Advice to Beginning Writers by the Incomparable (and Hysterically Funny) Tawni Waters

I am so lucky that one of my favorite authors of all time, the supremely talented Tawni Waters, is my client. Tawni won the International Literacy Association YA Award in 2015 for her amazing YA crossover novel, Beauty of the Broken (Simon/Pulse 2014). If you want to read a good example of what MFA writing teachers call “a robust voice”, read the first paragraph of that book. Her newest novel, The Long Ride Home, is being published by Sourcebooks/Fire in June 2017.  I lifted this post from Tawni’s blog.

MY REAL BEST ADVICE FOR BEGINNING WRITERS

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Me looking smug because after two years of book tours, interviews, and Q&As, I finally came up with a non-acid-reflux inducing answer to this question.  Go me!  

Often, in interviews, I’m asked to give my best piece of advice for beginning writers. I always say something vaguely inspiring and possibly smarmy about believing in your dreams, but upon further reflection, I have come to realize that is far from the best piece of advice I have for writers, beginning or otherwise.

About five years ago, I began teaching poetry, fiction, and multi-genre writing workshops at a community college in Phoenix, Arizona. Since then, I’ve sold a few books and have been lucky enough to teach writers of all experience levels, from beginning writers to professional writers, at various institutions, universities, and writer’s conferences. I’ve read and critiqued hundreds of manuscripts, and in so doing, have learned that there are a few mistakes most beginning writers make over and over. And if you, like me (and all editors and agents), read veritable scads of manuscripts, bells start going off in your head the second you see those mistakes. Those bells, fair or not, ding-dong out the word “amateur.”

I don’t stop reading when those bells go off because I love beginning writers. It’s my job to teach them how to be better. I’m so glad someone took the time to teach me when I was a beginning writer, and I want to pay the favor forward. But agents and editors? When they hear those bells, you can bet they will throw your manuscript into the “no thanks” pile and move the heck on.

The biggest mistake most beginning writers make? Trying to be too fancy. I’ve said this a million times to various students, and I’ll probably say it a million more. “Never sacrifice clarity on the altar of pretty.” Beginning writers have heard the statistics. They know, for instance, that 1 out of every 4,000 books written gets agented, and 1 out of every 10,000 books written gets published by a major publisher. They understand they have to be really good to get noticed. They know they need to do something to stand out from the herd. So what they do almost universally is attempt to show off. They use big words when smaller words will do a better job of saying what they need to say. They use weird punctuation instead of adhering to more traditional rules. I’m not putting these people down. God knows I did the same things as a beginning writer. Just ask my teachers. But still.  You asked for my advice.  (Ok, you didn’t, but someone did, and I finally thought of an answer, so I’m giving it to you.)

Let’s start with wacky punctuation. If I had a penny for every time a student has tried to create tension using an ill-placed ellipses, I’d be able to retire from teaching for good. I do not allow my student to use ellipses unless someone dies mid-dialogue. This sentence is acceptable: “When I’m gone, take care of my goldfish,” Bob said, “and my beloved golden. . .” Poor Bob died. He expired mid-sentence, hence the ellipses. Bob, you are forgiven for the cardinal sin of ellipses use. Rest in peace, knowing we will take care of your golden retriever, or goblet, or whatever other gold-ish things you have schlepping around this place.

However, this sentence is not acceptable: “Sally  had no idea why an ax murderer was crouching in her closet. . .” The tension comes from the ax murderer in the freaking closet, not from the ellipses. For god’s sake, put a period at the end of that sentence. Trying to create tension by using ellipses is like trying to be sexy by wearing a leopard print speedo. It’s desperate. It’s overkill. Just don’t.

In other news, don’t use a semicolon when a period will do. Don’t leave out commas to be cool. Your story will tell itself best if you aren’t busy drawing attention to your punctuation for no apparent reason. You dig? Punctuation should be invisible. People should be thinking about your story, not wondering why the hell you used 12 semicolons in your last sentence. (And if you don’t know what the traditional rules of punctuation use are, learn them. A writer who wants to get famous without learning grammar and punctuation is like a musician who wants to get famous without learning to play an instrument. You now what we call those people? Baristas.)

