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Monster
June 21st, 2013, 01:16 AM
I chose to share a piece of my story. To give a summary, Zack (26) is a cop and he meets a veterinary tech named Manny (21). Zack is surprised to find that Manny is gay and in an abusive relationship of four years with another man. Zack is straight, or so he thought. He's become good friends with Manny and finds himself thinking about his friend all the time. I apologize for the section not being more towards the beginning of the story, but this part was less boring than the beginning. This is a piece of Zack and Manny's first real conversation. They'd met before and Zack noticed his bruises, but now is when he confronts the younger man about them. Pardon the poor grammar if it's there. This is still the first draft. But I would like to know what you guys think of it, or if you can throw any advice my way. Criticism is accepted but please do it gently so as not to burst my bubble too badly.

Warning: For language possibly (I don't recall if this chapter has a load of swearing in it), and mentions of abuse.

~:~:~:~

What the Hell is going on? Zack almost felt like some sort of creepy mojo was at work as of late, because even though he hadn’t been to the veterinarian’s office in nearly two weeks, he started seeing that same male technician, the one with the Russian accent, almost everywhere he went. He’d see the guy heading down the sidewalk on his way home from work. They passed by one another in public, heading into or out of the same stores. Has he always been coming here? Did I just never notice him before? Is he stalking me? No, that’s ridiculous. He doesn’t seem like the stalker type at all.
This particular day was no different. As a matter of fact, he’d almost bumped into the smaller man in line at the coffee shop during his lunch break. The man was turning around to head out the door, having just paid for some gigantic blended coffee drink, and Zack was moving ahead a step, not paying attention to what was going on in front of him.

“Whoa there.” Zack said, side-stepping to keep from bumping into the guy in the blue scrubs.

“Sorry.” Came his reply, with a slight roll of the tongue.

“Hey, I know you.” Zack confirmed as the realization of coming across the technician again sank into his mind.

“You’re the guy with the dog. Paige?” He asked, pausing while Zack asked for his ‘usual’. There was something pleasing about seeing somebody ask for a ‘usual’ in real life. The technician’s eyes flickered in a hidden excitement at this.

“Yeah, she’s my mom’s.” Zack stated, noticing that yes, yet again this man was bruised. This time another faded bruise showed near his eye, and bruises were intermittently spaced over the backs of his forearms. His lip wasn’t exactly split again, but a fresh cut ran from the upper right side of his mouth up to the underside of his nose in the shape of a crescent. He got himself into trouble again. Do the muggers follow him around or is this guy just so dumb that he takes the same route right to them everyday?

“How is she?” The technician inquired, breaking Zack’s concentration.

“Her stitches are all melted out now. She’s fine. Pretty drugged up and tired the first two days, but after that, she didn’t even notice anything was different with her. Same pain in the ass dog she’s always been.” Zack answered, trying to be friendly.

The man turned his head down and looked at the floor when he noticed Zack observing his bruises. Okay, the signs are all there. I need to do something. I don’t want to watch this happen to another person. Zack ignored the obvious injuries and humiliation the first two times meeting this man, and now he needed to offer some form of help. Victims didn’t always accept help, but he would have felt like a jerk had he said nothing at all. After all, the tech wasn’t a big guy. He couldn’t have been more than 5’8” and 150 pounds soaking wet. He wouldn’t have been much of a match for one good sized man, and had there been more than one against him, he’d be too easy to overcome.

“Do you have a minute?” Zack asked the man, motioning to go over and sit at one of the shop’s tables in the corner of the room.

The man sighed, as if knowing all too well what was going to be asked of him, but he nodded. Following Zack, who just paid for his ‘usual’ cup of black coffee and cream cheese bagel, the two sat across from one another.

“Let me start. I’m Zack.” He didn’t mention his occupation like he usually did when trying to comfort someone that needed help. He was in uniform so it was obvious. He also caught himself not using his officer name, going with a casual ‘Zack’ instead of ‘Officer Lavelle’ and he wasn’t sure why.

“I’m Manny.” The technician nodded in greeting. I guess he isn’t really the hand-shake type of guy.

“I wanted to ask you something, because every time I see you, you’re hurt in some way.” The officer started, drawing an embarrassed flush to form over the younger man’s face. “Look, if somebody’s doing that to you, you should tell. Get some help or it isn’t going to stop.”

“I’m okay. I don’t need help. Really.” Manny replied softly.

“You obviously do, man. It’s not normal to walk around scared and beat up all the time. Is it a money thing?” Zack prodded, trying to get even a bit of information without upsetting the man in front of him.

“Is what a money thing?” Manny asked, raising an eyebrow in confusion.

