"Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States."
After perfunctory opening statements, President Jimmy
his slow, Georgia Piedmont accent, announced, "I have given notice
that the United
States will not attend
the Moscow Olympics unless the
Soviet Union forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan
Robert Rochmann, watching the flickering image on the
screen in his hospital room, clicked the remote control.
that's that. The bastard. You know
the Ruskies aren't going
leave in a month."
"It could be worse.
You could've made the team." Bill
Rochmann's best friend, roommate, and all-around expert on
good things in life, could be counted on to put matters in
"Screw you," Rochmann said.
"Think about it. Suppose you hadn't torn
knee. You're doing your lifetime best lifts, maybe even looking
a national record at the Olympic trials this spring, and President
pulls this. You'd be another Lee Harvey Oswald."
"Just shut the fuck up, will you!" But it was true. If
wanted to feel even worse, he could imagine rounding into
condition only to have the Olympic rug jerked out from under him
this sanctimonious peanut farmer. He didn't want to think about
but Chappell was relentless.
"This actually works to your advantage, you know, Rocko
boy. The '84 Olympics are going to be in Los Angeles, right? You
the Commies aren't going to turn the other cheek. They'll
us right back, and . . . " he shot his right fist into the
in a triumphal gesture, "it'll leave the medals available for
mortals who weren't born in the Baltic."
"You don't know that."
You don't have to be Jeanne Dixon to know the
aren't going to let this slide. Wouldn't it be great to
think about winning a medal instead of getting your ass
by a bunch of guys whose names look like a rack of Scrabble
Rochmann had to smile despite his ill humor. "Bill, I can't
think about next week, much less 1984. I've dropped out of grad
twice now to train for Olympic trials. Maxed out my student
loans. I don't know how I'm going to pay for this . . ."
hand at the Spartan hospital room. "I might have to go out to
Seattle and stay with my sister, get some shit job, I don't know, a
or something, 'til I pay off some debts."
"Yeah, you could take up bodybuilding. Be a cocktail waiter
a gay bar out there. Rake in the tips."
Rochmann glared at his tormenter but said nothing. The funny
seemed determined to have the last word.
First off, has R.Poppen followed the guidelines?
“Send Mommacrit the first
page of your story or novel. It must be less than 501 words. Label it clearly with its title, your name or a nom-de-plume,
and its genre.”
Not only does R.Poppen have a name or nom-de-plume that would make a great Popcorn
Product, but also R.Poppen has not supplied the genre. Quelle Surprise! as the French would say.
Mommacrit believes one of the most important pre-requisites for a writer is
to be able to read. Strange how few writers who’ve submitted their five hundred words have been able to follow the Momma’s
guidelines. Is this a new trend perhaps, part of a global conspiracy to remove the reading gene from writers so some crazed
monomaniac can corner the market with off-the-wall books? Mommacrit doesn’t know, but she fears, oh yes, she fears.
Has R.Poppen sent Mommacrit a hook, a page to lure a reader into buying the
Allure is the Momma’s second name. However, there was not much lure to
At first glance, this story beginning reads well. The dialogue gives a good
sense of both characters. The writing is clean and as tight as a Huggies Newborn. There are no spelling errors and only one
punctuation nit. Come on, Momma, what’s the problem?
Maybe it’s because the Momma is just not that into weight-lifting since
she put her back out in the Great 2005 Naked Limbo Contest. Maybe it’s because the first paragraph reads like a parade
of proper nouns. Maybe it’s because there is no sensory detail to hook the Momma into the characters. Or because James
Swain has already won the Momma’s heart with his novel, Mr Lucky: A Novel of High Stakes.
Whatever the reason, after Mommacrit finished this excerpt from R. Poppen’s
Mr Lucky, she found herself thinking, “So what?” and “Why should I care?”
That is not the way to hook a reader. There should be impatience for more, not
ho hum accompanied by some mild admiration for technical correctness.
Besides, the Momma prefers peanuts to popcorn.