Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #12

TITLE: Squeaky Clean
GENRE: Young Adult

I want to make something clear from the beginning--I am not a burnout, druggie, or smoker. Despite what you may have heard about my family, I have never stolen a car or discharged a firearm, and I pay all the required taxes on the tips I get bussing tables after school at Clarke's. In short, just because I'm sitting on the hard wooden bench outside the principal's office,
next to Laguna High's all-time detention record holder (also known as my twin brother Dima), doesn't mean I did anything wrong.

Dima kicks his black motorcycle boots onto the principal's secretary's desk. He leans back like he's about to watch the Lakers kick the Celtics' a** on the flat-panel TV in our screening room.

"Get your feet down," I hiss. All we need is for Ms. Shirley to come back from the bathroom and catch Dima defiling the attendance records.

Dima drops his feet to the ground, but from the faint smile playing at his lips, I can tell he's just humoring me. Does he not realize he could be in serious trouble?

My heart is pounding at the near-heart-attack speed that has become routine since The Gregori Incident. "And take off your jacket."

"What's wrong with my jacket?"

The battered leather bomber jacket looks like something a mercenary might throw on just after assassinating a South American dictator. "Just take it off, okay?"


  1. I can't find a single thing negative to say. I just want to note that I have a friend named Dima(Dimitri), and he immediately popped into my head reading this, and he so fits your description. Love it!

  2. I like this, I like this a lot. The personality of the narrator comes through perfectly, at least as far as I can tell. However, that first paragraph starts things out a bit slowly. I like the point in conveys, but it felt a little cliche to break the fourth wall in the first sentence. And that line about the jacket at the end? I loved it. Great characterization and description.

  3. I really liked it. I wondered why a teenager would be paying taxes (maybe that's a US thing?) and whether the narrator was a girl or boy. Would definitely read on.

  4. I'm not a huge fan of present tense (IMO it requires a non-stop action type of story to hold up well), and the narrator "talking" to the reader in the first paragraph was odd for me. Having said that, I do like the narrative voice. I might give it a little more, but I have a feeling the present tense would grate on me after a while since there is no sign of massive action coming.

  5. I really like this. i got a good sense of both the narrator and his brother and I definitely want to know what they did and what's going to happen next. Hooked!

  6. I loved the description of the leather jacket.

    Some of the language seems slightly formal to me, like "Does he not realize," for a teenager.

  7. Interesting start. I liked the voice of your MC, but I don't know if it's a he or a she. Adding identical or fraternal to 'twin brother' could fix that, or your MC could do/think something that would indicate male/female.

    I didn't like the first paragraph because your MC is talking to me, and that's generally a turnoff. It's not story. It's an explanation of things you could make evident thru action and dialogue.

    The brother isn't as well defined. I get an image of him, but no sense of who he is. Perhaps let him speak sooner, after he's told to get his feet down. Giving him a voice sooner could help define him more.

    I'd give it a bit more to see why they're in the principal's office. The 'why' would probably determine whether or not I read more.

  8. Close to hooking me. Dima seems a bit of a cliche - I'm assuming the narrator is his sister. ...faint smile playing at his lips is a bit romance-novelly ... The Gregori Incident is intriguing.

  9. Ha, I love it. You are going to have to tell me who she is soon - (I am guessing they're fraternal & she's a girl...) but right now I am getting a pretty good picture of her based on how she's describing Dima.

    "Playing at his lips" was the only line that tripped me up, it's cheezy.

    Very funny and I wanted to keep reading for sure.

  10. Thanks for posting your work on such a public form. That takes guts.

    I like the name Dima, and mention of the Grigori incident intrigues me. But I felt the narrator's voice was just too sanguine.

    Also, "What's wrong with my jacket?" sounds a bit tame coming from the school's biggest bad boy.

  11. I think the voice is great and I like how different she (?) appears to be from her twin brother. My only concern is that he'll be a cliche. I hope not!

  12. I really like this, too! Great voice.

    I did stop between paragraphs 1 and 2. It felt like a shift to me, but fun characters! I'd definitely read on.

  13. I'm hooked. I want to know more about the family and why they have a reputation and how the MC is different and what The Gregori Incident is and why they are in the principal's office. Nice!

  14. I like it, although I agree that talking to the reader generally turns me off right away. One thing high schoolers might question - why would the school allow them to be in the office alone? Trust me, secretaries can hold it forever when it comes to protecting their stuff (I'm a teacher and never left alone in there ;)

  15. I'm hooked. Love the voice and the picture you paint of the characters and how different they are.