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The Stick-Up

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  #1  
Old 09-16-2016, 11:35 PM
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Default The Stick-Up


“Just the gas for you, ma’am?” said Amanda, stationed behind the till on a cold, dark Tuesday evening.

The woman in front of her nodded.

Amanda rung up her bill on the register, and the woman tapped her card against the debit machine’s screen. A moment later, the receipt rolled out into Amanda’s waiting fingers.

“Have a nice day then!” she said, putting on a fake smile as she handed the woman the receipt.

The woman tipped her head and then walked out of the gas station.

Amanda folded her arms on the counter and sank her head into them. It had been an ordinary day at her boring job, and she still had hours to go. She began thinking about her new boyfriend, James, who had just moved in with her and annoyingly called her cupcake, when the bell chimed, signaling another customer.

Looking up, her heart immediately skipped a beat. A tall, burly man wearing a black ski mask had just entered the station, his hands buried deep inside his jacket pockets.

“Empty the till!” he ordered at once in what seemed to be disguised, husky voice, as he approached the till where Amanda had frozen stiff.

She just stared at him, wide eyed and barely breathing.

I said … empty the till, bitch!” the thug barked again. Then he pulled a handgun out of his pocket and aimed it right at her forehead.

Amanda bit her lip. She thought back to her training days. They were supposed to just cooperate with thieves, weren’t they? Especially if there were firearms involved. She couldn’t remember. Her mind seemed to have switched off completely.

“You wanna die, honey?” the thug asked, shoving the barrel within an inch of Amanda’s face.

In a flash, her hands were at the cash register. The drawer popped open, and she began dishing out handfuls of nickels.

“What’s the matter with you, bitch!” the thug hissed, banging the counter with his free hand. “Not those, goddammit – give me the bills! The bills, you dumb slut!”

Amanda shuddered, as her hands jumped over to the dollar bills. Perhaps out of habit or else nervousness, she began counting them out on the counter in front of the thug. “Twenty – forty – sixty –”

“Shut – the – fuck – up!” the thug cut in, his voice still rasping unnaturally. “I don’t need you to count it for me! What do I look like? Just put it in a bag. Got it? ”

Amanda nodded quickly.

With her hands shaking, she snagged a plastic bag from beside the till and began piling the money into it.

“Good,” grunted the thug, snatching the bag from out of her hands when she had finished. “Now get the rest of it.”

Amanda frowned. “What do you mean?”

The thug slammed a fist on the counter. “From the safe.”

“We … we … we don’t have a safe.”

“Are you lying to me, bitch?” the thug asked, narrowing his eyes through the holes in his ski mask. “Don’t play games with me – or I’ll mess you up real good.”

“I-I-I’m not lying.”

“Fuck, but that’s only a couple hundred bucks,” muttered the thug, holding the bag of cash up to his eyes. After a moment, he gazed around the store. “What else do you got – cigarettes … put all of them in a bag.”

“These bags are the only size we have,” Amanda said, “and they won’t all fit.”

The thug sighed. “Well, find something else then, cupcake.”

Amanda’s jaw dropped. “Cupcake – what the hell?” She narrowed her eyes. “J-J-James … i-i-is that you?” She leaned closer, over the counter to get a better look at him.

His eyes darted around in every which direction and he pushed his mouth to the side. He looked like a kid caught with a hand in the cookie jar.

A prolonged silence followed.

Amanda’s hands shot to her hips. “I know it’s you, James … and you are so in deep shit right now!” Her voice grew piercingly high. “Oh, and I’m a bitch … and a dumb slut, am I?” She shifted her weight from one leg to the other. “I can’t believe you just threatened me, you dick!”

James stammered, but no coherent words came out.

“Of all the people you could choose, you had to pick me … your own girlfriend, huh?” Amanda shrieked, grabbing the gun out of his hand as if taking something from a child. “I almost had a heart attack, you dumbass! What’s the matter with you?”

“I-I-I …”

“You stuck a gun in my face?” cried Amanda. “A gun!” Then she pointed it between his eyes.

“Amanda …” James pleaded.

“You are so sleeping on the couch tonight … you know that, you little prick.”

James posture changed drastically. He now looked like a dog with its tail tucked in between its legs.

“And give me that money back,” demanded Amanda, stretching out her free hand.

James meekly handed it over.

