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Bitter Oracle - Chapter 8 - Snitches Get Stitches

by papillote


Warning: This work has been rated 18+.

In Chapter 7, Bitter, an Oracle, was being harassed by Mike Murphy, whose brother had disappeared. Now, she's looking for the person who sent him her way.

Sergeant John Graves was a tall, heavy-set man in his fifties with a toothy smile, slightly protruding eyes and almost no chin. He should have looked like a toad, but the uncomfortable, dark shrewdness on his face called to mind a mean toad. His square, cheap black suit, white shirt and reddish tie didn’t really have a softening effect on his physiognomy.

We first met when I was seventeen. I had fallen asleep watching a true-crime show about the disappearance of the Robert family back in the sixties. I woke up knowing that Carl and Sara Robert had murdered their three children and were currently living in Tijuana. I went to the police and Graves did what I couldn’t with that information.

Sadly, it happened again a number of times in later years. Graves proved useful whenever I came out of my Trances with information regarding police investigations. Our relationship grew more sporadic as I learned to avoid reading or watching the news. I usually was polite enough to meet him at the precinct.

At the moment, however, I wasn’t feeling very polite. I’d had to sneak out the backdoor of my building to avoid Mike Murphy, who was stationed out front. I tracked down the detective in the sandwich-shop where he was having a late lunch.

“Good afternoon,” I said, collapsing in the chair in front of him.

He almost choked on his mouthful of fries. I waited, unimpressed, as he reached for his glass of coke, eyes watery. “Miss Flynn,” he spluttered, “what are you doing here?”

“I just need to talk to you.”

He blinked, and his eyes narrowed on me. “I suppose I don’t need to ask how you found me…”

I shrugged. “You can ask, but it’s a stupid question. Now-” I leaned a little forward, and he leaned back a little. “-why the hell did you send Mike Murphy my way?”

“Mike who?”

I slapped my hand on the table. “I’m not stupid. You think I don’t know for sure?”

He sighed and put down his taco. “Alright. I felt sorry for the guy. He’s really worried about his brother.”

“And so are you,” I guessed. “Why?” My damn curiosity. “No, don’t tell me. I don’t care, it’s none of my business.”

“The brother doesn’t look like the disappearing type. Plus, it’s just him, Mike and their mother. They don’t have the money to hire a PI or an Oracle.”

“I don’t do pro bono shit!” I barked at him.

He chuckled. “Could have fooled me. And Chaz Caldaron, for that matter, or-”

“Those were exceptions. I don’t do missing persons for a living. Ask the OES or, better yet, send the guy to the Open Eye.”

Graves made a face at the mention of the weirdos from the Open Eye. I knew the feeling.

“The OES doesn’t care about non-Scryer crime. As for the Open Eye-” The face became a grimace. “-they’ve got enough work with actual, established murders. Disappearances-”

“It’s not my fault.”

He shrugged. “The way I see it, if you can do something and don’t, it is. Kinda.”

“Don’t you dare put that guilt trip on me. You know what it does to me to look for your missing persons?! I see, and hear, and feel everything they do. I’ll forever remember how the hands of Chaz’s father felt around his throat. Fuck you, Graves, I’m not your personal Oracle.”

Graves caught my wrist as I was getting up to leave. “I’ve got at least fifty cases of critical disappearances in which I’m stumped. How many have I called you on?”

None, that nagging voice whispered again.

“Yes, exactly,” he said, accurately reading my mind. “You’re right, you’re not responsible for the OES or the Open Eye, but think about this, will you? If Kyle Murphy dies while you’re dragging your feet, will you be responsible for that?”

To feel sorry for a stalker, read Chapter 9.


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767 Reviews


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Sat Jul 24, 2021 11:09 am
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi papillote,

Mailice back with another review! :D

The presentation of John Graves is visibly successful. I liked how you started the chapter describing him as if Bitter was just picturing his appearance in her head and the story of the relationship as she then sets off to join him.

I liked that transition from her memory/thoughts in her head to fleeing her flat. Graves seems a bit stereotypical in terms of his character. He's neither this Good Cop or Bad Cop kind of guy, but this middle-of-the-road guy who does whatever comes to hand and also goes about it very calmly.

Unlike the other chapters, this one felt a bit bare. I think I once told you that I like the story because it reminds me of a series and jumps from chapter to chapter in such an episodic way. I didn't find that feeling again here because I missed the contrast. You were a bit too rushed in terms of pace and felt like there could have been more.

There were no conversations / dialogues and extended descriptions here, and I found that a pity. I would have expected Graves to bring Bitter to her senses a bit here, and maybe talk about good old times, or take time to eat his snack first, while Bitter then ponders why she bothered to seek him out in the first place, and maybe then splashes the coke in his face, etc....

