Friday, October 31, 2008

New Beginning 568

The doorbell rang at the exact moment Sara’s left thumb touched the inkpad. For a moment, her brain instinctively tried to make sense of the coincidence. She looked doubtfully at the detective.

He smiled back, but kept pressing her fingers one by one onto the squares on his paper. “Why not let the constable answer?”

“I guess.” Sara pushed back her hair with her unmarked hand. “It’s probably a neighbor wanting to know if I’m okay.” She watched the uniformed patrolman open her front door with latex-covered fingers. A tall man flipped a wallet at the constable and walked in like a conqueror. His eyes passed Sara as if she didn’t exist.

“Miss Martelli, let me introduce you to James Preston,” said the detective. “Our new electronics and telecommunications expert. James, Miss Martelli purchased the suitcase in question.”

James Preston took Sara’s hand in his long, tanned fingers, but she could tell his mind was on the battered beige case beside her. “You opened it?”

Sara nodded.

“And nothing went boom?”

Sara shook her head.

“Not even tick-tick-tick?”

Sara shook her head again.

“Well, there’s probably nothing there for me. But we’ll have a look all the same.”

Sara sighed at his lame attempt at humor. Sure, buying a Louis Vuitton Pegase 60 online was a bit ostentatious for someone on her salary, but it hardly warranted this much attention from the Fashion Police.

Opening: Jeb.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen (but in some cases equally worthy) continuations:

Sara stepped back and watched Preston take a tissue from his pocket, wipe ink off his delicate fingers, then tuck the tissue into the constable's top pocket. Frowning, Preston flexed his fingers like a concert pianist's. He approached the case on tiptoe and flicked its locks with aplomb.

Tick. Tick. Tick.


Sara brushed lint off her shirt. So it WAS a bullshit-detector.


Arrogant jerk, Sara thought, then smiled as she realized that he'd shaken her inked hand, and was now smearing ink over his tanned forehead as he pushed back the dark comma of hair that hung over it. So much for meeting cute.


As Preston ignored them both, and began to go through the suitcase, the detective winked at Sara. She smiled back, remembering the hour he'd spent going through her drawers.


Preston bent over the suitcase. He clicked it open, and a gigantic red tongue shot out, wrapped around him, and sucked him down into the beige lining. As they watched his loafers disappear, the detective remarked, "Thank you, ma'am. We'll hope our next electronics expert isn't such a jerk."


Sara watched Preston crouch over the suitcase and fumble with the catches. "You sure you're an expert," she asked, a little tremor in her voice.

"I'm the best they've got. Don't worry."

The detective smiled again. "We don't let just anyone handle this kind of thing."

Sara shrugged and turned back to the telecom man who was trying to lever the case open with a pen. "Been doing this long?"

"Coupla months."

"Gosh." Sara sat down. "It sounds awfully complicated. Where do you learn this kind of thing?"

"Most people go to MIT or somewhere like that. I got my diploma online." He took his shoe off and began to hammer at the pen. The catch snapped out and he pulled open the case. He examined the inside for a couple of minutes and then reached in. "Ah! This is why it did'nt g--"


James squatted and peered at the case, then began to run his long fingers over it. "Did anything go beep?"


"Or blammo?"


"How about plop-plop-fizz-fizz?"

Sara shook her head. The detective leaned toward her and confided, "James Preston is also our new expert on onomatopoeia."


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I said 'what?' out loud at the first paragraph - I had to stop and (try to) figure out where the inkpad was. Any way to ground the inkpad/thumb into the setting? I like the concept, but I suspect it makes sense in your head more than it does on paper, so fleshing out a bit will help those of us who don't live in your head. :)

On a technical note, in the second paragraph, both the timing and the technique seem off. See this page:

'Care should be exercised so the bulb of each finger is rolled evenly from tip to below the first joint.'

Your detective is pressing rather than rolling, and the speed at which you have him do it - multiple prints taken in so short a space of time that he's able to verbally respond by the time he returns her look - means he can't possibly be taking due care.

I think these issues could be easily fixed, and would help the reader grasp the setting.

Loved the continuation!

Brenda said...

Love the continuation!

I really liked the first paragraph, especially, and all the way through to "You opened it?" but then you lost me with the tick tick and going boom. Is he attempting to be patronizing? Because he just sounds... lame. I don't know, but I don't like it. Maybe if he asked her questions (without sounding like he was speaking with to a first grader) but blowing off her answers or his facial expressions not registering that he was even listening or really caring about what she said could give the same thing without me wondering if Sara is 6 years old by the time I got to "tick-tick-tick".

Good balance of action and dialogue, and I got a really good sense of scene too.

Of course, I watch a LOT of NCIS. That probably helps.

Brenda said...

Oh, and as someone who has been fingerprinted (don't ask) they DO press while rolling (maybe add "pressing and rolling" instead of just pressing). And it's very side-to-side, starting on the inside of the finger and rolling to the outside. The entire timeframe to do my right hand was maybe a minute, max.

I don't think that really has to be explained further. Remember, readers are intelligent creatures. I'm sure we've all seen fingerprints taken in film and TV without the writer having to go into much detail and losing the pacing.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It sounds like they're printing her to eliminate her prints from the others they get around the place, so care may not be as important to them. It also sounds like the patronizing idiot with the tick-tick is like a lot of the cops I knew.

It sets the scene well, if you want Mr. tick-tick to be a dick-dick.

Anonymous said...

Liked the set up, liked that it jumped right into the scene. Did not like "her brain instinctively..." Like in some other areas, too cumbersome. It stretches out what is a split second thought. Didn't like "walked in like a conqueror"--not sure why, just not a simile that flowed for me. Clunky. Also in one sentence you say "long, tanned fingers" and "battered beige case..." Too many adjectives here. Do his long tan fingers matter? This would be a good time to pretend you have a word count so you have to make cuts.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked "her brain instinctively" except not in our introduction to this character. Save and use it a bit later, IMO.

Overall I liked this writing a lot, but the overall tone and focus isn't fine tuned enough yet. You're letting style overwhelm your story already with little touches like one too many snarky comments by the dick dick.

Sounds like you mean it to be serious but have humorous overtones. (That doesn't sound good the way I worded it, does it?) But anyhow lots of great reads have touches of humor. I think you need to first establish the pov character's sense of things before you hit us upside the head with humor, though. It is disorienting to the reader (or at least me.)

I liked this a lot. Honest. And I'd have read on.

Anonymous said...

LOL! GREAT continuations!

talpianna said...

Hey, Brenda, let's compare criminal careers. I've been fingerprinted by both the police and the U.S. Army!

Brenda said...

LOL Tal! I've been fingerprinted by the police in Orange Co, TX, the Army at Ft. Hood, and this one time when my first husband (now dead) was attempting to kidnap my kids to Mexico back in 1998. Fun times! Then I took a writing class that told us how to kill people and what wounds really look like and how all this stuff is done, and got fingerprinted there too.

They always do my right hand, and yet, I'm left-handed (which means my prints would be more from my left hand than my right when dealing with objects.) I've never bothered pointing that out to anyone though. *grin*

talpianna said...

Brenda, I think you have a more sinister background than I do (pun intended). I was fingerprinted by the cops for comparison purposes after being burgled, and by the Army for a security clearance when I worked for the Enlisted Evaluation Center editing MOS tests.