Six Lines of Dialogue

In the September Pub Rants blog post from Nelson Literary Agency, “9 Story Openings to Avoid, Part 4,” they posed a fun challenge to craft a brief opening scene from these six lines of dialogue:

“Did you bring my money?” “Relax. I brought your money.” “Where is it? Give it to me.” “Not yet. We’ve got some things to talk about first.” “I already told you everything I know.” “Not everything.”

So I did.  Here it is below just for fun.

“Did you bring my money?” the girl asked. She stood outside the grocery store behind a table neatly stacked with boxes of cookies, her green Girl Scout vest an overachiever’s dream of merit badges. She pressed her hand to her hip the same way his ex-girlfriend he had abandoned back in Fresno used to whenever he left the toilet seat up.

“Relax. I brought your money.”

“Where is it? Give it to me.”

Jesus, kid. How about some manners? He had promised her he would buy ten boxes of cookies if she told him what he wanted to know, not realizing that one box cost five dollars, and the total cost of the transaction would cost him a whopping fifty bucks. He didn’t have that much cash. He told her needed to find an ATM. She answered that she was taught it wasn’t nice to make promises you couldn’t keep, and she expected him to keep his promise. The ATM was right inside the grocery store, she said, pointing to the sliding glass doors just past the display of potted geraniums, and she expected him to come right back. She had told him that if he left the store without buying the boxes he promised, she would take his picture and post it on Instagram.

He pulled out two twenties and a ten from his back pocket and waved it at the girl. The girl opened a glittery, vinyl, baby blue, Princess Anna and Queen Elsa Disney purse decorated with snowflakes and flowers, and held it out expectantly. He put the money back in his pocket. She frowned. He grinned.

“Not yet,” he said. “We’ve got some things to talk about first.”

“I already told you everything I know.”

He looked across the parking lot. A woman he assumed was the girl’s mother was talking to a man holding a brown shopping bag. The woman wore a sensible pair of running shoes, a tennis mini-dress, and a transparent, green visor that threw a weird light across her face, making it appear radioactive. She noticed him and waved, her smile wide and full of teeth. He waved back.

“Not everything,” he said. He looked at the girl, who was now tapping her foot. The girl had told him everything except what he wanted to know. She had told him her name was Peggy Perkins and that she was the top selling Girl Scout in her troop three years in a row. She told him that she loved riding the horses at the camp she goes to every summer, and it was important that she sell as many boxes as possible to get there. He did not give a damn. All he wanted to know was where two kids were, a teenage boy who could read minds, and his little sister who had not yet displayed any obvious paranormal abilities, the pair orphaned from someone else’s botched job. Not his problem. All he cared about was finding the boy and the girl. It was dumb luck that he had overheard the kid bragging that she was selling more cookies than the new girl in her troop, an orphan who had an older brother, and that they were both foster kids and kind of weird. It’s not that he didn’t like Girl Scout cookies. He loved Girl Scout cookies, especially those mint ones. He just didn’t want to pay for them. He needed his payment. He needed to find those kids.

September 10, 2016

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