Thy Neighbor's Wife

Thy Neighbor's Wife

A Story by Jim Parson
"

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.

"

            “You’re Lindsey’s mother, aren’t you?”

            Surprised, Jill turned to face the unfamiliar voice and was stunned to find him standing there.  A deep chill coursed through her veins.  What was he doing here?  She couldn’t hide her look of shock and perhaps embarrassment as well, although she did her best not to show it.  He must be talking to her…there wasn’t anyone else in the garage.  Should she answer or should she run?

            “Why, y-yes,” she stammered.  “I’m Jill Stephens, Lindsey’s mom.  And you’re Michael Whitaker,” the words blurted out perhaps a little more forcefully than she intended, causing her blush to deepen.

            He shifted from one foot to the other.  “Yes,” he said.

            Feeling the need to offer an explanation but choosing her words with care, she said, “We’re a pretty tight neighborhood.  When someone new moves in, particularly someone with your… ummm… celebrity, word does tend to travel.”

            “Yes,” he said, his eyes downcast and his shoulders, slumped.  “People do talk.”

            The silence grew uncomfortable against the background of voices floating into the garage from the barbeque in the backyard.  Jill was somewhat comforted knowing twenty people were only a scream away, but it didn’t completely calm her butterflies.  She looked around for an escape route.

            “I thought we would get away from all that when we moved here from L.A.,” he said.  “I was hoping we would finally put it behind us, for Jake’s sake.  It seems we haven’t.”

            Jill struggled to think of a response.  “Yes, I’m sure it’s been hard for him.”  Following another pregnant pause, she blurted, almost as an afterthought, “And for you.”

            Whitaker smiled at her, catching her off guard.  “I’ll let you get back to the party.  I just wanted to thank you for not putting a stop to Lindsey playing with Jake.  After the… well, you know… most parents made excuses for their kids not to come around anymore.”

            Jill stared blankly at him for a moment.  WHAT?  Lindsey is friends with his son?   Think, Jill, think!

            “Of course,” she replied, for a lack of anything else to say.  She would be explaining to Lindsey in no uncertain terms why she was never to go to Jake’s house again.  She forced herself to look at him.  His eyes were fixed on her.

Say something!

“How is your son holding up?”

            Whitaker debated the question for a moment before answering, “All things considered, I guess he’s dealing with it as well as any eight year-old could.  There were some rough times, but things are getting better.  I think the worst part was what he dealt with at school.  Kids can be so cruel.”

            “Yes,” agreed Jill.  He has a pleasant enough voice.  Well, why wouldn’t he?  Ted Bundy did, too.

            “My wife was always talking about moving to Ventura and getting out of the city.  For some reason, she really liked it here,” Whitaker continued.  “She had a couple of clients here, so she spent quite a bit of time out this way with her work.  She was always saying it would be a good place to set up shop.  She was a graphic designer.

“So when Jake started having trouble with some of the kids at school, I thought a fresh start where no one knew us might be better for him.  Ventura seemed as good a place as any.  Seems there’ll never be a fresh start for us, though.”

            There was such sadness in his voice, Jill almost felt sorry for him.  She’d seen pictures of him on the television, but had yet to take a good look at him, mostly averting her eyes to hide her discomfort with being so near a murderer.  She gave him a quick once over.  He really was quite an attractive man, tall and well built, with a narrow waist and broad shoulders.  In his short-sleeved shirt, she could see the sinews of muscle in his forearms.  His hands were large and rough, the hands of a man who worked for a living.  His dark hair fell down across his forehead, only serving to accentuate his green eyes.  His nose was straight and his jaw, firm, with full lips and very white teeth.  It was a good face, an interesting face, not the face of a murderer.

            Jill broke from her reverie and wondered how long she’d been studying him.  He was watching her, a quizzical look on his face, apparently waiting for a response.  What was he just saying?  Oh, yeah.

“Yes, I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for you,” she said, repeating herself.  She stared at him, at a loss for what to say next.

            She decided on small talk.  “So, how did you know I was Lindsey’s mom?”

            He responded, “When we got here, I asked Steve Overland and he pointed you out for me.”

            “I didn’t realize you knew the Overlands.  Are you friends with Steve and Margie?” she asked.  She was anxious to know how he came to be here but didn’t want to push too hard.