What beginning writers don’t understand, and professional writers do, is that your first job as a writer is to communicate. Writing is a two man sport. It’s always you and a reader. You are always working to make them part of your world. You want your reader to know what is going on at all times, no matter what. Making your words sound pretty is secondary to that goal. Readers will forgive you for not sounding pretty. They won’t forgive you for being confusing.

In my classes, I often draw little, terrible drawings to illustrate my points. I’m a woefully ineffective visual artist, but I’ve never let a minor thing like incompetence get in the way of my aspirations.

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One of my brilliant classroom drawings.  Oh, look at all the lonely people waiting to be connected through the miracle of literature.  

At least once a term, I will be driven to draw a horrible river on the whiteboard. I tell my students that river is their story. Then, I draw a boat that looks a whole lot like an ice cream cone. Heated arguments often erupt about whether or not my boat is really a boat. I erase and redraw the boat until the majority of the class agrees it is a reasonable facsimile of a boat. Then I tell my students that boat is the words they put on the page, their narration. They are inviting readers to hop into said boat and allow themselves to be ushered through the world of the story. I draw happy little stick figure readers, gleefully riding in the writer’s well-crafted boat, digging the ride, enjoying the story.

“Readers expect to be carried safely and seamlessly through the river,” I tell my students. “Every time they have to stop to try to figure out what is going on, they fall out of the boat and start to drown.” Here, I draw stick figure readers, drowning grotesquely. Poor stick figure readers. They trusted the wrong writer. Sometimes they vomit as they die. People do that, you know. And it’s all your fault, confusing writer. You’ve broken your contract with them. And readers don’t like drowning. If you confuse them enough, they will swim out of your story for good. So before you learn to tell a pretty story, learn to tell a clear story.

What exactly does that mean? It means it’s way better to say, “Tom’s arm hurt, and he screamed,” than it is to say, “Tom’s right upper appendage throbbed with the vicious, stabbing brutality that had just been enacted upon his person, and he opened his cracked, supine, vivacious eating instrument and released a blood curdling howl which fell angrily upon the ears of all in the vicinity for miles and miles around that fresh, green, yon valley.” (You think I’m being ridiculous. If I had a penny for every time I read a sentence like that, I could retire from teaching for good and buy a modest castle in France.) If a sentence is confusing when it’s pretty, get rid of the pretty parts and make it simple. And clear. Clarity is your primary objective.

Sorry. I know it hurts. Kill those darlings, my loves. Whether you know it or not, those things you think of as your darlings right now are likely mutant gremlins looking to eat you in your sleep, working to sabotage your dreams, make sure you never publish anything outside your local church bulletin. You will thank me someday for making you murder the fuckers.

People probably think I’m just talking about prose. I’m not. Poetry needs to make some kind of sense too. It doesn’t need to make the linear kind of sense that prose needs to make, but readers do need to walk away from it with some impression of what the hell you were trying to say. You may want your readers to ponder your lines for hours, but you want that to be because your words resonated, because you effectively communicated something that felt authentic to others, not because they had no idea what in the name of all that’s holy you were talking about.

Two years ago, three professional writer friends and I went to a poetry reading at AWP. Knowing what we were in for, we sneaked in some whisky in our coffee cups. Thank God. A young writer got up to read. Wearing a beret. She said, “I’m going to read some poems about my feelings and the migration patterns of herons.” I’m not making this shit up. We all picked up our pens to scribble the sentence down because it was comedy gold. Then we took swigs of our whiskey and set our jaws, the way you do when you are getting a pap smear, and the only thing to do is stare in stoic silence and wait for the torture to end.

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Me drinking with writers.  That whole “writers who drink their sorrows away” cliche is bollocks.  

Every beginning writer wants to write poems about her feelings and the migration patterns of herons. Obscurely. The problem is, readers would rather undergo waterboarding than read them. Please believe me when I say this: no matter what your careful readings of “The Wasteland” have led you to believe, obscurity in writing is not a virtue, in and of itself. By and large, people read things for meaning–meaning that is clearly communicated.

The following bit of writing is an example of poems I often get from beginning writers, writers who believe that someday, ardent poetry students will be digging through their works and biography, trying to make sense of the line, “Fish can be good if cookies are bad,” when finally, one brilliant grad student will discover that the writer’s mother hated cookies, and her dad loved fish. Eureka! We finally understand Gwen! (That’s what I’ve spontaneously decided to name the writer of the upcoming poem.) Sorry, Gwen, my love. Nobody will give a shit about your fucking fish.

