Thursday, November 16, 2006

Homework Assignment

Stewart Sternberg over at House of Sternberg gave me (among others) a writing assignment. If you would like to read it, here it is; though it isn't fantasy or sci-fi related. Mark This is an assignment from Stewart Sternberg on Seduction. I've put my little stamp on it. Hope you like it. A mark is always easy to spot. There's just something about certain men that cries out to be taken advantage of and who am to deny their purpose in life? I can live with what I do. He is beautiful though, I've always been a sucker for black hair. I don't worry about getting close to him, I long ago learned to trust in the attraction the opposite sex has for me. Maybe it's my legs. It doesn't matter, there have been few men I couldn't get to look my way. The sounds of the casino are deafening to me this late at night and I feel a sense of dizzying power as I sit next to him at the blackjack table. I'm in my element. I place my chips on the table and take my cards. I don't lay anything less than $100 on the table. He looks at me and I smile quickly and return my attention to the cards. I hold a king and seven, I deliberately ask the dealer to 'hit me.' I bust my hand, just as I intended. "You should've held at seventeen." He says to me. I shrug and put another $100 on the table. This earns me a raised eyebrow but nothing more. I play the next hand more conservatively and win my money back. The next two hands I bust. I have his attention now. "Maybe this isn't your game." I shrug again but don't reply. Instead I start to gather up my chips and make a show of leaving the table. He gently touches my hand. "Leaving already?" I pause before I speak, quietly so he has to lean in to hear me. "I think I'm done for the night." He gathers his own chips and follows me as I head toward the elevators. "Let me buy you a drink." I smile and turn to face him. My hair obscures my face and I know I have him. Slowly I walk back and link my arm through his and we make our way back to the bar. The bar is noisy and demands a forced intimacy so we can hear each other talk. I like that. He orders my drink for me and has the feeling of being in control; I like that even more. He makes a show of paying for the drinks which affords me the opportunity to see that he has plenty of cash. Good. I've learned that clichés work. Running my fingers over the rim of the glass and subtly stroking his leg with my foot I engage in the small talk that people use when they’re attracted to each other. “My name is April.” I say. Next time I plan on calling myself May; my own private joke. He introduces himself as Mark and I wonder if he’s giving me his real name or if he thinks I’m a prostitute. And then it strikes me odd that in my mind I see him as a ‘mark’ and this is the name he gives himself. It’s irrelevant. The music pulses and the sound of the slot machines is a distant ringing I can almost tune out. He keeps his jacket on despite the warmth of the room, though the first two buttons on his shirt are undone. I decide I like the way he looks. He smiles at me again with the little half smile he's been using all night and I wonder how often he practiced the look. We're both players only he doesn't know it yet. "Are you staying here?" he asks. Before I can answer he speaks again. "Of course you are, that's why you were heading to the elevator." I give him back his half smile and tell him a lie about a convention that doesn't exist. If he knows I'm lying it doesn't show. I don't think he cares, he's just looking to get me back to his hotel room and I'm only looking to oblige him. I reach over to touch his hand but someone walking by jostles my arm. He frowns at them as they walk by and looks at the crowd surrounding us as if seeing them for the first time. He opens his mouth to speak and then closes it; as if embarrassed. I don’t say anything. After another person brushes against him as they walk by he seems to gather up his courage. “Why don’t we go back to my room?” I protest, saying “I’m not that kind of girl.” He presses his hand to his heart and reassures me it’s only drinks. I allow myself to be moved some more by the crowd and grimace in annoyance. I pretend as if that makes the decision for me and step in front of him as he puts his hand on my lower back to guide me out of the bar. I link arms with him again as we make our way to the elevator. I am pleasantly surprised to see he has a suite and excuse myself to use the bathroom as he calls room service for some wine. I make some noise and flush the toilet. I look at myself in the mirror and like the way the red of the dress looks with my blond hair. I open my purse and take out a small vial. I put it in my bra and adjust my cleavage. I doubt I’ll have much trouble putting it into his drink. The wine is already there and he hands me a glass. I sip gently and sit down on the edge of the bed. In a matter of seconds the room is spinning and I realize something is very wrong. I look over at him but then I realize I am no longer sitting up. I open my mouth to say something but find I can’t. I see a shadow looming over me and know that I have become a victim of my own game. Only this is a game I haven’t played before. I notice he has a knife in his hand. I try to scream but only hear my breath roaring in my ears. He smiles the first full smile I have seen all evening. I see the knife and hear him cutting my dress off my body. I can almost feel it as he runs it over my skin. His eyes are dilated and his breathing is heavy as he looks at me and says, “I love a woman in red.”

6 comments:

Stewart Sternberg said...

Okay. This is great. I don't give compliments easily. I love the beginning and the set up over all. The first lines quickly and solidly established character and tone:

A mark is always easy to spot. There's just something about certain men that cries out to be taken advantage of and who am to deny their purpose in life? I can live with what I do.

Sometimes some lines jump out at a person:

I've learned that clichés work. Running my fingers over the rim of the glass and subtly stroking his leg with my foot I engage in the small talk that people use when they’re attracted to each other.

and then there's

“My name is April.” I say.
Next time I plan on calling myself May; my own private joke.

As I was reading this, I was totally connecting with it.

To be honest, I would love to see some of your longer fiction. I think your pacing, set up and delivery makes for a great read.

As for criticisms...I have none at this point. There are perhaps some nits, but nothing that I would dwell on. Good work.

SQT said...

Stewart, you made my day. I haven't written consistently in awhile and sometimes worry that I've 'lost my touch.'

Knowing that I can still engage a reader means a lot.

DesLily said...

this is the sort of thing you dream about after eating some "bad grull" lol...
I'm not a writer and don't know that my thoughts count but this was very good and surpising "homework" considering your love of sci fi fantasy!

SQT said...

Thanks Deslily. I usually do stick to fantasy when I write, but this story just kind of popped into my head.

In fact I find myself thinking about how I can continue the story. I think it could be a great revenge tale.

DesLily said...

if you feel there's a story in you .. you should write it! I always feel there is something inside trying to get out when someone writes.. not matter what it is they write about.

do it!

(just don't abandon this blog now that i've found it! lol)

SQT said...

(just don't abandon this blog now that i've found it! lol)

Never fear, I have too much fun with it to abandon it.

Maybe I will keep writing the story, if for no other reason than it's good practice for me. Initially I was just going for something with a twist and ended up liking the character, even though she's a bad girl. ;)