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Staring Into the Abyss · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
The Greatest Challenge of All
Rock Pitt stared down at the greatest challenge he had ever known. He reached one huge rough but gentle hand to his square chin and scratched along the short razor stubble even while his sparkling blue eyes scanned the incipient problem from one end to the other. His silence was not the quiet of confusion, but rather the calm contemplation that a mind of his caliber utilized when devoting every one of his numerous neurons to the task of analysis and critical path determination. Finally, after a long period of thoughtful rumination, he stated decisively in his quiet deep baritone voice…

“Fuck!” Benton Harbor yanked the keyboard out of his computer and began slamming it down on the table while repeating his curses. With each blow, keys began to fly around the room, several of them landing next to other casualties of the writing process. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuuuuuuuck!” he screamed, flinging the keyboard against the wall and slumping down in his chair.

Then after a quick leap to his feet, he swept the sharp little pieces of plastic off the comfortable padded surface of the thousand dollar chair and flung himself down in it again. “Fuckit! It’s been almost three fucking months! They’re going to want to see something by the end of the week, Benton. Get a grip, Benton. Rock Pitt has seen worse problems. Fucking Rock Pit has fixed everything already! Why can’t fucking Rock Pitt just write the damned story, then?”

He yanked the nearby cell phone off the charger and snarled, “Siri, call Murray!”

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t understand that.”

Snarling curses to the unspeakable gods of writing, Benton jabbed out the key sequence on his phone and glowered at it while waiting for the ringing to stop.

“Murray! Get your ass— Oh! Hi, Mom.” Benton swallowed and put on a false grin, even though his mother could not see. “How are things in Florida? Yes, about the same here.” A dark cloud of emotions rolled over his face and he fought back a scowl. “Yes, Mom. The new book is coming along nicely. I was just calling my agent to talk about it. No, we better not keep the rest of your foursome waiting. I know how busy the golf course gets at this time of day. I’ll call you this evening. Bye.”

His expression returned to the same scowling frown once his mother hung up the phone, and Benton more carefully selected the buttons this time. “Murray? Yeah, get your ass over here. No, I don’t care if you were about to go out for a tennis game! This is important!” Benton’s lips curled back over carefully-whitened teeth. “I’m going to have to kill Rock Pitt.”

“You can’t be serious.” Murray Goldstein made himself at home behind the minibar with ice cubes and an expensive bottle of whiskey Benton had gotten from a fan, coming out only when he had carefully added a good shot of distilled water to each glass. “Here, drink this and try to make more sense.”

It would have made more sense if his agent had not been dressed in an expensive tennis outfit that showed off his skinny legs and knobby knees, but Benton took a sip of the watered-down whiskey and tried to remain calm.

It was rather difficult. There were a few million reasons to panic.

“I can’t think of anything new for Rock Pitt to do,” explained Benton. “Twelve books and he’s done everything, from that exploding volcano to defusing a nuclear bomb.”

“And slept with the volcano virgin and the female nuclear scientist who talked him through the defusing process,” said Murray. “He’s not only done everything, he’s done everybody in the process. You’ve been in creative holes before, but you pulled yourself out of them. Hey, remember that research trip we took to India for The Curse of the Thuggee Cults? You came up with lots of inspiration there.” Murray paused, setting the whiskey down on a cork pad. “Between the dysentery, the malaria, and the septic infection,” he admitted.

“The male nurse was a very good talker,” said Benton. “Everything I wrote came from stories he told me. Besides, Rock Pitt has already been to India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, France, Germany… Everywhere!”

“Wait a minute.” His agent chugged the last of his whiskey. “You accepted an advance for your next book. I should know, because I cashed the check, paid off your ex-wives, and came over to your mortgage burning party for this monster mansion. If you can’t crank out a book…” His eyes grew wide. “Four point three million dollars. You’ve got a better chance of getting your pre-paid taxes back from the IRS than getting any of it back from those screaming harridans you married, and I’m sure as heck not giving back my ten percent. Can you cover it?”

“One million in the retirement fund, I might be able to get a mil out of the house since it’s so overpriced for the neighborhood, and forty K from the Jag, once it gets out of the shop. I ran the numbers already,” admitted Benton. “The remaining two million bucks is a lot of donating plasma.”

“Didn’t I tell you to get a pre-nup?” said Murray. “I vaguely remember… Oh, no. I vigorously remember it. I videoed it, just so I could play it back for you. 99% of your existing residuals go to feed those two harpies, and if I hadn’t gotten a DNA test run on the third one’s baby, you’d have to earn money digging ditches just to be broke.”

