“Trouble in Store” – Short stories my way: Actions have consequences

It’s time for the policewoman to arrive.

There is such a thing as pure dumb luck.

If she did not walk through the door when she did then Jack would have walked away.

From the policewoman’s perspective:

 

She crossed the street from the corner instead of remaining on the same side of the street as she did every other night.  When she reached the other sidewalk, she was about 20 yards from the nearest window of the store.

As she crossed, she got a better view of the three people in the store and noticed the woman, or girl, was acting oddly as if she had something in her hand, and, from time to time looked down beside her.

A yard or two from the window she stopped, took a deep breath, and then moved slowly, getting a better view of the scene with each step.

Then she saw the gun in the girl’s hand, and the two men, the shopkeeper and a customer facing her, hands up.

It was a convenience store robbery in progress.

She reached for her radio, but it wasn’t there.  She was off duty.  Instead, she withdrew, and called the station on her mobile phone, and reported the robbery.  The officer at the end of the phone said a car would be there in five minutes.

In five minutes there could be dead bodies.

She had to do something, and reached into her bag and pulled out a gun.  Not her service weapon, but one she carried in case of personal danger.

 

Guns are dangerous weapons in the hands of professional and amateur alike.  You would expect a professional who has trained to use a gun to not have a problem but consider what might happen in exceptional circumstances.

People freeze under pressure.  Alternately, some shoot first and ask questions later.

We have an edgy and frightened girl with a loaded gun, one bullet or thirteen in a magazine, it doesn’t matter.  It only takes one bullet to kill someone.

Then there’s the trigger pressure, light or heavy, the recoil after the shot and whether it causes the bullet to go into or above the intended target, especially if the person has never used a gun.

The policewoman, with training, will need two hands to take the shot, but in getting into the shop she will need one to open the door, and then be briefly distracted before using that hand to steady the other.

It will take a lifetime, even if it is only a few seconds.

Actions have consequences:

 

The policewoman crouched below the window shelf line so the girl wouldn’t see her, and made it to the door before straightening.  She was in dark clothes so the chances were the girl would not see her against the dark street backdrop.

Her hand was on the door handle about to push it inwards when she could feel in being yanked hard from the other side, and the momentum and surprise of it caused her to lose balance and crash into the man who was trying to get out.

What the hell…

A second or two later both were on the floor in a tangled mess, her gun hand caught underneath her, and a glance in the direction of the girl with the gun told her the situation had gone from bad to worse.

The girl had swung the gun around and aimed it at her and squeezed the trigger twice.

The two bangs in the small room were almost deafening and definitely disorientating.

Behind her, the glass door disintegrated when the bullet hit it.

Neither she nor the man beside her had been hit.

Yet.

She felt a kick in the back and the tickling of glass then broke free as the man she’d run into rolled out of the way.

Quickly on her feet, she saw the girl had gone, and wasted precious seconds getting up off the floor, then out the door to find she had disappeared.

She could hear a siren in the distance.  They’d find her.

 

If the policewoman had not picked that precise moment to enter the shop, maybe the man would have got away.

Maybe.

If he’d been aware of the fact he was allowed to leave.

He was lucky not to be shot.

Yet there were two shots, and we know at least one of them broke the door’s glass panel.

 

Next – the epilog

© Charles Heath 2016-2020

“Trouble in Store” – Short stories my way: Point of view

If this story was being written the first person the only perspective or point of view would be that of the narrator.

Since we need to have a number of perspectives it is better done in the third person so we can change between characters and try to understand their motivation.

We might look at the first-person perspective for each of the characters later.

The second of the protagonists is the girl with the gun.  How did she get it?  How did the situation deteriorate so quickly?   What is she going to do?

This is a short story and we need to know something about her, so we have to get to the heat of the matter quickly, so let’s start with:

Her mother said she would never amount to anything, and here she was, with a broken drug addict coming apart because she had been cut off from her money, dragged into coming to this shop to leverage drugs from his dealer at the end of a gun.  It was her fault, Jerry said and made her feel responsible, much the same as her parents and everyone else in her life.

One of life’s losers or just a victim?  This theme can go in any direction.

Then a moment to reflect on why she was here:

Why had she agreed to go with Jerry?  At that moment when she picked up the gun off the floor, she realized it was not out of responsibility or fault, it was out of fear.

That gives us the why; he had obviously tried to make her feel responsible and when that failed, he threatened her.  But now there’s a bigger issue, the gun and a situation spiraling out of control.  The thing is, she has the gun and the power to walk away or make matters worse.

