Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Secret Agent #12

TITLE: The Dealings of Benjamin Darkly
GENRE: Adult Speculative Fiction

Ben could say with pretty good certainty the cooking lessons he’d given his buddy the boogeyman weren’t so effective.

Merril was kneeling on a barstool across the kitchen island from Ben, humming an old Stones tune, grinding with his hands a pinkish-brown mixture in a glass bowl.  Every few churns he glanced up and bared his teeth -- a smile, for Merril anyway.  His eyes, a pair of cruelly unequal lumps of coal set close to his beaked nose, glittered with tremendous glee.  Granted, his approach to baking wouldn’t fly at the barbeque shack Ben owned outside of town, but hey.  They were home, and the thought was all that mattered.

“You know,” said Ben, “I’m not sure if you’re eating them, pocketing them for the lean times, or just dropping them on the floor, but there are a bit too many eggs missing from the carton.”  He counted three remaining in the Styrofoam jumbo pack by Merril’s workstation, and could have sworn there were eleven a couple of minutes ago.

“Well, I’m not sure what you’re trying to insinuate, but this recipe happens to be really, really eggy.  Good protein to balance out the butter.”

“Is that right?”  He leaned over the counter to get a look at the quiet chaos surrounding Merril, but he shifted on his chair to block Ben’s view of the floor.

“I believe you can quote Paula Deen on that.”  Merril’s cool, smoky voice brought rise to gooseflesh beneath Ben’s long-sleeves.


  1. I'm hooked. This is smart and interesting. It made me laugh out loud. My only advice would be not to use ten words when you can use three. The voice and tone here are great. I wouldn't want to hinder that, especially in the dialogue (which is terrific), but I feel some of the wording could be tightened just a smidgen.

  2. This is fun. The dialogue is really good. I think "the boogeyman" should probably be set off with commas. And the second to last paragraph, it might just be me, but I stumbled over the pronouns the first time I read it.

  3. This is fun, nice banter too.

    I did not immediately connect that Merril was the boogeyman, so I had to go back and re-read it. The sentence with "but hey" felt unfinished. And , I too stumbled over the second to the last paragraph. I realize you're trying to not repeat Ben, but maybe play around with the sentence a little more.

  4. I stumbled over the second to last paragraph too. I do think you can tighten slightly throughout, but all in all, this is a lot of fun.

  5. Okay, your first sentence has me smiling. I have no idea what's going on here, but I'm definitely intrigued!

    Second paragraph: I'd reword "grinding with his hands" - say instead "grinding a pinkish-brown mixture in a glass bowl with his hands"

    There are exraneous words here too, like "cruelly" when describing his eyes and I'd cut the word "tremendous" before the word "glee" - otherwise so far I love the voice and the writing is great.

    By the end I'm definitely intrigued and I totally want to read on. Who is this boogeyman? Who is Ben and why is he teaching him how to cook? This feels fresh and interesting and I want to know what happens next.

    Thanks for entering!

  6. You had me at his best friend is the boogeyman, and it's not a nickname. He's literally a monster. Based on the description of what's in the bowl, it sounds like meatloaf or something else involving meat, but the comment about butter and the Paula Dean joke makes that feel wrong. So then is he making bread or a cake with ribs in it for the boogeyman to eat? I would totally read more. Well done.