View Full Version : You have the right to remain silent

doghouse reilly
December 22nd, 2011, 06:48 AM
One of my short stories. I'm not satisfied with it, but I;m not sure what to do to improve it. Any thoughts will be appreciated. I realize it needs formatting work.

doghouse reilly
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT Come sit down by me, Billy,” Connie Johnson said, patting the couch. William Baker frowned. Connie’s face wouldn’t launch a thousand ships, but she did have plenty of money.
“I wish you wouldn’t call me that. My name is William.”
He sat down anyway. After studying her face intently, he decided it could launch a rowboat. Canoe possibly. “I hate her, you know.”
“Now, now. Joanne seems like a nice person.”
“You know Roderick’s been sleeping with her.”
Connie laughed. “My husband can have her. I have you, remember.”
William shuddered. “You told me you wouldn’t divorce him.”
She looked away. “I can’t. My father’s will was specific. If I ever divorce, I lose my inheritance.”
And Roderick loses his meal ticket.

The next morning, William stared out his 40th floor office window overlooking the glass towers of downtown. The early morning sun bounced its rays off the buildings so brightly it made his head hurt. No cloud marred the endless horizon, and he felt better physically than he had in years. He had a well-appointed office with leather chair, teakwood desk and plush teal carpet. He even had a small aquarium in the corner, and the walls were covered with the finest contemporary art. Yet all he could see was despair and all he felt was anger.
Joanne Davis, formerly the manager of accounting, had been promoted to vice-president, and she was now his boss. He had always thought of himself as sensitive to the women’s movement. In college, he had supported his girlfriend’s efforts and cheered her on as she marched in angry parade down the main drag of the campus.
This was too much. This was going too far.
William had arrived at his usual 6:30 A.M., long before anyone else, and had seen the e-mail note from the senior V.P., Roderick Johnson. Special meeting called at eight o’clock sharp. Be there. William knew what it would be about. The office had been buzzing with the rumor for at least a week–the replacement for the retiring finance V.P. Walter Edd Mayhew would be a woman, and William knew Joanne Davis was on top of the short list.
Although only in her early thirties, she had a MBA from a prestigious eastern University. And most important of all, she was Roderick’s mistress. William sipped his third cup of special blend decaf coffee while he listened to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries blasting away on his stereo. As the notes rose to a crescendo, he pondered the situation. He had wanted V.P of finance bad. Old man Mayhew, had promised it to him, and dammit, he deserved it. He had worked twenty years at the company, averaging seventy hours a week. Something must be done.
William thought of an option. Hire a private investigator, have him follow Joanne around to prove she and Roderick were having an affair. Connie still couldn’t get a divorce, but it wouldn’t matter. The CEO was strictly nineteenth century when it came to adultery, and the scandal would drive her from the company. William liked it.
Investigators, however, cost money. William had plenty, but he had several problems. First there was his mother, wheeling around in that expensive rest home. Second, he owed twenty thousand to his bookie, who fortunately relied more on his lawyer than he did on his leg-breaking goon squad. Still, he was glad he bought the gun in his briefcase for protection. Then there was his ex-wife, bleeding him for every extra cent. Good thing they never had kids. She’d really suck him dry.
He also remembered the monthly payments on his downtown loft apartment, and on his new Lexus. He might have to ask Connie for money again. His mother sure wouldn’t give him any. He could still lose everything. His secretary buzzed. It was time for the meeting.
The board room, which took up the entire fortieth floor, was jammed with all the top brass. Joanne, wearing a just-above-the-knee conservative business suit, stood a discreet distance from Roderick. William remembered seeing her prance the halls in spike heels and a dress that barely covered her thighs. Roderick gave the usual canned speech. Every one applauded, and hovered around the punch bowl.
“Damn,” Joanne said at William’s elbow. “They forgot to spike it.”
William raised an eyebrow. “Missing your vodka tonic?”
She stared at him again.
“Don’t be crude, William.” She took a bite of cookie. “I naturally want to see your departmental report on my desk in the morning.”
William coughed. “Very well.” He could always pressure Murphy, his office manager, into hurrying it up. “I understand you and Roderick are old friends.”
She stared at him.
“Where did you hear that tripe?” She nudged him in the ribs with a carefully manicured fingernail. “I’d watch it if I were you.”
As she walked away, William considered that she was a Valkyrie herself, tearing into office battles with a sword and one of those dumb Viking winged helmets. William chuckled at the thought, but then the solution came to him in a flash. He would be his own investigator.
After the meeting, William was feeling good. Roderick had avoided eye contact with him. Something was up. William would follow Roderick.

