Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December Buyer's Remorse #7

GENRE: Mystery

Calvin Alsop, Wayberry city councilman and owner of Alsop Chrysler Plymouth Motors, prided himself on his ability to look at a man and predict what kind of car he would choose—Chrysler or Plymouth—and model and color. But on a cold Oklahoma morning in December 1956, this faculty failed him.
Alsop was drafting a proposal for the council when a young man entered the dealership. Alsop watched him through the glass wall separating his office from the showroom. The man was about twenty, a decade or so younger than himself.
Alsop put down his pen and indulged in a bit of his prognostication.
Average height and lean, the lad had dust-colored hair swept-back with something akin to motor oil. It took a moment for Alsop to recognize Bucky Ontario in his blue parka. He worked at Gustafson’s Grocery a few blocks over on Central. Alsop didn’t recall ever speaking with him.
Bucky drifted among the cars, pausing occasionally to examine a grill, run his hand across leather seats. He stopped beside a red Plymouth Belvedere with a bold white stripe, bent down, looked at his reflection in the window, and ran both palms over his hair. His gaze fixed on the eggshell colored Plymouth Fury. He studied a memo taped to the window. Alsop knew what it said: V-8 Engine, Duel Exhaust, Torsion-Aire Suspension, Pushbutton Automatic. Bucky stepped back, lifted a camera strapped around his neck, and clicked off a shot.


  1. I like the town councilman being the owner of a car dealership. It's fitting, though he seems a bit young to be a councilman - though that could just be where I'm from. You're not trying to jam too much into the style, which makes it interesting, straight forward and easy to read. I like the voice. By not trying to make it super stylized, it doesn't feel overdone. While the car analogies are descriptive, the reader isn't bludgeoned with them. I'd read more.

  2. I agree completely with Feaky. The whole sample kinda has an eerie vibe to me, maybe because I know it's a mystery and because you tell us up front that his ability to predict what a customer buys fails him. This Bucky guy freaks me out, and I don't even know why since he seems harmless enough. Overall, great tone, pace, and voice...I'd love to read on.

  3. I love the tone you've set up with this. It's a small town and something bad is going to happen with Bucky (making us afraid of him), yet we don't know what yet. You've got us on the edge of our seats.

  4. I love this! It really ropes me in and I've learned so much with such few words. What a wonderful introduction!

  5. Also, it should be DUAL exhaust, not duel.

  6. I like the suspense building up that leads to the camera shot, and I would keep reading at least a bit longer.

    My only criticism would be that the first paragraph didn't work for me. The line, "But on a cold Oklahoma morning in December 1956, this faculty failed him" could probably be tightened, because I got stuck on it while reading. It feels too packed with information. Is there another way to communicate some of these details, such as Oklahoma and 1956? Can you refer to "Oklahoma" elsewhere? e.g. "But one cold December morning, this faculty failed him"?

    Otherwise, as I said, I would definitely keep reading.