I DON'T KNOW YET: NEED FEEDBACK

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
I am currently trying to start up a new novel, and I wrote this first chapter. The whole vibe is "old-western-assassin" with a bit of steampunk in the mix. I have the basic outline of the plot but I was just looking for some feedback on whether on not I should continue. Any edits of just general comments would be greatly appreciated!

Submitted: August 14, 2016

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Submitted: August 14, 2016

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I had this unexplainably strong urge to smack him across the face.

And the more he talked, the deeper my fingernails dug into my palms as I restrained myself from ruining this contract completely.

And breaking my client’s nose.

“You said 100,” I hissed under my breath.

“I said 75,” he replied cooly. His voice was oddly calm, but his darting eyes gave away his unmistakably detectable fear.

Good, that made this so much more fun.

Mr.Clyde’s office had one window. Dusty light shone through the glass, casting shadows across the splintered, wooden floor boards. He kept the majority of the room tidy; papers stacked, cabinets closed. Everything was organized, down to the last measly paper clip.

I shifted my weight and crossed my right leg over my left, letting the metallic chains of my attire clank dainty together. I always loved that sound. It made my company flinch.

“I don’t know if you know, but I went through one hell of a lot of trouble with this job,” I told him. And it wasn’t a lie. It had taken us three months just to figure out where one “Trent W. Justin” lived; that was a record length errand. I liked to make my contracts quick and nimble; a week to sort out the itsy-bitsy details, a week for the dispatch. Three months of interrogating drunken dimwits who smelt like they had spent those couple of months shoving their faces in pig shit; I deserved that 100. And I wasn’t gonna settle for anything less.

When Mr. Clyde didn’t respond, I started casually prodding the leg of his desk with the spike on my boot. There was a tinge of guilt when it left a minute dent in the mahogany. “Security was tight as well, you’ve got a lot of blood on your hands, Clyde.”

That was a lie. I had personally only run into one other person who was keen on protecting poor old Trent, except for maybe the guy himself; and I am ninety seven percent sure it had been his grass-widowed mother; who else with a *(*&)(*& would rush out to meet an intruder with a rolling pin?

The dispatch had been easy, it was the acquisition of background info that had been the tough part. Obscure targets were the bane of my career; if I could have it my way, there would be one machine that had the lives of every single person in the country stored away in it’s little, mechanical brain. Addresses, color preferences, family ties; everything.

It would sure make my life one hell of alot easier. But it was the 19th century, and no one in this goddamn town was smart enough to know a horse from a calf, let alone invent something useful.

God, these people’s brains were tiny. Addled-headed deadbeats. All of them.

“My initial pay was 75,” Clyde repeated, staring me down aggressively, “do you have the written contract with you to prove otherwise?”

Shit.

“Of course I do,” I snapped, uncrossing my legs. I tried to maintain my intimidating nonchalance that I had mastered over the years as I reached into my left boot and pulled out a crumped piece of parchment paper, or at least what remained of it.

Unfolding the contract, I could feel Mr.Clyde’s mustached snicker, and as I flattened it out on the edge of the desk, he actually let out a chuckle.

“Is that where you store all of your important documents?” he mocked. It was a dumb joke, so it didn’t actually offend me; what was offensive was how comfortable he was beginning to get.

I sprawled the page out as best as I could on the table top and turned the evidence toward him.

Grabbing a pair of circular spectacles from beside an ink pad, he picked up the paper and held it close to his face, his gloved fingers crinkling the edges of the page even further; like he was trying to make a point.

“Hm,” Mr.Clyde said aloud, “well it seems that the terms of our little agreement here have been compromised.”

I accidently let out an audible groan, but I don’t think Mr.Clyde heard it; he was too busy soaking in his own stanky tenacity.

True, there was a coffee stain about 6 inches in diameter that just so happened to cover up the spot where my agreed payment was disclosed. But that didn’t change the fact that, beneath that brown splotch was the number 100. Meaning I was to be paid 100 dollars for successfully doing this asshole’s biddings. A million coffee stains couldn’t change that.

