Friday, September 2, 2011

#FridayFlash - Newton's Law

“Good Lord, M-M-Mr. Newton… You scared me.”

“Yes, I do have this habit of showing up unannounced. Or so I’ve been told.”

“How long’ve you been standing there?”

“Does it matter?”

“No, I guess not. How’d you get past security anyway?”

“I’m a resourceful man.”

“Oh… Well, what can I do for you?”

“I have a problem, Jerry, and somehow I think you’re the only one who can help me with it.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You see… Well, I’ll be. You have quite the collection here.”


“First editions?”


“Autographed copies? ”


“King… Rowling… Deaver… You do read a variety.”

“I try.”

“Jane Austen. Really?

”“Like you said, I read a variety.”

“You have quite the view, too. Not everyone can say they have Central Park outside their window. Weird, isn’t it, how way up here it seems like you can stretch out your arm and just about touch the edge of the city? Down on the ground, though, you can’t even reach out and touch the other side of the street.”

“Mr. Newton, I’m not sure where all this is—”

“Right, I said I had a problem. Well, here it is. You read lots of books—even if some of them are a little out of character—and you have this nice office overlooking the best of the city. You went to Harvard, class of 2003, graduating with honors. You have a brokerage account with Morgan Stanley that’s worth three-point-four million as of the opening bell this morning. And then there’s your Porsche, your house—two houses, really, one out in the Hamptons—each worth five million apiece. I see all of this, and I think: Now here’s a really smart guy. You have to be; otherwise, you wouldn’t have such an excellent balance sheet. And yet, I’m amazed to discover just how incredibly stupid you are.”

“Look, Mr. Newton, I never meant for it to go this way.”

“The road pave with good intentions, is that it?”

“No, it’s not that way at all. Like I told you, this was supposed to be an easy job—in, out, nothing to it. At least that’s what they told me.”


“I don’t know for sure. But thinking about it now, I’m guessing they’re the Feds.”

“The Feds… And what makes you say that?”

“The way you were set up. It’s like they meant for you to be there.”

“So, let me get this straight. You sent me into that office—to eliminate your problem, you said—in fact, you told me it was to remove, and I quote, ‘A thorn in my flesh.’ But it turns out it wasn’t your problem at all. You only sent me there because somebody else told you to. And yet, you failed to disclose that up front?”

“You don’t understand. They said my family would suffer, that my son would go prison.”

“Your son. Jerry, what do they have on you?”

“Money. I used some campaign finance funds to pay off the family of that stupid girl.”

“The one your son raped.”

“Allegedly raped. He’s never been charged.”

“You know, Jerry, you’re really not that smart at all.”

“Look—Mr. Newton—I’m sorry about all of this, I really am.”

“Me too. I’m sorry it has to come to this.”

“What is that? A gun?”

“Well, it certainly isn’t a bar of chocolate, now is it?”

“You can’t shoot me. Please, God, no. They’ll know you did it.”

“… Yes, you’re right, I can’t shoot you. But I can do this.”

“Sweet Mother of God! What on earth? Why did you shoot out my window?”

“Because, Jerry, there’re some things in this world that are too much for a man to handle. As much as you might want to change things, defy the systems set in place, there’re certain laws that cannot be broken. Rules you can’t ignore.”

“Hey! Put me down. What are you doing?”

“I’m showing you the proper way out of this situation.”

“Don’t do this. They’ll know. They’ll—Aaaaaah…”

“No, they may suspect. But they’ll never know for sure.”


S.B. ~ The curious fact about writing fiction and always changing things up is that some of the stories are thoughtful and driven while others are just for the sake of having fun. This one, including the title, falls into the latter.


  1. Good crack at the all-dialogue format, Stephen. The opening left me curious how such a story would work with a stutter. I might have to try that some night.

  2. Clever title that ties it all together. Nice job with the dialogue-only approach. You did have fun, and it shows. Peace...

  3. Good story. That title was an excellent choice--tied up the story nicely. Enjoyed that it was all dialogue.

  4. Great dialogue as always Stephen.

    Y'see Jerry, when you put someone into a trap... you better be damn sure it's gonna get sprung...

  5. Excellent use of voice to differentiate speakers! Good dialogue piece.

  6. Yep, that's one law that can't be broken. Great story, Stephen.

  7. John: Give it whack and let me know how it goes.

    Linda: Yes, I had too much fun. I originally had a different name for that character; however, with the title, I couldn't resist changing it.

    Eric: Thanks.

    Steve: That's right. Ol' Jerry forgot rule number one when it comes to throwing someone into a trap.

    Icy: I'm glad the dialogue worked that way.

    Chuck: Some rules can't be broken. ;-)

  8. Really good story, Stephen -- the situation builds really well (even from that stammered intro which makes even more sense as we read on) and ends with the title becoming a nice play on words. I really like the verbal asides to things that are not explicitly shown -- makes that dialogue feel really real as well as interesting. Lovely. St.

  9. Stephen: Reading a great writer like Elmore Leonard taught me many things about dialogue. One of those, after reading the opening to La Brava, was how to use dialogue to point to things in the scenes without the writer actually having to do so with narrative. As I've mentioned, he's a fantastic read for his use of dialogue. If you've never read his work, I recommend that you check him out.

  10. I really *do* have to read some Elmore Leonard. I have Rum Punch sitting there in my book case, like a fine wine, just waiting... The problem may be more to do with the impromptu coffee table I have next to my bed made entirely out of unread books. But you've reminded me about it. :) St.