To read this story or to participate in this writing event, you only need a free account.
You can Login with Facebook or create regular account
To find out what this event is about click here

mitchparov's picture


By mitchparov in Arrest Us

How It Rates

Voting for this event has ended
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.


Three people (and one dog) in orbit around one another in New Orleans.  

A traveler with a sense of justice crosses a man who may just have had it coming.  3076 words.

A challenge to myself to finish my first short story in... ten years?


Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts July 3, 2014 - 7:58am

Hi there,

I gave your story a thumbs up. I think you're off to a good start, but could expand some in certain areas. For instance, when Elizabeth first meets "him" she takes things pretty far pretty fast. Maybe elaborate on why she felt attracted to him vs. flipping off the first guy who came on to her. I was left wondering what was going through her mind when she decided to trust him enough to bring him to her house when they had just met, and so on. 

Also, this line sticks out to me: 

There are hard men, and there are men who think that they are such men. He might
have been the first, or he might have been the second, but he was certainly one.

It might make more sense to say something like, "There are hard men and there are men who think tye are such men. He believed he was the first." 

I'm guessing, judging by your submission date, that you were against the clock somewhat. I was, too and have some revisions to make on my own story. But with just over 3,000 words you have room to expand if you choose to. Nice story for your first foray in a decade! Good luck! 


mitchparov's picture
mitchparov from The East Coast is reading About 10 books at once July 3, 2014 - 8:12am

Thanks for the feedback!

I think you're spot-on that it would benefit from a significant expansion of her thoughts/reasons.  They were crystal-clear in my head, but definitely didn't come across in the writing.  I'm going to have to play around with how to do that!

(And yes--I was right up against the deadline.  It was the only way I could motivate myself to make sure I actually finished!)

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts July 3, 2014 - 8:37am

I hear you on the deadline. I submitted right at midnight myself! 

Casey Hicks's picture
Casey Hicks from Brooklyn, NY is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman July 11, 2014 - 6:01pm

I really enjoyed your tone. You built an interesting world, the dark side of New Orleans.

I found myself wondering why Boot-spikes would go that far for a truck. Elizabeth's motivations and our nameless man's seem enigmatic and human, but I did wonder why he'd go so far. Maybe a threat or some "I'm going to get away with this, so I will gloat in front of you" dialogue would punch that up and show why the antihero took the actions he did.

For formatting, the spacing seemed to double on the second to last page, so I'd just clean that up. I'd also scrap the first paragraph if I were you. It is well written, no doubt about that, but it feels like throat clearing. You could do without it.

Overall, this had a great pace and interesting characters. I think you addressed the prompt well without feeling a need to be over the top. I don't know why I loved how crucial the dog was, but I did. I really did. I think you have a lot of talent, and this is one of the best stories I've seen so far.

mitchparov's picture
mitchparov from The East Coast is reading About 10 books at once July 21, 2014 - 10:12am

Thanks for the feedback (and the sharp formatting eye)!  I'm having some weird technical problems with the file, but I'll keep chugging away at it.  And you're definitely right--there's some room, and a need, to explore why Boot-spikes goes to such lengths.  I think I probably need to figure that out for myself first!

The dog's my favorite character.  I'm glad you liked him!

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday July 16, 2014 - 12:05pm

This was a good story.  There are a few things that could have been clearer. To be honest, it took me a few pages to gather that the nameless man stole the truck.  I also felt that Boot-spikes should have been given a proper name, maybe describe an inscription on his work shirt.  Elizabeth does seem awfully free with herself, which is fine, but I think there could be some comment on how out of character it was for her or how she too often fell for the wrong guy, something to make it part of her being.  Overall though, I enjoyed it and you get a thumbs up.  I bet one more pass over would make it even better.

mitchparov's picture
mitchparov from The East Coast is reading About 10 books at once July 21, 2014 - 10:15am

Thanks, Grant--I really appreciate the thoughts.  It's especially helpful to hear that it wasn't clear that he took the truck... it's sort of pivotal!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 20, 2014 - 3:47pm

Like it a lot. Nicely done.

mitchparov's picture
mitchparov from The East Coast is reading About 10 books at once July 21, 2014 - 10:15am

Thanks, Seb!

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 22, 2014 - 11:34am

Your story is well written for the most part, but I was confused about a few things. The man and Elizabeth meet and have just a short conversation. It didn't seem realistic that someone would invite a stranger to their place for a coffee and a quicky with the little interaction you've given. Maybe make their conversation long to develop the fact that there's at mutual attraction. You establish that Elizabeth is sort of an independent woman but maybe a little more development into her personal character would make her invitation more believable.