            “Well, it isn’t quite like that.  Jake and I were walking our dog last weekend and the Overlands were in their front yard, so I stopped to introduce us.  The guy next door, I forget his name… the guy wearing the St. Bonaventure tee shirt.  He came over while we were there to ask what they should bring to the party.  I think they were kind of embarrassed into inviting us.”

            Jill walked to the back of the garage and peered out the window above Steve’s workbench.  The bench was covered with Steve’s fishing gear and she shoved his tackle box and filleting knives out of the way.  She had a good view of the backyard.  She surveyed the crowd and spotted the green St. Bonnie’s tee next to the oak tree.

            “That’s Jerry.  His son, Tanner, is a year younger than Lindsey.”

She suddenly remembered why she’d come into the garage in the first place.  She turned from the window, walked over to the cooler and pulled a Diet Pepsi from the ice.  At five feet, six inches, she was taller than average and it was mostly legs, which were long and lean.  Her brown hair fell from her shoulders and hung down over her thin face as she bent over the cooler.

She looked back at him over her shoulder, pushing her long hair behind her ear, and caught him sizing her up.  Good Lord, he’s staring at my a*s!  As an attractive woman, she was used to the ogling of other men.  Under the heat of his blatant stare, however, she felt overtly self-conscious, but was surprised to find she felt warmed by his appraisal as well.  It occurred to her that her husband might be less than pleased with this reaction and embarrassment forced her to look away.  She shifted her position so her backside was no longer pointed directly at his face.

In spite of her uneasiness, she turned back to him and met his eyes straight on.  “Can I get you one?” she asked, holding up the can of soda.

            “No, thanks,” he replied.  “I’m good.”  There was a bit more color in his cheeks as well.  He took the can from her, but only to pop the top and hand it back.

            “Thank you,” she said, doing her best to cover her discomfort.

            “I really should be getting back to my family,” Jill said, hoping she sounded apologetic.  “It was nice to meet you.”  Then, before making her exit, “I hope you like it here.  It’s a really good neighborhood.  You’re new and still a curiosity, but over time, you’ll fit right in.  You know what they say… time heals all wounds.”

            “I wish I could feel confident of that,” he said.  “I was already tried and convicted…twice.  I’m hoping I won’t be a third time.”

            “Huh?” was all that came out of her mouth.  Tried and convicted?  Okay, I’m confused.

            “I was put on trial and found guilty, by the media and by the public,” he said, answering her unspoken question.  “We lived through it twice.  Once when I was arrested and again when the True Crime episode aired six months later.”

            Jill cleared her throat and said, “I…I actually saw that episode.  I’m a bit of an addict of that kinda stuff.  I’m a big fan of Ann Rule’s books.”

            His voice was low and she couldn’t help but notice the tremble in his words as he repeated, “Ann Rule.”  Was that disgust in his voice?  “She contacted me after the show aired and wanted to write my story.  I declined.”  He gave a short laugh.  “Who knows, maybe I’ll write the book myself one day.  At least the real story would be told then.”

            She couldn’t believe she was hearing the words coming from her mouth.  But there they were, quiet and low, but firmly thrown out there just the same.  “What is the real story?”  Any thought of making an escape left her.

            Her momentary bravado shocked even her.  Whitaker studied her for a few moments and to her surprise, a slight smile parted his lips, showing the briefest flash of white teeth.  She couldn’t be sure if it was a smile or a smirk.

            It was too late to take it back, so she continued.  “Well, the show painted a pretty strong picture of your guilt.  It was obvious they felt you got away with murdering your wife.”  The smile dropped from his lips and she wished she’d put it a little more delicately.  Hoping for a bit of misdirection, she added, “I remember they were pretty hard on the District Attorney for not prosecuting, as well.”

            “Yes,” he said.

            Jill waited for him to continue and when he didn’t, she did.  “So, what happened?” She grew braver with each word, her curiosity surpassing any embarrassment.

             “There wasn’t enough evidence to hold me, so I was released.”

            Jill said, “The show made it sound like the DA didn’t want to take a chance with his conviction record on a case where the evidence was mostly circumstantial.”

            “Yes, it did.”

            Now that she had him started, she wasn’t going to let up that easily.  “They didn’t really tell much of your side of the story.  Just your claims that you were innocent and witnessed someone else do it.  They didn’t present it very believably, almost like they were saying ‘yeah, right’.”

