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Devon Taylor's picture

Grenade Launcher

By Devon Taylor in Arrest Us

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A veteran detective follows a lead discovered while working a murder case to disrupt an attempted bank robbery.  But when some of the suspects get away, things go awry quicker than anyone could have imagined.


Liam Sweeny's picture
Liam Sweeny from Albany, NY is reading Country Hardball June 7, 2014 - 6:18pm

I really like the pace of this, and the narrative voice of Detective O'Neil. I can feel the scene, and I like that when I'm reading a short piece. The description and the narrative beat are just right for a story that's as immediate as this. I feel like this could have been a part of a larger work, like a novella, but you did a great job within the word count limit.

There was one spot where you put a word in parenthesis that I think could've stood without, but that's pretty much all I noticed on technicals. A good story all around!


Nick Porisch's picture
Nick Porisch from Brainerd, Minnesota is reading The Stand June 8, 2014 - 7:54pm

This was a pretty awesome story. Nice writing. The narrative voice was great, and the part about Detective O'Neill's dad gave the character some depth. The pacing was pretty good. The idea of that many ex-police officers wanting that much revenge was a little far fetched, but it was interesting. Nice work.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 9, 2014 - 5:22am

This story was pretty decent. Solid prose. A few unexpected twists. Some wit and humor. Nice job.

Matt A.'s picture
Matt A. June 9, 2014 - 10:28am


Good story, I like your cinematic view--I felt like I could clearly follow the action and what was going on.

What I have here are just suggestions (nothing that's right or wrong):

You use a lot of descriptors like "pissed," "little patience," "hated." Consider using dialogue or action to describe O'Neil. An example would be, instead of saying someone's angry, you would show that person punching a wall or clenching their fists or soemthing like that. Your descriptions of weather and inanimate objects are great, I'd just expand on O'Neil and avoid the throwaway words.

On page seven the action came to a long halt, really killing the momentum, when he's thinking about the fifth guy and him being an ex-cop. Consider moving that passage earlier and letting the shootout continue unimpeded by introspection. Another reason to move it earlier is it felt like a cheat to get this info over halfway thru the story. I think it's perfectly plausible to reveal this info after the foot chase when he gets back to the bank and is questioning the fourth robber. Revealing critical info over halfway through the story is a red alert and can tend to make a reader want to stop right there and move on to another story.

With the fourth riobber having the grenade, I was confused a bit. Was he left there intentionally to lob the grenade at the crucial moment? The reason he was nervous was because he knew he was about to be making his "launch?" Just wasn't clear the way it was written.

You've got a lot of room left for the 5K word max to work any of these out that you see fit. I'd recommend zooming in a little more on the descriptions of O'Neil and the "why" of the whole cop trap scenario.

Thanks and good luck.


W.a. Warner's picture
W.a. Warner June 9, 2014 - 11:05am

Nice story. I like the noirish prose. Introducing background facts about the protag helped me see him more than just a cliche action hero. In fact, I wouldn't have minded more personal details like that woven in. A nice twist on throwing yourself on a grenade. Lots of action keep the pace swift. Thanks for sharing!

Kenneth Jobe's picture
Kenneth Jobe from Wichita is reading American Gods June 9, 2014 - 3:15pm

I liked the story. It set the scene especially well, I thought, and I loved the line, "Two in the chest and that shoulder wound was a paper cut." Nice job, and thanks for sharing!

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 12, 2014 - 11:00am

Good times.  Well, not for O'Neill, but it was a fun read.  The pace was good, the voice was clean and it had/left out the right amount of detail.  Best of luck. 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 14, 2014 - 2:38pm

Cinematic in its approach, fast moving and fun. Liked it.

Richard Lake's picture
Richard Lake from Las Vegas is reading all the books. all of 'em June 14, 2014 - 10:49pm

That was beautiful. So different, so unexpected, and so well done. 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 17, 2014 - 2:01am

I see the word cinematic has been used twice in comments so far. That’s fairly apt. There is a lot going on here, but you manage to write clearly and concisely, so that it’s also pretty easy to follow. O’Neill is nicely written too, with some nice touches. Given it’s not the easiest to develop characters during action sequences, I feel like you did a good job right at the start. The nods to his father being a butcher, and O’Neill not being a runner, both add something to the character.

