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Riding the Breeze

by ShadowVyper


A warm breeze carried with it the scent of honeysuckle and cow manure, rustling the leaves in the nearby trees. The bluebirds in the nest resting on the rafter overhead chattered to each other quietly – no doubt discussing their three lovely eggs cradled gently within. Wayne Eastwood swayed gently in his rocking chair on the porch, eyes closed, enjoying the lazy afternoon.

A siren pierced through the air.

He put his foot down, spur clinking on the heel of his boot as he straightened his back and looked down the long driveway – as if he’d be able to see straight into downtown to see what the ruckus was about. There were never sirens in the sleepy little town they called home.

He stood, unable to bear the curiosity a moment longer, and went through the creaky screen door, calling to his wife within. “Martha, put the news on, hon!”

“What happened?” She looked up from her laptop as he shuffled into the living room where she was working. She had papers strewn across the couch and on the floor, books piled haphazardly on the coffee table, coffee cups littering every unoccupied surface available. Her doctoral dissertation couldn’t be over fast enough to suit either of them – how he’d love to get their home, and time together, back. It’d been months since he’d seen a genuine smile on her face.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Where’s the remote?”

“It’s—ahh… I mean… it’s gotta be here somewhere,” she said, digging through her various papers. She picked up a throw pillow, then set it down again. “I just saw it… I think it was earlier today. Definitely yesterday if not… today is Wednesday, right?”

“Don’t worry about it.” He strode forward and turned on the television manually, then sat down on one of the less-precarious-looking stacks of books on the coffee table. “I heard police sirens. I want to see what’s going on.”

“Oh, did you?” She blinked, hesitating a moment, then quickly typed on her laptop. “Oh my!”

“What?” He sprang to his feet and rushed to her, craning his neck to see her screen.

There was a video buffering, but the thumbnail showed, clear as day – blood all over the steps of the court house. A reporter came on the screen a moment later. “—here at the – court house – where – … officials are saying – likely the work of…”

“Oh, for goodness sakes!” He threw his hands up in frustration.

“I told you we need faster broadband!”

“Fine! We’ll upgrade it when I get home!” He started across the room again, grabbing the keys off the hook. “I’m going to head into town to see what’s going on.”

“Remember Clint borrowed your car for the afternoon,” Martha said. “And mine is in the shop.”

He sighed, tossing the keys back down. “Fine! I’ll take Breeze, then!”

“Be safe! Love you, sweetie!”

“Love you,” he muttered, walking through the kitchen and out the side door.

He quickly crossed the yard towards the barn. He’d been on horseback all day and wasn’t too keen to mount up just when he’d thought he was done for the day – but if there was any advantage to being a cowboy, it was motor-free transportation on demand.

“Shoo! Get on now!” He waved his arm, scattering the flock of chickens between himself and the barn, then quickly walked inside and grabbed a bridal and a small bucket of grain. He walked to the back field and shook the grain, calling to the horses. “Come and get it, boys!”

A dapple gelding pranced up the fence, and he lured him through the gate with the promise of grain. He gave the horse a few bites of the grain, then slipped the bridal on him, and hefted himself up to the horse’s back.

“Aye, that’s the magic touch, isn’t it?” He patted the horse’s neck. “Give a little grain and you’re a friend for life, ain’t ya, Breezy?”

Wayne leaned into Breeze’s smooth canter, relishing the feel of the wind on his face as they hurried along in the grass next to the gravel road. Soon, the small town came into view. Wayne clucked to Breeze, carefully steering him between the various police cones set up as he saw his older brother, the county Sheriff, next to the courthouse.

“Hey there Big Brother,” Wayne said, sliding off of Breeze’s back. His spurs clanked as he struck the ground, and he loosely flopped the reins over Breeze’s neck, realizing there was no saddle to rest them on.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, looking up from the notebook he was writing in.

“Tryin’ to see what’s going on.” Wayne craned his neck, trying to get a look at his brother’s notebook. “Whatcha writing?”

“I’m just writing up the initial police report.” He closed the notebook with a snap.

“What happened?”

“We’re not sure yet.” He lowered his voice, stepping closer to Wayne. “There were hog corpses littered all around the precinct when we got in this morning.”

“Hogs? Why?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “But the odd thing is they were all missing their hind flank.”