            “I did see it happen,” he said.  “I got a good look at the guy and gave a full description to the police.  I even sat down with their sketch artist and came up with a great picture of him.  They were convinced I did it, so they never even looked for the guy.”

            “Well, it all seemed pretty convincing.  You threatened her in public and a few hours later, she’s dead and you’re standing over the body with a bloody knife in your hand.”

Shut the hell up, Jill!  Are you intentionally trying to piss off a murderer?

            “That isn’t exactly the way it happened, but yeah, that’s the True Crime version.  It seems that’s the version people want to believe, including the police.”  Jill could see he was growing upset.

            Don’t push it, Jill.

“So what really happened then?” she asked, softening her voice.

            Whitaker studied her for a moment.  She could see his mind working, as if struggling with a difficult decision.  Appearing to have reached a conclusion, he began.

“I never threatened her.  We had a loud argument.  That’s all.”

“About?  If you don’t mind me asking, of course.”

He cocked his head and looked at her, one eyebrow raised.  He took a deep breath.  “I suspected her of having an affair.  I confronted her about it.  Perhaps it wasn’t the best timing to do it in the middle of the bank lobby.”

            “Yes, I remember,” Jill said.  “Motive.”  No other words were necessary.

            “The argument continued for a couple of hours when we got home and she locked herself in our bedroom.  I could hear beeps through the door.  She was punching numbers into the phone.  I went downstairs and picked up the extension in the kitchen.  I heard her say, ‘I’ll see you in a little bit,’ and a man said, ‘Okay.’  A few minutes later, she came down and walked out without saying a word.

            “I followed her.  She went north on the 405 into the Valley and got on the 101 west.  The freeways were crowded and slow, so it was easy to follow her, although I’m not certain she even cared.  She got off the freeway and after a few blocks, turned into the parking lot at Lake Balboa Park in Encino.  I pulled into the other end of the lot behind an SUV where I couldn’t be seen and watched and waited.

            “It was getting late and the sun was going down.  I started to think he wasn’t gonna show.  My wife got out of the car a couple of times and paced back and forth, checking her watch.  After about a half hour, a Chrysler pulled into the lot and parked next to her.  A man got out and stood next to her BMW.  She got out and they walked into the park.  They passed under a streetlamp and I got a good look at him.  I didn’t recognize him.  I got out of the car and followed them.

            “They walked down to the lake and sat on a bench beside the water.  It was getting pretty dark, but the lamps around the lake were enough for me to still see them.  I hung back in the trees so they wouldn’t see me, too far away to hear what they were saying.  I could tell they were arguing and the man was getting louder, but I could only catch a word or two of it.  He wasn’t happy.  He grabbed her by the arm and she jerked away, got up and started walking away from him.  I heard her holler, ‘I can’t do this anymore!’  He jumped up and grabbed her and spun her around.  It looked like he punched her in the stomach.  I started running toward them.  She fell to the ground.  He must’ve heard me coming because he wheeled around and I got another look at his face.  Then he took off toward the parking lot.

            “When I got to her, I saw the knife sticking from her stomach.  I screamed for help and fell down on the ground beside her.  She was alive, awake and staring up at me.  She took my hand and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’  She died right there in my arms.”

            Jill saw the tears welling in his eyes and at that moment, she believed him.

            He took a deep breath and continued.  “I wasn’t thinking straight.  I just watched my wife die right in front of me.  I didn’t care about the affair, I loved her.  I was hollering for help and holding her.  I don’t remember doing it, but I guess I pulled the knife out of her stomach because, when the two witnesses came running up, I had it in my hand.

            “You know the rest.  I was arrested, questioned and released.  Then came the media circus and after a couple of weeks, they decided not to file charges.  I guess the DA thought my story was believable enough to convince a jury.  But I was never cleared.  To the public, I was guilty as sin.”

            “Such a terrible tragedy.  It must have been so horrible for you,” Jill said.  “You must want vengeance in the worst possible way.”

            “I gave up on the police ever finding him or even looking for him.  For months, all I thought about was hunting him down myself.  I fell asleep at night thinking about all of the ways I would make him pay, if I ever found him.  But now I understand.  That isn’t what I want at all.”

            “You don’t want him dead?”

