A first page critique by Nancy J. Cohen
ERASED by Anonymous
“I’ll kill her! I swear to God I’ll blow her brains out!”
Special Agent Brandy Jackson stood just inside the apartment, her body half-shielded by the outer living room wall. Omar, the heavily tattooed ex-con at the far end of the room held his strung-out blonde girlfriend in a headlock, with the barrel of his .44 revolver pressed up against her temple. What was her name? Jennifer? Brandy thought so. Jennifer sobbed hysterically.
Omar stood with his back against the inside wall where he had a clear view of the front door and the windows. His eyes were wild, frenzied, darting around the room. They were moving too fast. His naked chest rose and fell in quick pants. He was dripping with sweat.
The idiot was high. What was he on? Crack, maybe heroin? Brandy hoped it wasn’t heroin. That drug could turn thugs like Omar into supersoldiers. She’d seen a bank robber high on the stuff who’d taken almost thirty rounds before he finally collapsed and died of blood loss. That was the first robbery that Brandy had ever investigated. She would never forget it.
“Calm down,” Brandy said in the most reassuring tone she could muster. “We’re going to talk about this.”
“Nothing to talk about. You make one move and I’ll kill this bitch!”
Brandy kept her eyes focused on Omar but she concentrated on the area at the edges of her vision. The hallway was a tall, rectangular blob. If agent Smith was in there, she couldn’t see him.
“It doesn’t have to end like that,” Brandy said. “You’re holding the cards, Omar.” She moved slowly, sliding her .40 caliber Glock 23 into the holster at her side. She showed her empty hands. “See? I just want to talk. What do you want? Money? You want a plane ticket?”
Omar’s eyes flickered. He hadn’t even thought about that. His whole plan had been to go out in a blaze of glory. Good. Slow him down.
Keep him talking, Smith had said. Give me time to get in there.
Great first line! It’s gripping and immediately captured my interest. Now for some questions. Omar’s girlfriend is strung-out. What does this mean exactly? She’s hysterical or she’s on drugs?
“Omar’s eyes were wild, frenzied, darting around the room. They were moving too fast.” You’ve already implied his eyes are moving fast by saying they’re darting. You can delete this second line. And it’s more like his gaze is darting about the room, not his eyeballs. So I’d change these two lines to: “His wild, frenzied gaze darted around the room.”
The next paragraph contains a flashback. Here a guy is about to blow someone’s brains out and she’s thinking about a past robbery? Just have her think how many more rounds she’ll have to use to take him down.
“Calm down,” Brandy said in the most reassuring tone she could muster. “We’re going to talk about this.” I’d like to hear her motivation here. You bring it in later: Keep him talking, Smith had said. Give me time to get in there.
Maybe move these lines up, so it reads like this: “Calm down,” Brandy said in the most reassuring tone she could muster. “We’re going to talk about this.” Give me time to get in there, Smith had said. Keep him talking. (This works better with the following lines, about Smith approaching from the hallway.)
Then you’d end this section with “Good, slow him down.” That works fine, because we’ve already seen that she’s waiting for Smith.
It’s a tense scene and a great beginning. Just do a little rearranging, and it’ll read smoother. I can sympathize with Brandy’s situation and the possible outcomes, and that adds to the suspense. Well done!