Story: Visiting Daviston, part 1

Note: The following is the first segment of a short, original work of fiction set in the not too distant future where present trends have continued. A few brave people have decided to buck those trends.

He said goodbye to the friendly older lady behind the counter and exited the small, quaint gift shop, stepping out onto the concrete sidewalk in the steamy July heat. It was just mid-morning but Jimmy was unaccustomed to South Carolina summers and his pink skin was almost immediately damp and sticky. Stuffing a fist full of stickers and brochures into his shirt pocket, Jimmy wiped his forehead and surveyed the tiny downtown of Daviston. Was this the place for him?

Two doors down he saw a man in a dark uniform, some sort of police officer no doubt, looking in his direction. The man started walking toward Jimmy and a tinge of nervousness momentarily struck him. It was a reaction conditioned by his experience growing up in New Jersey.

This officer was unlike those he was familiar with back home. For one thing he was White, a rarity these days on the East Coast in an era in which Hispanics and Blacks dominated local police forces and city governments – even much of what had been thriving suburbia. The Trenton PD was notoriously corrupt and the scattered White people left in the city’s sprawling neighborhoods did their best to avoid contact with them. Shakedowns were common and violence was not infrequent. It was also generally a bad idea to report abuse as this might lead to the victim’s prosecution on the grounds of discrimination – a criminal offence across the country.

As the officer approached Jimmy was struck by his lack of military appearance. He carried no automatic rifle, just a pistol holstered on his hip. His demeanor was friendly, quite unlike the Trenton PD officers.

“Good morning,” the young man greeted Jimmy. “Jeff Harrington,” he introduced himself, extending his hand.

Gerald shook his hand and introduced himself, noticing his badge. “You’re the law enforcement here?”

The young man smiled and Jimmy noted how physically fit he was. This too contrasted with the appearance of most policemen he saw in New Jersey, many of whom were significantly over weight.

“I prefer to think of myself as a peace officer,” Jeff said. “We don’t have any real crime here. Not like y’all have got out there.” He chuckled. “Small town, as you can see,” the officer made a small gesture. “And we all know each other. Plus, most are here for the same reason.”

This is what interested Jimmy – enough for him to make the long drive down here to visit Daviston.

“I work for the company,” he pointed to the Daviston Corporation badge on his chest. “Hired by the board. That is why there aren’t any flags on here.”

Jimmy looked around with interest at the nearby buildings. None had the red, white and blue US banner he was used to seeing everywhere. And none flew the new red, yellow, white and green South Carolina flag – the original having been officially retired nearly a decade earlier because of its links to a racist past. At least that is how Governor Gonzalez described it to the television cameras as he oversaw the flag being removed from atop the South Carolina State House. But in Daviston, Jimmy noticed, the former State flag was still quite popular. It flew from several of the buildings.

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  1. Sir, I hope you won’t take it as a pretence, but, not only am I your fan and share your politicks, but, as well, I am a professional novelist.

    So, I read it from both angles.

    As a writer I offer this following critique : the segway, below, is unclear…

    “I prefer to think of myself as a peace officer,” Jeff said. “We don’t have any real crime here. Not like y’all have got out there.” He chuckled. “Small town, as you can see,” the officer made a small gesture. “And we all know each other. Plus, most are here for the same reason.”

    This is what interested Jimmy – enough for him to make the long drive down here to visit Daviston.

    “I work for the company,” he pointed to the Daviston Corporation badge on his chest. “Hired by the board. That is why there aren’t any flags on here.”

    Sir. is our Yankee still talking to the peace officer, when he says : ‘I work for the company’, or has he driven to Daviston and is talking to someone else?

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  2. ‘This officer was unlike those he was familiar with back home. For one thing he was White, a rarity these days on the East Coast in an era in which Hispanics and Blacks dominated local police forces and city governments – even much of what had been thriving suburbia. The Trenton PD was notoriously corrupt and the scattered White people left in the city’s sprawling neighborhoods did their best to avoid contact with them. Shakedowns were common and violence was not infrequent. It was also generally a bad idea to report abuse as this might lead to the victim’s prosecution on the grounds of discrimination – a criminal offence across the country.’

    OVERKILL, not for some writers, but, for your developing positivist approach. My suggestion follows below…

    ”This officer was unlike those he was familiar with back home. For one thing he was not a minority – in an era when such dominated local police forces and city governments – in an East Coast that had seen it’s thriving flee city neighborhood, not just to escape the criminals, but, sadly, the law enforcement as well.’

