Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The Odd (Platonic) Couple - RESULTS!  (Read 998 times)

JudasFm

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"A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are."
– Unknown

"When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'."
― Groucho Marx

Friendships come and go throughout our lives. Some happen because we're in the same place as our friend (school, work) or we meet through a new hobby.
And then...there are these.

Your task is to write about a deep friendship between two people who, ordinarily, would want nothing to do with each other. (For example: a high school delinquent and a high school honor student).

Any setting is fine.

RULES

No romance, hinted or otherwise, between the pair. Romance with other characters is fine, but the main characters' relationship should be 100% platonic.
No ending of the friendship in your entry (unless it's of the Fight-And-Make-Up variety where the characters are friends again by the end). This is about a lasting friendship.
No 'friendship for old times' sake' (ie, the high school delinquent and honor student are only hanging out because they've been friends since kindergarten and keep the friendship out of habit). In other words, the friendship has to have started when the pair were already in very different circumstances.

That's it!

Entries are due by July 9, but extensions are always available. We're all friends here, after all ;)

Categories:
Best Friendship: Do we believe that these friends would walk through fire for each other? Or at least lend each other a couple bucks?
Best Difference: Why exactly is the characters' friendship so unusual? We don't need the backstory (unless you want to write a How They Met entry) just show us why people are always surprised to see this particular duo hanging out.
Best Character: Who was the most interesting to read about, even if you didn't want to meet them yourself?
Best Story: What it says on the tin :-D
Best Writing: Whose words jumped off the page, seized you by the throat and dragged you into the story, refusing to let you go until the very end, at which point you collapsed against a wall, gasping for breath and saying, "Wow! That turn of phrase was...you know what? Just WOW!"

Have fun!
« Last Edit: 21 Jul 2019, 06:48 by JudasFm »

KyriakosCH

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Nice topic :)
Envy can ruin a man; try the Chrysalis... Read articles in my Patreon!

Baron

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OK.  So let me get this straight.  We're going for like a Thelma & Louise kinda thing.  Or maybe a Watson & Holmes kinda thing.  But not a Sonny & Cher kinda thing, or a Lennon & McCartney kinda thing.  What about a Bert & Ernie kinda thing?  Or a Sam & Frodo kinda thing?  How close is too close?!??  And what about the minimum degree of personality difference?  Would a Batman & Robin kinda thing work?  What about a Chip & Dale kinda thing?  I mean, I get that a Bill & Ted kinda thing wouldn't fly, but that a Wooster & Jeeves kinda thing would be great, but I'm just trying to feel out the middle ground.  :)

JudasFm

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OK.  So let me get this straight.  We're going for like a Thelma & Louise kinda thing.  Or maybe a Watson & Holmes kinda thing.  But not a Sonny & Cher kinda thing, or a Lennon & McCartney kinda thing.  What about a Bert & Ernie kinda thing?  Or a Sam & Frodo kinda thing?  How close is too close?!??  And what about the minimum degree of personality difference?  Would a Batman & Robin kinda thing work?  What about a Chip & Dale kinda thing?  I mean, I get that a Bill & Ted kinda thing wouldn't fly, but that a Wooster & Jeeves kinda thing would be great, but I'm just trying to feel out the middle ground.  :)

If you know Good Omens, you're aiming for more an Aziraphale (angel) and Crowley (devil) kind of thing ;)
The difference doesn't have to be in personality, just background.

Basically, if you can answer YES to the following questions, your entry should be good to go:

1. Do the characters have the kind of friendship where they would immediately help each other out and go to the other for help? (To quote Aziraphale's feelings from Good Omens when it all falls to pieces: "He ought to call heaven. He wanted to call Crowley.")

2. Do the characters come from very different backgrounds, so that the reaction of anyone who sees them will run along the lines of, "Wait, what? Those two are friends? How in the hell did that happen?"

3. Do the characters have a 100% platonic relationship, with no sexual attraction towards the other?

Does that help?  ???

Mandle

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If you know Good Omens,

I read it when it first hit the shelves back in the '90s...

Worms poured out of it and ate me and I died.

True story!

JudasFm

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If you know Good Omens,

I read it when it first hit the shelves back in the '90s...

Worms poured out of it and ate me and I died.

True story!

What a shame! So I guess you didn't live to see the adaptation on Amazon Prime?  :P
(Wait, if Mandle died in the 90s, who am I talking to? Who's typing this??)  8-0

Baron

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Don't worry.  Mandle dies at least once every competition.  (roll) 

It's a Mandle thing.  ;-D

JudasFm

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Less than one week to get those entries in! (Don't any characters out there have friends?  ???  :P)

Sinitrena

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I'm working on something. If only I didn't feel like I'm being cooked alive.


... I hate summer.

Mandle

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Don't worry.  Mandle dies at least once every competition.  (roll) 

It's a Mandle thing.  ;-D

My middle name is Kevin... I guess it's close enough to Kenny.

JudasFm

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Two days left! (Anyone planning to enter? Anyone at all?  :~() Or have The Squid and I completely stymied the whole board with demands for tales of friendship between odd couples like cats and mice, cats and dogs, cops and robbers etc ;)

Sinitrena

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Timothy Coultry‘s Notebook



The little, leader-bound notebook in his hands, familiar and still a new one for every case, was a welcome reminder that he had a job to do. It felt normal, like routine, as did the task he had to do, and still nothing felt quiet like he was used to. He was on his way to a small museum that had hardly any permanent exhibits, focussing instead on themed exhibitions of loaned items. Going to museums was not just one of his private joys, it was also a fairly normal activity in his job, either to consult experts or evaluate a crime scene. This day, he did go there to speak to an expert and it still felt nothing like all the other days he had done so.