I know we’ve all spent years dissecting James Joyce’s obtuse writings, but there was already one James Joyce, and between you and me, one was more than enough. (Here, I apologize to my agent, Andy Ross, who ardently believes that James Joyce was brilliant.  Maybe he was.  But can we agree that whatever Finnegans Wake’s virtues may or may not be, we don’t ever need another one?)

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James Joyce looking smug because he penned a novel that has been torturing grad students for almost a century.  (I guess the girl who’s smug because she came up with an answer to a basic interview question should stop making fun of him.)

 

Student-of-mine, make your words mean something to your reader, make your lines clear and bigger than self, or you will lose your audience. Again, writing isn’t a solitary endeavor. You are always trying to create a connection between you and someone else. Without further ado I give you:

 

GWEN’S SHITTY POEM

Desk. Moonlight

wanders; my sinking eyes

flit to him as tears course down. Fish

can be good if cookies are

bad. Teapot. . . Brew, brew, brew, little

one, Short and stout. . .My childHOOD. . .Years gone;

yon, yawn, brawn. She looks at me with Heavily

lidded eyes; I dream sex: Sex, sex, sEx. . .

More sex. Phallus palace. My father

was. . .They never knew WHY gravel

turned to stone. Heron calls. Oh,

mommy, the heron calls.

You

Rape

me. . .

 

Gwen, my little imaginary Gwen, whom I channeled when I wrote that poem and am now beginning to actively hate, that isn’t a poem. It’s verbal vomit. Within poetry, your words should be connected to one another by a through line of logic. Your nouns/pronouns should refer to someone/something we are consciously aware exists within the world of your poem. Your words must be capitalized for a good reason, and almost always, that reason should be that they fall at the beginning of sentences or are proper nouns. Even in poetry, you cannot sacrifice clarity on the altar of pretty.

Read the best poets you can to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Here are two poems by Grant Clauser, a favorite poet of mine, with whom I was lucky enough to teach at the Rosemont College MFA Retreat over the summer. His work blows me away.

Grant Clauser’s Kick Ass Poems

Notice how you always know what Grant is talking about. Notice there is a through line to his logic. Notice that while his poems may cause you stay up all night pondering the meaning of life/eating habits of bats, you never once ask yourself, “What the hell just happened?” You don’t have the sick, sinking feeling you’ve just borne witness to the literary equivalent of a random drive by shooting, one that you will spend the rest of your life trying to make sense of.  He does talk about his childhood. He does talk about his feelings. He even talks about winged creatures. But he does it in a way that engages others, that says something both fresh and universal about the experience of being human. We don’t need to dig into his biography and know his dad liked fish (or didn’t) to get what he’s trying to say.

Also, notice most of Grant’s words are little. He doesn’t use a “flighted mammalian creature” when a simple “bat” will do. Notice how powerful his work is, in spite of, or perhaps partially because of, his refusal to use fancy language, capitalization, and punctuation. Notice how you want to weep when he says, simply, “And yet we live under a sky/with the miracle of bats—”

Sigh. Poetic power always comes from meaning, not literary sleight of hand. Words move us when they clearly communicate truth that resonates with us, when they give voice to and evoke feelings we have experienced–in this case, awe at the natural world. What if Grant said, “And yet, we reside on a double hemisphered turquoise and emerald ball where flighted mammalian creatures oft take wing.” Not quite the same punch, right? Sometimes, most times, when it comes to writing, less is more. Simple is best.

So here it is, my best piece of advice for beginning writers (cue “Wind Beneath My Wings” now): My darlings, my pretty ones, my literary luminaries in the making, be like Grant when you grow up. Please. For the love of all that is holy, never sacrifice clarity on the altar of pretty. Ever.

 

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2 Responses to “Advice to Beginning Writers by the Incomparable (and Hysterically Funny) Tawni Waters”

  1. joseskinner3 Says:

    She needs a comma in the first sentence of third paragraph. Because she does love her students, right?