“This whole thing.” Zack clarified, motioning to the bruises. “If their reason for doing this is robbing you, I can fix that. You don’t have to put up with it. Just give me a description and it will stop.”

“Oh, it’s not like that.” Manny confirmed, understanding now what Zack meant. Okay, Zack thought, it isn’t a mugging. They’re not taking money from him. Maybe it’s a bullying thing. Fuck, I hate when it’s a bullying thing. Zack tried desperately to stay on track and not let another bloody flashback blink into his thoughts.

“Do you know the person or persons doing this?” Zack pressed. When Manny didn’t answer, he continued. “Look, I know it must be embarrassing for you. But you’re not alone. I’ve seen it before, and I’m just trying to help. It’s my job to protect the people of this town, and if you let me, I can help you.”

“I… I can take care of myself. I don’t want to cause any trouble.” Manny declared, almost begging.

“You’re doing a pretty piss-poor job of taking care of yourself.” Zack retorted sarcastically.

“Thanks.” Manny said back, appearing a bit more saddened.

Don’t be an asshole, Zack.

“I’m sorry. If you tell me, that’s all it has to be. Just two people talking. I just want to know what happened. There’s nothing I can do about it if you don’t press charges. If you refuse, I’ll drop it. It’s confidential, what you’re telling me. There isn’t going to be any trouble. Okay?” He assured the other man.

“If I tell you, you’ll let it go and not mention it again?” Manny asked.

“Yes. I’ll let it go if you want me to. But if you choose, I can help you.”

“Okay. The person that does this to me is my…boyfriend.” Manny muttered quietly, so that the other customers and people behind the counter wouldn’t hear.

Zack’s eyes widened, not that he meant for them to. He always kept his cool, no matter what he heard on the job, but this time he actually was surprised. He didn’t know much about gay men, and he’d admit that to anybody that asked. He wasn’t homophobic by any means. Gay men just wasn’t something he came across in his everyday life, so his initial thoughts regarding gay people was unfortunately backed by the stereotype of a feminine, flamboyant man in feathers and pink. It was all he really knew, having seen this portrayal in movies and tv shows. He’d only ever actually met one gay man in his life, Joey’s cousin Randy. He lived up in Newport and came around to visit on occasion. He was a big, burly man that Joey referred to as a ‘bear’. Zack didn’t know what that meant, but even though Randy was a monster of a man, he still held a feminine air about him, making it very easy to believe when Joey said her cousin was gay.
He was almost floored when Manny said the word boyfriend. He didn’t look gay at all. Sure, he was skinny and his features were delicate, but he didn’t appear to be feminine really and his face wasn‘t girlish in the least. He sure as hell didn’t come off as flamboyant. His hair had a little more life in it than most men he‘d come across, reminding Zack of Adam Lambert’s hair, but other than that, Manny was plain and withdrawn. He was quiet and seemed to be a very gentle person, with a kind voice and nothing about him that stuck out in a crowd, aside from his deep brown eyes.

“Boyfriend?” Zack asked, blinking and trying to make himself look like less of a surprised fool.

“Boyfriend.” Manny repeated, nodding, but not making eye contact with Zack anymore. “His name is Andrew.”

“And is he…?” Zack started, brain all blown apart and not forming any of his thoughts into the proper words. His hands were moving about, as if to try drawing a picture of what he meant to say.

“As small as I am?” Manny finished for him. When Zack nodded in response, Manny continued. “No, he’s a little taller than you, almost the same size, but you’re probably in better shape.”

“And he hits you?” Zack reiterated again in disbelief. It always bothered him to hear of people being abused by their partners, but it was always girls being hit by guys before. Oddly enough, it didn’t matter right now the person being abused by a man was also a man. The defenselessness was still there and this was so familiar to Zack. It reminded him of his days back in high school. Zack knew that he could very easily take Manny down in a fight, even if the smaller man was in good shape. The size difference was on his side, and if Andrew was even bigger than Zack, Manny definitely wasn’t going to win if he tried.

“Sometimes.” Manny confessed, face still downcast in shame.

“And you don’t hit him back?” Zack asked, wanting to make sure that this was a domestic abuse situation and not just a fight between two men.

“No. I don’t like fighting. I would never hit Andrew. I love him.” Manny retorted.

“And he loves you? Even though he’s hurting you?” Zack was a little bewildered by this, not knowing what to think or how to take this information. Everything he knew about men fighting before had a set of rules. Two men could fight and it was okay if one man won, beating the other to a pulp. Then his mother’s voice was ringing in his memory, teaching him about what bullying was. This was almost a portrait of what she was saying, painted out before his very eyes. The look on Manny’s face was almost identical to the look on his younger brother’s face all those years ago, when he’d come home from school bloody and horrified.

“I did something bad.” Manny murmured.

