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Honeysuckle Blues

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Old 02-20-2007, 07:45 PM
rocklion (Offline)
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Default Honeysuckle Blues


Life is so short you never see it passing by until you get to the finish line. That's what my grandfather told me as he was lying flat on his back, one tube running out of his throat, another running from his stomach, keeping him alive just long enough to breathe those words.
My mother stood at the side of the bed, crying and weeping and saying things like 'you can't go now,' and 'I love you.' Me, looking at the old man, him choking on spit in his windpipe and me standing on my tiptoes trying to figure out what was going on and why my mother carried on like she did. A little snicker came from my mouth. I don't know why. It just did. My mother turned, staring me down, giving me the evil eye and there I stood, suddenly scared, trying to make sense of it all and my Aunt Melly turned and gave me a stare. I shut up, went to the back of the room and stared at the brown shag carpet.
My mother turned to me.
"Your grandfather is about to die, you know what that means?"
I shook my head no.
"He's going away, and he's not coming back," she said.
He did. He died right there in the middle of a room he paid for with money from a G.I. Bill he got from a three-year stint during World War II. I never knew my grandfather, not the way other people know their grandfathers. I was five years old.
Moving out in the hallway, I stared at a photo on a wall of him. He looked back at me, a smile on his lips, his aged wrinkles making him look noble and dignified — grandfatherly. My Aunt Melly sobbed from the room. My mother wailed.
I stepped back into the room, tiptoeing to his bedside. My mother lifted me up with her arms, telling me, “There’s your grandfather, Charles. Take a look at your grandfather.”
His eyes looked sad. The same kind of sadness I saw 35 years later in the eyes of a woman I would never know. She was a porcelain doll, shattered. He was a man at the end of life, she, a woman just starting it. But a look in their eyes forever linked them.
Later, people told me it was nice to at least get to know him before he died.
I always said he was dead before I was born.

A television blared out the news when I walked into the break room of the station house. A patrol cop named Jim sat at the end of a table, stuffing his mouth with a bagel and coffee. I'd seen him a few times around, usually during roll call.
He sat his coffee mug down.
"Hey, Chuck," he said. "How's it going?"
"Pretty good," I said. "Yourself?"
"Good. You know when they're going to have some openings in violent crimes?"
"No, clue, man. You wanting to put in for it?"
"Yeah," he said. "Wouldn't mind."
"I'll put in a good word."
"Thanks, I'd appreciate it."
"No problem," I said. "I'll talk to you later."
I turned to head out.
"Hey is Walker still in violent crimes?"
"Yeah," I answered back.
"It's about time for him to retire, I would think," he said.
"Yeah, I think so too. I need to go. I'll holler at you later."
"Okay. Thanks for putting in the word for me."
I walked out of the room, down the hall and out to my unmarked. I backed it out and headed for Highland Park.
Walker still had some life in him. I didn’t plan on putting in any word for the beat cop. Partly out of loyalty to John Walker, but mostly because I knew they didn’t make men like him anymore.

The friendship I had with John Walker started two years earlier when I first arrived to violent crimes. I had just made detective, moving my way up from working patrol and speed traps. Walker worked violent crimes. He was known for being honest. He was also known for being a drunk, and for a little brouhaha that happened 12 years before.
At the end of watch one night, Walker strolled into a downtown bar, ordered a Jack and Coke, finished it, and ordered another. The second one got him buzzed, the third he felt good, but by the sixth he was feeling it. Walking out of the club, two punks tried rolling him in an alleyway. He fished out his service pistol and jacked off four rounds. Two hit a 16-year-old kid in the chest. The others found there way into a 17-year-old kid's head.
Suspension came. A few days later, Walker sauntered in front of the civilian civil service committee in dress uniform, a chest full of medals dangling above the breast pocket. Charges were dropped. An independent investigator found both kids carrying 9-millimeter semi-automatics in their undies. They were high on methamphetamine and pilled up. Walker went back to working.
Ten years later, I wandered into violent crimes, a new detective and fresh meat.
He called me a pissant.
I called him a cock.
A friendship was struck.

