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The price of life (first draft)

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Old 10-22-2017, 04:17 PM
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Default The price of life (first draft)


Wilson leant forward, knocking on the door with a gloved hand. He coughed into his hand. New York City didn’t agree with him. The air was putrid. He was used to the country air. You only smelled shit if you were downwind of cow farm. Here it was likely to get dumped on you as you walked the street.

He stepped back and the door opened, revealing a young woman. She was short, with blond hair to her shoulders. She was wearing a modest dress, what you’d wear around the house.

“Mrs. Miller?” Wilson asked, tilting his head slightly to the side. His gesture calmed the young woman, who was visibly shaken. “Yes, come inside, I’ll go make tea,” She stepped aside and went gliding through the spacious apartment. It was furnished plainly, but not poorly. They weren’t poor.

Mr. Miller, his client, was seated in the living room, reading a newspaper. In his mouth was an elegantly carved pipe, shaped in the liking of a steamboat. His face was weathered, and it always seemed to have a frown of disappointment plastered onto it like an obscene poster in a whorehouse. A thinning mop of raven black hair graced his head.

“Ah, you’re here! Take a seat. I trust you had no trouble finding your way through the city?” he asked, setting his newspaper down and grasping his pipe. “ No sir, I found it quite nice, if a bit...dirty.” Wilson took a seat on the sofa perpendicular to Mr. Miller.

Mr. Miller took the pipe out of his mouth and pointed the smoking contraption at Wilson. “Have you had a chance to look at a telephone yet? Simply genius invention. Mr. Bell is a smart man.” Wilson nodded. “ One of the finest minds of our time, sir.” Mr. Miller smiled “So you follow inventions as well? What did you make of Edison’s light bulb?” Wilson thought for a moment, then answered. “I believed in him all the way through, sir. Electric light is possible, contrary to the views of several scientists.”

“ Well, I suppose we should cut the niceties and get to business.”

“ That is what I’m here for.”

Mrs. Miller set the tea on the small table in the middle of the room and took a seat beside her husband.

“Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from a furniture store. The letter detailed that the furniture I had ordered the day before had arrived at my house in the country. I was evidently confused as I had never ordered any furniture, nor had I asked for such a package to be delivered there, as I’ve been here on business for the last 3 weeks. I found a colleague of mine to whom I entrust the management of purchases me or my wife make, and he said I ordered two sofas for my country home. When I asked where he got such a notion, he handed me yet another letter, saying just that. With my signature no less!”

Wilson nodded. “Do you still have the letter?” Mr. Miller unfolded a piece of paper from his coat pocket and handed it to Wilson. Upon opening, it read:

I would like to order two sofas from the esteemed company in New York, which often goes by the name of Hans Furniture. I would like the sofas to be blue in color. My most gracious thanks,
Mr. Derek Miller

Wilson refolded the letter and handed it back to Mr. Miller. “ So you think someone has forged your signature?”

“ If only! Just yesterday, I ran into a servant of mine in line for a factory job. When I flagged him down, he paled, stammering something about getting fired! So the bugger looks like me as well!”

“So then why do you need my expertise, Mr. Miller? This seems nothing a pair of good, strong men couldn’t handle?”

“My thoughts exactly! When I sent two of the finest young lads I’d ever seen, just this morning I received reports that they were dead, hung on a tree outside my house. What’s more, they’d been enucleated! Eyes torn clean out!” Mr. Miller was visibly shaken, and Mrs. Miller was holding back a sob.

“I’ve seen such a thing before. I believe I can help you,” Wilson said, thinking.

“ I believe you’ve run into a Redoclea. These horrid monstrosities collect eyes, and can turn into the shape of a man.They just have to be around him long enough. This one, though I may be wrong, is a Servant’s Redoclea. They commonly perform good acts, such as washing dishes, folding clothes, and the like. Ever have something you meant to do be suddenly done for you, and everyone swears it wasn’t them? That’s them. This allows them to get close to their victim. When they are ready, they kill their victims and take their place. This lets them get close to other humans, and the cycle repeats.“
Mr. Millar paled. “Surely it can be exterminated? Killed?”