“Dude, that’s not right. He shouldn’t be hitting you for any reason.” Zack assured, “There isn’t much you can tell me you did to make somebody beating you up justifiable. What do you think you did this time to set him off?”

“I forgot our anniversary.” Manny said sadly, obviously guilt was still built up in him. “I didn’t mean to.”

“Tell me what happened.” Zack coaxed, transfixed in this perplexing relationship.

“Our anniversary was three days ago. Andrew planned something nice for us to do together. I told him that I had to work late that night. I had a surgery scheduled and my boss needed me. He just got angry.”

“We all get angry, but I’ve never been mad enough to hit my girlfriend. Not that you’re a girl, but somebody that’s supposed to love you shouldn’t put their hands on you like he does. Straight up, people just shouldn‘t be thumping on each other.” Zack was trying to explain. He didn’t know how to make sense of this to someone already on the inside of the trap.

“Your girlfriend probably doesn’t mess everything up like I do.” Manny assured.

“She cheated on me. I caught her in my house with another guy and I still didn’t hit her. I just helped her pack up and get out of my life.” Zack countered. “How did he hurt you? That cut doesn‘t look like it came from a fist.”

“I…um, I was drinking my coffee in the kitchen, and we were both getting ready for work. I mentioned the late night I had ahead of me, and he… started yelling at me. I went to take a drink of my coffee, and he thought I wasn’t listening. He hit the bottom of my cup and it slammed into my face. My coffee spilled all over me and burned me. He started hitting me and then he drug me into the bathroom to go clean myself up, wipe the blood off of my face, and change my clothes.” His voice cracked and he sounded deeply upset by what he’d been making excuses for only a minute ago. He looked rather surprised by what just came out of his mouth, as if he’d never told anybody these things before and never planned on telling Zack.

“You think that’s okay? I mean, is that what you want to happen for the rest of your life?” Zack requested, waiting for some semblance of the typical answers he hears constantly.

“No, it’s not like that.” There it was. That’s what they all say…well most of them. These poor people always find some reason why what’s happening to them is somehow acceptable.

“Sounds like that’s exactly what it is, man. He’s going to hit you and you’re going to take it.” Zack contended.

“Zack, I have to go. I’m going to be late for work.” Manny stammered suddenly, standing up and taking his half-empty coffee with him.

“Okay, but wait, man. Here. This is my phone number. It’s my direct one. If you need any help, I want you to call me, okay?” Zack insisted, scribbling something down on the back of the coffee shop’s business card he had in his pocket from who knows how long ago. He handed it to the smaller man that took it gingerly, visibly avoiding physical contacting Zack’s skin with his own.

“Thank you.” Manny said quietly, before stuffing the card into his pocket and hurrying out the door.

------

Folcro
June 27th, 2013, 08:06 PM
You capture sexual tension well--- a powerful tool in fiction. Though I fear it may be out of place at this point in the story. Zack is straight, or thinks he is, or is for the time being, whatever. For our purposes, he is straight. I feel it's a little soon, therefor, for him to notice Manny's tongue rolling or his eyes flickering. The style may also be a little passive and flowery for a masculine voice:

"...came his reply, with a slight roll to the tongue." ---Is this the voice of a cop?

"Is he stalking me?" ---guys don't usually think this way. You could get away with the word "following," but I wouldn't try it.

It would also help to use shorter sentences. Get to the point when in Zack's perspective. Let his voice show that there is no possibility (rather, hope?) that he would end up being the champion of this broken man. Then, when the tension starts, it starts in fire.

Keep in mind in whose perspective this is told. Zack is telling the story. Unless he is a mind-reader, he shouldn't know that Manny is hiding excitement.

"Okay, the signs are there. I need to do something..." ---Expository thought can be just as crippling to any masterwork as expository dialogue. This is where the Japanese so often go wrong with their fiction. Brilliant ideas watered down with the inability to show instead of tell. Zack is just about to go help this guy, so why talk about it now? We'll see his kindness when we see him ACT on it.

"The man sighed, as if knowing all too well what was going to be asked of him, but he nodded." ---Given the circumstances, the reader can decide for themselves what Manny's sigh has meant.

“Let me start. I’m Zack.” He didn’t mention his occupation like he usually did when trying to comfort someone that needed help. He was in uniform so it was obvious. He also caught himself not using his officer name, going with a casual ‘Zack’ instead of ‘Officer Lavelle’ and he wasn’t sure why. ---This is a lot of information to describe an introduction, isn't it? And half of it I could have figured out myself (especially if you emphasize earlier on that Zack is in uniform). Let me feel for myself what is happening, instead of telling me.

"“I’m Manny.” The technician nodded in greeting." ---Just nodded, no "in greeting."

