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MrTickle
November 15th, 2014, 03:04 PM
Here is a short story I did. Mostly Dialogue:

Even though Brad had lived in Galveston for ten months now. He had not seen the lights of the Southern Texas town at night like this before. From his vantage point in his lighthouse at the edge of town, which stood out from the small huts and beach that surrounded it. Galveston’s hotels, motels, and bars, all looked like a switchboard lit up by LEDs. It reminded him of London at night. It was a sight he could gaze at for hours, but hours is not what Brad had. He scanned the horizon left to right again to find nothing. He grabbed the roll of bandages which he had placed on the window sill in front of him, and rolled the cloth around his right forearm, so to make it look like a wound.

Below where Brad stood, the phone rang from his main room where he kept a control panel with a radar, CCTV, radio and laptop. He cut the tape with hacking scissors – that’ll do, he thought, and climbed down the ladder.
He made it down and picked up the phone at the control panel desk, “Yeah? Good… ok. Still on time? That’s not bad. How are they holding up? Alright, great, ring me when you get close… Good.”

Brad placed the phone down and checked his watch: 12:36. Brad took slow breathes in and out. He knew though, he still needed to make the beds, but before he could even make one step towards the bedroom next to the doorway, the zinging of the phone sounded out again. Brad picked up, but the line was dead. As Brad looked up at the control panel, he saw the CCTV monitor showing a figure by the front door. The zinging was really the CCTV alerting him. The figure was a man, he held his back with his left hand as he used the other to move himself along the metal railing to the porch. The man’s hair blew in the wind, and now Brad could hear the man wrapping his hand on the door. It looked like his boss, but he wasn’t sure. Of all the times to pick, now is the time?

Brad bowed his head and shook it. Then, ran into the room where the beds are and grabbed the sheets off of one of the beds, and threw it on top of the plastic crates that were in the main room, and rushed down each step like the whole place was burning down.
The time he opened the door, he realised it wasn’t his boss at all. Well, it was still a man, but he was taller than his boss, the man stood at six foot three inches, with a round face that omitted grey stubble, and black hair that did not look sure which way it wanted to go. Brad said “Thought you were my boss there.”

“I’ll take that as a complement. Better than Quasimodo…” Brunen rubs his back with his left arm and bows a little more to emphasise his point.

The man had a thick southern Texas accent. Brad also noticed the man had a brown jacket and a creased, cheque, grey shirt on, well, it may have actually been blue, but it was so dirty.
Brad held up his hands to the man, who already had parked his feet on Brad’s door mat.

“If you’re a salesman…”

“Hold up…” The man reached into his jacket and pulled out a gold badge, “I’m detective Brunen. I’m from Houston. Don’t think by my clothes, we all sleep on the job - we don’t. Well, their wives would like them to, huh… I am at the main lighthouse here right?”

“Er, yeah, this is one of them. There’s a couple spread around.”

“No, this - your one is correct I think… Do you know if you’ve got a boat coming, in like…” Brunen checks his watch “Twenty minutes time - you know anything about that?”

“It’s coming in now?”

“It is? I need to go to the dock then.”

“No. It was a question.”

“Well, it should be coming up on your radar soon.”

“You sure? I’ve never got a boat this late before.”

“That’s exactly the reason it’s coming in… So all I need is to use your balcony, window, don’t really matter - just as long as I can see the dock.”

Brad looked to the floor, shook his head and replied “You know, I think the lighthouse up the road from here, I think they said about a boat.”

“Good for them, but the boats coming here. I’ve got a picture in my car showing me it’s this road…”

“What case is it?”

“It’s private -”

“So?”

“No, it’s a private investigation, but it’s not an investigation… It’s my private business right. Notice how I haven’t got my notepad out?”

Brad stands in his place by the door like a mother protecting her child.

Brunen reached into his pocket again, and came out with a wallet which he extracts three dollar bills from.

“No. No.” said Brad.

“As I say, this isn’t an investigation.” Brunen waves the notes in front of Brad. “Transactions don’t go in the book.”

