Some time ago Independent Author Support and Discussion group introduced a Critique Corner and I put up an excerpt from my WIP. Wasn’t that brave of me? No, in all honesty it is a good place to gain others insights and get constructive criticism. I am glad I participated and I hope I have been able to address some of the concerns of those who gave up their time to comment. My excerpt was posted as ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop,’ but this chapter name was misleading. The work I submitted was from chapter two of my current work titled, Safe Haven.
It isn’t easy to ‘put your work out there’ it’s scary to sit back and watch as your work is discussed. I was able to go back and take another look and concentrate on what was highlighted. I hope I have addressed the concerns of cliches, dialogue, and passive verbs and other niggly things that stood out for them but were invisible to me. Sometimes you can be too close to your own work and it is best to let fresh eyes look over it. If you want honest feedback and constructive criticism IASD is the site to visit.
I don’t know if my changes have enhanced my previous work or made it worse!
To view the original excerpt please visit Critique Corner.
A woman stood alone on the bridge at the Water o’ Leith. A bitter breeze wafted past her but she was oblivious to the chill of the night. Her hands gripped the steal railing as she peered over and looked down towards the cobbled pathway. Within an instant, she found what she was looking for. The focus of her attention lay below, his name is Johnny Hanlon. He lay there bloodied, beaten and stabbed. His face smashed to a pulp, unrecognisable and unconscious. Unfurling her fingers from the railing she stood up, a wry smile crossed her face. Without looking back, she headed for the centre of town. Nobody witnessed the look of satisfaction that crossed her face or the sparkle in her eyes. She hunched her shoulders as a slight shiver ran through her body. It wasn’t the chill of the night that caused her to shudder. No, it was because she knew her life was about to change.
The morning sun rose and Hanlon stirred. He kept his eyes closed and concentrated hard on listening for sounds around him. A high-pitched squeal above caught his attention and he heard squawking from seagulls searching for food. He groaned apart from the hungry scavengers above him he couldn’t make out any other noises he coughed and the seagulls departed leaving behind an eerie silence.
Hours earlier all hell had broken loose and now he lay on the old cobbles wishing he was dead. He tried hard to think why the attack happened. The last thing he remembered before blacking out was his friend, Danny Maguire standing over him and laughing. His laughter had come to an abrupt halt when someone bludgeoned from behind.
Why? He couldn’t fathom it out, he lifted his head to look around and blood, from a wound, trickled down into his eyes, almost blinding him. Hanlon rubbed a sleeve across his face and through blurred vision, he strained to see and glanced to his left. He caught sight of a body floating in the water and he knew it was Danny. The beaten man groaned aloud because he knew that hadn’t been in the plan.
A rustling sound to his right caught his attention, with a painful wince Hanlon turned his head towards it. He tried to focus. Once his vision became clearer he saw rats scurrying at the water’s edge, foraging for their daily food.
He opened his mouth and tried to shout, the sound he made was nothing but a whisper and he didn’t have the strength to try a second time. He put his head back down on the cobbles and waited for the darkness to shroud him.
Hanlon didn’t need to call for help. A woman cleaning her employer’s office caught a movement that drew her eyes towards the window. She checked her watch and she noticed it was ten past six, there was never a living soul out and about this early. Drinkers, drug addicts and prostitutes who worked the area had left hours ago.
She put her duster in her apron pocket, cupping a hand over her eyes to hide the glare of the rising sun she looked again. The elderly cleaner watched as the man struggled to sit up and she followed his gaze to the body floating in the water. She hurried to the far end of the room and lifted the telephone from its cradle. Her old gnarled fingers shook as she dialled 999. Confused and flustered she stuttered into the receiver, the operator managed to make sense of the information.
Even before the operator put the telephone down, a call was going out to all patrol cars in the vicinity of Leith’s dock area.
Police Sergeant Boyd and Police Constable Kane from Gayfield Square Police Station were driving down Leith Walk when the call came in.
“That’s all we bloody need,” Boyd grumbled. “Bloody typical that is, right at the end of our shift.” He sucked in his breath and shook his head at PC Kane. He regretted volunteering to show his recruit the ropes if he had been on his own he would have ignored the shout.
“It may be a drunk left over from last night, Sir. If so, we pick him up and move him on,” PC Kane upped a gear and headed for The Shore.
“Down at the Water o’ Leith?” Boyd chuckled. “No such luck on it being a drunk! It’ll either be a beaten up prozzie or some junky with a needle hanging out his arm. I’ve been in this game far too long laddie.”
“I was just looking on the bright side.” Kane gave his boss a sideways glance and shrugged his shoulders.
“Laddie, we’re in Edinburgh aka the drugs capital of the world. There is no bright side.” He had become cynical overtime and now in 1987, his year for retirement he had seen the changes.
Kane stopped listening and concentrated on his driving. He was glad his shift was finishing soon his boss had talked for most of the night, reminiscing about his years in the force and his impending retirement. Even on their way to a call, Boyd couldn’t help himself. He was grateful that his Sergeant had taken him under his wing, educating him about the area and the job but he hadn’t realised he was such an old grouch.
They arrived at The Shore and the young PC looked around for a place to park, Boyd looked around the area as he unbuckled his seat belt.
“Come on then, looks like you’re right.” Boyd nodded towards a figure lying on the cobbles. “He looks as drunk as a skunk!” The Sergeant was first out of the patrol car, followed by Kane. As they neared the man an ambulance was approaching.
“At least, help is on the way,” Kane said as he pointed to the advancing ambulance.
“It’s a bloody waste of time and tax payer’s money. An ambulance, called out for a drunk? What next I ask you?”
They were about eight feet away when the Sergeant noticed a dark patch on the cobbles. “And he’s pissed himself,” Boyd exclaimed.
When they were a foot away Kane turned to his boss. “That’s not urine it’s blood.”
They hurried over to the man and stood over him. Boyd leaned over the crumpled figure. “Better not touch him, leave it to the paramedics.”
The ambulance arrived and Boyd waved it over. Kane moved away, he felt sick at the sight of the blood. Without saying a word he walked away and moved over to the water’s edge, trying to pull himself together. He stood there taking deep breathes until he realised there was something in the water. Kane opened his mouth to call out to his boss but he felt his stomach heave ad he began to gag. He tried to cup his hand over his mouth but he couldn’t stop the vomit. It flew from him, making a loud noise as it splattered onto the stone cobbles. Boyd turned around at the sound and saw the contents of Kane’s stomach on the walkway.
“You young ones just can’t handle the sight of blood! Now, in my day…” He stopped talking when he saw a body bobbing up and down in the water.
“He looks dead,” Kane stuttered.
“Shit.” Boyd moved over and stood at the edge, peering over at the lifeless form. He cast a sideways glance at Kane. “Are you okay?”
He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his jacket. “Sorry sir, I couldn’t help being sick, it seemed to come from nowhere.”
“Sick?” Boyd took out his radio. “Not as sick as Detective Inspector Belinda Brennan’s will be when she gets the call.” He saw Kane looking blank.
“If I’m not mistaken that’s Danny Maguire the top dog, or was the top dog around here, drugs, laundering, pimping, you name it he was into it. DI Brennan will have her work cut out with this case.” He heard the radio crackle into life and walked away from the paramedics and spoke into it. When he finished, the young PC was standing beside him.
“Probably a turf war?” Kane asked.
“Maybe,” Boyd answered. “One thing for sure is that this won’t be the end of it, but its Brennan’s case now. Once she gets here we can head back and fill out our reports, then perhaps we can go home and get some sleep.”
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