"“Oh, it’s not like that.” Manny confirmed, understanding now what Zack meant." ---Going back to perspective. We can understand what's happening without this clause anyway.

"Zack tried desperately to stay on track and not let another bloody flashback blink into his thoughts." ---How about saving this information for later, as Zack's involvement in Manny unfolds (Unless you mentioned Zack's being bullied earlier, in which case, you definitely don't need this line).

“Do you know the person or persons doing this?” ---I thought Zack was trying not to talk like a cop...?

"Zack’s eyes widened, not that he meant for them to. He always kept his cool, no matter what he heard on the job, but this time he actually was surprised. He didn’t know much about gay men, and he’d admit that to anybody that asked. He wasn’t homophobic by any means. Gay men just wasn’t something he came across in his everyday life, so his initial thoughts regarding gay people was unfortunately backed by the stereotype of a feminine, flamboyant man in feathers and pink. It was all he really knew, having seen this portrayal in movies and tv shows. He’d only ever actually met one gay man in his life, Joey’s cousin Randy. He lived up in Newport and came around to visit on occasion. He was a big, burly man that Joey referred to as a ‘bear’. Zack didn’t know what that meant, but even though Randy was a monster of a man, he still held a feminine air about him, making it very easy to believe when Joey said her cousin was gay.
He was almost floored when Manny said the word boyfriend. He didn’t look gay at all. Sure, he was skinny and his features were delicate, but he didn’t appear to be feminine really and his face wasn‘t girlish in the least. He sure as hell didn’t come off as flamboyant. His hair had a little more life in it than most men he‘d come across, reminding Zack of Adam Lambert’s hair, but other than that, Manny was plain and withdrawn. He was quiet and seemed to be a very gentle person, with a kind voice and nothing about him that stuck out in a crowd, aside from his deep brown eyes."

---Way, way way too much information. Gay people are strange. Everybody has understood this, homophobic or not, since the beginning. You don't need to reintroduce it now. More than half of what you've written here only bogs the narrative.

Final Verdict:

You're doing a great job here. I like Zack, I like Manny. In the end, that will be the most important thing about this story. But you have a lot of things to work through. The dialogue feels generic, like something I'd see reenacted at an abuse seminar. Work more personality into the conversation. It's not just a story of guy helps other guy through sticky situation, it's the story of who these people are.

I'd love to know what plans you have for this story; what other characters will get involved, what twists and turns await the reader, what sort of people these men (and perhaps women) truly are. Feel free to respond and let me know. If you're willing, I would love to help you further with this. I have great respect for gay literature. Forbidden love is always a fascinating topic, and homosexuality is one of the few good reasons to implement it in modern fiction.

Monster
July 2nd, 2013, 06:10 PM
Thanks for the review. I didn't get an email telling me, so I saw this late. I totally need help here. I'm a girl, and a very emotional one, so it's hard for me to jump into the eyes of a tough guy, which Zack is. I have changed everything to first person perspective, which I think is working really well for me, I'm able to keep perspective better that way, instead of being a mind reader. One chapter is Zack's, and another is Manny's. So far I have two chapters from an outside perspective, but it's doing better. First draft is still first draft, but I'm changing things around constantly.

Thanks a ton for the critiques. <--- Did I spell that right?
Anywho, I do definitely need more help from the male perspective. Right now, I'm at the point where they've become friends rapidly, but Manny's feelings for Zack have become secretly less than platonic. Zack is still trying to maintain his straightness to himself but he catches himself doing gay-ish things more often. I'm dealing a lot with Manny's guilt at having these feelings for another man when he's already in a relationship. I've gone too much into the super-hero mentality. But any other advice I appreciate. I have almost 8 chapters right now, but they're all only drafts. I notice that my autistic brain is too focused on tiny, insignificant details, and I have a hell of a time with dialog.

I forgot to mention, which is probably important, that this excerpt is from chapter 4, a crappy place to start, but the first two are still kind of boring, and chapter 3 is from Donny's POV (an character not yet introduced).

EDIT: I'm not sure if I should edit my first post to enter in what I've done with this chapter recently, or if I should just add it in a new reply.

Folcro
July 3rd, 2013, 11:36 PM
How bout this: edit chapter one. Then post that. The most important thing right now is drawing the reader in. That starts in the first sentence of the first chapter. It would also be the easiest place for me, as a critic, to begin.

As a side note, you don't get emails for thread replies.

Monster
July 4th, 2013, 12:43 AM
Will do, thanks again. I'm kind of going over all 8 of my chapters, adding things, taking other things out, etc. I will update this bit by the end of tomorrow.