He didn’t look at the book. He didn’t need to. All the intricacies of the case were more than present in his mind, in far more details than the scribbled and disordered notes could ever be or were ever supposed to be. The notebook contained facts, and facts that were hard to remember at that, while his mind raced through details he had rather not heard and probably did not need to know. This case was far from anything he usually dealt with.

Of course, he was a police inspector and all kinds of cases could end up on his table, but he specialized in art theft and burglary. People got hurt in these kinds of crimes as well, their body sometimes, more often their sense of security, but what they all had in common was that it was done. In a certain sense, it was over. People certainly still felt the consequences and they still presumed a thread to their well-being, but this was different. This was worse.

The photo of the little girl, projected onto the wall of the conference room, still felt like a fist to his stomach. The father’s confession, so out of the blue for everyone but for the father the only way to save his little girl, his pleas to forget his past, his begging, it would never leave him for the rest of his life. He couldn’t shake the image of the father wringing one hand’s fingers around the rigid, paralysed ones of the other, unable to perform the task set by the kidnappers of his stolen child.

The inspector couldn’t deny that he was, in the end, glad to be only marginally involved in the case. His only job was to gather background information, not try to devise a plan to save the kidnapped child.

He let the notebook slip into one of the pockets of his coat when he reached the entrance. He didn’t need it anyway. His mind worked well for facts and logical connections, less so for faces or names, but those were not what he came here for.

A young woman sat behind a bar-like desk, a till in front of her and several flyers and small souvenirs, mostly the exhibition’s catalogue and some kind of monogrammed book, next to it.

He announced himself to her. “Inspector Timothy Coultry. I have an appointment with Dr. Harris?”

The young woman snapped her fingers at a young man, one of the museum’s guides, who had leisurely leaned against the wall, watching them.

As he followed the young guide the ticket seller had called for him, he couldn’t tell if his sense of gloominess was due to the case or the rather strange exhibition the museum currently hosted. In the wide open floor space stood several bronze statues of dictators or at least questionable political figures and vitrines with uniforms. The walls, on the other hand, were decorated with somewhat idyllic scenes of landscapes and houses. He couldn’t stop a macabre fascination from taking over his thoughts and so he hesitated for a moment in front of one of the paintings.

“Was that really drawn by Hitler?” he asked the guide.

“Yeah, weird, isn’t it?” He shrugged, dismissively. ”From an artistic point of view, it’s not even that bad. A bit bland, unimaginative, but the execution is all right.”

Inspector Coultry shook his head. The painting reminded him of something, of the sea, even though it was a mountain scene, but he couldn’t tell why. He cleared the thought out of his mind and started to walk again. “I guess it feels just really weird to look at something like that as art.”

“Even weirder is that we had Jewish artists the last couple of months and the next few it’s all about the art of and about dictators.” He shrugged again, unconcerned. “But I’m sure you’re not here to talk about that. Here’s Dr. Harris’ office.” With the last words, he knocked on an unassuming door between two paintings and then left the two older man alone as soon as he had introduced the inspector.

The pleasantries out of the way, Inspector Coultry fished his notebook out of the coat’s pocket again. As soon as his fingers felt the cold leather, the thought flashed through his mind that it was just a crutch, something to hold onto, not something necessary. Consequently, he didn’t bother to open it.

“You wrote a book about Ivan Chernov?” he began his questioning.

The book, yes. It’s the only monograph about this artist, yes.”

“He’s not very famous.”

“Yes, no, he is not exactly well-known, yes. Though his style is quiet remarkable. He is one of the earliest representative of expressionism, yes, and that without any real connection to any other artists of his time period, yes.”

“Remarkable.” The inspector couldn’t quiet stop himself from a dry tone invading his voice. “Are you familiar with -” He opened his notebook, to check his facts. “Dance of the Knives?”

“Yes, yes, I’ve heard of it, of course, yes.”

“You’ve heard of it? You never saw it?”

“Unfortunately, no. The current owners are rather protective of it.” Inspector Coultry nodded absent-mindedly. He was all too aware of that little detail. “All they were willing to offer was an old photo, yes.”

“An old photo? That wasn’t in your book.”

“No, you see, yes, the quality was, yes, well, let’s say not up to standards. I couldn’t use it.”

“I’ll need it, if you still have it.”

The old art historian thought for a while, scratching his scraggly grey beard. “I should, yes.” He stood up and went over to the door. “Ben?” he called.

Out of the corner of his eyes, Inspector Coultry saw the young man who had led him to the office look up from a painting he had inspected not far from the door.

“Yes, sir?” he said, stepping over to them.

“I need the photo of Dance of the Knives from the archive. Could you get it for the inspector, please?”

“Sure.”

“Yes, well,” he said after he had closed the door again. “If you don’t mind me asking, why does the police need this photo?”

“That’s confidential, I’m sure you understand.” It was unlikely – at least that was the inspector’s instinct and impression – but still possible that he was not talking with an expert but with a suspect. The painting was nearly completely unknown and the kidnappers had still demanded it as ransom for the young girl. One of the few people actually interested in the artist was an obvious suspect.

“Tell, me,” he continued, “how much would you say is Dance of the Knives worth?”

“Well, it is art, you see.”

“And you cannot put a price on art?” The smile on the inspector’s lips was slightly forced. “Any indication?”

“I really couldn’t say. A couple thousand, most likely under ten? The name makes the price. And the demand, of course.”

“And neither is particularly noteworthy in this case. I see.”

The inspector asked a couple more questions, but he didn’t feel like he was getting anywhere with this. “Thank you for your time, Dr. Harris,” he said, standing up. As the young guide hadn’t returned yet, he added: “Please get the photo to me as soon as possible.”

