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Marie S. Crosswell's picture

Pearls in a Pigsty

By Marie S. Crosswell in Arrest Us

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Gabriel Kidd and Nash Ransom are hunting the same man, who got away with a brutal murder thirteen years ago. They team up to avenge his victim.


Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 30, 2014 - 9:01am


Good stuff here. I really enjoyed the story and felt that the style of writing was pitch perfect for it. It's hardboiled, but you still manage to give us a full picture of the characters and settings. I especially loved the line :

Gabriel can see her change even in the darkness: toughness melting off Nash’s body like butter, her walk a mating call that doesn’t need to be seen to be sensed.

I do wish there was a little bit more tension in the story, as everything seems to go a bit too easily for Nash and Gabriel. They meet, and decide to work together. They find Blake with no problem at a strip club, then they know exactly where he's headed next, and Gabriel gets the best of him. Then she just lets Nash take him. You have tons of set ups that should lead to some tension, but instead everything is neatly resolved. I know it's tough adhering to a word limit and putting everything you want in there, but if you want your story to truly pop, you might want to see about adjusting some scenes. Maybe get rid of the strip club and just move directly to the fight club? Then you can have more room to breathe and create tension.  The fight scene you have between Gabriel and Blake is good, so I wouldn't change that, but maybe have them have a tougher time get in, or such.

I'm divided on the Gabriel name. Part of me likes that you don't bring any attention to it and just expect the reader to follow along, but I will admit that it was a bit confusing at the start. I thought you had accidentally used the female noun instead of the male one in your first paragraph, for example. Something like a line or two of dialogue between Nash and Gabriel as to whether that's her real name could work. Just a thought.

Finally, as much as I did like the story and Gabriel and Nash, I also found that the two are very, very similar in dialogue, which occasionally made it tought to figure out who was talking. Both of them have the same staccato way of talking that the hardboil genre is filled with, and both of them are tough, nonsense people. You do make them a bit different, like the suit thing, and the way Nash can get info, so I dug those, and wish there was more to it.

Again, really enjoyed the piece. Strong, good stuff.

Motor-Psycho's picture
Motor-Psycho from Montreal is reading Everything By Willeford June 30, 2014 - 5:28pm

You may want to format your story to be double-line spaced and have dialogue on its own line. 

I'll come back to read this one completely then.

Turtlethumbs's picture
Turtlethumbs June 30, 2014 - 8:08pm

Some of your phrases are just hilarious, like "smoking enough weed to kill Paris Hilton’s purse rats."

Loving the strong above-the-law women thing going on. Very powerful stuff.

Really great choice using present-tense. Really brings you in and keeps you close to it all. I also enjoy the pace: not slow, not fast, steady.

"one way ride to the proof of her atheism" is awkward for me. Know what you're saying, but the phrasing is awkward.

"Her eyes bore into his" -- you've changed tense here, and I vaguely recall you doing it elsewhere. Don't change tense!

I have mixed feelings about the ending. I see you're close to 5,000 words so maybe that means you had to cut it short, so that's understandable. Without wanting to put spoilers in the text I'll just say I don't think it's necessary for the narrator to talk about what Nash is going to do so much, because that was made clear earlier on. It might work better with the dark description of them walking off into the darkness and pulling away. Almost leaving it ambiguous, although we definitely know what's happening.

I loved it overall. Thanks for writing it and good luck. (And please read mine! I have no readers yet!)

Hooper Triplett's picture
Hooper Triplett from Tucson, AZ is reading Fever Pitch June 30, 2014 - 9:30pm

I can't really pin a reason why I struggled to get through this one.  There's some odd verb tense choices, awkward phrasing, and some pacing that makes it a challenge.  I think some of the dialogue could have been tighter/shaper to help develop more tension, and give more room for what felt like a rapid conclusion.  Clearly a lot of work went into it, but not my cup of tea.

coded's picture
coded from Earth is reading Purple Flame July 1, 2014 - 6:31am

I can relate. but other than that it's a good story.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and July 2, 2014 - 12:57pm

Well done, Marie. I liked this a lot. I've gotten really into Bayou crime, probably from too much Woodrell and Nic Pizzolatto. You've got two compelling female leads here and I think you could push them in a much more dramatic direction. I dig the pace at which the story unfolds, but as Hector mentioned, things happen very easily for Gabriel (Gabrielle?) and Nash. One of my favorite things about hardboiled and noir fiction is that we see what people are really like, because shit always goes wrong and the characters are denuded of their facades and we get a glimpse at the raw, pulsing center of them. We get a little peek inside Gabriel, but not much. 

