What if?: Lisa's Belated Contribution

Monday, April 17, 2006

Lisa's Belated Contribution

There was a news story last night about a 19 year-old man (boy) who had shot and killed two registered sex offenders, then when he was cornered by police, shot himself.  He was only in critical condition, so I look forward to hearing more of this.  As the reporter spoke, my mind churned: had either of those men abused him or someone he knew? Or was he just playing vigilante?  Ok, this probably gives away any direction I could take with the story, but here goes.

His heart beat like a thousand drums, echoing through his body and filling his ears.  His breath hung smokily in the air in front of him, threatening to settle on the pane of glass and give him away.  He was ready. It was time. But he couldn’t move just yet.  As the grey-haired, flannel shirted man sat heavily in his recliner, the boy stood up.  He crossed himself and squeezed his eyes tight briefly, one name going through his mind like a flood, now that he was moving.  

Around the side of the house, up four steps, through the back door. He was careful to open it slowly and keep the handle turned until he had placed it back in its closed position.  His hands were sure and firm, his mind was blank and he walked as with blinders on: steadily forward, eyes on the prize.  Through the kitchen, down a narrow hall and—

There he was. The man. The monster, in the flesh.  He looked up from his TV dinner without surprise and met the young man’s gaze.

“Three years?  Do you think that was enough for what you did to my sister?”  His shaking voice rose as he spoke, so that by the last word he was almost shrieking, his fury threatening to overtake him.

A mirthless smile crawled across the man’s face.  He slowly licked his lips.

“That little slut was worth every minute behind bars.  Have you ever tasted a 12 year-old? Mmmm---“

The bullet ripped through his pursed lips and spread apart the bones of his face. Jeff saw this in slow motion, feeling his own heart soar at the moment the beast before him was ended.  He hadn’t thought about how precise it could be, this removal of life; he had pictured more shots, more twitching, more flailing.  This was better. It was clean.  And it was magical…for the first time since that day, the day she finally couldn’t take it anymore and risked her life by telling her secret, the hole that was rent in their world began to close up a little.  

Jeff stuck the gun under the waistband of his jeans, his jacket hiding it completely, and slipped back out the way he came.  As he walked through the clammy night air, his breathing slowly returned to normal, and his thoughts cleared.  He had never been so proud of anything in his whole life. A lone tear crossed his cheek and he didn’t bother brushing it away—he just smiled broadly and sighed.  It was as he walked home from the former school principal’s house that an idea began to grow inside him.  The registry.  The one where he had found this vermin’s address.  Yes.  He remembered how long that list was, how many of those men where in the same category as this one—and that was just in his town.  He looked at his watch, and quickened his pace to a jog. If he worked fast, he could get through that list tonight, and be in Canada by noon.  They wouldn’t know who to suspect, with so many victims between all his prey.  He let out a short laugh and ran faster.

7 Comments:

Blogger D John Seiler said...

"His heart beat like a thousand drums, echoing through his body and filling his ears. His breath hung smokily in the air in front of him, threatening to settle on the pane of glass and give him away. He was ready. It was time. But he couldn’t move just yet. As the grey-haired, flannel shirted man sat heavily in his recliner, the boy stood up. He crossed himself and squeezed his eyes tight briefly, one name going through his mind like a flood, now that he was moving."

I am not crazy about the word 'smokily'. I hate using "LY" in adverbs. No matter how many times I do it, it never looks smooth..almost like it's been forced. Strunk/White's "Elements of Style" rips them apart, maybe that's where I got it from.

Lots of commas. I have always been afraid of using too many commas. I have a bad habit of writing with dramatic pauses, accompanied by ever-present commas, but it fits pretty well here. I guess I am not the only one who forces the reader to pause by doing this, if that's the objective? Thoughts Lisa?


"The bullet ripped through his pursed lips and spread apart the bones of his face. Jeff saw this in slow motion, feeling his own heart soar at the moment the beast before him was ended. He hadn’t thought about how precise it could be, this removal of life; he had pictured more shots, more twitching, more flailing. This was better. It was clean. And it was magical…for the first time since that day, the day she finally couldn’t take it anymore and risked her life by telling her secret, the hole that was rent in their world began to close up a little."