The inspector felt eyes on his back, following him down the steps and along the street. He was being watched by Stalin himself, staring down on him in the form of a giant print of a statue on the front of the museum. He walked slowly, going over everything he had just heard, even though it wasn’t much, and especially not helpful. What had he hoped for? Knowledge of a secret society that was after this painting as a lead to a suspect? To learn that the painting was secretly worth millions? It was as unspectacular as he had already thought from skimming Dr. Harris’ book.

A whistle stopped him in his tracks and his thoughts.

“Inspector!”, the guide called, sprinting after him, “Inspector, the photo!”

Inspector Coultry hissed angrily, not very happy with anyone calling out anything concerning the investigation, but he still thanked the guide when he passed him the black and white photo, leaning on his shoulder, short of breath.

He stood there a while, inspecting the photo, looking for any detail that might give him a hint as to why someone would go to the trouble of kidnapping a child to blackmail the father to steal this painting. There was nothing remarkable about the photo either. As the historian had said, the photo was of a rather poor quality, but Inspector Coultry could still tell that the painting was nothing special. It was neither beautiful nor ugly and due to its abstract nature the subject matter also didn’t seem all that important.

After a few seconds of straining his eyes to make anything of the painting, he got his notebook out of his pocket. Opening it on a random empty page – he prided himself on his structured mind but didn’t bother with all that much structure in his personal notes – he jotted down the few information he had gathered and added the photo to the same page.

He still felt like eyes followed him along the way. Maybe it was still Stalin staring down at him, maybe it were the other pedestrians who paid a bit more attention to him than he was comfortable with. He sighed with relief when he sat down in his car, though he couldn’t put his finger on the source of this strange feeling of being watched. He had learned to trust his instincts, but his instinct was that all was fine and the feeling was still there.

*

Nothing new. That was the tenor of the conference a few hours later. There was no lead on the girl, nothing on the father’s part, no matter how open he was about his past and all the crimes he had committed, about all the accomplices and enemies he had collected over the years, and the owners of Dance of the Knives were only willing to talk through their lawyers. The best chance they had was to exchange the girl for the painting, that much was clear, but there seemed little chance to convince the owners to lent it to them and no legal way to force them. And still the demand was clear enough. The kidnappers wanted this specific painting and there was no way to tell if they would know it by sight. Would a forgery work? Would it be good enough based on just a bad picture and an even worse description? Could it be done until tomorrow afternoon? There wasn’t nearly enough time.

The black and white photo looked down on them, projected onto the wall next to the blonde little girl with pigtails and pink ribbons in her hair. The toothy grin and the spark in her eyes said more than any threat that time was running out for her and that they had no way to save her, no lead and no way to contact the kidnappers to start a negotiation.

Inspector Coultry had little to add. He was only supposed to get information on the painting that was apparently worth a child’s life and maybe the old photo would be helpful, but he really didn’t believe it. Again and again, his hands found the familiar, soothing black book in his pocket, and again and again he told himself to think, to come up with something, even though it was not his area of expertise and he had listened to the experts plan the hand-off for what felt like hours by now. They knew what they were doing, as did the interrogation experts who had worked with the father. His area of expertise was art and burglary and more than ever before, he felt out of his depth.

Back at his desk, he decided to look at his notes again. Maybe he could see something, think of something. Maybe there was a way to convince the owners of Dance of the Knives to give it to them? Maybe they could buy it? Anything? But the collogues who had spoken to their lawyers had little hope. They still tried. They were close to harassing them, but they couldn’t exactly drive to their house either, just in case the kidnappers watched it.

The notes weren’t there. He must have been tired, exhausted, because the thought made no sense at all at first and then even less when he took a closer look at the book that should have been familiar. It wasn’t. It was different, slightly larger, the leather was thinner, and on the front cover was a monogram he couldn’t recall ever seeing before. Inspector Coultry turned the book over and about a couple of times, looking at it carefully. He couldn’t quite make out the letters, maybe an A and an H, or an F and an H? He wasn’t sure, but in a way the book did seem familiar, like something he had just seen somewhere.

He was not one to panic, otherwise panic might have started to build in his mind the moment he patted down all his pockets and didn’t find another book. Instead, his mind raced through every single step of his day, always checking his memories if he still had the book then. It would be bad if he had lost it somewhere but meticulously following his way back might turn it up again. If he had only lost it.

He had it when he left for work. He put it on the table during this morning’s meeting. He took notes while he read Dr. Harris’ interesting but fairly short book, skimming most of the pages but taking in everything that was important nonetheless. He checked his notes on the way to the museum and hadn’t he noted something down after he left? Put the photo in the book next to his notes? He had taken the photo out prior to the meeting in the late afternoon.

Flipping through the pages, one after the other, he found empty one after empty one until he reached some close to the end where the notes of his interview with Dr. Harris were scribbled down. So he had it before he entered the museum and he had a different book in his hands afterwards.

He had seen a book like that before, hadn’t he? A whole stack of them? Next to the cashier’s till. He opened it to the first page, checking the printer’s note: Notebook in the style of Hitler’s fake Diaries. A weird souvenir but now he was at least absolutely certain where the book had come from.

But he hadn’t stopped at the cashier’s desk on his way out, had hardly thrown a goodbye at the young woman. Again he felt eyes staring at his back, Stalin’s eyes or someone else’s?

The sharp ringing of his phone startled him out of his thoughts.

“Yes, Inspector Coultry speaking?”

There was a slight pause before a somewhat familiar voice asked: “If you don’t get the painting to exchange for the girl, can you save her?”

Where his mind had run a marathon before – fast but steady, measured – it now decided to run a sprint, galloping through thoughts and ideas, faces and facts. It didn’t form coherent sentences, just going through bullet points: The voice - male, familiar, heard not too long ago, young; the matching face – also young, familiar again, reminding him of the sea for some reason that made no sense at all.

