Friday, November 18, 2005

To Smile and Smile

Back by popular demand - not really, but Bonnie nagged.
Meet the greater and lesser Villains.

She was about to swallow the last of her tea and go to her room when a couple bore down on her. Oh, oh, thought Damie, here comes the collegial interrogation. She'd forgotten about that. She'd also forgotten how much she hated it.

She had the urge to bolt, not expecting to face the Prime Suspect - as Miss Cheltingham would put it -- so soon. She set herself to run on automatic. Be polite. Observe the social norms.

Sutherland and al Zaim. The pair made an interesting contrast.

Sutherland was large and fleshy. Daoud was thin and small. Sutherland walked pigeon-toed. Al Zaim slid. Daoud's face was expressionless; Sutherland's jovial. Sutherland wore a color-coded tie, which he adjusted. Daoud wore none. Daoud carried a camera; Sutherland a load of conceit. Only their mustaches were similar. Sutherland appeared to love his upper lip. He was massaging the sand pale fur as he approached.

"Dr. Tempest? I'm Dr. Herbert Sutherland, and this is our Project Director, Daoud al Zaim."

He stuck out a plump damp hand. They shook. Al Zaim bowed. Al Zaim's eyes expressed a flicker of approval of her headscarf - tied in the continental fashion -- the long black skirt and long sleeved black top, and disapproval of its vee neckline. Again, he certainly contrasted with Sutherland.

"You've come a long way, Dr. Tempest." Sutherland pulled up two chairs and boxed her in, clearly intending on a little chat.

Damie agreed that she had.

"I must admit I was surprised to see your name on the list of invitees." Sutherland's smile was friendly but his pale eyes were calculating, even mean.

Well, I don't like you either, Damie thought, as good as telling me I shouldn't be here. After a pause she replied, "Oh?" and lifted an eyebrow. "Perhaps you should inquire of the organizers of the Conference why they invited me and make your objections known."

He flushed slightly. "I beg your pardon. I didn't mean to...ah...impugn your...ah...credentials and put my foot in it that way... Iwas naturally curious. I mean, forensics, in conjunction with medieval myth. It sounds absurd."


AE Rought said...

I love this line, "Al Zaim slid." So short, but such a great visual and wonderful insight into the character.

I also liked "...Sutherland a load of conceit." Beautiful!

Personally, I have a *weakness* for Middle Eastern men. :)

Ric said...

I mean, forensics, in conjunction with medieval myth

What a cool way to deliver this crucial (I assume) piece of information. Very nicely done.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ae. It's interesting and very helpful to see what strikes people.
This one is no Oded Fehr though.

Ric, thank you.
The best I've seen in conveying information via dialogue is Lee Child. Much of backstory is told this way in the Reacher novels.Of course, it helps if the character is being interrogated by the CIA or by the police.

Tsavo Leone said...

Sutherland and al Zaim. The pair made an interesting contrast.

Sutherland was large and fleshy. Daoud was thin and small. Sutherland walked pigeon-toed. Al Zaim slid.

Apologies if I've missed anything relating to these two charming individuals in prior entries, but my first though on reading the above was:
"Hold on, I thought there were just two of them, Sutherland and al Zaim, so who's this Daoud..."

Again, most sincere apologies if I've not yet read enough to know who the characters are (maybe I've walked in halfway thorugh the film here)... but might my momentary confusion be a common reaction to this passage?

Right, back to reading the rest!

Bernita said...

You didn't miss anything. I have not posted the sections which give al Zaim's bio. He is also mentioned a page before as well.
Nevertheless it is a valid point. Thank you. It's things like these...

Tsavo Leone said...

I feel bad about being pedantic (ha! spelt it write this time! oh... damn!) if something might be deemed trivial, but...

Glad to be of assistance.

Bernita said...

Ha! You just wanted to get that word in.
I don't consider it the least bit pedantic, and not trivial. I appreciate it.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Very cool, we're back to the story! What a great word picture...ric knows I love those. The first thing I thought of was that these two are Stan and Ollie (I don't know if Canadians know american 50's humor) and the elipsis...I love the elipsis! I use them a lot... :-)

Bernita said...

I suppose some agents/editors like dotdotdot and some don't.
Rules for the use of punctuation devices has become a lot less rigid and a lot less academic in style.
They do suggest natural conversation and, particularly, normal shifts in a train of thought.
I hated the way Barbara Cartland used them.
Thing is, they are easily removed, if some editor has a constitutional hate on for them.

Bernita said...

Bonnie, if they strike you as comic characters then I have to work on making them appear more menacing.

Anonymous said...

I like the mixture of quoted dialog and described dialog. Makes the interaction more interesting to read!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason.
It worked then.

Chip Morgan said...

Good Job :))