It was five miles from the downtown station to Highland Park. Streets were numbers and letters here: 32nd Street, H Avenue, 30th. Walker had whispered to me during roll call to meet him here around five o'clock. He'd gotten a tip that a felon named Lawrence Barber was shacked up with a pretty, young thing.
I drove through Highland Park. Old bungalows lined the city streets with the paint chipping off the sides of the rotted wood that held the homes up like old men on crutches. Roof shingles peeled off rooftops. Young kids shot hoops, playing outside in the afternoon sun, and stopped long enough to eye me, and process that the po po was cruising through their part of town. Overgrown grass manhandled lawns that sat dormant and vines snaked across mailboxes and wooden porches. A few old people sat outside on chairs and buckets, sipping sweet tea and taking in a cool afternoon breeze. Their faces grew long and their mouths shut as they turned to stare, the looks questioning me for coming through this time of day.
I glided the Crown Vic into a spot on the side of the road in front of a worn out blue bungalow on J Street. Two boys shooting hoops stopped, turned, gave me a look and pegged me for a cop. They ran into a house next to the basketball goal, and a moment later eyeballs peeked out at me through drawn window shades. Reaching for a cup of coffee, I sipped it and looked back. The shades closed. The eyeballs disappeared.
A knock on the car window. I hit the electric motor and wound it down. Walker stared at me with his big dark eyes, a big toothy grin on his face.
"You didn't offer to let the kids play with the siren?" He asked, laughing
"No."
"Should have offered to let them play with the siren. They like that shit."
I laughed. "Where's the perp?"
"Down about a block and a half," Walker said. "The warrant’s signed. We just got to walk up to the house and snatch his ass. I'll take the front, you take the back."
I looked across the yard where the boys had been playing.
"There's an alley back there, isn't there?" I asked.
Walker knew the turf around here better than I did. He'd worked this section of town for years on patrol.
"Yeah, there's an alley back there. Neighborhood calls it Cat Alley. Ain't because there's a lot of pets, though."
He laughed at his own joke.
"Figures," I said.
"Yeah, you take the alleyway, go about seven houses down. You'll see an ugly ass pink bungalow, that's it."
"Barber holing up in a pink house?" I asked.
"Fuck, he's probably so high he don't know what he's in."
"Got a point. I'm off. See you on the other side."
"All right, my man."
Turning toward the blue bungalow, I saw the shades open again and eyeballs peek out. I stopped, looked back at Walker to tell him about the peepers. He was stopped, but seemed focused on something. He sniffed the air; the corners of his mouth lit up, a big smile spread across his big lips.
"You smell that?" he asked.
"What?"
"April, man. You smell April?"
"I don't smell a damn thing. Don’t know her."
He laughed. "I know you think I'm crazy as shit. I smell honeysuckle, man. Springtime. April. You want to be a good cop, you need to use all your senses."
"I'll try," I said.
"Honeysuckle," he said. "I'll be damn. Fucking honeysuckle."
He laughed some more. Then, like that, Walker strolled down the street. I caught myself standing there trying to sniff honeysuckle. Smells of garbage and asphalt filled the air.
It was the last time I got to talk to him before he died.

