#1
I woke up and glanced over at the spot she used to sleep, my five-month-old cocker spaniel drooling on her pillows. “Hey boy, you wanna go outside?” His tail wagged furiously.

I stood out in the cold for what seemed like forever while he relieved himself on every tree in the front yard; greeted my neighbor Dave as he walked down the driveway to pick up his newspaper.

Back inside, I grabbed an apple and headed out to work. “See ya in nine hours, buddy.”

I drove an hour and a half to work, making out every pebble on the interstate along the way. Taillights scattered together like red ants as far as I could see in the dim morning light.

I sat at my desk and spent six twenty-dollar hours counting how many times I clicked each computer key. The ‘a’ key came in first at two-thousand, six-hundred, forty-two strokes.

At lunch, I checked the normal websites: a liberal e-dishrag, a guitar forum (though the strings on my Strat are more of a dust-gray than nickel), and my Hartford Life 401K. I spilled my coffee all over the keyboard when I checked the latter. Down over thirty-one percent in the two quarters since they took my ex-wife’s half, and it’d been dwindling before that.

I walked into my manager’s office and told him I’d be taking my two-weeks of vacation time now, and walked out the door. It only took me forty minutes to race home, slip-sliding across the ice on the interstate. I bumped a neighbor’s mailbox, but I couldn’t discern any damage on my car so I peeled off. He wouldn’t notice anything different when he got home.

I rushed into the house, pulled out a couple shirts and a sweater, a pair of jeans, a beanie, and then reached under the bed and pulled out my shotgun and special-blend of bourbon whiskey, stashing it all in a gym bag. I left my wallet and cell phone on the counter, and my pup sitting on the windowsill, fogging up the windows as he stared longingly at me.

I threw the bag over my shoulder and walked over to Dave’s. “Please take care of my dog while I’m gone, I’ll be back in a couple days.”

I told the cabbie to take me across the state to the town my mother used to live, Ocklawaha, tossing him just enough cash to get me there.

He dropped me off at a diner and sped away. I spent an hour or two sipping coffee there, until the memory of the taxicab had faded from the minds of the patrons and the waitress, and paid my bill.

I walked down the one lane road and pulled the shotgun out of my bag. A ball of dust rolled down the street, as I spun a toothpick around my mouth and stopped in front of the town’s only bank. I brushed off the sleeves of my Lacoste sweater, and took several swigs of bourbon, toasting myself: a wild-west ghost in this ghost town.

I ran full-speed at the bank’s entry doors, and drove the shotgun butt through the glass pane, entering the building in an explosion of glass. “Everyone down!” Two shots in the air. I grinned. “Empty everything in the vaults and put it in the bag, damnit.”
“Now!”
One of the two tellers sauntered up to me with his hands full of cash. I whipped him in the face with the shotgun, and the money slowly fluttered through the air, the greenest autumn leaves I’d ever seen. “Get me the goddamned money faster!” He didn’t move, so I glared at the other. “You’d better work double-time, missy!”

I’d decided the bag was heavy enough and rushed outside, driving the butt of my shotgun through the exit pane. I turned to run down the street when I noticed the sheriff pointing his pistol at me. “Put it down, sonny.” I obliged.

The officer prodded me for information for what seemed like hours at the station. “Who are ya?” “Why’d you do it?” Ending my stoic silence, I shot him a slight smile and told him, “This station ain’t much bigger than my living room.”
“Fine; out here, I ain’t gotta know who you are to lock you up forever.”
He threw me back into his wagon and drove me out to the West Marion prison, on Route 42.

A guard shackled my wrists and feet and led me to the Warden. He had a great dane laying at his side. They both glanced at me.
“Life, eh?” His blonde handlebar mustache rustled as he talked. We had the same hair color.
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
“What's your date of birth, boy?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yeah.”
I lied, and picked out a date about a fortnight away. “Fair enough.”