The problem was, she has outed the shopkeeper as a dealer in front of someone who had not known.  That now made him a victim as much as she was.

She looked at the two men facing her, a shopkeeper who was a dealer and a customer scared shitless.  As much as she was.  Her gun hand was shaking.

The scene is set, something has to give.

Time for the shopkeeper to weigh in.

“I have no idea what you are talking about.  Please, put the gun down before someone gets hurt.”

It’s a typical response from a man who realizes he’s in trouble and is trying to make time while he thinks of how to rescue himself from a potentially dangerous situation.

Time to change the perspective again and explore the shopkeeper.

If only Jack hadn’t come in when he did.  He would have the gun, called the police, and brazened his way out of trouble.  Who would the police believe a pair of addicts or a respectable shopkeeper?

Now he had to deal with the fallout, especially if the girl started talking.

 

Next, actions have consequences, building the tension.

 

This section rewritten, moving from Jack as the narrator to the girl, and then to the shopkeeper:

 

Annalisa looked at the two men facing her, a shopkeeper who, despite his protestations, was a dealer and a customer scared shitless.

The poor bastard was not the only one.  This was meant to be simple, arrive at the shop just before closing, force the shopkeeper to hand over the shit, and leave.  Simple.

Except …

The shopkeeper told them to get out.  Simmo started ranting waving the gun around, then collapsed.  A race for the gun which spilled out of his hand, she won.

He was getting the stuff when the customer burst into the shop.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, she thought.

Why had she agreed to go with Jerry?  It was her fault, Jerry had said, and he made her feel responsible for his problems, much the same as her parents and everyone else in her life.

Her mother said she would never amount to anything, and here she was, with a drug addict coming apart because she had been cut off from her money, dragged into coming to this shop to pick up his score from his dealer at the end of a gun.

She heard a strange sound come from beside her and looked down.  Simmo was getting worse, like he had a fever, and was moaning.

The shopkeeper saw an opportunity.  “Listen to me, young lady, I have no idea what you are talking about.  Please, put the gun down before someone gets hurt.  Your friend needs medical help and I can call an ambulance.”

The girl switched her attention back to him.  “Shut up, let me think.  Shit.”

The storekeeper glanced over at the customer.  He’s been in once or twice, probably lived in the neighborhood, but looked the sort who’d prefer to be anywhere but in his shop.  More so now.  If only he hadn’t burst in when he did.  He would have the gun, called the police, and brazened his way out of trouble.  Who would the police believe a pair of addicts or a respectable shopkeeper?

Now he had to deal with the fallout, especially if the girl started talking.

 

© Charles Heath 2016 – 2020

 

The cinema of my dreams – I always wanted to write a war story – Episode 14

For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.

Whilst I have always had a fascination in what happened during the second world war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.

And, so, it continues…

 

When I woke it was almost dark, and cold.

Was it night?  I was in a room, on the floor, and the only light came from a light bulb.

I tried to sit up, but any sort of movement made my headache.  Then my memory returned.  In the forest, a man, then a woman, then nothing.

Then I heard a noise from the other corner and looked over.  Jack.  He’d been lying on the floor, possibly waiting for me to wake up.  He came over and lay down next to me.

Had they tranquilized him too?  It would have been interesting to see what he had done in the forest when they tried to take me away.  I was surprised he had not run away, and waiting for me to return like he had the last time.

Were we back in the castle?  Around me smelt musty, so it was possible I was back in the castle in one of the more remote dungeons’.  But, there was no iron door, or wooden door to the room, just a passage outside, equally badly lit.

So, I was not exactly a prisoner.

A let another half hour or so pass before I tried to get up again.  This time, my head hurt less, but the effects of the tranquilizer still made me a little unsteady, and it was necessary to remain near the wall for support.

After I’d taken several tentative steps, Jack joined me.

At the doorway, I stopped and looked out.  A passage, with several other rooms off it, and leading to a larger one where there was a table, chairs, and several cupboards.  A storage area, or a barn?

I walked slowly, if a little unsteady, down the passage and into the room.  At one end of the table was the woman “I’d seen in the forest, the one that had shot me.  Behind her, with a mug of coffee, or something else in his hands, was the man.

The watched me as I crossed to a chair at the end of the table, and sat.  Jack sat next to me.

The woman spoke first.  “Giuseppe tells me your name is Sam Atherton?  Your rank?”

I was hoping for an apology.  “Captain.”

“The name of the officer who sent you?”

“The one working with the men in the castle, or the man who sent me?”