What was he supposed to answer? As fast as his thoughts ran, they were not fast enough.

He felt more than he heard as the man on the other end of the line moved the receiver away from his mouth to put it down and made a decision in the fracture of a second. “No. Maybe. I don’t know.”

“Will you get it?”

Inspector Coultry didn’t answer, instead taking every second to make absolutely certain his conclusions were correct, even though they felt incomplete. “You are the guy who stole my notebook,” he stated to stall.

There was an even longer silence in the line than before and only the steady breathes of the other man told him that he hadn’t hung up yet. They came measured, in a never changing rhythm, controlled like only the breathing counted, maybe counting the breathes. Inspector Coultry certainly started to count them, matched his own breathes to those of the stranger, not entirely sure why he needed this answer. He was just certain that – as suddenly as the call came - this was not someone toying with him. It was clear from the subdued voice, from the lack of humour in it or fear or panic and maybe also from the vague memory that he had met this person before, though he couldn’t quiet place him yet, except as the guide from the museum. And, inexplicably, his instincts put him as trustworthy.

“Yes.” The admission from the caller finally came without shame. “Will you get it in time? At all?”

Inspector Coultry couldn’t tell what took a larger leap in this moment, his heart or his faith. “No,” he said, ”… we won’t.”

Again steady breathes were the only sound in an otherwise silent line, but this time it was not broken by one of them talking. The pickpocket hung up after several seconds more.

Inspector Coultry took a deep breath, trying to control his racing heart. Then another one. And another. It wouldn’t stop. As a matter of fact, it seemed to run faster and faster the more he thought about what he had just done.

What had he done? He wasn’t even sure. What did he expect? Why did he answer the questions of someone who had admitted to stealing from him? Questions that came completely out of the blue?

He knew why. He knew it all too well. The reason looked down at him from the walls of the conference room on the other end of the hall, even though the projector had been turned off and there was more than one door between his desk and the conference table.

And why did he have even the sliver of hope that the guide, Ben, could do anything to help?

His thoughts always came back to this face, familiar but not really known to him. He never had a good mind for faces or names, was never good at recognizing them, and he never really tried to remember his older cases. It never was more than a tiny annoyance to him, but now it bothered him. And why did he think about the sea again and again?

He knew what he should do now. He should get up, get his coat and then go out and arrest the young guide, not just as a thief but for his protection. Then he should sit down, write a report about a notebook that was stole and the slip of his tongue later. Things like that happened. It was not perfect behaviour, not exactly exemplary execution of his duty, but it wasn’t too much of a problem either.

Instead, he sat. He sat and thought while around him his colleagues tried to move forward with the case. Even though the sun had set a long time ago, some officers still negotiated with the lawyers in a desperate attempt to get the painting to use in a sting, others had contacted informants who could do a passable forgery, though that was not a good idea and everybody knew it and the tactical team still planned all eventualities of the exchange, though he wasn’t involved in any of the details.

He was supposed to figure out why someone wanted Dance of the Knives, to come up with a viable suspect from this angle while other officers still worked with the father of the kidnapped girl. The station had become quieter in the last couple of hours but dealing with the kidnapping of a five-year-old girl, it never calmed down completely.

He couldn’t concentrate on it, having his mind jump back to the face of the young guide at the museum again and again. Dr. Harris had called him Ben. And the face, now that he thought about it more and more, seemed familiar, but in the end it only brought him a headache. In the light of his desk lamp he started to read Dr. Harris’ book again.

He must have dozed off at some point in the middle of the night, waking in the morning with a stiff neck and the memory of a boat stranded in the middle of the ocean. As it is so often the case, his mind had worked through his sleep and dreams, but unfortunately on the wrong case. At least now he remembered the guide and now he understood why he had so spontaneously decided to trust him.

Again, the ringing of his phone dragged him out of his thoughts.

“This is Inspector Coultry.”

“Inspector,” a younger officer said, “someone just dropped off a rather large package for you at the reception.”

It was too early for the parcel service. Shaking from a lack of sleep or from nerves showing more than he wanted them to, Inspector Coultry walked downstairs to the reception. He took the package back to his desk before he opened it.

His hands were shaking when he ripped the paper open and when it revealed a canvas tucked in one corner his own notebook. A piece of paper peeked out between the pages and he tentatively opened the book. The pages stuck to each other, glued together by tiny bit of dried blood.

“It’s the original. Good luck.” was printed on the paper in standard Times New Roman. How...?

Inspector Coultry stroked the night’s stubble on his chin.

We cannot use this, he thought.

We cannot not use it, his own mind corrected him.

His conscience did not bother to object and he slipped the little black book and the note into his pocket before anybody else saw them.

*

Days later, he was sitting on the wide steps of the museum, feeling more than ever watched by a giant picture over the entrance. An unlit cigarette dangled from his fingers. He had stopped smoking years ago, but fighting with his conscience, he considered taking it up again.

Pedestrians walked past him as he sat there and afternoon became evening. The last patrons of the day left the museum, the cleaning crew entered and the sun set behind the – not visible – horizon. He hadn’t checked inside for the man he was waiting for, the man he now knew to be a talented thief and someone he had arrested about two years ago and who had saved his life. Sometimes he really hated his inability to remember faces that had become unimportant to him.

Now he remembered it.

The young man left the museum alone, hobbling slightly. He talked to someone still inside the building for a second and when he turned around, he stopped right in his tracks. There was only the smidge of hesitation and then he sat down a couple paces away from the inspector.

“I didn’t recognize you,” the inspector said after a while.

“I figured.”

“But you did.”

“Hard to forget. You arrested me.” Ben seemed to look everywhere except for the inspector.

“And you saved my life. I should have remembered. I’m sorry.” Inspector Coultry put as much sincerity in his voice and his eyes as possible but the thief still did not look at him. “But I should arrest you again.”