“Weird,” Wayne said, rubbing his chin. “You reckon someone got the hankerin’ for some ham and bacon?”

“Could be…”

He wasn’t saying something.

“Oh, well out with it, then,” Wayne said impatiently. “I’ve known you my whole life. I can see when you’re tryna hide something from me.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Uhuh, sure ya don’t.” Wayne looked at the blood stains on the nearby steps. “Well I didn’t hear the sirens this morning, so what else happened?”

“Well… we’ve been looking all day, trying to see if we can figure out where all the swine came from, and we tracked it down to Miss Betsy’s ranch.”

“You can’t honestly think she is responsible—”

“Of course not.” He waved his hand dismissively. “But we went out to check on her, see if she knew she was missing some hogs and… well…”

“Well what?” A sinking feeling was settling in Wayne’s stomach. “I swear if someone killed her, I’ll go—”

“No, no, no – she’s fine. She’s just… different.” He rubbed his face. “When we got out there, she was the curing hundreds of pounds of bacon.”

“Oh. Well, that’s not a crime.”

“No. But when we started asking her about it, and why she’d dumped all the corpses around the precinct, she started swearing like a sailor and grabbed her shotgun and peppered one of my deputies in the leg so we had to bring her in.”

“You arrested Miss Betsy?” Wayne said incredulously. “I swear, Ma would whoop you upside the head if she knew that you arrested that little old lady—”

“I didn’t do it!” He was getting flustered. “And what was my Lieutenant supposed to do, just stand there while she reloaded?”

“Alright, so, mystery solved, then, right?”

His brother took a deep breath.

“Right?” Wayne pressed.

“Well… not exactly… she kept going on and on about how her beaux was never gonna let us get away with arresting her.”

Wayne’s eyebrows shot up. “Miss Betsy’s got a secret lover?”

“Seems so.”

“Well who is it?”

“You know I can’t tell you that.”

“Yes, you can!” Wayne stepped forward, looking at his brother earnestly. “Especially if he’s a suspect and still on the loose. Who is it?”

“That’s classified.”

“Well make it unclassified!” Wayne said.

His brother lowered his voice so that only Wayne could hear. “We didn’t get a name out of her yet. But he goes by an alias, and has been tied to a string of other hate crimes all around the state.”

“And what’s the alias?”

“Some people call him…” He glanced around to be sure that no one was close enough to overhear, then whispered. “The Egg.” 


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Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:12 am
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Tuckster wrote a review...



Her doctoral dissertation couldn’t be over fast enough to suit either of them – how he’d love to get their home, and time together, back. It’d been months since he’d seen a genuine smile on her face.
So, I'mma complain about this briefly. You've already given us enough description to understand the situation at a working level for the purposes of this scene, and so this falls under the category of (drumroll please) telling rather than showing. Ask mel, I yell at everyone about this. It's my solemn duty as a reviewer.

He strode forward and turned on the television manually
I'm so Gen Z it took me a few seconds to understand how one would turn on a television "manually".

“I told you we need faster broadband!”
In all honesty, this was a turn that I felt was misplaced. I totally understand putting a comedic spin and throwing in a twist, but it felt that it wasn't the right time for it. I think you need a bit more setup before you pitch this curveball.

A dapple gelding pranced up the fence,
While I think it's really cool that you're bringing in your farm knowledge, I would like to bring in my Northern perspective and tell you that I have no clue what a dapple gelding is (although from context, I obviously inferred that it's a horse).

“Hey there Big Brother,”
At first I was about to get on you about improper capitalization and whatnot, but after finishing the story I see what you did there. Very clever indeed.

“Oh, well out with it, then,” Wayne said impatiently.
You don't need the word "impatiently" here, since it was easy to infer from the writing alone. Adding in an adverb as a crutch tends to weaken writing, so it's best to avoid it whenever possible.

“I didn’t do it!” He was getting flustered. “And what was my Lieutenant supposed to do, just stand there while she reloaded?”
Another example of telling rather than showing. Instead of saying "He was getting flustered", show his cheeks and ears reddening, or him throwing his hands up in the air.

