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Checksy walked in to my office. Of all the private dicks in all the city, he had to… ahhh, you’ve heard it before. Time’s too precious to waste. I should know -- I’ve wasted my share.
Johnny’s Uncle, Checkers, walked in to his nephew’s room, the laughter and clatter and clank of the adult party Dopplering momentarily as he opened and then surreptitiously closed the door. He carefully stepped over the toy cars and action figures cluttering the floor.
I could tell by the look in old Checksy’s eye and that hangdog expression that this fella was going to be nothing but trouble, with more than enough to go around, and plenty of it.
“Hi, Johnny,” Uncle Checkers said.
He said “Hi” as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Well, lemmee tell ya’, I knew better. Uncle Checkers never walked in to my office without an angle all his own. Let’s get down to brass tacks, I thought.
“Do you want to play our game again,” he asked sheepishly.
So that’s it, is it? Checksy wants to play games, huh? Well, count me in I thought. Relax, take a load off. But before you get too comfortable, what’s my end, friend?
“I brought you your favorite – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups,” he said tentatively handing over a bag of the treats. “And look, their nice and cold, just like you like them!”
So, that’s how it’s gonna be. The good stuff. He knew how to push my buttons that Checksy. He knew I couldn’t say to no – not to this kinda' action. Sweet, sweet candy. I grabbed the bag like it was a Maltese Falcon.
“That’s a good boy, Johnny. Now, you just keep quiet,” he said unbuckling his nephews Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls and pushing them down around his ankles. “But remember don’t tell anyone. It’s our secret.”
Well how would you like to take a flying leap to the moon? Me sing. That’s a laugh. I ain’t no canary. I know the score. Life can be short in the big city. And it can get a lot shorter for a songbird. No, this was one case that was going to remain open.
Date Written: January 21, 2004Comments:
Average Vote: 4
01/28/2004 Mr. Pony (5): I'm speechless.
01/28/2004 Dylan Danko (4): I like how it switches from 3rd to 1st person. Checksy i like too.
01/28/2004 Jimson S. Sorghum: Actually, it changes from first to third to first. I thought that was accidental. It's not?
01/28/2004 Dylan Danko: I think you're right, Jimson. Scoop needs to review for grammar and such. "Me sing" needs a question mark. Yeah, i was generous with my vote.
01/28/2004 Joe Frankenstone (5): What I like most, perhaps, is that Johnny's uncle is named Checkers in both his real life and in the dissociative fantasy world the boy creates to tamp down the horror of childhood sexual abuse. Well, Checksy. Maybe it's the fact of a nickname for someone already named Checkers that I like. And the seamless transition from reality to fantasy world is brilliant.
01/28/2004 qualcomm (4): this is good. and where do you get off characterizing the boy's "abuse" as "horror," frankenstone? can't you see he likes it?
01/28/2004 senator (4): It does seem to switch from 1st to 3rd or visa versa...I always forget which is which. After re-reading, I think that is a narrator breaking into the story. I thought maybe that 2nd paragraph coulda been left out. Not so sure. I really liked it.
01/28/2004 Benny Maniacs (4): Exactly the type of stuff we have to stop writing.
01/28/2004 senator: Feldspar made me laugh...
01/28/2004 Ewan Snow (3): Sorry to give you low marks on this one, Scoop, but it doesn't work for me. Since I generally like your shorts and especially since you said I was a better writer than you (at least, as you importantly qualified it, in the context of this site), I’m going to take the time to attempt COSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM, as our pussy colleagues, Lenny and Frankenstone have been whining about.
Here goes: The noir voice has been done a lot, on this site and elsewhere. The child molestation thing could be a good twist on it (though it too has been done quite a bit), but it wasn't enough to make a laugh. The point of view wanderings didn't seem to serve a purpose I could tell, and were sometimes mixed up in a way that was unclear. For instance, what exactly does the second paragraph (which is a sudden shift to 3rd person) accomplish? Just making the real action explicit? Why not continue to show it through the kid’s distorted 1st person lens so that the reader eventually understands what is actually happening even if the narrator doesn’t? Also, sometimes in 1st person mode the speaker says, "I thought," whereas in other places his voice is presented directly as his thoughts. This can sometimes work as a device to either increase or decrease the narrator’s psychic distance, but I didn't get what purpose it served in this short. The second to last paragraph is back in 3rd person reality, but by now we know what’s going on, so it no longer needs to be made explicit (if it ever did). But I think the bottom line is that it didn’t have enough fresh, funny ideas, especially for how long it was. A four sentence short in which a kid talks noir re: his molesting uncle might get a laugh, but at 367 words, it’s a tougher sell.
01/28/2004 Ewan Snow: By the way, BenMan, why do you keep posting comments like "exactly the sort of stuff that needs to be stopped" in reference to Scoop's recent shorts? Not sure what you mean, precisely.