“The one who sent you.”

I took a moment to consider what might happen if I did.  I guess it wouldn’t make much of a difference if the Germans found out who he was if they didn’t know already.  There was not a lot they could do.  And he already knew and had doubtless dealt with the traitor.

“Colonel Forster.”

I could see, now, the man had his hand on a gun beside him, and was ready to use it.  My answer, obviously the correct one, had eased the possibility of getting shot.

“You passed step one, Mr Atherton.  But, if you are not who you say you are, you will be summarily shot.  I suggest you don’t make any sudden movements.”

“I’m fine with that, but I have a question for you.”

“How do you know we are not working with the Germans?”  She leaned back in her chair and I could see she, also, had a gun, under her hands.

Exactly.  But, in order to make contact with the right people, the Colonel had sent their leader a phrase, one to use to prove their identity.  Since my pursuers were following me to find the remaining resistance members, I had to assume these two were part of that group.

“A phrase was sent two days ago.”  I think it was two days ago.  “Maybe three.”

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, I believe is that phrase.”

It was.  Only the Colonel and I, as well as the resistance leader,  knew it.

“And you?”

“Around the rugged rocks, the ragged rascal ran.”  I don’t know who came up with them, but I hoped I hadn’t mixed up rugged and ragged.

She smiled.  Giuseppe looked a lot more at ease.

“Welcome to our nightmare.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

The cinema of my dreams – I always wanted to write a war story – Episode 12

For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.

Whilst I have always had a fascination in what happened during the second worlds war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.

And, so, it continues…

 

I had walked quite fast in my attempt to distance myself from our pursuers if they were, in fact, chasing me.  In doing so I had tried to make my escape as quiet as possible.

Now, between Jack and I, hiding in the undergrowth, the only noise I could hear was our laboured breathing, and mine in particular.  I hadn’t been expecting to be doing this sort of exercise when I signed on for the job.

Now, I think, exercise was going to become a priority.

If I made it back alive.

A crack and I saw Jack go very still, ears cocked, and looking in what was the direction of the sound.  He’d know, better than me, where the noise came from.

Another minute before I could hear muffled voices, then as if they had stepped into a room, I could hear them.

“So, you’re telling me you let him hit you?”

“I had to, for the sake of making it look good.  I was told he was no fool.” 

The voice of the man who had orchestrated my departure.  I shook my head, very disappointed in myself for not seeing through what could have been a very cunning plan.  It also explained why they hadn’t summarily shot me.  I could see Jackerby gloating over the cleverness of his plan.

So perhaps for a few moments there, I was a fool.  Not anymore.

“What do we do if we find him?”

“We’re not supposed to find him, remember.  You were at the same meeting, or was that your ghost I saw with me?”

“Observe and report back.”

“Exactly.”

The voices were very close, and I could hear their boots of the rocky path until they stopped.

“Which way?”

The voice sounded very close, in fact, I thought they were just on the other side of the undergrowth, but that couldn’t be right, I could see through it in places, and no one was standing on the other side.

Sound must travel very good in this part of the forest.

“Follow the main river.  He won’t be looking to deviate from his objective, which by now would be to find the other members of the resistance and organise his departure.”

“And leave alone what he saw?”

“There isn’t much he could do about it.  By the time he’s reported back to London, we will have found the underground members and eliminated any threat.”

“Aha, so he’s leading us to the resistance?”

“That’s the plan.”

“And it was your idea?”

“I do have my moments, thank you.  Now, let’s get on, or he’ll get too much of a start on us, and I don’t want to be the one to explain how we lost him to Jackerby in particular.”

A minute passed, then two before I heard the sound of boots receding.  Johansson, or maybe Jackerby, had correctly guessed I might know where the other resistance members were, and, after escaping, go straight to them.

Pity, I was going to disappoint them.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

The rainy day effect

I have to say that I prefer that time a month into Autumn (or as it is called in other parts of the world, Fall) when the temperatures become bearable, and often there is the soft patter of rain and it’s a calming effect.

It suits my mood and it helps me with my writing, those days when you don’t feel like going out, you just stare out the window contemplating nothing in particular.  These are days when it’s possible to write like you feel.

Melancholy, reflective.

Unlike a lot of people, I actually like the rain. The pattering of raindrops on the roof and on the leaves of the foliage outside the window, the droplets running down the glass of the windows.

It has a calming effect, a serenity about it, that with a fire burning in the background (and I mean a real fire with burning logs) and soft music, perhaps some gentle jazz, or a symphony (please, not the Pastoral Symphony, but maybe Vivaldi’s Four Seasons).

