View Full Version : Thirty Minutes Or Less, part 1 of 2 (language, some violence)

June 27th, 2013, 10:12 AM

Officer Gerard Ramsey, who sat alone thirty feet up in the guard tower which overlooked the phosphate mines, hauling trucks, cranes and bulldozers on this rainy late night, checked his wristwatch as he heard the knock at the door. It was an automatic habit of his while he was on duty. If you hear or see anything unusual, his supervisor had always reminded him, note the time.

The knocking, however, was expected and had nothing to do with security work. This was dinner,and dinner was a minute late, which made Gerard grin. A voice from outside the door said, “Marcello's pizza!”

31 minutes on the dot , Gerard thought as he left his chair. Free pizza! When he swung open the door, the rain and wind smacked him in the face. He winced and turned his head as he took another step forward. The wind tasted like sulfur.

The kid standing before him, wearing the familiar Marcello's uniform, looked about nineteen and was holding a black insulation bag that was steaming along its flap edges. Inside the bag, Gerard knew, was his large pepperoni. It smelled delicious. Thunder boomed behind the delivery boy as he spoke. “Are you Gerard...” The kid noticed the badge and uniform and smirked. “...The guard?”

Gerard scowled at him. Wise ass. “That's me.”

“Okay," the kid said, pulling open the bag flap. He removed the pizza box, tucked the bag under his left arm and said, “That'll be twelve even...plus tip.”

“Hold it,” Gerard said. “That's a free pizza. I called it in over thirty minutes ago. Don't forget the guarantee Marcello's offers. 'Delivery in thirty minutes or it's free.'”

“Sir,” the kid said, “that guarantee is void in any storm like tonight's. I could barely see, driving over here.”

“But it wasn't raining when I called it in,” Gerard said, leaning forward and putting his hands on the pizza box.

The kid tugged the box away from the security guard. “That doesn't matter. Fact is, it was raining bad on the way over here and it made driving real difficult. Plus, this phosphate plant here isn't the easiest place to find.”

Gerard shook his head and muttered, “Dude, you're chokin' me, you're chokin' me.” Then he glared into the kid's eyes. “Why don't you just give me the damn pizza? Marcello's doesn't need the money. I'm starving and the pizza is late, so why don't you...” He grabbed the box this time and gave it a yank.

The kid held tight. “Sir, please take your hands off the box,” he said, his voice rising. “Look, you really need to pay for this so I can go. I have other deliveries to make. I mean, the pizza's not that late and it's still hot and fresh.”

“Hot and fresh and FREE!” Gerard shouted, and pulled harder. The box came loose in his hands as he stumbled back. His face was turning red.

It was the kid's turn to grab and yank the pizza box. But Gerard didn't let go.

The two of them got into a tug of war under the doorway. “There's no way you're gettin' this free, man, so just let go of it so I can take it back to the store and eat it myself!” the kid said. As hard as Gerard pulled the box toward himself, so did the kid with equal force in the opposite direction. It was getting fierce now.

“Like HELL you will!” Gerard said.

“The hell I won't! Just watch me!”

“Watch THIS, you punk!” Gerard leaned away and drew up his right leg. Then he thrust it out, kicking the kid hard in the stomach while letting go of the pizza box. The kid flew backwards into the rain, trying to to regain his footing but rapidly nearing the rail of the stairwell about five feet behind him. He tried to turn his head sideways to see where he was going, but over the rail he went, feet flying over head, while he still held onto the pizza box and insulation bag. A second later, Gerard heard a sickening thump.

Then, only the sound of the heavy rain remained.

Gerard stood motionlessly. His heart pounded almost painfully in his chest and his breath came in short gasps. What just happened here? He ran outside into the storm towards the rail. When he got there, he looked down. In the mud thirty feet below lay the kid, the black insulation bag, and the pizza box with half of the now-limp large pepperoni hanging out.

The kid wasn't moving.

The pizza was ruined.

Gerard put his raincoat on and slammed the closet door of his office shut. Grabbing his flashlight, he raced outside, down the stairway, taking two steps at a time, willing the stairs behind him. He reached the landing and ran to the spot where the pizza kid lay on the wet ground. He shined the flashlight beam through the heavy rain onto the boy's still chest. The delivery kid wasn't breathing.

“Oh,no...oh, no...oh, no...” Gerard kept chanting. He raised his arm, put his hand on top of his yellow rain cap, and started swiveling his torso back and forth. Thunder boomed overhead as he sucked in more sulfur-wind. Finally he stopped moving.

He spotted the tool shed about fifty feet away from the tower. He ran to it.

Inside the shed, which smelled of diesel fumes, were the expected six or seven oily toolboxes, rakes, gas cans and rags everywhere. Also a long-handled shovel. It looked brand new. He grabbed it. His heartbeat normally now.

Carrying the shovel in one hand, the flashlight in the other, Gerard returned to where the kid lay dead in the rain. This time, he didn't want to look at the body. He just wanted to get it all over with.

He began by checking the ignition switch of the kid's delivery pickup, which was parked beside Gerard's sedan. The keys were hanging from it. That meant he didn't have to search the dead kid's pockets, which would have made him uncomfortable. He dropped the shovel into a puddle, stuck the flashlight into his raincoat pocket, then went over to where the body lay. Picking up its arms, he dragged the whole thing toward the back of the truck. He let down the tailgate of the pickup.

Loading the body onto the bed of the truck was much harder and more time-consuming than he would have thought, but once done, he felt relieved. Then he picked up the shovel and tossed it onto the bed beside the kid's corpse. Next went the insulation bag and the pizza box with the soggy large pepperoni still in it. He shut the tailgate and got inside the pickup. The truck started at once. He hit the lights, put it into gear and began driving into the rainy night, cursing the stupid pizza kid for causing him so much trouble.

June 27th, 2013, 10:15 AM
Oh, man, so sorry for the formatting errors. It looked fine before I uploaded it! UPDATE: Okay the formatting problems are fixed (I hope.)

June 27th, 2013, 10:34 AM
I really liked the story, but that's what made the errors even more annoying. Nearly every paragraph begins with two words stuck together.




There is a lot of this that you need to fix. Also, the first paragraph needs worked on.

Officer Gerard Ramsey, who sat alone thirty feet up in the guard tower which overlooking the phosphate mines, hauling trucks, cranes and bulldozers on this rainylate night, checked his wristwatch. as he heard the knock at the door. It was an automatic habit of his while he was on duty. If you hear or see anything unusual, You're supposed to be looking for something unusual, his supervisor had always reminded him, not looking at the time.

Bold is what I edited, added or fixed.

The first sentence is really long and spliced together by unneeded commas. The second sentence is a bit redundant. 'Automatic' and 'habit' are sort of the same thing, so you only need one of them.

I likes the story behind this. Other than the grammatical errors and whatnot, I noticed how the story flowed pretty well. I definitely think that this could be expanded. I would like to know more about Gerard and his antics. I would also suggest adding a bit more of Gerard's feelings. If you're going for the third person, very limited perspective, you could just include facial things like frowns or persistent wrinkles.

Overall, it needs work, but I think it would be worth it in the end.

June 27th, 2013, 11:24 AM
Hi Sarah, thanks so much for your helpful review. I especially liked how in your rewrite of the first paragraph you gave the supervisor an S.O.B. personality while, in the same sentence, making Gerard look like a goof off. I did have trouble expressing Gerard's emotions due to my inexperience, so I know that needs more work. This is the first short story I've written since my first two back in 1982, so I have much to learn before I get to the professional level. Glad you see potential in my story! Can't wait to get to work on something new.