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18+ Language Mature Content

How Do You Plead: 1.1

by CaptainJack


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.

Detective Smith took his lighter from the pocket of the trench coat laying over his arm, lighting up a Chesterfield to calm his nerves before stepping into the crime scene. New Year’s Eve had not been a good day for the the former Army captain - the continuing fireworks were hell on his symptoms of shell shock. The memories could not be washed away with a shot of whiskey or driven away by a cloud of smoke, but Winslow kept trying as he took the flask from his pocket. He rubbed his thumb over the worn inscription, knowing that he would never be able to bring himself to replace the dented container.

“Fuck, it’s hotter than inside of a cow’s ass out here.”

Winslow turned to see two patrol officers leaning against their vehicle, both smoking with their hats off while the group of observers on the lawn grew larger. It wasn’t necessarily Smith’s place to tell them what to do, but that wasn’t going to stop him tonight. He walked over to their car, flicked ash onto the first officer’s shoe and responded to the one who had decided to describe the weather in a creative fashion.

With his first puff of smoke, Winslow asked, “Now which one of you was the genius who decided to describe the temperature with comments about bovine anal cavities instead of doing the job the city pays you to do?” When no response came from them, he blew the new cloud of smoke directly into their faces. Their coughing had barely subsided as he said, “Get back out there and make sure none of these gossiping hens see the crime scene, or you’ll be working as night watchmen down by the docks.”

The detective walked away from the two frozen officers, inhaling as much of his cigarette as he could before he had to step inside. There were officers and detectives and other investigative personnel who would smoke at crime scenes, but for Smith that was bad taste. They weren’t only contaminating the crime scene with the ashes of twenty different brands - it was disrespectful to the dead to have a coffee chat right around their body. This careful analysis ran through Winslow’s head as he walked up the stone path, taking sideways glances at the people in the crowd and searching for those suspicious expressions. If this was anything like the string of stranglings he had dealt with during the Thanksgiving season, the murderer could very well be lurking in the crowd.

One of the officers standing by the door looked far chipper than the rest, waving to Winslow and excitedly asking, “How are you doing this morning, Detective Smith?”

Smith looked down at his watch, double checking that the time was still somewhere around 4 o’clock, and then back to the young officer looking him dead in the eye. After searching his memory for a moment, Winslow greeted him with, “It’s not the worst New Year’s Day I’ve ever had, Officer Morgan. They called me in the middle of my glass of warm milk, so would you mind briefing me on the situation?”

“Oh, of course not, sir.”

Morgan followed him into the house, stubbing his own cigarette out in the flower pot after Winslow went through the familiar action. Damned if this kid didn’t remind Smith of himself as a young recruit in the Army. While they moved through the first few rooms, memories of the past 11 years flashed through Winslow’s head. He couldn’t believe that he was only going to be 30 years old this time around - the war had felt like centuries added on to his age.

The sound of pencils scratching on pads and mild gossiping of investigators was interrupted by Reilly’s signature laughter. Smith followed the sounds through the halls until he came to the base of the stairs, and face to face with the crumpled form of Mr. Daniel B. Johnson. Reilly and his assistants were standing around the body, making crude jokes as the clearly visible distraught widow sat in the kitchen with the maid and the butler.

Winslow quickly pulled Reilly to the side, pushing them both into the empty, dim parlor room. It took much of Smith’s sanity not to hurt the coroner right then and there. In a hushed manner - but still clearly angered - he asked, “What the hell is wrong with you, Reilly?”

The coroner shook free of his grasp, stepping away from Winslow and lighting up a cigarette of his own. After Winslow gave another sideways glare, the doctor opened up one of the bench windows, settling into one of the seats and motioning for the detective to join him. Smith kept his position in the entry way and waited for what the coroner had to say.

“Oh come on now, Winslow. Are you telling me that the OSS boys never made a couple of crude jokes about the shit that passed over your desk?”

Winslow’s fingers tapped a steady beat against his legs, remembering the song that had been playing on the set at home. Of course he had made crude jokes in his past career - as a captain in the United States Army. A very different position than that of the coroner for Mobile County. And certainly a different environment than making implications about a dead man’s sexual preferences while poking at the man’s liver, and as the man’s widow sits crying in the next room.

Instead of saying any of this, Winslow simply smiled and admitted, “Yes, we did use to make those jokes on the occasion. I just don’t think you should be making them in front of his wife.” Smith stepped across the room, standing tall in front of Reilly and noting, “And I don’t think you should be encouraging your assistants to make such snide comments. You and I grew up in an age where we have to make fun of people like ourselves, but those graduate students might survive to see a new age.”

Winslow stepped back from the coroner, seeing the shock in the man’s face, took the hanging cigarette from Reilly’s lips and threw it out the window. As he turned to leave, Reilly stood up and pulled Smith’s sleeve. He quietly asked, “How did you know, Smith?”

“Well, like you said, I was in the Office of Strategic Services.”

Detective Smith pulled his arm free and returned to the main hall to seek out the crying widow.


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Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:24 pm
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

I saw this hanging out in the green room a lot so it has become my latest target. Hopefully I can get through this in the next couple of days.

First Impression: Pretty good for an opening chapter. Some intriguing developments. We also get introduced to our main character pretty well too so overall pretty well done first chapter.