01/28/2004 Texxx: Maybe the switches in perspective are inadvertent, but they do give the story an unevenness that enhances its demented subject matter.
01/28/2004 Joe Frankenstone: I think the switches in reality are clearly...umm...advertant. The perspective shift happens exactly every other paragraph...no chance it's an accident. The complete lack of notice or explanation makes the short. If the short had obvious yardsticks such as, say, every other paragraph starting with the first being in italics, it would be more accessible to Dumbass and others -- but it would be a far weaker short. As I said before, I think it's the seamless transition that makes the short. Brilliant.
That said, sorry to give you 5 stars, scoop, because that clearly gave Dumbass incentive to decide he doesn't like it. Heh.
01/28/2004 Lenny: Omoshiroi. I'm surprised there's confusion re: the changing perspective. 1st person=child noir/"chester" victim, 3rd person=narrator. The perspectives flip-flop in an A-B-A-B format starting with the 1st paragraph. First the child speaks, then the narrator, then the child, etc. It's clearly a deliberate ploy. It reminded me of one of the "games" played on "Who's Line is it Anyway"...you know, the noir game...only the topic is really, really disturbing. Because of this I was amused and very uncomfortable at the same time. So good job, there. That said, it didn't really go anywhere. It was all atmosphere. Not like that's a bad thing...atmosphere is hard to do well. But I think the actual "story" would work more in a longer format where it would have a chance to develop.
01/28/2004 Lenny: Dammit, Frankenstone, of all the....you wrote exactly what I wrote, while I was writing it, and because you're a faster typist, you beat me to the punch. Now all I'm left with is sloppy seconds. I gotta find my Mavis Beacon. I left it around here somewhere....
01/28/2004 Lenny: Look, we got Snow to play nice for once and he's now using caps. "One of us, one of us...." It's okay, Ewan, you got the chance to use "pussy" as an adjective when describing Joe and myself. You've defended your manhood successfully for another day. Well done.
01/29/2004 Jon Matza: As a veteran, it's nice to watch the perspective of new writers on the site growing and developing...
Old Lenny: "I for one plan on being VERY careful with my words when critiquing because sarcasm translates very poorly on the web."
New Lenny: "You've defended your manhood successfully for another day. Well done."
Old Frankenstone: "Talking smack CAN be fun, but most of you guys suck at it."
New Frankenstone: "...Dumbass..."
Old Lenny: "none of you are the supreme judge of what "good" is, though many of you seem to think you are, and I'd rather not live a life of pretense."
New Lenny: "I think the actual "story" would work more in a longer format where it would have a chance to develop."
Old Frankenstone: "A friend of mine spent a shitload of time making a site that kicks ass, that is being run into the ground by stupid infighting."
New Frankenstone: "Sorry to give you 5 stars, scoop, because that clearly gave Dumbass incentive to decide he doesn't like it."
Old Lenny: "it seems there is a small, growing consensus that you catch more flies with honey - and that is refreshing to hear."
New Lenny: "Look, we got Snow to play nice for once and he's now using caps. "
Old Frankenstone: "I'm your worst enemy. A good writer who's bored at work."
New Frankenstone: "seamless transition"..."tamp down"..."maybe it's the fact of a nickname..."..."yardstick", etc.
Old Lenny: "You're a crappy, crappy writer."
New Lenny: "beat me to the punch", "sloppy seconds", "play nice", etc.
Side note: anyone want to start a pool on how many days it will take Frankenstone to use the word "glean" in a critique?
01/29/2004 Lenny: Wow....I'm really and truly impressed. That's some very thorough research. It's really kind of creepy, actually. I feel like I'm being stalked - it's like something out of "Fatal Attraction" or "Poison Ivy". Matza....are you in love with me? I'm only asking 'cause all the signs are there. You know, Valentine's Day isn't far away....
01/29/2004 Joe Frankenstone: Dillweed, how long did you spend on that rebuttal? Write a short, man! You can be funny!
01/29/2004 Jon Matza: Lenny: You don't have to be scared of me. I'm not stalking you, I'm just trying to keep up with your latest attack on the language. Maybe what's worrying you is being stuck with the caliber of mind that concludes being shown up as an idiot with no credibility is equal to being loved. Or perhaps it's the number of instances where you exposed yourself as a bad writer and an fool, which are now on public record. These things do seem to be following you around the site...
Frankenstone: point taken.
Scoop: Sorry all this garbage got attached to your short.
01/29/2004 Joe Frankenstone: Lenny, do NOT point out that he wrote "an fool." It's a TRAP.
01/29/2004 Jon Matza: Two rare points for Frankenstone in a single exchange!
01/29/2004 Jimson S. Sorghum (3): I don't think it matters whether the perspective change is deliberate or not. Because there are some other grammatical errors in here, it could easily be read as a mistake. I am not one to harp on mistakes in grammar, having recently had so many of my own brought to light by my astute constituency, but in this case, with the aforementioned perspective change, it seems to undermine the short. I see now that the switch probably is deliberate, but there are so few opportunities in such a short piece to exploit the perspective change, that I don't think it's working as well as it might.