Ben’s head snapped around. “What for?” The outrage in his voice was anything but sincere.

“Pickpocketing. Burglary. Art theft?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Of course not.” Had he expected a different answer? Maybe he had hoped for one. “Thank you.”

There was a long silence between the two, only their breathes breaking it in a steady rhythm that seemed just a tad too regular, like someone concentrating on it to avoid thinking of different things. Inspector Coultry recognized it from the last time they spoke.

“Is the girl okay?” Ben asked after a while.

The inspector hesitated a second. Then he said, “She‘s alive. And home. And maybe she will be okay.” His heart did not beat faster, his hands did not shake. His conscience decided to keep silent.

“And the kidnappers?”

“Arrested, at the exchange. At least some of them. We’ll figure out the rest.”

“Good.” Ben stood up slowly, favouring his left leg and avoiding putting weight on the right one.

“Are you okay?” A pointed look fell on Ben’s leg. “There was blood on my notebook.”

“I hate dogs.” With a quick move of his hand, he swiped the unlit cigarette out of Inspector Coultry’s limb fingers. “You could have warned me.”

“You didn’t exactly ask.”

Ben shrugged and lit the cigarette. “There’s that. What now?”

“Now I’ll forget I ever saw you. You didn’t leave any evidence behind, except for the blood on the notebook and nobody saw that. We didn’t notice any in the dog’s mouth. You’re good.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the thief said with a smile.

“You didn’t even pretend to make this sound plausible, you know.”

He shrugged. “Should I be worried? You’re not wearing a wire, are you?”

“A bit late to ask that. And no. No worry and no wire. I just wanted you to know that you helped. Thank you, again.”

He nodded. “My pleasure.” He turned around and, dragging one leg, went a few steps away before he stopped and stubbed out the cigarette on the ground. “Want to go get a drink?”

Inspector Coultry laughed and shook his head. “You’re a thief.”

The thief shrugged again. “And you’re with the police. - Happens to the best, I guess. How about that drink?”

The inspector’s conscience really did not feel like getting involved that day. “Fine.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I‘m not entirely happy how that turned out.

This story is part of an ongoing series and hence just one step in their friendship. The stories are, in chronological order (not writing order):

Arnaud‘s Art
Inspector Coultry‘s Boat
Zacharia Stern‘s Last Will
Inspector Coultry‘s Notebook (that‘s this one here)
Lady Susanna‘s Necklace

All references to the sea and saving Inspector Coultry‘s life are explained in Inspector Coultry‘s Boat.

Ivan Chernov and Dance of the Knives are fictional, the fake Diaries of Hitler are not, neither is the fact that Hitler was an (unsuccesful) artist. And thus endeth our lesson in random historical facts for today.

JudasFm

  • Zlang-Zlang Squid Says: All Hail the Squid!
    • I can help with play testing
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    • I can help with story design
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Last call for entries! (Unless, of course, anyone wants an extension  :-\ )

Baron

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Yes, I'd like one extension please.  And a side order of inspiration.  Ooo, and an energy hit too, please.  Hey, is there a combo discount?  ;)

As my excuse, there's this DIY reno thing that's been eating up all my time lately...


JudasFm

  • Zlang-Zlang Squid Says: All Hail the Squid!
    • I can help with play testing
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Extension granted! You now have until Friday to get your entries finished and in :D
And...WOW!  8-0 Looks like you've got your hands full!

Baron

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    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
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    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Partners at Crime

   “I don't care what the chief said!” Tex-Cow grumbled, yanking on the steering wheel to narrowly avoid another vehicle.  “That fat pig can stuff his politically-correct initiative up his bacon tube and smoke it!”

   “I can see that you're angry-” soothed Gander from the passenger seat before the seat-belt cut off his words mid-neck due to the sudden braking of the squad car.  A mother duck and a line of ducklings completely blocked the road ahead.

   “Damn straight I'm angry!” Tex-Cow shouted, banging on the dash with his hoof as the squad car lurched to a stop.  An avalanche of doughnut debris threatened to cascade down onto the console and radio, but Gander was able to push it back to a precarious equilibrium with several quick beats of his left wing.  “Calling me insensitive,” Tex-Cow continued.  “I'll have you know I'm very sensitive to that remark!  I'll show you insensitive....”  Tex-Cow began unrolling his window.

   “Don't do it, T-Cow!” Gander gasped, regaining his breath.  “It would be unprofessional to holler at pedestrians while in uniform!”

   “Can't they waddle any faster!” Tex-Cow vented.  He turned the cruiser's siren on briefly to hurry the little ducklings along.

   “Sorry!” Gander called out the window.  “Mechanical glitch.  Keep walking.  Stay safe, little ones!”

   “I mean, I don't know how everyone ended up eating chicken when ducks just waddle around at the speed of growing grass,” Tex-Cow muttered to himself.  “Seem like a natural target to me.  Just following the line out into moving traffic like lemmings....  For farm's sake!  She's got like forty kids!  Darwin is rolling over in his grave!”

   “I think it's a school trip,” Gander said flatly.

   “I think it must be some kind of welfare fraud.  Better pull them over just to be sure.”

   “What?  No!  We're on a call!”

   “It's a slippery slope, G,” Tex-Cow explained.  “You let a momma duck away with welfare fraud, and the kids lose all respect for authority.  Then they grow up to be barn-burning hooligans, or worse.”

   “Cattle rustlers?”

   “Psh -yeah!  I'm just saying, if it walks like a duck-”

   “-It might be a duck?”

   “You know what your problem is, G?” Tex-Cow opined.

   “An overly developed set of patience?”

   “Hardy har har.  No, your problem is you're too nice.”

   “By humouring you?”

