Short story writing – Adding a catalyst

 

Just when there’s enough complication in the story, we could leave it there with the current three protagonists and see what happens.

But I like mayhem.

So rather than another customer, it’s time to add a complication; an off duty policeman, or more to the point, policewoman.  A beat cop, if they still exist.

Her back story in a sentence or so:

“It had been another long day at the office for Officer Margaret O’Donnell, or, out in the streets, coping with people who either didn’t know or didn’t care about the law.

People who couldn’t cross the road where there were crossings and lights to protect them, silly girls shoplifting on a dare, and boys who thought they were men and could walk on water.

The one they scraped of the road would never get to grow up, and his mother, well, she was not doing another call on a family to give them bad news.

That was her day.  So far.”

What is she doing near the shop?  She lives around the corner.  Perhaps she knows the reputation of the shopkeeper or perhaps not.  It’s not relevant, then, as it is a place she avoids.

Now, she may not have the option.  She sees the shop is still open, past the usual closing time.

Let’s continue:

She came around the corner into the street where she lived and saw the lights were on in the corner store.

“She looked at her watch and saw it was ten minutes to midnight.  Long past closing time.  She looked through the window but from the other side of the road and could only see three heads and little else.

Damn, she thought, I’m going to have to check it out.  There were rumors, and she hoped they were not true.”

Meanwhile, back in the shop how are the others faring?

The shopkeeper is in an invidious position, he can’t supply the kids with the drugs and get them out, not in front of the customer.

The fact the girl has a gun makes the situation almost impossible.  What would happen if he suggests the customer leave?  Without him the situation would be simpler.

Alphonse had only a few moments to sum up the situation, and the sum of those deliberations was the remove the only problem, the customer.

He could still salvage this:

“The shopkeeper changed his expression to one more placatory, and said quietly to the girl, ‘Look, this is not this chap’s problem.’  He nodded in the direction of the customer.  ‘I’m sure he’d rather not be here, and you would glad of one less distraction.’

He could see she was wavering, she was not holding the gun so steadily, and the longer this dragged on, the more nervous and unpredictable she would become.

And in the longer game, the customer would sing his praises no matter what happened after he left.

The girl looked at Jack.  The shopkeeper was right.  If he wasn’t here this could be over.  But there was another problem.  It didn’t look like Simmo was in any shape to get away.  In fact this was looking more like a suicide mission.

She waved the gun in his direction.  ‘Get out now, before I change my mind.’

As the gun turned to the shopkeeper, Jack wasn’t going to wait to be asked twice and started sidling towards the door.”

What happens next?

 

And the story for this section, with a few minor changes:

 

It had been another long day at the office for Officer Margaret O’Donnell, or, out in the streets, coping with people who either didn’t know or didn’t care about the law.

People who couldn’t cross the road where there were crossings and lights to protect them, silly girls shoplifting on a dare, and boys who thought they were men and could walk on water.

The one they scraped of the road would never get to grow up, and his mother, well, she was not doing another call on a family to give them bad news.

That was her day.  So far.  For now she was glad to be getting home, putting her feet up, and forgetting about everything until the next morning when it would start all over again.

Coming around that last corner, the home stretch she called it, she was directly opposite the corner shop, usually closed at this hour of the night.  It was not.  The lights were still on.

She looked at her watch and saw it was ten minutes to midnight, and long past closing time.  She looked through the window but from the other side of the road and could only see three heads and little else.

Damn, she thought, I’m going to have to check it out.  There were rumors, and she hoped they were not true.

 

The shopkeeper changed his expression to one more placatory, and said quietly to the girl, ‘Look, this is not this chap’s problem.’  He nodded in the direction of the customer.  ‘I’m sure he’d rather not be here, and you would glad of one less distraction.’

He could see she was wavering, she was not holding the gun so steadily, and the longer this dragged on, the more nervous and unpredictable she would become.

And in the longer game, the customer would sing his praises no matter what happened after he left.

The girl looked at Jack.  The shopkeeper was right.  If he wasn’t here this could be over.  But there was another problem.  It didn’t look like Simmo was in any shape to get away.  In fact this was looking more like a suicide mission.

She waved the gun in his direction.  ‘Get out now, before I change my mind.’

As the gun turned to the shopkeeper, Jack wasn’t going to wait to be asked twice and started sidling towards the door.

 

Next:  Actions have consequences

 

© Charles Heath 2016

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