“Now, get out of here!” Amanda shouted, placing the gun on the counter and sliding it over to him. “And if my boss happens to look at the videotape, don’t expect me to lie for you.”

James dropped his head onto his chest, and just stood still for a moment.

“I said … go … shoo!” Amanda hissed, wiggling her fingers at the door.

James picked up the gun and shuffled to the door. He placed his hand on the handle and pushed it open.

“Wait!” Amanda called out suddenly.

James turned around with a look of shame on his face.

“Do you want to pick up some milk – we’re almost out.”

James nodded. “Yes, cupcake,” he said in a lifeless voice, then he slumped out of the store.



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Last edited by Konan; 09-21-2016 at 02:20 AM..
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  #2  
Old 09-18-2016, 12:24 PM
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Are we allowed hyperlinks out (i.e. away from writersbeat.com)? I'm not so sure.....
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Old 09-19-2016, 08:24 AM
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Default The stick-up

Thanks, I liked it. You might want to change the "when the bell" to "then the bell". Other than that it reads well. miki
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Old 09-20-2016, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post


If you enjoyed this story, you can read more here:

http://www.kjpatram.com



.
that's allowed if it is your personal page/site.
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Old 09-21-2016, 02:20 AM
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@Mohican,

I edited the link out.

@Miki,

Thanks for reading and commenting!
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Old 09-25-2016, 09:35 AM
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I loved the dialogue, very realistic to the situation. And the plot twist threw me for a loop. I loved it. I really like stories where something unexpected comes in to throw off the dynamic or conflict. Nowadays that makes for the most effective story. Great work.
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Old 09-29-2016, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Mohican View Post
that's allowed if it is your personal page/site.
Excellent!
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Old 09-30-2016, 08:58 AM
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Fun read! May I suggest leaving out the bit in the beginning that clues readers in to Amanda's nickname? I feel like that would add greater punch to the climax. (when she figures out James is the thug) Amanda is one forgiving girlfriend. I would have clocked that punk with the butt of the gun and left him there for the cops. Unless she told him to go stick up a store (and he chose the wrong one?) or maybe they are a Bonnie and Clyde duo and Amanda was just taking the night off Cheers!
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Old 11-26-2016, 04:49 AM
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Thanks for the read and comments, neuliest.
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Old 11-27-2016, 05:35 AM
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Hi Konan. Glad to see you're still writing. I'm taking a break from it for awhile.

I really enjoyed this. Easy to read with lots of tension. I have a couple of nitpickers.

She's counting dollar bills in tens, instead of ones. Also, he leaves instead of getting the milk. Suggest something like "Take off that damn mask and get some milk."

Excellent storytelling. Keep it up. wrc
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Old 11-27-2016, 10:37 AM
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You're focusing on Story, with a capital S—plot, in other words. And because you are, it reads like a report. But the reader isn't with you for facts. Facts inform but don't entertain. Readers want story, which lives in the hopes and dreams, the desires and needs, and in the forces driving your protagonist to act. And they that presented in a way what will draw them in, as if they were experiencing the same thing, in parallel, and moment by moment, not in summation. Tell the story to the reader and it's every bit as exciting as a history book. Make them live it, on the other hand...

Obviously, the writing tricks we learned in school can't handle that task because they're author-centric and fact-based—great for reports and histories but lousy for fiction. So you need to dig into the tricks of the trade that have been developed over centuries of writing. Without them it's like trying to reinvent the wheel, unnecessary and time consuming.
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Old 11-27-2016, 05:43 PM
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hi moonpunter.

I think you're expecting too much from a simple little story. When I read a story I supply the nuances with my imagination and resent being spoon feed how to feel.

Take a look at Hemingway's The Killers to see what I mean. It's lean and mean and not gussied up with tricks on how to feel. Old Hem leaves it to the readers to feel whatever they feel.

Just my humble opinion... wrc
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Old 11-27-2016, 07:17 PM
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Actually the advice given by moonpunter is the typical crap you learn in a creative writing class. Overbrooked with maudlin self-love and handholding emotionality and its pathological worship of audience as if it were some gestalt deity that would strike you dead if you displeased it. Iago described such experience as such: . Mere prattle without practice Is all his soldiership.

This was a well written story and quite humorous.