   “Humouring me?  Humouring me!?!  Now that's low, G.”

   “So.... not really very nice, then.”

   “Well, no, hang on there.  You still being mean in a nice way.”

   “Doesn't really seem like a real problem to me.”

   “But see, it is a problem when-”

   “Road.  Clear.  Go.”

   “What?  Oh, shit, the call.”  The squad car sirens started screaming again as it peeled out of the intersection.

   “So, my point is,” Tex-Cow continued as the squad car sped along, “that you come across as too nice, even if you're not really all that nice on the inside.  You're kind of like a Hollywood starlet like that.”

   “I'm a Hollywood starlet?  All polish on the outside, but real ugly on the inside?  I'll have you know I hiss at people that come into my perceived territory.  Things can get real ugly on the outside if I choose to lose to control.  I just don't choose to do so.”

   “Oh is that a fact?  Sounds like I struck a bit of a nerve.  Am I getting too close to the real you, G?  Am I infringing on your perceived territory?  Not the hissing, G!  I can't take the hissing!”

   “Sometimes you deserve a good hissing....”

   “Hissing.  What are you, a snake?”

   “What are you, a bat?”

   “Bat?  What does that have to do with anything?”

   “Are you blind?  This is it.”

   “Oh, shit!”

   The squad car squealed to an inconspicuous stop outside of a run down house on the wrong side of the moose tracks.

   “Dispatch, this is car 23 on the scene at 763 Fluffball Avenue,” Gander radioed.  “Officers proceeding on hoof.”

   Tex-Cow was already out of the car and crouching behind it, pistol drawn.  Gander proceeded at a more measured pace, waddling back to the trunk to rummage around for his old billy club.

   “Damn it, G!” Tex-Cow shouted.  “Get out of the line of fire!  I'll cover you!”

   “Relax, T-Cow.  It's a 3-14 in progress, not Armageddon.  Do you still have those snake cuffs?”

   “I am fully equipped and ready for action, sir!”

   “OK.  Put that pistol away and play cool with me for a bit.”  Gander put his police hat on and began waddling through the decrepit gate of a once picketed white fence.

   “That's against my professional judgement, G,” Tex-Cow called from behind the car.  “Recommend sweeping for snipers first, then calling in the cavalry to mop up!”  In a flash surprising for a cow of his girth, Tex-Cow ran out from behind the car and dove over the fence, tucking into a somersault roll and ending up crouched behind a doghouse in the front yard.  Gander continued his slow approach, climbing the creaky steps up onto the tiny landing outside the front door.  He gently knocked, and then did his best to strike a pose of non-threatening authority.

   Tex-Cow peaked out from behind the doghouse, pistol still drawn.  His every sense strained to detect the slightest hint of danger.  He thought he heard a low grumble, but that might just be his fourth stomach.  Suddenly a chunk of clapboard siding fell loose from the house just above the door, dangling back and forth in front of Gander by just one nail.  Tex-Cow opened fire.

   “Stop!  Stop!” Gander shouted, as several more chunks of siding began falling around him.  Tex-Cow did stop, more because he was out of bullets than out of any inclination to stop shooting.  This whole place gave him the creeps, from the vacant windows to the minefield of dog loafs all over the yard.  And what was with that disembodied growling that seemed to haunt the premises?  He stooped to reload and for the first time got a good look at the interior of the doghouse.

   “Hey, G?” he called. 

   A couple more clapboards fell off the house, along with an old shutter.  “What's on your mind, T-Cow?” Gander replied, trying to casually sidestep the raining debris.

   “What exactly is a 3-14?”

   “Indecent exposure in public.  Why do you ask?”

    Tex-Cow looked back into the doghouse.  There was definitely a whole lot of crotch licking going on, but he couldn't say that anything was being exposed per se....  Oh, no wait, there it was.  Yeah, that was a whole lot of nasty exposure right there.  The 200 pound pit bull smiled back at him and growled maliciously.  Why wasn't it ever the teacup chihuahuas who did perverted things?  Suddenly the dog lunged at him.

   “Shit!  G!  Shit!  Get him off!  He's humping my leg!  Oh god!  Call for back-up!  Call SWAT!  G!!!!!!”

   There was a loud crack and then an ominous groan.  Both Tex-Cow and the pit bull looked up to see the whole facade of the house tilting towards them.  The dog gave Tex-Cow's leg a couple more thrusts, then let go, then remounted for one more quickie, then finally fled towards the gate.  He was almost there when the gable of the house smashed down on him.  Tex-Cow blinked in disbelief from the window frame that had miraculously landed around him.  He turned back to check on his partner who was standing in the empty door frame wearing an expression of equal disbelief.  The door still stood, unsupported for a few moments, before the whole of the remaining house collapsed inward with a thunderous crash.

   Tex-Cow stood there, gob-smacked, as Gander casually waddled down the steps that were the only part of the structure that were still intact.

   “Book him, T-Cow,” Gander said.  “If we get him back to the station fast enough for processing, we might have enough time for that 6-13 in progress.”

   “Hey, G?”

   “Yeah, T-Cow?”

   “What exactly is a 6-13?”

   “Officers bowling, buddy.  Shake a leg, will ya?”  :=

JudasFm

  • Zlang-Zlang Squid Says: All Hail the Squid!
    • I can help with play testing
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And with that, the contest is CLOSED for voting! The entries are:

Timothy Coultry‘s Notebook by Sinitrena

Aaaaaand...

Partners at Crime by Baron

As the administrator, I'm obviously not eligible to vote (although I will provide feedback along with the results) but you guys are and you have until July 17 to get your votes in, so hurry and vote vote VOTE!