“Worry not. This thing bleeds surely as you or I. Let’s discuss price,”

Mr. Miller smirked, puffing a ring of smoke out of his mouth. “ You are a tact man, aren’t you. What’s your offer?”

“75 dollars,”

At this, Mr. Miller’s eyes widened, but he quickly regained his composure.

“50,”

“75,”

“60,"

“ You know very well I could die on this. The price of a human life starts at 75 dollars,”

Wilson shook hands with the man. “You drive a hard bargain. When can I expect it to be finished?”

“Give me a two days to prepare. In that time, no one should come, and let whoever needs to know not to accept things from that address. It shouldn’t leave,”

“It is done. I shall see you when you return,”

Wilson stood, walking towards the door, “ Good day to you, sir,”

~

The carriage slowed to a halt at Wilson’s house. The driver, an old friend of Wilson’s, smiled as Wilson got off. He always preferred to ride beside the driver. Wilson threw him a couple quarters. The driver caught the coins with a deft hand and eased the carriage forward. Wilson pushed open the metal gate outside his house.

Wilson’s house was 2 stories, disregarding the basement. It wasn’t the biggest house you’d ever see, but nor was it the smallest. It was painted a plain white. He climbed the small step leading to the front door. The door was a plain oak, sturdy and simple. Wilson was a practical person.

Entering the house, Wilson was assaulted by two young children. They clambered over him, squealing. “Papa! Papa!” He laughed, listening to their stories.

“ And then Nanny said we’d get warts, playing with frogs and toads like that. But we didn’t, and Nanny was wrong! “ the boy said, jumping up and down in barely withheld excitement. The girl began explaining what they did to the frog, what it did, and why.

“Now Mason, you didn’t let it pee on you, did you?” Wilson teased, putting on an air of mock seriousness. “No sir!” Mason jumped, barely withholding a giggle. “Bella, did the frog pee on you?” She squirmed in his arms. “No, silly!”

Wilson played with the children until late, spending the entire afternoon laughing.They played leap frog in the kitchen, tag in the living room, and hide and seek upstairs. They ate dinner with the maids and servants, as Wilson always did. They joked and played throughout. Mason nearly fell from his chair in a fit of laughter.

When they went to bed, he moved slowly to his. In it, was a woman. She was young, but a sickness had overtaken her. Her auburn hair lay spread out beneath her. She had lay, comatose, for 4 years. Wilson held her hand lovingly. He remembered the day she’d become like this as if it was yesterday.

It was stormy, and we were all getting ready for bed. I put Mason and Bella to bed, and made my way to my room. Outside the door, I heard Rebecca scream. I threw open the door and looked at a horrid scene. A monster was struggling to restrain my wife. It’d mounted her, and was fumbling with her dress. It was tall, like me, and muscular. It’s eyes were black; it looked as if the world was his playground. He yelled obscenities at her as she bucked beneath it. I tackled the monstrosity and we rolled around on the floor, grasping for each other’s throats. It pinned me down, and when he got off I found I still couldn’t move.
He clicked his teeth and smiled. “If I can’t have her, no one can!” He snapped his fingers and she fell into the state she’s in now.


Wilson held her hand. And cried.

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Last edited by Lockette; 10-23-2017 at 02:20 PM.. Reason: formatting. Caught some small plot errors on my part
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Old 10-23-2017, 12:17 PM
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You put periods in between dialogue when they should be commas.

Blah blah, "blah blah blah," blah blah.

"Blah blah blah," blah blah, blah blah blah.
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Old 10-23-2017, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Loser&Loner View Post
You put periods in between dialogue when they should be commas.

Blah blah, "blah blah blah," blah blah.

