Author Topic: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling  (Read 2996 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« on: November 29, 2012, 11:27:21 PM »
Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling

by J.D. Brink

This is its first appearance anywhere. This story will be one of four dark fantasy/crime-noir tales featured in the e-book A LONG WALK DOWN A DARK ALLEY, to be published on Smashwords.com and Amazon.com (and others) in late 2012.

J. D. Brink has been in the Navy a long time, first as an enlisted intelligence collector and later as a nurse corps officer, with a few years as a wandering civilian in between. His adventures have taken him around the Pacific on a warship, living all over the States and in Japan for a couple years, and had him deployed to an Army hospital in the deserts of Kuwait. Today he and his family live in south Texas (almost as hot as Kuwait) where he serves as a corps school instructor. What little bit of his life the Navy doesn’t own he leases from his family; fortunately, they let him write. He has two blogs: BRINK’S CHAOS THEORY can be found at the link under his by line above, and also check out FUGITIVES OF PURGATORY.

Your reader this week is W. Ralph Walters, whose FREQUENCY OF FEAR website hasn’t been updated in a while but still has treasures to be plundered. He read the extremely popular “What Makes You Tick” in Pseudopod 228: Flash On The Borderlands VII - Tableaux & Displays.



“The pecking order in the car is standard: George drives, the boss rides shotgun, and Shovel and Byrd ride in the back. The valet brings the Caddie around and everyone starts to climb in, but August takes Byrd’s seat and tells him to sit in the front. There’s a moment of confusion at this sudden change in protocol, but they’re soon on their way. Byrd runs the music too loud to talk, which is fine; the boss isn’t in the habit of explaining himself anyway and no one wants to ask. About halfway back to the house, August grabs Shovel’s idle hand and gives it a squeeze, kind of a you’re my main man gesture. Shovel, as expressionless as ever, just gives the boss a single nod. Once they’re back at the house, he finds out why.

‘I don’t trust them anymore,’ August tells him. They’re in the master bedroom, which is about as big as Shovel’s whole damn apartment. George and Byrd are downstairs, checking out the car and getting everyone something to eat, respectively, as instructed. August is standing in the middle of his closet holding up various neckties in the mirror. ‘You’re the only one I can trust with her. Shovel the Unfeeling, the human instrument, a man with no emotion, no fear, no regret. Your reputation made your career, and mine. You’re solid as a rock. But those other two…’ He decides on a cobalt blue tie, silk. ‘Good with my eyes, eh?’ he says, knowing he’ll get no reply. ‘Those other two, they might get jealous. Can’t have that. That’s why I need it to be just you and me from now on. You’ll manage the other crews but keep them at a distance. You, me, and her, from now on.’

‘I don’t think I understand,’ Shovel says.

‘Get rid of them.’

Shovel gives August a look, one that only he and George can get away with. ‘Boss… Byrd’s just a splatter on the windshield, I don’t mind giving him the heave-ho and busting his beak for good measure, but George has been with you a long time. Longer than me. He’s as loyal—’

‘As loyal as a dog,’ August snarls. ‘And as soon as the right bitch comes in heat, he’ll turn on me and try to take her for himself. No. Things are changing.’

‘Maybe you should take the night to think about this, August. Don’t see what’s-her-name tonight, just have a sandwich and a drink and get some sleep.’

That famous icy glare returns with cold fire behind it. August’s finger rises an inch from Shovel’s flat nose. ‘Don’t you back talk me. You get your ass downstairs and do your fucking job. Get rid of them, before they get rid of me. And I don’t want them coming back for me later, you hear? Get rid of them.‘”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?

chemistryguy

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Re: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2012, 11:19:10 AM »
I was really digging this Joe Palooka tale.  It had a very comfortable feel to it, like many of the Steven King novels I read in my teen years.  A story told from the perspective of a no nonsense guy who generally has enough common sense to stay one step ahead of everyone else.

Then he was captured so easily.  I wanted more.  I wanted him to fight back.  I didn't necessarily want a happy ending, but one that didn't feel as amputated.  I want to know what happens next.

lowky

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Re: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 09:19:18 AM »
about 18 hours after listening to it, only thing I really recall is the outro.  Just not a memorable story for me.

Unblinking

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Re: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 09:40:11 AM »
I didn't really get anything out of the story.  Alasdair's Palooka outro was interesting, but if that's the kind of vibe the story was trying to give me, I didn't get it at all.  I wasn't sure who I should sympathize with, or what I was supposed to be reacting to.  When the story ended, I still had no idea.

I didn't hate it by any means, I just didn't understand at all what the story was trying to do.

Scumpup

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Re: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 04:45:35 PM »
I felt like I started at the middle of the story and left before the end.  Yeah, there was enough there to understand what was happening.  No, there wasn't enough there to make me care about any of it.

Bdoomed

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Re: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 04:13:34 AM »
there wasn't enough there to make me care about any of it.

hence, the title.

Okay not really, but I had to make the joke.

I enjoyed this story. I saw the ending coming a mile off, but I enjoyed the journey. I think Shovel's transition was very well done, subtle yet obvious.
I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?

Scumpup

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Re: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 01:52:30 PM »
Shovel's transition was inevitable, that much was clear.  The only reason I knew that some of the characters were his friends and that there were supposed to be bonds of loyalty was because I was told as much.  Nothing was shown that made me believe such bonds existed and made me believe it.  That lack of emotion on my part undermined the impact Shovel's transition could have had.

Unblinking

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Re: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2012, 09:20:54 AM »
Shovel's transition was inevitable, that much was clear.  The only reason I knew that some of the characters were his friends and that there were supposed to be bonds of loyalty was because I was told as much.  Nothing was shown that made me believe such bonds existed and made me believe it.  That lack of emotion on my part undermined the impact Shovel's transition could have had.

Same here.

Scattercat

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Re: Pseudopod 310: Unfeeling
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2012, 01:24:07 AM »
Well, I enjoyed this one, anyway.  I like stories that start in the middle and stop before the end.  This was a nice and surgically trim section of a wicked eternal enchantress tale with some old-style mob grit to it. 

I disagree that there was no evidence of loyalty; Shovel just has a very flat affect.  He beats a man in a toilet at the mere whim of his boss - there's THAT loyalty - and he lets George live despite showing no qualms about killing anyone else, which is about as clear a demonstration of friendship as you could ask for.  Not everyone has to discuss their feelings in lengthy internal monologues, y'all.  I found Shovel relatable and easy to comprehend.

Though I have to agree that the outro was the skillful setting that made this story a gem instead of a shiny rock.  Putting everything into the context of palooka (and I was unfamiliar with the origins of the term as it is used), really helped highlight the interesting aspects of the preceding yarn.
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