I enjoyed that you have two different kinds of women here (kind of like the opposite partners in buddy cop films) and think you coudl also push that farther. Say, if one was a chameleon type, doing whatever she needed to appeal to whomever she needed in order to get what she needed, and the other is straight down the line. Either could be the "good" guy or "bad" guy, but it would provide some internal tension to the story as well, plus give you an opportunity to differentiate their speech patterns a bit. (It might be interesting, for example, to have the chameleon be the law-abiding one, a la Raylan Givens, and the hard-assed one seem murder/revenge as an almost religious thing.)

Just ideas. All in all, though, I enjoyed it. 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 3, 2014 - 2:27am

Nice writing, if a little overly descriptive for my tastes. Starting with a physical description didn't work for me, personally. The story is good, the scenes well realised, but it lacked tension and all seemed too easy. Also, there was no proof, and it was obvious from the start that Nash was going to kill him but took Gabriel, a private eye, most of the story to figure it out. Some trimming of the excess descriptions and an injection of tension would make this an excellent story, but un my opinion it still needs work at the moment. Your writing is very good, however.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 10, 2014 - 7:21am

There were parts of this I really liked. The premise is good, and I got a nice True Detective type vibe off it, that was from more than just the setting. I liked both the protagonists as characters, though the use of Gabriel tripped me up slightly when I realised she was female.

There were a couple of what I felt to be logic jumps, though it could well be me missing the point. First off, Nash has been following Gabriel for three days, but neither has approached the other until now? That feels instinctively unlikely. Given she knows Blake’s movements, you’d have thought she’d have been able to carry out her plans without trailing someone else for a few days first. Instead she wants to team up with someone who has not found Blake, and who seems to want to get dirt on him for the police, which is at odds with Nash’s own plan. Gabriel has no positive involvement in the investigation. She does nothing at the strip club, and then fights Blake for no discernible reason other than personal gratification.

The lack of proof that Blake was guilty of the murder also weakens the story. Nash wants to kill Blake even though she does not know for sure he’s guilty, and the police have already cleared him. There has to be some reason she’s so sure, so it’d be best to share that with the reader. We never get an explanation as to why either is even involved in this cold case. Neither is getting paid, and neither seems to have any strong personal involvement in the case.

It’s still a thumbs up for me – you have the concept, you have the characters, it just needs a bit more of a polish to really make it shine.

RhysWare's picture
RhysWare from Worcester, England is reading The Warriors July 20, 2014 - 12:25am

Hi Marie,

I'm very surprised that this has as many thumbs down as it does.

I really enjoyed it. The writing's good, characters are interesting, and the setting is excellent. There were one or two minor things that caught my eye, and that was the use of words twice in sentences too close together, but things like that are pretty much trivial.

The fight club was ironic, but there was something inside me saying that I shouldn't like it, that perhaps the story should have gone down another path instead of this one. Regardless, I couldn't help but really enjoy it!

The description inside the bar was excellent: I loved the flashes of five-inch heels. It gave me a little noir, cyber-punk feel for some reason. You probably weren't going for that, but it certainly worked for me. I got Technoir form Terminator just stuck in my head now.

Overall, it was great, and as I said before, I'm confused and to be frank, a little disappointed at the mixed responses you've had.

All the best,


Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 28, 2014 - 8:12pm

I think that this was a great story. Very well written. My two favorite pieces are "like she’s a piece of cud life won’t quit chewing." and " But she’s a bounty hunter, a private eye, a civilian detective who’s got the stories of a few dozen homicide victims carved into the tree of her psyche, ring of cynicism’s rotten fruit burst around the trunk" I don't think I have any advice that I can give. Nicely done.