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Do You Remember Jonnie Casey? (2/3)

by joshuapaul

Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

Part one here

“Lydia called on my way home from work today,” she said.

“Oh yeah, how is she doing?”

“She’s good and Darren’s doing well. They’ve got the boys for the school holidays staying up there.”

He nodded. At the crook of his jaw line a knot pulsed, working a stubborn wad of macaroni.

“She asked if we would like to go up there for dinner one night this week,” she said, watching his eyes, waiting for them to betray him. His eyes didn’t change, they remained half-lidded watching the investigators on television unravel a seemingly unsolvable murder plot.

He swallowed and said, “Not this week.”

“Oh, I told her we would be up on Thursday,” she said with a false tone of indifference.

“You thought you’d book us in without checking if I was busy?” he asked calmly, taking another forkful.

“When was the last time you saw your nephews?”

She had wanted no kids from when they were young. That was what she said. He asked her to marry him and she had said she wouldn’t. “You can find someone that can give you kids and someone that will make you happy. I love you and want to be with you, but you will never be happy with me,” she said holding both his hands in the centre of the dimly lit hotel room. “This is what Lucy from the salon said ‘you two are a perfect match, you seem so happy, not like me and Kent, we bicker and fight’ and that’s just it, we don’t fight about anything except that and I know we won’t get over it.”

“We will,” he had said, “if you love me, you will marry me and if I love you, I will live my life without kids.”

She said she would marry him, she said she loved him and supposed that was all that mattered. Then they both cried.

“You’re right. It’s fine, Thursday suits fine.”

“Thanks, Hon. I might make some potato salad with the bacon bits to take up there.”

“Yeah,” he said without turning away from the television. The camera panned at a low angle. A hyper-real half hand disembodied beneath a bed. Tendons thick and polished white. Flesh pale and decaying. The camera angle cut to the detectives face. His nose creased. He lowered himself, bent his back and lifted the comforter, revealing the last piece of evidence. With gloved fingers he extracted the severed hand. It hung limp, limbs un-rigid and dried up, like an octopus cadaver. Got ‘em, the detective’s eyes said and his partner expressed his agreement with a grave nod. He knew they would solve it, they always do.

They rolled up the long driveway, splitting paddocks of grass rolling in the wind and horses with foal and some without. In a pit too muddy for anything else, there stood a few pigs paying the visitors an indifferent glance before returning to their troughs. Chickens clucked and pecked and cleaned beneath their wings with their beaks. Them all stilted and scattered about organic waste as if cast in one hurl.

When the car engine died, the distant long winding howl of motor bikes could be heard. Together they crossed the tight, neat lawn, he weighing a bottle of wine as he walked and she toting a bowl of potato salad. He wanted to spit but thought better of it. They may have been watching from the long sheets of glass that appeared to hold the house up. He had left his cigarettes at home.

“Darl, they’re here!” Lydia called, leaning out from behind the ajar front door. Her tight neat body had been contained within a floral apron, the coils of her dark hair held back with a thick black band.

His brother’s soft hand enclosed his own and firmly pumped it up and down. He found his brother’s eyes, eyes that any woman could still fall for, charmed only further by the recent addition of creases splayed from the corners to his hairline. Like former colleagues or sports rivals they smiled and greeted each other. His brother’s hair had thinned through the crest and his own eye brows involuntarily raised upon noticing this.

“I called for the boys but they couldn’t hear me out the back on their bikes, they’ll be in before long,” said Lydia.

“Taken off of the neighbour’s farm this beef, home kill and all organic. Best meat you can get,” his brother cheerfully explained.

Ella nodded and expanded her eyes then looked to her husband to see if he was equally as impressed.

“Have you seen the news about that missing girl?” Lydia asked, leaning over the table and doling out the red wine. “She’s from down your ways near the village.”

He cut her a glance. “You hear about that up here?” he asked.

“Yeah they’ve been following it in the newspaper, nothing else to talk about out here in the country.”

“It’s just awful,” his wife said.

“It is. She’s probably been grabbed from near the old bread factory. I heard a guy at the club talking about it. Said that’s where she was last seen,” his brother added.