Moving closer to winter, it gets colder, but not that bone-chilling cold of minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit that Northern Hemisphere winters have) but the 16 degrees centigrade we have, along with the rain and the wind.

Different seasons have different winds.  Summer, they are strong and warm, Autumn, swirling and cool with that rustle through the leaves, Winter, hard and, well, not very cold as they are down south in places like Tasmania, and Spring, the gentle breeze with a hint of the coming summer.

On rare occasions, it can have the un-nerving effect, sort of like the wailing of a banshee.  Or a sort of humming sound as it blows through the electricity lines.

It reminds me of a set of allegories I read about a long time ago,

Winter – sad

Spring – hope

Summer – happy

Autumn – reflective

Perhaps it is a little early for me to be reflective because where I live, Autumn is just about over and Winter is coming.

But, of course, this year will be different.  Aside from the usual spate of colds and flu, we have a bigger problem, the possibility of an outbreak of COVID 19.

We may have won a short term victory but this is war, and as we all know, wars take years to win.

But in self-isolation, there is a silver lining.  I might get to write that trilogy I’ve always wanted to.

The cinema of my dreams – Was it just another surveillance job– Episode 8

I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.

The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.

But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.

An interrogation and a revelation.

 

Debriefings were like interrogations, only friendlier.  We were trained to withstand interrogation, so it would be interesting to see how I reacted.   I had no doubt what some of the questions would be.

While I had a few minutes to myself, sitting down behind a bare metal table on a hard plastic and uncomfortable chair, with a warm cup of station house coffee, to consider the briefing.

Target, male, 6 foot 3 inches, 200 pounds, Caucasian, thought to be from either Russia or Bulgaria, but nothing to define his as such.  I had wondered, at the time, what that meant.  When I saw him in the alley I knew, then, what was meant, he looked the same as you or me.

No explanation for why he was under surveillance, but we did get a warning that he might be dangerous if he suspected he was being observed.  Right about that, given team casualties.

Main objective, who he met, talked to, and where he went, every place, every detail to be noted.  The unpredictable explosion threw the whole operation into chaos.

The door opened and a woman, middle-aged, conservatively dressed, walked in, closing it behind her.  She sat in the other chair opposite me.  She brought a file, thin, and put it in front of her on the table.

“Your name is Sam Jackson?”

“Yes.”

No introductions, nothing, just a start on the questions.  No nonsense, but I could see she was very, very angry.  With me, or those who had run a failed operation?

“How long have you been with us?”

“Eight months.”

She opened the file and glanced at the piece of paper on top.  A minute passed before she closed the file again.  “Closer to nine,” she said.

I said nothing.  I wasn’t counting the days.

“How many operations have you been on?”

“Six, including this one.”

“Who assigned you to this specific operation?”

“Couldn’t say.  I got the usual request via text message to attend a briefing at the midtown office.”

“What was the designated operation name?”

“Chancellery.”

For a brief second, there was a quizzical expression on her face, then it was gone.

“Who was running this operation?”

“Director Severin.”

A full three minutes of silence passed.  I thought she was looking at me, the sort of stare that would break a lesser man, but in the end, I think she was looking right through me.  I could not read her thoughts, but if I was to guess, they would be rather dark right now.

Then she spoke.

“You should know that there was no Chancellery on the books, and we certainly do not have a Director named Severin.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

Trying to pick up the pieces

I can see how it is that a writer’s life is one that, at times, has to be shut off from the outside world.

It’s a bit hard to keep a stream of thoughts going when in one ear is some banal detective show, and in the other, a conversation that you have to keep up with.  I know how hard it is because I’ve tried doing three things at once, and failed miserably in all three.

So, out I slink to the writing room and start by re-reading the previous chapters, to get back into the plot.  I should remember where I am, and get straight to it, but the devil is in the detail.

Going back, quite often I revise, and a plotline is tweaked, and a whole new window is opened.  God, I wish I didn’t do that!

Then I get to the blank page, ready to go, and…

The phone rings.

Damn.  Damn.  Damn.

Phone answered, back to the blank page, no, it’s gone, got yo go back, blast, another revision, and back to the blank page.

Half an hour shot to pieces.

The phone rings again.

Blast scam callers.  I nearly rip the cord out of the wall.

All through this the cat just watches, and, is that a knowing smile?

It can’t be, I’ve just learned that cats can’t smile, or make any sort of face.

