Monday, July 16, 2012

New Beginning 962

I snapped another few pictures of Hanson. Somehow, the little vices of the “good” people made the best blackmail. If I had been taking pictures of Joss Burke playing around with a girlfriend, and had threatened to tell his father, J.B., or Joss’s wife, Joss wouldn’t have batted an eye. But a picture of Samuel Hanson, teetotaler, downing three glasses of gin? With a single photograph, I would be able to talk him into selling his company to J.B. The way C & H Imports had been performing in the market lately, I was doing Hanson a favor.

I snapped a few pictures of random things, just so nobody would notice I was targeting Hanson. A dwarf drinking from a bottle of brandy, a businessman in a rundown suit, two pixies singing tipsily, the questionable picture behind the barman. The barman noticed me taking the last shot and raised an eyebrow. I stared him down. All right, so now I looked like a cheapskate voyeur instead of a slumming photographer.

Hanson waved for a fourth glass. I dropped a few coins on my table and walked out. He didn’t look like he planned to go anywhere, so I decided to drop by his office and see if I could find anything better than a little hypocrisy. You never knew with these guys; some of them folded up at the first whiff of a little accusation, and some of them reached for guns and defied the world.

Outside, I climbed in the van. Minutes later the gang poured out of the bar and piled in back like a Barnum & Bailey clown act. Dwarf, Suit, the Pixie Sisters, all drunk as sin and dragging that stupid erotic painting.

“Quiet down,” I said, my command meeting with a chorus of sniggers and fake farts. “We’re going around to C & H Imports, okay? Dig up some serious shit. Guns and stuff. World defying.”

That got their attention. “Now. Which one of you jerks is designated driver?” 

Opening: Rachel Roy.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

The dwarf and the pixies left at the same time. They caught a dragon cab; likely going to the Dwarf Gem Convention at the Ritz Carlton – pixies are so hot for rich dwarves.

I mounted up on my unicorn and road over to Hippogriff & Cockatrice Imports. Three supermodel elves were just exiting a dragon cab. They were wearing pink form fitting outfits. I would die to get their photos but business comes first. So, I waved, gave the valet -- a troll -- five bucks to stable my unicorn, and sauntered through the swinging doors like I was a billionaire dragon trader.

--Mister Furkles

Evil Editor said...

You might want to include Hanson's first name in the first sentence so readers don't think you're a paparazzo taking shots of the musical group Hanson.

I'd drop JB's father and just go with the wife.

Can you tell from a photograph that a glass contains gin? Even if you can, I don't see having a few drinks as blackmail-worthy. He's doing it in a public place, so it doesn't seem he's that worried about being seen drinking.

"Erotic painting" is better than "questionable picture."

"Scandal" is better than "a little accusation."

none said...

If Hanson has a reputation as a teetotaller to protect, why is he drinking in a public place anyway?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Well, it's an interesting beginning. Blackmailing as a career choice for a protagonist has some problems:

1. Nobody luvs a blackmailer.

2. Nobody IS a blackmailer. I mean there's really nothing shameful enough to blackmail people over anymore... even fundamentalist preachers, when caught having gay sex, can always rest assured that society as a whole (minus their own flock) will be understanding (with a side order of indifference).

But I assume you deal with all that in the story. I'd read on.

PLaF said...

Unless Hanson is running for office and trying to reinstate prohibition, I don’t buy the premise that he’ll succumb to blackmail for drinking in public, especially if it means giving up his company.
In the third paragraph, the MC apparently agrees he needs something “better than a little hypocrisy” to nail Hanson.
Is the MC really a blackmailer or a P.I. taking photos? I like the idea of an anti-hero as the MC, but at some point I’ll have to care about them and their cause in order to keep reading.

Evil Editor said...

It sounds to me like the narrator was hired by J.B. to get the goods on Hanson so J.B. can get Hanson's company.

Tk said...

I prefer questionable picture to erotic – after the pixies, questionable could mean anything. Maybe it's a pic of fresh vegetables or something story-relevant.

I'd up the stakes on Hanson – not "teetotaler" but "Chair of the Dry America Party" or similar. Agree to make his tipple something that couldn't look like water in a picture. Have him be the one swigging straight from the bottle rather than the dwarf.

Yes blackmailers are not likeable, but all her/his self-justification could indicate this character isn't all that comfortable with the role. I'd read on a bit.

Is JB Joss Burke? I found that juxtaposition confusing.

Dave Fragments said...

I think it's a little fat with words. I think that you add a touch too much.

"Three glasses" only needs to be "glasses."

Once you say "I snapped a few pictures of random things," you don't need to give those details about the coverup photos. Just jump to "The barman noticed me..." and clean the language to make it work. It's not that I dislike that detail. It's wonderful detail but not needed unless one of those pictures figures into the storyline. You don't need it. I think the faster you get to paragraph three, the better.

I like the danger of paragraph three. I hope it is setting up a confrontation or discovery at the office.

I'm not troubled by the narrator being a blackmailer or a reporter for the National Enquirer or a PI with a sleazeball lawyer as his client. I'm not troubled by the teetotaler aspects. I just wrote a shot story of a murder where the two detectives sit in a bar and unabashedly plan how to frame a third person and get away with the murder.

It was fun being the bad guy. Have fun with your story.

Evil Editor said...

The barman isn't going to think he's a voyeur if he photographs a picture of vegetables.

sarahhawthorne said...

I like the idea, but it needs some editing to straighten out the details.

Other people have pointed out the oddness of a teetotaler drinking in public. Plus, every glass of gin I've seen (and I've seen a few) has been clear, making it easy to claim one is drinking something innocent like water or vodka.

There's also stuff like this:
"But a picture of Samuel Hanson, teetotaler, downing three glasses of gin?"

Unless Hanson is drinking from three glasses at once, it isn't "a picture," it's "pictures" or "video." I know it's a nitpick, but it's an inaccuracy in your very first paragraph, which makes me nervous for the rest of the book.

And you don't need to explain that blackmail works better on supposedly "good" people than the openly debauched.

Good luck and happy rewriting!

none said...

Have him drinking Bombay Sapphire. A little harder to explain away. Mouthwash?

Ambee said...

I did think about the musical group Hanson in the first line, so I second EE's recommendation on that point.

"If I had been taking pictures of Joss Burke playing around with a girlfriend, and had threatened to tell his father, J.B., or Joss’s wife, Joss wouldn’t have batted an eye."

Try: "If I had snapped a shot of Joss Burke playing around with a girlfriend, and had threatened to tell his father or wife, Joss wouldn't have batted an eye."

This opening reminded me of Simon Green's Nightside books and Jim Butcher's Dresden books, which I like. I'd be interested in reading the rest.

This is Ezzie, btw. I changed my display name when I started a real blog.

Rachel6 said...

Author here: thanks for all the feedback! I had no idea that gin is clear (research fail...)

Several of y'all have mentioned drinking as not blackmail-worthy, and at least one said blackmail doesn't work nowadays. True, but I am setting this in a fantasy world, in which a professedly sober man drinking would be damaging.

"Public place" is trickier. Originally, I was going to have it a sleazy place downtown where Hanson's colleagues wouldn't find him. I may need to rethink that...

Again, thank you all!

Dave Fragments said...

During prohibition, bathtub gin and speakeasies were common. IT was homemade, non-distilled booze. Whiskey requires a distillation, you see. Bootleggers. Bathtub gin required a resourceful housewife and a few mason jar and a cast iron stomach along with a few disposable brain cells.