"Blah blah blah," blah blah, blah blah blah.
you've spotted my hubris. I'm terrible at catching that. Specifically. Anything else is easy to spot, except that. No idea why. Thanks for pointing that out. If I can still edit I'll hunt them out.

Any critique on the content? would you like to see the rest?
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Old 10-23-2017, 02:03 PM
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looking back over this I think it needs some more work. I like the idea, but something seems a bit 'off' about it. Maybe too cliched? It seems rather rushed? I can't put my finger on it. It's annoying.
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Old 10-23-2017, 02:17 PM
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The content is fine but the prose is a tad clumsy. Read it out loud.
Wilson leant forward, knocking on the door with a gloved hand. He coughed into his hand. New York City didn’t agree with him.

Play around with your sentences, less is more sometimes.

Wilson leaned forward and rapped smartly on the door, New York City didn't agree with him - he coughed quietly into his glove.
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Old 10-23-2017, 02:19 PM
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I like Mason, I have a character in one of my stories named Mason, so I hold your Mason close to my heart as well.
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Old 10-23-2017, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Loser&Loner View Post
I like Mason, I have a character in one of my stories named Mason, so I hold your Mason close to my heart as well.
Y'know how in one of our past conversations I said I might do a series of short stories surrounding a character? I think this might be it. I've got an overarching story in my head. The problem is putting it into words. Think 'The Last Wish' by Andrzej Sapkowski. A good book, even if you haven't played the games.
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Old 10-23-2017, 04:35 PM
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Why short stories, why not self-publish a novella and build your writer's platform?
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Old 10-23-2017, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Loser&Loner View Post

Wilson leaned forward and rapped smartly on the door, New York City didn't agree with him - he coughed quietly into his glove.

Wilson leaned in and rapped smartly on the door; New York City didn’t agree with him. He coughed into his gloved hand.



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Old 10-24-2017, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
Wilson leaned in and rapped smartly on the door; New York City didn’t agree with him. He coughed into his gloved hand.



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I think the EM dash would work better than a period, i can't do it on my phone so settled with the EN dash.
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Old 10-24-2017, 01:34 AM
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Actually the period is better. My editor Mary Cole suggests replacing the ; with a comma or em dash as it is falling out of favor in modern fiction. I am not convinced but she is the professional.
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Old 10-24-2017, 03:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Loser&Loner View Post
Actually the period is better. My editor Mary Cole suggests replacing the ; with a comma or em dash as it is falling out of favor in modern fiction. I am not convinced but she is the professional.


A comma after door would be a “comma splice”

They are two complete sentences. If I had written it I probably would have used a period.


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Old 10-24-2017, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
A comma after door would be a “comma splice”

They are two complete sentences. If I had written it I probably would have used a period.


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I think it's kind of funny the only thing I had screwed up that you guys caught was sentence structure. I'm mildly elated.

This needs some more work. I'll probably go back and mess around and tinker with it once I'm finished. I didn't post the whole thing because It's going to be close to 3 or 4 times as long as this is, once I'm done. I think I may finish this one. I'll post something if I decide it's a high quality piece.
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Old 11-12-2017, 03:19 AM
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My advice about commas in between dialogue is very simplistic and wrong on its own. https://www.thebalance.com/punctuati...riting-1277721 use that as a guide. I am very sorry.
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Old 11-12-2017, 06:21 AM
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Mr. Miller, his client, was seated in the living room, reading a newspaper. In his mouth was an elegantly carved pipe, shaped in the liking of a steamboat. His face was weathered, and it always seemed to have a frown of disappointment plastered onto it like an obscene poster in a whorehouse. A thinning mop of raven black hair graced his head.
Or something like this:

His client, Mr. Miller, sat in the living room reading a newspaper, smoking a pipe intricately carved in the shape of a steamboat. His weathered face seemed frozen into a permanent mask of disappointment.

