Chapter 1: And So It Begins
Bear in mind the following saying: "What's in a name." I read this then saw the chapter title and thought, How does it connect? Might be my flu'd mind, but it seemed a bit tacked on - lacking of deep meaning. If that's the case, ignore this sentence.
The constant beeping of the EKG was the only sound in Room 113 of the Ocean View Hospital. The room was cold and bare; faded grey walls enclosed it, dark streaks where it had been recently cleaned. The opening sentence is bang on. Straight to the most critical detail, no fat, instantly putting us in the scene. Well done. That first sentence can be hard. Worked well i feel. The second is good but i feel it could have been combined: "Cold and bare walls enclosed it, dark streaks where they had recently been cleaned." I omitted grey because it doesn't matter - hospitals often have different colour walls, but green is a common colour (it's synonymous with healing), but if you say "hospital wall" no one is going to think of a masonry mosaic - we'll all imagine bland, dull walls.
The black-and-white linoleum floor was in the same condition. A large hospital bed was positioned against the back wall, covered with a dull green blanket. Inside this bed lay Tommy, wearing a maroon hospital gown. Too passive for my liking. "A hospital bed was positioned against the back wall...." that don't work for me.
"A hospital bed sat against the back wall" - shorter, snappier, and more personification. Instead of saying this object had been put there, i'm saying this bed is there. "sat" is something usually used for people - he sat on the chair, so using personification (where you turn an object into an almost living thing) it makes the scene a bit more alive and less wooden. Tommy is also too much of an afterthought here too. I'd flip it round:
"Tommy lay in a large hospital bed which sat against the back wall, covered with a dull green blanket."
Note that if Tommy's covered up to his chin in a blanket, you won't see what he's wearing so the gown is irrelevant. we can't see Tommy's body so we can't see the gown, so we won't know what colour it is. If the blanket is only up to his chest, then we'd need to know it, but as he's covered, it's irrelevant, like saying what underwear Ken's wearing. This is a viewpoint issue - imagine, if you will, the entire scene as a film. Where's the camera, and what does that camera see? Only what that camera can see is what you can show us. If the camera is inside Ken's head, then only what Ken can see is what we can see. .
The blanket was pulled up to his chin, and if it wasn't for the large jagged scar on the right side of his face, he would have seemed to be sleeping like a baby. Again, why not turn this round?
"The blanket was pulled up to his chin, and Tommy seemed to be sleeping like a baby." I can't remember what the scar's about but if it's from his injury, maybe say: "The scar on the right side of his face the only remnant of the incident so long ago"
To Tommy's right, Ken sat on a dark blue Morris chair with ripped and stained fabric, but still a comfortable one.
He was looking to the floor and rubbed his temples with his index and middle fingers; he had another migraine. The beeping wasn't helping. He stood abruptly causing him to lose his balance, then forgot why he had stood. A quick glance around the room reminded him, and he shuffled over to a window to the left of the cot and opened it. Immediately, a cool breeze suffused the room. There was no screen; Ken peeked his head out the window and allowed himself a couple of deep breaths. Maybe I'll grab some aspirins on my way out, he thought. I really liked this. When i have headaches, I often stand up so fast the blood rushes from my head and I forget why I did so. It's also a good insight into Ken's character - he's a bit of a klutz, so to speak. There's a hint of worry and fear disguised in here, in very simple actions. Subtle.
The sun was just rising, and it was slowly casting a bright glow on the water of Vice Bay. Ainsz is right about this bit. We know it's Vice so instead just gently remind us of the game's vibe:
"The sun was just rising, and it slowly cast a golden red over the sparking cool water of the bay. A yacht bounced on the gentle currents, reminding Ken of how good life had been for a time. Each day the sunrise gave him hope, but then he turned back to see Tommy and the reality of the situation."
One of the Vice City's trademarks is the sunlight in the game. The golden flame that it seems to emit, the glow, that strong beach feeling - no need to name the bay, you could just say "water" - but a gentle reminder of that sunbeam would be a very powerful thing - as ainsz said, we all know VC, so a gentle nudge will be more effective than even a length description.
Seagulls glided and gawked in the sky above and their babel made Ken put his head back inside. He glanced over at Tommy. It's not looking good, Kenny, Doc Kavanagh had said earlier in the morning. The day was November 17, 1988. Seventeen months to the day Tommy was shot, and he still was still in a dark abyss, the depth of which only he could fathom.
"Come on, Tommy," Ken said. "I can't be you for much longer. This isn't what I do." His response was the perpetual beeping of the heart monitor, nothing more. I'd have this on a seperate line and say "Tommy's response was nothing more than the steady beeping of the heart monitor."
