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Bob Pastorella's picture


By Bob Pastorella in Scare Us

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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.


Outlawes, mispelled on purpose, is about what happens when time catches up to you. Three high school buddies, one terrible incident twenty five years ago, and revenge. I've been reading old Creepy comics lately, so this is definitely inspired by those tales of horror. Enjoy. 


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 9, 2012 - 8:11pm

I really liked this--it's very vivid and the characters were believable. Here's just a grammatical thing, a very tiny point. This sentence is perfectly grammatical:

Pete would have never guessed Mikey would have been so successful.

It's just a bit clunky, though. I think you can get away with fiddling around with the sequence of tenses. I think you can say, "Pete would have never guessed Mikey would be so successful," and it would still work out, still be grammatical, yet come across a bit less clunky. As I say, though, this is a tiny point. It just stood out for me because it seemed to be such an easy fix.


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 10, 2012 - 8:40am

Hey, thanks for seeing that. I was really going for a conversational style narrator, sticking to Pete's POV, and that just sounded like something he would say. It's a little clunky and I'll definitely fix it before subbing it anywhere. 

SoulBoulder's picture
SoulBoulder from Chicago is reading The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotions July 11, 2012 - 5:22am

I thought for a short story the plot was neatly complex and it made everything move so fast. For me its tough to write more integrated plots with varying characters in a short fragment of time. For example, the way you brought in Mikey and his wife and her past and what may have been the cause of his sudden heart attack as only a tipping point into the real dilemma. It was all well thought out which made the suspense fantastic. Moreover, the suspense was multiplied because the whole story is predicated from something that happened 25 years ago, yet we are waiting to see the effect of this hidden character. And because there was a root to this creature, it made everything believeable, which to me is great horror. I gave this a thumbs up.


PS. Kudos on Let the Right One In   

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 11, 2012 - 12:19pm

Thanks for the comments. The whole plot complexity came from me not wanting to include a flashback in the story. Flashbacks are tricky; they slow down momentum, and are probably not best for a story of this scope. So I took Walter Hill's approach, with a little David Mamet thrown in and said, 'there is no backstory'. Of course I had to have a little backstory, but there's just enough to string you along. A flashback would have brought the action to a standstill while Pete remembered that fateful night of hazing. With another 1000 words I could have slipped into what was left of Jerry's mind and spanned the twenty plus years as he changed, but that wasn't what the story was about. A flashback would have made writing the story easier, but it wouldn't have done anything for the story. 

Again, thanks for the comments. 

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff July 11, 2012 - 6:14pm

Hey Bob, cool story you got here. I think this is the longest thing I've read from you. Your monster is pretty interesting and weird. I didn't see anything to critisize really. If I did it would only be a few typos here and there with some missing words in sentences. Otherwise a nice tight story. Thanks for sharing.

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 12, 2012 - 11:38am

Thanks. Most of my early writing career was spent working more in long form, novels, novellas, etc. Short stories were my weakness, could never really capture the scope of the actual story and they usually read like an outline for a novel. I've been working hard to get short story form right, so yeah, definitely, thanks for the comment. Good to know my hard work is paying off. 

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz July 12, 2012 - 7:44pm

Dug it! Reminds me of those old half-hour TV shows in the 80s like Tales from The Darkside or Monsters. I loved those shows. Just a good old fashioned revenge story. Good work with the limited amount of space. Good job setting up the reunion and the problem (Jerry's back). Even though the reader knows we're going to get to a final scene meeting with Jerry, you do a good job unfolding the story and creating tension. I loved the dead minnows and Outlawes. Nice touch.

Thanks for sharing. See you around the boards.


Lawrence's picture
Lawrence from Dallas, Texas is reading Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King July 13, 2012 - 6:42pm

Great story Bob. I certainly got a Creepy comcs vibe. I love those things. Good characters and for a short story I felt like you were able to get a lot done as far as character development. Thumbs up for sure.

Also, it was nice to see another story from Texas. Mine is as well. I live in Dallas. 

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 16, 2012 - 4:40pm

Thanks Otis and Lawrence. Glad you guys enjoyed the story. I love all those Horror anthology shows, with a special place in my heart for old Nightstalker shows. Visited Chicago when I was younger and got to see the office building where Kolchak worked that they showed in each episodes opening montage. Very cool. I have the Creepy Comics Volumn One collection, paid $50 for it, but damn it's good, which just makes me want to spend more money on the rest of them. Those comics are what I call Horror Porn, fucking love them. And I can't forget about Tales From The Crypt. Oh yeah. 

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. July 21, 2012 - 1:24pm

I feel like the grieving widow scene could use a little more work, but I like the premise of a haunting that has taken so long to come back on the people.  It seems strange that it happened that long ago and Derek is still paranoid about it.  Maybe something can be made of how he just won't let it go, because at the start it feels like a crime drama where crooks are meeting to discuss getting caught – but this is an old, old crime (and there isn't a body, so why would they think they'd get caught)?  LbL attached.

