posted by Rose .
Apologies for the re-post but it didn't seem like my last post would be answered.
I'm writing a short story for english based on the painting Nighthawks and I would really like some feedback. Any type of feedback would be highly appreciated. I'm kind of stuck. Thanks in advance!
They were just names. Just two insignificant names in the little black book, just like all the rest. Targets. Forty thousand each; a fair price for two high profile subjects, regardless of her personal feelings on the matter. The job was simple: collect payment, research, stalk, set the date, choose the weapon, aim, fire. No mistakes. Nothing she hasn’t done before after decades in the business, regardless of circumstances. She was beginning to lose track of her hit count. What was it, 100? 150? 200? More? It’s written down somewhere. There was a time, when youth favored her, that every detail of each job was ingrained in her memory, but lately they’ve been growing hazy and harder to recall. It didn’t worry her too much, one expects some form of deterioration with age. Better it be fogging of the long term memory than mobility or attention span, as Louis says, that bridge hadn’t been reached just yet. But this job, this job she would remember well.
Louis. The real reason she wanted this gig.
She gazed down from her vantage point, waiting for her targets to appear. Joyce and Martin Foster, their most common American aliases. Real names Agnessa Dyatlov and Sacha Markov, notorious Russian arms and narcotics traffickers. There they were on the street below. She glanced at her watch, 12:49 am. A bit earlier than expected. Markov held the bar door open for his partner and followed in after her. The two sat down next to each other at the counter as they did every other Saturday night to meet with their spy, heavily armed with their guns and throwing knives concealed expertly under their clothing. She studied their complexions; they appeared innocent enough, very convincing, authentic American couple behavior. According to the protocol, Louis was due to enter about 5 minutes after them and sit at the adjacent counter.
Louis. She often worried about him, although she knew it to be irrational. Fresh out of college at the crisp age of 22, he ranked at the top of his class at the Central Intelligence Training Academy, certainly capable of keeping himself safe on assignment. It’s just that, even now at 43, she could not bring herself to stop seeing him as the young, terrified 14 year old who needed saving. It was blatantly against her better judgment that she grew fond of him. In her line of work, emotional attachment was not merely an inconvenience, but a crippling weakness. To go even further, taking on a job even remotely connected to someone she cared for was an unnecessary risk. A selfish, uncalculated risk.
Down below, the barman served drinks to the couple at the counter as they engaged in heavily coded small talk. From what she could decipher, they were getting closer to discovering the mole, and it was only a matter of time, although her lip-reading skills were not what they used to be. She glanced at her watch, a few more minutes until Louis showed.
Louis. It was before she went freelance, before she ranked on the most-wanted list in 9 countries, before wrinkles plagued her skin, back when she was still a skating-on-thin-ice operative of the CIA. The director back then never thought much of the impulsive, back-talk attitude she had sprouted in her youth. Regardless of her skill as an agent, he took every opportunity to ground her with some mundane desk job or a low level mission. Seven months before she left the agency, one of her punishments sent her undercover as a teacher at a local high school in order to investigate mob activity among students. It was there that she met Louis.
A young, intelligent freshman with a critical mind and stellar ambition, Louis was born into a life of crime. His demeanor gave him away instantly: constant fear and severe anxiety, concealed bruises, sweat dripped from his forehead whenever he was with his older ‘friends’. So she reached out to him, made him feel safe, gained his trust, and eventually he opened up to her. His family was a branch of the Italian Mafia dealing in arms trafficking. His parents were murdered in front of him when he was 9 years old. He did not know who murdered them. The family business disgusted him and he wanted no part in it, but they threatened his life. He was terrified and desperate. His innocence had been stolen from him, his amazing potential stifled and beaten down. It was wrong. She felt compelled to protect him, to rescue him from that life. It was a feeling she had never felt before, the pang in her chest, the instinct to wrap her her arms around his scarred body and shield him from the world. The intensity caught her off guard. It frightened her a bit. She didn’t know what to make of it, but she knew what had to be done.
Crickets could be heard chirping from across the room, irritating her, taunting her. She felt sorely tempted to open fire at the northern wall, however she knew that if she did her hiding place would be compromised instantly and the mission would be scratched. Darn, darn those crickets. Chirping into her consciousness. A part of her wanted to do it anyway. A part of her would. But that would endanger Louis. She must keep Louis safe.
Louis. He was shocked when she revealed herself as CIA all those years ago, but all too pleased at the turn of events. Eager and brave, he risked his life to help the agency in the takedown of his family. It was a rush of adrenaline through his veins. He wanted to do more, to catch criminals and make the world a safer place to live. He wanted to do something important, something to benefit humanity to atone for his family’s treacheries. After the bust, Louis was placed in the witness protection program to finish his education, and eventually, she had assumed, to join the CIA. His newfound goal in life. After defecting and going her own way, eliminating targets and jazz clubs on Friday nights, she did not see him, nor possessed any knowledge of his life until almost ten years had passed.
She glanced at the watch on her wrist, 1:04 am. Louis was late. Louis was never late. Maybe something happened to him. No, maybe the plans had changed last minute. Or, maybe... she imagined many possibilities, most of which were irrational and melodramatic. The targets were becoming antsy, glancing at their wrists every 20 seconds, growing more impatient as time ticked away, as was she.
Louis. Ten years later and she hadn’t forgotten him, nor did she expect to ever see him again. It was in Madrid, she was on a job. Some low-profile politician who was causing problems for her employers, she didn’t ask for many details. The night before the kill, she met with her employers at a nightclub in the heart of the city to collect her payment, of which they only gave her 50%. She would receive the rest when the job was done. However, it was not only her employers who were at that meeting. It was Louis. His face had matured, his height increased, and he wore a disguise, but she would recognize him anywhere by the bird-shaped birthmark below his ear. It was quite a shock, to both of them, but they knew better than to let it show in mixed company.
that is as far as I've gotten
I have no idea where you're going with this. It seems pretty fragmented ... and I don't mean just with all the sentence fragments in there, some of which work and others don't.
That's what I'm concerned about- it's too confusing. It's meant to be going back and forth between the past and present; the present being the main character in her 60's in the window above the bar in the painting preparing to kill the couple, and the past being her reflecting on her relationship with this character Louis whom she feels a maternal pull towards or something like that. At this point I'm just trying to move it along, but as I come up with new ideas it just gets more complicated and I'm having trouble tying everything together.
Rather than having several flashbacks, you might reorganize it so that there are no more than two or three.