Honeysuckle. A vine that grows, blooms, dies, and gives life to everything falling in its part of the chain of life. It’s the sweetness cast out from its dangling buds that make everything crave it.
Sometimes staring into the mirror after shaving with the cream still sticking on my face I would ask myself why I became a cop. It's easy to say you want to help everybody. It's harder to say something different.
Maybe it was a fascination with my dead grandfather, who now lay in a metal coffin stashed in a grave outside of town on a hill overlooking Lookout Mountain. My Aunt Melly, before she died, told me he would have been proud to see me in my uniform. My mother told me that too.
My grandfather, I knew him. But I didn't.
He had been a working man, spending time on the family farm. World War II came and he enlisted, maybe for the adventure, maybe to get away from a drunk father and a crazy mother who got a niche every now and then to beat the living shit out of him when he didn’t get all his chores done. But he went in, did his time and got out. Afterwards, he found a job at a local pipe plant and worked their 30 years before retiring. In retirement, he did nothing but work on old, junk cars until he couldn’t work on them anymore and the emphysema kicked in from smoking three packs of Lucky Strikes a day for the majority of his 64 year life.
That was the grandfather I knew from stories told by my mother. She never told me much more.
My second day on the force, working patrol, I get a call that a drunk in an alleyway is causing a disturbance between Market Street and Broad. Climbing out of my patrol car, lights flashing; blue haze hanging from the alley walls and the patrol sergeant standing there, hands on hips, looking at this drunk college kid who had apparently downed too many beers in one of the night clubs. The kid mouths off about civil rights and how daddy is a lawyer. Sgt. Pat Cranicki is telling him to shut up. Lawyer or not daddy is going to be disappointed about his boy being locked up in the drunk tank. The kid rises, panics, freaks, I don't know, but heads straight for me, reaching for my holstered .40-caliber Glock. I sidestep, dig out my baton and crush it against the side of his head and the kid falls, crying and saying he is sorry, he wasn't thinking; I'm not listening, all I'm hearing is my dad made a million bucks last year off cops like you. He collapses in a pile and there I am going to town on the kid, wailing him with the baton, peeling the side of his head like an orange. There's Cranicki on top of me now, holding my arms back, telling me to stop, and I'm breathing hard. The kid lies there, and Cranicki looks at me. Damn, you almost killed him, he says, over and over, the words ringing in my ears.
The kid goes to the hospital and recovers. Gets probation. Daddy sues for excessive force, but it's dropped when Cranicki testifies the kid kept reaching for the gun and the kid tests positive for cocaine. Daddy decides there's too much at stake. He’s running an election for city judge and it’s over.
I go back to the beat.
Sometimes, I wondered if I was trying to beat the image of my grandfather out of my head. Every time I hit the kid, there he was, my grandfather looking at me, the wrinkles of his face gone — the image of someone 40 years younger.
At the end of it, a look of sadness on his face.