I'll acknowledge that your ending was pretty clever. It was a fitting finish to this story, as well as a funny twist that made this appropriately entertaining. I also enjoyed the ways that this story seemed to be a reflection of your experiences & personality (case in point: a very specific knowledge of Southern slang and horses). That being said, I noticed two inconsistencies that I'd like to point out, less to help you edit this particular story and more so you're aware of that aspect of your writing so you can avoid it in other projects.

First, Wayne's accent & behavior pretty much completely changed when he was talking to his wife (a female doctorate student with Southern roots? projecting much?) versus his brother. While I understand that subtle shifts in personality and slang use depending on who you're with are normal and can make for well-rounded characters, the shift was so extreme in this case it felt like two different main characters. Just a tad more consistency in this character would help build some of your characterization, which is especially crucial because we won't get to see Wayne anymore outside of this short.

Second, this may be a cultural issue, but I can't imagine any situation in which I'd be able to hear a siren and immediately see a news story on it. Sirens usually indicate that first responders are just now getting on the scene, so a news story being immediately available would require a) a journalist being at the scene of the incident and immediately writing an article about the incident, and b) the journalist deciding to publish that story immediately without any significant time to edit or gather more information beyond what they can see or hear. All this to say, that small detail seemed to be a plot hole that should be sealed up.

Overall, I thank you for writing this because I'll be able to make some strong progress on my Checklist Challenge. I also liked the way that you brought in some knowledge you've acquired from different parts of your life, and the way that you ended this story with a humorous, site-related touch. I hope my nitpicks were amusing to you, and perhaps more importantly, I hope my final two, more significant points are helpful to you as you move forward in your writing career. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns!

Best,
Tuck




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Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:50 pm
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Valkyria wrote a review...



Hello ShadowVyper,

Thanks for helping us out!

The first paragraph sets up the story very nicely. Everything's peaceful until it isn't.

A siren pierced through the air.


I think the sentence would be better off without "through." It sounds more direct and harsh, a contrast from the peaceful setting.

He put his foot down, spur clinking on the heel of his boot as he straightened his back and looked down the long driveway – as if he’d be able to see straight into downtown to see what the ruckus was about. There were never sirens in the sleepy little town they called home.


I like the little touch of the spur clinking on his boot, but I'd like to see a little more reaction from Wayne. Since there were never sirens in his town, I think he'd be a little more surprised. Maybe he jolts out of his chair.

There was a video buffering, but the thumbnail showed, clear as day – blood all over the steps of the court house. A reporter came on the screen a moment later. “—here at the – court house – where – … officials are saying – likely the work of…”

“Oh, for goodness sakes!” He threw his hands up in frustration.

“I told you we need faster broadband!”


Minor thing: Courthouse is one word. Other than that, this part was so funny! And I loved Martha's snap.

“I didn’t do it!” He was getting flustered. “And what was my Lieutenant supposed to do, just stand there while she reloaded?”


He's got a point.

“Some people call him…” He glanced around to be sure that no one was close enough to overhear, then whispered. “The Egg.”


Amazing!

Overall, I enjoyed reading your story!




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the review! I'm glad you liked it!



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Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:00 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



I'm definitely not here for the checklist challenge. Ok, that first sentence was a lie, but I promise to review my best all the same ;)

Thanks for posting this and helping us all out xD

A warm breeze carried with it the scent of honeysuckle and cow manure, rustling the leaves in the nearby trees.

Excellent opening! I love how it really sets the satirical tone right from the start. The warm breeze is very stereotypical of a western setting but the cow manure is a wonderful added touch.

A siren pierced through the air.

Only a small nitpick, but I think this would sound better as 'a waling siren pierced the air'. I don't think you need the 'through' and I added wailing for fun!

He put his foot down, spur clinking on the heel of his boot as he straightened his back and looked down the long driveway – as if he’d be able to see straight into downtown to see what the ruckus was about. There were never sirens in the sleepy little town they called home.

So with the words used here I'm thinking it's set a long time ago, but then I noticed the introduction of the TV! So I really like the juxtaposition used here - it makes it all the more enjoyable to read.

She had papers strewn across the couch and on the floor, books piled haphazardly on the coffee table, coffee cups littering every unoccupied surface available. Her doctoral dissertation couldn’t be over fast enough to suit either of them – how he’d love to get their home, and time together, back. It’d been months since he’d seen a genuine smile on her face.

Such an odd balance of characters, haha!

