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Thread: Detective Pepper and the Senator (Part 1 of 2)

  1. #1
    Member wainscottbl's Avatar
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    Detective Pepper and the Senator (Part 1 of 2)

    So I wrote a story with this Lt. Pepper Character, a detective. It's finished, about a 2400 story, but I'll provide only the first half for now.


    “She drowned,” the husband said, almost coldly. It was clinically, like an irritated medical examiner to an insistent cop, who insists it’s something else.

    “Yes, apparently,” Pepper said.

    The husband gave him a look.

    “Well, I’m sure you understand why we’re here.”

    “Actually, I don’t, detective. From what I understand, detectives don’t usually come for a simple drowning.”

    “No, usually not, but the circumstances are different and we were asked to come. Everyone knows about your mistress. And you yelled you would kill your wife at the Metropolitan Gala thing, so you can see—“

    “Right. Well, I didn’t mean it. And she was cheating on me.”

    “And you’re cheating on her, too.”

    “Was,” he corrected.

    Pepper took note of automatic corrective use of past tense. “So, aren’t you a hypocrite?”

    “Yeah, I am,” he said. “And it’s common isn’t it? A cheating husband who is mad that his wife is cheating.”

    “Yeah, it’s common.”

    “Well, there, I admit it. I’m not the guilty ones that hide their hypocrisy.”

    “Do you think that’s any better?”

    “I don’t know. What I do know, is that I didn’t kill my wife.”

    “It’s funny that you said…you know…how you put it, you’re not like the guilty ones that hide their hypocrisy. By guilty ones, do you mean guilty of the murder?”

    “Yes,” he said irritably.

    “Well, what does one necessarily have to do with the other?”

    “I don’t know,” he said, flustered, and taking out a cigarette.

    “Seems to me a bit contrived. You know how you can tell a person is lying?”

    “How?”

    “They try to explain too much. You know, in said situation you don’t go into a lot of detail. You just say such and such happened, and maybe a little explanation, if warranted, but nothing else. When people lie, they give too much detaill.”

    “So, I tried to explain too much?”
    “Maybe.”

    “Seems to me I need a lawyer.”

    “Right, well I’m very sorry about your wife, Senator. I voted for you, you know.”

    “Well, I thank you for your vote,” he said, but not so gratefully as he might have been a few hours before.

    Now for the pool attendant, or as they call him, the pool boy. He’s a homosexual in any case, Pepper thought, but sometimes they’re bisexual. He opened with, “So, are you married, Mr. Mulcahy?”

    “Yes.”

    “How long?”

    “Six months.”

    “Newlyweds. Mrs. Mulcahy is a lucky lady.”

    “Mister.”

    “You’re gay,” Pepper said.

    “Yes, is there something wrong with that?”

    “Do you like women, too?”

    “What? No. Why does it matter?”

    “So you and Mrs. Stevens were not having an affair.”

    “No, geez. Is that why you asked?”

    “Yes.”

    “Yeah, well, I’m gay, yes.”

    “What kind of relationship did you two have?”

    “We got along well. Her husband’s a prick to be honest. Verbally abusive. Maybe physical. Never seen any marks. She was having an affair, and he was too. But he wouldn’t have her having one. Well, everyone knows about that scandal.”

    “Did you get along with Mr. Stevens?”

    “Not really. I mean he was always a real jackass. Just sort of looked down on me. Always angry and demanding. I don’t think it was personal. I mean he voted in favor of
    gay marriage. He’s just an ass.”

    “Do you think he killed her?”

    “Wouldn’t surprise me. He’s the cold, calculating type. Catch him and throw away the key if he did…let him rot.”

    “That’s what I’m hoping to do. Well, if he’s guilty. He might not be. He didn’t help his case, I can tell you that. So, Mrs. Stevens was a pretty good swimmer, no?”

    “Oh yeah, she could swim forever. She was really athletic.”

    “Well, then it must have been something else. Do you know if she used any drugs? Abused pills?.”

    “Yeah, I think she did, but I don’t know for certain.”

    “Why do you think so?”

    “She was always taking pain pills. Athletic people are not always in pain. I mean, yeah, it hurts, but you know what I mean.”