I walked into the alleyway and one of the kids playing hoops was sitting on steps at the back of the house, wearing a Miami Heat jersey too big for him and draped off his scrawny, bare shoulders. For a second, it looked like he would bolt back inside. He didn't. Instead, he smiled. I smiled back, figuring I could play off Mr. Nice Cop this once. As I passed by, I fished my hand in my pocket, taking out a small PD lapel pin and tossed it to the kid. He caught it mid-air and palmed it. Opening his hand a little, he peered at the pin.
He looked up.
"Thanks," he said. "You a policeman? Mommy says you're a policeman."
"Yeah, I am," he said. "She's right."
"Mommy says policemen are pigs and don't talk to them," he said.
"She's right about some of them, some of them are ok."
"You ok."
"Maybe, I don't know. I'll get back to you later."
"I think you're ok," the kid said.
"Yeah, I guess."
I started walking away and back up the alleyway. The kid called after me.
"Mr. Policeman?"
I turned around. The kid stood up on the steps.
"You going to that pink house down the street?" he asked.
"Yeah."
"Be careful. Momma said she heard some screaming from there last night."
"Thanks," I said
Green city garbage cans lined the alleyway. In back of one house, the can was flipped over, its contents poured onto the street. The place smelled like a dump. I walked up the alley, grabbed my radio off my hip and punched talk.
"Walker this is Collins, you on the radio?"
The walkie-talkie burst back. I turned the knob on the volume down.
"Yeah, what's up?" he asked.
"I just talked to a kid on the street. Said his momma heard screaming from the house last night."
"I'm almost there. How far are you?"
The pink house stood about a hundred yards away.
"Give me about five minutes," I radioed back.
"I'll radio you when I'm about to knock on the door."
It took less than five minutes. I strolled up to the back door of the bungalow, unlatching the leather holster strap for the Glock on my hip. I rubbed it like a good look charm. The house sat empty. Parts of the exterior house paint had chipped off, leaving gaps with gray primer showing through underneath. It was a two-story home with a window on the top floor overlooking the alleyway. Unopened blinds dangled from the window, preventing me from catching a peek inside. I palmed the Glock, unholstered it and let my arm dangle to the side. Standing flush on the side of the house, I waited for Walker's call.
A few seconds later, the radio chirped.
"Chuck, you ready?" Walker asked.
I hit the talk button.
"Yeah," I replied. "Just sitting back."
"I'm knocking," he said.
I heard the knock on the door. Nothing stirred inside and the house sat hollow. Another knock and still nothing. Then I heard a crash, the sound of ripping wood, and I knew Walker had busted through the front door. Footsteps rang hard inside and Walker screamed out, "Police, I've got a warrant for Lawrence Barber!"
I opened a screen door, turned the knob for the back door and it didn't open. Stepping back, I kicked hard with size 8 black loafers and the flimsy door crumpled. Walking in, gun arm extended, Walker stood on the other side, looking at me, him holding his .40-caliber pistol. Walker nodded toward stairs. I nodded back, scanning the kitchen. A coffee pot sat on the counter, unused, and dishes were piled in the sink. I heard Walker move up the rickety stairs, so I walked into the living room. A puke green couch sat against a wall underneath a bay window. Upstairs, Walker moved around.
I made my way up the stairs, steering toward the right. Down a hallway, I saw Walker looking through a bathroom. I wandered into a bedroom.
It was the bedroom overlooking the alleyway with the shut window blinds. I walked over, and using my nongun hand, opened them letting light shine into the room. Outside, the kids were playing ball again, dribbling echoing through the alleyway. I turned back toward the room. A bed sat opposite the window, blankets piled on top of a soiled mattress. A small dresser sat next to the bed with a small picture frame on top. Moving toward it, I lifted up the frame and looked at the picture inside.
A woman looked up at me, her dark brown eyes staring through dirty, finger-smudged glass. Long, flowing brown hair spread across her shoulders, casting a halo around her body. Her look was sad and distant. Behind her, dogwood trees breathed flowers that coated a pathway to a nice two-story cottage. It looked like something out of a Hallmark card. I sat the picture frame down on the table. Walker moved around in a room down the hall. I sat the picture down, hesitated for a second, then went back to the bed. Something in the eyes looked familiar.
Digging through the blankets, they all looked like cheapies. I threw them to the side and was about to move back into the hallway when something caught my eye. I stooped down, taking a better look at it. It was just one drop, black against the tan carpet underneath. Then I saw her. A hand reached toward me, a face stared.
I stood up, threw the blankets off the mattress and lifted. Underneath the mattress and box springs of the bed, a face of a woman in a picture stared up at me. It wasn't the same face. This face was pale, her hair mussed and her eyes open, the glow gone. I backed away.
"Walker!" I yelled. "Get in here!"
"What you got?"
"A dead body."
"Holy shit," he said from the other room.
The sound of rustling from the other room echoed off the walls of the home.
I stood there looking at the girl and she lay flat on her back, staring for all eternity at a dirty white ceiling filled with cobwebs. Curiosity got to me, and I inched closer. I saw a cut running from her midsection to her neck. Someone had stuck something sharp in that beautiful pale skin and ran it up her body. Blood, now dried and hardening, cast a black shadow across her body. Her hands were draped across her front, folded together as if in prayer.
Sadness was etched across her mouth, even in death. Then I knew. She wore the same look as my grandfather when he died.
Two people who never knew each other, but they were embraced by death.
A door opened. I looked over, expecting to find Walker heading into the room. The face of Lawrence Barber looked back. He looked at me, looked at the girl underneath the bed and back at me. His face said he knew, and that I knew.
He ran.
I yelled out, running after him hard and I heard the voice of Walker from the other room yelling for Barber to get down. Gunshots went off and I pulled my piece upward, rolled into the hallway and saw Walker tumbling down the stairwell, crying out in pain. Me, I ran down the stairs, following close behind, jumped over Walker and pulled my .40 upwards. Barber turned, a .38-caliber revolver in his hands, and pulled the trigger. I ducked as shots fired out. Jerking my piece upward, I clacked off a couple of rounds. The bullets found a wall in the home. Barber was gone.
Running back toward the stairs, I saw Walker face down, blood pooling. I turned and ran back toward where Barber went. The front door stood wide open and I ran out.
I raised my gun arm up. Barber ran full tilt, heading down the street toward the house where the two kids had been playing ball. I raised my arm, trained my piece on the back of his blue jean jacket and squeezed off two rounds from the .40-caliber. He dropped like a lead balloon.
The dribbling stopped down the street. I walked over to Barber and squeezed off two in the head, just to make sure.
For the first time, I smell the honeysuckle.
I turned and ran back into the bungalow, grabbing at my radio on the way, turning it to worldwide frequency, and yelling into it, "Officer down! Officer down on 1382 J Street, all units respond!"
I ran back into the house. Walker lied there, not moving. I turned him over, saw two gaping chest wounds and heard the air escaping. I ripped off a piece of my shirt tried plugging the holes.
EMS arrived three minutes later.
It took five minutes to pronounce him dead.

