Prologue: What’s Best

Ellen Myers dabbed at her puffy red eyes with a fresh tissue. “But we’ve already been over this with Lt. Narita.” The box of tissues was the only item on the utilitarian metal table.

From his seat on the other side of the table, Daniel gave the distraught woman his most sympathetic smile. “I know this is hard, Mrs. Myers, but please bear with me. We–”

“Who did you say you’re with again?” Russ Myers demanded. Although the stout, forty-something man shed no tears over his son’s debacle, his stiff posture screamed tension. His hand hadn’t left his wife’s since Daniel had entered the small meeting room in the Portland Police Department.

“The Triptych Corporation, Mr. Myers.” Daniel waited for the parents’ next question. No matter the nationality or social status of the parents he spoke with, they always asked the same things. Although their predictability made recruiting easier, the routine was getting tiresome.

“But you,” Ellen sniffed, fidgeting with her tissue, “your company makes electronics, and jets, and–”

Daniel nodded. “Yes. We’re quite diverse.”

Russ scowled. “Why are you talking to us?”

“Because of Shane’s… situation,” Daniel replied. “Our social outreach program has had great success with troubled youth. Your son–”

“He’s not my son,” Russ grumbled.

Ellen yanked her hand from her husband’s. “Russ!” Then she turned to Daniel, chagrined. “It’s been a long day, Mr. Gibson. What Russ means is that Shane’s not our biological son. We adopted him when he was a baby.”

Daniel nodded as if interested. The adoption was in Shane’s file, which the recruiting department had assembled after learning about the death at Shane’s high school. “I see. Does Shane know he’s adopted?”

Ellen nodded, but Russ sniffed. “He knew before we’d even considered telling him.”

That piqued Daniel’s curiosity. He’d studied the photos of Shane and his parents in Shane’s file. Although the fifteen year-old’s build was lankier than his parents’, that was the most pronounced physical difference. The small family looked like any other white, middle class American family. “Oh? How did he figure it out? If you don’t mind me asking,” Daniel added.

Ellen pursed her lips and studied the table top. “We don’t know.”

“Shane was three,” Russ stated, frowning. “He…” Russ’s eyes fixed on a spot on the far wall. “He’s a weird kid.”

“Shane’s precocious,” Ellen interjected, “but he’s a good boy.” She exchanged a weary look with her husband and reached for his hand. Russ took it. Reassured, Ellen turned back to Daniel. “School’s never been easy for Shane. Socially, I mean. He’s been in fights before, but this–” Ellen’s voice hitched as she squeezed her eyes shut.

“Luis is–” Russ pursed his lips, then continued. “–was a bully. We’ve always told Shane to stand up for himself, even if it means detention. But Shane didn’t kill the kid. He couldn’t have!”

Daniel leaned toward the troubled parents, all earnestness. “I’m not accusing Shane, Mr. Myers. May I speak with him? Your choice, of course.” It wasn’t really, but the Myers didn’t need to know that. Besides, most of the parents of potential recruits agreed to the request.

Ellen plucked another tissue from the box on the table. “I suppose.” She looked a question at her husband.

Russ nodded. “After he’s spoken with our lawyer,” he told Daniel.

“Naturally.” Daniel got to his feet. His work was done for now. He produced two business cards from his suit pocket and offered them to the Myers. “My card. If you, Shane, or your attorney have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. We all want what’s best for Shane,” Daniel lied. He wanted what was best for Triptych.

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15 Responses to “Prologue: What’s Best”

  1. JCRM May 9, 2009 at 7:00 am #

    I think this is a prologue, and it might be better if you can make it appear before “Chapter-01” – perhaps calling it “A Prolog” would do that

    • nancy May 9, 2009 at 8:16 am #

      *facepalm* You’re absolutely right, JCRM. “Prologue” was the word I was looking for. Thanks for your suggestions!

  2. Jonathan S. May 13, 2009 at 8:54 am #

    Great intro! I don’t know if you’re welcoming critiques. If not, please feel free to delete…

    There are really only two things I would change (personal opinion here). First off, I’d ditch the last sentence. A little too much telling there. It threw me out of the story. Secondly, you may want to allude to how this particular bully-killing is any different than the old run of the mill bully-killing. That is if it is? Just saying, if this story is of the paranormal persuasion you might want to add a little sentence which hints at any present-day uniqueness Shane might possess. I know he knew he was adopted at the age of three, but we don’t know much about him after that, only that he’s precocious, and an accused murderer. Great set-up overall though…

    • nancy May 15, 2009 at 12:02 am #

      Critiques are welcome. :) Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad the prologue worked overall!

  3. G.S. Williams May 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    The problem with the last two sentences isn’t just that “he wanted what’s best for Triptych” gives things away. It’s that it’s also in the wrong tense. “he wanted what WAS best for Triptych” is the proper verb conjugation for the third-person past-tense narration this chapter uses.

    • nancy May 26, 2009 at 5:34 pm #

      Gah! Thanks for catching that tense problem. Fixing it now.

  4. Sofox August 17, 2009 at 7:46 pm #

    Since you like critizism.
    First up, nice job. I normally don’t read stuff on the internet (I like webcomics and reading books, but reading realms of text on the net isn’t my forte) but I still read through this and am interested in reading more. Nice job at fluidity and making your text easy to get into.

    My impressions is that you’re going for the trope of an organisation that recruits teenagers with special abilities. Either to genuinely help them develop, or in your case, use them for their own ends. I’m generally put off when it seems a cliché is something the narrative gives us straight away, but for me it’s a cliché that’s not without appeal (as long as its written well), so I’m going along with it for now.

    • nancy August 18, 2009 at 9:19 am #

      Hooray! Vanessa and I are glad you’re enjoying SLB. :)

      FWIW, Triptych mission isn’t to recruit teens with special abilities. They’re equal opportunity. People of all ages are equally preyed upon. Heh.

  5. Gabriel Gadfly October 23, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    I like this. Reminds me vaguely of the introduction to Ender’s Game.

    • nancy November 27, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

      Wow, Ender’s Game? Sweet! Thanks for commenting, Gabriel.

  6. allan (BFuniv) January 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Nice intro, I’ll dig in a bit deeper.

    • nancy January 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

      Wonderful! Thanks for your comment, Allan. :)

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