Writing Exercises – The Reluctant I

When my girlfriend and I started dating, she knew that what I wanted to do was write. She read my work, gave a lot of good observations from the reader point of view, and encouraged me to write more. As I did, she observed that I was always looking for ways to sharpen my skills.

So she bought me a book called ‘The 3 A.M. Epiphany‘ by Brian Kiteley. It’s mostly a series of exercises with some explanation on writing process and expansion on said exercises. I’ve used it on occasion with some random exercises where I thought I could use the lesson being taught, but I think I’ll start going through them sequentially now that I’ve got some time on my hands.

I decided to do one this morning called ‘The Reluctant I.’ The goal was to pop out a six hundred word piece in which the writer is not allowed to use the words ‘I, me, or my’ more than a total of three times. The goal is to have a narrator who is less interested in his personal feelings or thoughts, and more interested in what has occurred.

I decided to do this in the form of a witness statement being given to a police officer by a security guard who got brought in on an odd call.

I figured I’d share it here. Enjoy.


Incident Witness Statement: 7204-028

Witness: Brendan O’Niell

Crime Scene: Castro’s Convenience, corner of 17th and South St.

Look, you’ve asked three times already between two officers. But, sure. We can discuss this again if you want. The facts ain’t gonna change though.

The store was a mess on arrival, okay? It was fucked up when I got there. You can tell the pricks in the company’s liability department that. The security gate on the convenience store window is busted in like it got hit by a truck – no big surprise the burglar alarm went off. Glass is all over the place and the alarm is blaring. The lookie-loos aren’t out on the street – not yet. But, people are lookin’ out their windows, both from above the storefront and across the street. There’s stuff all over the place. Cheetos, soda, cigarette lighters, smokes, and that vape shit that’s got so popular. Junk’s everywhere. You can’t walk around without hearing something crunch underfoot. Protocol says that it’s required of all guards to take a look around the place before shutting off the burglar alarm. It’s policy and procedure. Standard stuff. So the book gets followed, no matter how fuckin’ weird the call site looks.

So there’s a mess, but it ain’t so bad that a walkthrough can’t be done. Anyone who comes in to do anything afterward is gonna make the same kinda disturbance. Sure, it’s dark – whatever made the impact knocked the shit out of the fuse box – but that’s what the maglite’s for. And yeah, the pistol for anything unexpected. Totally legal, permit and everything. Book says guards on call can carry licensced sidearms if they want with client consent, which is also in place. Check with the company. All above board.

Anyway, gettin’ further into the store a smell comes up. Not exactly sure at first what it is. Then it hits: ozone. That smell you get when you have a bad storm comin’ on.

That’s when shit got weird.

Cause, there’s this guy in there, behind what’s left of the counter. He’s not easy to see, right? Like a black human outline surrounded by, no shit, little bolts of lightnin’. Raisin’ the gun isn’t a question – that happens as a reflex. There’s some yellin’. Might have called him a motherfucker. Understandable though. Dude shows up lookin’ like somethin’ out of a comic book, some f-bombs are gonna drop. Harsh language ain’t against the law yet.

Then the second guy swoops in.

The other dude is dressed up in some kinda ninja outfit. He’s got a pair swords in his hands and he tackles the guy who looks like the end of a severed livewire. The lightnin’ arcs off his swords, and it’s runnin’ over his arms and legs and… fuck, how is that even possible? We both know that ain’t possible, but… shit. God’s honest truth.

They tussle. Lightnin’ guy gets tossed over the counter with the ninja guy wailin’ on him to beat the fuckin’ band. The swords aren’t doing shit to lightnin’ guy. They’re bouncing off the bolts like goddamned Nerf  blades. Then there’s this huge jolt of electricity and I go blind. But they’re still goin’ at it, makin’ a racket like you ain’t ever heard. Next thing it’s totally dark. Musta passed out or somethin’. EMTs are there, askin’ about injuries, doin’ their thing. Someone gets a gurney while they start askin’ about vitals.

Look, it sounds crazy. I also understand that the body cam the company mandates is all fucked up. It was next to a guy who looked like he shoulda been playing dress up as one of Thor’s fuckin’ brothers. But honest, man: that shit happened. So you do what you gotta do. Send in the headcase guys, make an arrangement with a psychologist, reserve a padded room if it makes you feel better. If the cameras in that bodega are still working, they’ll corroborate the whole thing.

Those guys were real.

Real and dangerous.

And beside – you got all of the people who were standin’ out there when the EMTs came on scene. Ask them. They’ll tell you the same.

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