Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Beginning 746

There was an article in the paper that morning, about the man who killed his double. He got off: you don’t prosecute people for removing a faulty body part, even if the body part is shaped like a human.

I read it while I waited for the bus. Front page.

Daria would read it, too, when she and her hangover finally woke up, but she wouldn’t pay much attention until they told her I left. Then she’d load her gun and start looking.

New York was on the horizon and coming closer. I pressed my face to the bus window and watched the streets, where blank-faced doubles trailed behind their confident firsts. Clones, photocopies, doppelgangers. People.

Once off the bus, I pushed my way down the crowded sidewalks. Everywhere we went, Daria always had a driver.

There was a busker on a street near Central Park, strumming his guitar, enjoying his music whether the crowd did or not. I stopped nearby and watched, though nobody else did.

He noticed me first, my guitar case second, and smiled. “Want to join me?” he called when the song ended.

I walked over. “Sure. But I don’t have a permit.”

He shrugged.

I looked closer, the guy's face was blank now that he wasn't singing. So . . . he was a double. His first was lounging, foot cocked against the rail fence, grinning.

Crap, here came Daria, her driver skidding to a halt as she tucked and rolled in drama queen style to a flat body pose on the cement, aiming her gun back and forth at the first and the double.

I froze her in a bubble and the first and I jammed for about an hour while the double went limp to recharge. These doubles and double bubbles with their street begging and busking were seriously starting to interfere with life on planet Earth. Ah well, a volcanic ash cloud, earthquakes, asteroids . . . Earth was toast anyway. Figured I might as well speed up the process, prevent riots at Wal-mart. I freeze-shrank the Earth, shoved it my pocket and went home to Mirvbal. Now that's a planet.


Opening: Rachel.....Continuation: Bibi

13 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


Daria would have had a permit. Even though she hardly played at all, she would be ready. No matter how spontaneous an act might seem to the likes of me, Daria would have prepared. She planned for everything, her and that smug husband of hers, my former first. It struck me as odd that a man so organised would leave all his ID documents where a murderous double could so easily get his hands on them.

--eMonkey


Behind him, his double mirrored the shrug. Two-part harmony was a hard habit to break, I guess.

"I might be out of tune," I told them.

"It'll be okay," the seated musician said. "If nothing else, you can just stand there and look good. That'll attract the tourists, at least."

Behind him, his copy set his own guitar aside and rummaged through an oversized guitar bag. "Three guitars, people'll mistake us for Thin Lizzy," he said, in a voice that was a slightly flat copy of his first's. Like I was hearing him over a bad phone connection. "I'll play something else."

"We're Fred," the first busker told me as I opened my own guitar case and reached in.

"I'm--" The whole bus ride, I'd agreed with myself about needing a new name. Smug with my own cleverness. First time I needed it, and I almost said 'Daria'. Two-part harmony. Hard to break.

"Maria," I said.

"You made good time on that bus, Daria," he said. "Good idea paying cash, too." He pointed to the Minnesota Twins cap on the sidewalk next to him, a few crumpled dollar bills and a single twenty holding it down. "Should've worn a hat, though. They have cameras in those terminals."

"Daria had this retrieval job on the 'Net twenty minutes after you took off," said the second street musician. His hand was out of the guitar case now, long fingers wrapped around a small-caliber dart gun. "She sounded pissed, in both the American and British sense."

I squeezed the trigger on Daria's gun. The expensive suppressor and the guitar case's padded nylon reduced the shot to about the noise of a little dog's bark. The backup singer dropped to the grass, a tiny spray of blood jetting from his neck.

Not bad, though I'd been aiming for his head.

The seated Fred sat very still. His eyes tracked a passing jogger, then flicked back to me.

"How'd you know?"

"A real street performer would've pocketed that twenty as soon as it landed," I said, nodding at his hat without looking away from him. "Don't worry. I'll find it a good home."

"Single people should stick together," he said, in a surprisingly calm voice. "They should form pairs, like lost socks." He grinned. "That's what I always say."

"I have a saying, too," I replied, swinging my guitar case down towards him. "Two Freds are better when none."

--Sean


"And I don't play too well," I added, modestly.

He rolled his eyes and sighed. "Fine," he said, "fuck off then."

I look back, and can't help thinking my life might have been different if I'd just kept my mouth shut and taken out my guitar.

--anon.


"If I had a permit," he said, "I wouldn't be here, strumming for quarters. I mean, I ask you, what's the big deal? It was just a pap smear."

--anon.

Evil Editor said...

I would start:

There was an article in the paper that morning, about a man who killed his double. Front page. I read it while I waited for the bus.

That faulty body part line is just confusing. Obviously a double would look human, but a body part would be physically attached.


Start the next paragraph:

I knew Daria would read it too. Otherwise there's a tense issue.


You might skip a line before the New York paragraph, as time has passed.


I'd delete Everywhere we went, Daria always had a driver. Not clear why that is inserted here as it doesn't seem to have anything to do with what's happening.

fairyhedgehog said...

I'm interested by this. It reads like the beginning to a short story rather than a novel, so I'm guessing that's what it is.

If killing a double is seen as simply removing an excess body part and not subject to prosecution, I don't understand why it would be on the front page or why the narrator would say "He got off" unless there was some other aspect to the story that made it unusual.

