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The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 12th, 2010, 3:17 pm
by daringnovelist
Here is the second scene of the mystery. It takes place immediately after the opening scene I posted earlier. George has just stepped out of his girlfriend's shrink's office, having been told that maybe he should be trying to help her get life back to normal.

This one is a little less terse (if you haven't guessed, I used to be a screenwriter), but it's also a bit rougher.

George stepped out into the hazy air of a Michigan spring. It was a sunny day, at least as sunny as he'd seen yet. The locals seemed to think it was warm and brilliant. Was that normal? It seemed to be for Michigan.

Normal. That was the package, and he had to retrieve it. That's what he did as a recovery agent for Benson Kravich International. He recovered things that people couldn't get back for themselves. Gwen had lost the comfort and safety of normal, and she couldn't seem to give him a clue as to what it meant to her, so he'd have to find it for himself.

But at the moment he was still at an utter loss as to how.

He pressed his hand to his head and sighed and headed off, in search of the requested mini-cheeseburger. No pickles.

When he got to his car, he paused to check his cell phone, and saw that he had received fifteen messages in the past hour. He tensed, but none of them were from Gwen. Indeed they were all from Eva Kravich, his former boss. Fifteen of them. He frouned, dialed and said:

"I don't work for you."

"You're in Michigan," Eva replied, in her clipped but otherwise not discernible Flemish accent.

"And I'm staying in Michigan."

"Good. That's where the trouble is."

George paused. Hang up he thought, but he didn't.

"What do you want?"

"One of Raoul Tamaru's sons was kidnapped, and it appears he has been spotted not far from where you are."

"Tamaru would be Zero's territory."

"He's on his way, but it will be several days, and the lead is tenuous. All I want is for you to track it down and keep a finger on the thread until he gets there."

"It isn't really my sort of job."

"It's exactly your sort of job."

"No, Eva. I'm not a pointer, I'm a retriever. And I'm retired. I have responsibilities."

Eva paused. "How is she?"

"She's...well enough. And I'd rather not be deported for working without a green card, thank you."

"Are you planning to become a resident?"

"I'm not going to discuss that with you."

"Which means you are not."

George sighed. "No, it just means that it's still an open question. We haven't achieved normalcy yet."

"It has been months. Perhaps this is normal."

"Please don't say that."

"But you are thinking it."

"Yes. Yes, I'm thinking it. I am thinking that things may very well never change, but I haven't made up my mind about whether that's all right or not."

"You are a man who makes things change, George."

"Not without her permission."

Eva made a rude sound. She was a lot more direct than the shrink, but on the other hand, she was nearly eighty and only played games for fun.

"Perhaps you could use a day off from your routine," said Eva. "A day for the retriever to run."

"The retriever doesn't know how to stop. Hire a local detective agency."

"Did you know that Gwen has a fax machine?"

"Yes?" said George with trepidation. He pictured the clunky old phone in the hall. It had a message machine and a fax built in. As far as he knew it didn't work, but....

"Yes, the dossier went through successfully. It was short--"

"You sent it to Gwen? You had no bloody right! She doesn't need to see a dossier about some kidnapped Tolongan prince!

He snapped the phone shut and tore out of the parking lot.

But then good sense took hold. Eva might not have actually sent it at all. There might not have been paper in the fax machine, or Gwen might not have looked at it.

He pulled over and picked up the phone again. Gwen answered quickly.


She didn't sound upset, though there was a note of something in her voice. Eagerness or anxiety? His heart was doing flip flops, but he wasn't sure if it was because he liked to hear that lively note in her voice or because it scared him.

"I'm on my way home, love," he said. "How are you doing?"

"I'm fine."

"Listen, is your fax machine on?"

"Oh, yes. And you got a fax!"

"All right, well, just leave it, all right? Don't read it."

"I'm sorry. I won't."

She wouldn't apologize if she hadn't. Bloody hell.

"Well, good. It's nothing. I'm not going to bother with it--"

"Oh? But don't you think...?" The anxiety was back in her voice, but she caught herself.