What I also liked is that you start in media res, but then almost immediately slow it down, before building again to the climax. It throws us into the action, sets the scene, but still allows for those development touches to come into play. It also adds to that cinematic feel.

Any weaknesses here are motivational. Your wring a fair amount of tension out of the premise, but I didn’t understand what this cop trap was meant to achieve. Neither did I get the reason for making them all ex-cops. It is a meaningless act at the moment. We get no inkling that this might be personal against this particular precinct, or even a glimpse into why these guys got kicked off the force in the first place. Without that motivation, this is random and senseless.

The other motivational weakness is the Grenade Launcher. What was their plan here? To get him captured, trust that the cops wouldn’t search him effectively enough to find the grenade, wouldn’t cuff him so he could dig it out and throw it eventually, and then have him sit in a cop car in the middle of a shootout where any random bullet might take him out? I don’t really understand why the “mental discrepancy’ either. What was the reason for it? Readers don’t necessarily take everything at face value, and they will query motivation. I’ve had enough stories torn apart because my answer to questions of ‘why do they do that?’ was usually, ‘because… plot’. The why is just as important as the how, if not more important.

I’m not sure why O’Neill didn’t shoot the kid as soon as he was digging around in his pants. He must have known he was going to die anyway, and it’s not a big leap to work out why they call the kid ‘Grenade Launcher’. Also, why did the killers amongst the bystanders wait so long to step into action? O’Neill almost kills one, Weaver does kill one… why would they not press their advantage before any of their side get hurt?

Ultimately what you have here is a story with potential, and motivation issues can be fixed. Fill in the holes here, and this would be a good story. I’m sure you can turn this into pure gold. Best of luck.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 18, 2014 - 2:52am

Hi Devon,

Interesting take on a bank job. Kept me reading it. Some issues, some minor, some a bit bigger.

There had been a fifth guy, - the tense of this causes me problems, it sounds like there was a fifth on the job. "There was supposed to be a fifth guy" or "there was going to be a fifth" leads to his discovery in the dumpster, and allows your timeline not to get tangled.

O'Reilly can head back to the bank after the failed chase, but he should leave the patrol guys behind - because he would. Another thing O'reilly might try to do - drive the car with the GL in it - is the car immobilized (no keys, shot tires, what?)

There are two issues you don't really explain, the ineptitude of the cops, and the invincibility of the robbers. The cops being inept can be explained by the surprise, I think, but you might need a bit of a bigger "surprise" to spring. Rooftop snipers, or an explosion? The invincibility of the robbers; you might point out how unlikely the ACCURATE use of a firearm is - especially in the heat of action. That the cops were being picked off should be one of the clues that this isn't just a bunch of average hoods.

The grenade launcher. Other than being a nice-ish image, there's a massive why? here. Why would someone keep a grenade clamped, who is he? And how dangerous is this not only to O'Reilly, and himself, but to anyone close enough in? So the conceit isn't really explained, and needs to be. If you could have made the GL one of the bank hostages, it might work.

If you want to up the tension and have one of the robbers have a "personality" - then the robber O'reilly talks to should be the one he creased earlier. Gives that exchange a bit of spice!

For that matter, give O'reilly a bit more character - some aside to his history, how old he is, has he transferred from a cooler city hence his hate of the heat, is he close to retirement (cliche) or is his career stalled, what?

Finally, this is an organised force of ex cops. What are they really motivated by? Why shoot cops? They can have their grievances, but put a plausible edge to it - maybe there was a clean out a few years back, corruption, or just redundancies, something. And even then, I'd expect them to be motivated by money not revenge.

But a well written, interesting take, it just needs to make sure it stands up as strongly as it should - which means making sure you know exactly why it happens, rather than just something to throw at your MC...

Thumbs up.


Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 28, 2014 - 4:14pm

Good story. It moved along quickly and was well written. I was sort of confused about the reveal of the set-up. I think at that point there wasn't enough evidence given for me to understand why O'Neill would think that but everything came together soon after that. Overall nice job.