I can’t stand the sound of shackles clashing and clanging; so I walked slowly down the hallway, scraping my feet so softly I could hear the only land I’d ever owned brushing off my soles.

The Guard threw me in my cell, locked the door and walked away without a word. I glanced around. No windows, just a pot, a razor, an unwashed spoon and a thin blanket and pillow lying messily on a cement slab. I lay down.

Somebody called out to me. “How’s ya first day goin’?” I sat up and a decrepit old black nightguard shot me a toothy grin. I lay back down, and pulled the blanket over my head, subjecting my dirty feet to the cold.

The days ran together: Wake up and rub my aching back. Tell myself positive things, like how my ex-wife was a slut and no one would even notice I was gone. Eat a slice of bread and drink a glass of dirty water. Relieve myself in the pot. Begin scratching my life story into the walls with the metal spoon.

A couple days before my supposed birthday, the toothy old guard knocked on the bars of my cell. “Hey boy.” I ignored it. “Hey.” “Hey.” Annoyed, I sat up.
“What do ya want?”
“Well, I noticed it was ya birthday soon and I was jus’ wondering what you’d like to drink.”
“What?”
“The Warden shares a drink with the prisoners on their birthdays, and I reckon it’s your turn next.”
“Bourbon whiskey.”
“Fair enough.”

My birthday came. I carefully shaved my facial hair into a perfectly sculpted handlebar mustache. The Warden chuckled as he walked through the door.
"So you're finally who I've always wanted you to be, huh? You really do look a lot like me."

He let himself in, carrying a jug of bourbon whiskey. The good stuff. He sat down, and we made idle chatter as he poured out the glass.
“The weather’s been terrible, eh?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Oh, right. It’s been giving ol’ Red fits out there. He won’t go outside.”
“My pup is the same way.”
I traded a shot of whiskey with the Warden, and we began talking about the faded loves in our lives, and how they’d landed us in here.
“I’m here late every night because I can’t stand my Margaret’s cooking.”
“Before I ended up in here, I’d been eating nothing but fast food and microwavable dinners.”
“No wonder you went insane.” We both laughed.

As his eyes glazed over, I pointed him towards the spoon scrapings on the wall; my life story, all contained in a few cinderblocks. He bent over and got to reading. He chuckled, and said, "So this is --"

A jug o' whiskey to the head, and he crashed to the floor. I placed him beneath my thin blanket in his boxer-briefs, pulled his ol' warden hat low on my head, and started my way out the door.

The old nightguard stopped me on the way out.
"Heading home for the night?"
"Yeah, Margaret said supper's getting cold waitin' for me."
"Is the prisoner alright?"
"Yeah, he's passed out on his cot. He drunk himself silly."
"Haha, well you enjoy yourself, Warden."
"See ya tomorrow."

I felt fresh air caress my skin for the first time in ages. I can't stand the sound of keys jumping and jangling; so I slowly sloshed my feet through the snow as I approached the Warden's rusted old truck.

I sat in the front seat and fired it up; it sounded like a tree falling in a forest, with everyone around to hear it. I noticed the Guard slowly heading towards the car, so I gripped my hand tight around the Warden’s Colt 45 and rolled the window down.
"Is everything alright?"
"You forgot your billfold again." I laughed to cover my sigh.
"Thank you, partner."
"See ya tomorrow, boss."

He stood there as I pulled away, it almost looked like he was dancing to the sput-sput-sputtering of the old Chevy's muffler.

I drowned the truck in some dirty river at the county line, and walked my way across. Bought myself some boots, a jacket and a cowboy hat at some discount store. Paid cash for a cab ride down the Interstate, patiently naming each tree that passed along the roadway. The cabbie dropped me off at my front gate.
"Thanks, partner."

