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Casey Hicks's picture

Blood

By Casey Hicks in Arrest Us

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Description

Clint believes he has planned the perfect heist to provide for himself and his young wife Daisy. As they make their mistake, they discover more trouble.

Comments

Ray C's picture
Ray C July 4, 2014 - 12:22am

 Who doesn't secretly want to say "Drive. Just Drive." in real life?

Good story, gave it a thumbs up. The contest closed before I could get my story in, but our endings are actually rather similar. My only advice is, when you talk about souls, heaven and salvation at the end, the story would have more depth if you perhaps include a segment with him pondering the MORAL implications ofhis actions. After all, no talk about salvation could be complete without thought-provoking moral questioning, but that's just my pedantic philosophical side haha. That being said, your story is only 3038 words - plenty of space to expand, and plenty more to explore! :)
 

Casey Hicks's picture
Casey Hicks from Brooklyn, NY is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman July 7, 2014 - 7:40am

Thanks for the comment, Ray. I would've loved to have delved more, but I found out about the contest late. Between vacation and then catching the flu, I was scrambling for time! No excuses, just wishing I'd known sooner (and had a better immune system for airplane travel, apparently).

I think I'll want to come back to the piece and tease out a bit more of what you mentioned. Consequence and sacrifice are definitely topics I want to explore further.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 11, 2014 - 8:12am

Casey,

Overall I enjoyed the story. Good opening line, and I loved the last line as well, honestly I was wavering a bit but the last line clinched it for me.

My main concern with the story is that unfortunately the idea of two people robbing a bank and trying to make a run of it while one of them bleeds out was old when Reservoir Dogs did it. It's a staple of the genre, and right now the story doesn't really stand out because of it.

Chris and Daisy right now are just sketches- A couple down on their luck that decide to rob a bank. You tell us that they're down in their lucks, but because of the way the story is set up, I never really saw that, and hence couldn't buy into it. Character's motivation is something I struggled with my own story, so I know how difficult it can be. I personally needed more to buy that Clint's and Daisy would decide to rob a bank (instead of moving to another city, asking for loans, taking meanial jobs, etc). What made it harder to believe was that they decided to all that based on Clint's memories of the bank when he was six years old.  I think that detail can work into the story, but right now, without it or the characters being fully developed, it feels really weird and tacked on.

I liked your writing and the way you immediately put us into the scene with the first paragraph. Good use of description and dialogue through out. I did have a bit of an issue with this line:

All the couple had wanted was a new start together. However, it took money to uproot, and the young lovers had little more than the clothes on their backs and a passion for one another that eclipsed all sense.

'Couple' and 'Young Lovers' make the POV feel more detached than everywhere else in your story. I would just stick to 'they' or even Clint and Daisy.

I also felt that the story could use more tension. Maybe because I'm a fan of the genre, but I had a pretty good idea of where the story was going all the way through, so other than the writing, there wasn't much to hold my interest when we got to the inevitable conclusion. But again, that ending, and last line were so well written that I truly hope you go back to this and flesh it out.

Hope this helped.

Casey Hicks's picture
Casey Hicks from Brooklyn, NY is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman July 11, 2014 - 6:25pm

Thanks for the feedback, Hector. I definitely get that the heist gone wrong territory is familiar. I'm a fan myself, particularly with Reservoir Dogs. I wanted to strike at it from a perspective where it's not just a happy (Trainspotting) or sad (Bonnie and Clyde) ending, but with aspects of both. Obviously I'm still working to get there. As I said in my comment above, I didn't have as much time to work on this as I'd like, or else I would have stretched closer to the 5,000 mark and hopefully addressed some of your concerns.

I definitely had my concerns about the tension too, so now that you've brought it up, I know I'll have to polish that up. Maybe someone on their trail part of the time, not just to add the drama but to help establish character. You definitely have me thinking and excited to expand.

kevymetal's picture
kevymetal from Halifax, NS July 11, 2014 - 8:24am

I liked the symmetry of "but he/she was already gone." I liked the sentence, "there was no hiding the confession he left in the snow." And I liked the simplicity of the story; it's not the tense tale of what happened in the bank but in the quiet (and more resigned) aftermath.