    Sir, that is my suggestion. Much less weighty and economical – NOT tedious or preachy.

    As to colouring in your point, (my suggestion NOT to do it here) you can do that later in the story, building, gently, on the premise you’ve establisht, here.

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  3. ‘Jimmy looked around with interest at the nearby buildings. None had the red, white and blue US banner he was used to seeing everywhere. And none flew the new red, yellow, white and green South Carolina flag – the original having been officially retired nearly a decade earlier because of its links to a racist past. At least that is how Governor Gonzalez described it to the television cameras as he oversaw the flag being removed from atop the South Carolina State House. But in Daviston, Jimmy noticed, the former State flag was still quite popular. It flew from several of the buildings.’

    Having observed the nearby buildings, in Columbia, the state capital, the stars & stripes had been oddly absent, as had been the state flag of South Carolina – the latter having been retired a decade earlier(,) because of it(‘)s racist past. Yet, in Daviston, Jimmy noticed, the former State flag on several buildings.

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  4. ‘This is what interested Jimmy – enough for him to make the long drive down here to visit Daviston.’

    Sir, that was the source of my confusion, as a reader. – for it tends to imply that Jimmy was not yet in Daviston, when, in the first paragraph you have said he was.

    My suggestion is that this sentence belongs earlier in the structure – and corrected to this tense and economy…

    … That is why Jimmy had made the tedious drive down to Daviston.

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  5. Here, Sir, I put the entire edited version, which not only reflects my quibbles, but my taste…

    ‘Saying goodbye to the friendly old lady, behind the counter, he exited the small gift shop and stepped out into a mid-morning July humidity; a heat that made turned his pink skin immediately damp and sticky. After he wiped his forehead and stuffed a fist full of stickers and brochures into his shirt pocket, Jimmy surveyed tiny downtown Daviston. Oddly, in Columbia, the state capital, the stars & stripes had been absent, as had been the state flag of South Carolina – the latter having been retired a decade earlier, because of it’s racist past. Yet, in Daviston, Jimmy noticed, the former State flag on several buildings. Was this the place for him? Then, two doors down, he saw a man in a dark uniform : some sort of police officer, no doubt; and, watching Jimmie, the man started walking Jimmy’s way. Nerves all over him, Jimmy had the only response an urban New Jerseyite could have had – fear.

    Howdy there!

    So friendly? No, as the officer reached out to shake Jimmy’s hand, the northerner could only ponder how unlike this officer was to those back home – he carrying no more than a partly sidearm. Furthermore, this policeman was no minority – in an era when police departments and city governments of such had been a reason why the East Coast that had seen it’s thriving flee to the suburbs…
    ‘Sir, my name is Officer Harrington. May I help ye?’
    ‘You’re the law enforcement, here?’
    ‘Well, Sir : if ye wawnuh call it such; tho’, I’d prefer to think o’ myse’f az an officer o’ the peace.’
    ‘It is freakin’ peaceful here, Officer!’
    ‘An’ thet’s how we lyke it.’
    ‘How do you manage it?’
    ‘Well, now : bein’ jus’ a small town an’ all, the bigges’ cryme we usually got iz sum’one ayn’t got their seat buckl’d.’
    Jimmy had heard that, which was why he had made the tedious drive down there. At that point, Jimmy’s eyes wandered to the old South Carolina flag, atop several buildings. No mistaking it : here was a different country; a world so different than what he had known, it seemed to be howling at him – though, in a very agreeable fashion.

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  6. ‘So friendly? No, as the officer reached out to shake Jimmy’s hand, the northerner could only ponder how unlike this officer was to those back home – he carrying no more than a partly sidearm.’

    ONE CORRECTION :

    ‘So friendly? (YES), as the officer reached out to shake Jimmy’s hand, the northerner could only ponder how unlike this officer was to those back home – he carrying no more than a partly sidearm.

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    • Thank you for your suggestions, JD. I will consider them before I continue this short story. I had no idea you were a professional writer. That is wonderful. We need more artists and professionals on our side.

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      • You’re welcome, Sir. One more suggestion : Jimmy came to Daviston seeking a lost relative, or a new friend on Facebook – for what you are writing, Sir, I believe you ought always bury your story within another story – so that your moral is not so confrontational to those whom who seek to dissuade/persuade.

        Good luck with your writing. You’re off to a good start.

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