I’m sure his thoughts are not a vague or scrambled, or wrestling with the ploys of several stories on the go, getting locations right, getting characters to think and do their thing with a fair degree of continuity.

The cat’s world is one of which chair to lie on, where is that elusive mouse be it real or otherwise, and is this fool going to feed me, and please, please, don’t let it be the lasagna.  I am not that cat!

Unlike other professions, it’s a steady, sometimes frustrating, slog where you can’t just walk away, have a great time, and come back and pick up where you left off.  Stories have to be written from beginning to end, not a bit here and a bit there.

It’s a bit like running a marathon.  You are in a zone, the first few miles are the hardest, the middle is just getting the rhythm and breathing under control, and then you hope you get to the end because it can seem that you’ve been going forever and the end is never in sight.

But, when you reach the end, oh, isn’t the feeling one of pure joy and relief.

Sorry, not there yet.

And no comment is required from the cat gallery, thankyou!

 

“Trouble in Store” – Short stories my way: Actions have consequences

It’s time for the policewoman to arrive.

There is such a thing as pure dumb luck.

If she did not walk through the door when she did then Jack would have walked away.

From the policewoman’s perspective:

 

She crossed the street from the corner instead of remaining on the same side of the street as she did every other night.  When she reached the other sidewalk, she was about 20 yards from the nearest window of the store.

As she crossed, she got a better view of the three people in the store and noticed the woman, or girl, was acting oddly as if she had something in her hand, and, from time to time looked down beside her.

A yard or two from the window she stopped, took a deep breath, and then moved slowly, getting a better view of the scene with each step.

Then she saw the gun in the girl’s hand, and the two men, the shopkeeper and a customer facing her, hands up.

It was a convenience store robbery in progress.

She reached for her radio, but it wasn’t there.  She was off duty.  Instead, she withdrew, and called the station on her mobile phone, and reported the robbery.  The officer at the end of the phone said a car would be there in five minutes.

In five minutes there could be dead bodies.

She had to do something, and reached into her bag and pulled out a gun.  Not her service weapon, but one she carried in case of personal danger.

 

Guns are dangerous weapons in the hands of professional and amateur alike.  You would expect a professional who has trained to use a gun to not have a problem but consider what might happen in exceptional circumstances.

People freeze under pressure.  Alternately, some shoot first and ask questions later.

We have an edgy and frightened girl with a loaded gun, one bullet or thirteen in a magazine, it doesn’t matter.  It only takes one bullet to kill someone.

Then there’s the trigger pressure, light or heavy, the recoil after the shot and whether it causes the bullet to go into or above the intended target, especially if the person has never used a gun.

The policewoman, with training, will need two hands to take the shot, but in getting into the shop she will need one to open the door, and then be briefly distracted before using that hand to steady the other.

It will take a lifetime, even if it is only a few seconds.

Actions have consequences:

 

The policewoman crouched below the window shelf line so the girl wouldn’t see her, and made it to the door before straightening.  She was in dark clothes so the chances were the girl would not see her against the dark street backdrop.

Her hand was on the door handle about to push it inwards when she could feel in being yanked hard from the other side, and the momentum and surprise of it caused her to lose balance and crash into the man who was trying to get out.

What the hell…

A second or two later both were on the floor in a tangled mess, her gun hand caught underneath her, and a glance in the direction of the girl with the gun told her the situation had gone from bad to worse.

The girl had swung the gun around and aimed it at her and squeezed the trigger twice.

The two bangs in the small room were almost deafening and definitely disorientating.

Behind her, the glass door disintegrated when the bullet hit it.

Neither she nor the man beside her had been hit.

Yet.

She felt a kick in the back and the tickling of glass then broke free as the man she’d run into rolled out of the way.

Quickly on her feet, she saw the girl had gone, and wasted precious seconds getting up off the floor, then out the door to find she had disappeared.

She could hear a siren in the distance.  They’d find her.

 

If the policewoman had not picked that precise moment to enter the shop, maybe the man would have got away.

Maybe.

If he’d been aware of the fact he was allowed to leave.

He was lucky not to be shot.

Yet there were two shots, and we know at least one of them broke the door’s glass panel.

 

Next – the epilog

© Charles Heath 2016-2020

“Trouble in Store” – Short stories my way: Point of view

If this story was being written the first person the only perspective or point of view would be that of the narrator.

Since we need to have a number of perspectives it is better done in the third person so we can change between characters and try to understand their motivation.

We might look at the first-person perspective for each of the characters later.

