Charlotte Buys A Police Scanner the Day Her Sister Runs Away with Dad’s Gun

by Tyler Barton

It’s that one cop who whispers over the radio. He’s the only one I bet is sexy. I love it when he says en route to scene, so French, so conscientious to always give where he is & where he’s going & he does it with every street, every intersection he crosses, which means in ten second intervals I get to hear his quiet raspiness. I close my eyes. Crossing over Chesapeake & on Juniata south & tonight I start dying when he finally says going down Charlotte. See him kissingdownmybelly so dramatic. Heading straight for the incident. Forget what the hell I’m listening for. Arriving. On scene.

I fall asleep without a worry. Dream my sister on a sidewalk shooting a gun. A cop chasing the bullets down the street. Me in a hospital bed. Getting kissed soft with a moustache. I’m sorry we couldn’t stop her. Think about anything else, I wake up repeating.

Tyler Barton lives in Lancaster, PA. He co-founded and directs the local literary organization, the Triangle (thetrianglepa.com). He’s the fiction editor of Third Point Press. His other stories can be read online at tylerstevenbarton.wordpress.com. Follow him @goftyler.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Charlotte Buys A Police Scanner the Day Her Sister Runs Away with Dad’s Gun”?

    The idea of extracting a flash from a longer short story has always seemed to me like a rule-break. This is the first time I’ve tried breaking that rule. I have a longer story about a young girl with a wild, runaway sister who haunts her. That story begins with the scene of Charlotte listening for her sister to be mentioned over the police scanner, and falling into a some sensuality with a cop’s voice. Upon multiple revisions of that story, I kept feeling like this scene either needed cut out, or all the rest of the story needed to be cut. So I experimented and just cropped it. I had to give a title that provided a bit of context.

    I also work in a place where I have to listen to a police scanner for eight hours at a time. I have a small yellow pad with which I’m supposed to take notes about calls, but during down time, I take notes about stories.

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