I found the shooting scene confusing. Since your MC doesn't have a name you had to say Boot spikes a  lot. I wasn't exactly sure who had been shot since up till now the men have been separated with "he" being reserved for your main character. I was also surprised that only on shot was fired. I did enjoy the story itself and thought it was a fun read.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 24, 2014 - 7:58am

There is some good stuff in here, and the bones of the story are evident. There is enough here to suggest that both the protagonist and Elizabeth have potential.

What lets you down a little is in your motivations. All three characters make decisions based on little evident logic (I’m not counting the dog here, of course). Your protagonist steals a truck because the engineer was a little rude towards him. He says towards the end that he needed the truck, but what for? There’s reference towards a job, but only in passing. All we know of this engineer is that he makes suggestive comments to a woman, and is rude to a passing man. It hardly seems justice to steal his truck. Then he goes off with a woman he doesn’t know, into her home and place of work, without any sense that this may not be wise. Sure, he may not feel threatened, but that’s not to say she isn’t a threat.

Elizabeth is just as bewildering in her actions. On a run, she passes what she thinks to be the engineer, and decides to berate him for his actions the previous day. Why she does so, is very unclear. When it happened she stuck to the simple act of flipping him off, but now she wants to call him an asshole and berate him a day later. Realising it’s not the engineer in there, and recognising a truck that has no description to make us think it is easily recognisable as the same, she proceeds to mess with the guy who is driving it. Why she thinks a truck thief would be safe to wind up, isn’t quite clear. Following this, she invites a truck thief into her house, and then into her place of work, allowing him (a known thief) to help out without supervision. She’s a trusting lass.

As for the engineer, forgetting his general dickish character, he seems to take a grudge way too far. He gets his truck stolen, and then finds it unoccupied in front of a coffee shop. He decides the thief is inside, and decides the barista knows where the thief is, though we never know why he thinks this (even if it is the truth). He has spare keys for the truck, but instead of just taking it back, he gets a gun and decides to wait for the thief to return. The fact that the thief stole the truck from right by the shop, and would be foolish to return to scene of the crime to pick up a stolen truck he doesn’t even seem to need, doesn’t occur to the engineer. He’d rather wait in a boiling hot truck for a slim chance of revenge.

We have no idea what the engineer is going to do to the thief. He appears to take the thief to his home, but have no idea why. If he was going to kill the thief, it would make more sense to do it elsewhere rather than travelling to your own home to do it, so presumably that’s not what he has in mind. Once the thief gains the upper hand, instead of just getting the hell out of there, he decides to kill the engineer instead. At that moment, the worst he has done is steal a truck, whereas the engineer has kidnapped him at gunpoint. Instead of clearing off, he does the only thing that could make things worse, and burns the guy when he’s still alive. Even then, instead of getting the hell out of town, he goes to a bar to be with a woman he’s just met, with a nice fresh bullet wound in his side.

I know this kind of feedback can feel harsh as hell, so let me just say this is easy to do on most stories, and I have been on the other end of it MANY times (and will be again many times to come). You have a story with good potential, written well. Once you have these motivations down, it will work very well. There’s another sweep or two required though. This is your first short story in ten years, and it’s an impressive way to get back into it. You are almost there, stick with it.

mitchparov's picture
mitchparov from The East Coast is reading About 10 books at once July 24, 2014 - 8:06am

Hey Adam,

Definitely not harsh as hell.  I really appreciate the insights.  It seems like a lack of clarity in motivations (or, if I'm being totally honest, in some cases, just a plain lack of motivations) is the big flaw for a lot of readers.  It's very helpful to have the specifics you're identifying as starting points to try to get those motivations more clearly figured out in my own head and on to the page.

Thanks a ton; I really appreciate the help!

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 31, 2014 - 8:58am

Iloved the style of this. Very sparse, very raymond Chandler. The action and events were toght and conveyed clearly, which made it both enjoyable and easy to read. One problem blocking this though was not giving the protagonist a name. Calling him He all the time means I had to re read bits to understand if it was the dog, boot spikes or the protag acting cuz the protags only ever referred to as he. I get hes adrifter but ,aybe theres abetter way to convey that. Another problem was that while the style and execution was good I didnt understand the characters' motivations much. Why does he drive the van right near where it was stolen? Surely cops would be on the look out for the stolen vehicle. Why does boot spikes kidnap the protag? Why does the coffee woman trust the protag so instantly? The scenes are executed well but i dont understand why they happen. Its well written but the plot issues are confusing, so im on the fence on thumbs up/ thumbs down--clearing up the motivations will make this a great story tho