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Lee Says:

    That was a shitty poem

    95 thousand+ words
    37 full chapters

    (Excerpt)

    Chapter 7

    5 hours later, the alarm went off and Villon sleepily reached over and hit the snooze button., All without opening her eyes, she reached over patting the bed to make sure Deuce was still there…He was not. “No…No…” Villion angrily grunted. Then her eyes shot open and she peered around the room. It was empty…Villion then realized she was dreaming. “ Not again, she stated. “Felt so real that time.” Villon got out of bed only to find herself floored by her ankles”Ahh” she screamed as 1 hand became two, and two hands were replaced by a fully naked Deuce.With her hands now pinned to the floor, Villon stated” what the fuck? How did you….?” But was silenced by a finger. Deuce pinned both of Villons wrist tightly abover her head as he instinctively gave her body the once over. Villon also did a once over of a very naked, now very hard Duece. She bearely surpressed a smile. Noticing himself harden, Deuce grabed the askew towel from the floor and wrapped it around his body. “I…I thought I was dreaming” Villon stated “ what happened to my clothes” Deuce replied” They were sticky and dirty.You passed out last night, and I had to cut them off being as I did not know the full extent of your injuries. “They’re gone” You expect me to leave like this? I would’ve left earlier, but as you can see” “Theres’s stuff for you in the dresser drawer” Your husbands’ I presume” Deuce stated referring to the ring on her finger” Villon stared blankly. She then leaned over and opened the drawer and said” Pick whatever you like” She also noticed that deuce was still staring at her. For the first time, Villon realized that she still had on her sleeping attire. A tiny blue thong and a wife beater, no bra. She had been so comfortable in front of him so scantly clad, yet she paid the normal no mind. She also noticed that the sheet continue to grow in front of Deuce. Villon felt so naughty yet,pertended not to notice his stares” Im sure you’ll find that the clothes will fit you” As Deuce selected some shorts and a shirt, he stepped into the bathroom to dress. Meanwhile, Villon stood and looked into the vanity mirror. She then slipped off the ring she had on and ran her fingers along the inside of it. Whisperin through the faint smile. “Deuce…” as she fingered HIS ring. She was about to let him walk around without boxers or a shirt, but she would feel guilty about it later knowing that she would come off as selfish, so she grabbed some boxers and a t-shirt and took it to the bathroom door. She placed her ear to it and heard him say” Deuce…Deuce…I’m Deuce. “ Tap-tap” “Deuce, you might want these” Still naked, he cracked the door, and Villon said” I gotta go to work in an hour. Here’s your stuff. I need the bathroom” “ Alright. Im coming out” Deuce replied. Villon smiled thinking about how long Deuce usually kidnaps the bathroom. The man takes as long as she does and he didnt even have hair! “ Deuce. Hurry up” she said as she opened the door abruptly, then closed it just as fast” God. He is still so fine. Just like I remembered him.” She then realized her attitude was from sexual frustration. It had been going on 6 months since Deuce had been gone, and equally as long since she had sex. Christina Villon would give herself to no other man. Deuce opened the door. He then came out with a pair of black reebok basketball shorts, and a white tee with the sleeves cut off” All yours, Ms.Villon” she sashayed toward the door. She now had her back to him and before she entered into the bathroom, she took off the wife beater. Deuce smiled big even though she couldn’t see his face, and Villon said”Deuce” Deuce continued to study the technique in the frastructure of her backs’ physique, and she said” CUTT the ms. Shit. Ok?” Deuce (oblivious to what she just said) continued to study the technique in the frastructure of her backs’ physique. Villon slammed the door, and turned on the shower. As always, her thoughts were consumed with Deuce. As the shower massaged her body, she imagined a thousand tiny Deuce hands all over her. Outside of the bathroom,Deuce tried hard to get the image of the sexy Ecuadorian out of his mind. Try as he might, that last stunt she pulled really had him going. Deuce never thought it could be possible to be so aroused. Once he woke up and realized he had a half naked woman next to him, the primitive part of him stood straight up. He spent an extra 15 minutes next to her before he finnaly decided to roll to the floor. Still , after THAT; he felt as if he were swollen-Stuck at maximum capacity. It was much he still needed to figure out. He knew his name, his hosts name and occupation. That worried him the most. He saw how she reacted to his comments about turning him in. That set her off. Deuce went into the living room and saw that even though the house was small, it was full of things. MOSTLY CIA memorabilia. He saw on the inn table a C.D player, and a case. Deuce picked it up and noticed that there was a Gold sticker with the letter D on it. He then thought about all the clothes in the room, and realized that her boyfriend was live-in , just not into calling much ,or coming home every night. He then woundered what brach of law enforcement he was in. Deuce opened the CD case and pulled out a Trick Daddy CD, and put it into the player. He changed it to the song “Other Man” and sang aloud as he turned it up. “I been havin fantasies of me and you. Thinking about how could it be just me and you. Girl I’ll be yo other man. Yo freak-deaky-kinky-lover man. Mr. Kiss it where you want it man” he then walked to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator and saw grapefruit juice, so he decided to get himself a glass. He opened the cabinet to get a cup and saw a 9mm on the shelf in front” I don’t think its safe in here” he thought as a thought came to his mind. He grabbed the pistol, clearned the chamber, and emptied the rounds from the magazine before putting it back in. He then took the pistol and went back to the living room juice in hand.