The second of the protagonists is the girl with the gun.  How did she get it?  How did the situation deteriorate so quickly?   What is she going to do?

This is a short story and we need to know something about her, so we have to get to the heat of the matter quickly, so let’s start with:

Her mother said she would never amount to anything, and here she was, with a broken drug addict coming apart because she had been cut off from her money, dragged into coming to this shop to leverage drugs from his dealer at the end of a gun.  It was her fault, Jerry said and made her feel responsible, much the same as her parents and everyone else in her life.

One of life’s losers or just a victim?  This theme can go in any direction.

Then a moment to reflect on why she was here:

Why had she agreed to go with Jerry?  At that moment when she picked up the gun off the floor, she realized it was not out of responsibility or fault, it was out of fear.

That gives us the why; he had obviously tried to make her feel responsible and when that failed, he threatened her.  But now there’s a bigger issue, the gun and a situation spiraling out of control.  The thing is, she has the gun and the power to walk away or make matters worse.

The problem was, she has outed the shopkeeper as a dealer in front of someone who had not known.  That now made him a victim as much as she was.

She looked at the two men facing her, a shopkeeper who was a dealer and a customer scared shitless.  As much as she was.  Her gun hand was shaking.

The scene is set, something has to give.

Time for the shopkeeper to weigh in.

“I have no idea what you are talking about.  Please, put the gun down before someone gets hurt.”

It’s a typical response from a man who realizes he’s in trouble and is trying to make time while he thinks of how to rescue himself from a potentially dangerous situation.

Time to change the perspective again and explore the shopkeeper.

If only Jack hadn’t come in when he did.  He would have the gun, called the police, and brazened his way out of trouble.  Who would the police believe a pair of addicts or a respectable shopkeeper?

Now he had to deal with the fallout, especially if the girl started talking.

 

Next, actions have consequences, building the tension.

 

This section rewritten, moving from Jack as the narrator to the girl, and then to the shopkeeper:

 

Annalisa looked at the two men facing her, a shopkeeper who, despite his protestations, was a dealer and a customer scared shitless.

The poor bastard was not the only one.  This was meant to be simple, arrive at the shop just before closing, force the shopkeeper to hand over the shit, and leave.  Simple.

Except …

The shopkeeper told them to get out.  Simmo started ranting waving the gun around, then collapsed.  A race for the gun which spilled out of his hand, she won.

He was getting the stuff when the customer burst into the shop.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, she thought.

Why had she agreed to go with Jerry?  It was her fault, Jerry had said, and he made her feel responsible for his problems, much the same as her parents and everyone else in her life.

Her mother said she would never amount to anything, and here she was, with a drug addict coming apart because she had been cut off from her money, dragged into coming to this shop to pick up his score from his dealer at the end of a gun.

She heard a strange sound come from beside her and looked down.  Simmo was getting worse, like he had a fever, and was moaning.

The shopkeeper saw an opportunity.  “Listen to me, young lady, I have no idea what you are talking about.  Please, put the gun down before someone gets hurt.  Your friend needs medical help and I can call an ambulance.”

The girl switched her attention back to him.  “Shut up, let me think.  Shit.”

The storekeeper glanced over at the customer.  He’s been in once or twice, probably lived in the neighborhood, but looked the sort who’d prefer to be anywhere but in his shop.  More so now.  If only he hadn’t burst in when he did.  He would have the gun, called the police, and brazened his way out of trouble.  Who would the police believe a pair of addicts or a respectable shopkeeper?

Now he had to deal with the fallout, especially if the girl started talking.

 

© Charles Heath 2016 – 2020

 

I think the asylum is beckoning

I’m sitting at my desk surrounded by any number of scraps of paper with more storylines, written excepts, parts of stories, and a number of chapters of a work in progress.

Does this happen to anyone else?

The business of writing requires a talent to keep focused on the one project, and silence all the other screaming voices in your head, pouring out their side of the story.

But it’s not working.

I try to be determined in my efforts to edit my current completed novel, after letting it ‘rest’ in my head for a few months.

I planned to have so time off, but all of those prisoners in my head started clamoring for my attention.  A story I started some time ago needs revising, another story I wrote last year of NANOWRIMO has come back to haunt me, and characters, well, they’re out in the waiting room, pacing up and down, ready to tell me their life stories.

Is the temporary cure coffee or wine?

Now I think I really do need a holiday

Or a trip to the asylum.  Thank God this is not the early 20th century, or I might never return.  And if it’s named Bellview, it would be just another story to be written.

The Author that went Bonkers!

Does it ever end?