“I swear, Ma would whoop you upside the head if she knew that you arrested that little old lady—”

Love this.

“Some people call him…” He glanced around to be sure that no one was close enough to overhear, then whispered. “The Egg.”

Amazing!!!

Also, I concur with @Omnom as I was also convinced Miss Betsy was @BluesClues

This was great fun to read, thanks for sharing <3

Icy




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks for the review!! I appreciate it! I'm also not offended at all if people only show up for Checklist xD That was literally the only reason I thought up this story, to help people out. I was so frustrated at not being able to get my last few items and figured I'd take one for the team and add as many aspects of Checklist as I could to a single fairly short, short story lol



BluesClues says...


me, definitely not being miss betsy: heh heh heh



IcyFlame says...


Ah Shadow, you're such a good egg <3
Blue, I know your secret xD



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Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:10 pm
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EditorAndPerks wrote a review...



Ah, hello, hello, this crosses off two very important items on my checklist, so thank you for publishing this marvelous story. (Who would have thought that cowboys were the hardest thing to find a story about?) The title is a great one, I must say.

I honestly thought this was gonna be like a quick little tale of a cowboy or another, but then the pigs came into play, and I cackled at the first YWS name drop, and to end it with "The Egg," I gotta wonder who would want that as their codename. Maybe it's someone who's bald and their head is shiny like a shell. Not to mention, a kind, old woman getting arrested and killing a bunch of pigs reminds me of Mrs. Hudson from the Sherlock BBC series, as there's one scene this eighty-year-old woman like pulls up in some super-speed car, does a crazy maneuver, and then gets out, ready to bake some biscuits. Wonderful.

I think it's funny to get a very Southern feel to this story, starting with the opening paragraph, only for the peaceful setting to get disturbed by police sirens. I actually was going to ask when this was set in, as I thought it was the past, but then Wayne asking for the television made me go "ooh" and realize this was modern time. Except bad internet should be left behind in the past. There's some hilarity with Wayne not having any other means of transport than an actual horse, and then swinging down to the town, only to hear that there weren't any dead human bodies, there were just a whole lot of dead pig bodies, which is sad, and also might perplexing.

Overall, the humor is definitely there in great representation, and the mystery part of this is intriguing -- I imagine the final punch line is that the "mysterious lover" goes by "The Egg." Ahaha. (Ignore me as I try to find more yws references.) The Southern twang here is delightful, and I think the descriptions are nice and pretty. Well done!




ShadowVyper says...


Ahaha, I'm so glad you liked this story xD It was bourne out of intense frustration of not being able to find a mystery that wasn't in the middle of a novel -- and I decided to toss as many checklists as I could into it (Cowboy, magic, chicken, etc) as I could. BUT! I forgot the non-human POV! I definitely would have written this from Breeze's perspective if I'd remembered before I was almost done xD



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Omnom wrote a review...



Hey Shady! Thank you for requesting this in my WRFF! I haven't actually used this in awhile haha, so thank you for reviving it, you necromancer.

Starting at the beginning of this, this really feels like a satire of southern tropes or stereotypes, almost like it's one of those 90s cheese films where the Southern people die in the beginning of the film. (For some reason, Men in Black come into mind). Now, I know you're at least a little bit southern, but boooooyyy this is incredibly cheesy. I know some people talk this way, but to have it in a story is typical haha. MISS BETSY lol

Iiii... Okay, you have be dumbfounded Shady. Like, absolutely dumbfounded. For one, humor pieces are difficult to review in the first place because mostly anything and everything that can be criticized can always be shooed away as an artistic choice or artistic vision. I gotta say, you should put the humor as the main genre here because that's definitely the focus. The mystery isn't really a mystery, as in canon it doesn't really have a conclusion. Yes, yes, you have a lot of YWS callouts here with Big Brother, classified and unclassified, and the egg. What callout is Miss Betsy? But, no matter the callouts I'm just confused as to what the mystery is here exactly. Betsy killed a lot of pigs to make bacon? For her beaux? I don't get it whatsoever. Like I said earlier, the mystery doesn't really seem important in this piece because there's no setup/payoff, at least that I can see. Maybe I'm just completely missing the mystery here, but I'm just... well, missing the mystery here, if that makes sense. I also didn't realize this was a YWS spoof until the very end there. Maybe that's the mystery? But, that's not a mystery! Grrrr



Also im upset that you dont have me in a yws spoof




ShadowVyper says...


