Monday, January 11, 2010

Entry #118

The Debt Collectors
by Eric Beetner


Aaron waited with the lights out. In the dark the smells of the cheap hotel room were intensified. Stale overtones of sweat, mold and most pungent of all, desperation.

He wasn’t the first to sit alone in anticipation of a visit like the one that tightened his throat; the whiskey wouldn’t even go down anymore. He wasn’t the first unable to repay a debt. He wasn’t the first who came up blank about what to do next.

The room was cold, the radiator broken long ago. A long streak of rust ran down the side leading to a soggy spot on the avocado green carpet where the leak had been soaking for months. Even in the cold beads of sweat gathered on Aaron’s forehead, upper lip and soaked his armpits as damp as the carpet.

A knock on the door. No need to invite them in. Instead Aaron began to shake and the fifth of whiskey fell to the floor shattering against the leg of his chair. The acid alcohol smell overwhelmed the other scents briefly.

The door eased open, he hadn’t locked it. No point.

Silhouetted in the doorway were two men. Hats perched on their heads, hulking shoulders filling the door frame, guns by their sides. Here to collect what wasn’t there.

Empty space hung between them. The men were stone still. Aaron waited. He had nothing to give them. Nothing left. His life had lost all value. At least these two would be paid for their trouble.


(More of Eric’s writing as well as info about his novel, One Too Many Blows To The Head, co-written with JB Kohl, can be found at ericbeetner.blogspot.com.)

34 comments:

Paul D. Brazill said...

Brilliantly vivid and choc full of great lines.

Bernita said...

As starkly visual as an old black and white movie.

Tessa said...

Bernita has it spot on! I thought 'Big Easy' immediately. Very atmospheric - well done!

Alan Griffiths said...

I can only agree with the other comments - full of atmosphere and choc-a-block with great lines. Top stuff!

onipar... said...

I got a real "pulp" feel from this, like an old detective novel. nice work.

Aniket said...

Echo to Onipar for the "pulp" feel...

All's fair as long as you are getting paid or laid, right? :D

Lena said...

It is tough to comment after everyone else. Can't add more other than I enjoyed the writing.

Tara said...

I'm going to ditto Lena (and the others). This was great.

Eric Beetner said...

Thanks all. There is some great stuff based off this inspiration. Love seeing what everyone dreams up.
Each time there are more and more entries too. Very cool.

Four Dinners said...

Put me in mind of 'Sin City'...really well done. Vivid imagery especially when the door opened.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great, Eric. 250 is tough!

David Cranmer said...

Marvelous short, poignant ending.

Sheila Deeth said...

Very dark and honest. I love the ending - neither too much nor too little.

pjd said...

bummer.

Lee Hughes said...

Great piece Eric, it bled noir.

laughingwolf said...

spooky...

sandra seamans said...

I could feel the fear rolling off the computer screen. Great job, Eric!

peggy said...

"Stale overtones of sweat, mold and most pungent of all, desperation." Loved that line. Actually, your descriptions are spot on; and you brought every sense into this story.

I really enjoyed this one.

Deb Smythe said...

Way to set the tone. Loved your descriptions. Nice job with the pacing. Nice, clean writing, too.

kashers said...

Some excellent pulp writing. Some great lines, but I don't get this one: 'Even in the cold beads of sweat gathered on Aaron’s forehead, upper lip and soaked his armpits as damp as the carpet.'

And a 'fifth of whiskey' seems an overly technical way to say whiskey, or whiskey shot etc.

But other than 'silhouetted' being mention for two hoods, how did you get to this from the picture prompt?

Kartik said...

This is straight out of pulp folklore :) Nice writing!

David Barber said...

Powerful piece of writing, Eric.

Regards, David.

CJT said...

I love this - its so different. This goes on my list of favs too.

Kurt Hendricks said...

I loved the details you included about the radiator leaking onto the avocado green carpet - very vivid.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

A stark and smart neo-noir vignette. Great fun.

catvibe said...

Sucks for him! Loved this. I could feel his fear. Thank you for not forcing us to watch his fate. :-)

Craig said...

A vivid picture of desperation.

raine said...

Very vivid, very dark. Great portrait of despair, and not overdone, which would've been easy.
Nice.

truevoid said...

Here to collect what wasn’t there. well written scene too.

JaneyV said...

An excellent description of dread and acceptance of fate. Well written.

james r. tomlinson said...

Superb piece of writing. I'm not so sure of the connection to the photograph. Maybe it's just my simpleton ways.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Nice and tight. Awesome piece.

Chris Eldin said...

THe connection I see to the photo is that the MC sees himself as carion. Love the atmosphere! Nicely written.

Aerin said...



my caveat

Something I Would Keep

Um, how do I word this? There's a lot of imagery in this piece, but none of it feels superfluous. Every bit, every word has a purpose toward plot and characterization - there's nothing unintentional and yet there's also no sense of it taking any effort whatsoever to write. (I hope I expressed that adequately)

Something I Might Tweak

Third paragraph, there's a comma needed after "Even in the cold" -