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1how do i live ..
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_The Pawnbroker's Accident_

The angry warbling coming from the forgotten phone in her hand jarred Miranda from her daze. She had completely zoned out from the conversation she was having and stood transfixed by the monocular glare of the pawn shop television that dominated one wall of her shoddy walk-up apartment living room.

"Sorry Mom. I zoned out didn't I? It's just been a really long day. I think I'll have a sandwich and a shower then head to bed. Call you tomorrow?" she explained quickly excusing both her lapse and herself to her unsuspecting mother.

She'd always been able to pull the wool over on her mother. Edna Garrity would never suspect her sweet Miranda Jane of keeping secrets from her. That was almost enough to make Miranda smile, but by then the damn commercial was on again.

Colin Delgado. She hadn't thought of him in years. Yet, here he was on the flickering picture tube of her old Magnet-box in a suit that probably cost more money than a month of her rent here in Cedars Flats. Attorney at Law, she could hardly believe it. He'd probably forgotten about her, and she had every intention to make him regret it.


Of course, he wasn't calling himself Colin any more. The caption at the bottom of the screen was showing his name as Andrew Larch, but it was definitely the same old Colin she had known all those years ago.

The volume was turned down, because of the phone call, but she knew this commercial well enough by now not to need to hear it. Colin (or Andrew, or whatever else he called himself) was explaining the benefits of using his legal skills to sue people: ?Have you had a fall? An accident? Been unfairly treated? Then call us now!? It was hardly unusual - there were any number of competing firms trying exactly the same thing, particularly on daytime TV - but how many of them were being fronted by a convicted con-artist?

It had been nine years since Miranda had met Colin for the first time. At the time she had been in her early twenties; still young and na´ve, and she had fallen for him almost from the first moment they met. He was charming and attractive, and she spent almost three months of blissful happiness with him - until she found out his secret. It was too late by then, of course - he had been quietly draining her finances from the beginning, and although the court case went in her favour, he only got two years sentence, and she never did see any of her money again.

She glared back at the TV, and turned the sound back on. There was another commercial on now; someone trying to sell garage doors. She flipped the Off switch - a few times, because it wasn't working very well - and pulled herself out of her chair. 'Time to take a walk,' she told herself, 'get out of the house for a bit'.


* * *


It was the same pawn shop where she had bought the TV, along with half the rest of the contents of her living room. For some reason she found herself drawn to it. There was always so much interesting stuff to look through. Or junk, as her mother would say. Besides, it was the only place she could afford to shop these days.

And then there was the shopkeeper. This was perhaps the real reason Miranda came here so regularly. He was a kindly old man, Allan the pawnbroker. It was not exactly the sort of profession where kindess was a common trait, but she had warmed to him quickly, and he in turn seemed genuinely pleased that to see her, even though she didn't actually buy anything very often.

"You look worried," he said, looking up from arranging the display as she walked in.

"It's nothing. Just that commercial on TV again that always gets to me."

"You don't want to be getting wound up about these things. You'll do nothing but give yourself an ulcer. Take my advice: I haven't watched TV in years; It's just not worth getting stressed over."

"I have the money for the TV you sold me," she said, changing the subject.

"That's fine. I'll get Jim to sort that out later. But for now, why don't you come through to my office? You look like someone who could use a good cup of coffee."

Miranda had never explained the whole story to anyone before; even her mother only knew the bare facts. She'd never even met Colin while Miranda was going out with him, so the advert would probably mean nothing to her. But somehow, sitting in this dirty little office, she felt able to confide in the elderly storekeeper. The coffee flowed, and the story came out, and by the end of it, she had her head in his shoulder, sobbing quietly.

"You know," said Allan, "I have some friends in the legal business. Perhaps I could get them to do some checking around for you?"

Miranda lifted her head, and shook it. "I don't want to cause any trouble for you."

"Fair enough." The shopkeeper shrugged his shoulders, "But if there's anything I can do for you, you'll be sure and let me know, see?"


* * *


It was a few days later when Allan had his accident. It wasn't anything serious: he had tripped on a broken paving slab on the street near the shop. A broken nose and a fractured wrist were the sum total of his injuries, but it gave Miranda an idea: They would use Allan's injury as bait, to get Colin to start a claim case for him. If Colin was involved, it was obviously a con of some sort, but being forewarned, it would be easy to trap him.

