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NikKorpon's picture

Family Meetings

By NikKorpon in Arrest Us

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A robbery gone sideways. A set-up that got set-up. A prom date with Mrs. Robinson. Sometimes, crime is hereditary.


Chris Irvin's picture
Chris Irvin from Boston is reading Eyeshield 21 Vol.1 July 1, 2014 - 12:48am

Well done, Nik! Loved the setup and the way you structured the piece. Packed a ton into these 5000 words, and yet the story flew by for me. Best of all were the characters - I could read about these cats all day. Could totally see this in a comic as well, ala Stray Bullets.

A front-runner, for sure.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 1, 2014 - 11:46am


This is good stuff. I'm impressed by how much story you were able to lay down in 5000 words, and more importantly, how tight the plotting is. Everything slowly clicks into place and tie back to the first scene.

I'd recommend a second pass just to clean up a few things. I noticed a few sentences that were missing words :

....wasn’t the time for second guessing, so [he] tucked his clipboard into his damp armpit

There's also a tense change:

He chewed a couple more times then spit the wad into the gutter, smoothed his shirt and knocked.

I think the beginning is the slowest part of the story. For a while I wasn't exactly clear what Tommy and Bob were doing. Also, it's not really mentioned until later, but I wasn't sure if he was doing this while the store was open, or when it was closed. A quick mention or two setting the scene better would clear that up.

Overall though, really enjoyed it. The dialogue is nice and crisp, and the characters are all different and fully realized in the short span of time we meet them. Good job.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and July 1, 2014 - 12:55pm

Thanks, guys. The pacing was one of the things I was worried about. I was going for escalation, where things get increasingly worse (though the characters themselves don't quite know it) but the downside is that the beginning is a little slower. Maybe establishing that why/what they're robbing would add a bit of punch to the opener and up the tension. Give it some stakes.


David James Keaton's picture
David James Keaton from "the water" is reading Kill Kill Faster Faster by Joel Rose July 1, 2014 - 9:24pm

Good stuff, Nik. Bursting with detail, bursting at the seams of a typical short-story actually. It had that novel, or wants-to-be-a-novel? feeling. I had to Google "rowhome," so it was also a learning day for me. But yeah, love the ambition with the character development (the chapter headings pairing off the players was effective) and the relatability of the crimes and motivations on display here. It's not big conspiracy plot or bogged down by masterplans or long timelines, just one day and a "down here with the rest of us" vibe, as the Social D. song goes - it was playing on my internal soundtrack as I read it anyway. I had a hard time visualizing what running "like a broken snake" was, but maybe it's an old saying or someting. I'll give these crazy kids a thumb, no problem. Great last line, by the way.

Devon Robbins's picture
Devon Robbins from Utah is reading The Least Of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones July 4, 2014 - 3:27am

Hey Nik,

Good story. Glad you decided to get in on this. 

There is a lot going on in a small space. I liked the part with Leo and Megs the best. The scene with Megs' mom was great. I started to get a little confused in the scene with Leonard and Billy, put you smoothed it out pretty fast. 

What stood out to me were the characters. You had all of them wanting something, which makes them feel real.

Goog job and good luck with the story.


EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff July 4, 2014 - 2:06pm

Hey Nik,

Great story man. I especially liked the structure. Going to different characters and then bringing them together can sometimes be confusing but I didn't find it so here. I don't have any business how to tell somebody what would make their story better but I did find a couple things off. In this particular sentence: Even though Tommy had run up his dope tab, Leonard had a hard time featuring Tommy stealing from him. I assume you meant figuring. It just threw me off when reading it and I was like he had a hard time what? Also toward the end when Leo is running and bleeding I couldn't figure out why he was bleeding. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I reread a few pages back and still couldn't find why. Then I saw where Megs hits him. Maybe it could be more clear that she made his nose bleed when she hit him. Just a couple thoughts. Otherwise very cool story man. Good job.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 6, 2014 - 3:57am

Not bad, the characters were well developed and the setting very clear and well-realised. The start was a little slow, and the last line felt a little anti-climatic, but overall a solid story.

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 6, 2014 - 6:01pm

Good story here, Nik. I guess I'm going to kind of echo everyone else here and say that I really liked how you structured this tale, multiple POV's without much overlap. I always like those kind of stories, and you pull it off like a natural, so kudos there. I also like how close you get to your characters, developing them quickly and tapping into their voice, letting the typical 3rd person narrator bow out for this one. That, my friend, is how it's done. 

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland July 8, 2014 - 5:51pm

Great story, Nik.