    (MEANWHILE)

    Christina heard when the C.D came on and thought ”Whats he doing?” Then she heard him sing. Oh had she have been having fantasies…as her nipples hardened, she knew she had not finished her session the other night of fantsises by the very same entity she fantasied about. Shaking her head in disbelief, she turned off the water, and began to towel off. As she wrapped a towel around herself, she opened the door letting the steam lead the way to see Deuce standing there drinking juice. He studied her and she stood there with complete confidence in herself. Deuce closed the space, making the room a lot smaller.” Deuce, could you move. I gotta get dressed.” “NO, I cant move, and YOU aint goin nowhere” he then lifted up his shirt, showing the butt end of the tucked gun. Drinking his juice, he studied her reaction. With one hand clutching the towel, Villon pushed Deuece in the chest stating” YOU, or nobody else is gonna make me late.” Deuce upped the gun and held it to his side and said” I’m the bad guy, and you the good guy , right? Villon ignored him. “ Aren’t you gonna ask about the gun” “ No, Deuce. I’m not. I know that you’d never hurt me” “oh, Yeah. “ Deuce interjected. “How do you know that” Villon turned towards Deuce, walked towards him and said” This his how” as she touched his left shoulder. “Look, Deuce” Deuce look at his shoulder and saw a tiny scar. Villon took the gun from him and said. You Took a bullet for me. I know you wouldn’t put one in me” Deuce traced his scar, straining hard to think of what the calloused faced woman could be talking about. “ I’m finna dress now. You can stay, or you can go. It’s your choice.” “Woman. Have you no shame? You can’t walk around this bitch all naked and shit all night like you been doin…I saw you last night too…at the window..” “I KNEW somebody was there” “ What kinda special agent are you?” “What kinda criminal are YOU!? Villion fired back hitting her mark. Deuce did’nt like the turn of events, so he turned to leave. “here” Villon spat as she grabbed a manila folder from under the bed. “ Read these” as he grabbed the envelpope, she pushed him towards the door. Deuce sat at the kitchen table and emptied the contents. He saw the printouts and read the articles. His head began to throb as he processed the information. Once he saw his face, it was undeniable. He was Deuce. The most notorious gangster/Crimelord to ever hit the city…According to the articles anaway…As he thought more and read more, he couldn’t see where a CIA agent fit into the equation as a POSITIVE thing. The folder accidentally hit the floor and a wallet sized photo hit the floor face down. He picked it up and couldn’t believe his eyes. Like a matrix link, a highway of information rushed him bringing him to his knees. He clentched his fist and eyes in abticipation for the pain to subside, yet when it did, he found himself getting g madder and madder.. Villon came from the bathroom in full fatigues. Her hair was pinned up with a chop stick through the back of her CIA hat. Reminded him of a latin Sonya Blade from the game Mortal Kombat X for Playstation. “ Did you find what you were looking for?” Deuce shook his head. “What are your plans for today?” “ Do you have anything else on me? He stated very faintly. “Yeah…yeah, Deuce. I have some more newspaper clippings and some articles from about 2 years ago….” “2 YEARS…Can I see them please” Villon noticed something foreign..something odd, something a little off. Deuce was irregularly mad. She couldn’t figure out what was coming over him. He tried harder to surpress his anger. Villion went back into the room, ruffled in the closet shelf, and brought back a cardboard box. He noticed that the box looked like it got handled frequently. It was in rough shape. “ This is all that I have…Deuce, are you gonna stay here today?” she came right out with it, then clentched her teeth in anticipation for his reply. “It might be best for you to stay here, to lay low for awhile” she found herself thinking outloud.” I don’t know. When are you coming back?” “ around 6” “ if all the lights are off, im gone, o.k?” Yeah, ok” you’ll need these” he said as he stood up and retrieved the bullets from his pocket and gave them to her. Villon frowed at him and began to reload her weapon. Deuce smirked. “I knew you wouldn’t hurt me” Villon smiled and said” Don’t be so sure” Deuce spat back. This one killed her smile. “well, I’m going now. I hope to see you later.” Deuce nodded, and Villon left. Deuce peered out the window and watched Villon get into the escort. She sat for a second obviously thinking about something. She turned towards the window, smiled, then drove off. Deuce then produced the small wallet sized photo from within his pocket, and studied it. It was a picture of Villon and a guy with his arms wrapped around her, him clearly keeping himself mostly out of the picture. She had both arms wrapped around him smiling big and bright….” Whos is that nigga! Deuce spat icily