            “No,” he said.  “Killing him isn’t enough.  A moment of pain and then it’s over.  I want him to feel what I feel.  I want him to live a long life, suffering what I’ve suffered and knowing he’s to blame.  I want him to reach out in the night for the warm body that should be there next to him but isn’t.  I want him to feel the helplessness of trying to comfort his children when they wake, screaming in the night from their nightmares.”

            He paused, a distant look in his eyes, and Jill could see the muscles tighten in his jaw.

“No, I’m not going to kill him.  When I find him, I’m going to kill his wife.”

            Jill stared at him, her eyes wide, her mouth agape.  The words were frightening, but she thought she understood.  As the chill of his words wore off, she watched his head bow and his shoulders slump in utter defeat.  She could feel his grief and felt the need to comfort him.

            “If it makes any difference to you, Michael, I believe you.”  She smiled and put her hand on his arm.

            “Thank you.  That means a lot to me.”  He smiled back at her.

            Their eyes met and locked.  Jill felt strangely drawn to him.  She knew he felt it, too.

            Stop it, Jill!  You’re a happily married woman!

            Whitaker took a step forward and stopped directly in front of her.  He leaned in and her heart began to flutter.  No!  Stop him before this goes too far!  His hair brushed against her cheek as his lips moved close to her ear.

“He’s here,” Whitaker said, almost in a whisper.

            “Who’s here?” Jill asked, still distracted, swimming in her own thoughts.  Her eyes widened as understanding began to float to the top.

            Whitaker pulled back and stared straight ahead, eyes misty and seemingly unable to focus.  “The man who murdered my wife.  He’s here.”

            “He’s here at this party?  Right now?  Did you know he was going to be here?”  Then, as the realization struck her, her eyes widened.  “That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

            “No,” he said.  “When Jake and I came through the garage into the backyard, I couldn’t have been more surprised if I’d walked in on the second coming of Jesus.  I had no idea who killed my wife, except what he looked like, until I saw him here a half hour ago.”

            “Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!  What are you going to do?  Are you going to call the police?  Does he know you’re here?”  The questions poured from her gaping mouth.  Then, “WAIT!  Who is he?”

            Taking her by the elbow, he guided her to the workbench and pointed out the window into the backyard.  Her eyes followed his finger.

            “That’s him.  The guy in the blue shirt, drinking a beer with Steve.”

            A furrow crossed her brow, realization slow to dawn, awareness just out of reach.  “Ummm… but… but…,” she stammered, “That’s my husband.”

            Whitaker studied her face, waiting for the birth of comprehension.  The moment it arrived, he picked up a fillet knife from the workbench and pushed the blade between her ribs and into her heart.  Circling her waist, he pulled her close, their faces only inches apart, as if lovers moving together for a last kiss.  He stared hard into her eyes and felt the heat of her gasping breath against his cheek.  He twisted the blade hard inside her, breaking two of her ribs and watched the light fade from her eyes.

 

 

© 2011 Lyle James Parson II

 

© 2011 Jim Parson


Author's Note

Jim Parson
I've pretty much edited this to death now and am satisfied with all grammatical issues. I'm only looking to resolve a couple of plot points. Several reviewers have mentioned they felt the conversation about their children was unnecessary. He needs a reason to approach her and there needs to be small talk before he breaks into his story. If not them, then what? Although I'm satisfied with the kids being his reason, I'm looking for suggestions if it will improve the story.

The other issue is Jill's character. I need to take her from being afraid of him to being sympathetic in the span of a ten minute conversation. It seemed to me that the only way to accomplish this was to develop a minor attraction to Whitaker, without going too far. This doesn't seem to be terribly popular with readers, so I'm looking for other alternatives that take her from A to B without her running from the garage.

Thank you to those of you that took the enormous amount of time you did to help make my story better! You're the greatest!

My Review

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Featured Review

Mirrored revenge, what a compelling concept to consider in detail. You flourish in the land of twists and turns, Jim, yet in a timely way, so as not to lose that all important grip on your readers. I love the hint of attraction, and the final act that cuts open what could have been. Another amazing, suspenseful write, Jim! I must keep reading...

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Wow! This was really good!
It was very easy to follow and flowed very well. It felt like I had just picked a book off the shelf, curled up into a comfy chair, and began reader a famous author's newest tale. It was greatly intriguing and I enjoyed everything about it.

