by Rebecca Cantrell
Here’s an opening based on a thriller I’m working on. I fudged a bit. The scene is set in Venice, so there’s no high rise, and Clara’s in her 20s instead of her 30s. But at least I followed a couple of the rules of the assignment. There’s a gun and he’s older than her.
A woman in a burgundy suit showed her to Commissario Rutelli’s office. Stacks of paper towered from each corner of his scarred wooden desk. The papers on the bottom looked older than he did. Between the stacks was a pistol. She had seen one like it before in a glass case in Vienna. And another near the body of a dying man.
“Signora Bloch.” He rose and took her hand between both of his. “You are well?”
She pried her hand free and gestured to the pistol. “A connoisseur, I see.”
“The M1910?” He made a sound of dismissal. “A common gun here.”
“Yet it is the gun that killed Archduke Ferdinand and started the first world war,” she said. “The tool of an assassin.”
* * *
I rewrote it as a mystery. I don’t quite like it yet, but decided to post it anyway. Not all experiments are successful, and that’s important to show too. Or at least that’s the high falutin’ excuse I’m spouting so that I can gracefully give up and go to bed.
I took a water taxi to the police station. The brackish water reeked of decaying fish, the smell of the sea that my mother always raved about. I clenched my hands in my lap and tried not to think about her.
At the Questura a woman in a burgundy suit with a golden scarf knotted in that clever European fashion that I could never master showed me to Commissario Rutelli’s office.
I knocked once and went right in before he could send me away.
He sat in a rickety office chair that failed all Silicon Valley’s ergonomic standards, head resting on a stack of papers piled up on his desk. A pistol sat square on his desk next to his outstretched hand.
“Hello?” I asked, but he didn’t move. In fact, he wasn’t going to ever move again.
* * *
You be the judge: is the thriller a thriller? the mystery a mystery? or did I cheat the assignment?