My effort for the prose challenge. I only just made it, so pse forgive rough edges

Brian Smedley moved hastily around the room, pulling open drawers and shaking his head each time.

‘Damn,’ he exclaimed, ‘will I never find that contract? I need proof of Carlson’s crimes to put him away.’

The room was an office, a very fine office. Mahogany cupboards lined the walls and a magnificent carved desk dominated it. A plush leather chair sat behind the desk, and a couple of chairs in front. The curtains were deep burgundy velvet, and the chandelier glittered overhead – clearly, the office of a man of some substance.

After some searching, Brian stood in the middle of the room. Suddenly cocking his head to one side, he exhibited symptoms of panic, his glance darting hither and thither. His gaze fixed on a large ornamental chest in a corner and he rushed over and hid behind it.

Just in time! Beldon and Donovan entered the study – one well dressed and well-groomed, portly and puffing a cigar. The other, in an ill-fitting suit, had a drawn and desperate look, head jerking nervously from side to side, He started shouting. ‘Where’s my money?’

‘What money?’ Beldon asked languidly. ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’ He smiled and gestured to the door. ‘Now if you don’t mind, I’m busy.’

‘The money you stole from my mother, the money you took to start your business, abandoning us.’

‘Us? Who are you?’

‘I’m your son.’ Donovan gestured wildly. ‘You left my mother to have me alone – she couldn’t work, she had no savings from the sum left by her mother when she died. You had taken them!’

Beldon appeared confused. He wiped his brow and sat down heavily in a chair.

Donovan pressed on. ‘She died! She died in penury. She couldn’t afford proper food or medicine, only for me on the pittance she earned.’

‘It sounds very sad. I’m sure your mother was a fine woman, but why did you not help out?’

‘I was a child! She died when I was a child! I was so grief-stricken by her death I left her belongings with a friend before I went abroad. I’ve made a living but only just. I’ve come back, been through the papers and now I’ve found out the truth.‘

‘I could give you a small donation.’ Beldon moved to his desk and took out a chequebook.

‘I don’t want a donation,’ Donovan screamed. ‘I just want the exact sum you took from my mother. I want nothing more from you.’ He held out a sheet of paper.

Beldon took the sheet, appearing to have recovered his composure. After reading it, he smiled and said ‘Well, this is written by someone who claims some unnamed person stole quite a large sum of money from them. How on earth could anyone give credence to anything so farfetched? If that is all you have to say, I suggest you leave. As far as I know I have no son apart from my dear Arthur.’ Beldon gestured to a painting of a young man.

‘Look at the name on the letter. My mother’s name. Have you no shame?’

A shadow passed over Beldon’s face, but soon the smile returned. ‘I don’t think I knew this woman.’

‘Then how do you explain this?’ Donovan held out a sheet of paper. A birth certificate. It has your name on as father.’

‘Easily done. Maybe this woman did not want to name the real father and used my name, unbeknownst to me. I was quite well known in this neighbourhood,’ Beldon said, consulting the address.

Damn you, damn you. Why can you not admit it?

Beldon got up and came forward. ‘Look, I am not going to give a large sum of money to someone who claims to be my son by a woman I don’t know.

Donovan reached down and pulled a small pistol from his jacket pocket. ‘Now you will admit it! Now you will …

The gun exploded, Beldon fell to the carpet, blood pouring from his chest. Donovan looked even more desperate. ‘You should have paid me,’ he said. ‘You should have paid me .’

While Donovan appeared totally preoccupied, Brian crept quietly from his hiding place, stepped quickly over and grabbed the gun. Putting his hand on the Donovan’s shoulder, he said, ‘Gerard Kelly, you are under arrest.’

Kelly said, ‘Inspector Jones! What are you doing here … how did you ….’

They both faced forward.

‘Justice must be done,’ Smedley declaimed. ’And no matter Carlson was an evil racketeer, you had no right to take his life. It’s the rope for you my lad.’

The curtains closed and the applause swelled. Beldon leapt up, ready for the curtain call and the rest of the cast joined them.

© e-griff 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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Hmm… Not sure about this one. The trouble is that the dialogue sounds like a bad play from the outset. To make it work I think you need to get us really involved, convinced that we are watching some cruel and shocking real-life scene, identifying with the characters, anxious to know how it’s all going to end. The only thing that had me wondering (because I pictured it as bad theatre from pretty early on) was the extravagance of the set. Mahogany cupboards lining the walls, a magnificent carved desk, a plush leather chair, deep burgundy velvet curtains, a glittering… Read more »


I like the idea – and how you lull the reader into wondering about the quality of the dialogue and the cheesy storyline and explain that in the reveal.. (can’t really go wrong with that, can you?!!). The reveal is of course ruined if you know what the prose challenge’s task was – as I was thinking, whilst reading, what’s this got to do with amateur dramatics … ahhhh….. (fairly early on). It would’ve worked better if I didn’t know that, obviously.

In general, it was okay but wouldn’t stand out in a crowd.

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