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Blue: A Novella

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Old 06-14-2010, 02:07 PM
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Default Blue: A Novella


Okay, so I'm still an amateur writer (being 16 and still in high school) but I think this is some of my best work here. It has quite a few flaws I'm still attending to, like figuring out how to show and not tell, and organizing it better. It follows the story of John Carson and in his life of crime with mob boss Frank Connolly, his semi-psychotic brother Mike, the law itself, and the titular drug, Blue. (I'll let you know ahead of time, it was heavily inspired by Scorsese's The Departed, a western film called The Proposition, and a graphic novel called Heavy Liquid.)

Enjoy, and I would love feedback, however harsh and true


--------------
BLUE
A Novella


Zachary T. Calloway


Prelude

“They were foolish,” said Frank. “I trust you're smarter than they were, Edward.”
The teenager that was curled up in the corner whined and covered his head at the mention of his name. Frank squatted next to him and placed a hand on the boys shoulder.
Don't worry now, Edward. I'm not going to hurt you.”
The boy looked up at him, his face covered in blood, sweat, and tears.
Now, you know who I am?”
He nodded.
And you know what I'm capable of?”
He looked around the room full of dead bodies, bullet holes and bloodstains marring their expensive suits, and he nodded again.
Good. James raised you well.” Frank stood, and began to wipe his gun with a handkerchief.
You... you knew my father?”
As he slipped the gun back into his waist, Frank turned to look at the boy. “Of course I did,” he said. “Everybody knew James. Good man.”
Edward sat up, wiping some of the blood from his face. “He was a firefighter. How did you know him?”
Frank chuckled. “Figured he woulda' been more straight with all of you.”
What?” Edward stood. “What do you mean?”
Nothing, son.” Frank walked over to the window and gazed at his reflection. He was getting old. “You know why I'm here?”
The boy said nothing. Frank turned to look at him. “It's a bit of a situation,” he said, scratching his chin. “Ever since that brother of yours ran off it's just been...” He trailed off, looking around the trashed living room.
Mr. Connolly?”
Frank turned back to the boy. “Yes, son?”
Why are you here?”
For a moment they just stood there, looking at each other. Old and young. Innocent and haggard.
I'm sorry,” said Frank. He drew his gun again. He pulled back the slide to see a round in the chamber.
No!” Edward began to walk backwards. “No, no! Mr. Connolly--”
Three bullets. Two to the chest, one to the head. Edward fell back against the sofa, eyes motionless, but focused on the old mobster in front of him. Frank Connolly stood there among half a dozen dead bodies. He was the only living soul in the Carson home.



I.