I would give us some more detail about Daisy and Clint if you expand this tale, just to tug at the heartstrings a bit more. And the sentence "It was an observation, not a complaint" could lose the "it was" and be more effective.

Other than that, good job!

Casey Hicks's picture
Casey Hicks from Brooklyn, NY is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman July 11, 2014 - 6:27pm

Thank you for the feedback. It originally started out as a much shorter vignette, so I've been building the world from the mood in a way. I'm glad that the approach worked for you. I was worried it wouldn't be "crime" enough.

I definitely want to add more of their story when I go back and work on this further. It's fun to tease at the reader's emotions, isn't it?

kevymetal's picture
kevymetal from Halifax, NS July 12, 2014 - 7:51am

Indeed!

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 15, 2014 - 9:30am

Great story. Simple, nicely told, poignant with good characters. I like how the crime was incidental to Clint and Daisy's relationship. The whole thing was really character driven and the final part was excellently placed. I wasn't holding my breath to see what happened, but the tension was like an uneasiness that unfolds as you go on--we slowly realise just how lethal the wound is and that the situation is inescapable, and this moves the reader along with Clint; he becomes more and more likeable as he accepts death. 

Only point of critique I can think of is there's a lot of passive voice: 'he was.../she had...' Has its time and place, for example it's more useful with flashbacks, and is used excellently in the final line, but I think there are parts that could benefit from making the voice more active. Apart from this I really enjoyed the story, a good punchy and emotional read.

Cheers

Tom

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 18, 2014 - 6:39am

This is well written and elegant, but missing something. The concept is one that has been done a million times before, and it was obvious how it would end from the start, but the writing itself was very nice and clear. The characters need more work, though. Daisy is barely a character, apart from the gloves there is nothing really unique about her. Your narrator is a little better, but could still benefit from a lot more depth. I get the feeling you fell in love with the ending and the beauty of the story idea, rather than falling in love with the characters. You've got the potential to make something great here, it just needs a little more work in my opinion.

Laura Keating's picture
Laura Keating from Canada is reading The Aleph and Other Stories July 19, 2014 - 5:38am

Short and sweet. I thought you did a very nice job of developing the characters in such a short space and there were a couple of lines that I really liked. One about the blood seeping to the ground as though it were already committed to it, and the wound being his first mourner. 
My only real critique is that in the lead up there is more exposition than I think is necessary, too much tell rather than show. For such a short piece I found the descriptions of back story a little drawn; can you bring us back there instead? I think that you're certainly talented enough to be up to the task!
So a little work I think would make this really poignant, still good stuff and gets my thumbs up!
Cheers,
LVK

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 21, 2014 - 3:49am

This isn’t ground-breaking in any way, but it’s well written, and it’s good that you build sympathy for the couple in such a short piece. There are some really nice lines as well. I particularly liked – “It was as though they’d all had their fingers upon the trigger.”

My one issue here is that there is a fair bit of exposition. I’d have liked to have seen the actual heist, rather than be told about it. With the extra word count you have to work with (and given more time), it would have been good to see the heist itself threaded through your story. I think that would have elevated it a little.

Ultimately it’s still a tale of two poor robbers, escaping into a snowy landscape. As such, it’s always going to remind people of other stories, and you’ll suffer the comparisons a little. Perhaps concentrate on what makes this more unique, which I think is the relationship between Daisy and Clint. You give us enough hints that Daisy is not just an archetype, but I’d like to see this built upon. Give us a little more characterisation, and more interaction between the two of them. Your dialogue is fine, but think about the non-verbal communication between them.

It’s a solid thumbs up, but I’d certainly like to see you take this concept and make it your own.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 21, 2014 - 9:49am

Hi Casey,

Nice story, the after-effects of a heist gone wrong. Naivety on Clint's part, maybe even a consequence of his childhood innocence. Thumbs up.

Writerly advice - YOU need to know your characters back story, but don't give it to us unless the story needs it. You start off post-action, getting away panic, and then slow it right down. Mind you, if you do that, you'd be below the word count. You ought to be able to spend some of the words on the events in the bank. I'd quite like to know what happened after he'd got shot - in relation to the gathering of the money. Only way I can see it (and this would work!) is if the security guard waited until the bag was handed over, so that Clint was distracted and occupied. Would require Clint to either not know the guard was armed, (or doubly armed, perhaps) or not know about the guard at all.