“They’ve got a suspect. The paper said, the police have been questioning a guy about it, won’t say who he is though. I reckon it’s someone that knows her, you know?”

His brother and his wife nodded in agreement that it probably was someone that knew her.

“Well, I’m only saying this because Taren from up on the ridge there, her brother owns the bar in the village and he told her this. He said that girls ex-boyfriend was there drinking at the bar until late the night it happened. He says to Tarren, the ex-boyfriend was quiet and just sitting there drinking, then he disappeared sometime after midnight. Now that’s about when the girl went missing, right? This boy has been living up there in Te Kuiti, not saying anything against the kid, just saying that’s where he’s been living and they’ve got all sorts of gang problems there.”

“So what are you saying?” he asked of his brother.

“Well I don’t want to speculate,” he began then paused to fork a piece of roast beef into his mouth. He washed it down with a gulp of red wine and his clean shaven Adam’s apple jumped. “But I heard about some of those bastards grabbing girls, then… you know?”

Lydia cleared her throat with a sharp cough. “Come on now, Dear, let’s not talk about this.”

“We know what?” his wife quietly said.

When he had first met her, she wore the sort of lines between her eyes that paranoid widows wear. “You’re a thinker. You’re always thinking, Ella, your mind's always elsewhere, worrying about little things that don’t matter,” he once said. He studied her wearing that look and she thumbed the space between her eye brows and said “I’m sorry, I know I’m getting wrinkles. I’m sorry.” And he said “It’s okay dear, I just don’t like to see you worry, I don’t care about wrinkles.”

At the table, he was too engrossed by the way his brother’s mouth was shaping silent words to notice that she was wearing that expression, the lines torn deeper than ever.

“What do they do after they grab the girls?” she asked.

“Well I don’t want to say it at the dinner table, but it’s been over a week and it’s likely this girls gone. But that’s not to say they didn’t you know?” he said, gesturing with his shoulders and his hands like a politician resisting blame, urging the three of them to understand and one by one they did.

They all looked toward the kitchen when the back door opened then closed and his brother’s wife rose to grab the remaining beef from the oven for his nephews and no further talk of the missing girl was entertained.

Part three here

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892 Reviews

Points: 233
Reviews: 892

Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:44 pm
PenguinAttack wrote a review...

Hola Joshua!

I’m here for the second piece as I promised, maybe a bit sooner than you could have expected, but I won’t judge you for it! I’m liking the way this is moving, very much. The transitions between settings is much smoother and less awkward, I didn’t ask wait or what at any point!

I’ve outlined some of my more particular points of interest below. Take all of my comments with a grain of salt, of course, I can only read this from my own sense! I feel like some of my reading is coming from a confusion of language culture or something? Like you’re writing with a particular tone, a slang, and I’m missing out on it and that’s why I’m finding some of it very odd. I won’t know if that’s true until/unless you tell me though, so I’ll have to wait to find out.

“You thought you’d book us in without checking if I was busy?” he asked calmly, taking another forkful.
Maybe it’s just how he talks, but basically I thought here “she didn’t think she would… she did it.” So, maybe alter this to “You booked us in…” because it feels super odd right now!

She had wanted no kids from when they were young.
The syntax of this! I’m not sure if this means that she didn’t want kids if they were young ones, or if she had never wanted children, from when she was young? I think the second, but it is awkwardly phrased.

Lydia called, leaning out from behind the ajar front door.
The “ajar” is placed oddly here. I’d just remove it, or swap it with open, because I feel like ajar just sounds and feels incredibly misplaced.

You spell “Tar(r)en” two different ways, one with two rs.

urging the three of them to understand and one by one they did.
Here I just feel like the wife already knows at least, so this seems redundant, or untruthful? Sounds excellent, doesn’t make too much sense.

The narrator is becoming somewhat less frustrating for me. I don’t like his coldness so much but I can see where there are parts of him sliding through. I feel like the distance I get from the narrator resembles the distance between he and his wife, maybe. But that is less of an important point.