Oftentimes he would awake to find himself positioned somewhere between the bathtub and the toilet. Sometimes there would be vomit. The meds would always be nearby, unless he had tossed them out in a drunken stupor the night before. She would usually get them if he had. She wasn't there this time.
First would come the aches, driving through his back and shoulders like a bone saw. Next, the delirium as he tried to grab reality and position himself in front of the mirror. Sometimes this was made more difficult by awakening elsewhere (he had awoken in locations too numerous to list, more often than not due to her throwing him out of the apartment). Finally, the little tick in his head that reminded him how fucked up everything was would begin to flare violently, and the cycle would return to the blue. Tantalizing, potent blue. Today the cycle was broken.
There was not a drop of blue to be found anywhere in the apartment, and he wouldn't have been surprised if she had cleared out the neighbor's place too. The wine cooler was gone, the pain pills, even the vintage bottle of Château Margaux they had been given last New Years. He spent that morning laying half-asleep at the kitchen counter, staring absentmindedly at the paper. He fell asleep shortly after he realized it was three weeks old.
Some amount of time later he was awoken by the cat, who had been gently purring and pawing at his face. Damned cat. He had never wanted one. Allergies. Besides, there was a rather strict no-pets rule. But since when did she care about rules? She gave about as much of a fuck as he did. On second thought, probably more. She had poured his afternoon down the sink, after all.
Several hours passed and he found himself in front of the mirror again. The dirty, dusty mirror, paralleled in uncleanliness only by the haggard reflection it cast. A thickening coat of dark facial hair shrouded his face like some cold glaucoma dimming away the light. His eyes were the color of a dying storm, a stark and lifeless gray. Pale, alabaster skin, stuck to the bone like wet clothing. Without ambition. Without desire. He had a hole to fill and he would fill it with all the toxins of the world. And when all the toxins of the world had lain him in his deathbed, and given a him a subtle goodnight kiss, would they leave the light on for the rest of the world? Would blue, with its tantalizing allure, drag them all into its world of dreams and ecstasy, a world free of anxiety and authority?
Thoughts floated freely inside his cramped mind, as he sat cross-legged in the cramped bathroom, gazing at the ceiling tiles. Soon she would be home, just two hours from now. Twenty minutes. Five seconds. The blink of an eye.
John.”
John was dozing in the kitchen. John was yelling at the cat. John was passed out in the bathroom.
John,” she repeated. “Get up.”
Why,” he said. It wasn't a question. It was directed at no one in particular.
Joey's here.”
John sat up. “Joey?”
Schliemann,” she said.
What is Joey doing here?”
She shrugged. “I don't know. But he's creepin' me out standin' out there like that.”
John stood up. Or maybe the world sat down. He left the bathroom and went down the stairs. He opened the door and Joey was there.
Get in the car, now,” he said.
John just stared.
Johnny, don't give me that shit. I can't have you seein' blue right now. Get in the car.”
What is it?” said John. “What do you want?
Some shit went down. Jerry got shot.”
What happened?”
Just get in the car.”
They were gone before she and the cat had even gotten down the stairs.


II.

“Johnny.”
John was looking out of the passenger window. Rain was slowly washing away the blood smeared there.
Johnny!”
Yeah, what is it?”
Dammit Johnny, get your head in the game! You still seein' blue?”
John wiped the sleep from his eyes. “No,” he said. “No, I'm straight.”
Good. Because I'm fucking not. I need somebody level-headed, understand? You got your piece?”
He reached into his back pocket. “No. No, I left it at the apartment.”
Take mine,” said Joey. “In the back.”
John grabbed the small-caliber handgun from the backseat and checked the magazine. “What about you? What will you use?”
I got another, I'm good. You talk to Frank lately?”
John shook his head as he released the slide on the gun and switched the safety off. “Not in a few days. Says he's been busy.”
Real busy,” said Joey. “Been dealin' with that brother of yours.”
John sighed and laid his head against the window. Mikey.
Is that what this is about? Did one of his tag Jerry?”
“I'm not sure,” said Joey. “But the boss has been talking about feds.”

Feds? What the fuck has Frank been getting into?”
Deep shit, Johnny. Deep shit.”
Blue?”
Shit, I dunno. Maybe worse.”
Worse than blue? How?”
We'll be there in five, ask him yourself.”

III.


“Jesus Christ, Frank, I don't get paid enough for this shit.”
Frank Connolly stood by the window, pistol in hand, as several men cleaned up the bloody mess on the floor. “I'm sorry,” he said. “What did you just say?”
The cleaner stopped scrubbing the floor and looked up at Connolly. “Sir—I didn't-”
I believe you did, son. And for the record, you do whatever the fuck I tell you to do. Now clean up this mess and stop whining like a bitch about it.”
Yessir, Mr. Connolly.”
The door to the warehouse swung open and John and Joey walked in. Frank turned, gun raised, but immediately lowered it and grinned. “Johnny Carson, just the man I was looking for!”
What's going on, Frank?” said John, stepping around the carnage in the middle of the room.
Bad deal. Motherfuckers tried to kill me and take the stuff. It's all straight now, though.”
Joey told me Jerry got shot.”
Oh, right,” said Frank. “Jerry. Poor fella. We got a guy on the way to his mom's place now. Poor braud.”
John scoffed. “Jesus, Frank. Who did this?”
Frank's face suddenly turned grim. “Some of your brother's guys. We tried to make peace and cut them in on the blue sales. Thought they could smoke me and take it all for themselves. Selfish bastards.”
John groaned and ran his hands through his hair. It was oily. He hadn't showered that morning.
Joey mentioned the feds,” he said.
Yeah,” said Frank. “Been followin' me. Digging through my trash. Questioning my guys.”
Why? I thought you had amnesty, I thought they couldn't touch you.”
“Apparently it don't mean shit to these guys anymore, John. They're out to get me. And if I have to keep puttin' up with that brother of yours, they may just succeed.”
“Well what do you need me for? I've got enough shit going on at home as it is.”