Or:

A man with thinning black hair and a weathered face that seemed frozen to a look of permanent disappointment sat in the living room reading a newspaper, smoking a pipe intricately carved like a steamboat.

Or this approach -- add some action to the visual so it doesn't stick out like obvious description. :

A man with thinning black hair and a weathered face that seemed frozen to a look of permanent disappointment sat in the living room. He looked up from his newspaper and puffed on a pipe intricately carved in the shape of steamboat.

Or go all out -- it doesn't need to be bare bones. Use action and dialog -- and you can work even more detail into it, plus you're starting to make this guy into a character:

They went into a sparsely appointed living room, where an older gentleman sat reading a newspaper. He looked up at them before raking his fingers through thinning black hair in an attempt to make himself look presentable. "Ah, you're here!" he said, between puffs on an meerschaum pipe intricately carved into the shape of a paddle-wheeled steamboat. Despite his enthusiastic greeting, his weathered face seemed frozen into a mask of eternal disappointment.

Or it could be any number of combinations. You just need to think through ways to combine images and thoughts and make your sentences flow into each other. The advice to read aloud is good -- you'll likely recognize where things are choppy.

BTW -- I left out the whorehouse simile -- because it doesn't make any sense. Simile is tricky -- there has to be some kind of instant recognition. If it's too complicated or just way off like this one, it's just going to take someone out of the story.

Cheers.

Last edited by Myers; 11-12-2017 at 01:05 PM..
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Old 12-10-2017, 02:06 PM
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I would like to continue reading this story; you've got me interested. Is this a world where everything seems normal, except the fact that there are living demons and other creeps around?
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Old 12-14-2017, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Luciaphile View Post
I would like to continue reading this story; you've got me interested. Is this a world where everything seems normal, except the fact that there are living demons and other creeps around?
Everything is normal, to a certain extent. The monsters and such are based off of mythology and those unprecedented fears most of us have. Most stuff in mythology (taken for religion at some point) has at least some grounding in truth.

I'd also like to throw in a thanks to Myers for the prose revisions. I'm going to go over it with a fine toothed comb tonight.
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Old 12-15-2017, 09:05 AM
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"as if it was yesterday" should be "as if it were yesterday" The way you test it is to ask yourself is the statement true or not? If not then it should be were. As if anyone cares...
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Old 12-15-2017, 07:31 PM
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I saw everyone putting in their advice so I thought Id rewrite the first scene to show how it might be cleaned up a little. I avoided my own particular style minus the lack of quotations and apostrophes but otherwise I tried to adhere close to yours:

Edit: Before reading. Heres the thing I noticed. Theres a sparseness of detail that is yet excessive. The perfect example I can give is the description of Miller. The brevity of everything up to the whorehouse is good but then you tack on a note about his hair. Its too much and it disrupts the balance of the description. Because the focus is on the face. If you imagine it in your head you have Miller reading the paper, perhaps his face is obscured, he folds it, you can see his face, hes smoking, brief description of the pipe, which is at the moment a feature of his face, then you have his face and what its likened to and then you have after all of this a note about his hair. But the thing to note is the crescendo of the paragraph is building up to that likening of his face of disappointment to a poster in a whore house. Thats the apex and where the paragraph should properly end. When you tack on the descriptor of his hair it disrupts that climax.



Wilson leant forward and rapped the door with a hand in leather armature. And I am knocking upon New York doors that do not agree with me. He coughed into the flayed grain of bull or cow. This putrid miasma that permeated corridor and condo there was no escape. Here man is ever downwind of farm shit, and men upwind to him and right wind and wrong.

The door opened. He stepped back. A young woman in modest dress looked up at him with cobalt eyes as though wells to a Carribean sea. Her locks were blond, they rested on her shoulders.


Mrs. Miller? he asked, his head canted slightly to a side. She clutched the door like a bird frightened but he couldnt tell by what. He held up a hand in a gesture of goodwill and it seemed to calm her.