Again, thank you for writing this! I’ll be jumping to the final part right now! If you have any questions, queries or what to chat, please do hit me up.

~ Pen

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245 Reviews

Points: 22884
Reviews: 245

Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:57 pm
sargsauce wrote a review...

Hello, hello, good sir. Long time no see. Good to see you're up and about.

So my first thought is this--maybe it's because you've split it up, but the tones of the two sections feel very different. Section 1 is like voices in the dark. Few "he said"s and "she said"s, barely any descriptions attached--and when there is, it's like a snapshot or glances or just barely enough, everything is based on the dialogue and the line breaks. Section 2 comes along and we're reading about soft hands and worry lines and metaphors (you don't have barely but any metaphors in the first section, and here you're talking about octopus cadavers and sports rivals).

Both of them are totally fine approaches. And they may even work if I read it in one fluid go, where the section break might be mid-page. But to go physically from one section to another and have the difference be so stark (for example, just look at the average paragraph length), it is jarring.

That said, the dialogue is excellent. You demonstrated this well in the first part. You got a little exposition-y in the second part when you illuminate what the story is with this girl. That is, it gets a little unnatural and thought-out, like a speech. I kind of glazed over a little at this bit because we lost the personality in the words we'd already seen.

However, with THAT said, the characters don't feel very distinct from each other. They're all just your average, understanding, yes, no, please, thank you kind of people. We got a little hint of something when he (Mr. Green?) was less than pleased when Ella made dinner arrangements for them, but that subsided and we aren't treated to the less savory side of any of the characters. And there was the part about the no kids and the marriage that was good, but felt a little thrust in there between the "You made plans without me?" and "You're right." Perhaps it seemed odd because she's the one who didn't want kids in the first place, but then it's her idea to go to see the kids--the segue doesn't quite mesh.

Not sure if you were going for anything in particular when you said, "limbs un-rigid" but I was not a fan. Also, octopus cadaver didn't strike me as a particularly good comparison because I see octopi as kind of gelatinous and slick, which then makes me think of the hand as looking like a jellyfish.

Also, are they brothers or is Darl the nephew? The line about the nephew after talking about Lydia led me to believe nephew. Then you quite clearly say brother. Also what kind of name is Darl? A nickname, I know, since you first call him Darren, but Darl is both strange-sounding and a bait-and-switch since you had just called him Darren previously (but never again. So both names are mentioned just once).
EDIT kind of: I understand now. Nephew refers to the Darren's boys. I guess I should have used the plural "nephews" and the fact that Lydia and Darren are opposite sexes to piece it together, but whatever-whatever, I left in what I had previously typed because I figure it's worth it to you to see that I was indeed confused and had to backtrack and fill in the blanks.

What about the boys?
"“I called for the boys but they couldn’t hear me out the back on their bikes, they’ll be in before long,” said Lydia."
And then they're all four at the dinner table, eating dinner, and it sounds like they're practically finished with dinner, and then we get the barest mention of the boys. It feels like the boys are shoehorned in there for the sake of their being there, but you didn't actually feel like writing them or noting their existence otherwise. I could imagine fathers whooping their boys for being late to dinner when they have guests.

Anyway, those are my disorganized thoughts. Good stuff, good dialogue, good ideas. Just re-examine the structure and how clearly your ideas and characters are thought out/conveyed.

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129 Reviews

Points: 914
Reviews: 129

Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:26 am
WaitingForLife says...

Heya, decided to drop a comment, even if this won't be a full-blown review.

I've read some works of your's before and I have seen your confidence in them. In this one, I think it shines through even more. I'm really loving the abrupt transitions between scenes and how you somehow make them work. These are some of the most detailed characters I've seen on this site in a while and I think what sets them apart is the great interactions they have between them, as well as the small quirks of their natures, such as the lines of worry on the wife. I also wanted to mention that I liked the small detail with the detective show followed by a discussion of the missing girl. Nice foreshadowing.

Impressive stuff - a really detailed, confident work. Waiting for part 3, I'm interested in finding out the rest of the story.


"She doesn't even go here!"
— Damian Leigh