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Erik Carl Son's picture

Last of the Cruiserweights

By Erik Carl Son in Arrest Us

How It Rates

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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.

Description

After an ex-luchador and an orphan kill a dog, their night only gets worse.

UPDATE: The next draft is up. Thank you all for your edits and insights.
This is 4979 words and, after the contest, the piece will be retitled.

Cheers!

Comments

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England June 20, 2014 - 9:55am

Hi Erik, I really liked this story--I thought the moral ambiguity of the characters, and the setting in general were stellar. I had a few problems, most notably in the character of Gray. Although you say she's a girl, I really didn't see it except for twice in the story, so maybe that could be fleshed out more. With Gray's background, I didn't understand why she ended up in the hostpital with the DA and a priest fighting over her. Was the priest in charge of the Medway Orphanage? It's sort of hazy--it might help to flesh that out too.

My only other reccomendations for the story would be to establish Medway's location. If it's in Massachusetts, why would a luchador just end up there? And is The Earl hispanic? I only see two instances--that he's a luchador (which, honestly, isn't a great indicator) and that he uses Spanish once. You can definitely create characters that are distinct, for example, Fitzpatrick, with the way you spelled out his accent. Doing the same for The Earl would really help.

Once again, I really liked this story; it was full of interesting scenarios and characters. Best of luck.

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 20, 2014 - 11:25am

Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.

I appreciate the kind words. The constructive criticisms are certainly things I, pardon the pun, wrestled with myself.

The desire was to give The Earl and Gray established backgrounds without getting pulled into page long (or chapter long backstory). To not make them appear as cut-outs. There is, I've been told, certianly a fine line between terse and brevity. Gray has a larger backstory that I tried to condense. So, to answer your questions 1) Yes, the priest was running the orphage, and 2) she lost her eye as a result of being assaulted by some of the other orphans. 

The Earl's accent or use of Spanish was another issue I hotly debated. Since Medway is a fully fictional city I hoped that the lack of Spanish would be ok, but I am glad you mentioned it. Now, as I go to write more and expand the tale, you give me two nice pieces to work out.

Best of luck and cheers!
Erik

bryce.e.allen's picture
bryce.e.allen from Halifax, NS June 20, 2014 - 12:03pm

Cool story - really liked the way tension kept building throughout and yet the narrator was able to throw in a funny line here and there as well. The fluid, rugged prose worked very well and also enjoyed the interesting/unique dynamic between the two main characters. 

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 20, 2014 - 1:56pm

Thanks Bryce,
I appreciate it. This contest was a chance to try and up the ante on my usual comedic writing. I attempted the channeling of Lansdale with peppering a chuckle into the violence.

Cheers,

Erik

_JohnUtah's picture
_JohnUtah from Texas is reading True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa June 21, 2014 - 9:45pm

Erik,

Well written story man, I can't stress that enough. Just the characters alone were great, very original. Your use of detail to describe setting and action was spot on. "Pintrest board of terrible ideas" fantastic line. Great read, thanks for writing it. 

Utah

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 22, 2014 - 8:48am

Thanks Utah,
Glad you dug it!

Cheers!

Hannah Tess's picture
Hannah Tess June 23, 2014 - 11:07am

Excellent work. The characters are so bold, I could see it as a comic. I look forward to reading more from you.

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 24, 2014 - 3:33am

Thanks! I appreciate the kind words. I actually frame the scenes like a comic script and then fill in the blanks.
Cheers!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 24, 2014 - 7:25am

Nice, very bizzare. The characters are larger than life, but felt real, not two-dimensional. There's a certain Sin City vibe to this whole thing. I noticed a few spelling mistakes and the odd typo but nothing major, and I have to say I enjoyed this story a lot.

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 24, 2014 - 9:02am

I appreciate the review, Seb.
I take the Sin City connection as killer comparison. I also apologize for the typos. I can't seem to squash all the damn spelling errors. They're like cockroaches in this piece.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 27, 2014 - 10:41am

Hey Erik,

I'm a big fan of wrestling/lucha (in fact my own submission is wrestling inspired), so this was right up my alley.

Even if the story hadn't featured a luchador, I would still enjoy it. I really liked Gray's voice, and the twist the story takes midway through is a good one. Kudos. The beginning is specially good and eye catching as well.

I do agree with what others have mentioned about the characters. I think you have a great grasp on the setting, and your writing when describing the events happening is really good. However, none of the characters feel fully realized yet. Like you said, it might be because of the lenght of the story, but maybe a second pass will help.