Loved the character development. Hard task in a 5000 word story. The dilaouge was great too.  I thought the pacing worked well. Loved the final scene. Especially Tommy calling his "condition" with the hooker, life or death. Golden. Not only did you fully develop all 6 characters in your scene titles but you were even able to do it with the marginal character's such as Megs mother, and Jr.'s mother and boyfriend. Just the throw away mention of them tells us alot. Other than what's been mentioned I can't offer any advice that might help you improve this one. Top notch, sir.



Tim Hennessy's picture
Tim Hennessy July 9, 2014 - 9:27am


I enjoyed your story and the way each section was interconnected. You economically established a number of characters in a small space, which with so many characters is not real common in most short stories. 

That said, there are a few things that stuck out. I've attached some comments within. I know you were concerned with the beginning being slow, I had no problem with the pacing. You were establishing things that ran throughout. 

My biggest issue was the last scene. You have two concidents happening in a pretty short span --the kids stumbling across Tommy and Fat Billy stumbling on all of them and then a kind of a Keystone cops like chase. While the chase is short and amusing it seems like there needs to be a reason why Billy just happens upon them. Was there a call about a guy getting blown that he rolled on? It's just a little hard to accept that all the right people just happen to run into each other to create the maximum amount of chaos. 

Other than that, I really enjoyed the tone of the story most of all. The section with Leo and Megs was pretty great and felt dead on. I think with some tweaking this is going to be an even more enjoyable story. If you questions or want some more input, just let me know. 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 12, 2014 - 3:47am

There is a hell of a lot squeezed into 5,000 words, but it all works pretty well. It has a nice flow to it, and the characters are fully formed and engaging.
I do think perhaps the start and end could do with a little work, but nothing major. The opening is a little slow to get going, and I think you could make some cuts here to give you slightly more to play with at the end. So much is squeezed in here, that the only fat comes at the start. Its 1,500 words to cover the fact that they are scamming for the boss, and that Tommy has some drugs debts he needs to work off.

To compare, the ending is a little too lean. It looks a little like you were running out of word count, and tried to squeeze everything in. From Megs recognising Uncle Tommy, to the end, is just 636 words. That’s not very much in which to tie everything together. There so much going on in that ending that it’s easy to lose track. It’s just a little bit too frenetic.

A few little tweaks, and this one will really shine.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On July 16, 2014 - 7:20pm

I don't have much to add than what's already been stated above. What I most liked was how each of the three stories almost work as stand-alone pieces. I coud just read them and assume the references to the other characters/segments as building the world. As always, wonderful infusion of local color and detail. Even if I've ever been there, it doesn't matter because I see and smell it. A simple line like how the police cars threw red and blue light all over the neighborhood says a lot about it. Solid work as usual, Mr. Korpon.

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 20, 2014 - 8:12am

Really engaging piece. You do a lot with 5,000 words with so many charracters; as said above each  story is a good stand alone but thye work even better when intertwined. One slightly jarring thing was the sudden tone change between the first and second, and third stories: the last one took some adjustment and I felt while being hooked by the first and second together, by the third one I had to regain the hook (hope that makes sense). But yeah, brilliant voice, the dialogue and character interactions feel very personable, very real. It's slightly comedic but not so much as to be surreal, nice little touches of detail here and there.

One thing I couldn't quite follow were the pills at the end -- I think you mention Leo takes the oxy from Tommys car but aren't they Levitras? Dunno, that bit just confused me a little. But the ending was superb, came together really nice. I liked cuz it was all petty crime, no guns, no hard drugs or murders, but it was still tense and engaging.

Cheers for the read, thumbs up


Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 25, 2014 - 11:57am

Nice piece. I agree that your characters are very well developed. I was confused about a few things though.

"Otherwise, with the few couple bucks I got from the DVD one, I’ll only make it halfway." I think this was just a dialect choice, but I found it distracting.

The part with Leonard and Billy confused me a lot. The thing about the pills comes out of no where. Why is he thinking that Tommy stole from him. before he even shows Billy the Blu rays? Is this supposed to be a cover up? When the two are in the warehouse Billy starts getting serious about the pills, I'm not sure why since they were talking about pills outside in front of others. Perhaps I missed something. Finally Billy gets pissed about the drugs being the wrong ones, but immediately goes into an explanation about his weekend plans and doesn't seem bothered at all. He doesn't even ask how the pills could have been mixed up. Maybe I missed something here.

Overall I enjoyed your story and thought that the pacing was perfect. Good luck.