That girl ain't troubling you, is she?”
No, Frank.”
Everything okay at the office?”
“Yes, Frank.”

Then I'd say you're doing absolutely fucking fine, kiddo. Don't get me started on that braud of mine.”
What do you need me for, Frank?”
Frank grinned. “Word is that your brother has a mole in the investigation unit that's after me.”
John shook his head. “No,” he said. “No, I won't do it.” As he turned to leave, Frank grabbed him by the shoulder.
I know he's family, Johnny. I do. But he's been fucking with our business a while now. We've made the papers. I don't need this kinda heat, and neither do you. Understand?”
I won't do it, Frankie.”
Frank chuckled.
Frankie. James used to call me that.”
Goddammit, Frank, don't pull this shit on me.”
He was a good man, Johnny. A damn good man. And he worked with me. Not for me.”
I won't do it.”
He chuckled again, but this time he slipped something into John's coat pocket. John already knew what it was.

Call me when you're ready.” Then he left John alone with the cleaners and Joey.
The mobile phone in John's pocket began to vibrate. He answered. For a moment, silence. And then, “John?” It was Mikey. Another pause. Finally John spoke.
Yeah.”
There was a strange noise on the other end, like someone clearing their throat. “It's... it's good to talk to you again. It's been too long, Johnny.”
Yeah. Yeah, it has.”
Is Sophie doing okay?”
Yeah. She is.”
Good. That's good.”
What's this about, Mikey?”
Again there was silence. It seemed to linger for only a moment before being broken by Mikey's words. “Edward's dead.”
John stood by the window of the warehouse, gazing at the sky. Thunderclouds gathered over the skyscrapers to the north, but no rain was falling. Not yet.
John didn't know what to say except “when's the funeral?” It was Wednesday. He had not kept track of time. To John, today was Monday. Today was Thursday. Today was next week.
Mikey said some other stuff, but John wasn't paying attention. He just nodded and said “yeah.” A few minutes later, the phone lay on the concrete floor where a dead man had once been.
We're all through here,” said one of the cleaners. “Tell Frank to drop the check over at Hamilton's, we just moved.”
Yeah, yeah,” said Joey. “You ain't ever seen this place.”
Nope, never been here in my life, you greasy asshole,” said the cleaner, as he and his men exited the warehouse.
Prick,” said Joey. “Hey Johnny, who was that you were talkin' to?”
Nobody.”
Did 'Nobody' have anything interesting to say?”
No.”
Joey frowned. “Alright, wise guy, I can tell when I'm not wanted. I'll see you later.”
As Joey left the warehouse, John pulled out the object Frank had given him. It was an eyedropper of clear liquid. Blue. He laid back his head and sighed. Eddie. Little Eddie. Jesus Christ. He squeezed several drops of blue into his eye. It mixed with the tears and stung sharply. He recoiled from the pain, and the vial of blue flew from his hands.
“Shit!”

It shattered on contact with the ground, and the liquid went everywhere.
Shit, shit, shit!”
John got on his hands and knees and tried to scoop the blue up and get it inside, through his eyes, through his ears, nose, or mouth, anywhere. Finally he just rolled over, hands soaked in blue and small cuts from the glass.
Call me when you're ready.
He tightened his hand into a fist, and the blue seeped into his cuts. It was somewhat relaxing.
You son of a bitch.”


IV.

