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Dino Parenti's picture


By Dino Parenti in Arrest Us

How It Rates

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Once you have read this story, please make sure you rate it by clicking the thumbs above. Then take a few minutes to give the author a helpful critique! We're all here for fun but let's try to help each other too.


Ever wonder what some people are thinking in line with you at the grocery store? Ever wonder what they do for a living, or if they're nice or not so nice? Here's a random sample for your approval.


Geert Mostrey's picture
Geert Mostrey from Belgium is reading Gone Girl June 16, 2014 - 10:58am

Hi Dino,

Interesting take and unexpected ending to your story. I find your use of language quite original and enjoyed reading it. The only thing I would suggest is to mix the stream of consciousness in which virtually the entire piece is written with other ways, like having him have a conversation or a descriptive moment, or some action.

The stream of consciousness is a great way to write for a bit, but it tends to confuse readers when it goes on for too long. As it is exactly what the name says, it bombards the reader with loads of information that isn't always easy to take in and probably isn't necessary for the storyline itself.

All in all I'm giving it a thumbs up because I really enjoyed your use of language and the originality of the story. It's got the potential to be a great story with a few more edits.


Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine June 16, 2014 - 11:39am

Great piece. It's nice to see a little bit of dark humor in this genre. I found your ability to create an entire story setting out of a simple checkout line impressive. I particularly enjoyed your writing style; everything flowed well together. I will say that I was a little confused about who was speaking at times. I had to go back and re-read to understand that the woman in the kimono had been speaking the entire time. Before realizing that I felt like I didn't have context to what was being said. Perhaps I just missed something when reading it the first time. I think that the story was well written and would recommend it to others.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones June 17, 2014 - 8:28am

Hey Dino,

This was a good one. The voice and authority is all there. The ending might be against the rules, but if I was judging, I wouldn't knock this one because it's not the focus of the story. As far as edits go, I couldn't really find any problems.

This story really is a breath of fresh air. Good luck with it.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 17, 2014 - 10:06am

@Geert: Thanks for the read and the notes. I've been toying with this story a while, and I agree with the suggestion to streamline and remove extraneous asides.

@Cmangano: The confusion isn't surprising. I'm still trying to figure out a better transition into the MC hearing the kimono woman for the first time. Thanks for the notes.

@Devon: Thanks for reading. Yeah, I'm iffy on the legality of the ending, but I figure since that stuff happens "oof screen," it may not count against me:)

I'm gonna start reading all the stories later this week, so I'll be getting to all of yours as well. Look forward to it.

SConley's picture
SConley from Texas is reading Coin Locker Babies June 18, 2014 - 6:29am

I've always wanted to write a story about a shoplifter but i couldn't figure out a way to pull it off. You did just that though. I got lost in the character, he's fully alive and believeable. Cynical and sarcastic without falling into stereotypes and cliches. The moment when he flashed the gun and his pilfered items fell out spoke volumes about him and your story. This story was a lot of fun, it reminded me of the guy from Cosmopolis, mostly because of the limo but also his worldview and insight into the people around him. I'd read this if it was a book. I don't have any real criticism to offer, i'm sorry. These are the worst kind of reviews because i can't think of anything i'd change. Good job, sir, i've always liked your work.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 18, 2014 - 6:55pm


Really love this story man. Caught a couple typos in the attachment. 

The Laws of Love are really cool. The waiting in line with stolen goods in his pants listening to some woman hate on his crush while the man she's wet about is in his trunk is supurb. 

I like how you tied the beta couple back in at the end as well. No complaints here, you've worked out everything quite nicely and posted up a real contender. 

Thanks for posting. 

Good Luck, 


Angel Colón's picture
Angel Colón from The Bronx now living in New Jersey is reading A Big Ol' Pile of Books June 19, 2014 - 6:06pm


I got a bias as a fan, but I enjoyed this. Folks above covered the minor quibbles, but I think it's solid. Best of luck on this one.


Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 19, 2014 - 9:15pm

Thanks, gents. Really appreciate the comments. And thanks for the LBL, Jon. Always welcome.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 20, 2014 - 5:20am


Your story is refreshing! A solid and entertaining story, the pace works with the steam of consciousness but its quite a marathon (not necessarily in a bad way), Geert mentioned breaking it up a bit, this is a fair point, it would take the reader in and out and perhaps make the exposition more digestible. Maybe just random dialogue with Billy at the counter while he’s waiting to be served? I’m just spitballing here.