“If I was going to let you upstairs, I need to know what is on the boat and why. Because I’ll pick up the phone and…”

Brunen shoves the notes into Brad’s chest and brushes past him, but Brad grabs his arm, “What are you doing?”

“I’ll be fifteen fricking minutes.”

“But what if it gets stuck? I need to know the boats capacity, and, er, type of boat…”

Brunen backs up so he can face Brad “I’m here because a husband I’m protecting - his wife and boy are coming in. You know the way it goes. You help someone who begs for it. You help with one thing. You get them on their feet. But two minutes later you’re tying their shoe laces, being a fricking bell boy… I tell anyone now: help the ones who say they don’t need it… you have kids, a wife?”

“Er… they’re not here.”

“So you know what it’s like.” Brunen leans in close to Brads face, “I’m in a tricky situation, but as I say, that’s all you can get.”

Brad lets go of Brunens arm, and follows him up the stairs, as his heart bounces on his chest.

Upstairs, Brunen shuffles in, closes the door and then straightens himself out by standing against the wall. Brunen takes everything in, from the cream walls, to the liquorish green beams supporting the huge light, the control panel, the covered over boxes, and finally to Brad, who is leaning against the control panel smiling like he’d just learnt how to. Brunen pushed himself off the wall and pulled up a stool so it looked out through the 360 degree window.

Brunen looks out and says “Your radar pick anything up?”

Brunen check his watch: 12:47, and replies “I hope so.”

“No. Right now. Has it got anything?” Brunen continues to look out over the horizon. If he sees me in the reflection, I don’t what to do. Brad sits on the table and pretends to look at the radar screen like it has suddenly got something wrong with it. “That’s odd.” He says, and then pulls the plug out from around the back of the machine.

“What is?” says Brunen.

“Radars just shut down”

Brunen jumps off the seat “Why?”

“Don’t know.”

“Turn it on and off.”

“No, no I’ve tried… And they wonder why I work here.”

“Can’t rely on anything can you.”

Brunen looks back outside, then looks back again “Does it matter?”

“Er, well, yeah, course. When they get close I’ve got to direct them, because, can you see the rocks out there?”

Brunen looks out “Not really.”

“Yeah, that’s what I mean.”

Brunen shakes his head, and Brad says. “Let me call someone. This guy might know.”

Brad taps in a few random numbers into the phone, waits four seconds, and starts, “Hello? Yes, erm, my radars just shut down, it was working fine before -
I know it’s late but I’ve got this very important shipment coming in -”

Brunen throws his arms across the desk “No. Shut up. Don’t -”

Brad nods “Ok, really? Why? Ok, I’ll… no, that’s no problem. Thank you.”

Brad puts it down to meet Brunens booming voice “Why did you tell them?”

Brad ignores him and says “Is it, by any chance, a fishing boat - a white one?”

“No. Maybe… Yeah, why?”

“It’s been diverted.”

“How?”

“The guy I spoke to said that the lighthouse up the road, er, on Christmas Tree Point road - they got it now.”

Brunen stands up “You absolutely positive you heard it right?”

“Yeah. It shouldn’t take fifteen minutes to get down there. It’s better than here – it’s all run by computers.”

Brunen doesn’t move from his standing position in front of the stall by the window. He checks his watch and says, “I wanna ask a question.”

“Be quick.”

“How did you get a job in this place?”

“When I moved here, I knew a guy, the old keeper - he died - it was sad you know - look its fifteen minutes depending on whether. The lighthouse isn’t on flat land like mine, so it’ll -”

“Some people think he’s still alive.”

“Why is that important? You came here for a boat…”

“You’re of equal importance. You’re taking part in the investigation.”

“That’s funny; a minute ago it was ‘business’”

“It’s not now…You know Galveston pier? I visited it to get directions earlier and the women said, just an old guy ran this place.”

“He did huh.”

“Yeah, but the difference is you told me he was dead. According to the lady, he still talks to them in church every morning…”

“What? Do they get their wigi board out?”

“Shall I make a note of that for social gatherings?”

