Friday, February 5, 2016

Another First Line

I have a running list of first lines that I come across (see here). Some are labeled as "good first lines" (see here) other's get the label "bad" (see here). This list came about because of the heavy emphasis that publishers and readers place on first lines. As an aside . . . I also was compiling a list of "last lines" (see here), but the value of that list petered out due to just how rotten so many last lines are, so I kinda stopped that list a while back.

Today's first line comes from a novel called The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons (see here).


Gibson Vaughn sat alone at the bustling counter of the Nighthawk Diner. The breakfast rush was in full swing as customers milled about, waiting for a seat. Gibson barely registered the crescendo of knives and forks on plates or the waitress who set his food down. His eyes were fixed on the television mounted behind the counter. The news was playing the video again. It was ubiquitous, part of the American zeitgeist— dissected and analyzed over the years, referenced in film, television shows, and songs. Like most Americans, Gibson had seen it countless times, and like most Americans he couldn’t look away no matter how often it aired. How could he? It was all he had left of Suzanne. 

The beginning of the video was grainy and washed out. The picture stuttered and frames dropped; distorted lines rolled up the screen like waves pounding an undiscovered shore. By-products of the store manager having recorded over the same videotape again and again and again. 

Shot down at an angle from behind the cash register, the footage showed the interior of the infamous service station in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. The power of the video was that it could have been anywhere. Your hometown. Your daughter. Viewed in its entirety, the silent security camera footage was a melancholic homage to America’s most prominent missing girl— Suzanne Lombard. The time stamp read 10: 47 p.m. 

FitzSimmons, Matthew - The Short Drop

Not the best first lines, but not bad either. The story actually becomes quite compelling quite quickly.