Darlene stood over the restrained man sprawled face down on the floor.  She wrestled with her incongruent urges:  use the adrenaline to “finish him off,” or place a tissue under his bleeding nose.  Instead, she stepped away and watched from a distance.  The slight movement of his torso with each shallow intake and exhale of air soothed her indecision.

Check him for ID and weapons.  Taking her cue from the cop dramas she’d seen on TV, she rolled the man onto his side and felt inside his jacket.  Coming up empty, she hesitated before shoving her hand into his front pants pocket.  She grasped the contents in her hand and let them spill to the floor.  Spare change, loose aspirin, a book of matches, and a wrapped butterscotch candy.

Darlene’s heart fell.  What if he really is a transient?  She let him rest on his belly again and then rolled him on his other side.  Her hand brushed against metal on his waist.  Her heart pounded faster as she realized it was a Glock.  She removed it from the holster and slid it across the floor away from them.  From his pants pocket, she recovered folded papers and ring with four keys on it.

She noticed a bulge in his back pocket.  His wallet.  She worked it out of the fraying pocket and then let him roll forward onto his stomach again.  She read the name on the driver’s license:  Jeff Weissman.  Darlene slid away from the man and slumped against a partially charred wall.

She shoved the papers and Jeff’s wallet into her own pockets.  Her nervous fingers fidgeted with the keys, the clanking metal echoing in the too-silent room.  Her mind began to juggle what to do with this knowledge.  Call the police?  The FBI?  Run away and pretend like she never saw him?

The man stirred, and then groaned before opening his eyes.  Darlene’s pulse throbbed in her ears.  Their gazes locked.

Too late to run.


TrifectaPicture11-1This is my response to Trifecta’s weekly challenge, which is to write a 33 to 333-word response (mine is 329) using the following word/definition:

JUGGLE (transitive verb):  to handle or deal with usually several things (as obligations) at one time so as to satisfy often competing requirements <juggle the responsibilities of family life and full-time job — Jane S. Gould>

This continues Darlene’s story (if you haven’t read the other parts and are curious about what has transpired so far, here are the links:)

First Part (Dead Flowers)    Second Part (Investigation)     Third Part (Unknown Path)

Fourth Part (Missing)     Fifth Part (Facing Memories)     Sixth Part (Hunted or Hunter?)

82 thoughts on “Indecision

  1. braintomahawk March 4, 2013 / 9:37 AM

    Nicely done, you put us right there next to them (hey I’m not checking his pockets!)

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2013 / 9:31 PM

      I’m not sure I could shove my hands into a stranger’s pants pockets – way too personal! Thanks for reading, BT 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2013 / 9:32 PM

      Thanks for following the story, UndercoverL!

  2. diannegray March 4, 2013 / 2:37 PM

    Woah! I’m glad I’m not in Darlene’s shoes right now. I’m looking forward to what happens next!

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2013 / 9:35 PM

      No kidding! I’ve got a few ideas for the next part, but will have to see what the next prompt gives me. Thanks for reading, Dianne!

  3. The Edge March 4, 2013 / 3:43 PM

    Too late to run … now shut up and get in the trunk! lol

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2013 / 9:36 PM

      Hahaha! At least she tied his wrists first so he can’t easily get her.

  4. barbara March 4, 2013 / 5:41 PM

    oh, no . . . always run first – then think about it. 🙂 Love the “cop drama” part. I’m a junkie, too.

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2013 / 9:38 PM

      Hehe…it’s like on the horror movies where they hear a noise and they go searching for the cause (no, don’t open that door!) I watch cop dramas on occasion too, Barbara….I avoid the ‘marathons’ though!

  5. nrhatch March 4, 2013 / 8:11 PM

    So so good, Janna! I think writing this short story (novella) (novel) to the trifecta prompts is brilliant. 😀

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2013 / 9:41 PM

      Thanks for your encouragement, Nancy! It wasn’t my intention to continue with this, but now I kind of have to until I can find an ending 🙂

  6. Imelda March 4, 2013 / 8:21 PM

    Oh my! What a thriller… I am definitely looking forward to the next installment. 🙂 Good solid writing as always, Janna.

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2013 / 9:43 PM

      I appreciate you reading, Imelda! I hope the story will keep your interest.

  7. pattisj March 4, 2013 / 9:36 PM

    You’d better get her out of there, Janna! 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2013 / 9:45 PM

      She might get out eventually, Patti 🙂

  8. unevenstevencu March 5, 2013 / 2:25 AM

    ooh well written – fun to read

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:08 PM

      I appreciate you taking time to read, Unevensteven. Glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Sandra March 5, 2013 / 4:02 AM

    I’m really enjoying this story! Who is the man? Why is he there? What will she do next? Can’t wait to see.

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:09 PM

      😀 I’m so happy you’re into the story, Sandra. I have an idea of where I want to take this and am crossing my fingers that prompts will cooperate.

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:10 PM

      Thanks, Kelly! I’m glad you stopped by to read the story.