Only a handful of people attended the funeral. Frank was there, standing by John. Frank was always there. He was like a father to him ever since James had died. Joey was there too, but he was somewhere else in the cemetery, smoking a cigarette. There were also a few older women that John didn't know or didn't remember.
There was little family that John had left. Now that Edward was gone, all he had was Mikey. James died when John and Mikey were still young, and when Edward was just a baby. Their mother, Julia, had passed away giving birth to Edward. Since then, they had looked to Frank as a father.
A couple years back, when Mikey started getting into drug sales with Frank, John put Edward into a foster home. That kept him away from their new lifestyle. Mikey got in deeper and deeper, and eventually split ways with Frank. He didn't need him anymore. He had his own gang now.
John stayed with Frank, knowing he couldn't support himself. He had become accustomed to one of Frank's new sales items, called blue. Big hit with the kids. A real life-changer. They say blue was the first drug to be one-hundred percent addictive, but almost entirely non-lethal. It was like a fun-house in a bottle, and it cost somewhere around six-hundred an ounce. A junkie's wet dream, and a stockbroker's bank-breaker. Nobody knew where it came from. Frank always said he got his from “The Spaniard”. Word was the stuff was some kind of secret government project. Tabloid stuff, the kind of crap those who don't do blue buy into, and those who do blue don't care about. Everybody was just looking for a hit. No details.
“If you need anything, son,” said Frank, putting a hand on John's shoulder, “just call me.”
Frank was gone before the eulogy was finished, before the casket even went down. Joey finished his cigarette and stood beside John.
Real sorry about this,” he said. “He was a good kid.”
Yeah.” He was a good kid. He didn't deserve this. This was the kind of place John expected people like himself to end up in, not little Eddie.
“Where's Mike?”

John looked around, but he knew Mikey wasn't there. He wasn't there for his own father's funeral, either. That was when Mikey was first getting into the business. He was just a kid. Like Eddie. Straight into the game, no time for playgrounds or first kisses. That reminded him of a conversation he had with Eddie just a few months before.
I met this girl,” he said. “She's really nice. And cute.”
John had asked him if she was anything like Sophie.
No,” he had said.
Good. That was good. Sophie didn't want to leave the city. She liked it there, with John. But maybe this girl, maybe she'd be a good influence on Eddie. Maybe they'd grow up together and move someplace far away from here. From Frank. From Mikey. From the blue.
Mikey's not here,” said John.
Joey drew his pack of cigarettes.
He didn't show for his own little brother's funeral?”
John took one and lit it. “No,” he said, letting the smoke drift off into the cemetery. Just one drag, and then he crushed it under his heel and headed for the gate.
Where are you going?”
To find Mikey.”


V.

“Yeah. Yeah, okay Roy. Good. Call me back after the meeting, I got somebody at the door.”
Mike Carson hung up the wireless phone and opened the front door.
“John, what a surprise.”

John passed his brother and walked into the shanty living room. He sat down on the torn sofa and rested his legs on the coffee table. “Why weren't you there?” he said.
John, I know you're probably a little mad, but-”
Mad? No. I can't bring myself to be mad anymore, Mikey.”
Look, I had a deal to do, and then I had a meeting with this guy, Burns-”
I don't care,” interrupted John. “I don't care about your business, or your sales associates. I don't care. I just want to know why you weren't there.”
Mike walked into the kitchen, which was a small side-room attached to the living area. He leaned against the counter and sighed. “If I had gone, Frank would have shot me on sight, Johnny.”
Would he?”
Yeah. He would.”
John stood up and walked over to the counter. “He raised us. He fed us, and kept us clothed and in school. Would he?”
I'm endangering his business, John. I'm sure he didn't even stay for the whole thing. He probably just went to see if I was there.”
He was like a father to us.”
Don't you forget who brought you up.”
He taught us everything we know.”
Goddamn you, John, what if dad heard you talking like this?”
He wasn't a firefighter, Mikey. He wasn't a 'good man', or a 'hero'.”
And what do you think Frank is?” said Mike, stepping within an inch of John's face. “Huh? You work with him. I used to work with him. He's just as crooked as we are, just as crooked as dad was.”
The two just stared at each other for a moment, and then John turned around and began to pace the room. He ran his hands through his hair. Still oily.
He's not a hero either, John,” said Mike. “You just think he's one because he supplies you. He gets you your fix.”
Fuck you!”
John was in Mike's face again, his hand clenching his shoulder.
“We shouldn't be fighting. What would Eddie say?”

