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Monday, September 22, 2014

Out of Touch

This week I'm critiquing the first chapter of OUT OF TOUCH.

Chapter One
It was astonishing, when a person actually thought about it, how little a resume revealed. Littered in amongst my vast and dismal Job History, Experience, and Education were no real clues to who I really was or what I could really do. In the past, my "gift" tended to lose me jobs, but today was going to be different. I gleamed shiny as a newly minted silver dollar. I traced my finger over today's date on my calendar and was tempted to write down "promotion" to inspire destiny to hurry. (Love this revised first paragraph)
Roger Brown, my boss, stood over my desk. "Gigi, can I see you in my office please?"
I smoothed down my suit jacket and tried, with a modicum of success, to erase the goofy grin painted on my lips. Destiny had arrived wearing a golf shirt and Polo and wanted a private meeting.
He settled into his chair, cleared his throat, and fidgeted with his name plate. When I sat down, the a sharp pain in my thigh caught me off guard. I groped for the offending object and was instantly (I know, instantly is an adverb and we generally like to use as few as possible but here I think it helps to show the violence of the vision - imo) assaulted by a vision when my fingers made contact. It felt, as usual, like an endless fall into a nightmare.
Lust gripped Roger Brown so hard his breaths were haggard. Bambi draped herself over his chair wearing nothing but a smile. She said, "I promised you I'd be the best fit for the job."
Roger said, "Indeed." His fingers, temporarily forgotten on the diamond cufflink, burst into action. When he dropped it, the connection severed.
I stared at my hand, and the cufflink, in horror. I wanted to take a bath in rubbing alcohol.
"…understand that Bambi is more qualified for the promotion," Roger said.
Bile rose in my throat. Bambi had stooped lower than I dreamed possible to beat me out of a promotion. I shook my head in an effort to erase the scene of them together.
"I realize this is a tough break," he said, "but refusing to accept it doesn't change anything." But she hasn't refused to accept it.
" I know this is a disappointment. "
This was more than a disappointment. This changed how I felt about Roger as a boss. As a man. As a human being. "You and Bambi had sex…." Time stopped. My brain reconnected to my mouth and I sat there frozen in horror. I wanted to suck the words back in, but it was too late. The damage was done.
Roger Brown's eyes opened wide and then narrowed to slits. He morphed from an easygoing guy who made his living writing witty ads about toilet paper to every boss I'd ever had.
 "Oh, crack," I muttered to myself. When I was a kid, and things went sideways, I said, "Holy firecracker." Over the years it became just crack.
I desperately needed time to think this through and had none. Roger Brown stared daggers at me. I could try to laugh this off. In the past, that occasionally worked. But, I would still have to work here. For him. With her.
He shrank into the chair like a Lay Flat To Dry blouse run through the dryer. I watched him mentally calculate the risk of keeping me around.
The whisper of the ax cleaving the air preceded his verdict. "You're fired."
In less time than it took to solve for X, my fate was decided and my time at Brown and Bell finished. I shouldn't be surprised. After college, I ran through jobs faster than a line of cars in a McDonalds drive-through at noon.
As I walked down the hall toward my desk, I thought again about everything a resume didn't say. Life would be so much easier if everyone told the truth. Bambi Greer: Will sleep with boss for promotion.  Greta Reilly: Receives visions from emotionally charged objects and Irish temper.
My parents named me after Greta Garbo. In kindergarten, a pipsqueak named Kenny Ross started playing around with my name, Greta Garbo's name, her initials, and it somehow shifted into Gigi. He started chanting "Gigi" repeatedly in a sing-song voice. I got so mad I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden Kenny was on the ground with blood spurting out his nose, and my fist was on fire. My parents got a phone call, and I got a spanking from my dad I will never forget. Anyway, the name stuck and Kenny still avoids me.
I cursed under my breath. Not only did I lose another job to a vision, but Bambi waited for me with a smirk of victory.
"I imagine Mr. Brown told you the good news." Her high-pitched, chirpy voice dripped onto my former desk and solidified beside my former stapler. lol.
"Yes, he did," I said. "You are one lucky girl." If she wanted the promotion badly enough that she was willing to do that for it, she could have it.
"Are you going to congratulate me?"
"You bet. Congratulations, Bambi." I grabbed my picture of the Fitzgerald family portrait from last Christmas and tossed it in a box with my I Love New York mug. I considered adding my desk planner, but the word "promotion" mocked me. "Bye." I flicked her a wave.
 "You're leaving?" A look of incredulity crossed her face. "You quit because of this? You can't stand to lose, can you?" Her smugness infuriated me. 
"At least I didn't sleep with a man my father's age just to get a promotion," I said. Oh, crack! I clapped my hand over my mouth.
Her hand shot out and connected with my cheek. The next thing I knew Bambi was holding her nose, my fist was on fire,(this is the second time this expression has been used. Is this another talent in addition to being able to get visions from objects?) and I had a sinking feeling this was going to end a lot worse for me than a spanking from my father.

My thoughts:  Well. Having seen the first page a few previous incarnations, I have to say this is way better. I love the opening paragraph, and I love the voice. I do have one question for Gigi, though. Why would she care about spilling the beans that she knows how Bambi got her promotion. I might have said woops when I opened my mouth in front of Roger but I would taken great delight in letting Bambi know I know. Ha. Let her think Roger told me! That would serve them both right. Anyway. Those are my thoughts and I hope you, dear reader, will add yours :)

OUT OF TOUCH was submitted by Robin. You can find her over at The Daily Dose. On Wednesday I'll be critiquing the next few pages of chapter one.


Robin said...

Marcy, I totally forgot that you were critiquing this here. I have made some changes since I sent this to you. Perhaps the comments and your critique will let me know if they were good ones! And, of course, what I missed.... Thank you for doing this!!!!!

Huntress said...

A great submission, IMHO. I see lots of Voice, good sentence structure, and feel a compelling need to turn the page, so to speak.

One minor change: "Roger Brown's eyes opened wide and then narrowed to slits."
Rather than letting his eyes be both emotions, let him sit back in his chair, straighten, mouth drop, etc, and THEN his eyes "...narrowed to slits."

Patchi said...

Much better than the previous incarnation. Love the voice.

Question: who is Destiny? Gigi mentions her outfit, but then she's not mentioned anywhere else. If the sentence is supposed to mean something else, it was lost on me.

I'm not sure about the "My parents named me after Greta Garbo." paragraph. It doesn't seem to fit where it is. Maybe if the explanation went after Roger says her name, then the punch part can go together with the one she gives to Bambi.