The Earl doesn't really feel like a luchador at all. The name isn't really one that a Luchador would have, and the Spanish comes too late into the story. Likewise, I also really didn't think of Gray as female, but that's less of an issue to me, as there's nothing really that says a woman (or man) have to act a certain way.

For The Earl, I would either suggest just making him a wrestler, which really wouldn't require you to change much, or emphasize more luchador traits(for example, he wouldn't be a Good Guy, he would be a Tecnico). I did like the hankerchierf detail, that's really solid and definitely fits into the wrestling world.

With Fitz, I think you can dial back a little bit on his accent.

Good story, and hoe you both make a second pass at it to make it even stronger, as well as keep these characters around.

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 30, 2014 - 7:04am

Hector,

Thanks for the credibility catch. It's also great to see another wrestling story. I think we have a new genre here.
I created The Earl a few years ago while writing log-lines for cheesy B-movies. Originally he was a preacher and Gray was a runaway mob-wife. Together they changed dramatically and I can’t see The Earl as anything but a Luchador.
I love the idea of a fallen people’s hero still holding on to the image that he is a respectable person and attempting to clear his name (this is all back story work). I hear you loud and clear about the need for him to speak Spanish. I’m hitting the story again and playing with his language as well as his name.
Should you ever want to proof-read another tale, or the rewrite, let me know.

beachnaturalist's picture
beachnaturalist June 29, 2014 - 12:48pm

Nicely done, signor!  Your use of humor (I got the Earl Gray thing - nice!) was often very good.  I thought "less... murdery" and the depth perception jokes were both really funny. 

Which, as I write this, suddenly made a suggestion pop into my tiny brain.  The story was at its best when you pulled back a bit on the pulp voice.  I get that it's a combination homage/humor setup, but the times you used comments like  "murdery" were funny because they were a surprise.  They acted as a kind of foil to the old school blood and guts language, which is what made the comments score.  I think there's a lot of potential to make Gray a kind of voice of reality who questions, comments, and accepts or rejects all the insanity around her. 

I see a new comic book series in the future...

 

 

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 30, 2014 - 7:03am

Hugh,
Thanks for giving this a read. Gray was created as the catalyst. The Earl is, in theory, the personification of the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. He tries to do well, but it leads to worse situations and bigger issues. Gray is the fly in the ointment, but I like the idea of her being chaotic good.

She is the orphan that never got adopted. It was only The Earl’s generosity that has given her a family. Subsequently, she is constantly trying to do what it takes to impress him and protect him.

The Noir-ish voice I hold to getting the swing of short story writing. As you know from my other work, it is all about satirizing the voice. I guess old habits are hard to break. I’m trying to discover another voice and thank you for pointing that out – It is definitely something I’ll pay attention to in later drafts.

Cheers!

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 30, 2014 - 7:05am

...

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 30, 2014 - 4:16pm

Erik,

I enjoyed this. Most of my notes are in the attachment and pertain to dialouge tagging and paragraph breaks. For the most part it's fine but there were quite a few places I got tripped up so I pointed out where I feel it might be improved. 

As far as the story goes, it took me a minute to realize Gray was a woman. That may be your intent, so if so it worked. It may be better to address that earlier though. 

I don't really know what Gray and The Earl were up to before they found the dog, I guess that doesn't matter. I just thought it were odd he had his wrestling mask with him, but he is a simple guy. Maybe he just always has it. She mentions she never saw him wrestle. Before that I thought perhaps they were coming from or going to a match but clearly he's retired. 

After they tell the dog's owner what happened. I don't know what compells them to go across the street and investigate the crime. I'm glad you did, because that's where the story really picks up. But I guess I'd kind of like to know why. They were just bored and had nothing else to do? THey want to be detectives? I'm not sure. I would had assumed they'd had told him then been on there way. 

Other than that, the story worked for me. I liked the characters. The plot was cool and the pace was good. Take what helps and leave the rest. Good Luck, 

--JR--

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 1, 2014 - 4:37am

JR,

I can’t thank you enough for taking the time and effort to read this so thoroughly. Now that the contest is over, I’m going to take another swipe at the editing process and try to build on many of these suggestions.

One thing I’ve discovered through this process is the fact that I need to slow down and make sure what is happening in my head makes it to the page. Sure, I know who The Earl and Gray are, but no one else does until I bring it to the narrative. The same goes for their motivations. Yes, I have answers for your questions, but rather than put them here, I’ll save it for the next draft and bring it back to LitReactor for another round.