The ending sent shivers up my spine!
Great job... keep it up!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I personally think the discriptions could come a little earlier- it feels like you're tyring to give a break in the suspense when they come later as they are only no real suspense has happened yet. The dialouge is such a huge part of this story- it IS the story so you might want to give up the descriptions sooner so that people can forcus on the back and forth better.

Also the ending is anticlimatic- it would be nice if you dragged it out more...perhaps rearrange things so that we find out she's the murder's wife before Michael states he going to exact his revenge. Or even drag out the scene more instead of "Oh your his wife, stab!"

However- now for the good- the best part is the story is thrilling! It's got a great flow (except for the part I already mentioned) and the buildup is great- which is probably why I felt so let down at the end.
Amazing twist!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


I thought this was tightly written and read easily all the way through. you build tension and suspense very well. I can't say much more other than I was captivated by this story. A fantastic piece...

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


I really liked this story, great job on it. I don't think I can comment on anything new, the only thing that struck me that has already been said is the format, maybe if you separate out where she is thinking a little it might make it easier to figure out if she is actually speaking or thinking. Really great ending, the moment of realization of the wife is perfect. Their interactions are also very real, suburban.Killed her in broad daylight at a bbq wicked. nice work.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


I've read this before, took time to read from beginning to end, found all the dialogue needed loads of attention - maybe too much of it, then decided to go away and return, so here I am.
Have read a few of your reviewers' comments because I didn't want to cover 'old ground', would certainly agree with some comments. Sometimes folk nitpick not realising that writers can omit or magnify details, this is what you've done in certain places.
I found it an intriguing read, Whittakers character comes out strongly, not sure the woman's does yet she's obviously a highly aware woman but she appears the weaker of the two; maybe he could 'think' of how her manner alters now and again or, without giving too much away, maybe wonder what she'd think if she knew what's in store for her.
Seems to me that there's a lot of superfluous stuff about children, the couple's awareness of each other's bodies and the move before reaching the start of the story's climax, the denouement, if you like.
Bearing in mind that I'm not mad keen on this genre, it's well written, has a good ending, tho had a feeling something like that would happen .. maybe too many veiled hints beforehand.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


First, your italics are too distracting, or at least, the amount of them at the beginning. I don't think when the characters are talking, that you need the italics for emphasis.

As far as your flow, it works very well. Your introduction of the characters works, though I feel like Whitaker is more developed than Jill.

Finally, I figured out the ending as soon as he said he would kill the killer's wife. My suggestion, don't tell her he's killing the wife until he plunges the knife in.

Nice, twisted story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


I LOVE this!!! Wow, the story is fantastic, very original. Man... I love this, for real.

There wasn't really much wrong with this at all, just a few technicals. First, you have too many italics. I would cut out almost all of the italics because they're too much and it makes the write feel melodramatic. You should leave them for her thoughts, but I would even cut out a lot of those. We can tell by the situation what she might be thinking, we don't really need it repeated over by a drama-queen. I wouldn't use italics for emphasis, it's too much. We, the readers, can hear the emphasis based on what else is happening in the story.

The other problem I noticed was dialogue. There's a book I think I told you about, but it has this entire chapter on dialogue and it's a must-read. It's called "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and I think you'd really benefit (I know I have). Okay, so dialogue... I'm really bad at trying to explain what I mean, so I'm just gonna cut up a few of your paragraphs so you can see what I'm trying to say:

---“Why, y-yes,” she stammered. After a tense, rather awkward moment, “I’m Jill Stephens, Lindsey’s mom,” confirming what he already knew. “And you’re Michael Whitaker,” the words blurted out perhaps a little more forcefully than she intended, causing her blush to deepen.
In this, "confirming what he already knew" is redundant. We know he knows, we don't need to be told again. I would cut out that line and have her go on from "mom" to "and". In this one little paragraph, she goes from stammering to pausing to blurting and blushing. It's a little much in just three sentences.
If I cut it, it'd look like this:
“Why, y-yes,” she stammered. “I’m Jill Stephens, Lindsey’s mom. And you’re Michael Whitaker,” the words blurted out perhaps a little more forcefully than she intended, causing her blush to deepen.

