good view of the window, but the tree I was hiding behind didn't give me much shelter. Fortunately he had left the bedroom light on. The view was superb - EE blocked very little of the luscious naked nordic blue eyed blonde.
I pulled out my notebook and began writing. Then I shot my picture. Shoot! I forgot to turn the flash off. EE suddenly left the blonde where she lay but was not yet laid and headed for his front door.
I tried to flee but tripped over a Deus Ex Machina. Camera and notebook went flying as I sprawled on the grass. Before I could even get up, he had grabbed the notebook and was screaming in my face.
"'Was hiding' is passive writing! You have four adjectives forming an ugly cliche! One of those should be hyphenated, or better yet omitted along with a couple of others. Shot, shoot. Too cute. You end two dialogue sentences in a row with exclamation points - twice!
'Hiding behind a tree' - you're not a detective, you're a living cliche! I'm calling the police if you overuse one more word."
EE grabbed the camera from the ground.
I said eagerly, "You can keep the film!"
EE snapped back, "One more attempt to inflict your amateur photography on me and I really will call them. When I told my Minion I needed someone to take photos for Christmas cards, I didn't want some sort of Keystone Private Dick!"
I took the camera he handed me in bewildered silence. As he strode back to the house, I could hear him mutter, "The candid pictures were a good idea though."
A sudden gust of wind shook my car in spite of the sheltering branches of the row of lilacs next to the street. The cold light of the full moon glinted off the hood of my car, threatening to reveal my presence to any curious eyes that might be in the vicinity. I raised my eyes and squinted into the unexpected brilliance of the icy orb above me. The Hunter's Moon, I thought, grinning . At any moment I expected to see the gleam of headlights as Evil Editor left with one of his minions.
There was a canary yellow roadster parked with its nose pointed down the drive and lights on in the house . Moving shadows against the window shades told me there was at least one other person in the house.
A faint crunching sound alerted me to the possibility there might be others, so I opened my door as quietly as I could and began creeping in the direction of the noise.
I was suddenly aware of a looming shadow and cursed as a blackjack slammed into the back of my head.
A constellation of stars retreated to my peripheral vision and was replaced by the shimmering countenance of Evil Editor himself as my vision cleared.
“Your mistakes were so elementary and numerous it seems a waste of my time to attempt to correct you,” he purred. “What made you think you could assume the identity of a hard boiled detective and sneak your way into my lair?”
He casually waved to a minion. “There’s no point in my wasting time on this punk. Dispose of him in the usual way!”
"Inspector Weannous reporting for duty, Sir." An eager young soldier decked out in human clothing snapped to attention and saluted. The stench of human aftershave made my noses twitch. He wore a garish kilt with spats, hose tops, red doublet, patterned cape and pith helmet. He looked about as ready for inconspicuous surveillance and skullduggery as my Aunt Fanny's gay Uncle Ugo.
"Weannous, Weannous, Weannous, Weannous, what is that?"
"I'm hunting down THE criminal mastermind of the galaxy, a nefarious purveyor of wanton lewdness, cacophonous calamity and persimmonous perdition, the worm in the apple, the profligate offspring, the ill wind of..."
"Are you going to deliver speech like that when you walk among the humans?"
"I've read everything that has come through the quantum fire, Sir. Ever since we placed that device in his fireplace, the evil one has been feeding it regularly and I've read it all. From Amanda Pissedherpants, through mindless zombie cows, around the prickly phallus of continuations, beyond the splattered kumquats of queries to the vile and pestilential weredingo."
"My cup of patience just curdled. Go take that off and wear the filthy hobo outfit that you wore last week."
"I don't want to lay on a brownstone stoop in a puddle of urine, stinking of wine vomit."
"That's what detectives do, Weanous."
"But I so wanted to be a novel deviation. Now all I'll be is a damp drunken doofus on a doorstep."
"You whine like a good Weannous, boy."
11:20 AM: subject EE drops off some lady's wigs at a dry cleaning shop.
11:45 AM: EE takes lunch at White Castle. God. Subject pocketed a fistful of Splenda.
12:15 PM: EE Makes semaphore signals out the window of his taxi towards a 27th Street POD publisher. He's ejected from taxi at gunpoint. Hails another taxi.
12:45 PM: subject enters barber shop for mutton chop trimming and pomading. God.
3:20 PM: trimming took longer than expected. Subject is particular about the chops; several shoving matches ensued with the lady barber. Subject left a Novel Deviations 2 as a tip; another shoving match ensued.
3:40 Subject returns to dry cleaner for wigs.
4:10 Subject visits Big Gurl's Dress Shop. EE seems to like pail yellows, but settles for a grey tunic and gown. Exits shop in tunic and wig and begins hailing cabs.
6:10 Subject still has not successfully hailed a cab (34 failures). Wait, he's got one now. No, the cabbie stole EE's pocketbook and starts backing away. I intervene because my life seems to be on hold during this gig.
6:15 Without revealing my cover, I offer to take subject to his destination. Along the way, subject rails about "minions" (will investigate reference later). Apparently, they're lowlifes who torment him in some way. Not clear whether these minions are real or imagined. He's seeking help, apparently, through some church lady.