His agent moved back to the minibar and poured some more whiskey, this time leaving the water out, but did not say anything until he had returned and given the other glass back to his client. “So. Now what?”

“I’ll think of something.” Benton pushed the glass of whiskey over to his agent. “There’s got to be a way out of this jam. I just have to think.”

The insurance agent’s office was sterile enough to be an operating theatre with chrome and glass everywhere, leaving Benton Harbor to sit uncomfortably on the hard chair while Izzy flipped through his folder. “I have to say, Mister Harbor, that it’s good to have somebody conscientious enough to check their coverage. Most people would rather drop over dead than review their life insurance provisions, heh, heh.”

The joke, as it were, fell flat. And speaking of falling…

“Well, I was just headed out to the airport,” mentioned Benton in a casual fashion, “and since I was a little early and you were on the way, I thought it couldn’t hurt.”

“Heading out to do some jet-setting across the world like Rock Pitt, I suppose, Mister Harbor? I hear you’re putting out a new book in a few months. It’s a good thing to review your paperwork first.” Izzy pushed the folder over to him and smiled, which contrary to Benton’s expectations, did not reveal any sharp, pointed teeth. “You have a very complete policy. Full coverage for just about anything short of skydiving.”

“Skydiving?” echoed Benton.

“Yes, of course.” Izzy pointed to a clause.

No benefits will be paid for loss or expense caused by, contributed to, or resulting from:
… 21. Skydiving, recreational parachuting, hang gliding, glider flying, parasailing, sail planing, bungee jumping, or flight in any kind of aircraft, except when riding as a passenger of a regularly scheduled flight of a commercial airline…

The doctor’s office was filled with warm colors, soft wall coverings, and bright crayoned pictures from young patients attesting to Doctor Proctor’s expertise in treating their various maladies. The doctor in question came bustling in through the door, carrying an expensive-looking electronic pad and wearing an expensive-looking smile while striding up to Benton and patting him on the shoulder.

“Good to see you again, Mister Harbor. I didn’t think you would be coming back after your flight physical for your skydiving lessons. How was your first jump?”

“I… chickened out,” admitted Benton.

“Can’t blame you,” said the doctor. “I’m always afraid I’ll forget to pull my chute or it will be packed wrong. Still, I’ll have my hundredth jump next month, even though I don’t jump out of exploding planes as much as Rock Pitt.” He chuckled, setting himself up for the question Benton knew was coming. “So, I hear you’re putting out a new book in a few months—”

“I need something first,” explained Benton in a rush.

Two days later, Benton found himself in the same examining room with the doctor, only with a large stack of paper in a folder and more than a few sharp pains across his recently punctuated skin. Doctor Proctor was still smiling, although Benton’s expression was more of resigned dread for what was going to come next from the physician.

“Other than your known medical issues, you’re in perfect health, Mister Harbor. Your asthma is under control, the colonoscopy didn’t find any polyps, the CAT scan doesn’t find any abnormalities, and your EKG shows a perfectly healthy heart. Since you’ve been bicycling to keep your blood sugar and triglycerides under control, you should live to be a hundred, if you don’t do anything dangerous like Rock Pitt.”

He felt a little naked to be bicycling along the street without a helmet, but Benton put his slight musculature to work, building up his speed as he approached the dangerous intersection. It should be painless, at least, judging the speed of the expensive luxury car to his left and the velocity which he was headed toward the light. Timing was going to be critical, and he slammed on his bicycle brakes with his eyes nearly closed…

There was a screeching of brakes…

And nothing.

Benton opened his eyes. He was in the center of the intersection as he had planned, but quite alive, unlike he had expected. Both a Lexus and a Mercedes Benz were within touching distance to either side, and to his shock, the mayor of the city and an over-dressed elderly lady were scurrying out of their stopped cars over to him.

“Mister Harbor!” gasped the mayor. He grabbed the shaking author by an elbow and helped him over to the side of the street. “I’m so sorry! If the automatic braking on the car hadn’t kicked in, I might have…”

“Quite the same here too, Dearie,” said the little old lady, patting him gently on the wrist. “I’ve always said this intersection needs a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.”

“Same here,” said the mayor, still sounding a little distracted at the near fatality. “It would run over a million dollars, though, and the council won’t appropriate the money.”

“Is that all?” The elderly lady dug out her purse and winked at Benton. “It’s the least I can do to protect the man who brought Rock Pitt to our community. Speaking of which, I hear you’ve got a new book coming out.”

