Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Elmore Leonard's "Freaky Deaky"-- A Strong Scene

Below is the last part of Chapter 1 from Elmore Leonard's
"Freaky Deaky." To me this is a strong scene because
of the finish.  Leonard delivers the ultimate ending
to this scene.
Two bomb experts, Jerry and Chris get called
to a gangster's house to remove a bomb from
under a chair cushion which the gangster is sitting on.
If the gangster tries to get up, the bomb explodes. See how
Leonard crafts this scene so naturally:

"I couldn't get in the Jacuze quick enough, huh?"

"I doubt it."

"His feet might stay on the floor," Jerry said,
"remain in the house."

Chris agreed, nodding. "Yeah, but his ass'd be
sailing over Ohio."

Jerry moved from behind the chair to the French
doors. "We better talk about it some more."

Booker's head turned to follow Chris. "Where
you going? Hey, motherfucker, I'm talking to you!"

Chris stepped out and closed the door. He moved
with Jerry to the far edge of the slate patio before
looking back at the French doors in the afternoon
sunlight. They could hear Booker in there, faintly.

They crossed the yard, Jerry offering Chris a cigarette.

He took one and Jerry gave him a light once
they reached the driveway and were standing by
the three-car garage, alone in the backyard. Jerry
looked up at the elm trees. He said, "Well, they're
finally starting to bud. I thought winter was gonna
run through May."

Chris said, "That's my favorite kind of house.

Sort of an English Tudor, before Booker got hold
of it."

Jerry said, "Why don't you and Phyllis buy

"She likes apartments. Goes with her career image."

"She must be jumping up and down, finally got
her way."

Chris didn't say anything.

"I'm talking about your leaving the squad."

"I know what you meant. I haven't told her yet.
I'm waiting till I get reassigned."

"Maybe Homicide, huh?"

"I wouldn't mind it."

"Yeah, but would Phyllis?"

Chris didn't answer. They smoked their cigarettes
and could hear fire equipment arriving. Jerry
said, "Hey, I was kidding. Don't be so serious."

"I know what you're saying," Chris said. "Phyllis
is the kind of person that speaks out. Something
bothers her, she tells you about it."

"I know," Jerry said.

"There's nothing wrong with that, is there?"

"I'm not saying anything against her."

"What it is, Phyllis says things even some guys
would like to but don't have the nerve."

"Yeah, 'cause she's a woman," Jerry said, "she
doesn't have to worry about getting hit in the

Chris shook his head. "I don't mean putting
anybody down or being insulting. Like we're at a
restaurant, one of those trendy places the waiter
introduces himself? This twinkie comes up to the
table, he goes, 'Hi, I'm Wally, I'm gonna be your
waitperson this evening. Can I get you a cocktail?'
Phyllis goes, 'Wally, when we've finished dinner,
you gonna take us out and introduce us to the
dishwasher?' She goes, 'We really don't care what
your name is as long as you're here when we want

Jerry grinned, adjusting his Tiger baseball cap.

"That's good, I can appreciate that. Those guys kill

They drew on their cigarettes. Chris looked at
his, about to say something, working the butt between
his thumb and second finger to flick it away,
and the French doors and some of the windows on
this side of the house exploded out in a billow of
gray smoke tinged yellow. They stood looking at
the shattered doorway, at the smoke and dust thinning,
settling over glass and wood fragments,
shreds of blackened green-and-white debris on the
patio, silence ringing in their ears now. After a few
moments they started down the drive, let the people
waiting in front know they were okay.

Chris said, "Yeah, the twink comes up to the
table, says he's gonna be our waitperson. But you
have to understand, Phyllis wasn't trying to be
funny, she was serious. That's the way she is."


  1. I guess I am confused. You say keep scenes under 200 words, yet this example is over 500.

  2. This wasn't for contest purposes, just a really good scene I thought poeple would enjoy. I make the contest 200 words or less because I read every submission and if it were too long I would be able to give everyone a fair read.

  3. It isn't, as you say, "stellar". LOL.