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Greg Ambros's picture

Something For Nothing

By Greg Ambros in Arrest Us

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The Dunning-Kruger Effect states that the less compitant someone is at a task, the more compitant they think they are. Doyle Brear is a wannabe small time crook who fancies himself a criminal mastermind in the making despite having little experience in crime. After years of being a zero in his South Texas backwater, he finds a chance to make a name for himself and takes on a heist with a modest payout and what should be a simple plan. But as Doyle finds out, even the best laid plans often don't work out.


Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 30, 2014 - 12:06pm


Really enjoyed this. It has some great humor through out it, and you walk a fine balance with Doyle- He's a dumb sad sack, but in a way you can't help but admire his goals (criminal as they be.)

The writing helps things along. You have a good ear for dialogue, and there's some good stuff in there. My favorite exchange is:

“Are you going to drop the price once you get the gas?” Doyle asked out of curiosity.
“Fuck no. An old man’s gotta eat.”
“Fair enough.

My only critique is that I think you could trim some of the story. It's hard, because I do enjoy a lot of the way that you set up the crime, but it does drag down a little bit, mostly because there's a lot of it in the first part- you first start of by telling us about Doyle, where he lives, where he works, and even how he gets the idea for the plan that I wonder if you would be better served cutting most of it off and starting either with him already having decided the plan, or show us more of Merle's and his interaction.

The narration is good, but I think that sometimes it gets a bit too wordy f. For example:

After punching out ten minutes early, Doyle crossed the street
to another diner,Rasselbock’s.From what he saw in the kitchen, there was no way he would eat anything cookedat Gomez’s. It’s why he had his meals at Rasselbock’s. Good thing for him too as that was wherehe met his girlfriend, now partner-in-crime,Fallon.

I'm not sure most of this adds anything to the story. We get that Fallon is his girlfriend through (the very well done) interactions you have later on.

Again, really got a kick out of this story. I think it works wonderfully and it was a fun read. Thanks for sharing.

Hooper Triplett's picture
Hooper Triplett from Tucson, AZ is reading Fever Pitch June 30, 2014 - 8:56pm

Little confused about how a wanna-be still has the skills to steal a car, but the story was fun and flowed quickly.  Enjoyable!

DaJoHi's picture
DaJoHi from MA is reading Wool (1-5) July 1, 2014 - 8:38am


I think the setting in a desolate part of the country worked well with this story. I wavered back and forth between sympathy and disdain for Doyle, but giving him little option in life forced me towards feeling bad for him, especially learning very near the beginning his mother often called him "an accident". That worked well because I didn't need to know much more of his background to get the idea he was a screwed up individual. His daydreaming brought to mind a kind of bad Walter Mitty fantasizing about heists and such instead of being the classic hero. His optimism at the end was a surprise. I assumed he was going to kill himself. But again, I felt bad for him because nothing seemed to work out for him, yet he didn't really care that some innocent working stiff had just been killed.  The descriptive details of Fallon and he were sprinkled in without bogging down the story. The story progressed nicely with just the right amount of action and exposition/backstory. 

I didn't think much of Fallon, but Doyle was complex. Just when I thought I knew where he was going he surprised me. In the back of my head I was wondering about his reaction when Fallon accidentally shot the trucker. He wasn't really mad at her and his dedication to her was almost unreal. This is what got me to buy it though: I thought it wasn't really about his love of her. In his mind I'm sure he thought he did, but it was more about him. He wanted the reputation as a hardcore criminal. I realized this was his motivation all along and it made me feel bad for him because he was out of his mind, probably due to his childhood. 

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 3, 2014 - 2:40pm

This was well-written (apart from some typos) and has a good pace. I didn't enjoy it as much as some of the other stories I've read, and there was a fair amount of telling instead of showing, but that's just my opinion. There's nothing I can really fault you for, except how your protaganist managed to get the truck up to speed enough to roll it when he couldn't work the gearbox. I was also hoping the tanker would turn out to be full of milk or something. Anyway, I think the reason I didn't like it as much as I wanted to is I didn't care about your protaganist. He was interesting, and there was depth, but it didn't grab me. A nicely written story nonetheless, and a solid entry.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time July 5, 2014 - 8:48pm

I can relate to this character. I came from a small town, felt trapped and looked desperately for any way to escape. I've also known enough criminal types to recognize that "I could steal that" mentality. EVERYTHING is measured not by its value, but by its ease of theft.
I like that this seems to be centered around the character and not a particular crime. I kind of feel like we skip over Doyle's first crimes.stealing the car. Buying guns off the street. These seem like they would weigh on him a good deal but we breeze past them. Also, his ability to hot-wire a car seems out of character. Maybe I'm just imagining him more naive than I should. I do love their inept highway robbery. All their little mistake add put to a lot of fun.
Great characters though. Thieves with honor but no smarts. Overall, you came up with a fun and entertaining story. Keep up the good work!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 11, 2014 - 2:18am

The premise here is good, with your wannabe criminal and his equally delusional girlfriend. As crimes go, it’s realistic to go for a gas truck as a first crime. The crime itself is as you’d expect it to go down, without the added wrinkle of the accidental shot.

Personally, I think the execution could do with some work. There is a lot of tell instead of show here, though that does improve a little once we get to the actual crime. The exposition of the beginning section could do with some cuts. This kind of info dumping slows your story right down, and a lot of the information isn’t actually necessary. Its two pages before we get to the job being introduced. A lot of what comes before that point is superfluous.

There are a couple of awkward dialogue tags, especially early on:

“Where would you get free gas?” Doyle asked knowingly – knowingly doesn’t fit here. It’s not a rhetorical question.

“Are you going to drop the price once you get the gas?” Doyle asked out of curiosity – if he’s asking, he’s curious, so saying he asked out of curiosity is redundant.

“Really? Yeah, have I been wrong before?” – Fallon is talking, so you need to split these two lines out into separate dialogue.

The ending is good, and I liked Doyle sacrificing himself. I do kind of want to know why they didn’t try and leave the road and make a run for it. I also think you could have built up the relationship between Doyle and Fallon. There is no hint of the emotion or love that Doyle feels to end up taking the blame, even if it does play into his wanting to be a criminal.