“I brought you a couple of new keyboards.” Murray slipped in the front door and considered his client, who had not moved from where he was staring at the television. The program did not look that interesting, since it was only showing the evening newscaster discussing a new pedestrian bridge which was going to be built with donations from the community. “I know how you go through them while you’re being creative.”

Benton grunted.

His agent vanished into the den, only to emerge in a few minutes with a pensive expression. “Still no manuscript outline?”

Benton grunted again, only this time he got up and vanished into the kitchen. He returned with a knife.

Murray backed up with his hands above his head. “Look, I can get some of your ten percent back, but I’ve got expenses and—”

“I’ve got an idea,” said Benton. “Australia. I’ll have Rock Pitt dropped into the outback with nothing but a knife and a canteen. I don’t have enough time to research before the outline is due, but I can go out into one of the national forest preserves and live off the land, killing my own food and scavenging for food for a few days to get some ideas.”

“Live off the land?” Murray put his hands down. “You can’t be serious. I went quail hunting with you once, remember? I still have the lead pellets in my ass. Rock Pitt may be able to hunt down a deer and kill it with his own teeth, but you know who called me last year when a mouse got stuck in your trash can? You did. Remember who you called when a sparrow flew in through your door and you couldn't get it out of the house? Me. I’ll bet you can’t even last the night out in your own backyard.”

Benton did not respond, other than to frown and stride purposefully out the back door.

It was only for a minute, then he strode back inside, got a beer out of the refrigerator, and stalked back outside again.

Murray flopped down on the couch and picked up the remote control. “He won’t last an hour.”

A rattling and thumping noise roused Benton Harbor from sleep, making him stir in his huge waterbed and peek at the nearby alarm clock, which was displaying a time far too early in the morning for his taste. “Blasted racoons,” he muttered. “I would have won the stupid bet if you hadn’t come by.”

“Hey, Bennie!” The voice of his sister drifted upstairs, overlaid with some other noises indicating the rest of her family was inside the house too. “I couldn’t get you on the phone, so I dropped by. Reginald has an ear infection so we’re taking him to the pediatrician, but I didn’t want to expose Isabella to all the germs in his office. Could you watch her for a few hours?”

He did not want to obey his sister’s request, but in a few weeks, Benton would probably be looking for relatives to sponge from, so he roused himself out of bed. After dressing in a hurry and wandering downstairs, he found himself waving goodbye to his sister while holding his newborn niece’s baby carrier.

“Hellfire and damnation,” he muttered, although with a quick peek at the sleeping infant to make sure ‘Uncle Bennie’ had not taught the little tot a new word. “How am I supposed to work when somebody drops a baby on me. Rock Pitt would probably…”

Benton Harbor trailed to a halt with images of the hunky Rock Pitt cradling a newborn infant in one arm and a silenced submachine gun in the other, holding off a ferocious horde of evil villains while trying not to disturb his daughter’s nappie time.

“Rock Pitt has emerged victorious against the most terrifying forces brought against him,” he whispered. “Now, when faced with a new challenge, can our hero find the mysterious woman who left his newborn daughter on his doorstep and protect them both from the evil which seeks their lives? The ninja princess from the book before last. The mysterious cloaked stranger from the last book. The nanite plague from book five. Yes. Yes! YES!”

Benton bolted at full speed into his den, turned on the computer, arranged his pencils, and paused. Then he darted back out to the front door to pick up his niece's baby carrier and brought the sleeping infant back into where an infant book was about to be born.

several months later

“Your brother is weird,” said Ethan, shifting the baby carrier to his other arm while they walked through the mall. “Nice-weird, though. He never wanted to babysit Reginald this much when he was born.”

“He was in India,” explained Cloe. “Then when he got back, he spent all that time writing on his Rock Pitt book to pay for his first divorce. Just be remember, your weird brother-in-law gave us over a hundred thousand dollars for Reginald and Isabella’s college fund.”

“I know, I know,” groused Ethan. “You would have thought he could spring for a copy of his new book for his sister, though.” He rolled his eyes while they walked through the front door of Barnes and Noble. “Retail. Our family will never outlive the shame.”

“At least it’s selling well.” Cloe picked up one of the last four copies from the depleted display rack and held the colorful front cover up to the baby carrier and its drowsing contents. The sleeping baby on the cover looked astonishingly like Isabella, which was no real surprise because the cover artist had worked from several photographs, but the muscular Rock Pitt on the cover with the silenced submachine gun spitting flames at several lurking ninjas looked almost totally the opposite of the geeky author. “Come on, Issy. Wakie, wakie. See the nice picture that’s going to put you through college.”

