Using and Abusing the Mermaids

Okay Mermaid gals and beloved visitors, I’m letting it all hang out.  I’ve taken off the make-up, the Spanx (for those who remember one of my previous posts) and the Wonderbra.  I stand before you in my all unglory.  What in the heck I’m talking about, you ask?  Here goes.

In a spurt of insanity, I’m putting my first 300 out for commentary.  Myself and an unnamed Mermaid are taking a Margie Lawson class and unlike the unnamed Mermaid, I’m confused.  I’ve been getting such contradictory advice on my opening paragraphs that I have decided to take my confusion to the Mermaids.  Who better to help?  So I’ve included two versions.  Version #1 was the original opening.  However, a few editors didn’t love it.. said not to start with an opening sentence.. give a bit of the character.  So I created a quick infodump.  However, the peanuts from Margie’s class didn’t like the infodump and said to start with the opening sentence.

Any and all thoughts are welcome, including but not limited to:  1) one version works better than the other, 2) both versions suck, 3) who is this?, 4) go back to where you came from, you illiterate foreigner.   (Just a few suggestions.)  So, my friends, have at it.  All thoughts are welcome.

VERSION #1

“My client is not a pimp.” Jessie Parker’s voice flew like a well lobbed arrow through the judge’s chambers.  “She’s a victim.”

The man seated to her left shifted in the leather chair, like a lizard finding a more comfortable perch before striking its prey.  He brought his hand to his mouth and gently cleared his throat.

Jessie dug her thumbnail further into the pockmarked pencil.  By now, she knew when assistant district attorney Jack Stanton cleared his throat, he wasn’t trying to evict a frog.  He was readying for a fight.

“Your honor,” he began, with the usual, this conversation is beneath me, drawl.  “Teri Willis has been arrested four times for prostitution.  The last time, arranging the meet.”

He stopped speaking.  It was like he knew his words were dipped in platinum.  Like it was beneath him to form a cogent argument.  Like his mere presence was argument enough.

The judge slipped his gaze toward Jessie.   Rebuttal?  He wordlessly said.

“The evidence is circumstantial and the witness unreliable,” she said.  “True, Ms. Willis has been arrested more than once for prostitution, but that does not make her a pimp.”

Her nail ventured back into the pencil.  Her cuticles, like her writing implements, looked like they’d been manicured by a barracuda.  It happened when she got nervous.  A leftover habit from her party-girl self she had yet to punt to the pavement.

She was about to continue her soliloquy when she heard something akin to a hiss.

Either someone indelicately snorted or the judge had a snake under his desk.

She zeroed in on Jack.   And there it was.  A hint of smirk, almost indiscernible beneath a granite slab of jaw.     Suspended somewhere between the Roman nose and irritatingly perfect cleft.

So that’s how it was going to be?  A speedy graduation from mutual unease to derisive snorting?

Their interactions have always been apprehensive.  As public defender and states’ attorney, it was natural they had a mutually wary relationship.  Except it was more than that.  Jack Stanton had it in his power to build or break her future.  Thank God he had no clue.

VERSION #2

Jessie Parker’s life began with a bad date.

Some would argue it began when her mother’s egg granted entry to the sperm of a never-to-be-mentioned man.

But to Jessie, it was on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, on the cusp of what was to be a very bad date, when her life truly began.

It was after that date she stopped dying her hair putrid shades of rainbow.  Stopped wearing skirts the size of napkins.  And stopped skulking with deadbeats.

And started studying.  Hard.

But since her bad date had the misfortune of taking place during the middle of junior year, no amount of round-the clock cramming could make up for eleven years of slack.  And so, off to community college she went.  From there, a four year university and then law school.  Not bad for first in her family to finish eighth grade.

And that’s how she found herself in the office of the public defender.  Helping those who didn’t wish to help themselves.

“My client is not a pimp.” Jessie flew like a well lobbied arrow through the judge’s chambers.  “She’s a victim.”

The man seated to her left shifted in the leather chair, like a lizard finding a more comfortable perch.  Before striking its prey.  He brought his hand to his mouth and gently cleared his throat.

Jessie dug her thumbnail further into the pockmarked pencil.  By now, she knew when assistant district attorney Jack Stanton cleared his throat, he wasn’t trying to evict a frog.  He was readying for a fight.