Ken was dressed in a black flannel suit with a turquoise undershirt. I think we should have seen this detail as soon as we saw Ken. I might have already pictured him in a pink suit, and remember, we see what we see - we've seen ken so we would have seen what he wore. As usual, he wore mahogany horn-rimmed glasses and his hair was a frizzy mess. He grabbed his glasses and softly wiped them against his breast pocket, then placed them back on. A light knock on the door was followed by Mario, Tommy's bodyguard, entering the room.
"Ken," he addressed. "the meet's in half an hour. I'll wait for you out front." Without waiting for a response, he gave a faint smile and closed the door behind him. Ken checked his watch. 7:30AM on the dot.
He went back to the window, closed it and rolled down the Venetian blinds that hovered above it, then said a silent farewell to Tommy and left the room. A little too "list" here - he did this and that then this and that. Break it up into sentences:
he went back to the window, closed it and rolled down the venetian blinds that hovered over it. He said a silent farewell to Tommy before leaving the room."
But why not have him whisper the farewell? that'd cut down on the list factor even more.
The hallways were relatively quiet, and he caught sight of Dr. Kavanagh near the reception. Ken approached the doctor, who was talking to a male nurse. Ken cleared his throat, and Doc Kavanagh said farewell to the nurse and turned his attention to Ken.
The doc was a tall man with protruded cheekbones, blond hair and dark, smart eyes.
"Leland," Ken said. "You got anything to battle an ungodly headache?", he asked, again massaging his temples.
The doctor grabbed a pen light from his breast pocket and shone it in Ken's eyes. "Have you been using again, Kenny?"
Ken was caught off guard. "No," he said unconvincingly. "of course not." Leland grunted in dissent.
"Wait here a moment. Actually, go to the waiting room," he said, pointing to the large area. He nodded, then disappeared through a white door and Ken went to the waiting room.
It was in somewhat better condition than Room 113; the walls were painted a light orange and adorned with charts and diagrams, and the floor was a clean beige and black linoleum. Four rows of affixed red chairs lined the room, and about a half dozen patients sat in one or another. Ken sat next to the only person in the front row, a man he guessed to be in his mid-forties, with light brown hair and a sunken face. His eyes were green, but glazed over and stubble made him look older. Despite his apparent unhealthy state, he wore a brown suede suit with a crisp white shirt and green tie that looked expensive. His attention was fixated on a magazine, but when Ken sat beside him he put it down and looked Ken over.
"Hello," he said, exhibiting an Irish nearly identical to the doctor's.
"You look troubled."
Ken twisted his body to face him.
"Troubled? I'm not troubled," he said.
"Your face betrays your words," the man responded, smiling. "My name is Liam."
Ken nodded. "You look just as troubled as I do, Liam," he said.
"I don't doubt that. Spent the last night getting bolloxed and woke with scutters and feeling like sh*te. Thought I might's well come here."
"My da' died last week. I've been feeling like bollocks since."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Ken said sincerely.
Liam grunted. "He was a good man. A cop, but a good man. He had a temper, though."
"He was a cop?"
"Yeah," Liam said, staring blankly ahead. "when he died he was Deputy Chief, he was. He made a name for himself. James Donnelly, Deputy Chief," he finished, spreading his hands as if imagining a picture.
Ken nodded again and left Liam to his thoughts.
Doctor Kavanagh exited from the white door and stood in front of the reception desk. Ken walked up to him. He was holding an orange pill bottle in his hand.
"This is Sumatriptan," he said. "It's not available over-the-counter yet, so you ain't getting much more."
Ken snatched the bottle from his hand. "Don't take more than eight in 24 hours, or you'll be getting worse than a migraine," Leland continued. "and only every two hours."
Ken nodded, then opened the bottle and popped three pills. "...and always take them with liquids."
"Well, I don't seem to have any liquids with me. Where can I get some?", Ken said sardonically.
The doctor rolled his eyes, then went back to the door and returned with a Styrofoam cup holding cold water. Ken took the cup and downed it.
"Get out of here, Kenny," Leland said. "and remember what I said."
Ken walked out of the hospital, almost running into a group of four paramedics rolling a stretcher up the stairs. The commotion continued behind him into the hospital, then he noticed Mario toying with the wrapper of a cigar nearby.
"Ready?", Ken asked.
"Was waiting for you. Let's go."
Mario ripped the transparent wrapper off the cigar, threw it on the ground and placed the Cuban between his fingers. He grabbed a set of keys from his pants pocket and walked to his car, a blue and white Glendale. It was brand new, the paint shimmering in the now risen sun.