You can be Miss Betsy if you want



Omnom says...


I feel like @BlueAfrica is miss Betsy



Omnom says...


@BluesClues i keep forgetting you changed ur name lmao



BluesClues says...


*can neither confirm nor deny my identity as miss betsy*



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SolarRuin wrote a review...



Hi, this is SolarRuin, and this is my first review, so I'll try to be as helpful as I can. I enjoyed this and am looking forward to the reading rest.
I'm not sure how to pull the quation from the story itself, so I'll do it the old fashioned way haha.

["Don't worry about it." He strode forward and turned the television on manually, then sat down on one of the less-precarious-stacks of books on the coffee table."]

He never turned the TV off when he got up to look at Martha's laptop, so he didn't need to head into town. He could've watched the TV. Perhaps they have an old fat-back TV that is on the fritz?


[Wayne looked up to the blood on the nearby steps. "Well, I didn't hear the sirens this morning, so what else happened?"]

I got a little confused here. Did you mean that as saying he didn't hear the news? He definitely heard the sirens from earlier. If this was intended as a lie, so Wayne could glean more information from his brother, that could work. But when Wayne and his brother met up, Wayne mentioned that he was trying to see what was going on.

But other than those two things, it was great. I hope you find this helpful.




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the review @SolarRuin, I'm honored to be your first review ;)

To do a quote it is

Code: Select all
[quote]The bit you want to quote goes here. [/quote]


Which gives you:
The bit you want to quote goes here.


You're right I definitely need to make things clearer! I originally intended it that he didn't manage to flip the TV to the correct station and just gave up on it when Martha pulled it up on her laptop. And then I mean that it is now afternoon -- there were sirens when Betsy got arrested, but when the corpses got discovered in the morning he didn't hear anything. I can definitely go through and make that clearer in my revisions! Thanks again!



ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the review @SolarRuin, I'm honored to be your first review ;)

To do a quote it is

Code: Select all
[quote]The bit you want to quote goes here. [/quote]


Which gives you:
The bit you want to quote goes here.


You're right I definitely need to make things clearer! I originally intended it that he didn't manage to flip the TV to the correct station and just gave up on it when Martha pulled it up on her laptop. And then I mean that it is now afternoon -- there were sirens when Betsy got arrested, but when the corpses got discovered in the morning he didn't hear anything. I can definitely go through and make that clearer in my revisions! Thanks again!



SolarRuin says...


Ah, I see. Thank you. I'm glad you found it helpful!



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Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:44 pm
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Vil wrote a review...



Hey there, Shadow! Thanks for helping everyone out for RevMo!

What I Loved

A warm breeze carried with it the scent of honeysuckle and cow manure, rustling the leaves in the nearby trees. The bluebirds in the nest resting on the rafter overhead chattered to each other quietly – no doubt discussing their three lovely eggs cradled gently within. Wayne Eastwood swayed gently in his rocking chair on the porch, eyes closed, enjoying the lazy afternoon.

I loved this description! Oh, you've just hit all the right images in my head, this is perfect! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

What I Liked
A dapple gelding pranced up the fence, and he lured him through the gate with the promise of grain. He gave the horse a few bites of the grain, then slipped the bridal on him, and hefted himself up to the horse’s back.
“Aye, that’s the magic touch, isn’t it?” He patted the horse’s neck. “Give a little grain and you’re a friend for life, ain’t ya, Breezy?”

I liked this description, too, just not as much as the other one. XD

“You arrested Miss Betsy?” Wayne said incredulously. “I swear, Ma would whoop you upside the head if she knew that you arrested that little old lady—”

XDDD

I honestly can't tell if you're from/have lived in the American South, or if you're someone else that's just watched a lot of Southern movies. The dialogue and language here is great!

What I Disliked
I don't like your cliffhanger. There better be more chapters pumping out that are related to this first chapter. Not a short story, a chapter. I must know more!

In Summary
I want to marry that opening description. If people can marry inanimate objects, I can marry words.




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks for this review, too! I appreciate it!




"When a body moves, it's the most revealing thing. Dance for me a minute, and I'll tell you who you are."
— Mikhail Baryshnikov