    Chapter 8

    Villon punched in at work, gathered her caseload, and sat at her desk to read her daily brief. She noticed the top item: CRYOGENICS SECURITY BREECH. A top secret item has been ”misplaced” Her heart skipped a beat and she realized things could really start heating up around the office soon. Agent Woodson walked over and said” Did you get the whooole brief about he cryro lab?” nonchalantly. “nope. Only what he press release reads “ BULLSHIT. ALL BULLSHIT. They only let the press know what they want them to know. Leave enough room for people to talk, ask question…get the press to do the work. Good thing I got connections” Agent Woodson ranted. “ Well, apparently” he started saying as he leaned in closer to get a whisper secession. “one of the staff doctors tampered with a projectthey were running. A doctor Phylis Green. She was the last one to see the project and then, POOF.” “What was the project? Do you know what it was?” Villon questioned.” No….they wouldn’t say……no one knows. Basically, it doesn’t exsist, if you get my drift” “CLASSIFIED” she got his drift “they did tell us to mind our own business though” “ Where CIA Villon exclaimed. “ It is our business” “I know, apparently this is bigger than us” “yeah. What are we to do about it though”? We’re CIA. We probe around” “Ive been assigned to the probing” Agent woodson stated” you wanna ride along?” “No thanks, Ive got a lot of stuff to do” “ok, I’ll talk to you later. Agent Woodson left. Villon knew that agent woodson liked her. He wasn’t that bad of a guy, Professionally. He also didn’t know that she dispised him because of the aggressiveness in which he persued Deuce. Agent Rod Woodson would tell jokes and even makes rascist comments about Deuce as if his goal was to not only antagonize, but to demoralize him. HIM. HER Deuce. For that reason alone, she didn’t like him. When she really thought about it. She didn’t need another. “Am I morally wrong here? Why do I put myself through this?” As the thought poped into her head, the answer slowly followed. Love has no limits, and Deuce is the reason she put her life, sanity,and freedom in the balance. “ A small sacrifice” she thought to herself and smiled. “You ready?” Agent Hycient asked. “Yeah. Lets go” Villon replied as she came back to reality. The assignment today was to “sweep” through the American embassy. Looking for spies within was a very complicated process. A task for highly trained professional agents. Once the government found out about the copy and duplication process, finding fake americans became a project that took a lot of patience, time, and Power……

    (MEANWHILE)

    Back at the house, Deuece went through the box, and red all the material from the files. Actually, Deuce was surprised at the multiple alligations he faced in the media….Crimes he got convicted of. As the memories continue to come back, Deuces head pounded harder and harder. After reading about the trial, Deuced slammed his fist on the table putting a fist sized whole through it. “What!? Deuced exhaled in disbelief as he thought about the strange things that have been happening to him. He thought about the leather strapes, then the wire cage on the window and how easily he snatched it out of the Wall.What shook him up the most is the soeed in which he disabled Villon. How he bended the baretta……He then looked at his hands and stood up slowly. He then went out back and stared around. There was no noise so Deuced deduced it was out ok to go outside. Everyone was at work. He then walked up to an old Everlast punching bag that was chained up to a rather large siccamore tree. He tapped the bag lightly. He then did a straight left jab and lodged his fist into it.He snatched his fist free in awe and grabed the bag from swaying. As the sand fell from the bag, Deuce grabed it with all his might and pulled down. Not only did the bag fall down, but the sturdy siccamore brach that held the bag to the tree broke off. Trying to comprehend, Deuce thought about the chart at the Cryrogenics lab.”Testosterone, hormone,and chromozomes.” He gasped “ I’mma SCIENCE project” Defeated, Deuce went inside and sat at the coffee table. The picture of Villon smiled up at him as he sat in awe. Besides being mad that Villon decided not to tell him about her guy friend in the picture was, he was mad that the government stripped him off his life, supposedly killed him AND made him a freak. As his rage grew higher , Deuce knew that it was the chemicals within him casing his imbalance. “testosterone” he replied as he look at the small hole in the table. As deuce gatherd his thoughts, a small smile displayed across his face. His memory was coming back. “I’m not dead, yet …im officially dead…hum…” “I’mma ghost” Deuce smirked at the thought.