  10. Draug419 March 5, 2013 / 7:22 AM

    Should have kept a hold of that Glock…

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:11 PM

      She’d better hope the shoe lace holds, Draug 🙂

  11. Tara R. March 5, 2013 / 7:23 AM

    A great job of building tension and suspense. I loved the ending of this piece, so many possibilities.

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:13 PM

      Thanks for stopping by to read the story, Tara. I’m glad you liked the ending!

  12. Debbie March 5, 2013 / 8:24 AM

    Keep building the suspense, Janna — well done! Love all the details (a wrapped butterscotch candy, a Glock). Your Darlene is one brave girl — who thinks to search someone who’s “incapacitated”, especially going through his pants pockets?? I’m eager to hear what she does next, now that they’ve locked eyes!

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:15 PM

      Thanks so much for continuing to read the installments, Debbie. I appreciate your encouraging comments. I have a crazy idea for the story, but it may be too complicated for the prompt route. If it doesn’t work, I’ve got a plan B (and another writing project in the queue…after Ellie’s story :))

  13. Tessa March 5, 2013 / 9:16 AM

    Great story line, I would hate to check his pockets too, plus wouldn’t know who to trust.

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:15 PM

      🙂 The thought of reaching into someone’s pockets just makes me cringe. Glad I’m not alone in that, Tessa!

  14. Deborah March 5, 2013 / 9:58 AM

    This was great, and I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. To
    participate, visit and do the same. It is like
    “paying it forward” with fellow bloggers. Congrats!

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:18 PM

      Thanks for the nomination, Deborah! It means a lot that you would think of me for this. I’ll swing by and check out your post 🙂

      • Deborah March 6, 2013 / 12:05 AM

        My pleasure. You continue to put out great stuff, post after post! 🙂

        • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:21 PM

          Thanks, Deborah – I really am glad you like my posts!

  15. humanTriumphant March 5, 2013 / 10:01 AM

    I’m so glad you continued this…but now I’m just greedy for more 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 10:18 PM

      I’m glad it’s keeping your interest, HumanTriumphant!

  16. Sandra March 5, 2013 / 10:33 AM

    He sure did smell fishy, but I would also feel terrible if I had just knocked out an innocent man. It’s getting exciting! I hope that she slid the Glock far, far away…

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 11:16 PM

      I’m glad you stopped by to check out this part of the story, Sandra. There is definitely something odd about him 🙂

  17. kymminbarcelona March 5, 2013 / 3:44 PM

    I can tell already – this week it’s all about thrillers. Nice tension going on here, Janna!

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 11:20 PM

      Thanks, Kymm! There are a few thrillers posted. So far, great reads!

    • jannatwrites March 5, 2013 / 11:21 PM

      Thanks for reading, H.L. I hope you like the rest of the story!

  18. Ryan Brooks March 5, 2013 / 11:49 PM

    Great stuff, very visceral. I like it. ^^

    • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:21 PM

      Thanks, Ryan! I appreciate you taking time to read and share your thoughts.

  19. ramblingsfromamum March 6, 2013 / 1:30 AM

    Got wrapped in the ‘search’ – well written and realistic.

    • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:22 PM

      I’m glad it was believable, Ramblings…that’s always a goal!

  20. Stacey (@Staceysmoments) March 6, 2013 / 7:48 AM

    I hate cliff hangers…great job! I absolutely love the beginning where she is trying to decide whether to kill him or dab his bloody nose!

    • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:23 PM

      Haha! I don’t like cliffhangers either when reading, but they sure are fun to write, Stacy 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  21. Bee March 6, 2013 / 8:40 AM

    The tension here is so tight, I found myself yelling, “Shoot him! Shoot him!” when I finished reading! lol I so love the detail about the butterscotch candy. I can’t wait to read the next installment!

    • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:24 PM

      Oh, I hope you don’t own a gun, Bee 🙂 Only kidding…I know what you mean here! I’m glad you’re continuing to read the story…the comments are what really make these segments fun!

  22. Annabelle March 6, 2013 / 9:04 AM

    Man, she is in a bad spot. Could she bring herself to shoot him if she needed to? Like the detail about being torn between finishing him off and giving him a tissue; I can totally see that kind of reaction in that situation.

    • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:28 PM

      I’m not sure if she could pull the trigger or not…the next segment should answer that question 🙂 Thanks for reading, Annabelle!

  23. Linda March 6, 2013 / 11:50 AM

    Suspenseful — I want to know what’s going on — My mind is juggling juggling juggling all the things it could be! Nicely done.

    • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:30 PM

      Thanks for stopping by to read this part of the story, Linda!

    • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:30 PM

      Thanks, Brudberg…I appreciate you taking time to read my story!

  24. steph March 6, 2013 / 3:43 PM

    I’m loving this story. She seems to know him? Or at least you’ve created that potential in our minds. I hope you keep it going with the next prompt. Who is he?

