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No Such Thing as an Unimportant Day · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Blue Montage
Gravel rattled off the fender as the cherry ‘14 mustang pulled away, dust parting just long enough to see the upraised finger among the billows.

Max’s hand shot to the siren, but a set of gnarled knuckles settled over his, and he paused, looking askance at his partner.

Russ shook his head, bushy eyebrows drawn together as he filed the speeding ticket away. “Let him get it out of his system. It’s dumb, not illegal.”

“I’m sure we could still nail him for something.” Max said, crossing his arms and sitting back. Quiet settled over the cruiser like the fine film of grit.

There were many kinds of silence, and between midnight watches, speed traps, and the rare stakeout, Max was starting to fancy himself a connoisseur. This young vintage had a delicate body, the low murmur of wind on stone overlain by the dry rustle of Russ’ ratty paperback and crisp notes of radio chatter. A hollow, contemplative quiet that might mature into brooding as the afternoon bled into evening and Max’s fingers wore patterns into the grain of the leather wheel cover.

Paper scraped again. “Something wrong?” One of Russ’ salt and pepper eyebrows was cocked just over the edge of his book.

“If we were in a movie they’d skip this in a montage.”

“You want this to be a movie?”

Max shrugged. “Yeah they’re over the top, but isn’t that kind of what we signed up for? Be out there, save people, beat the bad guys.”

Russ pursed his lips. “Tell me something, then, what did last week’s jumper and the fourth street hit-and-run have in common?”

“Well, let’s see. The first, responding officer arrived five minutes after the incident and successfully rendered aid, one week admin leave. The second, GTA ‘98 Civic, suspect one James ‘Sticky’ McNeal, stolo subsequently spotted twenty minutes later on patrol. Eight mile pursuit until a collision disabled the pursuit vehicle and injured a pedestrian. The officer administered CPR, but the victim subsequently died at the hospital. Perp still at large.” Max let out a deep breath, unclenching white knuckles from the wheel. “I’d say the responding officer rendering aid in both cases, even if it wasn’t enough.”

“Not wrong, but not what I was getting at, either. Let’s add in a parking citation.”

Max’s brows knotted. “Which one?”

“McNeal, Elly. Three weeks ago. Teal Chevy Impala on second street. One of yours, if you recall.”

“No, not really.”

“Thought so. Well then, this” — Russ spread his arms, the gesture encompassing the dusty cruiser, empty road and arid, scrub-filled horizon — “may seem monotonous compared to those incidents, even the citation. But a lot of times we see folks on the worst day of their lives. Obvious with the jumper, maybe not so much otherwise. For example, you or me might shrug off an eighty dollar fine, but some folks can’t. Sticky might not have pinched that car if his cousin had been able to pay her bills.”

“Huh.” Silence returned for a long breath as Max’s fingers worried at the leather. “You saying we shouldn’t do our jobs, then? Because it didn’t look like you had any second thoughts writing up Lou just now.”

Russ shook his head. “No, traffic duty is traffic duty. What I’m saying is we gotta use our hearts and our heads, not just throw the book around. Lou wasn't too happy, but he'll get over it. Keep riling him up, though, and assaulting an officer would be a different story. He’d be up the creek, and only his kids, his mom, and a few penny pinchers would ever care. As-is, so long as he doesn’t drown his sorrows too thoroughly at the Vet’s club...”


“Exactly. Let's keep it that way.”
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#1 · 3
On theme and competently written. I give you credit for setting the scene visually and creating characters that had their own agendas and realistic feelings. Good message. Good work.
#2 · 1
While I appreciate the exchange between the young and the old cop, that thing about "montage" left me with a weird feeling, like it was a concept shoehorned into the story, and not for the best. I explain: it's always nice to behold an old geezer use their wisdom to rein in the enthusiasm and sometimes overshooting energy of a young rookie, but with that added "montage" thing, it's like you deliberately want to push into the background what is precisely the heart, the pith of your story. So, on the one side, we get to know that "thinking" or "thinking with one's heart" is more important than "blindly acting by the book", but on the other side you tell us that all those lessons are just asides, by-thoughts of no useful value at the end since they can be cut out and chucked. And then we're here, like the rope in a tug of war, yanked both ways at once.

It's not a very comfy place to be left at.
#3 · 2
I like the little extended metaphor about the silence, towards the beginning. It stretches just long enough to give the impression that the pause between the officers was a long one, which is neat. The overall message is also a clean one, even if a little simple.

But if I'm really being honest, I think the dialogue-heavy nature of this piece bogs it down a bit. Not only do you have a little bit of talking heads, you also have a few big, chunky blocks of speech that really mess with the pacing. Having one of these in a minific is an expensive—but sometimes worthwhile—strain on your reader's attention. Having three of them really taxed my reading experience. In a regular story, I wouldn't bat an eye at larger paragraphs of dialogue, but in the scope of a minific these three paragraphs alone eat up almost half of your word count. And it feels like it, too.

In the end, there are two big things working against you. First is the fact that virtually nothing happens from a plot perspective outside of the dialogue. The second is that the dialogue has three huge speedbumps in it. On their own, either one of these problems isn't necessarily critical, but together they certainly are.

I can't help but wish that you had used your additional 130 words either putting in a bit of outside-the-dialogue plot, or spreading out the information presented in the big chunks of speech across a longer exchange, so that it doesn't come at the reader all in one lump. There's a good idea here, but the execution of the dialogue is really holding things back at the moment.