100 Word Challenge: Time, time, time

I went way over the length limit this time for Julia’s 100 Word Challenge for Grownups. My only excuse is that this narrator’s getting old, and he tends to talk a lot.

This week’s prompt is

… returning to the routine,,,

and here’s my story.

Time, Time, Time

When I was a rookie cop, they assigned me a partner who was looking to retire. I hated that old man. He was the world’s worst cynic.

Back then, I figured we could clean up some of the bad actors if we got them soon enough often enough. “Don’t kid yourself, kid,” he’d say. He thought that was a big laugh. “Don’t kid yourself. I don’t know if they’re bad or just plain stupid, but nobody ever learns.”

Well, maybe the crooks don’t, but I did. It’s all in my head, every bad guy around for forty years. So when we were ready to call in the detectives for the latest body, I said to my new rookie, I said, “Tell them it’s old Lon Francesco’s work. Got his marks all over it.”

The kid looked at me funny. “Didn’t they put him away back in the seventies?” Lon was a bad one. Even wet behind the ears rookies heard of him.

“Yeah, and they just let him out.”

“Guy must be what, sixty? Seventy?”

“So? This is all he knows. He’s just returning to the routine.”

* * *

(Usual disclaimer: If there is any real person named Lon Francesco, he has no connection whatever to the career criminal in this story. I just pulled the name out of thin air; as far as I know, no such person exists.)

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11 responses to “100 Word Challenge: Time, time, time

  1. It’s a brilliant choice of name. Amazing how well your characters are formed in so few words, well done yet again!

    • Thanks, Gilly! Part of the process is letting the story begin with way too many words and too many big words, then paring away pieces of description that either distract from the main point or aren’t the kind of things this character would think. Also, there’s almost always a better verb than “to be” waiting someplace in the depths of the language.

  2. love it, yes but happens next?

    • Well, let’s see. The detectives arrive and look things over. Our narrator gives them an earful of exactly why he thinks old Lon is the murderer. Depending on whether he really deserves to count as a local expert or not, they either brush him off or take his reasoning seriously. (Or, depending on how much he annoys them, they might brush him off even though he’s right.)

      If it’s a good local police force, they’ll arrest Lon if the evidence fits, or let him alone if it doesn’t. (If the evidence doesn’t fit Lon, the narrator will grumble for months about how dumb the detectives are. That’s why he’s still a patrolman after all these years; he’s never qualified for a promotion, because he can’t see past his first impressions. The narrator won’t go after Lon by himself, though. He sees himself as a good cop, not a vigilante.)

      If the narrator was right but the detectives brushed him off – or couldn’t get enough solid evidence to arrest Lon – Lon will keep committing crimes until somebody younger and faster kills him first, or until he gets arrested for something else.

      If the narrator turns out to be right, his rookie partner will take his advice more seriously, and if he’s wrong, the rookie will pay less attention to what he says. That might get the rookie into a bad situation later on – after all, the narrator is a smart enough cop to survive forty years or more on the job. (if the narrator is usually right and the rookie knows it, but the detectives didn’t pay attention to him this time, the rookie might decide not to trust people higher up the chain of command and might eventually develop into a bad cop who does tend to play vigilante. Or the rookie might just quit the police force and find a different line of work.)

      And in another year or two, the narrator will retire, blow a lot of his savings on a fishing boat, and spend the summers off the Jersey shore with his buddies or his grandsons trying to catch bluefish. Or else –

      In another month or two, the narrator will cross paths with Lon, probably while trying to arrest him, and one or both of them will get shot. Considering their ages, at best they’ll spend a long time recovering. Lon will go back to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass Go…sorry, Monopoly took over my fingers for a few seconds there. Anyway, Lon will die in jail, in familiar surroundings. If the narrator survives, he’ll retire on disability and wish he could spend his days fishing, but he’s not healthy enough.

      And I think this is my all-time record for long, wordy answers to a comment! 😉

  3. Was hooked and loved the line “Even wet behind the ears rookies heard of him” – brilliant writing and looking forward to your next 100wc! x

  4. Perhaps too long for the 100 WC but very well done. a great anecdote that could, as you write, become a longer tale. 🙂 sometimes it just comes out and doesn’t want revising.

    • I’m glad you like it! And you’re so right – I did cut about fifty words out of the first draft, but trimming away any more would lose the narrator’s voice and character, I think. So – this is what it is.

  5. This is great! Makes for a great detective story!

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