I slowly walked up the driveway, admiring the sun sitting low above my cabin as if I'd pinned it there. A tear fell from my eye when I saw my pup, all grown up, sitting there, staring at me through my front window, shaking with the force of his wagging tail.

ots. please point out things you notice wrong, 'cause I kinda dig it and plan on keeping it, maybe expanding it. c4c.
Last edited by SilenceEvolves at Jan 20, 2009,
#2
thats a pretty good story. i almost stopped when i found out it wasnt lyrics but now im glad i kept reading
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#3
You're a machine, man. You keep churning out crackin' reads. I'm going to go over this again tomorrow. Although, I may not have anything to actually say.
#5
i thought you meant to say "his pillows" at the beginning then i realized what you meant

I was really satisfied with reading this. I loved it. I'll come back to try to be helpful.
Anatomy Anatomy
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Park that car
Drop that phone
Sleep on the floor
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#7
I loved this; it was great. The timing was almost perfect: two week vacation, picking a birthday about a fortnight away, etc. but "It wasn't long before I fell into a routine." threw me off, like you were suddenly talking about weeks, months, years, you know? Perhaps it's the "prison" idea in my head, but that's just the way it seemed as I read it - maybe a little clarification there would help, such as "I started to develop a routine" or "After a few days," or something. Minor, but it's there. Most everything else was spot-on consistent.

Perhaps with the identification process, instead of them asking his "birthday" (as such would show a personal interest in him or his life, rather than his being a criminal in a prison, and they're doing their jobs), I think "what's your date of birth?" would go along better with the booking process.

This actually reminds me of a dream I had a year or two ago in which I served a prison term for a number of years - but that was the quick, meaningless part of the dream, and all the cool, screwed up things happened before and after the fact. It stayed with me for a few days, as good dreams do, and some images flashed in my mind while reading this. Good stuff.
#8
Quote by SilenceEvolves
Prison on Route 42

I woke up and glanced over at the spot she used to sleep, my five-month-old cocker spaniel drooling on her pillows. “Hey boy, you wanna go outside?” His tail wagged furiously.
it sounds almost like you were talking about your old dog here as the female character. That's what made me sad reading. The last sentence seemed kind of chopped off. Just a bit.


I stood out in the cold for what seemed like forever while he relieved himself on every tree in the front yard; greeted my neighbor Dave as he walked down the driveway to pick up his newspaper.

Back inside, I grabbed an apple and headed out to work. “See ya in nine hours, buddy.”

I drove an hour and a half to work, making out every pebble on the interstate along the way. Taillights scattered together like red ants as far as I could see in the dim morning light.

I sat at my desk and spent six twenty-dollar hours counting how many times I clicked each computer key. The ‘a’ key came in first at two-thousand, six-hundred, forty-two strokes.
Ok no major problems here but the starting of all of these paragraphs the same way with "I _____" was slightly offputting.

At lunch, I checked the normal websites: a liberal e-dishrag, a guitar forum (though the strings on my Strat are more of a dust-gray than nickel), and my Hartford Life 401K. I spilled my coffee all over the keyboard when I checked the latter. Down over thirty-one percent in the two quarters since they took my ex-wife’s half, and it’d been dwindling before that.

I walked into my manager’s office and told him I’d be taking my two-weeks of unused I think unused is a kind of unnecessary word. Maybe something that suggests you had no plan for using it. Like it wasn't designated for anything. I don't know. this is looking into it too much. vacation time now, and walked out the door. It only took me forty minutes to race home, slip-sliding across the ice on the interstate. I bumped a neighbor’s mailbox, but I couldn’t discern any damage on my car so I peeled off. He wouldn’t notice anything different when he got home.

I rushed into the house, pulled out a couple shirts and a sweater, a pair of jeans, a beanie, and then reached under the bed and pulled out my shotgun and special-blend of bourbon whiskey, stashing it all in a gym bag. I left my wallet and cell phone on the counter, and my pup sitting on the windowsill, fogging up the windows as he stared longingly at me.

