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Chocodiles

Sheila held the handgun out at arm’s length.  Her right hand clenched the grip so tightly that her knuckles were turning white.  White like…

She shook her head.  No time for distractions.  The clerk’s hands were still in the air.  He looked like his arms were getting tired.  His lip was trembling, which caused the two piercings in it to rattle together.  If she weren’t so deadly serious at the moment, she would have laughed.  His nametag said “BLOW ME”.  Someone had been having some fun with the label maker tonight, it seemed.
When had it come to this?  Why was she doing this?  Because it was what was right, that’s why.  No time for doubts – certainly not now, at any rate.  “Hostess doesn’t offer Chocodiles anywhere anymore,” they had told her.  “The shelf life, you know.  They don’t last long enough.  It wasn’t cost effective.”  The damned hat-wearers, the Masters of the Id, had stolen her childhood, and she was going to set things to rights.  Tonight.

“Look, uhh… ma’am… I,” stammered the clerk.

“Did I fucking tell you to talk?” screamed Sheila, “Did I?  Did I fucking say ‘Please, Mr. Convenience Store Idiot, enlighten me with your god-damned pitiable stammering?’  Did I?”  She hated to use profanity, but sometimes it just couldn’t be helped.

BLOW ME the convenience store clerk only shook his head, fiercely.  Sheila suppressed a grin when his piercings knocked together again.  Sweat was running down his brow.  She wondered if it would tarnish the silver rings in his eyebrows.

“I’m going to ask you one last time.”

The clerk bit his lip.  His eyes flicked toward the door, then away again.  Not a chance, thought Sheila.

“And if I don’t like your answer, then our conversation is all over.  Do you understand?”

The kid nodded.  His eyes had welled up with tears.  He didn’t even try to mask his glances for the door, now, but he didn’t dare speak.

“Now,” Sheila said, narrowing her eyes, pausing for effect, “Where are the God damned Chocodiles?”

BLOW ME, night shift clerk at Harry’s OPEN 24 HOURS Pump ‘N’ Dash, took a slow, deep breath.  He had the look of inevitability in his bloodshot, green eyes.  He swallowed.  He swallowed again.  His hands were shaking, still up in the air, the muscles in his arms nearly exhausted.  He looked like he was making jazz hands.  Sheila bit her lip to avoid laughing.

“Quit.  Fucking.  Stalling,” she growled.  She really hated to curse.

“I could sell you… a Twinkie… and a Hershey bar?” he offered.

That did it.  Sheila emptied her clip into BLOW ME the convenience store attendant.  He danced about for a few seconds as each round struck his chest, which only accentuated the jazz hands effect.  Sheila laughed uncontrollably.  She dropped the gun.  She dusted her gloved hands off on her pants.  She vaulted the counter.
With a few keystrokes, Sheila opened the cash register.  She emptied the till and stuffed all of the money into the store’s drop safe, then spun the dial on it for good measure.  She grabbed a Twinkie from the Hostess stand-up display.  After unwrapping it, she crammed it most of the way into BLOW ME’s mouth.  Then she added a Hershey bar.  She giggled.

Doffing her gloves, she left the store, unlocking the door on her way out.  The parking lot was empty at four in the morning.  False dawn lit the horizon.

They were all going to pay.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
April 4th, 2007 1:10pm
I'll bite -- what's your medical condition?
Permalink Michael B 
April 4th, 2007 1:22pm
its good.  shades of stephen king.  is there more?
Permalink Send private email zestyZucchini 
April 4th, 2007 1:23pm
I was thinking more like "Kill Bill" meets "Clerks"
Permalink xampl 
April 4th, 2007 1:30pm
It's one of a loosely related series.  This is the best of the bunch.  I haven't decided whether to keep adding to it.

You've read this one before.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
April 4th, 2007 1:30pm
have I?  I dont recall.

nice work though.
Permalink Send private email zestyZucchini 
April 4th, 2007 1:31pm
muppet, it's a rerun :)

Or have you changed it since the first time you wrote it? I didn't read it since I remember the title.
Permalink Send private email Senthilnathan N.S. 
April 4th, 2007 3:43pm
It's an ironic repost dildo!