I'm standing at the edge of a grave, looking off into the distance and smelling sweet honeysuckle. The smell of sweetness still rolls off from the city streets from time to time. Now I notice it. They buried Walker three days afterwards, him in starched dress blues, his hands resting neatly on a cap resting gently across his chest. They said some words.
I never knew the name of the girl. I never knew her. She was a Jane Doe never found, a lost soul pasted on the back of a milk carton. Maybe one day I will see that face and it will tell me all I need to know. The truth for me right now is that she is a woman dead, who stared at me for a moment with dark, sad eyes.
In the distance, I see a mountain pointed toward the sky like a fiery finger telling God that his disciples will soon come joining him. At my feet lays the body of a man I never knew and never will know. The man said some words once.
Life is so short you never see it passing by until you get to the finish line, the grandfather said to his only grandson.

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Old 02-22-2007, 06:11 AM
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Default Critique - Honeysuckle Blues


Official Writer's Beat Critique by Starpanda


Hi rocklion (great username, by the way!)

Overall this is an excellent piece, it was a real pleasure to critique it – thank you for allowing us to read it. Technically, there are a couple of very, very minor blips, just the odd comma and full stop/period missing. If you would like me to go through them, I will, just PM me.

For anyone else reading this critique, this is a brilliant example of a ‘whole’ story, by that I mean every element has a purpose, for developing the characters, the setting, the theme and even better these elements link smoothly from one to the other. For example, the honeysuckle whose scent is beautiful and seductive yet seems to be the harbinger of death throughout the tale. The death of the girl mirrors the death of his grandfather. Which in turn links to Walker’s death. Another thing, because all the elements link, it doesn’t matter that there are several flashbacks to bring information to the fore, because they actually make sense being there. If that makes sense LOL.

Best of all, the story ‘comes full circle’, with the references at the end to his grandfather ‘saying’ and the scent of honeysuckle. This link is very poignant and it makes the entire story much more powerful and satisfying for the reader.

There are good scene changes and time shifts, although the end one had me slightly confused for a moment, but I’ll come to that later. The pace is good throughout. I particularly liked this bit. There is a hell of a lot of story in just 238 word, which quickens the pace and leaves the reader almost as breathless as Chuck. Nicely done.