“You might need a notebook, if you haven’t got one.”

“Where did you get that cracking wit from? A morgue?”

“Hang on, I’m helping you here.”

“Fantastic, I need help knowing why there’s so much medication in those bin sacks by the front door.”

“I don’t wanna – I don’t talk about - you know what – look around. There’s four walls to speak to.”

“At least they show what’s behind them.”

“Cops I’ve spoken to are not usually this abrasive.”

“Right now I’m not a cop.”

“Fuck. Is Everything - ‘It’s an investigation but it’s not an investigation’ I’m a detective for Houston, but really I just like asking questions… What are you?
Some walking talking paradox?”

Brunen smiles, “Why do you have a welcome home banner there?”

Brunen points to the ‘welcome home’ banner that was neatly folded into a square by the crates. Brad starred at it like it had just found its way in on its own.

“My wife’s coming home if you wanna know. I could have just shut the door on you ya know. I don’t want my wife apart of this, but there you go.”

“And a kid?”

“I don’t have a kid.”

Brunen pointed to the unwrapped toy box of a Wild West saloon, which sat on a table next to the control panel. “I didn’t know you and your wife like re-
enacting the Bellevue War.”

“Huh?”

Brad detached his eyes away from Brunen’s hard stare, and walks over to the table where the box is, to try and think of a way of getting Brunen out of
here. Brad picks up the box, but the zing of the phone makes him drop the box back on the table. No, leave it, pretend it’s something you always ignore, he thought. Brunen cuts in over the zinging “The phone.”

“I know.”

“Are you gunna answer it, or are you going over the battle plans?”

Brad edges over to the phone, begging in his head that the ringing will suddenly cut out. Nope. “Hello?” Brad turns his back to Brunen, and looks outside, “Yeah. Oh ok… Yeah… ok, bye.”

Brad puts the phone down and walks back over to the table with the box. Brunen says “That was your wife?”

“How long is your wife going to be?”

“I don’t know. A while.”

“Where was she?”

“Jesus. She was on the Gulf Freeway… I’m getting fed up of this.”

“Is she flying in? Or has she got a giant ramp that sends her flying over the freeway.”

“I’m not with you, is she, is she, what?”

“Yeah, I forgot, you don’t follow the news… the Gulf freeway closed down. No cars allowed pal.”

“Really? No. She was just on it.”

“Does she work for the emergency services then? A mine’s collapsed Brad. Ambulances and police are using the freeway as a base… you know there’s bout seven, maybe eight trapped miners in there?”

“Serious?”

“Yeah. But we’re not just dealing with the mine. Because we’ve got a local pharmacy which can’t even supply extra medication because some idiot broke in and cleaned up the place.”

“Shit.”

“You know…” Brunen jabs a finger at his own forehead, “some people don’t use that thing up here, do they?”

“No.”

“But whoever did that’s, not gunna make it far…”

“Obviously.”

“It’s a real mess. You see, the pharmacy belonged to a biker club, The Free… As you could imagine, they’ve got every hairy assed guy who rides, to go on a
wide spread manhunt for this guy… it just reminded me because of the bandage on your arm. You know, the gang have a tattoo what covers that area.”

“Oh, right.”

Brunen continues looking at Brads arm, but Brad looks back to the horizon and sees a light blinking in the distance as it sways against the sea. “Waters pretty quiet. I think maybe we should meet in the morning. It’s crap, but...” Brad walks towards the control panel. “You see that red light on the console?”

“Yeah.”

“It means these lights in here are running down the main light.”

“What does it matter? I thought no boats were coming here tonight?”

Brad stutters, but is given a lifeline as Brunen’s phone vibrates in his pocket like a humming midget. Brunen takes his phone out and stares. “That crate. I
need to look in it.”

“It’s just pears.”

Brunen moves for the crate, Brad backs into the control panels desk and grips the table with both hands.

“I need to look in here.” says Brunen. “Open it.”

“I can’t - the pears are all wrapped. If you tamper with them, they…”

The phone blasts out again. Brunen glares daggers at Brad “Pick it up.”