Again, thank you for taking the time. I appreciate it.

Cheers!

 

Hooper Triplett's picture
Hooper Triplett from Tucson, AZ is reading Fever Pitch June 30, 2014 - 7:01pm

Unsettling and discomforting, and among my favorites so far.

I think another couple hundred words (if you had them) would let things breath and give it a less rushed and deus ex machina feel to the last half.

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 1, 2014 - 4:47am

Hooper,

Thanks for reading!

I noticed you are reading Love and Rockets. “The Lonely Death of Speedy Ortiz” is one of my favorite stories. I love the way in which Jaime evolves his characters and gives them the freedom to grow and evolve. His use of magic realism is another aspect that intrigues me. The Mechanics storylines are nuts and, I’ve always imaged, part of Maggie’s fever dreams.

When this contest started, I was trying to push my own writing: Turn it up to 11, as they say. I wanted the awful to appear natural and in some places comical. I agree 5,000 is too darn short, but it was enjoyable to contort the story, see how much I could fit, into such limited space.

Thanks for reading,
Cheers!

 

 

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Pet Sematary July 1, 2014 - 4:29pm

You had me at "an ex-luchador and an orphan kill a dog." You have a really fun story here with two really likeable charcters and a healthy dose of style. Your story hit all the marks.

Not much else to say that hasn't already been said. I enjoyed it. Keep up the good work and good luck in the contest!

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 3, 2014 - 8:21am

Thanks! I'm glad the tag-line worked on someone hahaha.

Cheers!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 6:10am

I liked this one. It has a couple of very good characters, a decent flow to it, and is a compelling story that keeps you moving on to the next line.

There were a couple of things that tugged at my brain while reading. The fact that he’s a Luchadore (or ex-Luchadore) seems barely pertinent to the story. I’d expect to see a little more connective tissue as to why this fact is important. If it was just a throwaway line at the start it would not have niggled me, but it seemed like a key fact about Earl, especially as for some reason he has his mask. If he’s retired and Gray hasn’t seen him wrestle, why does he have this on him? It’s such a small detail, but it did completely throw me at the start.

Who is the Last of the Cruiserweights? I’d taken it to mean The Earl at first, but comparing him to bears would suggest this is not the case. Does it refer to the people at Fitzpatricks?

What I do like is this idea of him having such good intentions, and those good intentions leading to the uncovering of something big. I can completely buy him as the kind of person who would want to fine the owner of this dog, and more importantly, can completely buy him as the kind of person who would go out to find the truth, and go on the warpath when he finds it. Gray is a great character to follow, because you have the tacit acknowledgement of how ridiculous The Earl’s actions could seem, but also the trust and faith in him shining through.

That ending is brilliant. I love that you give Fitzpatrick the justice he deserves.

Definite thumbs up from me.

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 3, 2014 - 8:27am

Originally it was called 'The Bitch' after the dog, but I worried about being offensive or off-putting. In other words, no one read it when it had that title. No one. The title was then moved to mean the kids in the ring and The Earl's putting an end to it. I need to either solidify it or get another title.

What I ultimately wanted to create, and will be fixin', is a pair of 'do-gooders'. The Earl can't let the past go. For years he's been living with his expulsion from wrestling and, like Gray's eye, can't seem to move on. Fleshing him out is something I definately need to work on, as it throws everyone.

Glad you dug the ending.

Thanks for the great input and thanks for reading,

Cheers!
Erik

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 9:39am

How about The Road to Hell... or Good Intentions?

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 3, 2014 - 11:52am

I dig Road to Hell.

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 3, 2014 - 7:47pm

I'm also thinking 'To Hell with Good Intentions"

 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 9:31pm

That works. It is a key theme, so making it your title is a good plan.

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 5, 2014 - 5:30am

one of the most entertaining stories ive read on here, really well executed with a nice escalation in stakes. the junky character was nicely done:sympathetic. the earl and grays interactions were the higghlight--well developed, real, felt like a proper friendship. the earl is a 'silly' character in some senses but i felt the whole ex luchador thing worked and added to a nice characterisation. also got me hookoed right from the beginning, hard to do.

 

only very minor stylistic criticism is you underuse comments a little for my taste, there were sentences a few times that had two or more clauses but no commas. but this is a taste issue and it didnt detract from the story.

nice one!

tom

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 7, 2014 - 4:59am

Thanks for the kind words!
I recently went back and tweaked my comma use to break down the sentences.