So the next day, Allan made a phone call to Colin's legal advice number, from the commercial, and after some effort, managed to persuade them to make an appointment for him with Andrew Larch himself.

It was a glorious triumph. Allan and Miranda spent the next week gathering their evidence. Colin Delgado was not going to get away with it. His con-artist tricks had gone too far this time.

Miranda even made arrangements with a local TV station to film the whole event. They had a consumer affairs program that loved to sink its teeth into crooked businessmen, so this was an opportunity they couldn't pass up.

* * *

The day of the meeting came, and Allan was waiting in the office at the back of his shop. Miranda and the television crew were hidden in an ajoining room, listening intently.

Through the door, they could hear the muffled sounds of Allan's assistant Jim showing someone into the office. Chairs scraped on the floor, and there was some talking, though they couldn't make out what was being said.

Then, after a few minutes, and just as Miranda was getting jumpy, they heard the signal: Allan shouting to Jim for some fresh coffee. This was it! Sweet revenge.

Miranda was the first to burst through the door into the office. The camera crew followed immediately behind her, but almost ran into her as she stopped short. The man in the seat opposite Allan was not Colin Delgado.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"This is Andrew Larch," said Allan, "The man you wanted to talk to."

"But this isn't the man from the advert," she cried.

There was a stunned silence. The cameras carried on rolling for several seconds before Andrew started laughing.

"But what happened to Colin?"

"The man in the commercial was just an actor," he said, "You didn't think I'd do my own commercials, did you? Have you seen how those turn out when real lawyers are in them?"


* * *


Outside, in the rain, an unemplyed con-man turned actor watched the live broadcast on the television in the pawn shop window, and laughed to himself.

------
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Spudley Strikes Again
www.BadPuns.com
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Comments

The following comments are for "The Pawnbroker's Accident"
by Spudley

Ending
I guess I'm first...

The story was written well, but I didn't like that twist and ending. It actually made me grimace. Nothing *wrong* with a good twist, but this one seemed a little unfair to me after all that buildup.

However, it's better written than your opponent's, so I'm giving it the higher score.

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: February 23, 2004 )

tightly written but lacks punch
Spud~

Having looked back at the last Write Off you were in I can see echoes of the last starter you were given, though I don't think they were so similar as to be a hinderance. But that aside let me get to the meat of the comment.

Your writing was tight as always and everything made good sense and followed along with what you'd been given. however, I feel that this piece lacked punch, that you could have done a better job by adding something a little more powerful at the end. However since the overall quality of the work was better I'm still giving you the nod.

Thanks for competing again. Maybe you and I should have a tilt again.

Bart

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: February 23, 2004 )

spudley
Well, I thought that your story was a bit better mostly because of your writing style. The plot however, made me feel like there was something left to be desired although I didn't really see it coming. I like the little elements you include like the last little bit before the end about Colin. I definitely felt alot closer to the characters in this piece and found it much better constructed. If you'd just put an edge on the plot, I feel it would be complete. =D

( Posted by: Darkshine Raven [Member] On: February 23, 2004 )

I don't know...
Spud, I don't find your story to be very strong, it looks like a plot that could be thought up for a children's TV show, simple with a completely unforceable twist at the end.

I'm afriad I'm gonna give the win to northrain (I think that's how you spell it)

( Posted by: Farror [Member] On: February 23, 2004 )

Spud
An 8 from me, though I wasn't particularly fond of this story. The twist was a bit of an anticlimax, but since I usually fold under pressure, I applaud you for creating this piece. Time constraints and pressure turn me into a quivering puddle of goo, so you have my respect, and the win (in my books). Northerain's story was a marked improvement from his earlier works, but it isn't there yet.

-SD

( Posted by: strangedaze [Member] On: February 23, 2004 )

Way to go spud!
You've done it again...led us down the garden path. Although, to tell you the truth, knowning you, I knew things would not be what they seemed.

You had my attention right from the start and kept me wanting to know more...isn't that what good writing is all about? This is a 10 in my book...but then, I expected nothing better! Good work my friend.

( Posted by: Beatrice Boyle [Member] On: February 24, 2004 )

Spudley
Welcome back; Missed you posting, I notice that you have posted something else, I have to check it out. For me, you made the characters come alive. well written.

