Too Late

by disperser

Too Late

By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright March 2013

Justin looked at his rear view mirror.  He had blown by that cop going at least 10 over the limit.  He could not afford to get stopped, as he was already late.  He watched, and his heart nearly skipped a beat as the cop car came to life, moved . . . and turned the other way.

He had gotten the call from his mom.  “Come quick!” Her voice had sounded hushed, as if she did not want anyone to hear her speak on the phone.  “He’s here; he showed up unannounced.  It getting ugly, and . . . I have to go!”

He had told his manager he had personal business to take care of, and had jumped in the car, peeling out of the parking lot.  How could he explain?  Who would understand?

“He” was his dad’s brother. As an uncle, he left a lot to be desired.  Big guy, rough around the edges, and  . . . well, he could overstep his bounds.  Rather, he did not recognize any bounds.  

Since Justin’s dad had died, there had been a number of incidents, each worse than the previous.

“Damn!” Justin punched the steering wheel, his anger and frustration showing through.  Why today?

But Justin knew . . .


He pulled into the drive, narrowly avoiding his uncle’s car, and literally jumped out of the car, leaving the door open.  Taking two at a time, he made short work of the stairs to the front door.  There he paused.  He could not hear anything.  Was he too late?

He opened the door quietly, and walked in, avoiding the squeaky floorboard.  He looked in the kitchen, and noticed the mess.  “Damn, and double damn!” His whisper sounded loud in the quiet of the house.

Making his way to the living room, he saw his uncle, eyes closed, laying on the sofa, a dark red stain on his chest.

He looked at the small table in the corner.  His mom stood there, a long knife in her hand.  He took in the small detail of a red drop falling from its tip.

“Don’t worry, I saved you a piece.”  She whispered.  Lifting the corner of a napkin, she wiped the cherry juice from the knife by rubbing it atop the small piece of his birthday Cherry pie.  He looked over as his uncle, sleeping on the sofa.  The bastard had spilled more than that on his shirt.  Once again, he was too late.

The End

This was knocked out at lunch one day.  I like the following description . . . “suffice it to say it was a piece of cake to write, precisely because it is uncomplicated . . . and because it’s about pie.”  

Funny; it sounded clever when I first wrote that . . . now, not so much.

Anyway, this is another “twist” ending . . . I don’t usually start writing them as such, but in this case, it was deliberate.  I’m practicing describing things in manner that will mislead the reader.  Purely for entertainment, of course.

As a point of disclosure, this was in response to a writing prompt.  The prompt was, can you guess, about someone being late.


4 Responses to “Too Late”

  1. I like this better then the previous one. When you write you use too many words. This is a common fault of mine. Since doing the Friday Fictioneer’s I’ve learned to eliminate using some of the words. This sentence stands out. “His mom stood there, a long knife in her hand. He took in the small detail of a red drop falling from its tip.” His mom stood there, a long knife in her hand a red drop falling from its tip. You didn’t need to tell us that he took in the detail. We know it’s a detail by just telling us what he saw. I know you’re trying to meet a quota, but quality works better, Another thing I learned is if you go to a coffee shop or diner and listen to people talk you will learn how to give unique voices to your characters. We don’t use proper English all the time, we cut words short or just leave words out. Or grunt, huh, hummm a lot. One more thing read your work out loud so you can hear how it sounds and flow.

    • Well, gorsh darn it! I learned all them words, so I want to use them.

      Seriously, I don’t write to a quota; I write to a particular tone. And I don’t do much editing/re-writing because of time constraints. Mind you, I can be terse. Once, in college, I was laconic.

      And yes, unless I am at work, I do read the stories out loud.

      Don’t think I don’t appreciate your input, but I will ask you to consider the sentence you singled out.

      Part of the objective of the story is to “lead” the reader into a particular state of mind. And not only to put the reader in a particular state of mind, but also to put them inside’s Justin’s mind. The wording and pacing helps (or at least I hope it helps) do just that.

      The way I envision it working is that by drawing attention to more details than usual, I put the reader in Justin’s place. The reader is sneaking into the house with Justin, and along with Justin, they carefully look about the place.

      If you read some of the flash pieces at my blog, you should find most of them meeting the criteria of a scarcity of words.

      For example:


      Out walking, I see him. Too far to see his soulless eyes, his pallid complexion, his humorless features, but I know it’s him. He is back in town; my town.

      I consider taking a shot, but the distance is too great for my snub-nosed .357.

      No hurry; I will find him. I will hunt him down like the animal he is, and reclaim the pen he stole from me.

      My name? My name is Justice. My name is Vengeance.


      But there I am not trying to elicit a response/involvement from the reader. They are passive observers.

      Again, I want to stress I appreciate the feedback, but that direction, to be as succinct as possible, and stingy with the words . . . perhaps it can work for everything, and perhaps a better writer than I can use fewer words to achieve the same effect . . . I question the first premise while granting the second.

      I better stop right here as this reply is nearly longer than the original post.

      . . . perhaps I do use too many words

    • Ooops . . . I forgot one more thing. I think I discussed this elsewhere, but about the way people talk . . . I typically don’t do accents, slang, etc . . . the main reason is that it varies with regions. Different words for the same thing, and so on.

      So, I stick with, or try to stick with, general terms and generic usage.

      That is a matter of personal preference, but there is also some justification to it. I could be wrong, but not knowing who the readers are, going for realism might satisfy some readers, while others would see it as all wrong. Therefore, to my mind, writing to the common denominator is a safe bet.

      Besides, I’m interested in telling the story, and telling it clearly. I don’t want the readers to become aware of the fact they are reading a piece of fictions. I want them to forget they are reading at all.

      So, for instance, were I to use something like “ain’t”, while some readers would just glide over it, for others it would stand out (I am in the second group). And, truthfully, many people I know swear a lot, and misuse words. I’m not willing to include either one.

      Words, in many ways, help us with preconceptions about people. I don’t want that (usually) for my characters. I want the readers to get the gist of the characters from the actions, described emotions, and my description of them.

      Again, I appreciate the suggestion. I just hope the story itself carried you and others past any objections.


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