Mario entered the front seat, Ken the passenger. It was stuffy in the car, and so Ken opened his window immediately. Mario turned the key in the ignition, backed the car out of the lot and entered the steady stream of traffic on Washington Street. On the radio was an interview with Jezz Torrent about Love Fist's concert at Hyman Memorial Stadium in the evening. Ken turned the dial to a channel playing Gloria and sat back in his seat. Mario lit his cigar and threw the match out Ken's window.
If you're going to mention a song, include the artist too. I think i know the song you're referring to but i'm reminded of something said to me - does the title of this song add anything to this work? Sure, I argued that it added to the atmosphere but that only applies to anyone who knows the song well. On the flip side, however, is it's sometimes really cheesy having the song included reflect the events of the chapter.
"Who else's coming to the meet?", Ken asked.
"Billy and Christian are meeting us there. Why?"
"Why?", Ken echoed. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe because this could just as well be an ambush. Tommy wouldn't have trusted these f*cks, would he?"
"It doesn't matter what Tommy would've done! Madon', Ken, you're the boss now. Face it; he might never come back."
Ken was silent. His migraine was already dissipating, and he sighed in relief. Mario glanced at him, still waiting for an answer, then focused back on the road.
"Where the hell are we going, anyway?", Ken inquired.
"Crapitto's. Little diner in Pann, I've been there lots a' times." Haha, Crapitto's!
"I thought this was gonna be a private meeting?"
"It will be. We're meeting upstairs."
Ken nodded, then put his head back and fell asleep.
Ken opened his eyes to see Mario staring at him. They were parked behind a small, beige-bricked building with a two white Washingtons parked on either side of them. Other cars were parked in a separate lot to the left. Through the four windows in the back of the building, Ken could see a few people eating in booths, but the rest of the restaurant was empty. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, then replaced them. Mario reached over Ken's lap to open the glovebox and his hand came out holding a Walther P88. He shut the glovebox and looked over at Ken.
"German import," he said. "Great quality."
He placed the gun in the front of his chinos and pulled his orange Hawaiian shirt over it. Mario was a tall, heavyset man who was balding, but still young looking with tan skin and dark brown eyes. He was clean shaven and had not a wrinkle on his face, which had to be pushing fifty.
"Close the window," he requested.
Ken complied and exited the car. He then noticed the stench coming from the dumpsters and blocked his nose.
"That's not a welcoming smell for a goddamn restaurant," he said.
Mario grunted and led Ken around to the front. The restaurant was the lone building on the short block of Eaton Avenue, and it took on the look of an American '50s diner, somewhat uncharacteristic of the city. The front of the restaurant had ceiling-height windows where, inside, burgundy booths lined them. A cursive sign reading Crapitto's lay above the door.
Inside, the place smelled of bacon and fresh coffee. A series of wooden tables were placed at divergent angels, and booths lined the front windows and the right of the diner. To the left was the service station, where lit-up menus lined the ceiling and an old man stood waiting for a customer. At the back of the bistro were three doors; two leading to restrooms and one that said Private on the front.
"We're going there," Mario said, pointing to the latter door.
As the pair walked across the restaurant, Ken noticed that two or three of the half dozen diners were casting gazes towards them every other second. Spies, he thought. Mario looked over at the elderly cashier and he responded with an almost indiscernible nod that meant access to the Private door. The door was made of a light polished wood, and Mario opened it for Ken and let him lead ahead.
"Ladies' first," he joked.
Ken smiled faintly and walked through the door. It lead to a small corridor with a matching wood staircase leading upstairs at the end. The two walked up, and at the top reached a pair of French doors. Ken knocked and after a brief murmur of voices inside, it opened. The room was adorned with expensive furniture, a bar off to the right and a couple of red-felted pool tables in the middle. Dark harwood floors and two chandeliers made the room even classier. A half dozen or so men stood at the pool tables, playing and drinking along with another three sitting at the bar. A small door leading to a fire escape lay next to the bar. At the left was yet another door, where two men stood on either side.
"Hello, Mr. Rosenberg," the taller one addressed. "he's waiting for you."
Ken nodded and looked back at Mario, who then turned around and went to sit at the bar. The guard opened the door for Ken, and he stepped into the dimly-lit room.
"Nice to finally meet you," said Salvatore Leone. I don't think R* ever reveal how these two meet, so this is kind of nice. Another thing came to mind, which i hope you bear in mind:
In San Andreas: The introduction, Ken tries to contact Tommy, but Tommy ignores him. Two things - 1) Tommy has to recover, otherwise this has canon problems. 2) What happens that makes Tommy shun Ken? After Ken's loyalty, him keeping his business afloat etc - I'm curious how you'll showcase this.