Your quotes / rules for Love and the father’s anecdotes are great, very funny and intelligent. One thing, you do bombard the reader with them in the short space of time that he’s in the queue, which could be considered extraneous (I’m torn with this because I really loved reading them, I’ve seen similar rules used once before in a series called Max Faraday and a few movies, and you nailed it), just something to ponder (or not).

There is no denying this is a strong piece, however, with regard to the rules of the contest, I think that they may offer you some opposition, but it could very well go un-noticed, as I said, this is a refreshing read, which is saying something in a genre where almost anything can go.

As it stands, it’s a solid high quality dark comedy (I’m not certain if you’ve ever seen a British dark comedy called the League of Gentlemen but I think you would appreciate it, this tale really reminded me of their style) and a big thumbs up!

All the best and happy writing


Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 20, 2014 - 12:11pm

The multiple narrative threads are nicely woven together here, and the conclusion is excellent. I love the idea of masquerading the crime element as shoplifting right until the end. A great read.

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England June 20, 2014 - 5:39pm

Hey Dino, loved your story man. I'm gonna need to read it a couple times to make sure I've got everything, but I love it nonetheless. Your writing style is engaging without being overtly complex, which is right up my alley. I also like how crime permeates the story, but doesn't overtake the story--you allow other themes to develop, like Robin's cyncism and love.

If I could suggest anything to change (and that's a strong could, as it's just beautiful), I'd like to see the main scene of the story (in the bodega) a little clearer. While I enjoy the philosophical ramblings of a shoplifter, I'd still like to experience the scene a little more--maybe add some more action in it if possible.

But once again, great story.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 20, 2014 - 9:40pm

@madsmaddox: This is something that's been pointed out already, but I totally agree that something in the first third needs to be broken up some and/or a more over dialogue moment with Billy, or perhaps the MC actually in the act of shoplifting might help. Anyway, appreciate your comments very much. And no, I don't know League of Gentlemen, but I'll look it up for sure.

@Seb: Thanks for the reinforcement. I always worry if anything's being telegraphed, so I'm glad the shift in his motives worked out for you in the end.

@James: Again, thanks for the read. I agree that perhaps the reader may feel a bit detached at first in terms of setting, and that to show the MC maybe in the act of sholifting before he gets in line may help ground it better early on. Will give a whirl.

Brandon D Christopher's picture
Brandon D Chris... June 21, 2014 - 12:00pm

Damn! Your story is brilliant. Great pace, great internal dialogue, great storytelling. I didn't see the ending coming at all. I want to withdraw my own contribution now.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 21, 2014 - 12:11pm

Nonsense, Brandon (about withdrawing your piece). But thanks for the comments:)

_JohnUtah's picture
_JohnUtah from Texas is reading True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa June 21, 2014 - 6:02pm


I'm sure you have been hearing it a lot by now but very, very interesting story. The dialog is fantastic, and the details paint just enough of a picture without giving to much away. Fantastic, thanks for writing it. I truly enjoyed it.


Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. June 22, 2014 - 7:42pm


I can't really think of anything to say that hasn't been said already in the comments. I really enjoyed the story, it was very unique. The homeless kid seemed weirdly belligerent in my opinion and you used the wrong "to" once or twice but other than that it was fantastic. The only suggestion that comes to mind is maybe give a reason for the shoplifting? Like he does it for the thrill or to get off outside of Viola's control or something, maybe. That's the only thing I can think of to add. Great job. It was really fun to read.


David James Keaton's picture
David James Keaton from "the water" is reading Kill Kill Faster Faster by Joel Rose June 25, 2014 - 10:43pm

This was a funny, flip, fast-talking narrator, and I would have followed him anywhere. Excellent read. A unique first-person voice is tough to nail, and I think you nailed it right through the table and out the other side. Well done. And bonus points for spelling Evel Knievel right. I've been unable to do it all my life.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 26, 2014 - 9:31pm

Appreciate it, JohnUtah.

Aud, thanks for picking up the errors. The shoplifitng is his own cumpulsion, but maybe pointing that at out some isn't a bad idea. Thanks for the read.

David: Believe me, I looked up that spelling--I've always botched it:) Thanks for the thumbs up!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 1, 2014 - 7:47am

This really is very good, with some great little touches. Like everybody else I was surprised by the twists, though you do a very good job of hinting throughout. It’s not out of the blue, and I liked going back and seeing some of the clues, very subtle but definitely present. The talent and craft shine through on this.