Cheers!

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 19, 2014 - 5:14am

Hi Erik,

There's a lot in this, and it almost reads like a single episode in the hard boiled crime fighting duo that these make, which is an interesting idea. That said, as a single episode, it lacks the completeness of a short story (we don't get a feel for the why of these characters). It's still a ride, and as the dog killers get served justice is kind of done. It's a thumbs up!

As he's an ex-luchador, why does he have his mask? Why is he wearing his mask? His white outfit? His hankerchief props?

You don't say what Gray did to the people who blinded her and tried to rob her in the orphanage. The thing that got her handcuffed to the hospital bed. This is one of the few insights into these two characters, you may not have been able to do much more with the word count, but I'd sure like to know what tag team these two are part of...

If it's a stray, you'd finish it off. If it's got a tag, you'd leave it to the owner, no?

Earls a nice guy - sure does chop the junkies finger off nicely... ?

Guy with the yard and dog has a big revolver. Would YOU be digging up his garden?

CAN you get a person into a single garbage bag?

Bit careless of the Earl the let Gray stay in the line of fire when knocking on the guys door?

Given what Fitzgerald does, is he really a dog lover? Would he have a dog that runs free upstairs, out of the pit? Can Rex be excused as an alibi in case anyone complains about dogs (the ones in the pit) - means Fitz can show the "tame" dog?

One big suggestion - have Earl find the padlock AFTER the interview with Fitz is done. They explore, they find the graves... no need to go next door and torture poor innocent junkies..

Few minor bits :

When she finished her dance, he tongue slid from her mouth in a wash of red foam.

'fraid I don't get the Cleavers reference. Assuming most American's will.

somewhere in his bowls - bowels?

There aren’t many experiences, no matter how shitty a life you lead, to prepare you for digging up corpses. - make this "digging up dead dogs" as corpse makes me think human, which gives away the surprise.

I cracked him in the across the scalp

LIam

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 23, 2014 - 6:42am

Liam,
Thanks for the fixes and the questions.
Some of your questions made total sense and I can't believe I didn't think it that far through. It's the sorta stuff (going into the yard knowing Fitz's gotta gun) that irks me in the works of others.
At worst, all I need is a few lines of dialogue to clear it up - of course, that is the good thing about this review process. Getting some key narrative skips out of the way.

I've been living with The Earl and Gray for so long, I forget that I know their backstories and others don't. I've been fighting with how best to control it as a slow leak through the various tales I have of them. I'm not trying to be mysterious about the loss of the eye or the reason The Earl can't shet his mask, but both pieces are integral to their journey through the stories. The concept of holding on to the past is so string in these two, that Gray willingly wears a discusting orb and The Earl can't stop unloading handkerchiefs and walking around like he's a star.

It's hard to convey both of those things in 5,000 words, and I'm torn with how much space to give them here.

Thank you for your time and response. I appreciate it and have given it all a great deal of thought.
Cheers!
Erik

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 23, 2014 - 7:40am

Heck, just front up. Tell people that you're intending a series of shorts with these two - it's kind of what I'd wished for, and excuses a multitude of sins.

But do check out other noir short story collections featuring recurring characters, see how they get away with it. Throwaway dialogue is a good way, and preserves the reasons for the shorts in which that particular story is told. Good luck!

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 25, 2014 - 7:27am

I enjoyed your story. Your two main character's are well developed. I found it odd that you say that The Earl is too kind to cut a mans fingers off and then you have him cut off the pikny almost immediately, without giving the old man much time to consider the consequences. I would also suggest you go over the story with a fine toothed comb for grammatical errors that distract from how  well everything is written. There are a few times when you throw a spanish word in to characterize which is fine, but I noted you said "the la chota" I think that the la replaces "the". Also no spell check is going to catch it because it's in another language, but you say "lo ciento", when I think you mean lo siento. Sorry to be knit-picky. They only stood out to me becuse there are so few spanish words thrown in. Other than those little things I think you did a geat job writing this story. Thumbs up.

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale July 26, 2014 - 2:42pm

Thanks for reading and thank you for the editing reminder. I appreciate it and clearyl need to get someone on the homefront to help me out.

You are right about the 'the la'...aspect as well as siento...I entered this contest to see what I could do and see where my faults were. Don't worry about 'knit-picky' you nailed what the story needs beyond all else and I am grateful.

Thank you for your time and words,

Erik

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 26, 2014 - 3:08pm

No problem. Happy writing.