So examine the theme at the story's heart. The combat for supremacy in the relationship. Well we know exactly how this goes dont' we? James is trying to regain some kind of control over his life. Look he has no job, hence his need to rob the convenience store, and his girlfriend hosts him,

'She began thinking about her new boyfriend, James, who had just moved in with her...'

Well we know exactly how this goes don't we? James feels emasculated. Look at his reaction upon being recognized:

'His eyes darted' 'James pleaded' 'James meekly' 'James dropped his head to his chest'

From the moment of James' entrance theres a sense of fantasy fulfillment. Look out how fast his language escalates:

Empty the till!

Empty the till bitch!

You wanna die honey?

The bills you dumb slut!

His language becomes fiercer and more laced with profanity but the moment something unexpected happens, there not being a safe, his false bravado cracks and his uncertainty shows:

'Fuck but that's only a couple hundred bucks.'

'After a moment, he gazed around the store.'

'He sighed.'

But the whole backstory is explained in this single line of dialogue: 'Fuck but that's only a couple hundred bucks.'

Here is his true motivation revealed. He had wanted to bring something that would impress Amanda and increase his station in the relationship. He wanted to be respected. Presented with the lack of funds he attempts to get the cigarettes so that he can hopefully continue in this but by then she discovers who he is by his slip of tongue.

From there he's emasculated fully. Amanda asserts the same control in the worksphere that she wields in the domestic sphere. What else is there to say? Its funny as hell when you read his constant admonitions and think of her doing the same, which she undoubtedly does every time he fucks up.

But this is a brief analysis you could go a helluva lot deeper than just this. Anyways konan well done. There were some grammatical errors but nothing too much to detract.

Last edited by bluewpc; 11-27-2016 at 07:23 PM..
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Old 11-27-2016, 08:07 PM
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Thanks, bluewpc, I appreciate your post very much. I never stopped and thought why I liked the story, but your analysis of it caused me to like it even more. wrc
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Old 11-28-2016, 06:50 AM
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Funny thread.

It's a fun read, but based on the overall presentation, it's more like a story with a sitcom plot and a mildly clever "twist" ending.

By presentation, I mean things like "till" which is anachronistic, and so is "thug" in this context, and the repetition of it is kind of annoying.

And cliche phrases detract, like "his jaw dropped" and "like a dog with its tail tucked in between its legs."

You can read a lot into this if you want to, but sorry, it comes across to me that the depth is somewhat accidental.

Last edited by Myers; 11-28-2016 at 06:54 AM..
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Old 11-28-2016, 10:11 AM
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Well myers I think youre looking at it the wrong way. Whether or not the depth was intentional or accidental is irrelevant because its demonstrably there. Now lets say for argument's sake it is accidental well by pointing out what's done right and explaining why its good should hopefully encourage a writer to examine what he did and then endeavor to refine it because if as you say its just accidental then most likely he'll not include it in the next story but if he does know then next time it probably will be intentional. It's like saying that a one hit wonder's wonder is bad because everything else is bad.

Now for the rest yes there's clichés and some technical issues but that's all already been pointed out and there's no sense in beating a dead horse. And that's the thing we all have strengths and weaknesses if you expect him to be perfect in everything well then he'd be a master and were all apprentices or journeymen to some extent or another. The whole point of these sites is that you're good at this he's good at that and him at something else and together we help each other improve not tear each other down and not to withhold from the devil his due.

Last edited by bluewpc; 11-28-2016 at 10:22 AM..
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Old 11-28-2016, 02:04 PM
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If you write something authentic, the themes etc. will emerge. And they may not be the same for everyone. This just doesn't ring true to me, so I'm not going to dig for meaning.

There's enough here to read between the lines, but to get there, I still have to get through the cliche and technical issues etc.

Maybe I'm jaded as far as writing forums are concerned, but that's usually not something I'm inclined to do. And were those things pointed out previously? I don't think so.

Otherwise, I'm not really feeling it. It's more zany than tragically funny, which I think it could be. I'm thinking more Fargo and less Everybody Loves Raymond.

To me the whole point of these sites is to not beat around the bush. I said it was a fun read, and I meant it. The author can take or leave what's said as he sees fit, that includes moonpunter's comments -- yes they're boilerplate, but they aren't altogether wrong either.