Her husband gave out a snort of amusement from where he had flipped one of the remaining copies to the back page. “How in the world does he get paid for writing this crap? Listen to this.”

The elegant oriental rock garden was nearly silent, with only the hissing spats of dying cyber-ninjas and the chirps of birds echoing through the bullet-scarred battleground. Rock Pitt could care less for the wanton destruction surrounding him, or the billions of dollars worth of cyber-tech he had just destroyed with a few minutes of vigorous hacking on Digi-Deign’s corporate network. The only things he cared about was the small infant snuggled up to his chest in a bulletproof Babybjörn carrier and the exotic cyber-ninja woman cradled in his arms.

“Rock-san,” she whispered. Her hand clutched around his made little clicking noises as the failing cybernetic claws snicked in and out from under her nails. “My love. Is our daughter safe?”

“Yes,” he whispered back in a gravelly baritone voice. “Her nanobots are too new to be infected by the virus I pushed out through the network. I wish there had been another way.”

Small tears continued to run down the dying woman’s face, both real and droplets of sterile glycerine from her cybernetic eye. “It was too late for me. Father’s compulsions were written into my code. I could barely disobey him long enough to bring our daughter to you.” Her grip abruptly tightened when a sharp clicking sounded in her chest. “He activated my self-destruct. We only have a few minutes.”

“Then I’ll go with you,” said Rock. “It’s the only way.”

The young cyber-ninja shook her head, her natural hair shimmering in the dying light of the sunset. “No, you must protect our daughter. Between our genes and the experimental nanobots in her bloodstream, she represents the only hope the world has of defeating my father and his army of cybernetic soldiers. Now go.” She gave Rock a weak shove. “Hurry.”

“For you.” Rock Pitt bent down and gave a soft kiss to her lips, not even wincing at the feel of her canine venom injectors brushing against his lips in return. “We will never forget you, Katsumi.”

* * *

The glowing mushroom cloud drifted across the sunset while Rock Pitt drove away from the cyber-ninja base in a stolen Mitsubishi, unable to keep from looking at the spreading cloud in his rear view mirror. All of his contacts, his world-wide industrial locations, even his bank accounts would be worthless when pitted against the cybernetically-augmented forces of Digi-Deign and the mad genius who sought to rule the world and would destroy any who got in his way. Rock’s daughter was too young for her nanotech to do anything but sit inert in her body, but it would learn from the examples he would teach in the years to come. They would have to grow up in the shadows, unseen by the deadly forces arrayed against them, until it was time to strike.

“You will be avenged, Katsumi,” whispered Rock. “I swear.”

“Huh.” Cloe gave a short, introspective nod from where she was reading over her husband’s shoulder. “My brother always was the dramatic type. I wonder when the sequel will be out?”
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#1 · 1
· · >>georg
Starting off my reading!

To be honest, I was kinda prepared to hate this just because it's about writer's block; I can think of few better ways to signal a lack of creative inspiration in a story. But for the most part it ended up winning me over. Nicely done!

Primarily, that's because the comedy landed. Not all the individual jokes did, but I can definitely appreciate the sharp sense of comic timing here, along with solid lines like "There were a few million reasons to panic". Every scene's got something to smile at, and it keeps the pacing fast and furious. Mostly that works to your advantage — the montage-like effect of some of Benton's insurance-scam ideas, and the fact that a joke falling flat doesn't leave a long wait before the next one lands — although I do find myself wishing that the overall flow was a little smoother; there are some time-skips that feel a little disorienting, and the ultimate solution (the babysitting thing) feels like it swings in out of nowhere. As long as I'm critiquing, while I was seeing signs of callback humor (a good sign) in elements like the elderly lady pulling out her checkbook, there were a few callbacks which didn't seem like they quite connected, and a few elements left dangling. I would have liked to see some setup for the skydiving thing, for instance, and for Benton ordering his physical. I don't think you need to ever explicitly say that he's out for insurance fraud (and credit to you for not doing so), but there should be something in the early conversation with Murray that at least plants the seed of the idea. In hindsight, actually, I think my complaint about flow largely boils down to that lack of seed-planting.

Structurally, it also seems weird that your last three scenes cut completely away from our protagonist/viewpoint character Benton, and wrap the story entirely without his POV. Don't get me wrong, I think the ending works, it just feels a little off to abandon him like that. (And especially with the sibling — who only showed up midway through the story. If the conversation was with, say, Murray or one of the ex-wives, it would at least give you a bookend feeling with a callback to the beginning.)