    “Yes, well it may just be an accident. We just got called down here because it’s a senator’s wife and he yelled he was going to kill her in front of a bunch of people. And see, now here comes the press. I guess he won’t be being reelected.”

    “Maybe he should have thought of that before. But, he’s power hungry. Maybe…well, I’m not a detective…he didn’t do it maybe…he had to know that murdering his wife wouldn’t look good.”

    “Assuming he thought he would be suspected. You know, really thought so, not just sort-of-did somewhere in his head. Or he may just be very arrogant. You’ll see…when the guilty verdict is read, watch his face. It’ll be restrained, but you will see a tweak of surprise in there, even when everyone knows the evidence is completely on the State’s side. He won’t plead out. His sort don’t. They really believe that they have a great case. They believe the jury can’t convict them because they are…well, OJ just got lucky, if you get what I mean. Look at a video and see how arrogant he was. He just got lucky that his pride got satisfied.” He paused. “ Well, if I need anything, I’ll talk to you late. But, you may be right. He may have realized killing her would be a bad idea, and now he’s having bad luck.” And with that, it was time to interview the rivals from both sides of the aisle.

    ***

    With the primaries coming up, either side could have done it. The race was settled in all but an actual vote, and his own party’s candidate was rumored to have mob ties. The Republican candidate was upstanding, and Pepper did not put much faith in the idea of him being the killer.

    No water was found in the lungs, so that she did not actually drown. There was no sign of blunt force trauma, but rather she was loaded with common ibuprofen. She had a prescription for a narcotic, and she overdosed on a whole bottle of over the counter Advil. What was curious to Pepper, was that her husband had no idea that she had a drug abuse problem. In fact, she kept the pills secret. Which did not help his case. If he did not know about her abuse, then he would have to of used over the counter medication. He knew she was depressed. As for Mrs. Stevens, why would she use Advil, when she had something much more effective? And she was a known alcoholic. No alcohol was found in her system. Why didn’t she use alcohol with it, if she was so fond of it? Not everyone uses alcohol when they take pills to die, but an alcoholic almost certainly does, Pepper thought.

    The medical examiner agreed not to rule it a suicide yet. Pepper convinced him the logic was lacking. It very well could be a suicide, but it certainly did not have the character of a political murder. Mr. Stevens (and the press and public of course) knew nothing of this, except that the cause of death was “yet to be determined”. The senator, who had recently offended his liberal base, especially the feminists, needed the case to be closed.

    He was anxious, but was clever enough not to rush the police. He had read Pepper’s suspicious--even offended--tone when he said “she drowned”, as if she were a transient found in the East River. He could be, in his mind, trying not to overact; and if were innocent, that would make the jury despise him, especially the females. He need not be hysterical, but juries could read a stoic versus a cold blooded monster, but only sometimes. Sometimes the calm man, with a sense of dignity, looked to be cold. Pepper knew that from his study of his own Asperger’s. And, if the women in the jury box did not like him, if nothing else, it might be because he threatened his wife; not because of that itself, but because it showed a temper, and a temper suggested abuse; abuse to which witnesses would testify.
    If the senator were power hungry, it would appear foolish to kill his wife, especially after saying he was going to. An empty threat of passion perhaps? Maybe. But, who elects a possible murderer? Would it not be best, for his party’s sake, to resign and leave the race?

    And so, Pepper said to him one day, “You know, I’m not so sure you did it anymore. I think it’s murder. We all do downtown. I think it’s political. What they’re counting on is simply their party winning. It may or may not be the candidate. But, he may not even know. It may be an unseen hand. And, they are not counting on you to be arrested necessarily. They are counting on the scandal to ruin your side in the race. If you and the Democrats simply lose, that’s all they need. They were not out to kill you.”

    “So, you think I should resign?”

    “Did Nixon?”

    “Nixon was guilty.”

    “Perception is everything, Senator.”

    And, one day, to cameras, flashing lights, and a room full of ambitious scribblers and charismatic sycophants, he said: “In light of my recent wife’s death, which may be murder the police say, I have decided, after much thought, to resign my seat in Congress. I want to say first of all, that I am innocent of the possible murder of my wife. The police are working hard to determine if it was murder or simply a sad, tragic suicide. In any case, I am resigning my seat. I will not be running for the senate, at least
    not at the present time.”