So maybe the thing for us to do is give the author the benefit of the doubt and critique the piece and not each others critiques. Because from what I've seen, that gets really old, and fast.

Last edited by Myers; 11-28-2016 at 04:38 PM..
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Old 11-28-2016, 07:07 PM
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Benefit of the doubt is always good and aye youre right it ages faster than cicadas
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Old 11-29-2016, 01:02 PM
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And by the way, Konan, sorry for talking around you and not to you.

That's not my usual approach.
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Old 11-29-2016, 09:08 PM
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Hi Myers. You said:

"So maybe the thing for us to do is give the author the benefit of the doubt and critique the piece and not each others critiques. Because from what I've seen, that gets really old, and fast."

Feedback for a writer takes many forms. Some of it helpful and some of it is bullshit. It's everyone's responsibility here to identify the bullshit by pointing it out. Lest the writer (especially a new writer) in question goes away with bullshit on his mind. Don't you see that? wrc
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Old 11-30-2016, 03:02 AM
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Originally Posted by wrc View Post
Hi Myers. You said:

"So maybe the thing for us to do is give the author the benefit of the doubt and critique the piece and not each others critiques. Because from what I've seen, that gets really old, and fast."

Feedback for a writer takes many forms. Some of it helpful and some of it is bullshit. It's everyone's responsibility here to identify the bullshit by pointing it out. Lest the writer (especially a new writer) in question goes away with bullshit on his mind. Don't you see that? wrc
This isn't my first rodeo as far as writing forums go, and I disagree.

From what I've seen over the years, only a tiny fraction of people who post on writing forums wind up writing anything that will ever see the light of day outside a forum.

And the writers who have what it takes -- the talent, skill, perseverance etc., are also the kind of people who tend to recognize bullshit when they see it.

I have also seen that when people start to critique each others critiques, it becomes more about them and who is right or wrong and less about trying to help the author.

And of course, there's the distinct possibility that the critique of the critique is also bullshit, so things can get rather circular.

And I think any writer who can successfully string a few sentences together and can tell any kind of decent story didn't acquire that skill in vacuum.

He or she likely wound up on a writing forum because they love to read and appreciate a good story, so there's a very good chance they already have an idea of what advice makes sense and what doesn't. Even "new writers," if they have an iota of talent, are not idiots and don't need to be mollycoddled, especially by other amateur writers.

Do you really think that Konan's writing career could be derailed by boilerplate writing advice that may or may not apply to him? I seriously doubt it. And the same goes for anyone else who has any hope of writing something that might appeal to a wider audience, as long as he or she is willing to put in the work required to make a go of it.

I think a lot of people, including you, tend to overestimate the influence and value of these forums. If a writer just doesn't have what it takes, chances are slim to none that they're going to get much of anything from these critiques. At best, this is about a kind of peer coaching, where members can provide another set of eyeballs and offer an opinion about what's working and what isn't. That's about it.

It's not a school. You're not going to get blood from a stone if the talent or ability isn't there in the first place. And in my opinion, part of that talent is the capacity to recognize bullshit advice offered by other amateur writers.

So yeah, that's what I mean by giving the author the benefit of the doubt.
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Old 12-08-2016, 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Konan View Post
“Just the gas for you, ma’am?” said Amanda, stationed behind the till on a cold, dark Tuesday evening.

The woman in front of her nodded.

Amanda rung up her bill on the register, and the woman tapped her card against the debit machine’s screen. A moment later, the receipt rolled out into Amanda’s waiting fingers.

“Have a nice day then!” she said, putting on a fake smile as she handed the woman the receipt.

The woman tipped her head and then walked out of the gas station.

Amanda folded her arms on the counter and sank her head into them. It had been an ordinary day at her boring job, and she still had hours to go. She began thinking about her new boyfriend, James, who had just moved in with her and annoyingly called her cupcake, when the bell chimed, signaling another customer.

Looking up, her heart immediately skipped a beat. A tall, burly man wearing a black ski mask had just entered the station, his hands buried deep inside his jacket pockets.

“Empty the till!” he ordered at once in what seemed to be disguised, husky voice, as he approached the till where Amanda had frozen stiff.

She just stared at him, wide eyed and barely breathing.

I said … empty the till, bitch!” the thug barked again. Then he pulled a handgun out of his pocket and aimed it right at her forehead.

