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Daniel N. Flanagan
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topaul.jpg
Art by Jack W. Savage 2014

To Paul, With Love

 

Daniel N. Flanagan

 

Exposition (the introduction of setting, situation and main characters).

 

And there I was, just a young guy. Twenty-one years old, taking a walk out to my car. My wicked sporty, red, Ford Taurus. I had left a 30-rack of Busch Light in the trunk; it was a cold Massachusetts winter, so I didn’t want to leave them for the night to freeze. Beer is mostly water, and when water freezes, it expands, and pushes the lid and ass of the can outwards; it ruins the taste too. And this was clearly quality beer.

          See, the reason I even had to go grab my rack in the freezing cold, snow crunching beneath my Timberland Pro’s at 2:34 in the morning is as follows.

          I live with my grandfather; my seventy-seven year old, health riddled, patriarchal grandfather. And out of respect to him…well my actions are only partly performed out of respect. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not tryna annoy or aggravate my own fucking grandfather, who is nice enough to house me while I work on my writing career, but there’s more to it. He has the temper of a tyrant. And while his rage relates straight to his dying heart, I am also egocentric. I don’t want to get yelled at any more than you do. And so I sneak the beer in, even though I’m of age; even though I have no dependence. I do it for him.

          Anyways…

#

 

Complication (the event that introduces the conflict), rising action.

 

          So I had stomped out there, in my aforementioned boots; I mention them twice for a reason though, a short side note for you. The date is January 3rd and these were a Christmas present from my current girl, my main broad. She shall remain nameless though; she hates when I write about her.

          And so I grabbed my icy, metal Ford key out from my toasty, red and black, plaid pajama pants; compliments of Gramma Bitsy. Dangling from the keys was a Framingham State University lanyard, which is a constant reminder of the education I decided to abort, but alas. I inserted the key and turned right, in the trunk, and raised the gate, letting key stay stuck, and lanyard dangle, waving in the breeze.

          I leaned into the barren trunk and pulled out the previously opened case; I had taken just three out earlier. As you know, I sneak in my beer, so I only grabbed three, and transported them in my Bruins gym bag, from car to fridge. Such a low number would never raise the irate man’s ever raising voice.

          I scooped up and cradled the beer like a football player, having his photo leisurely taken for a trading card. Against my right forearm, as 27 beers are quite hefty. Anyways, as the trunk began to descend downwards, a car pulled up towards me, red and blue lights flickered just once or twice. “Great…” I said under my breath. This is just what I needed.

          My family doesn’t have the best last name to broadcast around officers of small town law.

#

                                                                                                                 

Crisis (the decisive moment for the protagonist and his commitment to a course of action).

 

          He shut his lights off, as to not create a scene and wake up my grandfather. I appreciated this and was quite surprised that he did not feel the need to validate his authority by demanding a crowd. I leaned at the waist, bent my knee and set the alcohol down, on the two inch barrier of snow.

          The officer pulled up alongside my house’s separate garage, perpendicular to my vehicle several yards over, which was parked outside. He hit the gear shift north and opened the driver’s door of his Crown Vic. Stepping out I was sure this would go smoothly, although inside I was beginning to become flustered; the flood of anxiety’s deathly undertow was ever-present.

          “Is there a problem, officer?” I inquired this honestly and without an attitude. While I refuse to call any cop “Sir”. For passing a routine police training course and having a GED does not make you a “Sir”; I remained congenial. 

          The driver of the cruiser came forward, squared up with me, hand on his jam-packed belt and told me there had been local reports of breaking and entering lately, and he had been patrolling the area.

          I was baffled by this and told the barrel chested, white, amber mustached policeman, “Well that’s unfortunate. I live right there (I turned over my shoulder and pointed twenty yards back, to where my large, secluded house stood.) and was just getting something out of my trunk.”

          Staring straight at the Busch beer, he said “I see that. I’m gonna need to see some I.D.”

Luckily I had my wallet on me and so I bent back the black, leather tri-fold and removed my horizontal driver’s license from the middle, transparent section, and handed it to the man in blue.

          After scanning it for what seemed like ten seconds, he said “Flanagan, huh? Any relation to Tom?” I said “Yeah, he’s my father.” There was a hint of shame in my answer, mostly love though. He decided to tell me facts about my father I had already heard one hundred times over. “He’s over in Worcester County right now, my cousin is DEA, worked on your father’s case…You know how many scripts and opioids they found in that drug den of his? There’s a lot of pill heads running around and stealing because of him.”

          I leaned against my sedan, “Well, I’m not my father and I’m not breaking the law. I am of legal age to purchase alcohol and I’m not trespassing on my own driveway.”

          “It looks like that case of beer has been opened, and I do believe (he leaned right into my face and smelled my exhale); have you been drinking tonight?”

          “Well, yes, but I was in my house. I wasn’t driving, wasn’t causing a scene. I’m not breaking any laws!” I was beginning to talk faster and ramble, my mind was racing.

          “I’m gonna need you to lower you voice and see things through the courts eyes. The twenty-one year old son of a drug addicted, drug dealing father, out here at 3 A.M., causing a disturbance, and drinking while operating a vehicle.”