The kid mouths off about civil rights and how daddy is a lawyer. Sgt. Pat Cranicki is telling him to shut up. Lawyer or not daddy is going to be disappointed about his boy being locked up in the drunk tank. The kid rises, panics, freaks, I don't know, but heads straight for me, reaching for my holstered .40-caliber Glock. I sidestep, dig out my baton and crush it against the side of his head and the kid falls, crying and saying he is sorry, he wasn't thinking; I'm not listening, all I'm hearing is my dad made a million bucks last year off cops like you. He collapses in a pile and there I am going to town on the kid, wailing him with the baton, peeling the side of his head like an orange. There's Cranicki on top of me now, holding my arms back, telling me to stop, and I'm breathing hard. The kid lies there, and Cranicki looks at me. Damn, you almost killed him, he says, over and over, the words ringing in my ears.
The kid goes to the hospital and recovers. Gets probation. Daddy sues for excessive force, but it's dropped when Cranicki testifies the kid kept reaching for the gun and the kid tests positive for cocaine. Daddy decides there's too much at stake. He’s running an election for city judge and it’s over.
I go back to the beat.
The characters are believable and I really liked the way you described the relationship between Chuck and Walker_
He called me a pissant.
I called him a cock.
A friendship was struck.
Short and simple…yet says it all. Sweet.

The piece has a constant tone and style all the way through, which gives it its ambience, very slick, no complaints here at all. It is written with conviction and a great sense of edgy realism. Totally believable, I wouldn’t question any of the facts here.

There are only a couple of issues I have with this. The first is I am not too sure why his grandfather should play on his mind so. I would imagine that the ‘truth to his words’ and Chuck, the child, first encounter with death would be playing a part here, but I don’t think it is strong enough.

And the last gripe I have, is the last few paragraphs, With the shift in the time frame, the change in scene and mentioning Walkers funeral. I’m not totally sure whose grave Chuck is standing at. I think it’s his grandfathers…is it?


Kudos to you rocklion!

Regards
Tina C alias…
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Old 02-22-2007, 08:37 AM
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Star:

Thank you very much for your kind words and feedback.

Cliff H. AKA rocklion
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:47 AM
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Damned good read.

Only one thing I picked up:

A hand reached toward me, a face stared.
Her hands were draped across her front, folded together as if in prayer.
Don't quite work together.

Thanks for posting this, I'll be reading it again soon
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Old 02-23-2007, 02:03 PM
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That was a really good read. There were a few small things that I noticed when I was reading, but I seem to have forgotten them. Just kinda picked up and I forgot all about them. Anyways, nice read; I really enjoyed it.
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:33 AM
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Thank you all for your comments.
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Old 03-28-2007, 11:58 PM
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I really enjoyed this. I got hooked by the title, and then the story wouldn't let me go. Chuck's a size 8? That's different. Often, cops are described as these enormous, lumbering men, and most folks don't realize that many cops are downright human sized once they shed their vests. Thanks for posting it.
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Old 03-29-2007, 02:09 AM
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There are two things you could do to your text to make it easier to read online and more likely to get a good edit - before you paste it in, globally replace your paragraph returns with double returns so the spacing works in the thread, and use a serif font - one with feet like palatino so that the text is easier on the eye. Kit

For example:

Life is so short you never see it passing by until you get to the finish line. That's what my grandfather told me as he was lying flat on his back, one tube running out of his throat, another running from his stomach, keeping him alive just long enough to breathe those words.

My mother stood at the side of the bed, crying and weeping and saying things like 'you can't go now,' and 'I love you.' Me, looking at the old man, him choking on spit in his windpipe and me standing on my tiptoes trying to figure out what was going on and why my mother carried on like she did. A little snicker came from my mouth. I don't know why. It just did. My mother turned, staring me down, giving me the evil eye and there I stood, suddenly scared, trying to make sense of it all and my Aunt Melly turned and gave me a stare. I shut up, went to the back of the room and stared at the brown shag carpet.

