Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #20

TITLE: Mystery Meat
GENRE: Mystery

BANG! Then another. I'd like to say this was the first time people had thrown canned hams at me, but my heart wouldn't be in it. PING! I recognized one of the shiny cubes as it bounced off my windshield. The protesters had splurged this time and upgraded to the Consolidated Meat Company's "Premium Label" hams. I didn't mind their choice of ammo. Hey, in my business, a sale is a sale, even if they don't bother to eat it.

The local cops were doing what they did best: crowd control. That sounds unkind. That's because it is. It was apparently too much to ask for the group of men and women in matching blue uniforms to arrest the hooligans throwing canned hams at me, even with the number of cameras pointed their way. I steered the Ham-ster to the right, away from the angry mob and their projectiles, and over toward the cluster of reporters who'd taken refuge near the entrance to the Jumbo Fred-Mart.

The parking lot was big enough to stage a rock concert, with ample room left over for the concessionaires. It was mostly empty, save for the few brave souls who'd chosen to go shopping early on a Wednesday morning. I let off the gas and tapped the brakes. Speed bumps were not the Ham-ster's cup of tea. Any sudden change in direction was likely to result in something falling off. Like a door.


  1. I love the voice in this. The title is great, too. I'm hooked.

    My only comment: wouldn't ca canned ham smash a windshield? What if you wrote "my bulletproof windshield," thereby implying you're prepared for this type of assault?

    This is such a clever and different opening that I'd definitely keep reading.

  2. Finally, a good use for those gross canned things masquerading as food! I like how he/she is so calm in the face of flying fat and ham slime. I did wonder about the cans breaking the windows too, but maybe they're small cans.

    This sounds like my kind of book!

  3. You had me at I'd like to say this was the first time people had thrown canned hams at me, but my heart wouldn't be in it.


  4. I hate when stories have "Bang" and "Pow" and the like in them. Instead, please describe how it sounded. Just using the word seems like a cop-out, batman.

    Now, on to the good stuff. I LOVE this. In my business a sale is a sale is an awesome line and makes me interested in a guy who is probably not going to be very likable.

    "Ham-ster" took some re-reading to figure out that is what he calls his car (I first guessed it was a nickname and then thought, the MC seemed like a company owner/rep so he wouldn't be driving a POS with a door likely to fall off, - then I thought, maybe it's a pig-shaped mobile, which is CUTE). That could be a funny story, please do share to get a laugh, as well as remove the confusion for a win-win.

    To add the above and keep within the 250, I'd remove the first sentence in the last paragraph...does it really add anything here? And, second two sentences in second para could be removed as well.

    Still, I like the voice and the humor. Nice job.

  5. A few things -

    Bang made me think of a gunshot, which puts me in one frame of mind, then I get flying canned hams which mean a total shift in assumptions. Perhaps a stronger opening line would be to just say a canned ham cracked or banged against his windshield?

    And like a few others, I can't imagine it not at least cracking the windshield, especially if the glass is being pelted with more than one.

    I didn't get that the Ham-ster was a car. I thought it was a person he was trying to help get away. Then when I realized it was his car, I went back to see why I had imagined it was a person. On a second read, it seems perfectly clear that the ham-ster is a car, but I wasn't the only person who didn't get it, so maybe here's something in that sentences that isn't as clear as it should be?

    I would have liked a hint as to why they were throwing the hams.

  6. This is fantastic. There's something so funny about throwing canned ham, that I don't even care if there's a reason behind it. I would keep reading just to find out if there is more ham being thrown around.

    Pretty much all I know about the main character at this point is that he's unimpressed with the police and that he is seriously concerned with the well-being of his car. In the first 250, that too is enough to keep me reading, but I'd want to know more as soon as possible.

    And I agree with Barbara's comment that the bang made me think of a gunshot, but I liked the way I had to change assumptions when it turned out to be ham. It makes me want to read more carefully.

  7. I love the title and the way you have started this off.

    I am intrigued to know who this person is and I like the dry humour.

    I also had wondered about the noise the hams made on the windscreen. I imagined rather large tins and couldn't picture them making a "Ping" sound. I also felt that there might have been damage to the windshield - particularly when you refer later to the possibility of a door falling off.

    An intriguing start to your story. I definitely wanted to know what was going to happen next.

  8. Lose the first two sentences so you start with, “I’d like to say this was the first time people had thrown canned hams at me…” which is a fabulous opening line. I was won over by the voice (practical in the face of absurdity), the Ham-ster, the Jumbo Fred-Mart, and those pesky protesters. This has everything I look for in an opening – conflict, character development, and a sense of place – as well as humor. I’m hooked.

  9. i so loved this voice. never expected canned hams to be thrown.

    my fave: Hey, in my business, a sale is a sale, even if they don't bother to eat it.

    if the rest of the story is this clever, i want to read it.

    is there more mystery to it other than the meat--hee hee? yuck, that really makes me wonder what makes the mystery in mystery meat...