Awesome. Murder as vengeance is such a mindfuck. Your hero is ecstatic that he's closing up the hole by killing this bastard but his conscience rips in when he sees it in slow motion. Life become undeniably real at that final moment. Great visual.

I love that 'removal of life' line. Totally in his mindset at the time, you get a complete picture of both how helpless and how powerful this kid is. And he's realized it.


"If he worked fast, he could get through that list tonight, and be in Canada by noon. They wouldn’t know who to suspect, with so many victims between all his prey. He let out a short laugh and ran faster."

Got his first taste, obvious he's not going to stop. Like the ending.

Good stuff Lisa, I enjoyed it.

One thing I am curious about, why do you think the sex offender reacted the way he did? I was thoroughly expecting pure surprise and more of a "What the-?". I thought his reaction was strange, unless you wanted us to completely hate this guy. Might have been other ways to accomplish this.

The pacing wasn't bad. It moved well enough for a few paragraphs, and I genuinely felt for the kid based on your descriptions and his mannerisms. The range of emotions he went throught was fast and tight.

I love story starters and this is a killer.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for such thorough, honest feedback, D John. I've been criticized for my use of comas before, but you're right: I do use them for emphasis. It is something I need to work on, for sure. Considering it only took 15 minutes to write, I am pleased with the results. :)

2:41 PM  
Blogger Leesa said...

lisa, I was a little put back by the subject matter. Sex offenders are so icky. Putting my case of the willies aside, I liked the paragraph showing Jeff's response to him shooting the victim. "more twitching, more flailing"

Liked seeing in Jeff's mind for this one.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Maui said...

Wow.

Maui

9:32 AM  
Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

I like the irony of Jeff becoming a predator himself, though a useful one.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Giovanna said...

Lisa I agree with everything John said, I would also use ellipses sparingly. (pardon the "ly". LOL)

This paragraph is the strongest, and my favorite:

The bullet ripped through his pursed lips and spread apart the bones of his face. Jeff saw this in slow motion, feeling his own heart soar at the moment the beast before him was ended. He hadn’t thought about how precise it could be, this removal of life; he had pictured more shots, more twitching, more flailing. This was better. It was clean. And it was magical…for the first time since that day, the day she finally couldn’t take it anymore and risked her life by telling her secret, the hole that was rent in their world began to close up a little.

I might even say: "...It was clean. It was magical. For the first time since..."

I would definately look at this and expand and polish more. Take us deeper. Introduce how much he cares for his sister, the anguish he feels, setting up even more why he is there.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Pater said...

15 minutes, huh? Well, to borrow from my teachers, back when I was in school, I can't wait to see what you do when you actually apply yourself.

I really enjoyed your story. Dark, psychological pieces area always a draw for me. And the meat of your story, the first and last two paragraphs, describe very well the psychological transformation of your poor hero. Steeling himself in the first, witnessing his actions in the second of the paragraphs, and then finally processing the consequences. Your descriptions do a very good job of bringing the reader along on the ride, allowing us to feel the boy's experience.

The remaining paragraphs do a good job of moving through the story to the main paragraphs. I felt, however, that the molester's initial reaction seemed a bit incongruous for the situation. I buy into him goading this nervous whelp who has barged into his home, but the line "He looked up from his TV dinner without surprise and met the young man’s gaze." doesn't seem sufficient to explain said lack of surprise.

Perhaps the man expected an altercation like this at some point, and now it was finally happening, therefore no surprise. Perhaps it throws the boy off momentarily, having expected (like the reader) more of a reaction. Maybe another line can be inserted to explore this situation (an opportunity to develop the molester in a way to further develop the boy's emotions). But I think the pacing works well, so if you did decide to add something, it should be concise.

I don't think I have anything else to add to what everyone else has already said. Good work.

11:31 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home