Amanda bit her lip. She thought back to her training days. They were supposed to just cooperate with thieves, weren’t they? Especially if there were firearms involved. She couldn’t remember. Her mind seemed to have switched off completely.

“You wanna die, honey?” the thug asked, shoving the barrel within an inch of Amanda’s face.

In a flash, her hands were at the cash register. The drawer popped open, and she began dishing out handfuls of nickels.

“What’s the matter with you, bitch!” the thug hissed, banging the counter with his free hand. “Not those, goddammit – give me the bills! The bills, you dumb slut!”

Amanda shuddered, as her hands jumped over to the dollar bills. Perhaps out of habit or else nervousness, she began counting them out on the counter in front of the thug. “Twenty – forty – sixty –”

“Shut – the – fuck – up!” the thug cut in, his voice still rasping unnaturally. “I don’t need you to count it for me! What do I look like? Just put it in a bag. Got it? ”

Amanda nodded quickly.

With her hands shaking, she snagged a plastic bag from beside the till and began piling the money into it.

“Good,” grunted the thug, snatching the bag from out of her hands when she had finished. “Now get the rest of it.”

Amanda frowned. “What do you mean?”

The thug slammed a fist on the counter. “From the safe.”

“We … we … we don’t have a safe.”

“Are you lying to me, bitch?” the thug asked, narrowing his eyes through the holes in his ski mask. “Don’t play games with me – or I’ll mess you up real good.”

“I-I-I’m not lying.”

“Fuck, but that’s only a couple hundred bucks,” muttered the thug, holding the bag of cash up to his eyes. After a moment, he gazed around the store. “What else do you got – cigarettes … put all of them in a bag.”

“These bags are the only size we have,” Amanda said, “and they won’t all fit.”

The thug sighed. “Well, find something else then, cupcake.”

Amanda’s jaw dropped. “Cupcake – what the hell?” She narrowed her eyes. “J-J-James … i-i-is that you?” She leaned closer, over the counter to get a better look at him.

His eyes darted around in every which direction and he pushed his mouth to the side. He looked like a kid caught with a hand in the cookie jar.

A prolonged silence followed.

Amanda’s hands shot to her hips. “I know it’s you, James … and you are so in deep shit right now!” Her voice grew piercingly high. “Oh, and I’m a bitch … and a dumb slut, am I?” She shifted her weight from one leg to the other. “I can’t believe you just threatened me, you dick!”

James stammered, but no coherent words came out.

“Of all the people you could choose, you had to pick me … your own girlfriend, huh?” Amanda shrieked, grabbing the gun out of his hand as if taking something from a child. “I almost had a heart attack, you dumbass! What’s the matter with you?”

“I-I-I …”

“You stuck a gun in my face?” cried Amanda. “A gun!” Then she pointed it between his eyes.

“Amanda …” James pleaded.

“You are so sleeping on the couch tonight … you know that, you little prick.”

James posture changed drastically. He now looked like a dog with its tail tucked in between its legs.

“And give me that money back,” demanded Amanda, stretching out her free hand.

James meekly handed it over.

“Now, get out of here!” Amanda shouted, placing the gun on the counter and sliding it over to him. “And if my boss happens to look at the videotape, don’t expect me to lie for you.”

James dropped his head onto his chest, and just stood still for a moment.

“I said … go … shoo!” Amanda hissed, wiggling her fingers at the door.

James picked up the gun and shuffled to the door. He placed his hand on the handle and pushed it open.

“Wait!” Amanda called out suddenly.

James turned around with a look of shame on his face.

“Do you want to pick up some milk – we’re almost out.”

James nodded. “Yes, cupcake,” he said in a lifeless voice, then he slumped out of the store.



.
This is a well written funny story. personally, i find that scenes like this make for good reads.

It seems that you go into details, then whisk everyone away under a torrent of events, very effective! slowing down to paint the scene, then explode into events and activities.

On the down side, well, there is no down side!

Now i wouldn't say it is perfect, but the word "excellent" comes to mind. nothing wrong with it, very original, and exciting.
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Old 12-08-2016, 12:26 PM
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Enjoyed that, but I thought where you were going with the scene was to make it a case of mistaken identity of her boyfriend that would lead to her apprehending the real criminal. Now that would be interesting. And it's hard to imagine anyone being so cruel to their girlfriend.
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