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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer


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fiction experiment

I'm a serious fan of short mystery stories, and I've been reading so many lately (along with full-length novels) that I was finally inspired to try something of my own. B is upstairs sleeping, but I had an idea and wanted to come down and try something with it. I'll re-read it in the morning. And again for the record, the following text is purely a work of fiction. And it's meant to be a bit twisted, and cold. I hope it ultimately comes across that way.
Killing appears to have come naturally to me. My first murder, if you could call it that, was executed without preparation. When I left the house that afternoon, I didn't know what I would end up doing at the end of the night. But when I returned to the house early the next morning, I wore my regular personality like a comfortable shirt. I passed that morning with my wife and our only son uneventfully: made them each their favourite breakfasts, sent them off to work and to school with their lunch bags. I even made love to my wife the next night to prove to myself that I could act normally after taking someone's life. And then, once the days turned into weeks without her suspecting that anything was different about me, I realized that I was prepared to do it again. And again, and again, and again.

Now to tell you the truth, I think that I'm doing a public service. I don't kill anyone who isn't already on the road to killing someone else at some point. These poor saps are just too ignorant to do anything to prevent it ahead of time. I consider my actions to be pre-emptive defense strikes, like the Americans in Iraq. I figure I need to remove these guys from circulation before they do some real harm to somebody innocent.

I own a bar on a secondary road near the airport. It's part of a motel that used to cater to tourists, but after they built a four-lane express highway that bypasses this road, the motel was foreclosed and I bought the place for a song. I had been itching for a change of pace for awhile, anxious to leave the tedious career that I'd found tedious since my second year into it. The bar provided a perfect place for me to settle, having always been a night owl who enjoyed meeting new people. I never did re-open the motel.

Business is certainly not brisk, but my wife's salary and bonuses as a partner in a downtown law firm help considerably to offset my operating costs. Actually, it's ironic that the place is still afloat, given the fact that I've killed several of my customers and will likely kill several more.

Like any bar, mine has its regulars. In my case, mainly men who work without neckties in a nearby industrial park. But I also get an assortment of plaid shirts from the country who don't appreciate the atmosphere of the bars in the city. The first one I killed was one of these. So was the second, and also the third.

The fourth one though, was different. He was a sales executive for the makers of Choco-Delite candy bars who really thought he was the cat's ass. He first arrived just after I opened the bar at four o'clock, and by the time the six o'clock news was on he had already demonstrated his considerable prowess as a drinker and all-round bullshit artist. I was considering my options when he suddenly left for a dinner meeting. I thought I might not ever see him again.

I wasn't unpleasantly surprised when he returned around 11 that night to pick up where he had left off. Like the previous three customers I'd killed, this one was a career drinker who obviously felt that he couldn't function properly without several drinks on board. He carried himself a bit more carefully than the others, but every time he headed for the can I could detect the telltale stumble-and-recover, the signs that he was too impaired for most other activities, including driving or carrying on an intelligent conversation.

But you see, it's always been that driving part that gets to me. It's the prospect of these guys driving away drunk that makes me do what I do. And it's not like I don't come by it honestly. After a drunk driver killed my daughter two years ago, I've never given these killings a second thought.

This sales executive was my last customer as I prepared to close at 1:00 AM. He was seriously impaired now, but I had let him continue drinking to see what he was going to do at the end of the night. When he confirmed that he was going to drive his rental car back to his hotel at the airport and that as usual, he felt as good as ever, I felt a familiar shiver of apprehension flutter through me. It intensified as I prepared what would be his very last drink.

As with the others, that feeling of apprehension only disappeared a couple hours later, after I had effectively disposed of his body. And as with the others, a familiar sense of peace settled over me as I returned home to my warm bed. I slept dreamlessly with my arms around my wife until her alarm went off two hours later and I rose to prepare breakfast for her and my only son. They were each surprised to find a Choco-Delite candy bar in their lunches that day, each wrapped with a note telling them that I loved them.

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fireceremony September 14th, 2004

Ooh you wrote a short story! I liked it, it was twisted and a bit cold and reminded me of some of Roald Dahl's short crime stories. The person telling the story sounds very self righteous with the "I consider my actions to be pre-emptive defense strikes, like the Americans in Iraq." :)

You have a clean style that fits well for the concentrated format of the story. I think you formulate the story and the motivation very well. You have the story background, milleau and motivation down.

Just about the only sentence I would have changed was "the tedious career that I'd found tedious since my second year into it". I would have changed one of the "tedious" just to avoid using the same adjective twice.

Also, I would have wanted to put the explanation/motivation down one paragraph to get the "punchline" of the story further towards the end, even though I see that "But you see, it's always been that driving part that gets to me" is much connected with the sentence that precedes it. It would maybe require a lot of editing to suffle those two sentences around.

Other than that, I think it was a cool story that works very well as short crime fiction and you obviously have a flair for writing. :)) Wanna join me on the national writing month (naniwrimo) in November? ;)) (I may do a half hearted attempt at doing the naniwrimo this November...)

iamom September 14th, 2004
This is awesome feedback, thank you! You gave me great suggestions that I've taken into account in my edits.

Checked out that NaNoWriMo thing, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for such a big brain dump yet. I want to keep practicing with the short form for a little while, and then work on expanding the length after I've become a bit more proficient.

fireceremony September 14th, 2004

Great! :))

Working with the small format sounds like a good idea. I would guess it's much better to write when inspiration and mood strikes than try to force a novel in the course of a month. That's one of the reasons I don't want to promise to participate in NaNoWriMo.

"Brain dump"... I like that expression! :D

Let us see what else you come up with in the future. It's honestly very inspiring to see others on lj write, because I really want to do it too.

iamom September 14th, 2004
Finding time for writing, of course, is always a challenge. But I'm so invigorated by this process that I know I'll keep working on it over time.

What kind of stuff do you enjoy writing? Is it all fiction? Do you write some of your own RPG content, too?

fireceremony September 15th, 2004

It is very invigorating seeing the ideas (that come from that place you know ;) ) appear on paper. Let's write more! :)

I've written some movie and game reviews lately for work, writing reviews is fun so there's sure to be more of that in the future.

I really love writing fiction but it's not that often I get ideas or that the ideas stick and seem worth developing into stories. I'd love to write a horror story some day.

I probably should write some RPG content instead of mooching off the others, but I'm sadly rarely inspired to write RPG plot.

chaizzilla September 16th, 2004
oh man, this is so full of cheek! "cat's ass" was perfect. you should keep rolling these out whenever the urge hits; you've got that writing flair and i think you'll enjoy returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak.

iamom September 17th, 2004
Heh heh -- thanks, I appreciate the encouragement. I will definitely keep working on this. I had a gas writing that one, and I have a few more ideas that I've been fleshing out this week. It's so fun to do it, and I've wanted to for so long!

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