    (MEANWHILE)
    At the embassy, Villon and agent Hycient were inside “the bubble room” for a conference. The bubble room is a secure room in which is constantly swept for listening , monitoring, or recorded devices. Only high members of the government, or special forces of law enforcement are allowed to be there. Even then, its “ swept for bugs” Spies become very inconspicuous. They portray aides, janitor staff, delivery men, even other agents. “Good ole’ U.S of A” Villon thought as she sat down. Lee Edmonds was the director of the CIA. He sat at the head of the table and his personal sectratary stood by his side as if she were trained perfectly with a pen and pad in hand. Pen already un capped. Director Edmonds was a big guy. He stood 5’11 , 205 lbs. He wore his hair cropped low with a part along the left side. VERY athletic is the term Villon came up with. As her boss, he liked to tell her stories of his life starting back when he was drafted to play professional football straight out of high school. He showed her pictures from various trophy moments from his life from basketball, to baseball, football, and boxing. “ I’m glad you two finally decided to show up” Agents Hycient and Villon listed intently. Knowing not to feed his anger, villion just looked at her watch. They were 3 minutes late. “As you know” The director continued. “The Koreans seem adamant to infiltrate our embassy.You both have been through vigorus training and briefing on the situation at hand?” “Yes director” Agent Hycient replied.” You are to lead the operation. Something has been bought to my attention that ALL FIELD AGENTS are to stay out of. This come from “ The seat” Both agents knew that “the seat as “THE SEAT” . “Yes director. May I ask what has pulled man hours from the current operation” Villon chimed in” NO YOU MAY NOT” the director replied” But since Captain Law seems to be impressed with your field work, I’ll grant you the answer” That caught he off guard. “As you may well know, there was a theft in the cryrogenics lab yesterday. Top secret information has been taken by what seems to be a double agent in the lab. A doctor Phylis Green received a call from what she said was an intern. If her story checks out, then shes clear. Not to get specific but, someone broke into our lab and stole a government top secret. What they plan to do with it is anyones guess. We ARE NOT, and I repeat, ARE NOT to get involved. FEMA, and the Pentagon took lead on this one. That is all. Good day.” With that said , the secretary gathered the scattered papers an reports from infront of Director Edmonds, and he got up and walked towards the door. Villon did notice the secetary document the time, and as she waled the agents towards the door, she said” The director wishes to speak to you alone agent Hycient.” Hycient turned towards Villon, and said” I’ll catch you back at your desk” “yeah, ok. Later” Villon replied and went back to her desk waiting for Hycient to come come back so she can ask him “ What the hell was that all about?” she thought and continued to think. Her worry turned to fear. Fear turned to panic so she did what she had be contemplating on doing since the start of the conference. She picked up her phone and dialed the number.” Just like old times, huh Christina” she kidded with herself. Deuce bought her the house in which she planned on financing. He would only go there as a randevous. Only 2 people knew of the hiding and Capo was one. Deuce the other. “Pick up baby, pick up” Villon mouthed to herself. The answering machine came on so she said” hey, its me. If your there, pick up.” Of course he wouldn’t answer she mouthed to herself.” I know you there. Where else would you..” Hello” Deuce came on the line.” Hey you” Villon beemed like a 7th grader and instantly felt sheepish. She just felt so deperate for him.” I was just bout to leave. I found what I was looking for and….I remember now. I gotta go check up on somethings. You know what I mean?” “ No, I don’t..DON”T GO!? It’s just that nows not a good time. The assignment im working on is REALLY heating up, and I do know that 5th ave is a crime scene right now” Viooln hoped that Deuce was well enough to read beween the lines. “ Maybe I’ll just take my chances?, or, it that against the law , officer?” Villon couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not, so she said. “ 6 o’clock, I’ll be home. Ther’s somethings I need to talk to you about ok?” “Lights on…, lights off” Deuce replied as he hung up the phone. Villon heard the dial tone before she whispered” I love you” then hung up. Agent Hycient came up and said.” You feeling alright? You look a little pale?” “I’m ok” “you ready to roll?” “Yeah. Lets roll”