Another big part of the dialogue problem was all the unnecessary tags. Here's a chunk where it's most obvious:

----“I remember they were pretty hard on the District Attorney for not prosecuting, as well.”
“Yes,” he responded, followed by silence. (You could cut "he responded, followed by silence" and it wouldn't be missed)
“So, what happened?” She grew braver with each word, her curiosity surpassing any embarrassment.
As if resigned to it, he answered. “There wasn’t enough evidence to hold me, so I was released.” (Again, cutting "as if resigned to it, he answered" would make it flow better)
Jill responded, “They indicated the DA didn’t want to take a chance with his conviction record on a case where the evidence was mostly circumstantial. I think that’s how the show put it.” (You don't need "Jill responded" but you could stand to leave it if you wanted. However, my advice is to always, always, always stick to "said" whenever possible. "Responded", "answered", "replied", "asked"... these are all signs of an amateur and editors see it as that.)
“Yes, it did.” He offered nothing more. (We know he offered nothing more because he stopped talking at "did". The tag/beat/whatever it's called is redundant. Cut it.)
Now that she had him started, she wasn’t going to let up that easily. “They didn’t really tell much of your side of the story. Just your claims that you were innocent and witnessed someone else do it. They didn’t present it very believably, almost like they were saying ‘yeah, right’.”

I think basically I'm saying cut out everything you don't absolutely need. If it's redundant, cut it. If it's unnecessary, cut it. If it sounds funny, cut it or change the wording.

The last problem with the dialogue I saw was that it wasn't very realistic. Could you imagine people talking like this? Could you hear it in your head? Say it out loud? Here's the example:

----“The lamps surrounding the lake cast a dim glow on the park, just enough for me to see them as they talked."
Would he say that? It sounds like your voice, not his, talking there. Unless he's a professor or a writer or super smart (or a pompus a*****e), he wouldn't say "surrounding" or "dim glow". He'd say something more like, "It was dark, and the lamps were barely enough for me to see them as they talked." (Not the best example, but you get what I mean)

Again, here:
----"It seemed they were arguing and the man’s voice grew louder and more animated, but I could only catch an occasional word or two."
I don't know many people who say lines like this. "Seemed", "animated", these are soft, smart words. The man is talking about the b*****d who murdered his wife, he's not discussing the weather. Put a little rage in the words, a little more grief. So far, the only times you show his rage or grief or any emotion at all is in the tags. That's not where it's supposed to go. Change up the wording; put yourself in his place and see what happens. Make us feel what he's saying. Make us believe his pain.

So I think I've officially written too much. This is the longest review I've ever given and I hope at least some of it is helpful... Feel free to ignore my examples (because I know they're s**t) but I hope you at least look into what I'm saying. I think this story has some serious potential, and I wouldn't say it if it wasn't true. Brilliant, really it is. Can't wait to see where it goes. :)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


I will do my best to give a detailed review, but its not my usual style. Alright:
1. great job. I was really surprised at the end. I truely enjoyed it.

2. it flowed nicely, I wasn't lost even a little.

3. I think that it was a little strange that they moved to a new town, and yet the killer was there. Did I miss you saying that Wittiker's wife was having an affair far away, or Jill explaining that they had moved recently?

4. Though the desire for true revenge makes sense, you didn't mention that Whittiker's wife was having an affair with a married man.

5. I would put in something about Jake leaving his dad because of the school or something, because it seems irresponsible to kill someone when you moved away to avoid the stigma of being a murderer.

Overall, I enjoyed it though.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


Wow. What a shocking ending! I may have to read it again now that I know Wittaker's true intentions.

You did an excellent job with building a suspenseful, almost seductive dialogue between Jill and Whittaker. Normally, I would say that Jill's fervent questioning was unnatural but I believe you constructed Whittaker's conversational responses with an almost calculated sense of word choice. Because of that, it's entirely believable that she would be entranced by his presence, so much so that her inhibitions were lowered.

The only part of the description that I found to be redundant is the use of the words "flushed" and "heated." It's clear Jill is made to feel uncomfortable by this man. I think the overuse of her physical reaction to her embarrassment is too repetitive. One or two cheek flushes is enough to show the reader that she is just enamored as she is uncomfortable.

