My comic science-fiction cop story is out of print, alas. But one of the good things about small press publishing is that out-of-print doesn’t have to be forever. Especially if you’re one of the owners of the press. Another good thing about it is that you can do rewrites if you want to AND NOBODY CAN TELL YOU NO.
So I am.
One of the things readers said was that the wanted some detail about alley jammers. Apparently, I’m the only person in the universe who thinks it’s funny to drop repeated references to something imaginary and not explain them.
THEREFORE, in this rewritten bit, the bad guy, a Stokk named Gord Pron, thinks about the extortion he has going.
Gord Pron Ruminates
excerpt from FORCE OF HABIT
by Marian Allen
currently undergoing renovations
(the book is undergoing renovations, I mean, not Marian Allen)
Gord Pron was quite a lady’s man on Stokk. His shoulder-length layered hair and eyebrows arched high by plucking were a bright yellowish-green. This, coupled with his clear yellow skin coloring made him the Stokk equivalent of “tall, dark, and handsome.” His beady black eyes focused on Freldt Saymak.
He anticipated she might arrive early, perhaps to meet someone. Say, the District Criminal Investigator, just for an example. So Gunjin Pron had been outside earlier, watching. He stood in the service alley. He usually didn’t mind lurking in alleys; he wouldn’t like it known, but he had a secret soft spot for alley jammers, with their little prehensile toes and their wrinkly pink noses. Today, though, he couldn’t let himself be distracted. Today, he must forego the challenge of spotting the color-altering vermin against their various backgrounds. Today, he must deny himself the pleasure of playing with the adorable bundles of fluff by chucking bits of concrete at their dear heads.
When he saw Freldt arrive, he slipped in at the back while she went through the lobby. He would keep watch for another hour or so, until slightly past the time agreed. He wanted to make sure. That’s how you stayed free, safe, and alive: You made sure.
Pron hoped Saymak hadn’t called the Officers. Roughing people up was part of Gord Pron’s culture, of course. But sometimes what started out as a spot of casual, social brutality slipped into a habit, and then into an addiction. Pron had caught himself in time, but he knew how slight a nudge it would take to push him over the edge.
Gunjin Boktu Jippir wouldn’t like it if he went over the edge. Gunjin Jippir was a man of refinement. He liked his harassments incremental and his punishments finely calibrated. A berserker had no honor in Gunjin Jippir’s estimation. Gunjin Jippir was an uptown kind of guy, and a berserker was strictly for the sticks.
Gunjin Pron licked the rim of his mouth. Saymak hadn’t called the Officers. He wouldn’t let himself even think it. She would sit there, waiting for him, until he joined her at her table and she told him she’d do what he wanted. Then he’d go back to Boktu Jippir and report success.
And if she refused? Pron clenched his fists so tightly they paled to flax, and the fine hairs on his knuckles stood out like grass.
Calmly, now. He’d talk to her again, that’s what he’d do. Explain things to her again, break a finger, and give her another chance.
Pron was nothing, if not a gentleman.
It’s possible — I don’t say it will happen, mind you, only that it might — that a certain librarian sporting a purple feather boa may end up making a cameo appearance.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What bad habit is your main character afraid they might easily fall into, without care being taken?