Alone In A Dark Alley
Blood is surreal.
It runs thick like motor oil; feels sticky like wet paint. An open pool of blood on the ground just doesn't look like it ever could have been coursing cleanly through capillaries nearly as thin as a hair just a few moments beforehand... especially when those capillaries belong to you.
I don't want to believe that the stuff beneath my feet is mine. I don't want to look at the gash in my left arm that the stuff is coming from, or hear the sickly viscous dripping of the still open wounds continuing to feed the puddle. I don't want to feel the fragments of brick clinging to my face as I lean in tight against the wall. I don't want to feel the weight of the gun in my right hand.
I don't want to look back at the body of the complete stranger whose brains I splattered across the same wall I'm now leaning against, just a few feet and a few moments back.
I don't want any of this to be real. It can't be real. I can see this happening to spies and soldiers and maybe the occasional cop, but a freelance writer? Not a chance. Couldn't even sell it as a cheap script.
But that doesn't change the fact that I'm here in an alley, bleeding like a hemophiliac's nightmare. Nor does it change the fact that just around the corner, there are more people waiting to help the blood flow faster.
Maybe I'll be lucky and find out that this is some sort of lucid dream brought on by bad screeners and too much to drink once I wake up back in my apartment. On the other hand, how much luck can a guy have if he's already got a huge gash in his arm, another one across his forehead, and only one bullet left in a gun he didn't even know how to shoot until a few hours ago?
If it weren't for the fact that I still don't believe that this is happening and have therefore cast myself as the only hero left in this script, I'd probably be thinking that I'm fucked.
As it stands, I still might be.
A Dark And Stormy Night.
Soaked to the skin.
Vivid little phrase, isn't it? Four little words, but they tell a story, paint a picture, chill the nerves, and maybe even give off a few scent molecules. That said, though, there are times when those four little words just do not do the real life experience justice.
Take the night it all began, for example.
When people who've never been here say that it rains all the time in Vancouver (which isn't true, by the way; sun-drenched Miami gets pretty much the same amount of rainfall), they usually paint themselves a picture that involves torrential downpours and sidewalks crowded with people carrying umbrellas while the sky flashes angrily every few seconds to the sound of gods having fist fights in the clouds. As it turns out, this picture is usually wrong. Sure, there are the occasional gales of wind, but for the most part, the rains are soft, and electrical storms tend to be all thunder and little else, to the point where lightning still makes the news. Come to think of it, I've lived here for years, and I've never even owned an umbrella.
That night, though, I definitely could have used one.
It had been pleasant all day: blue skies and sunshine and what most people ironically enough call room temperature. A poncho or a windbreaker just in case? Surely you jest! A t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers sans socks will do just fine, thanks, or so I thought, and had my day ended with dinner at Westminster Quay, I would have been right. But no, there was the Skytrain trip home that I had failed to consider; or rather, the sudden appearance as I took that trip of a menacing cloud bank that the weatherman had failed to warn me about on the news at noon. The sky had gone completely dark by the time I made Commercial Drive, and when I popped my head out from underground after getting off at Granville, the sidewalk had started to get wet.
That scream of real pain is brought to you by Miss Snark, noir lover, who LOVED your hook, and actually LOVED the prologue and then..then,....you took her poor little eyeballs and gave them WEATHER. Rain no less.
Miss Snark is going to hunt you down. She's going to lasso you with Brady Westwater's leftover lariat. She's going to heave you into the vat along with the previously mentioned Mr. Westwater. She's going to leave you there, being stirred by Vespa riding thugs until you come to your senses.
Why this doesn't work: you've set the scene in the prologue. You've got us breathless with desire to see what happens. Then you open with the weather. You don't have to set someone on fire in chapter one but something has to happen. There needs to be a person, a sense of impending something. You can give us "it was a dark and stormy night" in two sentences. Then give us something ELSE.
Oh, Miss Snark is just faint with disappointment. Fortunately it's past noon so the gin pail has been refilled.
You're a good writer. Get rid of all that exposition and show us your goodstuff.