Monster
July 5th, 2013, 04:49 PM
I forgot that yesterday was 4th of July, der. I got side-tracked doing family stuff. But here's chapter 1 like I said I'd post. I didn't want to do a separate thread, so I went with this one. Here's the new chap.

Warning for language.

-------------------------------------------

Chapter One


I spent the first hours of my day away from work going on a long jog in the autumn morning breeze. All together, it looked like the beginning of a close-to perfect day in my Rhode Island town, with the leaves just beginning to turn that pleasant orange and yellow hue and the retired men on my route starting their lawn mowers or pruning their bushes. They’d nod or wave a polite greeting as I passed by. I’d like to think that I had fair respect around here. Why wouldn’t I? I was Zack Lavelle, a third generation officer of the law in a town with a relatively low crime statistic. On occasion there would be public drunkenness, a couple domestic calls, some shoplifting, and maybe traffic violations, but nothing horrific usually happened around here. It’d been almost ten years since the last recorded murder, which still haunts me. More often than not I was lenient and easy to like, letting people off with warnings whenever permitted. Days off were quite frequently started with a satisfying run, in a well-recognized gray shirt with my department’s insignia printed on the front and the sweat pants I was issued in training. It was part of my habit.
Today was going especially well, being that it was a Friday and I didn’t have to be at work. I already planned on finishing my jog at around 8:30 and then heading to a locally owned coffee shop and diner hybrid that my work buddies and I frequented almost daily. Later, I would go over to my parents’ home to help dad with one of his projects he insisted that I join him for. We frequently had father and son things that the two of us did together. Later in the evening, my good buddy Donny planned to start one of his weekend barbeques early, since he and his wife had somewhere to be on Saturday and Sunday. The couple lived right next door to my parents, so it was a convenient way to spend weekends with friends and family. These were all the people that mattered in my life, aside from the citizens of the town I’d sworn to protect and serve.
It wasn‘t like I had anybody waiting for me when I got home. When I would go home to my little two bedroom house, the only living thing that would rush to greet me was my Siberian Husky by the name of Michelle. I would have taken the dog with me on my jog, but Michelle, also referred to colorfully as “Meesh,” was rather lazy, and would only run for a block before stubbornly sitting down on the sidewalk and refusing to budge until I surrendered and we headed home. No, Michelle was much better off at home, playing in the back yard, guarding the house from leaves that dared fall in the grass within three feet of the back door.
Turning the corner and heading past the furniture store, I gave a friendly nod to a couple of men that just exited the front doors of the Winroad Apartment building. The taller of the pair gave a straight faced nod in reply, while the other smiled in a pleasant manner, and I felt that his eyes were following me before the taller man leaned over, whispering something I couldn’t hear, and gave what looked like a good-natured punch to the shoulder of the smaller man. He must not have expected it though, because a soft yelp pushed past his lips and he stumbled forward against a parked car, setting off the alarm and in turn looking embarrassed. I smirked to myself at the humor I noted there, choosing to ignore the alarm as there was obviously no harm done to the car and the man appeared more embarrassed than physically hurt. Besides, I was off-duty.

“Huh?” I said aloud to nobody, without meaning to, stopping within a few feet of another apartment building where a familiar face was exiting, clearly in the same clothing she’d worn the previous day.

“Kayla?” I called, stepping forward to meet her.

“Oh. Hi Zack.” She replied, stopping her steps, the heel of her shoe clicking to a halt on the sidewalk. She looked impatient, tired, and in need of a shower.

We’d been on two dates in the past two weeks, two Saturdays in a row. As far as I thought, we seemed to be getting along well, and I assumed that they were going to have a third date tomorrow, but Kayla didn’t seem happy to see me. Instead, she looked distracted.

“Look, I don’t have much time to talk. I have to go home and get ready for work.” She said, starting to step around me, hair disheveled.

“You don’t live here?” I asked offhandedly, having never been to her house.

“No. No I don’t.” Kayla grumbled in a huff.

“Then why were you… oh.” I finished. Such was another girl interested in casual dating. Casual everything really. I wasn’t offended by her actions, or the fact that she was seeing another guy. We really had only had two dates, only shared a kiss or two between us. We were not exclusive and I really didn’t expect other people to maintain my old-fashioned, one-for-one dating habits.

“I’m sorry, Zack. You’re a nice guy, really you are. It just isn’t working out. We had fun, but you know how it is, right?”

“Right.” I answered casually, as if this didn’t bother me in the least. No, I hadn’t developed any deep feelings for Kayla, but I liked her. I was a lonely guy, almost reaching my thirties and found myself envious of my best friend and the relationship he had with his wife.

“You’re not mad?” She asked, placing a gentle, manicured hand on my bicep, which flexed without me meaning it to. It was my body’s unconscious way of showing off.