    (MEANWHILE)
    Deuce hung up the phone and ran to the bathroom to find some Tylenol. He swallowed 4 or 5 and laid on the bed.” Hot on 5th ave, huh?” Deuce knew Villon was telling him the word on the cryro lab was out.”shit” deuce spat as he clutched his head. I’m stuck at this bitch like im on house arrest or something. I need to see wzup with the streets. What’s Capos number? Why the hell can’t I remember his number?” Deuce then grabed apillow and threw it against the wall. The pillow exploded shooting a cloud of feathers in the air.” How the hell am I suppost to get use to this…this..WHATEVER this is?” Deuce wondered. I gotta get my temper under control. He then got up and proceeded to look around the room. I know she got some fyre around here somewhere. He opened the dressor drawer and saw neatly folded blouse t-shirts similar to the ones Villon wore. Next drawer was filled with lingerie. Deuce smilled as he looked at the Victoria secrets tops and bottoms and imagined what the material would feel like ontop of her skin.” She’d look real good in this” Deuce stated as he reached for the silver thong”what the…Deuce jolted back in shock. He then rereached into the drawer and pulled out the butt end of a plastic grip glock 45. “Damn, mami livin like this” Deuce dared not to question yet, admired the pretty handgun. He noticed the gold Lettering engraved in the grip. D. “D. who the fux is D?” he then looked at his attire. Realized that he had on D’s clothes, listened to D’s C’D’s a couple hours ago, and now he had D’s Gun in his hand, along with d’s girls‘ micro silver thong dangling off the barrel of it. Deuce started to walk out of the room, but then curiosity got the best of him. “D’” he said with an attitude as he went to the other dressor drawer. He noticed that all the clothes were casual attire. All name brand. Fubu, Karl Kani, South Pole, Kangol. “ Buddy got good taste. I won’t lie” Deuce stated aloud. Deuce hated him more and more the more he thought about him. What man would leave a girl like this all alone to find for herself? Then again, she’s no bratz doll. He then went to the closet to have a look around. Fatigues, dresse, even a smoking( female tuxedo) “She’s got good taste too” Deuce thought aloud. Not knowing what he was looking for, he grabbed two shoe boxes from the shelf. He placed them on the bed, and opened the first.” Odd. Really odd” he though. All the pictures were cut in half. “why would she do that?A break up” Deuces mind churned. In one picture, someone had their arms around her. All was left was gloved hands, and a sleeved arm..JUST LIKE IN THE OTHERS. The next picture was of Villon and the mystery guy(D probably) at the beach holding hands. Again, all he could see were the articles of clothing wraped around Christina. “Damn…Mami got all that down there?” Deuce became instantly aroused.. He peeled his eyes away from the picture, and shuffled through a few more. All were of Villon and D’S arm. Deuce shook his head. The next box were pictures of similar cut fashion, except the background was exotic and foreign. Iffel tower, niagra falls, grand canyon, and mount rushmore.. The next four pictures were of beautiful exotic places that he couldn’t readily put a name to. All were exotic and beautiful. Deuce became frustrated because he was still very aroused. “well, I guess that’s a good thing” he said as he decided to get some rest. It was now 5 pm. Deuce laid down and starte remembering different places he had be to all over the world. Maybe his mind was playing tricks on him but, he could’ve sworn agent villion was with him on more than 1 or 2 occasions.. “mannn.seeing those thongs had to go to my head or something” Deuce slept

    CHAPTER 9

    Special Agent Christina Villon pulled up in her driveway at 6:15pm “Dammit Deuce when she saw that all the lights were off. She then go yout of the car and checked the mail. She tried the door and saw that it was unlocked. As she entered the house, all was quiet. She turned on the light, tossed the mail on the in-table, then proceeded to remove her shirt and unbutton her pants. “what’s for dinner, Christina.”

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