The old man in the baseball cap left the newspaper behind, and Dale Brennan claimed it by setting his coffee cup down on it. He put his Moleskine notebook next to it-- look at me; I'm a writer-- and set his computer bag on the floor. The coffee shop's manager had put those stupid little locks on the outlets, and his four-year-old laptop battery wouldn't a charge, so it looked like today was going to be strictly longhand.
He put his coat over the other chair, sat down, picked up his cup and there it was in the newspaper, surrounded by a perfect little ring of coffee-- Long Time Gone, by Dale Brennan. New in hardback, fifty percent off.
His first thought was They stole my title. His second thought was They used my name, too. And his third thought was What the hell? Because Long Time Gone was right where it had been for the last two-and-a-half years-- inside his second-hand laptop, all thirty thousand words of it, waiting for him to write the other sixty thousand that would turn it into a novel.
His eyes scanned down the page, and there, right next to a lengthy interview, was a picture of the son of a bitch he'd shown the book to last winter. With that same superior sneer. Those hard, reptilian eyes. And the muttonchops. The goddamned muttonchops. He should have known.
He put the coffee back down and stood up. He picked up his coat from the chair, put it on, and tucked the newspaper with the ring of coffee on it in his back pocket. His head was swimming. He picked up his coffee and drained the cup. And then he had his fourth thought:
Well, at least I'm published.
Opening: Sean McClusky.....Continuation: Khazar-khum/Anon.
Not that it wasn't possible for someone to steal his idea. He'd talked to his friends and family about the novel he was writing. He'd regaled anyone who would listen about the intricate plot and unique premise. He'd even mentioned it on his blog: Brennan's Writing Secrets.
Dale turned the paper over, reluctant to let it distract him from today's edits, but then the headline grabbed him:
Brennan Snatches Surprise Booker with Sophomore Effort.
Prickles of sweat formed on Dale's forehead while shivers ran down his back. He looked around to make sure he wasn't in some parallel world -- and saw a dozen pairs of eyes peering at him over the tops of Macbook screens.
Then he heard the snickers.
Fucking wannabe writers.
I would delete the last sentence of paragraph 1. Not because of the typo; because it gets us to what's interesting sooner. The locks on the outlets aren't interesting. Also, it sounds like Dale comes here regularly, so either he should already have known the locks were on the outlets, or he should be more surprised to find the outlets locked. And he wouldn't know the manager had put the locks on. Some lowly employee could have put them on under orders from the owner.
Otherwise, I like it.
Ooh! I can see Rod Serling just out of frame!
This is great. I got drawn in so quickly - although the sentence about the locks held me up a bit because I couldn't work out what the locks were on a power outlet, then I saw "four-year-old" and thought "child locks". (Silly me - but I notice for other reasons EE suggests losing that sentence.)
I love the way Dale claims the newspaper with his coffee cup, and the details of the Moleskine notebook and the "look at me; I'm a writer". And I'm desperate to know what happens next.
I wasn't thrilled with this. I would take out the part of the little locks on the outlets part, especially since later on you let us know it was a second-hand computer.
Next I would go with something like this, "Dale folded himself into the chair and there it was
rather than the details of he took his coat off, sat down, picked up his coffee. . . by now I'm scanning and missing it.
So get Dale in the chair and reading the newspaper faster
otherwise, I liked it.
You know, I'd probably skip everything before the title part. Though, having read up to that part, I am interested.
My favorite part of the part I'd cut is the "look at me, I'm a writer."
Oh, you got me, definitely. I agree with losing the sentence about the locks, which stopped me (I've never seen these), but most of the step-by-step of him claiming the paper and setting his stuff down works to give a picture of his character, and for that it interested me.
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