At this, John was silent. He sat down, face in his hands.
It's been rough,” said Mike. “Been rough our whole lives, y'know?” He crossed the room and stood by the couch beside John. “We got a lot in common, John. A whole lot.”
We're nothing alike,” John mumbled from inside his cupped hands.
What makes you say that, brother?”
John sat up. “Eddie used to look up to you,” he said. “At one point, we both did. But you just couldn't get enough of that life with Frank. You had to dig deeper. I got Eddie away from it all. I tried to help him.”
You didn't help yourself, John. You're a mess.”
John scoffed and stood up. “And what is this! The high life?”
“It's not much. But this is what I'm good at,” said Mike. “I don't know how else to live.”



John sat down. He looked at all the little cuts on his hands, turned a distorted greenish color from the blue. “Frank wanted me to tail you,” he said.
I know.”
He wanted to know about the mole you have in the investigation unit. I guess so he could persuade him to rat you out.”
Are you tailing me, John?”
I'm here, aren't I?”
Mike sighed. “What are you going to do?”
I'm going to go home,” John said, heading for the door. “I'm thinking about getting away from all of this. Me and Sophie.”
It won't be easy.”
“Never is,” he replied, closing the door behind him.


Last edited by HoiLei; 06-15-2010 at 12:57 PM.. Reason: extra spaces
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:35 PM
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This was excellent. I didn't think I'd read all the way through (this isn't my genre), but your writing is so professional. One problem I had: the names were too generic, so I kept getting the characters mixed up. More unusual names would also make the story more realistic.
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Old 06-14-2010, 07:17 PM
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This really is extremely mature and professional writing, quite surprising for your age.

I'm always surprised that teenagers want to write about the CIA and mafia, which there is no chance they know diddly about or will be able to handle appropriately. This is different. You've pitched it to a human level and the writing is mostly transparent and well-wrought.

There are glitches. (The kid is in a room full of dead people and asks the killer what he's there fore???) but one of the most impressive works from a teenager I've seen yet.

(Alleged teenager, I should say. This is, after all, the internet, and as a hot bi-curious twenty year old model, I should know.)
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Old 06-14-2010, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post

(Alleged teenager, I should say. This is, after all, the internet, and as a hot bi-curious twenty year old model, I should know.)

Hahaha, well I certainly know what you mean. If necessary I can prove it, but until then, thanks both of you for your comments, and more is still on the way
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:01 PM
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Not at all. I was kidding around and your writing is quite well done, whatever your age.
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:28 PM
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Well written. The piece kept my attention even with 2 kids running circles around me.
I did find it a little confusing to follow when you had Jerry and Joey in the same scene though. The names are a little too similar so a couple of times I had to check who I was reading about.
Other than that, as I said, well written.
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:29 PM
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Well thank you. And by the way, if it seems strange that he asked why the killer was there, it was because, as you learn later in the story, he already knew Frank Connolly and had lived with him after James died, so it was a bit strange for him to show up and kill all those guys.
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:18 AM
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Yes, I can see how it would have been a bit of a shock. :-)
But I think by the time it was done, he would have had a pretty clear idea what guy was there for.
If you don't mind a suggestion, perhaps Edward would say something like, "So what now, Frank?"
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Old 06-15-2010, 07:42 AM
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The way you write needs more outlining to the scenes themselves. There is a lot of speech with very basic information. The action is there, so is the images, but the outlining of the scenes starts off with deep detail in one area, and then straight to action or speech.

I suggest you try to make more scene detail rather than cut down on the speech. This will bring balance, yes? If this was to be a movie script it would leave the agent with a stupid smile on his face as he tries to explain what the set should be like! If it was a novel then it needs more succulent details, more rather than quality because the mold needs to be given 'insert' points for 'wires' and 'nuts', in 'engineering' terms. Flesh it out man! Would you rather see a painting with one well done stroke, or a lot more strokes?

