Monday, February 16, 2009

Unfinished work

Give me a sample.

Of the latest work?

The thing you're planning to work on today.

All right. I'll give you the opening paragraph.

What's it called again?

"Helping Them Take the Old Man Down."

Some sort of metaphor?

Well, I don't want to--


I wouldn't--


I forget which one that is.

 . . .

In any case, here's the opening:

When I married, late and surprised, I hadn’t heard from the old man for about two years. I knew his assistants went through fallow periods, only to be summoned back into service from out of the blue. Having heard nothing formal, I considered myself retired rather than dismissed, but in truth I didn’t know what to think. No contact was possible between me and my former peers. From my own time with the old man, I sensed some people had simply aged out of service; others died, of course, and not only because the old man’s career had spanned decades.

What kind of thing is this?

Again, I'd rather not say too much.

How about a line at random.

“No. If he’d died, we’d know. The world,” she said, and waited so long I thought the call had been cut off, but then she concluded, “wouldn’t make as much sense.”

That was at random?

Well. Random . . . . I went to a section that was in decent shape.

So now choose something you quite like. Less random.

It’s true that he never used a gun. For a while there, I carried one. So did Jean. Balder kept a tiny pistol up his sleeve, not the sort of weapon for doing much damage, but that was in keeping with the ethic of the Work The old man didn’t want us killing people, not if we could help it. A master of disabling the most solidly built enemy with a single blow, the old man believed in the nobility of the human spirit but saw the human body as a machine rife with “off” switches. 

That'll do. Now get to work.

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