"I try not to," he said. She didn't reply, and he realized whatever it was that had made her anxious he would have to deal with it. "But I will think if you want me to."

She let out a long sigh of relief.

"Can you get me a cheeseburger?"

"Of course. Junior, no pickles."

He hung up and told himself that he didn't need to race home. It was all right.

He looked across the street at a Chinese restaurant, which was shaped like a fake pagoda. The food was probably awful, but frankly right now he longed for anything other than a cheeseburger. Something with garlic, ginger and coconut milk. Or even just too much soy sauce and MSG. Something other than cheeseburgers and pizza. But smell evokes memory, and memories were still a problem for Gwen. Even pickles reminded her of lime and fermented fish, which was the predominant seasoning in Tolongao. The smell of any Asian food tended to set off bad dreams and flashbacks.

The restaurant did say it had cocktails. Perhaps a stiff drink would hide the scent of a spot of tang mien....

No, he had to get home. He went and got the cheeseburger and a grilled chicken sandwich for himself, which he could cut up and have with pasta and broth. No garlic, but it would at least not have any bread or cheese.

end scene

Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 14th, 2010, 11:30 am
by lmitchell
I don't read mystery...ever. Until now. You pulled me right in. Nice. :)

Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 14th, 2010, 8:42 pm
by daringnovelist
lmitchell wrote:I don't read mystery...ever. Until now. You pulled me right in. Nice. :)
Thank you. Just a question, did you read the first section too or just this one by itself?


Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 15th, 2010, 5:43 pm
by lmitchell
I read this section stand-alone. I'll read scene 1 as soon as I get the chance. :)

Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 15th, 2010, 6:50 pm
by daringnovelist
Since it worked for you, I was just curious as to whether it was with or without context. Thanks again.

Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 16th, 2010, 7:26 am
by Kalthandrix
Very nice. I think your dialogue is realistic and interesting, which is something I know is hard to make happen sometimes. I did not catch anything that stuck out as a glaring issue, but I think you should be careful when writing up your scenes. Two or three pages of one-liners can be interesting, but not if it happens all the way through the book. We need to see inside the characters minds as well and need to see/feel/breathe what is happening around them as well. In the last scene, we were in a sparse office with only a desk and some papers as decoration for the scene. Here 90% of it takes place in a car. We need a bit more in the way of visual scenery, IMO.

Oh, and this is taking place in Michigan! I live in Michigan, so I was wondering if we would be learning what city they are in? I personally have never met any princes here, but it would be cool if I had :)

Thanks for sharing!

Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 16th, 2010, 12:38 pm
by daringnovelist
This part takes place in a fictional city something like Traverse City (but less touristy). The bulk of the story takes place to the west in a tiny beach town/county.

I do like dialog. (Used to do screenwriting.) But most of this story will actually be told from the view point of a character who hasn't been introduced - who, shall we say, has an active mind, and even though it's third person, she narrates her life, so yeah, you will get more of the observation, inner thoughts stuff. (And I have "plumped up" the first scene some. My inspiration was to start it as a pastiche on the opening of CASINO ROYALE, but I need to develop it more away from that.)


Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 27th, 2010, 10:28 am
by Aimée
Hey I live it Traverse CIty!
DId you post your first scene? Because I didn't get to read that... But I was really intrigued by the story overwise. The paragraphs were short and it was a little choppy, but that did add to the suspense of the mystery, which I'm not quite sure of what that is, but that could be because I ddin't read the first part. The dialogue was realistic. I enjoyed it.

Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 27th, 2010, 6:01 pm
by Username
15 e-mails in one hour? Sent by the same person? You might want to tone that down a bit. Even two or three e-mails in one hour is kind of pushing it.

Re: The Man Who Did Too Much scene 2 - mystery

Posted: May 27th, 2010, 8:32 pm
by daringnovelist
Thanks, Aimee! The first scene is listed as the "opening" - here's a direct link, I htink:

Or the whole first chapter is at:

Username: Everyone I know uses the word "message" for voice mail, and the words "email" or "text" for non-voice messages, but I'll think about how to rephrase that.