(actually, it doesn't count since it's been so long)
Permalink Send private email Ward 
April 4th, 2007 3:52pm
Yea. It was very long. It was not even here. I think it was in ?off. For a moment, it felt like a deja vu.
Permalink Send private email Senthilnathan N.S. 
April 4th, 2007 4:49pm
http://offtopic.phpkid.org/discuss.joelonsoftware.com/defaultcbf0.html?off.9.153315.6

I enjoyed that.

reminiscent of stephen king.
Jesus H Christ
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Permalink what we have here is... 
April 4th, 2007 10:21pm
LOL.


apparently Im consistent in my opinions.  how cool is that?
Permalink zestyZucchini 
April 4th, 2007 11:46pm
There's something off. The tone is humorous which is fine. The character's state of mind is not. Still fine. But why does the humorous tone inject itself here and there? It breaks it for me ... why does she suppress a grin if she's serious? Why does she giggle at the end, but not earlier?

This is not a small thing. The reader doesn't know who to believe. Is the death supposed to be black humor funny/macabre ('jazz hands') or 'deadly serious' as Sheila is thinking?

> No time for doubts – certainly not now, at any rate.

Who is saying this? The narrator or Sheila? It's confusing to switch POVs like this (it can happen but there's a cost - every switch over leaves the reader a bit more befuddled).

> Her right hand clenched the grip so tightly that her knuckles were turning white. White like…
> She shook her head.  No time for distractions.

Who is saying this? The narrator has all the time in the world. Or is she saying this? POV inconsistency.

> They were all going to pay.

Who is saying this? Did Sheila and narrator switch tones? Sheila who is now giggling over the silliness of killing someone over some candy but the narrator has lost his sarcastic wit because he realized how deadly serious Sheila really is? That's weird.

Can you make the narrator a real person? Like Sheila's boyfriend who's strung out on something and thinks this is a giant joke, until the moment Sheila pulls the trigger? Then Sheila could say things like "Stop laughing Bobby, I'm deadly serious" instead of us reading her mind through a narrator who doesn't believe her seriousness.

Well, anyway. Those my thoughts. Don't shoot.
Permalink Send private email strawberry snowflake 
April 5th, 2007 12:04am
strawberry -

Who are you saying this to?
Permalink Send private email muppet 
April 5th, 2007 6:42am
"Sheila laughed uncontrollably.  She dropped the gun.  She dusted her gloved hands off on her pants.  She vaulted the counter.  With a few keystrokes, Sheila opened the cash register."

The paragraph had a nice rhythm (she did this. she did that) until you stuck in the unnecessary phrase "with a few keystrokes."  A good editor would cut that out.

"Sheila laughed uncontrollably.  She dropped the gun.  She dusted her gloved hands off on her pants.  She vaulted the counter.  She opened the cash register."

See the difference?  Pare it down.
Permalink AMerrickanGirl 
April 5th, 2007 7:31am
I broke the repetition there on purpose.  I like the rhythm.

Good editors are often overzealous.

While I see your point, I don't agree.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
April 5th, 2007 8:58am
In any case, "keystrokes" isn't the right word.

Convenience stores don't typically have PC-based cash registers with a computer keyboard.  They generally have a fairly advanced cash register w/ a ton of preset keys.  I'm not sure what a better word would be, but keystrokes isn't quite right - it implies typing some magic sequence, but you don't type of a cash register, even if some keys are labelled with the alphabet.  When training an employee, you'd never say "this sequense of keystrokes" or something like that.

hmmm, you do call them keys, though.  In some cases, all it would take is to find the No Sale key, but that might be disabled for overnight clerks. 

"Quickly pushing a few keys" maybe...
Permalink Send private email Ward 
April 5th, 2007 1:13pm
I've worked as a register clerk in 3 different food/retail outlets, Ward.  :-)
Permalink Send private email muppet 
April 5th, 2007 1:18pm
I ran a corner store for 10 years.  We never used "keystrokes," maybe it's an Americanism.
Permalink Send private email Ward 
April 5th, 2007 1:42pm
Everything in literature should either advance the story or make you care about the characters.  "With a few keystrokes" does neither.

How else would you open a cash register, anyway?

OK, fine, so we care about how she got the cash drawer open.  How about she blew it open with a blast from her .44.

Now that advances the story.
Permalink AMerrickanGirl 
April 5th, 2007 10:14pm
I don't believe in the barest possible usage of description.  There are authors/writers who subscribe to an extreme economy of words, and I'm not one of 'em.

I don't think there's anything wrong with descriptive prose.  Granted this isn't a great example of that, but authors who paint a picture of a scene are much more interesting to me than authors who stick to precisely what's relevant to the plot point for that chapter.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
April 6th, 2007 1:22pm

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