I threw the bag over my shoulder and walked over to Dave’s. “Please take care of my dog while I’m gone, I’ll be back in a couple days.”

I told the cabbie to take me across the state to the town my mother used to live, Ocklawaha, tossing him just enough cash to get me there.

He dropped me off at a diner and sped away. I spent an hour or two sipping coffee there, until the memory of the taxicab had faded from the minds of the patrons and the waitress, and paid my bill.

I walked down the one lane road and pulled the shotgun out of my bag. A ball of dust rolled down the street, as I spun a toothpick around my mouth and stopped in front of the town’s only bank. I brushed off the sleeves of my Lacoste sweater, and took several swigs of bourbon, toasting myself: a wild-west ghost in this ghost town.

I ran full-speed at the bank’s entry doors, and drove the shotgun butt through the glass pane, entering the building in an explosion of glass. “Everyone down!” Two shots in the air. I grinned. “Empty everything in the vaults and put it in the bag, damnit.”
“Now!”
One of the two tellers sauntered up to me with his hands full of cash. I whipped him in the face with the shotgun, and the money slowly fluttered through the air, the greenest autumn leaves I’d ever seen. “Get me the goddamned money faster!” He didn’t move, so I glared at the other. “You’d better work double-time, missy!”

I’d decided the bag was heavy enough and rushed outside, driving the butt of my shotgun through the exit pane. <-loved that I turned to run down the street when I noticed the sheriff pointing his pistol at me. “Put it down, sonny.” I obliged. Maybe a line break here before I obliged? just kind of runs together.

The officer prodded me for information for what seemed like hours at the station. “Who are ya?” “Why’d you do it?” Ending my stoic silence, I shot him a slight smile and told him, “This station ain’t much bigger than my living room.”
“Fine; out here, I ain’t gotta know who you are to lock you up forever.”
He threw me back into his wagon and drove me out to the West Marion prison, on Route 42.

A guard shackled my wrists and feet and led me to the Warden. He had a great dane laying at his side. They both glanced at me.
“Life, eh?” His blonde handlebar mustache rustled as he talked. We had the same hair color.
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
“When’s your birthday, boy?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yeah.”
I lied, and picked out a date about a fortnight away. “Fair enough.”

I can’t stand the sound of shackles clashing and clanging; so I walked slowly down the hallway, scraping my feet so softly I could hear the only land I’d ever owned brushing off my soles.
good, good. last line was a touch awkward in my opinion


The Guard threw me in my cell, locked the door and walked away without a word. I glanced around. No windows, just a pot, a razor, an unwashed spoon and a thin blanket and pillow lying messily on a cement slab. I lay down.

Somebody called out to me. “How’s ya first day goin’?” I sat up and a decrepit old black nightguard shot me a toothy grin. I lay back down, and pulled the blanket over my head, subjecting my dirty feet to the cold.

It wasn’t long before I fell into a routine. Wake up and rub my aching back. Tell myself positive things, like how my ex-wife was a slut and no one would even notice I was gone. Awesome Eat a slice of bread and drink a glass of dirty water. Relieve myself in the pot. Begin scratching my life story into the walls with the metal spoon.

A couple days before my supposed birthday, the toothy old guard knocked on the bars of my cell. “Hey boy.” I ignored it. “Hey.” “Hey.” Annoyed, I sat up.
“What do ya want?”
“Well, I noticed it was ya birthday soon and I was jus’ wondering what you’d like to drink.”
“What?”
“The Warden shares a drink with the prisoners on their birthdays, and I reckon it’s your turn next.”
“Bourbon whiskey.”
“Fair enough.”
very believable. nice work

My birthday came. I carefully shaved my facial hair into a perfectly sculpted handlebar mustache. The Warden chuckled as he walked through the door.
"So you're finally who I've always wanted you to be, huh? You really do look a lot like me."