There is also a good flow to this, which is surprising considering the dense nature of the narrative. Others have mentioned the stream of consciousness being one of the few issues here, and it’s hard to disagree. You do break it up a little with the conversation between Billy and the Kimono-woman, and this definitely helps. The trouble is that a lot of this story takes place in Robin’s head, and while it is always engaging, it does mean that some of the immediacy and dynamism leaks out. If Robin were less engaging as a protagonist, it would be a more obvious issue.

I did enjoy the rules of love. I’m seriously impressed with those little snippets, along with the dad’s wisdom that occasionally drips through. Usually I say to strip out anything that doesn’t aid the story, and I would usually pick these up as being extraneous other than adding a bit of garnish. As far as garnish goes though, there is the random sprig of parsley which everyone puts to the side, and then there are the vegetables cut into flower shapes which adds to the presentation. The rules and wisdom are certainly examples of the latter.

The one part of this that remains unclear to be is to do with the shoplifting. I see from one of your comments that this is his compulsion, but I’m not sure as to the reason. Earlier in the piece he mentions that Billy dropped his name once while Robin was buying Old Spice as a cover for the burn ointment. I didn’t get the idea of stealing something, but paying similar money for something unnecessary to cover. I’m guessing it’s nothing to do with money, it’s just a way to keep some power/secrets for himself? Given the amount of time we spend in his head, it’s a loose thread that niggles at me slightly.

Definite thumbs up from me. Best of luck with this!

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On July 1, 2014 - 10:05pm

Thanks for the good notes, Adam. The shoplifting "cover" is to conceal the fact that he's only paying for one thing while stealing a bunch of another. So it's on Old Spice versus 5 tubes of oitnment, say. I'll endeavor to make this clearer.

On the stream of consciousness angle, I'm not sure I understood you. Are you saying the story suffers because I interrupt his stream of consciousness with actual conversations, or I don't interrupt it enough? I'd like a nice balance in the end. Again, thanks for the read and critique.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 2, 2014 - 12:44am

Got ya on the shoplifting, that makes more sense.

I think the snippets of real conversation and interaction improve the story, and I'd like to have maybe seen more of it, perhaps with Robin getting sucked into the conversation. It works as it is, but that would be my personal preference. It would give it more immediacy.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On July 2, 2014 - 9:52am

No, I agree. The story can stand to get out of his head a bit. Thanks again for the input.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 10, 2014 - 8:18am


Loved this story. There's really not much I can add that hasn't already be said. At first I was kinda going along with it, enjoying the narration but feeling a little underwhelm with the plot and 'crime', but then the ending came. Great, great way of tying everything together. The rules of love were great, and his narration through the whole thing was awesome (I especially loved Viola's first text to him).

If I'm being nitpicky (which I am), I'll admit to not being 100% with you on the theather analogy he kept using. It felt like you as the writer were trying a little bit too hard to be witty, where everywhere else the humor and turn of phrases came out naturally.

I also agree with Adam in that breaking up the flow of the story would only improve it. You don't have to go all out, but more snippets of conversations, and more interaction early on would add to the overall feel.

Sorry I can't add much more. Great stuff, man.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On July 10, 2014 - 6:21pm

Thanks for the notes, Hector. I hope to have some time after this weekend to put them into effect, as well as read everyone else's work who commented here.

Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 10, 2014 - 6:23pm


This one's been stuck in my head for weeks, but after another run at it today I still can't find anything I would change.  MC's got a great mind to be stuck inside for awhile.  Rules of Love work really well, as do the romantic-comedy tropes referenced throughout (if you've not heard about a website called, give it a look as I think you'll like it).  Nothing feels extraneous in this piece, and if it feels so at the time it definitely doesn't by the end.  It all comes back around in a twisted way that works incredibly well.  And on top of all that, it's funny as hell.

I've tried finding notes to give you, Dino, but I'm at a loss.  This story is one of those that makes me wish I were a better writer.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On July 11, 2014 - 9:34am

Damon, you humble me. There are people here whom I read that make me feel the same. Everyone here brings everyone else up.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers July 17, 2014 - 8:05pm

Very cool story here. Strong voice, perhaps too strong, but I'll take it. Wasn't too sure where you were going with this one,  but once you got there, it was both unpredictable yet logical, which makes it even sweeter. Thumbs up, really enjoyed it.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On July 18, 2014 - 8:32am

Thanks, Bob. I worry with it that sometimes a reader won't feel inclined to hang in long enough to see the switch happen, so I'm glad there's enough there to hold interest.