Two blown tires on snow. Not sure it's even possible. No traction at all from those two wheels, I'd have thought.

Not sure I understand why he would rob his uncle's bank, why he'd think he could get away with that. Not sure the memory of being "locked" in the safe is necessary - the info that it's not closed during the day being the only reason for this? I'd expect the bag he had wasn't anything like big enough for all the money in the vault, what if he is fooling himself - just enough to secure their future.

He obviously hides how bad he is hurt from his wife, but she knows he's been shot? So he needs to work to convince her to gather wood, rather than attend to wound.

Plus, the fact he knows he's a gonna - does anyone ever actually think that?

Liam

Zack McCormack's picture
Zack McCormack from Indianapolis, IN is reading Empire of the Sun July 22, 2014 - 6:56pm

Good read. Simple and as a whole I felt it to be well done. I liked Clint as a character and really only had one issue with the short. I feel like Clint is portrayed to be someone whose sole motivation is trying to provide more for Daisy. However, when talking about the theft itself, you seem to emphasize (more than I feel necessary) how he viewed the people working at the bank as the criminals which sends the message that his action is warranted in his mind for the reason that these people had it coming to them. For me, this seems to contradict the more justifiable and truer intention that he is stealing the money to better provide for his wife. 

I did like the story though!

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. July 23, 2014 - 4:37pm

Casey,

I'm painfully torn on this one. On one hand, I really want to like it because it's such a sweet take on the whole competition but on the other, I just couldn't get behind Clint and Daisy. Like I think a few others mentioned, Daisy gets almost zero characterization and what characterization Clint gets doesn't really help explain why he does what he does. It clearly explains the heist, yeah, but not the motivations behind it beyond the fact that he loves Daisy. As it is, it almost makes Clint just seem like a really lazy twenty year old who wants to take the easy way out and Daisy (due to the aforementioned lack of fleshing out) just some airhead along for the ride. I know that wasn't your intention for her, but it's how she came across for me. I was also confused by the line where you mentioned Clint wanting to shirk cliches by getting his wife a house where she could cook and garden and darn her gloves. Isn't that about as cliche as life for a woman can get? I was also confused as to how Daisy never realized that he'd been shot, or if she had why she didn't help him. A gunshot wound to the chest is a wicked gnarly injury that would bleed like the dickens so the fact that he was able to conceal it (and the pain) with just his coat seems a little farfetched. It also seemed odd that she never noticed the trail of blood in the snow. Also, if he was so intent on providing a stable future for his wife, why would he pretty much damn her to being found and persecuted by letting himself leave a trail of blood leading right to her? Wouldn't it make more sense for him to come clean when the second tire blows and tell her to go on without him? A little more melodramatic maybe, but I feel dying in the snow would make a little more sense than going all that way just to die on the floor and leave his wife high and dry for the police to pick up.

Despite all that however, I find it really hard to give this story a thumbs down. Your prose is lovely and your take is romantic and genuine. I don't know why, but as I was reading I found myself imagining a depression era setting. Just that very soft, optimistic despite the circumstances sort of feel, you know? Almost hopelessly romantic. I saw that you were strapped for time on this so I think that if you just gave it a little more work and depth this would be a really bittersweet story. As it is though, I think I'm going to have take a firm stance of ambivalence. It has a lot of potential but I feel like you can do so much more with it. Best of luck

Aud.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 26, 2014 - 4:40pm

Sweet, romantic tale. Your story went by quickly and I would have liked to have been immersed in the robbery scene, instead of having it as a flash back. There were only a few minor things that caught my attention. Clint's attitude toward the others at the bank seems a bit extreme.  I understand he's resentful, but it seems odd to have him think that these people are so loathsome just for having more money then him. You say "Death still frightened Clint, even as the life ebbed out between his fingers" to me it seems that this might be the time when he's most scared.

I liked that you kept the Clint's injury a secret for awhile. I also thought that Daisy leaving, with tears in her eyes, assumably knowing what would happened next, was a nice touch. Well done.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday July 28, 2014 - 10:17am

This was a great story.  It's not a new premise, but it's executed well, so I don't mind one bit.  I've seen the word 'sweet' used a lot in the reviews and I'm going to have to agree.  Thanks for sharing and best of luck.