    Freedom, for some men, trumps power. Besides, what did resigning from Congress do for his case? It helped his party’s case, but why should a detective be giving political advice to a man who has spent his whole life in politics? Pepper had long avoided politics, and had turned down all offers for a desk job with the power. He could even be police commissioner, he was respected so much. People do not think in such little ways. The senator had suddenly put freedom in the place of power, and thought one was the other. He thought that giving up power would prove him innocent. But, power was not his motive, if he was guilty.
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  2. #2
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Your writing is generally pretty good, with no SPaG issues that I can see. Also your dialogue is quite well-done in that it is full of dialogguey things - contractions, pauses, repetitions.

    Ooh - one error:

    "he would have to of used over the counter medication"

    In the first sentence, you can probably remove the "it was" and the repeated "insistent/insists". "Clinically" probably needs to be "clinical" to make this read correctly, though you can go either way if you remove the "it was".

    "“She drowned,” the husband said, almost coldly. It was clinically, like an irritated medical examiner to an insistent cop, who insists it’s something else."
    One of the issues I have is that it is, from the outset, very dialogue-heavy. I have no scene set, no notion of who is what and what's happening. Why drop us straight into dialogue?

    When the narration does kick in it is very tell-y:

    No water was found in the lungs, so that she did not actually drown. There was no sign of blunt force trauma, but rather she was loaded with common ibuprofen. She had a prescription for a narcotic, and she overdosed on a whole bottle of over the counter Advil. What was curious to Pepper, was that her husband had no idea that she had a drug abuse problem. In fact, she kept the pills secret. Which did not help his case. If he did not know about her abuse, then he would have to of used over the counter medication. He knew she was depressed. As for Mrs. Stevens, why would she use Advil, when she had something much more effective? And she was a known alcoholic. No alcohol was found in her system. Why didn’t she use alcohol with it, if she was so fond of it? Not everyone uses alcohol when they take pills to die, but an alcoholic almost certainly does, Pepper thought.
    This - and much of what follows it - is all in Pepper's head, so it would necessarily be like this rather than movement-based, but in our mind's eye we simply picture him sitting there pondering stuff. You can easily make him carry out his work and come across his discoveries that way. Makes for more engaging reading.




    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  3. #3
    Member plawrence's Avatar
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    BDCharles, I'm new here. What is SPaG?

    wainscottbl, I'm not an experienced critic, so take anything I saw with huge grains of salt, OK?

    I started reading, got through about half the dialog and lost interest. I wanted to know more about what was going on, but the dialog wasn't giving me enough information. Were I writing this, I would interject some facts into the story both to break up the dialog and to give the reader more information.

    For example, allow me rewrite a little to demonstrate my point:

    “She drowned,” the Senator said, almost coldly. It was clinically, like an irritated medical examiner to an insistent cop, who insists it’s something else.

    “Yes, apparently,” Detective Pepper said.

    The Senator gave him a look.

    “Well, I’m sure you understand why we’re here.”

    “Actually, I don’t, detective. From what I understand, detectives don’t usually come for a simple drowning.”

    “No, usually not, but the circumstances are different and we were asked to come. Everyone knows about your mistress. And you yelled you would kill your wife at the Metropolitan Gala thing, so you can see—“

    “Right. Well, I didn’t mean it. And she was cheating on me.”

    “And you’re cheating on her, too.”

    “Was,” he corrected.

    The Senator was in the middle of a difficult campaign, and this "unfortunate event" would make life much more difficult for him. It struck Detective Pepper that he seemed much more concerned about the impact on his campaign than he was about the fact that his wife had just drowned.

    Some comments:

    I changed "the husband" to Senator, because it adds information and increases the tension. It's one thing for a husband to be unconcerned about his wife's drowning. It's another entirely for a Senator to behave so coldly.

    I changed Pepper to Detective Pepper so the reader would know who he is without having to read several more lines of dialog. Plus it then makes sense that he's asking these questions.

    I added the explanatory paragraph because it provides detail about the Senator's attitude and the Detective's taking note of that.

    I hope this is helpful. As I said, take it with a large grain of salt. Although I have written professionally, I've never had fiction published, so I'm a rank amateur.

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