Otherwise, the flow of the story is incredibly natural and intrinsic. The dialogue between these two is complex but still reads with an easy conversational feel. I like how you began the story without any back story, leaving the reader to put the pieces together. I also like how you let the reader use their own imagination and their own judgement when it comes to Whittaker's story until the "big reveal" at the end.

You have a great talent for writing a thriller laced with seduction in romance. I look forward to reading your other stories. Job well done!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago


Whew! Firstly, I just want to say that this was INTENSE. Your descriptions were fantastic throughout the entire thing and your mastery of the literary devices you used was great. I'm jealous of your awesomeness! So I'm giving you a review. xD

Following another pregnant pause, she blurted, “And for you,” almost as an afterthought. -- For some reason, this felt awkward to me. I think it was because of the "almost as an afterthought" being at the end. It would read better for me if it was phrased, "Following another pregnant pause, she blurted, almost as an afterthought..." or, "Following another pregnant pause, almost as an afterthought, she blurted..." But that could just be me.

Ted Bundy did, too. -- Who's Ted Bundy? I feel stupid.

“Yes, I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for you,” repeating herself. -- The way you phrased the end of this felt awkward too. Maybe you could change it to "she repeated herself."

"He came over while we were there to ask what they should bring to the party. I think they were kind of embarrassed into inviting us.” -- What party? (I'll get to more on this later.)

"Jill walked to the back of the garage and peered out the window above Steve’s workbench. The bench was covered with Steve’s fishing gear and she shoved his tackle box and filleting knives aside to make room, planted her hands on the surface and raised herself up, standing on her tiptoes. She had a good view of the backyard. She surveyed the crowd and spotted the green St. Bonnie’s tee next to the oak tree.
“That’s Jerry. His son, Tanner, is a year younger than Lindsey.”
-- Okay, this entire area was sketchy for me. I had to reread it to get the gist of what you were saying the way you wanted it read. Then again, I'm tired because of my fantastic insomnia. So I could just have been zoning out. So there's probably nothing wrong with this at all.

At five feet, six inches, she was taller than average and it was mostly legs, which were long and lean. Her brown hair fell from her shoulders and hung down over her thin face as she bent over the cooler. -- I loved this description! Very nice. Glad that you didn't skip over the description entirely. I feel like you could improve it a little bit though. Perhaps describe the curve of her waist - does she have wide hips or narrow hips? What about her upper body - does she have strong arms or lean ones to match her legs? How is her hair styled (I know this is a female-writer type thing because guys don't often give a crap about how it's styled anyway, but still!) - and is it straight, curly, wavy?

It occurred to her that her husband might be less than pleased with this reaction and heat rushed into her face. -- Oooh, a husband? Scandalous!

“So, what happened?” growing braver with each word, curiosity surpassing any embarrassment. -- Another place where your present-tense threw me off. Consider changing it to "her curiosity surpassed any embarrassment." Could be me again, though.

“So what really happened then?” she questioned, softening her voice. -- The lack of emphasis in this sentence made it have multiple meanings. If you italicize the "really" it would make all the difference.

‘The argument continued when we got home. -- You used a single apostrophe instead of double quotation marks.

“He’s here at this party? Right now?” -- Aha! So they're at the party! I didn't understand this until I got to this part. Maybe you need to set the scene outside the garage in the beginning - have the babble of mixed voices streaming into the garage in unsteady tides, or something like that. I thought she was in her own garage for the longest time!

The moment it arrived, he picked up a fillet knife from the workbench and pushed the blade between her ribs and into her heart. -- It seems almost too easy for him. Maybe mention some resistance to make it more believable.

I loved the way you ended this, though. The way that she seemed so oblivious, and how dumb it was. I could almost see it from a mile away but she was another one of those silly characters that belong in horror films. No matter how many times you tell them NOT to go into the dark room, THEY STILL GO! ARGH! JUST LISTEN! The way comprehension struck her so suddenly, and then death just moments after. Ah! Delicious murder scene.

A flipping 98/100!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 9 Years Ago



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Added on January 29, 2011
Last Updated on March 17, 2011
Tags: suspense, mystery, thriller, vengeance, revenge, murder
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Jim Parson
Jim Parson

Los Angeles, CA



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I have been a banker for the past 28 years, but my dream has always been to write. I thought maybe it was time to give it a try. I don't think I'm the greatest writer, but I think I can tell a prett.. more..

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