Yes. I am. Please come inside. She moved to let him pass. Would you like tea?

I would appreciate it, he said stepping inside.

She closed the door behind him and went gliding through the apartment. There was space enough. Furnished plainly but not such as would clutter a pauper's encampment. They had some taste and money equal to it. He wandered through the apartment. The parquet yielded under his soles. In the living room was Mr. Miller, reading a newspaper. He smoked from a pipe carved into the likeness of a steamboat. The smokestack fuming. His face was weathered and it bore now the frowning disappointment so oft it wore and which did befit it and which resembled most a john made to wait for a girl at a whorehouse.

Ah, he said folding his newspaper, take a seat. Did you have any trouble getting here?

I found it.

You did. Dirty isnt it?

Wilson shrugged half in dread. A little.

Miller took the pipe from out his crop of teeth and gestured at the chair across from him.

Wilson sat.

Have you had a chance to look at a telephone yet? asked Miller.

No.

Ingenius contraption. Mr. Bell is a smart man. And a rich man now too. Those two dont go together near as much as they should. I guess now he can afford to be a dumb man if he wants. Isnt that some part of the reason why we struggle for the money?

There could be some truth in that.

I think theres a lot of truth in that. Miller stuck the pipe back into his jaws. What did you think of the light bulb?

Thought or think?

Why not both?

I believed it when Mr. Edison introduced the idea. I guess I havent seen anything that tells me it isnt possible. No matter what the others say. On the other hand I dont know what it is that would make it possible. I suppose its beyond all of us.

Not all of us.

No. Not all of us.


Well. There are some things beyond me.

Yes.

But not you.

No, said Wilson shaking his head. Not me.

Mrs. Miller came in from the kitchen then and set kettle and cups down on the table between them and filled the cups and pushed them, one to her husband and one to Wilson. Then she sat by Miller. Her hands clasped in her lap. Can good breeding be faked? Her posture was meticulous if not self-conscious.

Yesterday, said Miller tapping the ash of his pipe into the tray and setting it down and taking up the tea and blowing on it, I received a letter from a furniture store. Hans. The letter, postdated two weeks ago, detailed an order for two sofas for my country house.

How long have you been in New York Mr. Miller?

Three weeks now. All business and no shopping. I talked to my man who oversees the management of my household's purchases and according to him I ordered the sofas.

And did you?

Apparently so and even signed for them.

Wilson nodded. Do you still have the letter?

Miller reached into his coat and flipped out a yellow invoice and unenveloped the simple letter within. He handed it to Wilson.

I would like to order two sofas, blue leather, in the modern style from the esteemed company of Hans Furniture. If you have trouble it can be found on page four of their latest catalog. The unit code is GA339182. Gracious thanks,

Derek Miller

Wilson refolded the letter and handed it back. So you think someone has forged your signature.

Miller sat up agitated. If only! Just yesterday I ran into one of my servants in line for a factory job. When I flagged him over he stammered something about being fired. So the bugger looks like me as well.

So then why do you need my expertise Mr. Miller? Good strong men with quick strong hands should be able to handle this.

My thoughts exactly. And I sent two lads of that description to sort it out. But.

He swiveled the newspaper towards Wilson and tapped the front page. In grayscale two young men hung dead from a tree outside the Miller residence. The headline read: Young Men Hung Enucleated.

They tore their eyes clean out!

Mrs. Miller held back a sob.

Wilson clawed the paper closer with his index finger. The better to study the dead. Who seemed angry at this photographer who had captured them in such a state or was it Wilson himself which they held in such rancarous contempt from beyond the vale?


Ive seen this before, said Wilson. I believe I can help.

With all due respect Wilson this isnt lightbulbs. I dont want you to believe its possible you can help. I want you to know that you can get the job done.

The smoke from the pipestack had aspired to the ceiling by now and was spreading and Wilson could see the stain of old smoke metastasizing there and he thought these are the lungs of New York inside and out.