Tier: Strong
#2 · 1
· · >>georg
Benton Harbor, eh? Are you too chicken to name your inspiration, Author? :)

I find this story to be an amusing and clever romp, though much of my initial merriment was due to my singing out Benton’s words in the second paragraph to the appropriate theme, a reference most readers won’t get. But after that, the comedy bubbles along at a brisk pace, though I agree with Horizon that some tightening up of the linkages is in order.

Both thumbs up!
#3 ·
What is it with this Caricature character in the first place, couldn't make a real person do these things?
Be weary of pointless exagerations in general.
Quotation marks, use them for all sitations as Speach or dialogue. it's plain sloppy.

As funny as the story may be, but these issues are still bothering.
#4 · 1
· · >>georg
Just like horizon, I was about to hate this entry and I was already rolling my eyes, thinking that we were about to go meta. But no.

The comedy stroke right, I smiled many times and laughed once or two times. I could argue that some scenes seemed to come out of nowhere but the general impression the story left to me was its randomness; so it was kind of expected.

In four words, solid pace and comedy. Good job.
#5 ·
· · >>georg
...I need healing!

Alright, sorry, no, I don't actually main Genji.

Anyways, this is pretty solid. I have no idea what happened at the doctor's office, though. Or why he needed to review his life-insurance policy.

That opening is a risky, risky move; the contrast between the overdone first paragraph and the punchy second one works, but you're sacrificing your very first impression on the reader for it. I'd suggest shortening the first one as much as you feel comfortable while keeping the contrast. One sentence or two, maybe, not the four you currently have.

Anyways, I laughed. Comedy is as comedy does, and this is more than a one-note jokefic, which I do appreciate. It's nothing deep, but for what it is, it's quite good!
#6 · 1
· · >>georg
an expensive bottle of whiskey Benton had gotten from a fan, coming out only when he had carefully added a good shot of distilled water to each glass.

GAAAAAH you're killing me, author! Don't ruin your good whiskey by over-watering it! Drink cheap stuff if you don't care about the taste and send your nice scotch to me.

Unlike the people above me, I was mighty confused by the middle section of this story, since it appears to me that he isn't trying to commit insurance fraud. If he was, why would he be contemplating skydiving right after discovering that it was nearly the only thing that wasn't covered by his policy? Why the bike scene, which is far less a "fraud" situation than a legit one? Best I can see, he'd decided to kill himself, and was initially hoping to keep his ex-wives from getting any cash out of the deal.

That's still got plenty of potential for dark comedy, but it needs to be much better clarified. Also, if that is what you were going for, then undercutting the seriousness might not be a bad idea; if his agent reacted to these attempts with total blase, implying that he'd tried all this before after getting writer's block. And if you were intending horizon et al's reading, then I disagree with him; you should make it clearer, or at least cut out the parts that (unless I'm missing something obvious) seem to point in a different direction.

Past that, this was an amusing entry. A rather predictable story in its general beats, but the comedy was solid, and I enjoyed the execution.
#7 ·
· · >>georg
Whelp, if sparkling vampires can make for a bestseller, why not?

This certainly amused me. I can't imagine going to such ridiculous lengths over writer's block. Then again, I've never really had writer's block. I liked it on the whole, but its low scope and predictable manner keep it from getting the high marks. I'd offer more serious criticisms, but it seems everyone's beaten me to anything that matters.
#8 ·
· · >>Ranmilia >>georg
This was fun. Needs a bit of a clean up (feels like you didn't really find your voice until a couple scenes in), but I really don't have much in the way of complaints here. You could probably safely cut a little bit of the suicide/death wishing in the middle (maybe the doctor scene) as I think it doesn't add much and detracts from the rather breakneck pacing you've got going otherwise.

End line feels a bit flat to me? I'm undecided. I think you should maybe end on the Rock Pitt stuff. You've got the build up for that punchline. While I get what you're trying to do with the last little bit, I don't think you actually have the infrastructure setup to support that joke.

But yeah. Fun. Not much else to say here.
#9 ·
· · >>georg
I agree with Andrew. Funny, and reminds me of that movie.

There’s an instance of the dreaded could care less instead of couldn’t care less. Shame on you!

Otherwise, reads fluidly. I mean, that’s a simple, straightforward, amusing (but not overly funny) story. Not much else at stake.
#10 · 1
· · >>georg
Sorry, author, this one didn't land well with me. The dialogue between Benton and Murray, especially, was just too fake.