The categories are:

Best Friendship: Do we believe that these friends would walk through fire for each other? Or at least lend each other a couple bucks?
Best Difference: Why exactly is the characters' friendship so unusual? We don't need the backstory (unless you want to write a How They Met entry) just show us why people are always surprised to see this particular duo hanging out.
Best Character: Who was the most interesting to read about, even if you didn't want to meet them yourself?
Best Story: What it says on the tin :-D
Best Writing: Whose words jumped off the page, seized you by the throat and dragged you into the story, refusing to let you go until the very end, at which point you collapsed against a wall, gasping for breath and saying, "Wow! That turn of phrase was...you know what? Just WOW!"

Sinitrena

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Well, that was random. I'm not entirely sure what to make of this story. At first, I didn't get that the two policemen were supposed to be animals like the ducks crossing the street instead of people with unusual names. I guess that was intentional, though by the time it became clear, it just couldn't get through my suspension of disbelieve any longer. I can accept comics with animals as human characters but there it is mainly a visual thing and often something to convey character traits. I don't see this here. Ducks are not known for abusing the wellfair system and cows are not trigger happy cops, nor are dogs considered particularly lustfull. So this aspect of animals as human characters was completely lost. I also don't like the remarks about eating chicken (or ducks) when they are clearly intelligent beings in this world (yes, that happens in comics too. I don't like it there either.) In short, the whole concept of the story is better suited for a visiual medium and I didn't really care for it. Yes, I know it's humour and I'm probably taking it a bit too serious, but the humour also felt far too random. As to the odd couple aspect - because the characters took hardly anything from being animals, their differences seem rather superficial. This is a standard buddy cop comedy from this aspect. I'm not even sure they are actually friends, or merely partners that are okay with each other.

Best Friendship: Baron - more partners than friends I would say but that's better than nothing.
Best Difference: Baron - from a purely body-type point of view they are certainly different.
Best Character: Baron - mother duck. Shunned by society for having a lot of ducklings, always afraid people will suddenly start to eat them...  ;)
Best Story: Baron - funny, though lacking in substance.
Best Writing: Baron - the technical execution is always top-notch from Baron, so this vote is very much deserved.

Baron

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I'm just too wiped from working in the humidity all day to vote now.  I'll do it tomorrow for sure, though.  In the mean time, I must consider each category carefully, weighing the merits of every entry in the back of my mind.   ;)

Baron

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    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!

Best Friendship: I vote Sinitrena, although this particular story didn't feature the friendship very prominently.
Best Difference: I vote Sinitrena.  The criminal and detective dynamic does put the friends on opposing sides, but the two characters do share a lot in common: a sense of duty to protect others, an obsession with the job which has them working all hours, a meticulous mind for detail, an audacity to bend rules for the greater good....  This is more a criticism of police officers than writing, but the divide between law breakers and law enforcers personality-wise is uncomfortably thin.
Best Character: I vote Sinitrena for Inspector Coultry.  I liked how you got the reader inside his head, even the random tangents and the moods.
Best Story: I cast two votes for Sinitrena in this category: the build-up of suspense in this story was awesome!  I thought you had very good pacing, especially in the first two thirds of the story.  Things kind of felt a bit rushed towards the end, but I totally get the whole deadline pressure thing.   (roll)  I think a bit of editing and reworking, especially towards the end, and you'd have yourself a real gem of a story. 
Best Writing: I'm going with Sinitrena for the excellent atmosphere.  ;-D  Things could have been a little tighter editing-wise, as there were a LOT of typos: "leader bound book," "thread to well-being," "two older man," "collogues," "decision in a fracture of a second," and many more.... 

So, in summary, I thought Sinitrena wrote a riveting story in need of a few edits, although I was a bit disappointed by the lack of focus on theme.

Sinitrena

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Best Writing: I'm going with Sinitrena for the excellent atmosphere.  ;-D  Things could have been a little tighter editing-wise, as there were a LOT of typos: "leader bound book," "thread to well-being," "two older man," "collogues," "decision in a fracture of a second," and many more.... 

Okay, note to self: "Stop writing with a headache, and especially stop trying to proofread with a headache!" But seriously, leader bound? That's a nice Freudian slip, considering what I used as the decoy notebook...  (roll)


As the administrator, I'm obviously not eligible to vote (although I will provide feedback along with the results) but you guys are and you have until July 17 to get your votes in, so hurry and vote vote VOTE!

Actually, the administrator is elligible to vote, usually as a tie breaker.


Is there nobody around who wants to read a couple stories and vote? This round, it's not even that much to read!  ;)


Baron

  • Mittens Serf
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    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Is there nobody around who wants to read a couple stories and vote? This round, it's not even that much to read!  ;)

Yeah!  ???  Sinitrena's story was very engaging, and mine was really short.  Get them on your summer reading list, peeps!

JudasFm

  • Zlang-Zlang Squid Says: All Hail the Squid!
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Actually, the administrator is elligible to vote, usually as a tie breaker.

As a tie-breaker, yes. However, I really don't consider it fair for the administrator to have the same voting rights as everyone else, because they tend to vote and close the voting in the same post.

To elaborate, imagine a round with three entrants and five  categories. Voting starts, and the final scores are:

Entrant 1: 9 votes
Entrant 2: 5 votes
Entrant 3: 1 vote

It's pretty clear who the voters support. But then the administrator weighs in, gives 5 votes to Entrant 2 - causing first and second place to be switched - and instantly closes the voting.

I get that this sort of thing happens when people vote too, but in that case, it's still down to other voters. When the administrator votes and closes in the same post, which tends to happen, he/she is basically saying: "Okay, my votes are in and my word is final, because I stopped anyone else from voting differently! Mwahahaha!" In which case, they might as well skip the voting process and pick the winner directly.