I liked the line Clones, photocopies, doppelgangers. People. I found it very easy to follow what was going on. (I don't always!)

Dave F. said...

I think that your own words slow down the action and make it feel like a travel story. I'd cut a bunch and speed it up. The reason for that is that you are talking about doubles and the extra words lose that train of thought. I presume the duet with the busker is part of that double imagery. I'm guessing that the narrator is Daria's double (maybe?)?

And that brings me to the other thing that draws me out of the story -- the name Daria. I keep seeing the MTV cartoon character. Seriously consider changing that name. It's so distracting to me that I wouldn't continue and I like what I see in the opening.

Try this shorter version. CAPS are additions.

An article in the newspaper that morning TOLD about the man who killed his double. He got off: THEY don’t prosecute people for removing faulty body partS, even if the body part is ANOTHER human.

I read it while waitING for the bus. Daria would read it, too, when she and her hangover finally woke up. Then she’d load her gun and start looking FOR ME.

I watched the New York streets PASS BY, where blank-faced doubles trailed behind their confident firsts. Clones, photocopies, doppelgangers. People. Once off the bus, I pushed my way down the crowded sidewalks. Everywhere we went, Daria always had a driver.

There was a busker near Central Park, strumming his guitar, enjoying his music whether the crowd did or not. I stopped nearby and watched. He noticed me first, my guitar case second, and smiled. “Want to join me?”

“Sure. But I don’t have a permit.”

He shrugged.

Amy said...

I like this. It's well-written and interesting, but I think it's too heavy-handed. It's working too hard to tell us about the doubles, especially the line:

I pressed my face to the bus window and watched the streets, where blank-faced doubles trailed behind their confident firsts. Clones, photocopies, doppelgangers. People.

If this person (BTW: is the protagonist male or female?) has grown up in a world where doubles are the norm, would this really stand out to him? I would think the people and their doubles would just blend into the background for him. (Or her.)

I agree with EE about the faulty body part line being confusing (and unnecessary, really), and with Dave about the name Daria being distracting.

Can you work the doubles into the story in a less heavy-handed way? The first line is good; it's the rest of it that I think lacks subtlety.

Jeb said...

I'm with Dave. 'Daria' is the MTV character, hard to force the mental shift to be open to her as anything else.

I'm not with Amy about the doubles not being noteworthy to our narrator. On this day if never before, while escaping from her 'first' in a desperate quest to live as an independent human, that element of their society will be worthy of mental comment.

_*rachel*_ said...

Until further notice, assume everything I send in is shorter than a novel.

There is indeed an extra space between the newspaper part and the New York part. My section breaks always seem to disappear when I send a section in here.

I'm amazed you got so much out of that, Sean!

I'd like to keep some version of the extra body part line; it's integral to the rest of the story. And Dave, you're spot-on: Disa (the narrator) is Daria's double. For her, doubles are never in the background.

I like those revisions, Dave. Thanks!

I dunno about the name Daria; I'd never heard of that show before.

Evil Editor said...

I'd like to keep some version of the extra body part line;

Put it somewhere else. It's ruining the opening. As FH said, if you don't prosecute people for it, then there is no trial, so what's to get off? And as I said, if they aren't attached, they can't be removed. Hold off until you're prepared to explain.

Dave F. said...

At the height of the Beavis and Butthead fame when half the world hated B&B for being stupid and the other half of the world loved B&B for them being stupid, MTV spun off a series about a character -- Daria -- it was worth five years of disaffected sarcasm and teen angst.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daria_Morgendorffer

314,052 people like Daria on Facebook. No word if she tweets.

MTV still has episodes online here: http://www.mtv.com/shows/daria/series.jhtml

_*rachel*_ said...

Yeah, I'm starting to see what y'all mean about the body part line. Okey-dokey, here's the new version. Two questions: is the verb tense change in "He got off" extraneous? And does Ria sound too much like anything else? (I could always try Rio.) (I need something that sounds vaguely glamorous/stage name-ey for her.)


The morning I left, the front page of every newspaper had an article about the man who killed his double. He’d gotten off.

I read it while waiting for the bus. Ria would read it, too, when she and her hangover finally woke up, but she wouldn’t care until they told her I was gone. Then she’d load her gun and start looking for me.
----
I pressed my face to the bus window and watched New York’s passing streets, where blank-faced doubles trailed behind their confident firsts. Clones, photocopies, doppelgangers. People. Once off the bus, I pushed my way down the crowded sidewalks. There was a busker on a street near Central Park, strumming his guitar, enjoying his music whether the crowd did or not. I stopped nearby and watched, though nobody else did.

He noticed me first, my guitar case second, and smiled. “Want to join me?” he called when the song ended.

I walked over. “Sure. But I don’t have a permit.”

He shrugged.

----
Oddly enough, I met a busker today. (There aren't many where I live.) He sang me one of his own songs, and he wasn't bad at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel,
He sang me one of his songs.

The line is awkward to me.

He sang one of his songs to me.

Bibi

_*rachel*_ said...

(That part wasn't in the opening; it happened to me today. Sorry for the mix-up.)

Matthew said...

She's calm for someone who just learned her life is in danger. Was the verdict an expected outcome?