This time around, Patti Abbott asked each participant to write the first paragraph of a story. On January 13, withholding the original author's identity, she sent each paragraph to another participant to finish the story and post it on February 10.
My story is below:
by Gerald So
Dave kept the Crown Vic running straight and smooth while I put the gun in my jacket pocket and opened a beer. I wrapped my parole papers around the can to keep my hands dry. Dave couldn't drink because of the chemo. He just stared out the windshield, left hand on the wheel, right thumb rubbing the badge on his shoulder holster; just like he'd done it for most of the years I'd ridden with him. He sounded wheezy when he said, "I appreciate this."
"I know. It's only the tenth time you've said since last week."
"They never shoulda sent you up. It's like the thousandth time I've said that. Clean shoot all the way. Saved my ass."
"'Cept it wasn't a shoot," I said after a chug. "That's why no one believed you."
He coughed. "Best I could do. They'd never believe what really happened."
I'd spent nine years in a state pen for aggravated assault. In other words, I'd ripped a junkie's throat out.
Olga tried to wait for me. Dave saw to it she had whatever she needed. He was the one who broke it to me when she left.
Eight months ago, he'd been diagnosed with lung cancer. And tonight he had this crazy idea...
"Look," I mustered the courage to say. "I'm not sure it'll take."
"That's why you got my gun," he said.
Made me feel so much better.
"How's this?" he asked. "If it doesn't take, I'll eat the gun."
For three miles, there'd been nothing but redwoods. I stalled a while longer, then said, "Looks like a good spot."
Dave pulled over. We got out of the car and hiked into the woods. We reached a clearing and, just like that night nine years ago, there was a full moon.
"Take the gun," I said.
I can't tell what happened next, only the aftermath, when I came to, naked and bloody. I couldn't find Dave's body, his badge, or his gun. I still might have killed him—the blood wasn't mine—but I'd like to think I kept my promise and he's out there, more alive than ever, dodging silver bullets.
A week before Patti announced this challenge, Bill Crider was posting werewolf movie clips on his blog. That gave me the idea for a contemporary werewolf movie called Howl Like Me Now, which became this story's working title. Ultimately I changed it to suit the serious tone set by the chemotherapy in the first paragraph.
The paragraph ended, He sounded wheezy when he said... I filled in "I appreciate this," and took it from there.
Late today, Patti has revealed whose first paragraph went to whom. My thanks to John McAuley.
Patricia Abbott, "Initiation"
Steve Allan, "Pieces of History"
Patrick Shawn Bagley, "One More Mess"
Paul Brazill, "Red Winter"
Cormac Brown, "All Time Low"
Ray Foster, "Behind The Mask"
Jerry House, "Bad Break"
Sophie Littlefield, "Reparations"
John McAuley, "No Pool, No Car"
John McFetridge "Cozy Noir"
Thomas Miller, "Valentine's Night"
Scott D. Parker, "Construction Paper Camelot"
Pamila Payne, "Liquid Silver"
r2, "Send in the Clowns"
Keith Rawson, "The Word"
Sandra Scoppettone, "Meatloaf"
Sandra Seamans, "Lost in Vegas"
Kieran Shea, "Malice"
Jacob Weaver, "One Last Night"
WellesFan, "Choices Made"