With his first puff of smoke, Winslow asked, “Now which one of you was the genius who decided to describe the temperature with comments about bovine anal cavities instead of doing the job the city pays you to do?” When no response came from them, he blew the new cloud of smoke directly into their faces. Their coughing had barely subsided as he said, “Get back out there and make sure none of these gossiping hens see the crime scene, or you’ll be working as night watchmen down by the docks.”


Right away we got some information that Winslow is not something to mess with. It introduces his character better than a paragraph full of details ever could.

Morgan followed him into the house, stubbing his own cigarette out in the flower pot after Winslow went through the familiar action. Damned if this kid didn’t remind Smith of himself as a young recruit in the Army. While they moved through the first few rooms, memories of the past 11 years flashed through Winslow’s head. He couldn’t believe that he was only going to be 30 years old this time around - the war had felt like centuries added on to his age.


Looks like Winslow has a bit of a history that we might be getting into as the chapters progress.

The sound of pencils scratching on pads and mild gossiping of investigators was interrupted by Reilly’s signature laughter. Smith followed the sounds through the halls until he came to the base of the stairs, and face to face with the crumpled form of Mr. Daniel B. Johnson. Reilly and his assistants were standing around the body, making crude jokes as the clearly visible distraught widow sat in the kitchen with the maid and the butler.


Well that's not very nice of them. Nice description to set the scene there.

And certainly a different environment than making implications about a dead man’s sexual preferences while poking at the man’s liver, and as the man’s widow sits crying in the next room.


When you put it that way it does seem terribly rude.

Detective Smith pulled his arm free and returned to the main hall to seek out the crying widow.


Looks like we have a bit of a crime scene here and the detective is finally going to actually check out the crime.

Overall: Pretty intriguing first chapter. It's not super attention grabby but the premise of the dead body and a pretty likable and relatable main character are introduced here and they work very well to make this a pretty darn good first chapter. Overall I didn't see any other errors that I could see.

And of course remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:55 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...



Hey, on lunch break from studying so thought I'd pop by for another review.

Nit-picks and nice moments:

responded to the one who had decided to describe the weather in a creative fashion.

Kinda clunky phrasing that doesn't really convey his annoyance. (ie what's wrong with being creative?). Might as well call him a smart ass or something. Oh, unless it's meant to be dry irony? In which case a sarcastic word like "rather" might help.

With his first puff of smoke, Winslow asked, “Now which one of you was the genius who decided to describe the temperature with comments about bovine anal cavities instead of doing the job the city pays you to do?”

Again it just doesn't really feel natural to focus on this for so long. I'd expect him to tell him to get back to work, but the topic of the comment isn't like, something to be reprimanded over by itself, if that makes sense.

The detective walked away from the two frozen officers, inhaling as much of his cigarette as he could before he had to step inside. There were officers and detectives and other investigative personnel who would smoke at crime scenes, but for Smith that was bad taste. They weren’t only contaminating the crime scene with the ashes of twenty different brands - it was disrespectful to the dead to have a coffee chat right around their body.

I really like this bit. There's been a lot of Winslow smoking up to now, so this feels significant as a character detail, increasing how real Winslow feels.

This is kind of a nit-pick for the whole way through, not a specific line. Sometimes you call the main character Winslow and sometimes Smith, which is a bit distracting.

While they moved through the first few rooms, memories of the past 11 years flashed through Winslow’s head. He couldn’t believe that he was only going to be 30 years old this time around - the war had felt like centuries added on to his age.

Okay so I was waiting to call this confusing until I got to the end, just in case it was resolved, but I don't know what the "this time around" means. Is this taking place in the same building as the prologue took place in? I don't think I recognise the name of the dead man.

Overall:

I'm unsure as of yet the relevance of Winslow's time in the army on his time as a detective, but presumably that will come up. The only reason I mention that is that every character has a backstory, but a prologue can highlight something particularly important about that backstory. I suppose without him leaving the army, he would never be in the situation he is now, but I'm gonna keep an eye on that and see where that thread goes.

A theme emerges here about casual homophobia, I think, which is introduced subtly but also with clarity. The clarity comes from the theme being associated with a specific interaction between the two main characters in this chapter. I'm not sure if it's cool of Winslow to bring up someone else's sexuality like this. It's not exactly outing, but I could see it making someone uncomfortable, especially if you're telling them off for allowing homophobia in the workplace. It's like guilting someone on the basis of their sexuality, which going by his reaction he feels quite vulnerable about. I guess it's important to act in the interests of the community as a whole, but if Winslow's more comfortable maybe he could take the lead on that idk.

In any case, I will read anything and everything queer and I like the time period and your narrative tone so I'll be back soon!

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




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Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:44 pm
thepages wrote a review...



I've really liked this piece. The story line and title "how do you plead" kind of argues me to read and maybe find out what exactly did the writer mean by the title.
In the first paragraph "fuck, it's hotter than inside of a cow's ass out here", I find the sentence construction a little confusing/out of place, maybe " fuck, it's hotter than inside a cow's ass out here " eliminating "of".
I am fascinated by the detective-Smith's attitude at the end of this piece is rather peculiar which interests me because some where in the middle of the piece he is bossy and rude yet at the end he notices rude behavior for example where the doctor makes crude jests about the dead body in front of the berieved. He holds the doctor from public and tries to make him understand how inappropriate his behavior had been. I also like the fact that Smith is firm in his line of work, for example when the doctor confronts him about cracking jocks in reference to the dead, he admits but regains his poise fast ... Smith has been my favourite character and for that I am to read the other chapters of this work





A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases...
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