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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.

News

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.

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