He let himself in, carrying a jug of bourbon whiskey. The good stuff. He sat down, and we made idle chatter as he poured out the glass.
“The weather’s been terrible, eh?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Oh, right. It’s been giving ol’ Red fits out there. He won’t go outside.”
“My pup is the same way.”
I traded a shot of whiskey with the Warden, and we began talking about the faded loves in our lives, and how they’d landed us in here.
“I’m here late every night because I can’t stand my Margaret’s cooking.”
“Before I ended up in here, I’d been eating nothing but fast food and microwavable dinners.”
“No wonder you went insane.” We both laughed.

As his eyes glazed over, I pointed him towards the spoon scrapings on the wall; my life story, all contained in a few cinderblocks. He bent over and got to reading. He chuckled, and said, "So this is --"

A jug o' whiskey to the head, and he crashed to the floor. I placed him beneath my thin blanket in his boxer-briefs, pulled his ol' warden hat low on my head, and started my way out the door.

The old nightguard stopped me on the way out.
"Heading home for the night?"
"Yeah, Margaret said supper's getting cold waitin' for me."
"Is the prisoner alright?"
"Yeah, he's passed out on his cot. He drunk himself silly."
"Haha, well you enjoy yourself, Warden."
"See ya tomorrow."

I felt fresh air caress my skin for the first time in ages. I can't stand the sound of keys jumping and jangling; so I slowly sloshed my feet through the snow as I approached the Warden's rusted old truck.
I should probably delete this so this comment isnt huge but whatever. Great stuff in this section.

nevermind I had to delete some to post.

I slowly walked up the driveway, admiring the sun sitting low above my cabin as if I'd pinned it there. A tear fell from my eye when I saw my pup, all grown up, sitting there, staring at me through my front window, shaking with the force of his wagging tail.
nice ending


right so that was a whole lot of nothing but I'm an asshole so I'll leave it the way it is. I thought I was gonna be able to comment on more but id didnt find many flaws, although i didn't pay close attention to mechanics (yet???).
Really solid piece of writing here. Only overall thing I can advise is trying to mix up the sentence structure a little more to keep it interesting and maybe more descriptive. I'm hesitant to say this though because the way it is sounds like some guy telling a story with no worries. But it's a thought nonetheless.

sorry I wasn't more helpful but I really enjoyed this one.
Anatomy Anatomy
Whale Blue Review

Park that car
Drop that phone
Sleep on the floor
Dream about me
Last edited by jiminizzle at Jan 20, 2009,
#9
Quote by jiminizzle
it sounds almost like you were talking about your old dog here as the female character. That's what made me sad reading.


You know... you seriously just made tears come to my eyes, because my new puppy does drool on her pillows -- you fucker.

I hadn't thought about that in a while.

More on topic: Thanks a ton, everyone -- especially Spike and Jimi, those were absolutely great insights. I agree with all of your suggestions and will do some revision to this shortly. I love you both.

I got the original idea for this from a dream of mine, so it's funny you said that.

Everyone else, I really appreciate the love. Thanks a lot.
#11
Quote by jiminizzle
so sorry man


Don't be! I appreciate spending time with her, even if it's only a few depressing and fleeting moments in my memories.

#12
I'm not really sure how I could critique this. This is a fabulous piece of writing. The style is really right up my alley, your diction and structure make it flow perfectly for me. It reminds me of something that I would write. If you do expand it, be sure to let me know, i'd love to read it.
#13
I see no necessity in giving this a full crit because i can honestly say i read this from start to finish and did not at any stage find even the tiniest little thing to pick on. This was an exhilerating (i have no idea how to spell ) read.
#14
Alright, in general, reading it on a first glance I didn't go into any mistakes or things I found unfitting, other than the first line. "I woke up and glanced over at the spot she used to sleep...", sleep on? in? at? It just sounds like it's missing. However, none of my suggestions work, I am aware, so my thoughts are to just reorganise that whole sentence. "I woke up and glanced over to where she used to sleep", or something like that.