But, if you were to make a screen play out of it I am sure you will succeed comfortably, as with a simple set you will not need all the details I keep talking about. Take it to your drama teacher and see what they think of it as a suggestion as a school production...
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:54 AM
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i especially liked the imagery
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Old 06-20-2010, 05:39 PM
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Good job! I hate to repeat the same advice, but I agree that the James, John, and Joey names are too similar. I like your style of writing a lot though and the story was interesting, even though its not my favorite genre. If I could make one other small suggestion I'd say maybe use a little more description so the reader can better visualize what's happening. There's a ton of dialogue in there. Keep up the good work! I'm nervous to post my work now with a teen putting me to shame, lol.
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by EmmChris View Post
Good job! I hate to repeat the same advice, but I agree that the James, John, and Joey names are too similar. I like your style of writing a lot though and the story was interesting, even though its not my favorite genre. If I could make one other small suggestion I'd say maybe use a little more description so the reader can better visualize what's happening. There's a ton of dialogue in there. Keep up the good work! I'm nervous to post my work now with a teen putting me to shame, lol.
Hahaha nahhh, my work has loads of flaws, I'm still an amateur. The main problem with this story, as you've all pointed out, is the lack of attention to detail and descriptions. It's bloated with dialogue, as that's how this story mainly advances the plot. I don't tend to do stuff like this, so I made quite a few errors. I'm currently reworking the story with roughly the same concept and characters, just with a different writing style and a few name changes :P

Thanks for the criticism!
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Old 06-25-2010, 12:45 AM
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BeBop,

I disagree with Charlatan that you need to flesh out the description. What you're writing is essentially action and while there are a few things I would change if I were to edit it, you've delivered on the action.

The dialogue works and is believable, for the most part. I also didn't have a problem with "What are you here for?" because it seemed apparent that he knew Frank and therefore it was natural for me, as the reader, to assume Frank had some deeper motive than just muscling in and wasting a bunch of people.

I mentioned there were some things I think an editor would suggest you change, so here's some of things.

Firstly, I agree the names are too generic and Jerry, John, James and Joey is confusing. I'd lose some of the J names in favour of distinctive names.

They were foolish,” said Frank. “I trust you're smarter than they were, Edward.”
The teenager that was curled up in the corner whined and covered his head at the mention of his name. Frank squatted next to beside him and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder.
Don't worry now, Edward. I'm not going to hurt you.”
The boy looked up at him, his face covered in blood, sweat, and tears. [This sounds a little too cliched]
Now, you know who I am?”
He nodded.
And you know what I'm capable of?”
He looked around the room: full of dead bodies, bullet holes and bloodstains marring expensive suits. He nodded again.


As he slipped the gun back into his waist, Frank turned to look at the boy. “Of course I did,” he said. “Everybody knew James. Good man.” Although in real life things happen simultaneously, in novels action is often better relayed as action followed by reaction, so I would suggest making this: "Frank slipped the gun back into his waistband and turned to look at the boy ... etc"

"Some amount of time later he was awoken by the cat, who had been gently purring and pawing at his face."

The part that really stuck out for me as being a bit awkward was where he looks in the mirror (the looking in the mirror thing for first person narrators is a bit trite too). The lines "The dirty, dusty mirror, paralleled in uncleanliness only by the haggard reflection it cast. A thickening coat of dark facial hair shrouded his face like some cold glaucoma dimming away the light" jarred with me. The simile didn't work (facial hair like a glaucoma) and I think you can lose "thickening" here.

Really though, given your age, it's a great piece and although it could use a light edit, I don't think there's anything too much in here (perhaps with the possibility of the mirror scenes) that would rile an agent. It's good and you should be proud.
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Last edited by Echo75; 06-25-2010 at 12:47 AM..
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Thank you very much for your critique, Echo. Though, I've already re-written the Prelude and made quite a few changes I, personally, found necessary to the story. I'd love it if you could go and check it out
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