That night, Roderick and Joanne met after work at an obscure Lebanese restaurant on the outskirts of the city. William munched a fast-food hamburger in his Lexus as he waited for them to come out. His car smelled like old grease, and his stomach had soured. He took some antacids as he followed them to a nearby apartment house. William kept to the shadows as he followed them to a second-floor flat. An hour later they left, going in opposite directions.

The next few days William surveyed the Internet, learning all he could about listening devices. He soon found what he was looking for at a local specialty store. It recorded at the sound of a voice, and was small enough to attach to a phone. Perfect, he thought. But how could he break into the apartment? He was relaxing in his city loft, drinking Cognac and listening to Pachelbel when he felt a presence in the room. He looked around and saw a mammoth human being. At least he thought it was human. It didn’t appear to have a neck. A bolt of fear exploded through his nerves.
“W-who are y-you?”
“I’m Sammy,” the being said. “Red wants to know where’s the cash.”
William shivered. He owed Red Harbaugh big bucks, and he was two weeks late with his monthly payment.
“I…I’ve been busy. I don’t have any money here. I’ll send Red a check in the morning.”
“Red tole me to get an extra thousand fer ya bein’ late.”
Sammy came closer. He smelled bad, like he hadn’t bathed in several months. William wrinkled his nose.
Sammy grabbed William by the neck.
“Now. Cash.” The big man mercifully let go.
William tried to catch is breath. He slowly got up, pulled out his wallet. “This is all I have with me.”
Sammy grabbed the wallet with a huge meaty paw, smiling as he pulled out a wad of bills. Two thousand dollars. William winced. That was next month’s payment to the nursing home.
“This’ll do,” Sammy said, turning away.
“Wait,” William said. “How did you get in here?”
“Easy. Why you wanna know?”
“Will you show me how? I’ll throw in an extra hundred.”
“Huh? Thought you said that was all.”
“There’s an ATM machine downstairs.”
Sammy showed him a small set of burglar tools, enough to open apartment doors.
“Let you have it for a c-note,” Sammy said.
Wallace smiled. Now he was ready to act. The next week he took a vacation day and scouted out Roderick’s place. He entered the apartment with ease, but he felt a sensation of pleasure mixed with dread, wondering if somehow he might get caught in the act. It took him longer than he expected, and it was close to five o’clock before he finished. He noticed his clothes were all wet with perspiration. Carefully he wiped off the phone and everything else he touched and left quickly, making sure he wasn’t observed.

“Good morning, Mr. Baker.”
William smiled at his secretary. She smiled back. Good old Dorothy. She worshipped him, no doubt. She was his confidant, his sycophant, his company spy. He leaned on her desk.
“Has Joanne come in yet?”
Dorothy smirked. “Yes sir,” she said, lowering her voice. “Ms. Davis is in her new office. But Mr. Johnson wants to see you right away."
Roderick looked up from his polished mahogany desk as William entered the walnut paneled office.
“I’m not going to put up with this farce,” William said, leaning hard on the edge of Roderick’s desk. “You know as well as I Joanne is not qualified for that job.”
“Jealous, are you?” Roderick said, scribbling on a note pad. “She’ll be good enough.”
“I thought we were friends.”
“Come on, William,” Roderick said, looking up. “This is business. Anyway, I called you in to warn you. Joanne has already found evidence of questionable practices, and we’re planning an external audit.”
William stood up straight, stared bullets at Roderick.
“She’ll find nothing wrong in my department.” William turned on his heel, and walked out, but was shocked to find Joanne in his office files.
“What are you doing in here?”
She didn’t turn around. “I’m the boss, remember.”
“That doesn’t entitle you…”
She turned, her eyes blazing. “Can it. By the way, I found a gun in your briefcase. That’s against company policy, and I could fire you on the spot. Anyway, I’m confiscating it.”
“You can’t do that. It’s my private property.”
“Watch me,” she said, leaving his office.
William felt all his internal fires burning. It was all he could do to hold it in. He wanted to speak, but he was numb. After she left, he sat in his chair a long time, trying to control his breathing. What was she planning? To control him, no doubt. He shivered. Now an audit? She really had him by the balls.