Other than that I focused on the technical side mostly, the first half of the story lacked a lot of adverbs and adjectives. It was more like, I walked, I sat, I read. Just embellish it a bit more so it would feel like it's a part of the story and not bullet points that you go through just to get to the main course. This leads me to my other point; most of the paragraphs start with "I...". I did something, I went, I saw, I thought. It gets a bit tedious after a while, just change it up. I get that it's a part of the character and the way you chose to tell this story, but I think that you overdid it just a bit.

That's all I have. The story was clever, had character and the frame story worked well. Like I said, I may see other things, content-wise, when I go through this again, but all in all I really liked it.

This is not a pipe
#16
This was lovely, Corey.

"A tear fell from my eye when I saw my pup, all grown up, sitting there, staring at me through my front window, shaking with the force of his wagging tail."
マリ「しあわっせはーあるいってこないだーからあるいってゆっくんだねーん 
いっちにっちいっぽみーかでさんぽ
 さーんぽすすんでにっほさっがるー 
じーんせいはっわんつー!ぱんち・・・


"Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear." - from Tao Te Ching

#19
Quote by lightafterdark
i didn't really like it.


I don't really like you.

Thanks a ton, everyone else (and guy who I replied to above to, I SUPPOSE). I really appreciate the kind words.

Carmel, I agree with you about changing up some sentence structure, and I will be doing so in the coming days. I don't think I'll be adding too many adjectives or modifying the first line, but I can definitely retain the tone while making the sentence structure less repetitive and detracting. Thank you so much.
#21
Line break before Officer's speech. Tail wagged furiously felt like a tack on. You can do more. Hated "with everyone around to hear it." It's another tack on; and really just doesn't need to be there. Felt like the "reading" part needed to be expanded... it such a pivotal moment and you cover it in a few sentences.

That's really about it. Great raed.
#22
I've read this through many times. It's so beautiful. One of your best. Without a doubt one of the most wonderful stories I've read on here. Everytime I enjoy it more.
#23
hey, I've read through this 4 times now, it's really, really great! I'm not the most well-read person here so I've probably failed to pick up on any small areas for improvement. I really like the whole theme of this piece though. It really is terrific reading! You have a really good way with words, nothing here seems forced or out of place. The way you've described everything is just so vivid and the bit's of dialogue are really snappy, again not forced. Have you ever considered writing a full on novel? It would be a sick read
Keep it up man, this is awesome!
#24
Lovely. I generally don't have enough patience to stick through anything long on here, but this was certainly captivating. I had to leave a few times in the middle to run errands and the first thing I did was come back to finish reading. I love that it was multidimensional; little things like having the puppy and neighbor, the ex-wife and the bit at the workplace... it made for a complete story, which is hard to find on here.
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#25
Corey,

I pondered Carmel's first gripe, because I generally disagree with her about our butchered American slang/colloquialisms/preferences/dialects, which I feel you use almost flawlessly, and I came to agree with her on this one. Even though I understand what you said (the first line), I believe it to be only because my mind fills in blanks that are unseen.

"I woke up and glanced over at the spot she used to sleep"
"I woke up and glanced over at the spot where she used to sleep"

It fixes it entirely, and doesn't lose the arrangement like Carmel's fix suggests, where I think the arrangement should stay, yet the line be 'corrected', so the above is my suggestion.

<3
マリ「しあわっせはーあるいってこないだーからあるいってゆっくんだねーん 
いっちにっちいっぽみーかでさんぽ
 さーんぽすすんでにっほさっがるー 
じーんせいはっわんつー!ぱんち・・・


"Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear." - from Tao Te Ching

#26
This was a really good read. I love the idea of breaking out of Prison and you made it entirely believable in a non over-the-top way. There are no faults I can pick out that haven't already been said by someone else.

Loved it

If you plan on expanding this, send me a copy, I'd love to read it.