“No. It’s cool. I totally understand.” I replied in an assuring fashion. Dating a cop wasn’t for everybody. I was usually busy, and worked odd hours, making a social life difficult to muster. I was fully aware that a lot of women needed more contact in a serious partner. This was the same reason why my ex, Rachel, left nearly a year ago. Well, she left me emotionally to be with another guy while still living in my house, but I digress.

“You take care, Zack.” She smiled once, breaking me away from his current thoughs, and then headed toward her car.

“Well, shit.” I muttered when she was no longer in earshot. I guess my Saturday is free. I bet work will call me in.

~:~:~:~

“Dude, you got dumped again?” Donny asked from the kitchen of my parents’ -Mr. and Mrs. Lavelle’s- house. On the weekends, Donny and his wife Joey were usually invited over to my mom and dad’s home for lunch. My parents both had a very close relationship with Donny. He’d always been at the house when we were kids, and he treated Toby and Paula as if they were his own parents. Donny was always invited over for dinner whenever he’d like to attend. Dad always asked him to come over and help with a project whenever I was too busy, or the project required three people to complete. Donny pretty much made their home his home.

“I wouldn’t say dumped. She just declined to pursue a third date.” I replied, gaining a sympathetic sigh from my mother.

“That’s being dumped you poor son of a bitch.” Donny snickered, taking in a mouthful of beer.

“Be nice, kid,” Dad started, “It’s not Zack’s fault he hasn’t landed a wife like Joey. Actually it is. What’s wrong with you, Zack? And when are you going to land a wife like Joey?” Donny’s wife blushed and waved my dad off sweetly.

“Dad, Jesus.” I scoffed, chuckling softly as I stood and took out the trash bag that my mother offered, giving me a polite way to escape. She knew I didn’t want to talk about this, my failed relationships with women. I always was kind of a mama’s boy, and Mom always ran to my defense when it came to any challenge I was facing. She’d always been close with her children, me and my brother, juggling her busy schedule to make time for us. Everything changed, though, after losing Reno, my younger brother, and after retiring a year ago, her desire to be a pillar of stability in her remaining child’s life became the most important thing to her.

It wasn’t like she was one of the over-bearing ‘stalker’ moms. She gave me space and wasn’t the smothering type. She never tried to get in the way when it came to me making my own decisions, but she was a dedicated mother even though I was an adult. She would call or stop by my house once every couple of days to check on me and make sure I remained fed well even when I’d needed to pull a double shift at work. She’d seen what these work habits could do to an appetite when Dad worked for the police service almost eight years ago. He’d gained weight since retiring.

I was pulled from my thoughts again by the screeching sound of tires peeling to a halt, followed by a thump and the bawling of an injured animal. Looking up, the confusion was starting to unfold. Down the street only about 40 feet away, a black Camry sat in the road with the engine still running and the visibly shaken driver standing with her weight braced on the open door. Ironically, the woman’s license plate was framed with a paw print decal.

“Lady, what the fuck?” Came the voice of a boy in his teens approaching, clearly the owner of the yellow lab that was now laying along the passenger side of the car, whimpering and in pain.

“I’m so sorry! He ran out into the street. I couldn‘t stop!” The driver was crying, frustrated and overwhelmed.

“Danny, what happened?” Another woman joined in, coming out of the same yard the boy known as Danny had come from moments ago.

“This lady hit Honey!” He called.

“Why wasn’t she in the back yard?!” This new woman, probably Danny’s mother asked, distraught and approaching her pet. As the woman dropped to her knees, trying to comfort the frightened animal, I approached the family, noticing the degree of the dog’s injuries. One of the back legs was unnaturally bent, and the skin had been stripped from the lower half of her tail.

“Ma’am, I wouldn’t try to move her.” I warned, when the woman was trying to lift the dog onto her lap. I didn’t want the animal to bite her out of pain and confusion. I’d seen a handful of dogs euthanized due to mistakes their owners or other people made, practically getting themselves bit.

“She’s hurt! She just got hit by a car.” Danny’s mother replied, already starting to sob, tears welling in her eyes.

“Hey, Lavelle.” Danny waved, not distracted enough to ignore a familiar face.

“Danny.” I nodded, having met this kid when the police were called to the local high school to deal with a bullying charge a month ago.

“Can I offer you a ride to the vet?” I asked Danny’s mother, who was too visibly stressed to safely get behind the wheel of a car.

She looked skeptical for a moment, until her son mentioned that I ‘on the up and up’. Hearing that I was a cop must have inspired her trust because she nodded, and the woman driving the Camry asked if she should follow, stating she would be willing to pay the veterinary bill for Honey.

“Go get a blanket and I’ll get my car. I’ll be right back.” I called to them, speeding off to my mother’s driveway, pulling my keys out of the pocket of my worn jeans.

