Very Short Story – Private Investigator

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So for my Creative Writing class I had to write a 1.5-3 page short story about a crappy job. It could only have 1-2 characters. I trashed what I had before and wrote this. What do you guys think?


When I decided to open this business, I thought it would be a great idea. My extensive military training, business degree, and generally observable nature made it seem like a great idea. It was ultimately the concept of working whenever I wanted that led to my decision. Unlocking the door, I paused, briefly, on my name:

Douglas Tennant

Private Investigator

I was taken back to when I had first opened my door ten years ago. Business had boomed right from the get-go. My clients began referring my business to their friends and so on. The job had been dirty, but I loved it, and I was good at it. I pulled myself from that thought. Sighing quietly to myself as I turned the worn brass knob on the door and pushed it open. There was no need to think about the past when there was so much to figure out in the present.

The floorboards creaked as I took heavy steps across the dusty floor to my desk. Tossing my beat up leather shoulder bag onto the ground, I plopped heavily into the swivel chair, causing it to roll back a couple inches, and throwing my black bowler hat on the far left side of my desk. Normally, this is when I would begin to look through my case files for the day. But there weren’t any. I stared blankly at my desk. Lately I had begun to notice the imperfections in its worn wood top. The walnut finish was worn in a circle to my left where I placed my coffee cup each morning. Scratches covered the portion where I had typically placed papers as I wrote on them. Damn cheap paper. The corner where I often sat to stare at the white board that was frequently covered in case notes was worn down, faded. I stared at the phone, a black, rotary dial that I had been so proud of. It gave a certain air to the business. Day after day I sat here, hoping that it would ring. Knowing that the chances of that were next to none.

My gaze shifted to the stack of papers occupying the far right corner. I slid them to the center of the desk. Right on top was the newspaper clipping I had memorized word for word. The headline read:


I read through each clipping, each case file, I looked at each photo, like I had every day for the past years, trying desperately to figure out where I had gone wrong. How this had happened to me. Searching for a way to reverse it. Thinking each day that maybe today would be the day I noticed something new.

I looked out the window that gave a beautiful view of street outside just in time to see the first drops of spring rain hit the glass. If I had had any hope of a decent day, it disappeared with the rain like it did so many other days here in Seattle. I had thought several times about moving, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t leave without resolving this. I stood up stiffly, and walked to the small kitchen that inhabited the far back corner of the office. I opened the lone cabinet. Mugs occupied the bottom shelf, while my dwindling supply of coffee was on the top. I stretched my right arm up to grab the Folgers’s can. There was a tightening in my shoulder, a sharp twinge of pain that me yelp as my face construed and beads of sweat formed at my hairline. My left hand automatically came to rest on the place where the bullet had entered my shoulder. It will still in there. The doctors had deemed it too big a risk to remove. Maybe I should have taken the risk. Maybe I should have been more cautious with my cases and suspects.

I decided against the coffee. The sick feeling I got in the pit of my stomach that was caused by pain and depression told me that it just wasn’t a good idea. I sat back down in my chair, placed my feet on the desk, and stared out the window at the rain that was now coming down in hard, fast drops. Bouncing off the glass, the cement sidewalks. I could smell its scent mixed with that of spring through the thinly insulated walls. I sat like that for the rest of the day. Occasionally a woman would walk by in a black coat, protected from the rain with an oversized black umbrella, or a man in a cap, rolled up newspaper in his hand glancing quickly behind him would seem to slow at the door, but they never stopped. Never even glanced in. They kept their eyes down and kept walking.

At precisely 5 o’clock I stood up, picked my shoulder bag up off the floor, pushed the chair in, placed my stack of papers back in their place at the far right corner of the desk, grabbed my hat, placing it back on my head, and proceeded out the door, locking it before heading down the street.