That night, William followed the lovers again to the apartment. After they left he took the tape home. He heard nothing but music. Loud music. Damn, he thought. Joanne has his gun. My God, he thought. She’s going to kill Connie with my gun! How perfect for Roderick. He would inherit everything and get Joanne to boot. Desperate, William called Connie’s house. No answer. A cold chill covered him. He had to act. He jumped into his car and raced toward Connie’s. If only he could be in time.The house was dark, shades drawn. Fear raged in his mind. He entered the house using the key Connie had given him. All the lights were off. He hit a switch. Nothing. Someone must have cut the wires. He groped around into the kitchen, trying find a flashlight. No luck. He stepped into the hall and tripped over something. Connie’s body. He kneeled beside her, feeling for a pulse. Her body was cold, but not hard. William knew nothing about forensics, but he guessed she hadn’t been dead long. Was the killer still in the house?
William had to find a phone, get the police. No, he couldn’t do that. Where was his gun? He crawled down the hall, trying to make as little noise as possible. He bumped into something hard. His gun. Now to get out of the house. But how to explain that she was killed with his gun? He had to get rid of it. Breathing hard, William stumbled through the house, but just as he approached the front door–gun in hand-all the lights in the house came on. The front door opened. Roderick stared at him, and framed on both his shoulders were two burly policemen.

The Backward OX
December 22nd, 2011, 07:38 AM
So he had four policemen framed on his shoulders?

God, I hate writers who do this. Every effing book you pick up where there's some guy goiing up some steps into a public building - "There were two stone lions either side of the steps." Four lions.

doghouse reilly
December 23rd, 2011, 03:03 AM
Well, if that's all that's wrong with it i can fix that right up. You know sometimes you can't
see the obvious when it's in your own stuff


doghouse reilly

December 23rd, 2011, 10:33 PM
“Come sit down by me, Billy,” Connie Johnson said…” I’m not a big fan of beginning a story with dialogue chiefly because I feel it’s a bit of a tacky introduction to a character (in this case, Connie). I think it establishes an excellent flow and pace for the story out of the gate… but that usually falls very quickly with the whole “said So-and-so…”. I think it might be better to have an action following it. It retains the pace more solidly and allows for a later introduction of a character (instead of being like BAM! HERE’S A CHARACTER!). Something like…

“Come sit down by me, Billy,”
Billy came over and sat beside her. He shifted uneasily in his seat.

I like that you keep to your references. It keeps the story somewhat familiar and gives it a unique flavor.

Something about this just rubs me the wrong way.

“William sipped his third cup of special blend decaf coffee while he listened to Wagner’sRide of the Valkyries blasting away on his stereo.”

It seems overly specific and, while I normally like this, I don’t think that it fits all that well right here.

This part seems like a bit of an information dump.

“He had wanted V.P of finance bad. Old man Mayhew, had promised it to him, and dammit, he deserved it. He had worked twenty years at the company, averaging seventy hours a week. Something must be done”

I know that it’s difficult, but I’d try and imply some of the effort that he’s placed into his career and I’d try and hint at his desire for VP.


I’m afraid I have to run to work, now. But I’ll come back and finish up later tonight.

- Insomnia