Blessings,

{{{Jeannie}}}

( Posted by: JEANNIE45 [Member] On: February 25, 2004 )

All's well that ends well
I found the ending to be very short, and a little contrived. I was expecting something more from the story. I found adding the actor laughing at the end to be over the top. How he'd know it was going to happen, especially if he was the last person who was supposed to know, called for too much suspension of disbelief for me. The writing was tight, had a strong British feel (I'm not sure where you're from) to it that still carried across to an international market. I'm rating a 7, noting that all three "marks" were lost in the ending.

( Posted by: Capulet [Member] On: February 25, 2004 )

Comments
Spud, I really admire your writing, but being familiar with your work, I saw the twist coming, and the ending was ruined for me. I think that for the most part northerain's story was more original, but the difference in quality gave you the win. Also, Allan was the coolest minor character I've come across in a while. Something about a cheery old man, just makes you smile.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: February 25, 2004 )

and the winner is
I've got to give you the nod on this one. Great story and an eye-opener ending. However, I feel you should've included a one-liner that said who tipped off the con-man/actor. Other than that - you are my pick!

( Posted by: amethyst [Member] On: February 26, 2004 )

Shoe!
Well, here I am, all in a huff.

I've given some thought to this one, and I've decided that you did well with what you had. With a starter that had such an obviously narrow lead, it had to be difficult to take this somewhere interesting and unexpected. You do get credit for that. I liked the ironic little twist at the end, just the sort of thing that would've happened, and it wasdone well. You might have been hampered by your word limit, because more build up would've made the end just a little more bitter and striking. Though I'd feel bad thinking less of the story for that reason, it takes away somewhat.

As for the style, it was done well. You were distant with your characters in this one, less involved and more of an observer, but you also didn't have an overpowering author's voice. What came out, then, was a less engaging narrative at certain places in the story. All the same, it had a good plot, was well written, and had an end that you could feel. A good short story for you, Spudley, well done.

-Kitten

( Posted by: Kitten Courna [Member] On: February 26, 2004 )

spudley spooks
Good effort Spuds, only a 7 outta 10 this time because, although it is as usual well written, it lacks bite. Or rather it lacks Spudley's normal bite. Pipped at the post fora change, Spuds!

( Posted by: delgesu [Member] On: February 26, 2004 )

hello spud
Was very glad to be set up against you!I said id post last, but seeing that rather cruel last rating, I decided to even up the things a bit.Plus, your writing was as usual excellent, and the characters well thought.I was a little dissapointed in the plot, but then again, im always dissapointed about plots if it doesnt contain the main 5 characters dying.So, that said, congrats on a job well done.

( Posted by: northerain [Member] On: February 26, 2004 )

And the winner is...
Well, it was a close-run contest, right up to the point where I was given a 1 at the end, which skewed the results a bit.

I'd like to thank everyone who voted and commented on both stories (and also to anyone who votes after I've posted this, if there are any more). Now, my comments...

A lot of the comments have pointed out that the ending was weak, and I fully agree. I posted this story after midnight on Sunday, having only just come up with the ending, and having completely run out of time. The story as you see it is basically a first draft, and given another three or four hours, I would definitely have spent most of it on the ending.

Jessica: your comment about me always writing accidents suprised me... until I re-read my other write-off stories - seems that the only three accident stories I've written happened to be the three write-offs I've done. Strange. I hadn't noticed that. I actually toyed with making the accident deliberate in this story - it would have worked with it being a scheme to trap Colin - but again I ran out of time to tidy it up.

Washer: I'm glad you liked the character of Allan. I quite liked him too as I wrote him. He's not based on anyone in particular, but after writing this story I feel like I know him.

Well, that's all. Thanks again everyone! :)

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: February 26, 2004 )

One?
Just wanted to say that you did not deserve a "1". No one should get that. If I read something on this board that I really, really just can't stand (and can not offer any constructive critism) - I pass it up. Otherwise, it might look as if I were trying to manipulate the scoring. JMO.

( Posted by: amethyst [Member] On: February 26, 2004 )

Mr Spudley
I often read your writing but seldom comment,
This one as so many I admire, its very good. It made me think of myself and how so many times I had let people take advantage of me,but they have won their glory,, and I for give, now I have high hopes that I will get mine in the end....you're really talented..Smooth like butter on toast(lol)

( Posted by: CoCo [Member] On: April 27, 2004 )





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