Wednesday, April 27, 2011


The challenge this time was to take the book closest to you, turn to page 70 and use the 7th sentence as your starter sentence. The genre was open, but hard-boiled, noir, crime action would be preferred. The length was to be under 700 words.

My starter sentence came from Dick Francis’ book, Field of Thirteen. Page 70 was part of a story entitled “Bright White Star”.


The director sighed. Already had a buyer for his usual fare, and now this happens. One hundred thou offered to make a snuff? An actual, honest-to-fucking snuff film? The order’s from some big-name actor, so the money’s real enough. The actor’s rep let Clyde look at it in his briefcase. Let him feel it up for a sec too. Even brought the gun he wanted to be used. A nice shiny new 9mm Glock--loaded. ‘Like your other films, please’ he said quietly, ‘except this time, when the girl puts the gun into her mouth and pulls the trigger…’

Clyde felt like he was going to be sick. So far, he’d had no problem unloading his work. He has the girl make herself feel real good, then she sucks on his old Colt 38 with the broken firing pin for awhile, pulls the trigger, looks right into the camera and laughs. But this time?

He’d picked this cutie up at a bus stop on the edge of town and brought her out here to the cabin. Told him she was 18, but he didn’t believe a day over 15. Promised her a few bucks, make her a movie star, you know the routine, and she’d come willingly enough. But, still. A snuff film?

He took her into the master bedroom, where he had his lights and camera already set up. Clyde told her to lie on the bed and get comfortable and try to relax. He handed her a bottle of some cheap whiskey he had stashed there for just such occasions. As soon as she unscrewed the top, she started gulping it down. Clyde hoped to hell she wouldn’t puke it up later on film. A scene like that would certainly decrease it’s value. He told her he had some stuff to take care of in the other room, but he’d be back in about 15 minutes and then they would make the movie. She just nodded and kept gulping. Clyde went into the back bedroom he’d converted to a kind of office and sat down at the desk. He really needed to think this through.

He put the Colt and the Glock on the desk and lit a smoke. This should have been an easy decision, but he couldn’t just wave off a hundred thousand dollars. At the rate he was going, that’s more money than he would see in 25 lifetimes. But, we’re talking death for real here…

Clyde always figured there were two sides to everything. Were there this time?

Nobody makes snuff films. Not for real, anyway.

Apparently, there’s at least one guy out there who believes I would.

This kid can’t just disappear.

Told me she had no family--totally on her own.

I’ve never even punched anybody out, much less killed anyone.

I wouldn’t actually be pulling the trigger.

How could I live with myself if I let this girl die?

A hundred thou buys a lot of therapy.

Doesn’t matter how you look at this. When all is said and done, it comes down to cold-blood, premeditated murder.

Yes. It does.

Four o’clock. Clyde thought the kid must be pretty well looped by now, considering she’s probably been gulping steady for the past 15 minutes.


He picked up the gun from the desk and went into the bedroom. The girl had already removed her clothes and was on the bed, sitting up against the headboard. Her eyes were barely open and lifeless in the room’s dim lighting. The bottle of whiskey sat almost empty on the nightstand against the wall.

He placed the gun on the bed next to her and asked if she knew what she was expected to do with it. She closed her eyes, nodded slowly, picked up the gun and began caressing it.

He positioned himself behind the camera and said, “Five, four, three, two…”


  1. WOW!! OMG!! This is a great story, Joyce! I love how you build up the suspense, with Clyde "arguing" with himself... you keep the reader guessing the whole way through. I do have one question... which gun did Clyde give the girl? :)

    As Paul would say... a smashing good read! Great execution... and I love the pace of the story.

  2. Thanks so much, Veronica. Glad you enjoyed it. It was a tough decision for Clyde to make. I have a question for you. Which gun do YOU think he gave the girl?

  3. I met a guy once who claimed to have produced porn movies. He dressed "normal" but as a person he seemed more closely related to a fungus than a human being. Your character does seem to have some shard of a soul but I figure he gave the girl the 9mm.

    Yes, I really enjoyed this story, it was an interesting looking into someone's mind.

  4. Wow... intense... Could not stop reading this. Very icky and real...! I'm thinking he gave her the old colt.

  5. I hope he decided to fake it. Nicely done, Joyce!

  6. Joyce you can get as dark as anyone and remain poised and elegant in your delivery without cheapening the story. A brilliant take on this and as tightly structured as possible.

  7. Last night, I wasn't sure, but I have re-read a couple of times. I think he gave her the Glock...

    And, I think the girl had a smashing time, spending all that money!! ;=)

  8. So real my skin won't stop crawling! Top shelf as always dear!


  9. Joyce, you brought the money this week. I love me ending that make you wonder. I can see this going more than a couple ways.

  10. I love how you have left the outcome open to interpretation. Which gun indeed...

    The inner dialogue as he wrestles with his conscience is particularly effective. Grand job!

  11. "A hundred thou buys a lot of therapy"...

    After reading this, I may need to get me some of that therapy!

    Very disturbing and well written. The open-ending was a great touch and made this story stick around in my head even longer


  12. Beach, Glad you enjoyed this one. He does seem to weigh the pros and cons. He deserves credit for at least thinking about the choices. But as you pointed out, scum usually remains scum in the end.

  13. Ingrid, Thanks. I wanted it to have that icky vibe. Interesting that you thought our sleaze of a director actually had a heart.

  14. Flannery, Glad you liked it. At least he gave it some thought. I'm certain there are those who wouldn't have--not even for a second.

  15. Richard, Thanks so much. I'm glad this didn't come across as sleazy just to be sleazy. There's a character here with real human issues and flaws, and in his mind, a tough decision.

  16. Veronica, Interesting theory. She uses the Glock on him and takes the money? Now, there's an ending and maybe a bit of justice.

  17. Doc, Thanks so much. Didn't want to send my readers running to the showers, but I did try to keep it as genuine as I could.

  18. Ron, Thanks so much. I decided to let the reader decide. I love to read stories like that too.

  19. Barbara, Thanks a ton. Glad you liked it. Don't know which way he went, but at least he had a conscience to wrestle with!

  20. Ray, Thanks so much for your comments. I wanted the reader to wonder. What did he do? What kind of people are out there--really? I wonder myself sometimes.

  21. (raises glass...) to justice.... poetic justice!