I think you can definitely expand more here and give back that feeling I miss here, that typical way of your writing style. :D

Other points that caught my eye:

His square, cheap black suit, white shirt and reddish tie didn't really have a softening effect on his physiognomy.

I like how Bitter comes up with such "big" words now and then, and you have to think a bit about what exactly she has in mind. At the same time, it gives the reader this residual effect of having to think a bit about what he looks like.

Our relationship grew more sporadic as I learned to avoid reading or watching the news.

I like how you can interpret out here that Graves doesn't really care about anything except the news or generally has no interest that matches Bitter's.

I'd had to sneak out the backdoor of my building to avoid Mike Murphy, who was stationed out front. I tracked down the detective in the sandwich shop where he was having a late lunch.

I thought the transition here was a bit rushed and I think that just as vehemently as you portrayed Murphy in the previous chapters, this escape would not have been so easy. As desperate as he is, I would have thought he would have known about this back door and switched between the two doors every now and then. I also thought the way you got to the sandwich shop was a bit too rushed. It does show that Graves is predictable, and is probably always to be found there, on any given day, but there was also a lack of substance to me in how Bitter makes these conclusions.

"And so are you," I guessed. "Why?" My damn curiosity. "No, don't tell me. I don't care, it's none of my business."

Here I think you would have to restructure it a little bit because this change between dialogue - sentence - dialogue - thought - dialogue doesn't read well. I would extend it a bit, maybe insert that Bitter pauses before she asks and then gets a bit more lost in her thoughts and comes up with the answer while Graves is sitting there eating his fries with relish.


Have fun writing!

Mailice




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Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:00 pm
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Rosendorn wrote a review...



Hello. Haven't read previous parts, just going off what I see here.

The opening description made me laugh.

I think beyond that, I struggled to get a sense of the characters as people through this interaction. Everything was laid out very straightforward, and while I love some good straightforward prose, I was expecting to be able to connect with the character more.

The events and character reactions felt spelled out, for me, which is just fine, but there lacked this undertow of something for me. It was snappy, witty, and laid out a lot of stakes... and that was it.

I know that sounds like everything was done right, but I couldn't get a true sense of the relationship with the interaction. It felt like this was the first time they were having this conversation, the first time such a misunderstanding had happened, the first time she had snapped at him, but logic dictates it's probably not the first time.

I have definitely been in this sort of position, where the relationships weren't well developed enough, so I wouldn't be terribly worried about that. I'm pointing it out because it might help in the revision process to know what relationships need a bit more sense of backstory to them.

I would suggest Linguistics and Dialogue, Intro and Linguistics and Dialogue, Application. Those two articles really gave me a sense of how to create a solid relationship in words alone, and I feel this sort of depth will help out what's currently there.

I'd like to have a deeper sense of relationship between these two. It could really take this conversation to the next level, and make the dynamics richer— something you can pull from later.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

~Rosey




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Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:48 am
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ExOmelas wrote a review...



Hey, sorry I didn't drop by yesterday. A different story I follow finally dropped a chapter after months of hiatus.

Nit-picks:

He should have looked like a toad, but the uncomfortable, dark shrewdness on his face called to mind a mean toad.

"He should have looked like a toad" sounds like this is going to end with him looking like something else, so when the sentence concludes with him in fact looking like a toad, it's a bit jarring.

Overall:

Well, the mystery you set up in chapter 7 didn't really follow through, or at least, not in the way I was expecting. The setup made it feel like the main question was going to be who had set Mike on her, but this is answered rather quickly, and the why doesn't even remain in suspense for long. This is probably fine, as a story element in and of itself, but the buildup in the last chapter sends my expectations in the wrong way so that it feels a bit odd.

However, the question that this chapter leaves on is also really interesting! How far should Bitter push herself in order to help other people? If the brother is still alive, it seems pretty clear that she ought to help him, but we are very able to empathise with the risk she takes. This is said to Graves in a kind of exposition-y way (as in, Graves clearly already knows this so it's pretty obvious the only reason Bitter is saying it is to give us a world-building detail. Honestly if she were to allude to it to Graves and then explain further to us I think that would be fine), but it's a really interesting idea. I really hope this stays consistent on and is expanded in the next chapter. I'll be by tomorrow to see if it does!

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




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Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:36 pm
PokemonLuver1 says...



I AM AWSOME :D





Uh, Lisa, the whole reason we have elected officials is so we don't have to think all the time. Just like that rainforest scare a few years back: our officials saw there was a problem and they fixed it, didn't they?
— Homer Simpson