“It’s nothing.”

“Pick it up.”

“It’s just my wife-“

“Pick. It. Up.”

Brad answers, then shakes his head at Brunen and puts it down. “Line was dead.”

“No. I heard shouting.”

“That was probably the crackling.”

Brunen laughs, and says “There’s a reason you work in a lighthouse… No one emigrates to swing a big torch around... What is it you run here? Huh?”

“I, er, think…”

“Look at that light out there. Is that a boat? Is that it? Is that the ‘diversion?’”

“It could be anything.”

Brunen squares up to Brad. “What you’re doing right now, it’s not affecting me, you – the wife and boy who need their husband are in trouble Brad, if I’m
not there… You wanna know the ‘why?’ Huh?”

“No, I, I don’t care now.”

“Yes you do. Because in a minute a deal is gunna go down. Maybe it’s the biker gang - I don’t know. But the wife knows information about The Free that puts her and her husband in danger.”

“So… you bring her here.”

“No. The guy who is sailing the boat is making the deal with the sellers. She is just relying on me to help, because the guy is gunna deal with the guy who stole the meds from the pharmacy, so he can hit back at The Free.”

“W-Why would he do that in England?”

“They’re an international club Brad. He used to be a member… I never said where he was from…”

“You said it earlier. We were by the door.”

Brunen doesn’t reply. Brad goes on, “What makes you think she is safe when she gets back with her husband?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why don’t you go back to your family. Why help this guy, he sounds – you said yourself this guy’s trouble.”
Brunen sits on the step which leads to the big window. Brad continues, “If it is a biker gang. If they know she’s coming in tonight. Then what’s the point of
handing them to her husband? Won’t they find her anyway? You’ll be caught in the middle of it.”

Brunen stares at the floor, and blows out his cheeks, “I did this for a promotion… It’s been Vice twenty years…”

“That sounds long enough to me.”

“It would to you.”

Brunen lifts himself up using the control panel’s desk as assistants and takes one last look out of the window before saying, “I don’t see it.”He then walks
out, not even a goodbye.

Brad waits for Brunen’s footsteps to disappear and the sound of the front door close, before he raises a pair of binoculars to the window. He drifts his view
from the sea, to the rocks, to the dark beach, to the wooden small pier that sat in the middle of the beach. Something caught his eye. He sent his view
back to the first part of the beach, where, a long piece of pale, and glazed wood with a word marked in on the side in red spelling, ‘She Sea’s’. Brad places the binoculars back on the desk. He goes into the storage room next to the entrance to the upstairs, and pulls out a shovel, and a spade. He also fetches a
map of the United States, then grabs his coat and car keys, and finally, the ‘welcome home’ banner.

Plasticweld
November 17th, 2014, 07:11 AM
MrTickle, I will be honest with you and say that I struggled with this. I feel you need to add more of hook in your first two paragraph's that give me a better idea of what is going on. Your story made a lot more sense the second time around because I know had enough information to put things into context. I also had very little reason to read on, in the beginning. for me personally I needed more of a reason to want to go to the next set of dialog because I was so un-sure of what was going on, I felt lost or that I had missed something. The dialog is done well, the story is good, I think it just needs a little better set up for the reader... Welcome to the forum l am looking forward to reading more of your work...Bob

CWilkinson
November 17th, 2014, 04:55 PM
It was a good read, but at times it was quite laborious to read, if it was an extract from a novel I'd say "That's great, keep it up!" but as a short story? It doesn't really sell it to me.

MrTickle
November 17th, 2014, 06:53 PM
Thanks, I always felt the conflict started too late in the story. Perhaps I will start it upstairs in the lighthouse, with a little more context at the beginning.

Clinking Thearly
November 22nd, 2014, 03:16 AM
Maybe it's just because it's late but it seems pretty complicated for a short story and, similar to the previous comments, I found it a hard read. Plus there was a lot of uninterrupted dialogue which would benefit from a brief respite in between. Having said that, if you fleshed it out with a bit more context it could be a good story.