6:48 I arrive at subject's destination, an out-of-the-way Victorian house. EE gets key from the butt of a stone gryphon on the stairway. The house has no mailbox or street number marking. Have GPS info and will Google the place later. I'm off the clock.
9:45 PM: Investigation follow-up: the house entered by subject EE belongs to a Miss Snark. It occurs to me, considering the dress and wig, to investigate whether Miss Snark is an alternate or stolen identity for EE.
She looked a little taken aback when she saw me walkin’ her way down Fifth Avenue. Looked to me like she was hopin’ I wouldn’t look as amazin’ as I do. Look, that is. With my feather boas and my midnight blue glow-in-the-dark mascara and all.
I guess she thought she was the only one allowed to have people lookin’ at her. Men, that is.
She couldn’t have been more wrong. I wasn’t a fade-in-the-background kind of detective, and I wasn’t plannin’ on changin’. For anybody. Especially this shrimpy little nutbag.
For a chick barely five feet tall, her mouth sure could pack a punch. She kept talking about how she had to find out where EE lived, no matter what, no matter the cost (I liked that part, by the way). I had to stop her from speakin’ a coupla times, because she just talked on and on, in this run-on sentence kinda way, in this stupid soundin’ accent. It was annoyin’. Really, it was.
On and on she went. “…and also, Miss Chris, I want you to find out…(and she whispered somethin’ in my ear here that I’m not remotely repeatin’).
“Yeah, lady, like I read fuckin’ minds. Like mind readin’ is in my fuckin’ contract.”
She looked up at me, gave me what I guessed was Her High-Nass’s version of a mad face, and went on. And on.
“But most of all, I want to know where he lives. I want his address. It seems to me like it has to be somewhere in this city. And I know it’s got to be a special place where he’s ensconced. Because he’s simply the kind of man who’d be ensconced somewhere special. He’d insist on it.”
I waited. There’d be more. Three…Two…One…and here it came. ”Have you been listening to me at all, Miss Chris? Have you? And also, I read quite recently on his blog that he may shave his chest.” What the HELL, I was thinkin’, but no, she wasn’t finished just yet…”Now I want you to find out about that as well, but for God’s sake, don’t get too close to him. Good Lord. Just take pictures for me, so I can see if he looks like what I think he looks like. Oh. And if you try and touch him, I’ll hurt you. Got it?”
“Oh, yeah, lady. I got it all right. No. Really. I got it.”
And I was tellin’ her the truth. I had it, but I was takin’ my time tellin’ her all about it, that’s all. A girl’s gotta eat, know what I mean? Comin’ in on the train from Hicksville like this nutbag chick did, she had no way of knowin’ that anybody who was anybody here in the city already knew where EE lived. In a few days I’d tell her to look at those little colored lines on her subway map, and to take that pretty color there…
Renee Johnson, Johnny Re to her fellow transsexuals, leaned back in her car. She turned, watching the apartment building, waiting for a guy, Evil Editor by name, to come out. The emails from Church Lady and Robyn S. stated he staggered a lot and sported shaggy red hair.
She took a long drag on her cigarette, remembering the sweet smell of Church Lady and Robyn S's money orders, then cracked open the window to blow out the smoke. Twelve noon, she thought, her eyes squinting at the building's glass front door. Shouldn't he be taking a ride to find some smooth hooch and a hot hoochie?
"I've really got to stop reading those novel beginnings," Johnny Re said, running a hand over her face. She started when someone tapped her on the shoulder, the cigarette falling from her hands onto her crotch. "Yeow! What'd you do that for?" She quieted down as the man shook his full head of red hair.
Evil Editor, she thought, waiting for him to say something.
"Hey," he said, "how'd you like to join me for lunch--and something a little more afterwards."
Johnny Re smiled. Evil Editor would get more than a little afterwards.
I'd been waiting up the street six hours with no activity when the garage door opened and his car flew out. It had to be him; you don't buy a black Lamborghini and then let someone else get behind the wheel. I followed.
First stop was a day spa on 53rd. I took a look in the window. A pedicurist was using a hammer and chisel on his foot calluses. Christ, they don't pay me enough to witness that crap. I went next door for a cup of Joe and some sweet potato pie.
An hour later he comes out and heads south. He pulls into the 47th Street post office parking lot, parks in a handicap space, and goes inside. Ten minutes later he wheels out a laundry bin filled with nine by twelve envelopes and dumps 'em in his trunk.
He has lunch at Per Se. Then he's off again and he backs into a dark alley on 42nd, all the way to the end. He pops the trunk, gets out, and throws all the envelopes into a dumpster. Made no sense to me, so when he left I didn't follow him. I went dumpster diving. Turns out the envelopes all contained manuscripts. I read a few by penlight. Brilliant work, every last one of 'em. Couldn't put 'em down.
Next thing I know it's morning and the dumpster's being lifted into the air and I'm in the back of a garbage truck. I end up at the dump, stinking to high heaven, and vowing to change occupations. Anyway, I wrote up the whole story. It's an amusing noir detective novel, about 60,000 words. Can I send you a partial?