My mother turned to me.
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Old 03-29-2007, 07:09 AM
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I enjoyed it, and its technically good, but its not the kind of thing I normally read so therefore I'm not as enthusiastic about it as everyone else seems to be.

I would like to read something else of yours though.
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:15 PM
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I like this. You have a sound structure, but the plot doesn't seem too obvious. The language kind of surprised me. You might want to put a warning in. That's all I can think of, nice work!
My best regards, Kory.
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:52 PM
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One thing that I noticed, when he says "I'll be damn." Do you mean "I'll be damned", instead?

Also, should the first line be in quotation marks, since the grandfather says it before he dies?

Should "pissant" be hyphenated "piss-ant"?

I don't usually like these kind of stories, but yours held my attention. Good job!
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Old 03-30-2007, 06:45 AM
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The story is a good one, I like the link between the grandfather and the murdered woman having the same expression. I was a bit confused at first because the narration seemed to jump around, first on the grandfather’s death, then the conversation with the cop asking Chuck to put in a good word for him, then onto the scene with John Walker, the description of the story from 12 years ago, then how they’d met 2 years ago, then finally into the main part of the story.

I think if you reordered these scenes a bit then it would be clearer. For instance, you could begin with the paragraph: “It was five miles from the downtown station to Highland Park.” Then when you introduce Walker, you could have a memory of when they met, and reference to the story of Walker shooting the two kids. Then as he’s walking down the alley, or waiting in the backyard, something reminds him of his grandfather and you get that memory there. Maybe Walker does something that strikes Chuck as being very competent in the job, and the conversation with the cop earlier in the day comes back to him, and Chuck’s decision that it’s not time for him to retire yet (made more poignant by the proximity to his death). So in this way, these backstory passages are brought within the main story, rather than being clumped at the beginning.

As with any crit, you can take this or leave it, but I thought it might be helpful for you. A few other picky things:

“Walker stared at me with his big dark eyes, a big toothy grin on his face.” ‘big’ is a tired adjective, and you repeat it here. We’ve only just met the guy, let’s have a fuller description – e.g. “Walker stared at me with his deep, dark eyes, a toothy grin splitting his face. [something else unique about his appearance]”

“It was the last time I got to talk to him before he died.” – I like that you’ve got this here so we’re aware of the sense of foreboding, but technically it’s not true as they speak on the radio, plus a brief shouted conversation between the two rooms when Chuck finds the body. It might be better to say. “It was the last face-to-face talk we had before he died.”

Careful of slipping into third person narrative, have you written in third person and edited? It looks like you missed this:

"Thanks," he said. "You a policeman? Mommy says you're a policeman."
"Yeah, I am," he said. "She's right."
This should read "Yeah, I am," I said. "She's right."

Also, looks like you had present tense narrative and edited to past, as you’ve missed this:

‘For the first time, I smell the honeysuckle.’ Smelt or smelled.

Sometimes you seem to have the wrong conjugation of a word, e.g.
Walker lied there, not moving. [lay]
At my feet lays the body of a man [lies]

This one made me laugh, I’m not sure whether you did it on purpose:
‘like a good look charm’ good luck charm?

“I sat the picture frame down on the table. Walker moved around in a room down the hall. I sat the picture down, hesitated for a second…” He sets the picture down twice. Should rephrase this. Also, you’ve had Walker ‘moved around’ upstairs, maybe you could refer to the sounds he made rather than just saying he’s moving.

“A hand reached toward me, a face stared... Her hands were draped across her front, folded together as if in prayer.” She’s dead, from the description of dried blood it seems she’s been dead some time. So if the hand is reaching towards him when he first sees it, it can’t then be draped across her chest folded in prayer. Unless you were using a metaphor to say the hand reached, but this isn’t clear.

Eh, I've since read the other crits, so some of my points have already been made, but posted this anyway so you can see that more than one person picked up on something.
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