To sum it up, I believe that in the interests of fairness, the administrator should not be eligible to vote unless they do so at the start of voting, or in the event of a tiebreaker. As an entrant, the whole vote-and-close thing really irritates me, so as an administrator, I never do it. I do give hypothetical votes for the entrants' own reference, but those don't count towards the total.

I'm probably alone on this, but that's okay :) My take on contests is that, to a certain extent, the administrator makes the rules. It's a rule that in my contest, the administrator (ie, me) is only allowed to vote in the case of a tie-breaker. 

Phew! See what happens when you post a comment and I'm in Tsudanuma's Burger King with 2 hours to kill? I get wordy!  (nod)


Is there nobody around who wants to read a couple stories and vote? This round, it's not even that much to read!  ;)

Just in case, I'll extend the voting time until the end of the week. If nobody else votes, The Squid and I will break the tie  :-D
« Last Edit: 18 Jul 2019, 08:39 by JudasFm »

Sinitrena

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    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!

Entrant 1: 9 votes
Entrant 2: 5 votes
Entrant 3: 1 vote

It's pretty clear who the voters support. But then the administrator weighs in, gives 5 votes to Entrant 1 - causing first and second place to be switched - and instantly closes the voting.


That wouldn't change anything.  ;)  But I see your point.
I generally don't assume anyone around here would manipulate an outcome like this. Why should they? But you can always just cast your votes at any point during the voting period, as long as there is a reasonable amount of time before you close the voting, to avoid the problem. I would argue, though, that casting votes earlier voids the tie breaking power, but that might just be my sense of fairness.

I certainly understand where you are coming from. It doesn't exactly feel right to change the winner with your final vote.

JudasFm

  • Zlang-Zlang Squid Says: All Hail the Squid!
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That wouldn't change anything.  ;)  But I see your point.

ACK! Bad Squid, sneaking in and changing words at the last minute :P Of course, I meant to write Entrant 2 It's a good thing some people pay more attention to my posts than I do (laugh)

I generally don't assume anyone around here would manipulate an outcome like this. Why should they? But you can always just cast your votes at any point during the voting period, as long as there is a reasonable amount of time before you close the voting, to avoid the problem. I would argue, though, that casting votes earlier voids the tie breaking power, but that might just be my sense of fairness.

No, I don't think for one minute that it would be abused in the way you're suggesting. Like you said, there wouldn't be any purpose to it :)

I see what you mean about the tie breaker (which kind of ties in with the whole no-votes-for-administrator thing) but I imagine a tie-breaker as only one vote per entry as opposed to voting again in separate categories. Usually I'd extend the voting (like now) and if there are no votes by the end, I think the administrator - as the person who set up the contest and has a vague idea in their own mind of what they were hoping to see - should get a single casting vote, if only so the next round can proceed. Otherwise we could be waiting forever for someone to vote :P

The other problem with giving the administrator both votes is that if they cast all their votes for Entrant 1, then it would be pretty obvious who'd win if it did come down to a tie-breaker.

So yeah. Basically, I think the tie-breaker vote is the only vote the administrator should have that actually counts towards the total, and that's how I've always run this contest when it's been my turn. I'm an administrator, not a judge; I leave that up to the other members of the forum ;) But like I said, that's just my way of doing things :-D

Baron

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    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
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    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Did JudasFm just go on a power trip against power trips?   ;)

JudasFm

  • Zlang-Zlang Squid Says: All Hail the Squid!
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Did JudasFm just go on a power trip against power trips?   ;)
But of course (nod) I don't mind power trips at all; I just want to be the one going on them (laugh)
I'm tired (just got back from a festival) but results and trophies will be posted tomorrow (my time) Up until then, if anyone else wants to vote, it's open!

JudasFm

  • Zlang-Zlang Squid Says: All Hail the Squid!
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Okay, it's pretty clear that no one else is going to vote and it's about time for the next round, so I'm closing the contest.

The final amount of votes stand at:
Sinitrena: 6 (counting Baron's extra vote :P)
Baron: 5

I'm on the fence about accepting extra votes as they can be a bit sticky (where does it end? Can we cast 100 votes for someone?) but in this case, I'll run with it, as there were so few votes and even if I had discounted it and ended the contest as a tie-breaker, Sinitrena would still have won.

So the winner of the Golden Platonic Heart is...

Sinitrena!

Which leaves Baron the proud owner of the Silver Platonic Heart!

And now, onto my hypothetical votes and feedback!

Best Friendship: Sinitrena. Even though it's at the beginning of the friendship, we see it start to happen when they agree to go for a drink together. With Baron's entry, I didn't get any sense of friendship at all, much less the oddness of the couple. I suppose a cow and a gander probably wouldn't be friends in the real world, but the prompt was more of a cat-and-dog, wolf-and-lamb friendship.
Best Difference: Sinitrena; it's pretty clear that the two are different and why. The different personalities in Baron's entry came across fairly well, but it wasn't enough.
Best Character: This was a tough one, but I'm going to have to go with Baron. I really loved Dr. Harris in Sinitrena's story, but the gung-ho Tex-Cow just squeaked past into first place. 
Best Story: Sinitrena. Good story with a beginning, middle and end. Baron's struck me as more an extract from a story than the story itself.
Best Writing: Sinitrena. As Baron said, there were several typos, but overall I felt it was a higher standard. Baron's felt very rushed, and the overuse of dialog distanced me from the piece. I would have liked more description.

So, this round is closed, and the next one is down to Sinitrena! Take it away :-D

Baron

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    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
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    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Congratulations Sinitrena!  It was a well-deserved victory in my opinion (and in my voting irregularities....   ;) )

I feel like I've got to up my writing game for you literary types.  The easy votes from the likes of Ponch and Mandle are hard to come by this summer.  :P

Sinitrena

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    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Thanks everyone.

Let's hope next round more people show up - to write and to vote.