“And slept with the volcano virgin and the female nuclear scientist who talked him through the defusing process,” said Murray. “He’s not only done everything, he’s done everybody in the process. You’ve been in creative holes before, but you pulled yourself out of them. Hey, remember that research trip we took to India for The Curse of the Thuggee Cults? You came up with lots of inspiration there.” Murray paused, setting the whiskey down on a cork pad. “Between the dysentery, the malaria, and the septic infection,” he admitted.

Humans don't do that. We don't neatly summarize the story to date for the audience. We certainly don't close our spoken paragraphs with snappy remarks that neatly contrast with everything that we said before.

The "As you know, Bob" method of exposition has been out of style for a long time, and I don't think it's coming back anytime soon.

The rest of the dialogue in the story suffers the same problem. It's just too fake for me to do anything but be annoyed by.

The mid-story plot about the author's various attempts to kill himself didn't seem too coherent to me. I was willing, just barely, to hope that maybe Benton (who already said he wanted to kill off Rock) was duplicating his experiences in India, trying to 'act out' how Benton might kill himself in order to write it more authentically. But evidence of that never came out in the text, and I'm forced to conclude I was just reading my own hopes into the story. Benton apparently just wants to kill himself to get the insurance payout.
#11 ·
· · >>georg
Y'know, I like this an awful lot for a piece where I dislike the concept and most of the individual scenes? >>AndrewRogue and Horizon (I won't give that poor soul yet another reply notification) have most of what I want to say covered. Rock Pitt scenes are great, comedy overall's quite good, the prose flows and the piece doesn't overstay its welcome.

It could still stay less. The middle section with the suicide insurance fraud comes out of nowhere and probably doesn't need to exist? I'm not sure what to put in to replace it, but surely there's something funnier than semi-serious suicide attempts.

But the rest is good. Overall fairly strong, thanks for writing!
#12 · 1
· · >>Chris
Obviously, God was waiting on the next Rock Pitt story too. (snerk)

Seventh place. Better than I expected by about ten. I’m going to confess. The Greatest Challenge is mine. Part of it is sheer wonder at the ability of Clive Cussler to constantly pull story ideas out of his (censored) for big six-foot hero type Dirk Pitt and his crew to overcome. I mean for crying out loud, in one of his early books he raises the Titanic. How do you top that? Part of this is admiration for Monster Hunters International by Larry Correia, where his hero Owen Zastiva Pitt (catching a theme yet?) is also a big six-foot plus muscle type. In recent stories, he’s shooting deamons in the face with a shotgun. What better contrast than a nerdy little nebbish author who can’t even open a can of beans without cutting his thumb? (By the way, that’s not me. Larry Correia *is* a huge bear of a man who uses guns like fashion accessories. I’m just tall, and really prefer my turkeys to come out of the freezer section. However, I can shoot the ten ring out of about any target you put out there, and drop quail like they were clay pigeons.)

Admittedly, I needed some sort of lead-in between his “I have to think” and the doctor’s office to make that flow, possibly some sort of insinuation that his bankruptcy will hurt his family (which it probably would, since he seems to be supporting his mother and his sister in style.)

(going to add this)

“So. Now what?”

“Bankruptcy?” Fenton ran his fingers through his thinning hair while his agent shook his head.

“They’ll claw back the money you put into your mother’s trust and your sister’s education fund. Bankruptcy lawyers are nasty. Worse than divorce lawyers.” Murray shuddered.

“I’ll think of something.” Benton pushed the glass of whiskey over to his agent….

>>Cold in Gardez
>>Monokeras (Ok, I'll fix the 'Could Care Less' too.)
>>PaulAsaran I shall never write sparkling vampires! Never! (Unless given a large enough check)

>>Chris Good whiskey *can* have water added to it, you just have to be careful about how much and what kind.
>>Fenton It's always hit and miss to go meta *and* hit something as un-funny as a suicide attempt in a story that is mostly comedy.
>>GroaningGreyAgony Well, this Benton Harbor doesn't fight crime or work as a shoe salesman. :)
>>horizon Comedy is hit and miss. One thing that helps is to make the jokes/gags roll at a respectable pace so if somebody misses one, they have another coming up at them in a second.
#13 · 1

The amount of water you could, possibly, consider adding to your whisky is measured in drops, not "shots."

And I don't care what anyone says, ice in good whisky is wrong. For goodness sake, they make whisky rocks for a reason!

*grumbles something about getting off the lawn*