“Donny!” I shouted, having seen my friend step out onto the front porch for a cigarette. “Dude, tell my mom I’m taking the neighbors to the vet. Their dog just got hit by a car.”

I didn’t wait for a reply from him before jumping behind the wheel of my white Chevy Sonic, backing the vehicle as close as I could to the accident to spare Honey any more pain than I had to inflict with jostling a long distance. It hurt like hell being moved around after an injury.
Crouching down, I shook out the blanket Danny offered, wrapping it close to the dog’s head and around her injuries to keep the blood from leaking out, stabilizing her leg as much as possible. I tried to grip the dog around her uninjured side, hoping that I wasn’t going to get my face bitten off through the quilted fabric blocking her face. Honey was obviously scared and in pain. I knew dogs most of his life, and biting was something that just happened with fear and injury. The animal usually had no intention of hurting anybody, but often had no other way to express pain.

“Open the back door.” I instructed the woman, before heaving Honey upward, causing her to whimper softly. I slid the creature into the car’s back seat, while Danny ran to the rear driver’s side of the car and got in to sit with and comfort his pet. The woman got into the passenger seat, and once Honey was secured, I closed the door and got back into the driver’s seat, heading off down the road.

“Don’t worry. There’s a vet’s office literally right next door to this coffee joint I go to.” I assured, trying to offer some form of comfort to the people in the car, obviously worried sick about the ultimate fate of their pet. I hoped that if I could calm them, the dog would relax a bit too. Dogs can sense danger, and seeing fear in the eyes of a familiar human was enough to unsettle any dog.

~:~:~:~

“What’s the nature of your emergency?” Asked the girl behind the counter, beaded braids in her hair.

“My dog got hit by a car.” Danny’s mother explained, calmer now that Danny and I were bringing the injured creature into the building. We arrived at the clinic and Honey was still awake and aware of her surroundings. I’m sure Danny’s mother calmed down because she was sure that help was on the way.

This clinic was fast-paced. Within a minute of the time the girl behind the front desk paged for assistance in the front, two technicians appeared from behind the double doors. One was a young Asian girl, brunette hair streaked with blond highlights. The name “May” was embroidered on the front pocket of her blue scrub shirt. The other tech was male, roughly the same age as May. He was thin with relatively natural features and soft spikes in his dark hair, quite a bit longer on top than anywhere else. I noticed an angry bruise around his left eye, and without judging him on purpose, I thought maybe he ran his mouth and got beat up.

“Honey?” May called.

Danny signaled them, though with the sound of the dog’s whimpering, it wasn’t entirely necessary. The techs knew who to go to, and maneuvered the blanket that was wrapped around Honey’s leg and abdomen, turning it into a makeshift stretcher. Each tech took a side and brought the confused animal up off of the floor and into an empty room in the back. I helped with the last lift, and the three of us hoisted the large bundle up onto an exam table, and the techs started their examination, communicating to one another using words like pulse, BPM, respiration, and degrees. I couldn’t help but notice a soft but noticeable Russian accent in the male technician’s voice. Russian guy, probably had too much vodka and busted his eye tripping over his own two feet, I thought, being a stereotyping prick.
A woman in a white lab coat entered the room, taking over the examination and listening to the techs report their own series of findings at the same time. She asked May a couple of medical-sounding questions before gently palpating Honey’s leg, noting more words to herself that were rather difficult to follow but the ones that I could make out included fractured tibia and fibula. To me and likely to the others, it seemed like veterinarian and her two technicians were speaking in another language for the most part. When a third woman came in, the veterinarian spoke to her briefly before sending her back out.

“The bones in this leg are shattered.” The veterinarian stated, hand motioning to the leg in question. She’d been told the basics of what occurred and was now filling in the details. “What happened here?”

“I was out in the yard with my dog. She ran out in the street and got hit by a car.” Danny explained, and when the vet nodded along, he continued. He stated that this happened roughly 45 minutes ago and that Honey wasn’t showing any signs of bleeding from her nose or mouth when the information was requested of him.

“Reception is typing you up two estimates for the cost of the surgery. The leg will have to be amputated. There’s no way to repair the bone, but for now that seems to be the extent of her injuries aside from bruising. X-rays will give me a little more insight though, so time will tell. About payment-” She started, trying to put the subject of money delicately.

“Hi. I’m the girl that ran over their dog.” The Camry woman said, stepping forward to greet the doctor. She was still very shaken up, and her eyes were still red and bloodshot. “I’ll be paying for Honey’s visit.” Her voice shook like she’d been crying.

“Ma’am, given the nature of her injuries, surgery is really the only option.” She said as the woman that was in the room moments ago returned, handed the doctor a clipboard, and then left the room again.

