Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #30

GENRE: Fantasy

I keep telling myself I'm a waitress, but here I am scrubbing the only toilet in the men's washroom.

“Hey Anya! You in there, baby girl?“ slurs a drunken male from the other side of the stall door.

Lord. It's Bobby Lee. I don't want to answer, but I know he's not drunk enough to miss my shoes peeking out. Thank God, I locked the stall door.

“I'm a little busy right now,“ I reply as I scrub the bowl harder.

“Aw, come on. Can't you make time for me?“ Bobby Lee asks in his Arkansan drawl. “You still haven't told me your answer about seeing that new movie Friday night.”

I roll my eyes and try to ignore him.

The door to the stall shakes from Bobby Lee's repeated, clumsy knocks.

“Damn it, Bobby Lee. I am freaking cleaning the toilet. Unless you want to do my job, leave me the hell alone!”

“Fine. I'll try again tomorrow night. Good night, baby girl.”

He takes a long leak before finally leaving. I don't even want to know the state of the three urinals outside. Not my problem. After a ten-hour shift at John Jack's, Plumerville's one and only bar, it's time to go home. But my manager, Lorie, told me to finish the bathroom first. If I didn't need the money, I'd have told her to do it herself. She promised me cash at the end of the night and after three bounced paychecks, I gave in.


  1. This is nice, solid writing. With just a few paragraphs, you've conveyed the frustrating situation that Anya is in. I have to admit the main reason I'd keep reading is to see where the fantasy elements appear, with such an ordinary setting to start with. Good luck!

  2. Totally having flashbacks of Mel's Diner. I would love to read more to see where it all goes...especially with a character named Bobby Lee!

  3. I already like Anya and sympathise with her, and want to shove the toilet brush in bobby lee's mouth. I'm not getting the fantasy element yet, but that's okay this early.

    The only thing that caught me up was the line "I don't even want to know the state of the three urinals outside. Not my problem" after which it's explained that she's supposed to finish cleaning the bathroom, which means the state of the urinals is very much her problem.

    But good opening overall.

  4. I like Anya and I sympathize with her situation. There are some writing issues for me, though -- I have difficulty with stories written in the present tense -- but that's probably personal.

    "Slurs a drunken male" has connotations about the narrator that may not be what you intended...

    I am curious about how the fantasy elements will work themselves in... and I'm also curious why Anya is still working there after 3 bounced paychecks -- that's six weeks without a dime, unable to collect unemployment and being miserable every day to boot.

  5. I want to see the fantasy which is what would make me keep reading - please tell me it has something to do with the only stall in the men's toilet :) I am not sure why she refers to Bobby Lee as a generic "drunken male" when she clearly knows who he is. Part of some people's lives are cleaning the toilets so although it is not a pleasant task, it is honest work. Not sure why she is still up for it after her employer had given her 3 bounced checks however. It would seem that would be the last straw which would make her NOT clean the toilet.

  6. I know why she's still working there--she's a waitress. Most of her pay is cash. I remember those days. Three weeks of bounced checks would suck but not enough to have me looking for something else. I'm not sure what waitstaff hourly wage is but it was around $2.00 in GA about six or seven years ago.
    Of course I'm invested in the character already!
    For me, I like that the fantasy element isn't in it right away. That's because I'm more of a contemporary reader so when I do read fantasy or paranormal I really like to be hooked with reality.

    As mentioned by another poster, I also felt the "slurs a drunken male" felt off. It pulled me out a bit. I would take a look at that section with voice in mind.

    One other nitpick: I felt the dialogue was off with the "I am freaking cleaning the toilet" line. IMO "I'm" would flow better and just for personal tastes freaking toilet instead of freaking cleaning.

    Good luck with this--it sounds fun!

  7. "Told me your answer" should be changed to "answered me." Also, for a drunk, he seems awfully articulate, if not that educated. Might try abreviatting some things, like using Night instead of Good night.

    I like the feel of the writing, but I hate the name Bobby Lee, by the way. I'm sure you don't want to hear this, but it makes me think of "True Blood."

    Would read more for the voice.

  8. I agree about the other urinals (wow, take that out of context) that they ARE her problems, so that line is kind of a throw-away. I like that she is a sympathetic character from the start. I try not to give first pages too hard a time, though a lack of fantasy kind of threw me. If this had said urban fantasy I might not bat an eye since so much UF is grounded in the real world "plus." But straight fantasy doesn't seem to match given what's here. Tough to say from this excerpt only.

  9. This is funny, charming, sympathetic, and overall a good read so far. Anya draws me in, and I like her voice. I feel for her - if someone tried to call me 'baby girl' my fist would probably find its way into his face. One time I went on a date with a guy who kept calling me 'girly' and I cringed every time, haha!

    Nice job with this. I find in clean and crisp without being simplistic. I'd read on.

  10. I enjoyed this a lot. You've stuck me squarely in your character's world, you've started with action and dialogue, and you've presented a problem. You've also made me care about your MC, and you've given her a great voice. Some people say you can't do it all in just 250 words, and you did.

    Nicely done!


  11. This is a great opening! Great voice, interesting situation. Has a very urban-fantasy feel, so the “fantasy” designation threw me a little. But I think this is a great introduction to this character.