I believe, he began, that youve run into a redoclea. They collect eyes. Turn into the shape of a man theyve been around long enough. I coudl be wrong but my bet is this is a servant type. Not they have taxonomic orders. Just the way they get close to their victims. They do good acts, wash dishes, fold clothes, simple stuff. Ever find something you meant to do be suddenly done and everyone swears it wasnt them? Thats them. When they get close they do their thing. Then the cycle repeats.

Miller tugged at his collar. But you can kill them.

They bleed. And like all things that bleed the bleeding comes at a price.

Miller smirked. You are a tact man arent you. Whats your price?

Twelve thousand dollars.

Miller's eyes narrowed. Im not asking you to assassinate the governor.

Thatd be forty thousand dollars.

Six.

Look. Killing a man is hard enough. And bad enough. If I fail with a man theres a good shot hes just going to beat me to death. Or shoot me. But with these it might be that a week from now Im front page news and thirty-seven forever.

To this Miller conceded. He stood and Wilson stood and they shook hands.

When can I expect this to be finished?

Two days to prepare. In that time, no one should come, and let whoever needs to know know not to accept things from that address. It shouldnt leave.

Done. Ill see you when you get back. Or Ill see you in the papers.

Wilson started towards the door.
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Old 12-15-2017, 09:30 PM
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Not much time, sorry: -

Wilson {leant forward and} rapped the door with a hand in leather armature. And I am knocking upon New York doors that do not agree with me. Who,l is this suddenly 1st person? He |(who) coughed into the flayed grain of bull or cow (what?). This putrid miasma that permeated corridor and condo there was no escape - where from, what? . Here man is ever downwind of farm shit, and men upwind to him and right wind and wrong. what? Seriously what does this mean?

The door opened. He stepped back. New paragraph if new character.. A young woman in modest dress looked up at him with cobalt eyes as though wells to a Carribean sea What? obscure. Her locks were blond, they rested on her shoulders Better, simple.


Mrs. Miller? he asked, his head canted slightly to a side - like it more, simple. She clutched the door like a bird frightened but he couldnt -could not- tell by what. He held up a hand in a gesture of goodwill and it seemed to calm her.

Yes. I am. Please come inside. She moved to let him pass. Would you like tea? why no ""?

I would appreciate it, he said stepping inside.

She closed the door behind him and went gliding through the apartment- what? She was just gliding about and that was normal?. There was space enough. Furnished plainly but not such as would clutter a pauper's encampment - space enough for what? To glide,? wtf is going on?. They had some taste and money equal to it- why? what? when was this set up? . He wandered through the apartment. The parquet yielded under his soles- this kinda works. . In the living room was Mr. Miller, reading a newspaper -who?. He smoked from a pipe carved into the likeness of a steamboat. The smokestack fuming. PASSIVE, Try rewriting active. His face was weathered and it bore now the frowning disappointment so oft it wore and which did befit it and which resembled most a john made to wait for a girl at a whorehouse. What? Wow!

Ah, he said folding his newspaper, take a seat. Did you have any trouble getting here? """"""""

I found it. What? The seat? Or the quotation mark?

You did. Dirty isnt it? Who what? Is this speech?

Wilson shrugged half in dread. A little. Half in dread, a little? Which one?

Miller took the pipe from out his crop of teeth and gestured at the chair across from him. Kinda nice.

Wilson sat.

Have you had a chance to look at a telephone yet? asked Miller.

No.

Ingenius contraption. Mr. Bell is a smart man. And a rich man now too. Those two dont go together near as much as they should. I guess now he can afford to be a dumb man if he wants. Isnt that some part of the reason why we struggle for the money?

There could be some truth in that.

I think theres a lot of truth in that. Miller stuck the pipe back into his jaws. What did you think of the light bulb?

Thought or think?

Why not both?

Ok, this is a little crazy all over the place. You have a great turn of phrase when you use it well. You need to use it well more often.
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