Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #43

TITLE: Breeding Grounds
GENRE: Adult Literary

Eight o’clock in the g**damn morning, blueblood cold outside and someone was downstairs banging on the barroom door. I’d been working the Walleye for going on ten years, and my ears were like my own personal Emergency Broadcast System. I still had drool on my cheek, but I opened up my window anyway and had a look.

It was the Little Sergeant of all people, smashing his knuckles into a bloody pulp. He’d been around long enough to know the Walleye wasn’t open until noon on Sundays. The church ladies would have a hissy fit. And, after waiting on a bunch of stinky old fishermen till 2a.m., so would I.

He stopped banging, looked up at me and yelled, “Police, Open Up! Police!”

“No kidding,” I said and slammed the window shut. Like my week wasn’t shitty enough already. I grabbed my robe, lit a cigarette, and opened up the window again.

“What seems to be the trouble Officer Alvarez?”

He really didn’t like it when I called him “Officer” but he hated being called the “Little Sergeant” worse, and when I saw his face, I was glad as hell I didn’t call him that. You know, I always figured you could find one redeeming quality in just about anybody. But the only thing I ever really liked about Little Joe was that, for all the ribbing he took, he seemed to stay harmless, like he was self-contained, a man in his own mind.


  1. Good opener. I like the character assessment about Alverez at the end. Good 250! Drew me right in.

  2. I love your voice. I get a sense of character right away.

    My only nitpick is: "smashing his knuckles into a bloody pulp." I'm not sure what you meant. Is he banging on the door until his knuckles bleed?

    Otherwise, great, and I'd keep reading.

  3. I love the voice and the characterization. The last sentence of the second paragraph didn't seem to fit. I couldn't figure out what church ladies having a fit over a business opening up before noon on Sunday had to do with him having a fit over waiting on fishermen until 2 a.m. Other than that one little nitpick, I love it and would definitely keep reading.

  4. I love bar stories.

    As others have said, love the voice, very distinctive, and a very interesting opener. One point that confused me was in the last paragraph. Is 'Little Joe' another name for Alvarez/The Little Sergeant? Nicely done.

  5. I too liked the voice in this one. You have a lot of names for one person thrown into the first 250, which could be confusing.

  6. Alright, who died/committed a crime/who's in trouble? You've definitely set us up with a compelling question. I'd turn the page to find out the answer!

    Some specific thoughts:
    "Little Sergeant" and "Smashing his knuckles into a bloody pulp" made me think that this was some sort of disturbed child having a temper tantrum ha. But it does give us a good sense of the MC's voice. Maybe you can just tone it down a tad?

    I agree that the church ladies confused me at first, but then it made sense because of liquor laws on a Sunday. At first I was thinking maybe the church ladies were jealous because they wanted to be the first to have a drink, ha. Maybe there's a clearer way to phrase this?

    You need a comma after "looked up at me" (or at least I would put one there).

    Agreed on the many names for one person being a bit confusing.

    We also learn a lot about the MC by the way he/she describes the Officer.

  7. I love how you created a voice right away, a sense of place, and a sense of character.

    You have a missing comma:

    "..trouble, Officer Alvarez?"

    I also would put a comma earlier: "...the Little Sergeant, of all people..." though I'm not 100% convinced I'm correct on that one.

  8. Agree with the other comments. The character has a great distinctive voice. Also agree with the comment about all the names (especially multiple names for the same character this early.)

    niggle: could snip the *was* from the opening sentence without changing the meanging.

    I do love all the little detail like 'drool on my cheek'.

    I'm not completely hooked yet, but I think I'd stick around just because of your voice and the how interesting the character is.

    Nice work with the opening and best of luck in the contest.

  9. I like the MC’s voice and the bit about calling Alvarez “Officer” and “Little Sergeant.” We learn about the MC’s personality as well as Alvarez’s. Nicely written! My thoughts:

    “Blueblood” usually means aristocracy, so it made me pause.

    I seem to want something like “I knew something was up” after “…bloody pulp.”

    Delete “I said” after “No kidding” and just put “I slammed…” Delete “up” and say “…opened the window.” Comma between “trouble” and “Officer.” Change to “I was glad as hell I hadn’t called him that.” Delete “You know.”

    I also wondered about a third nickname. Didn’t quite get “he seemed to stay harmless, like he was self-contained, a man in his own mind.” Harmless and self-contained don’t necessarily go together. To me it wasn’t a strong enough redeeming quality.

  10. You do an excellent job of establishing a strong, sardonic voice from the first sentence onward.

    My primary concern is in the last paragraph, where the narrator gets philosophical about the Little Sergeant, seemingly out of nowhere. And giving the man three different names in your introductory 250 words runs the risk of confusing your readers. I'd stick with the action, and the narrator's testy reactions, to keep your readers wanting more at this stage.

  11. Just want to say thanks to everyone for taking the time. I've printed out these comments and will take them all into account in a solid edit. Thank you for the great advice (and the cheers too).