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 22, 2012 - 1:15pm

Hey, thanks for the LBL, didn't expect that at all. Good catches, definitely some things that need tweaking before polishing this one and sending it out. I really think it could benefit with another 700-800 words to clarify some things, maybe less words than that. Sorry about the typos. I am the Typo Master.

jmo125's picture
jmo125 from Plainview, NY is reading Short Story submissions From class 'Between the Sheets' July 23, 2012 - 6:59pm

I really liked it.  The plot was nice and tight, I liked the haunting aspect and the end was clean as a whistle!  Very suspensful.  I totally found myself wanting to know what Jerry was!


Thanks for sharing!

Emma C's picture
Class Facilitator
Emma C from Los Angeles is reading Black Spire by Delilah Dawson July 28, 2012 - 9:48am

You have a good plot here, and the monster is interesting. I'm curious about what happened after they drowned him, though, and would like it spelled out a little bit more (did he walk away? did they actually kill him? unclear). I'd also like to know why it took so long for him to take his revenge: did something trigger it, and if so, what?

Needs some work on mechanics (punctuation, missing words), and in a few instances you use the same word over and over (thick, eyes). I found some of the lines to be awkwardly worded, and some inconsistencies both in the character descriptions and dialogue, which made for clumsy reading and detracted from the plot, which I liked. Here are just a few of my notes:

Mikey with the hot wife and the college degree selling used cars and a millionaire and now he was dead. Is Mikey selling a millionaire, too?

Derek hopped in, rain pouring from his head and shoulders all over Pete’s cloth seats. Oh well, they’ll dry. Mixing tenses here, and the "oh well..." line feels more like a first person narration.

Pete would have never guessed Mikey would have been so successful. This was the guy who drinks his weight in beer with one hand tied behind his back. The guy who got Marla Gaines stoned and nailed her in the backseat of Derek’s old Camaro... “Think about it, Pete. Mikey didn’t smoke, didn’t drink. Not that I know of. First you say Mikey drank his weight in beer, then a few paragraphs later you say he didn't drink. 

The scene on page 5 that explains what happened to Jerry and the Outlawes is a tad confusing, I think due to the use of pronouns. He spray painted on "his own house" (Jerry's? Why?), being underwater "sure scared them". And how did the boys make life a living hell prior to the incident? I'd like to see more detail here.

Page 9: was Jerry dunked in a bath tub, as on page 5, or in a tub of minnows, as it states here?

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 2, 2012 - 10:20am

Overall, really solid story. It had sort of a noir feeling that i really appreciated. I think you did a great job building your main character. And jerry is creepy. I enjyed this one alot. I read it and gave it a thumbs up when i was still writing my story. I'm just now getting arround to comment.
it is unclear what actually jerry. I imagined that the boils were supernatural and that when he was.being held underwater he dissapeared. I think maybe he transported elsewhere or transformed into some waterry substance giving the illusion of dissapearance and the boils.helpped him later remanifesthimself. If you werd going for.ambiguity i think it works here because i like what i think happened. The drinking thing that emma pointed out stood.out to me also. It was inconsistent and somewhat jarring.
Thanks for writing this story

Scott MacDonald's picture
Scott MacDonald from UK is reading Perfidia August 3, 2012 - 1:51pm

Really enjoyed the story.  You're style flows naturally and I liked the way the story kept giving small clues to the past, explaining it the events from the childhood across the whole of the text without feeling to rush an explanation to set up the finale.  The characters were well drawn and believable and Jerry was a strange, quite grim, creation that felt that he had a story all of his own somewhere in the past.

Only quibble was there were a couple of typos - not normally a problem as we all make them, but with a story with such a natural flow, it forced me to stop and think and the pace (which was very well written) faltered whilst I worked out what you intended.

Very minor criticism though, as on the whole a very good read.

Sancho LeStache's picture
Sancho LeStache from El Paso is reading Hunger August 6, 2012 - 11:22am

So awesome. I could definitely tell that you've been reading old horror comics, because this came straight out of creepshow. I read it right before crashing out, and it gave me that "something's totally under the bed" feeling I used to get reading horror stories as a kid. Super fun read.

sjwatson's picture
sjwatson from Houston, Texas is reading How It All Began by Penelople Lively August 10, 2012 - 9:33am

Hi there! Really enjoyed the atmosphere you created--all that water and mud. Very true to life, too, the way old school relationships reassert themselves among adults--Pete slightly contemptuous of Derek, still jealous of Mike who got the hot cheerleader, Marla. The whole minnow thing--vivid pictures of those little buggers. (Could milk that more: folks have physical reactions to the "nastiest odor" -- and that might hit Pete's nose the moment he goes in his house so we know something's not right and you don't have to tell us that when he goes in the kitchen.