Looking at the pages, the veterinarian continued, “The cheapest surgery to amputate the leg is going to cost you upwards of $1,000. That includes the X-rays, sedation, and the surgery itself.”

“It doesn’t cover pain medication, does it?” The Camry woman asked, running her fingers through her brown ponytail.

“No, I’m afraid not. The other estimate would cover the blood work, X-rays, sedation, surgery, and medication for pain while she’s healing at home. That’s all closer to $2,500, if all goes well. I recommend this option. She‘s going to be in pain after the surgery.”

“I have money, and I‘ll pay for it. I want the dog to have her medicine. This whole thing is my fault. I can hardly believe this shit. I feel fuckin’ terrible.” She sniffed.

“Do you have insurance that might help you cover it?” May interjected, trying to help.

“I’m a stripper. I don’t have work insurance. My car insurance doesn’t cover ’running down the family pet’. But I take part in fundraising for PETA, so I might have a leg up with Honey’s bill.”

I noticed Danny’s eyes widen as he gave the Camry woman another looking over. Honestly, I wasn’t far behind the kid’s intentions. I hadn’t noticed before amidst all the chaos, but she was a damn fine-looking woman. She was wearing yoga pants and her hair was pulled back, but past that, she still had a pleasant face, soft skin, and a smokin’ shape.

“We do have payment options available. You can pay half of the bill now, and make payments for the rest.”

“I’ll do that. Let me just go to the front and work that out with them.” She said, heading out of the room. “I’m so sorry.” She whispered again to Danny and his mother.

“Okay then, let’s do this.” The doctor said, breaking the silence after the Camry woman left the room.

She jumped into instructing her technicians to perform blood work, saying something about CBC. She mentioned a muzzle, X-rays, shaving the hind leg, an IV catheter, and various surgical buzzwords. Apparently the two people under her supervision understood perfectly, because they immediately started getting supplies out while the veterinarian led me, Danny, and his mother back out to the front desk, saying that the surgery should last between three and five hours. She urged them to continue checking in with the receptionist before she headed back in to prepare for surgery.

“Okay, well. That’s it then, yeah? I’m going to head out.” I mentioned to the other two, pointing toward the doors subconsciously.

“Thanks for all of your help, officer. I’m Lorraine, by the way.” Danny’s mother said, smiling despite her worry. I pretended I didn’t notice her practically ripping my pants off with her eyes.

“Hey, it’s no problem.” I answered, swallowing uncomfortably.

“Mom, could you be any more embarrassing?” Danny groaned, noticing his mother’s sudden regression into her teenage girl days.

“Good luck.” I said, again trying to be friendly before heading out to my car. What a weird ass day it’s been.

connectthedots
October 1st, 2013, 03:21 AM
It's interesting, and I'm interested in reading more, if for no other reason than that I've come across very few good LGBT romances.

One thing I will say is that Manny seems to announce that his boyfriend is beating him a little soon, for my tastes. I've been around abusive couples and they always dodge the question far more than Manny does- that he'd say it so soon after being formally acquainted feels a little off to me. It'd work better, in my opinion, if Zack sees something that makes him suspect Manny's situation long before there's any actual admission. It's a minor thing but I've always felt that when you're in an abusive relationship you're unwilling to admit there's a problem (Which, to be fair, Manny does) but you're also terrified to speak up to those you trust, let alone those you barely know. I'll admit that there is a certain comfort in confiding with a stranger but for all he knows Zack could be a friend of Manny's boyfriend- it just seems a little unrealistic from my perspective.

That being said, you've written likable characters and there's certainly chemistry between them. It's a good effort and it could be brilliant with a little tweak here and there. It's certainly the kind of book that I'd be likely to read.

Monster
October 1st, 2013, 05:32 AM
Thank you so much for reading. I haven't had a comment in a long time.
After re-reading this, you're right. He admits a little too fast, which is my fault. I kind of placed my own thoughts on my character too much. When I was going through some messed up things as a younger person, I wanted to tells somebody, a stranger, so that maybe they'd help from afar, without judging me the way a friend would. Yet, you're right, it's still too soon.

These are draft chapters, far from what I'm ready to show the world, but please let me know if you'd like to read more of my chapters (I have 20 something of them drafted). Your insights would be appreciated.

connectthedots
October 1st, 2013, 07:56 PM
You're right to say that there's a certain comfort in talking to a stranger, but perhaps something with more anonymity? Perhaps a conversation in a chatroom, for example, or perhaps Zack volunteers at a helpline, and recognizes his voice or something he mentioned in their chat? The admission would work better either much later in their relationship or before they're formally acquainted at all.

I'm interested in reading more if you want my insights. Feel free to PM me :)