Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drop the Needle #4

TITLE: The Queens of New Brooklyn
GENRE: speculative

In a city where Hive Collapse has resulted in pandemic scurvy, Rossi introduces her new friend to an old one.

“The East River’s angry today. You should be inside, girly.”

Rossi spins, throws herself at the old man, hugs his waist.

“Is that what I smell?” Leo asks.

“Finally get a bodyguard, Rossalini?” Jenks asks, rumpling her hair.

“Leonard Nox,” the blonde boy says.

“Jenkins Porter.” He doesn’t shake the offered hand. “You’re the one that drove up Canal Street. In the armored truck.”

“Yes, sir.”

“That takes a pair.” He holds out his hand. Leo shakes it.

“Colonal Porter led the Finders,” Rossi says. “In the first war.”

“Her grand-dad and I fought together,” the old man says. “My people led themselves.”

A flock of untrained pigeons squabble over sidewalk scraps on the opposite street.

“You’re from Texas, boy,” Jenks says.

Leonard inhales, rubs his hand over his mouth. Rossi holds her breath, but he doesn’t deny it.

“What were you convicted of?” she whispers.

Leonard says nothing. He’s staring at Porter, muscles tense.

“He was born there,” Jenks says, with a small smile. “That wall’s not meant to keep people in, girl-child. It’s meant to keep people out.”

A single drop of sweat runs down Leo’s face. Rossi wants to touch it, even bring it to her lips like a tear.
“I’m old, boy. I even remember what honey tastes like.”

He reaches out with searching fingers; Rossi tucks them into her elbow, guides the blind man across the street. The pigeons rise up squawking, and settle down behind them.

“What was it like?” she asks.

“Liquid sunshine.”


  1. This is very intriguing dialogue. My difficulty is confusion. Some of that is likely because I've been dropped in the middle of a scene. ;)

    It would help if I were clear whose POV this is from earlier, whose eyes I'm looking out of. I only figured Rossi pretty far down the page. I was unclear who was speaking frequently.

    Perhaps instead of using so many tags (says, asks) you could put in more action? ie Leo covers his nose with a handkerchief. "Is that what I smell?" as opposed to: Leo rubbed his filthy sleeve over his nose. "Is that what I smell?" Doing more of this would paint a brighter picture of emotions/motivations/character/etc.

  2. The story between the lines here seems really neat: I like the tension between Porter and Leo, and the way Rossi doesn't seem to quite know what they're talking about.

    Like the above, I got pretty lost in trying to figure out who was who in this piece. Even with a solid lead-up, this amount of dialogue would be confusing, and four characters is a lot to keep track of.

    Breaking up the straight dialogue with some narration is a good instinct, but bringing in a description of pigeons down the street is too abrupt. Possibly they're a metaphor for the three men talking over Rossi, but I would still like to see some more description of what's going on here.

    This is a personal thing, but I can't imagine wanting to bring either a drop of sweat or a tear to my lips, like some sort of token.

  3. I have to agree that four speakers is a lot to keep track of in one scene (especially since we -- as readers -- have been dropped into the middle of everything). I also have to agree that I didn't quite understand why the pigeon was important since (from the lead in) this is about bees? I definitely am intrigued by the idea and the characters :-)

  4. The dialog was a little confusing at times, partly because of the different versions of each person's name. I know it might be less confusing if we were familiar to the lead in and the background.

    I have to disagree with the other critiquers: I understood that there are only three people in the scene, Rossi (the girl), Col. Porter (old man) and Leo (young man from Texas).

    But if enough people are confused, it might suggest a need to keep it simpler with peoples names/titles.

  5. I've started from one, and this is the best so far. I'm not a fan of the short, punchy sentences, but this really works for me. The POV is really strong, and I like the fence reference for Texas. Makes me want to read the whole thing!