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CJ Edwards's picture


By CJ Edwards in Arrest Us

How It Rates

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Dale's girlfriend dumped him and kicked him out because he doesn't have a life plan that includes being able to take care of her. When an old buddy lets him crash with him and his sick mother, Dale stumbles upon the glimmer of an idea that could be a plan, if he can just figure the details.


Liam Sweeny's picture
Liam Sweeny from Albany, NY is reading Country Hardball June 2, 2014 - 8:22pm

Great descriptive detail, and a character that's very easy to hate. The ending surprised me. Excellent story!


Raphaella Von'Mercer's picture
Raphaella Von'Mercer June 3, 2014 - 12:06am

Really great story! I like morbid, dark and twisted stories and this had it all.

madsmaddox's picture
madsmaddox from Berkshire is reading Fated June 3, 2014 - 7:19am


You’ve written a dirty little tale with such colourful and detailed imagery you would think that you were writing a long time ago for pennies per word and that is not a bad thing. I really enjoyed it, especially the language and narrative, the story I found simple and compelling. Characterisation is solid, Dale is an opportunist of the lowest order and you’ve written him so well. The end sequence I could see coming, but not in a bad way, I’ve watched / read a lot from this genre so for me, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before, however your writing more than makes up for it. Love the descriptive narrative!

Just a few things:

Page 10 – I’d drug Wade up under the deck to keep him out of site till I figured what to do – Did you mean drag(ged)? Not drug? Minor point but it disrupted the flow. There’s only one other typo on page 2, you spelled 'spotlight' incorrectly.

Also Wade’s fall, I felt it was a tad overwritten and the pace kind of stalled because of it, however, it was written well. 

Overall a thumbs up and well deserved one at that!

All the best and happy writing


Amrose's picture
Amrose June 3, 2014 - 7:50am

Cool story. I could visualize everything. Felt like I was there.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 3, 2014 - 11:45am

This was pretty great though I'm a little uncertain what his plans for the future are. Does he intend to kill the old lady and keep the checks coming? Take care of her himself and wait for her to die naturally and then hide the body and keep the checks coming? Does he intend to move Geraldine in their with him? I thought her place was in a "nicer" part of town. Also, the doctors and nurses pay visits, so how does he plan to explain if they both go missing. Call and cancel the visits? Can a friend of the family do that? I suppose he could impersonate Wade.

Other than having a bit of a qualm with the ending, simply because I'm not exactly sure what his plan is, overall I thought it was fantastic. Great characters and rich use of the language, which is hard to pull off in first person pov of a racist scumbag. But it all works nicely. The pacing was great. Very fast read. Mads pointed out the typo I noticed. I didn't have a problem with "drug" He probably meant dragged but in first person pov I look at it like dialouge. You may take liberties. I doubt a character like this would know the difference and that's how he'd talk.

Yeah, so great work!


Craig T. McNeely's picture
Craig T. McNeely June 3, 2014 - 2:24pm

Mr. Edwards,

I really loved this story. The dialogue felt real and natural. It was dark and gritty which is just the sort of thing I love.

Thank you for the tale. I'm afraid the only criticism I have is positive: it was wonderful.


Nick Kolakowski's picture
Nick Kolakowski from New York City is reading A Sportman's Notebook, by Ivan Turgenev June 3, 2014 - 3:59pm

"His ass grinned up at me like some kind of disease-faced child. I felt the last few beers threatening to follow Wade’s flight path." I cracked up. Some great noir metaphors in here.

Jay Parekh's picture
Jay Parekh is reading Fight Club June 4, 2014 - 6:00am

I really enjoyed your story!

Great ending!

Did almost lose me in the beginning since the hook took a while to kick in, but once it did I couldnt wait for the conclusion.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 4, 2014 - 7:00am

Not much to say that wasn't covered in the previous comments, but I really enjoyed this story.  It was dark, the character was believable and true to himself.  He is the kind of guy that doesn't have to grow or change and the story is better for it.  Well done.

Christina Re's picture
Christina Re from the United States is reading something a friend wrote June 4, 2014 - 7:05am

Great work CJ! Here are my thoughts:

-It's intriguing that Wade almost went to jail for beating old ladies, and is now motivated mostly by tending to his sickly mother. 

-The racism thing makes Dale pretty dislikeable, but maybe you could find more there. I like the scene where he is judging the man for wdoing odd jobs just to go out and buy booze, while he himself doesn't even have the decency to look for work, and just stole alcohol.

Would it be too much to have the man show up toward the end of the story, maybe working in the neighbors backyard? I'm imagining this neighborhood has chain link fences, if any, that would make this crime scene pretty visible. Maybe Dale doesn't see him, just hears him shut the gate and humming to himself as he leaves. You could build up more suspense in just a few sentences.


Awkward parts to consider re-wording:

"There was a little TV up there and sometimes the damn TV box would bring in a local channel or two." -I would edit out the second "TV box".

"extra-long t-shirt I donned" -Really? This guy "dons" things? Seems out of character.

"Pain made his cheek quiver." -Because you just mentioned that he is going to take a shit, I instantly thought Dale was talking about his buttcheek. Probably just me, but read it again.