I'd also like to say, for a record, though it matters little, that I am a big Scoop fan ordinarily. I think this is just a good idea gone slightly awry.
01/29/2004 senator: Matza's history lesson was a good read. I'm impressed.
01/29/2004 Lenny: Why would I do that? I don't give a shit about spelling. I myself can't spell so I'm certainly not going to be a dick about it. Making fun of spelling, to quote a prior comment is "...so homo. And I hate homo."
No, Matza, that post of yours was a labor of love, not distain. Fanatical love. So yeah, it's "kinda creepy". And you're absolutely right to apologize to scoop for attaching that crap to his story. If you want to write me love letters, do so in the forum, okay. Show some respect for once, Christ....
01/29/2004 Lenny: I just realized that I might have come off as pejorative to scoop in one of my comments (before Matza threw this whole line of discussion out of whack with his declaration of love for me) so I want to apologize. Sorry, scoop, that wasn't my intention. I put the word "story" in quotes to make it a singular event - a function of the short, instead of meaning the short itself. I was in no way implying "story" as to mean "alleged, worthless, meaningless", etc.
01/29/2004 senator: No offense to Joe and Lenny for your observations, but the way I read it they are wrong. It is not A-B-A-B, or every other paragraph as suggested. The only paragraph that uses a "narrator" is the 2nd paragraph. The rest of the time it is "real" conversation or Johnny's mind or "fantasy" of him being a private dick (great fucking pun by the way). I believe the short is brilliant except for that 2nd paragraph. It makes it too obvious. Tell me I'm wrong about that 2nd paragraph.
01/29/2004 Jon Matza: Pedal faster, Lenny - you're almost there!
01/29/2004 Ewan Snow: The problem with the POV shifts are that paragraphs 4, 6 and 8 are ambiguous as to point of view. They could be either 1st or 3rd (since they neither use “I” or refer to Johnny in 3rd person). FrankenLenny’s claims that POV alternates each paragraph are incorrect, though that may have been Scoops intention. It is certainly clear that the 2nd and 10th were intended to switch to 3rd person. However, since 4, 6 and 8 are not necessarily in 3rd, the feeling of alternating doesn't come off, despite what Frankenstone and Lenny might think. Please argue this point guys so I will have another opportunity to make a fool of you. Either way, I enjoyed this short considerably more than the embarrassing comments about it by FrankenLenny.
01/29/2004 Ewan Snow: More importantly, FrankenLenny, do you guys value literary tricks, like switching POV, as the stuff of humor? I give credit to Scoop for giving it a try, but your drooling over the technique is just another example of why you're unfit to participate in AcmeShorts.
01/29/2004 Ewan Snow: Senator, I agree (almost). However, the second to last paragraph is also clearly 3rd, as it says "his nephew's" rather than "my".
01/29/2004 senator: Ahh, you are correct Ewan. Fuck it, I still love this idea. Plus it made me laugh. For the record, I am infamous for inadvertant changes in POV. Mainly because I am lazy and severly retarded.
01/29/2004 Lenny: You can't bemoan the state of shit and then contribute to it Ewan. It looks bad. People will think you're an idiot. Go look on the message board for further details.
As to my comments, I had nothing but praise for scoop. I just thought it didn't work as a short because this idea needs to be in a longer format. Don't believe me? Re-read them yourself. It's best to have a concept of what you're talking about before you talk about it. Otherwise people will think you're an idiot.
01/29/2004 senator: Lenny, I don't understand your last post. Maybe it is because people think I'm an idiot. Or better yet, maybe it is because people think I'm an idiot.
01/29/2004 Moe-Ron (4): I, too, was confused by the change in POV when I first read this. But I give it four stars for supplanting Texxx as "The Latest Controversy." Hurray!
01/29/2004 Ewan Snow: Lenny, though you seem incapable of understanding this, I will explain it one more time. I never said you had anything negative to say about Scoop’s short. I never complained about attacks or fighting. I’ve merely said that I’m sick of reading your comments, not because they are inflammatory, but because they are stupid. I have no problem with savage postings if they are intelligent. Yours are neither; they’re both weak and dimwitted. The fact that you are continually unable to see this just proves the point.
As you pointed out in your limited monkey-speak, "It's best to have a concept of what you're talking about before you talk about it. Otherwise people will think you're an idiot." In your case, it's too late. Nearly everyone on the site already knows you're an idiot. Some authors have said so in postings, most of the rest have said so in private. It is important that you understand this.
02/3/2004 Slappy White: Ahem... IN DA AZZ, EWAN. In.... da..... AZZ.... NOW who's the retarded idiot. Oh, me. DUH.
03/25/2004 anonymous (1): Too easy. Pedophilia; private eye.
06/19/2004 TheBuyer (4): (emoticon)