    • jannatwrites March 6, 2013 / 9:32 PM

      I was so excited when I read your comment, Steph – it was subtle, but yes – she does know him…”How” will be addressed in another segment. (Sorry, can’t tell you just yet!)

  25. lumdog (@lumdog2012) March 7, 2013 / 7:02 AM

    Great continuation of this story. Your descriptive words put us right in the room, with all the tension hanging.

    • jannatwrites March 7, 2013 / 9:10 PM

      Thanks, Lumdog! I’m glad the scene felt believable.

  26. Katie March 7, 2013 / 7:15 AM

    She is braver than I am, but maybe she is running on adrenalin. Great tension.

    • jannatwrites March 7, 2013 / 9:11 PM

      Yeah, I think I would’ve ran out as soon as I whacked him with the stick! I think adrenaline is what’s keeping her going, Katie 🙂

  27. Tom MacInnes (@cobourgcobbie) March 7, 2013 / 8:59 AM

    Talk about a cliffhanger!!! Great tension-filled scene. It is the relevant detail that makes it great; the same way a master painter adds a brush stroke here and a brush stroke there and, before you know it, has added layers of life to the scene. Super work.:)

    • jannatwrites March 7, 2013 / 9:12 PM

      Thanks for much for taking the time to read and for sharing your kind words, Tom! I do appreciate you taking time to read the story.

  28. atrm61 March 7, 2013 / 3:01 PM

    Loved the little nuances here Janna:-)Am glad Darlene used her knowledge from Cop shows on TV-just goes to show not all shows arr useless,lol!I am enjoying this a lot-now am curious as to where this story will go & who this chap Mark is!

    • jannatwrites March 7, 2013 / 9:14 PM

      Hehe…sometimes, if we watch the right shows, we can pick up helpful tips, Atreyee. (Unfortunately, I tend to watch the stuff that is zero mental nutritional value :)) I hope to reveal more about Mark in the next piece (prompts willing!)

      • atrm61 March 8, 2013 / 8:08 AM

        Ha!ha!That was a funny comment about zero mental nutritional value;-)Am definitely looking forward to the next part,Janna:-)

        • jannatwrites March 8, 2013 / 8:24 AM

          Thanks so much, Atreyee! (And I’ll try to watch more educational TV :))

        • atrm61 March 9, 2013 / 12:20 AM


  29. Valerie March 7, 2013 / 7:50 PM

    Now that I’ve bitten my nails down to the quick…

    I can’t wait for more of this! Your writing really drew me in-I felt like my hand was right there in his pocket too;)

    • jannatwrites March 7, 2013 / 9:16 PM

      I’m happy to know that the scene felt real, Valerie 🙂 I plan on continuing this with the Trifecta prompts until I get to something that would pass for an ending. I’ll try not to drag it out too long!

  30. tmwhickman (@fercryinoutloud) March 7, 2013 / 8:45 PM

    Don’t forget about that Glock–she might need to use it! I like how each portion of this story yields another drop off of the cliff. It’s like one mystery begets another–we’re in the nautilus shell!

    P.S. Good luck in Arizona. Be sure to check your shoes every morning before you put them on. 😉

    • jannatwrites March 7, 2013 / 9:22 PM

      You’re right…it’s within her reach. I’m not sure if she’ll need/choose to use it. Thanks so much for keeping up with the story, Tmw.

      Haha! I’ve lived in Phoenix for 25 years (thankfully, I’ve only lived in one place that had indoor scorpions.) Definitely good to check shoes. We’re packing up and moving north, from the desert to the pines.

  31. Sharp Little Pencil March 7, 2013 / 11:47 PM

    Janna, just came in on this story,, and it’s excellent. Darlene is really in a pickle, no? I mean, I can see she restrained him, but who the hell is he? And what man in this day and age keeps his wallet in his back pocket? Aren’t they all using European Man Bags for their stuff, ha ha ha?? She has definitely done her study of the TV shows. I would do the same, except I’d grab a pair of Playtex dishwashing gloves first! I’ll keep up with this tale! Amy

    • jannatwrites March 8, 2013 / 8:22 AM

      “European man bags”…hahaha! (My husband hasn’t grabbed that trend yet…he either wears cargo shorts or drops his wallet in MY purse!)

      Your comment cracked me up, Amy…I’d want gloves, too…even then, sticking my hand in someone’s pocket? Ew….

      About who the man is…I’ll have to reveal that next time (These word-count limits can be cruel :))

  32. thevixenfiction March 8, 2013 / 2:33 AM

    This is a bit gripping… Imagery is great.. am going to have to follow this..x

    • jannatwrites March 8, 2013 / 8:23 AM

      Thanks, Vixen…I hope you do read the next segment.

  33. tedstrutz March 8, 2013 / 8:55 AM

    I wondered what was going to happen to Darlene. Great suspense with the search. I liked the line use the adrenaline to “finish him off”… I wonder if she could really be a brutal killer, as that line meant beating him to death… but she thought about it, for a sec, in which you showed fullness to your character. And, we do need Mark alive for part 8, don’t we?

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