Overall it's a solid storyline. The ending seems a bit undone, but that is more a matter of style and preference than anything. I enjoyed it and thought it was a really well-done first person POV, thanks for sharing!

-Christina Re

TheKyleBTM's picture
TheKyleBTM June 4, 2014 - 7:05pm

I enjoyed this story, the descriptions allowed me to see how well Dale, a disgusting, offensive man fits into a dark and foul world. i would have liked to see more of his plan being put into action instead of ending on such an abrupt note, but the gritty, mean and selfishness of Dale pushed the story along well.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 5, 2014 - 6:18am

I have to agree with most of the other commenters here, and say it’s a nicely dark story which is pretty well written. Dale is a compelling scumbag to follow, and I can see him very clearly in my head despite having no description to work with (which is a good thing). The casual racism and nod towards Obama help build the picture well.

Wade as a character isn’t quite as well developed. You state he’s lost his nerve, but it would have been good to see a little more of his previous character coming through. This is a guy who beat up old ladies, and yet he comes across as too passive. You have a bit more word count to play with, and I’d like to see a little more tension between them. Perhaps introduce Dale’s comment about not telling the authorities a little sooner.

Wade’s fall could do with a bit more brevity. I can see why it’s been described as overwritten. In a short piece, 14% (yes I worked it out, I am that sad) is given to the fall and immediate aftermath, describing the body etc. It doesn’t quite fit in terms of flow with the rest of the story. Part of me would also have liked Dale to have pushed Wade, but given he’s a freeloader as opposed to a sociopath, you probably picked the right path.

Like Jonathan, I’m a little confused by the ending. Obviously he’s going to try and keep the benefits coming in and keep her death a secret, but is he going to kill her? Neglect her to death? That’ll take some explaining to Geraldine.

That I’m left wanting more is a good thing though. This is strong writing, with some excellent touches. I especially loved the line, “Inside smelled like piss and socks that hadn’t been washed since the Reagan years”.

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff June 7, 2014 - 9:55am

I'm just going to echo everyone else and say it's a solid story. The ending does leave some questions (what's he going to do with Wade's body, he's just going to wait out the mothers death?) but it didn't really hurt my enjoyment. Great stuff. 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 18, 2014 - 7:19am

Dark and nasty. Love it.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On June 21, 2014 - 12:36pm

Loved this! Vicious and cruel in all the right places. Love the irony of a freeloader complaining about freeloaders, as they're often want to do. Your imagery and descriptions are also spot-on. "She was watching Wheel of Fortune with her mouth wide open," made me laugh outloud in the Starbucks I'm at reading it. My one suggestion is to maybe introduce Wade's limp/gout a little earlier. As it is now, it comes up a tad too close to his fall, which feels just a little convenient. Making his imbalance a character trait from the start would make his fall feel more earned and less shocking--as in it was only a metter of time until he did something unwise that would cause a fall. As to the ending, I think it's perfect. No need to spell it out; the scam is perfectly set up. The story isn't about the details, but the opportunity spotted and seized by a dirtbag. Really solid effort.



Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories June 24, 2014 - 4:17am

A real slime ball character and a story that was just as wonderfully slick. Really excellent. Some of the descriptions were so spot on I started to feel like I was going to have to wash my computer screen. Cheers!

Motor-Psycho's picture
Motor-Psycho from Montreal is reading Everything By Willeford July 1, 2014 - 2:45pm

Excellent story description above. Made me want to read it immediately. Also excellent voice, details, and analogies. There's nothing i can criticize even mildly. Great job, congrats.


Alec Cizak's picture
Alec Cizak July 1, 2014 - 7:31pm

Good story.  Extra points for having a narrator most of the people in this world would easily despise.  Just because someone's a jerk doesn't mean his story shouldn't be told.  I thought the voice slipped every now and then, going from sort of uneducated to really, really properly uneducated.  In general, I thought things got wordy at times, but that might be a personal preference.  I know this contest requires 3000 words minimum, but I bet you could cut about 500 and really tighten up the prose.  Overall, good job.  Lots of nice details about life outside of the cookie-cutter world.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 10, 2014 - 4:19pm

Cool story with great description. I personally enjoyed the ending and think it's all the better for its ambiguity. I also think that Wade's character didn't exactly fit with his original description, although you were looking for him to be a reformed criminal so perhaps that was intentional.

Despite his racism and general scumminess Dale seems genuinely upset when he finds out what has happened to Wade, I think it would be interesting to have a little more description about how he is handling his friends death or about moving the body, maybe while he's waiting for Geraldine? Just a small thought. Great work.

smortz's picture
smortz from NY now live in SF is reading Choke, Joyce Carol Oats July 13, 2014 - 11:27am

Great read.  Loved the grittiness and the scummy opportunistic behaviour.  anything but a job. 

Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 19, 2014 - 1:03pm

Not a bad story at all.  Good voice and perspective to view the world through.  Dialogue could use a bit of work, but it wasn't bad.  It could just be more natural.  I feel like it kinda sagged a bit in the middle.  I could've used more tension between Dale and Wade.  When you bring up Wade's old con, it feels like that's where the story is going but then the ending comes and goes in a completely different direction.  I think you need more in the middle to keep the reader going until the end because that's when everything changes.