Only substantive comment is that the internal logic to the story isn't clear, and I think this kind of story, which hints from the start at a mystery in the past driving current events, needs some, albeit twisted. That is, what's up with Jerry and Tommy and their proclivity to really nasty skin diseases? Their house was "nasty ass"--was it also near a polluted pond? Is that where they fished for their minnows and catfish? Was the older brother Tommy also a little fishy/creaturely when he was found?  Is it possible that Michael wasn't just beautifying Groves but that his current activity had something to do with the source of what transformed Jerry? 

The story indicates Jerry was already transforming ("things on his skin" that react to water) when Derek, Mike and Pete held him under water. So the three buddies aren't responsible for his monster state...or are they?  If their bullying episode was the catalyst, why didn't Creature Jerry just go to town on them right away?

Not trying to get you to write a different story--just think you have angles to mine to make what you have more textured, layered and even creepier. I'll admit, my horror reading is largely limited to Dan Simmons and Stephen King and each of them is pretty strong on having some kind of internal logic/rules to their stuff.

So last point: Pete strikes me as pretty angry at the world (might be good to make it clear higher up his divorce is recent, if that's correct) and that he'd give old Jerry-Creature a hard time. I didn't quite buy it that he'd just stand there and get tentacled. For what that's worth...

Enjoyed the reading and thank you for sharing!

James Dawson's picture
James Dawson August 10, 2012 - 2:05pm

Hi Bob

Great work. I liked it a lot. I gave it the thumbs up.

I should just say, I'm a reader, I don't write so I'm not really qualified to critique your work but here are my thoughts.

The story progresses nicely, pushing the reader along with a steady build up to the final crescendo of the wardrobe scene!

I found it very easy to imagine the slimy, fish-like man monster ( Jerry, ) complete with disgusting skin growths and probing whiskers/ barbels from your description.

Something that left me wondering a little was the fact that during the build up we come across the "OUTLAWES" messages and the refridgerator full of fish, things that seemed to me like actions of someone who is playing a game with the lead characters, tormenting or toying with them to provoke a fear response. This seems incongruent with the character we find at the end; a mindless and seemingly silent strangler, (apart from the odd "cchhuuaa"  noises, presumably breathing out of some sort of gills?) Maybe it's just me and the way I imagined the monster? Perhaps a very brief menacing dialogue between the characters or even a Stephen King's Jack Torrence-esque "Here's Jerry!" would help? (Just joking.)

Then there's also the point of Jerry being portrayed as somewhat of the village idiot, not the sharpest tool in the box and yet his revenge plot seems quite calculated, going back to the idea that perhaps he enjoys the chase and the tormenting element.

Other than that...excellent! Thanks a lot for sharing.


GoldenDigital's picture
GoldenDigital from Kansas City is reading The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell; Choke by Chuck Palahniuk; The Help August 28, 2012 - 9:37pm

New here to the site and this was my first read.  I must say I'm excited for things to come!  This was a pretty good story to get introduced to the site with.  It was sufficiently creepy and I was not expecting a creature at all.  The majority of the story felt like "I Know What You Did Last Summer," up until we realize Jerry is a monster.  The rain, mud, all felt just like that movie.  I imagined Jerry at first walking around in some waterproof coveralls slingin' fish around everywhere he went.  One thing I think that could make this story even more vivid is maybe sprucing up the dialogue a bit.  I mean, give the dialogue some dialect.  People speak differently in all parts of the country.  If a setting was established early on then forget what I'm about to propose, but maybe you could place the story in the deep south, or the northeast, or somewhere where people speak with a way that defines where they come from.  I think this could help the imagery of the story even more.  Like I said, the images that first came to mind for me were from I Know What You Did Last Summer but that could have easily been changed with some local dialect.  Just a thought.  Great read and I can't wait to read more!

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing September 4, 2012 - 11:22am

“Outlawes,” by Bob Pastorella
Review by Ed Sikov

My, my, my. There’s a lesson in Bob Pastorella’s “Outlawes,” friends, and we all should learn it, but quick: never pick on a kid, especially a kid who’s a bit – shall we say - retarded, because he will probably come back and kill you, and the worst thing about it is that you will deserve to die. Like Steven King’s greatest tales, “Outlawes” protagonist is not either of the two men who meet on the sly to figure out what to do about Jerry, but the malignant Jerry himself. It’s Jerry, with his tumors and fishy smell, with whom Pastorella relates, and as a result, the ending is highly satisfying, as vengeance narratives often are. The success of this story is also its failure: it wasn’t scary. At least it didn’t scare me because I was so solidly on Jerry’s side all along. Them good ol’ boys got what they deserved, after all. I loved the story nonetheless.

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 September 4, 2012 - 8:39pm

Thanks for the review Ed, and all the others who have said kind words and given thoughtful critiques. 

Ed is the one who really hit the nail on the head: Jerry is the hero. I love a good role reversal in a story, and it seems to be a theme I explore again and again. I would have to agree that it's not a scary story, but it is a suspenseful story. I need to work on making things more scary, which means finding different ways for the readers to connect with the main characters. 


Thanks again everyone. 


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