Another NYC Midnight Failure – Maybe I should take the hint.

I’m looking for shoulders to cry on. My latest tilt at this contest has been blown out of the water during the preliminaries, placing me equal last in a field of about 3 million or something. I think it might be time to accept the advise of the judges and take up bird watching or something else better aligned with my obvious limitations.

If anyone has the time ….. here is the story again, if you are completely bored and locked in the house or something. It is supposed to be an thriller set on a fishing pier featuring a door knob.

Quite seriously I’d like people to tell me what is so dreadful about it.

Don’t Forget the Fish


I remember feeling hungry as I stepped out of the stolen car and looked down towards the pier. I took out my phone and sent a quick message to Dave. Don’t forget the fish.

The town lay sleeping behind me, dark and silent but for streetlights creating smudges in the mist and the dull distant thunder of trucks along the highway. Looking out over the water the lights of fishing boats blinked in time to the rolling swells beyond the breakwater, as deckhands began to gather nets after another long, cold night at sea. The pier itself – a decaying wooden giant that had once proudly housed the whaling fleet of a century before, groaned under its own weight as I stepped upon the dark cedar planks and walked between the shadows of the discarded rusting hulls that remained floating, tethered by its side.

About fifteen metres from the end of the pier stood what remained of the manager’s hut. Its windows had been broken and partially boarded up and its paint, long ago, had surrendered to time. Alongside sat a solitary fisherman, his legs dangling over the pier’s edge and his rod resting against his knees. He looked up at me as I approached and began winding in his line. He was a little uneasy, I suppose, when I took a seat beside him.

“G’day,” I said.


“How’re they biting?”

“Not much.”

I glanced down at his tackle bag which was zipped firmly closed. The fishing knife that lay beside it showed no signs of use and there was no sign either of bait or burley and only the faint aroma of fish.

I put my left arm gently around his shoulders and looked into his startled eyes. I casually picked up the knife with my right hand.

“You’re not really much of a fisherman, are you?” I observed, before slitting his throat.

The wise old boards of the pier had seen death and flowing blood before. They were unlikely to be bothered by a little more. Likewise, the blood that found its way onto my overalls would only serve to add credibility to my disguise. I took the beanie from his head and put it over my own before sliding him off the pier and into the freezing water. The tide was running out by then and whatever the sharks failed to polish off would drift beyond the breakwater before sunrise.

I opened his tackle bag and found within it a thermos of coffee, a chicken sandwich and three kilos of cocaine. I felt the vague pangs of guilt as I imagined a loving wife packing his lunch before sending him off for the day with a soft kiss.

I ate the chicken sandwich.

Less than thirty minutes later I heard footsteps behind me and rose to greet two middle-aged men. One was a small Asian with long oily hair wearing a blue suit, a preposterous red tie, and white socks. Behind him a Samoan in a pink tracksuit carried a black briefcase. They looked equally incongruous and ridiculous. My own choice of apparel had been chosen based entirely upon practicalities.

“You Jacobsen?” the Chinaman asked.

“None other,” I assured him.

“You got stuff?”

I reached into the tackle bag and produced the bag of white powder. “Premium nose candy.”

He motioned to the Samoan who handed him the briefcase. The Chinaman and I then exchanged gifts and I extracted $240,000 in crisp notes. Everything was going well.

Throughout this exchange, though, the Samoan had been staring into his phone and then staring back at me. Suddenly he leant forward and pulled the beanie from my head. He showed me what was on his phone, a face that I recognised from very recently. “You’re not Jacobsen,” he told me.

The Chinaman grew excited, “Not Jacobsen? Where Jacobsen?” he hissed.

I pointed out to the East. “Actually, Jacobsen just ducked away for a piss off the end of the pier,” I began to explain, “I’m expecting him back any minute.”

Where was Dave?

I leant down and carefully placed the cash between my feet and moved to pick up the fishing knife, but the Samoan kicked it from my grasp and into the water. “That’s not happening, bro.” From somewhere within his tracksuit he had miraculously produced a gun and was now pointing it at me.

For a while there everything ran in slow motion. Maybe that’s how it goes towards the end. The Chinaman’s expression distorted into a macabre grin as I saw the Samoan’s finger slowly tighten on the trigger.

Where the fuck was Dave???

It was then that I noticed the slow rotation of the doorknob on the old manager’s shed. It hadn’t been oiled in about fifty years, I suppose, and so even that gentle manipulation came with a faint squeal such that all three of us turned, and were standing momentarily transfixed, when the door swung abruptly open and Dave leapt out wielding the axe.

The world now moved into fast-forward. The Samoan’s weapon was separated from his body just below the shoulder, the resultant scream quickly silenced with a fatal blow to the skull. The Chinaman’s escape was thwarted when the axe lodged itself between his shoulder-blades and he staggered theatrically forward, before plunging into the bay.

The Samoan’s body we pushed over the side along with the empty briefcase and tackle bag before Dave reached back into the shed to smilingly produce a large hessian bag containing the fish. “Yellowfin tuna,” he advised me, “sashimi grade.” He bent down, picked up the cash and cocaine and hid both in the bag beneath the tuna. I retrieved the discarded rod and reel and put it over my shoulder.


The first of the sun was shining on our backs as we strode up the pier in bloodstained overalls smelling strongly of fish. Two buddies after a successful night’s angling.

‘Thanks,” I said to Dave.

“You owe me an axe,” I remember him replying.


I should mention, though, that my pal Meg did very well in this round and is worthy of congratulations. She scored 15 out of a possible 15 (compared to my zero out of a possible 15). Thank God we were in different heats. A similar result if we were in the same heat (altogether likely based on current form) would have been too much to bear.

19 thoughts on “Another NYC Midnight Failure – Maybe I should take the hint.

  1. Thank you!!!!!

    I seriously have no clue what the judges were thinking in regard to your story. It’s confusing to read their feedback and upsetting as well, because it doesn’t even seem to apply. I think you deserved much higher marks!! The story’s great!! Unique, atmospheric, intriguing, and descriptive!!


  2. I love your story. If I were a judge I’d give you the gold 🥇! Although bird watching is amazing and I think exciting, never give up your writing.(I’m boring I guess) You are seriously one of my favorite writers. I’d love a book of your writing! Anyhow… I offer my shoulder!😊💃🏻


  3. I have very broad shoulders… in fact, as I was entering this world the doctor said to my mother “big broad shoulders…looks like you’ve got a football player… oh, it’s a girl” so cry away!

    The judges must’ve gotten overwhelmed and just decided not to read your story. I liked it! I’m fairly certain I told you I liked it when you first shared it.


      1. My own football career came to a close one cold winter’s afternoon in Sydney when they called my family to the hospital for final goodbyes. I kid you not. Perhaps my shoulders have never been quite broad enough. So I envy your shoulders almost as much as I envy your youth.


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