          “I wasn’t operating shit and you know that! Don’t try to twist this, I did nothing wrong, I’m leaving.” I screamed at him. The flood was drowning me.

          I turned back, bent, and cradled my beer. I walked six feet forward, towards my house, when I looked over my shoulder.

          He grabbed back tighter onto his utility belt and unsheathed his T-baton; slick and shining black steel against the moonlight.

          He trudged towards me.

#

 

Climax (the point of highest interest in terms of the conflict and the point with the most action).

 

          “Shit.” I uttered before dropping the alcohol and sprinting straight for my door.

          I was having trouble finding tread. I had never tied these work boots and they flopped around, stamping into the firm snow. I was gonna fall…

          There was a whizzing sound and then I hit the ground. My vision was black for a few seconds. I could only hear a ringing in my ears. Terror hit hard and everything felt surreal, like I was dreaming.

 I was sprawled out on my back, looking up at the dark night sky, the rear of my skull pulsating. I rolled my head to the right and saw red splatter all over the pure white snow. I looked to the left and saw his legs, the shining pinstripe of his uniform reflecting. He knelt down and picked up his night stick, wiped the red fluid into the palm of his left glove and slowly walked over towards me.

          My senses fully restored, I could hear the heavy crunch of snow underneath his police issued boots. He ended his short trek as he faced the side of me, swung his left leg over to the right side of my hip. He stood there, over me, grinning, and emitted a snort. I had not moved from my fallen snow angel.                  

          He craned his neck skywards, boasting his glory to the moon. I was enraged; he fought dirty, so fuck it. I swiftly sat up and cocked my fist back, exploding a half powered hit to his groin. He fell back into the fetal position, his hands clasping each other and stuck between his legs. I stood up, ignoring the pool of deep, red blood that had accumulated, and melted the snow.   He rolled onto his back, but was unable to move further. Walking over to him I thanked my girlfriend, and lifted one Timberland up. I drove my right foot down hard, bashing his nose in flat. His nose literally introverted into his face. It was plain. He wailed and cried, and blood began to seep around him.

          I knew I was fucked. I would end up in jail for the next 25 years. I assaulted a police officer and no one would believe it was self-defense. I didn’t know what to do. I was dizzy and petrified. I covered his mouth to quiet him; I couldn’t have any distant neighbors hear him.

          I unclicked his holster and took hold of his Smith & Wesson. I had never held a gun before…I just wanted to have a fuckin beer and write a goddamn story…

          Gun in hand, I heard my front door open, I saw my grandfather standing there. Calm. He walked towards me.

#

 

Resolution (the point when the conflict is resolved).

 

          I was still holding down his ever-shrieking mouth with my right forearm, while I held the gun with my dominant hand. Grampa Paul walked up towards me, looked at us both, and softly spoke, “My God, son…”

          He sighed, he did not want anything bad to happen to me. All fear left my body and was replaced by remorse. I had let him down.

          He told me to stay put and with eyes wide I watched him, as I pressed steadily heavier on the officer. My grandfather went down to his knees and began hammering away at the cop.

          Strong right hands that made me squirm. He barreled into the officer’s side, and the snap of a cracked rib or two was evident. He screamed louder against my teeth-bitten forearm. Paul jabbed him right in the throat, collapsing the man’s Adam’s apple. It was grotesque.

          My Grampa rose and pushed me aside. The cop was in and out of consciousness, coughing up blood.

Paul looked all around and saw no lights, no people, and heard only the hoot of an owl. He grabbed the .45 caliber out of my hand and put it into the cop’s hand.

          “Gramps, what are you doing!?”

          “Listen, son. I’m seventy-seven years old and I’m not gonna last much longer. I failed your father and I can’t live with the guilt of seeing the same thing happen to you. You’re a good kid. You deserved better.”

          “Gramps…” There was a lump in my throat and my eyes began to water.

          He held the pistol in the officers hand, wrapped the man’s finger around the trigger and knelt down in front of the dying cop.

          “Don’t waste thi,s Danny. This is the only second chance life is ever gonna give you.”

“Call your uncle Greg, he’ll get the right people down here to clean this mess up and make it look the way it needs to.”

He closed his eyes, breathed in through his nose, and let out a long exhale before squeezing the cops hand; blowing a hole right through his own chest. He slumped over and the lump in my throat grew larger. I wanted to go out and grab hold of him. But I couldn’t move. I fell to my knees and wept icy tears. The owl hooted again and I blinked my wet eyes.

I ran inside to call Greg. 

 

 

Daniel N. Flanagan is a Worcester, MA native; currently writing a novella, while taking a year off from college. His most recent short story, "Daddy's Girl", has been published in The Commonline Journal. He has two stories scheduled for publication in January '14; "Dylan; & The Hooker Formerly Known As Tiffany" has been accepted by Beyond Imagination, and "Bathroom Tale: 2" will appear in Danse Macabre du Jour. He has previously been featured in the publishing blog, Aberration Labyrinth (issue #008), for his poem "Writer". He also has three poems, "An Artist’s Rendering", "N.O. Xplode", and "Kip", in Framingham State University's literary magazine The Onyx (Spring '12). Check him out at www.DanFlanagan.webs.com and follow him @DanielNFlanagan.

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