“‘Compromised’, my ass,” I shot. I was losing my patience, and this guy could tell. By the ever-growing smirk shaping his perfectly groomed mustache into a curly “U got jipped”, it was very clear he was enjoying watching me stumble and fall in my own faults. God, this was the most poorly executed meeting of my career; I was glad as hell that Ren wasn’t here to see it.

Mr.Clyde put the paper back down onto the desk and removed his glasses, placing them back down beside the ink pad, “you obviously don’t understand the logistics of your profession, do you Miss.Waters?”

He spoke to me like I was a non contending four year old. He was mistaking my youth for inexperience. Stupid coot.

“And you obviously don’t understand how easy it would be for me to put a bullet in your mouth,” I said. He took it as a bluff.

“We can rewrite the terms,” he suggested slyly, pulling out a new, stain-free piece of parchment from a drawer of his desk, “considering the original has been, well. I’m sure your sloppiness speaks for itself.”

The quote-on-quote “original” drifted back over to my side of the desk. I sat up a bit straighter, “and how much will this new contract pay me?”

Shuffling around for a pen in another one of this handsome desk’s drawers, he didn’t even bother to peer up at me as he said, “let’s agree on 85.”

I slumped back in my chair; this guy was almost as stubborn as me. It made me pity all the people who had to deal with my incompetent perseverance. Damn, was this an eye-opener.

“Tell me, Miss.Waters,” Mr.Clyde began as he finally completed his well-intended search and laid the pen atop the paper, “how many contracts have you lost due to your lack of organization?”

I tried to smile coercively, but I think I just ended up looking dumb, “depends on who you ask.”

“And what do you mean by that?”

I didn’t reply. I honestly didn’t know what I meant by it. It had just sounded intimidating; actions, in my book, always spoke louder than words.

Mr.Clyde removed his leathered glove and that’s when I saw it, plain as day.

I felt myself tense but gave him the pleasure of scrawling down the entirety of the document. I even had the decency to keep my mouth shut as he wrote down the numbers 8 and 5 side-by-side with a victorious arrogance that would’ve have otherwise earned him a black eye. Sometimes I think I’m just a bit too forgiving for these people.

The only sound for the next four and a half minutes was the drawled out crunching of pen on parchment. He was writing slow, spelling out each and every syllable with perfect precision and penmanship. He was taunting me, like he was actually trying to piss me off. The stupidity of some men is enough to make me want to puke all over their lovely button-down jackets.

When he finally dotted his last “i”, finishing off his signature with a whimsical swipe of the pen, he turned the document over to me and held out the pen for my taking, gripping it lazily between his two metallic fingers.

I just glared at him, raising my eyebrows, shifting my gaze from the pen then back to his corny, triumphant face. He seemed so sure he had bested me. It took a lot of self-control that I usually lacked to suppress my smile.

When presumably his nerveless hand began to ache from the gravity trying to seize it, and he came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to sign, he raised his own eyebrows.

“You want to know what people like you remind me of? You remind me of-”

My bullet was lodged in his brain before he could finish off that luscious remark. The translucent reflection of my hooded head was locked in a perfect still in his glossy eyes before his skull banged on the desktop hard enough to probably ensure another dent.

I was kind of sad, in a way; I had been very curious to know what exactly I reminded Mr. Franklin Clyde of. Guess I would never know.

Twirling my gun with my index finger, I stood up and roamed over to his side of the desk. I didn’t bother to shift his body over as I scourged through the drawers. It was very easy to find where he had kept his money; the drawer had been basically packed shut. Whistling merrily, I removed a sack of cold-hard coins from the desk.

“I’ll take the initial 100,” I said, weighing the bag; there had to be at least 500 in there, “and maybe a little bonus.” I stood up and patted Mr.Clyde on the shoulder. Rock hard; just like I had expected.

Stepping back over toward the door, I bowed valiantly to the deceased, “it was a pleasure doing buisness with you.”

Continuing to whistle, I made my way to the exit.

I stopped my little tune almost three feet from the door. I thought for a moment; a lump of guilt was forming in the back of my throat; this was so undeserved. I walked back over to the table. Reaching into my sack of well-deserved pay, I plopped a singular coin right beside Mr.Clyde’s ink pad.

“That’s for the damage to the desk,” I said, before exiting the room and leaving Mr.Clyde to think about what he had done.

 


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