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July Story Chat Summary

The Story’s Success

With 136 recent views, 40 likes, and 51 comments, Philip Cumberland’s story, Not a Proper Job” continues to make Story Chat a raging success. This Story Chat ignited investigative discussions and readers’ speculations about criminal minds.

If you love to read short stories, you will enjoy Story Chat. For links to all of the Year Two stories bookmark the Story Chat Page or visit one of the authors’ recent blog posts listed below.

99-Word Summary

After poisoning her most recent victim, Sheila changed into jeans and a t-shirt and escaped her waitressing job by way of a city bus. At her destination, she discovered police examining her get-away vehicle and quickly moved on to plan B. Arriving at her emergency home, she unpacked and began preparation for her next job before relaxing for the weekend. By Monday, after an assumed visit with her grandma, Sheila caught an eleven-thirty train to her next job. Her grandmother might say, “It was not a proper job,” but Sheila was good at it and clearly planned to continue.

Attendance with Abbreviated Chattering

WARNING: Story Chat is not for the faint of heart. Going into a chat room online is much the same as going to a party. Story Chat is usually kind of like a warm homey chat room. There’s a lot of off-topic conversation as well as niceties. Since this is a summary of the chatter, not a taped recording to be used in a murder trial, I edit (not murder) comments with a chainsaw. To do this, I take out the parts that I think are white noise or unrelated and leave some of the raw emotional comments brought out by the story. To read the unabridged comments, feel free to refer back to the story post.

If the chatterer has a blog I linked a recent post to their comment.

  • FENDLANDPHIL: (AUTHOR) “Sheila is naturally cautious, which is why she stayed on the guided bus rather than finding out what the police were up to. She is successful because she plans and is resourceful.”
  • MARSHA: (HOSTESS) “At least for authors. I wonder how many murders are by poison. If women are the only perpetrators of poison that would sure make solving murders easier by half.”
  • WRITING WRINKLES: “Lots of local colour in here: Cambridge’s controversial but now widely used guided bus, the park-and-ride carparks, bits of the university and, of course, the tourists. For those wondering about the lottery ticket, collecting her winnings is the means by which payment is made. (You see, I’ve read a longer version where this becomes clearer.) One can’t help but wonder at the connections of the paymaster to be able to engineer a lottery win at will (always assuming that this is our National Lottery and not a smaller-scale lottery. In the UK, such lesser lotteries would probably not pay out a large enough sum without comment).”
  • ROBERTA WRITES: “Sheila is a hired killer presumably and she must have poisoned her victim. I wonder what kind of poison would go undetected these days? I did enjoy this story, but the last line was a little strange for me. I’m not sure what it was intended to convey. It seemed a little superfluous, but I could be quite wrong about that.”
  • TANGENTAL: “The lottery ticket had me wondering how this could be used for payment. I doubt Camelot is beyond corruption but still! The bus also confused me in that I imagined an open-top to be a tourist bus but it appeared to double as a park and ride. Did I miss something? Maybe it doesn’t matter but it distracted me. Sheila took us on a bit of a ride. If she is a competent assassin – which seems a fair assumption if she’s getting an immediate second commission – how can the police trace her to her car so fast? I’d love to think Cambridgeshire’s Finest were that good…. So she left a clue to where she was going, did she? Or were they there for another reason? It’s a highly enjoyable as a tale of callousness wrapped up in domesticity but the above, for me, disrupted the flow which was a shame .”
  • RAMBLINGS OF A RARING WRITER: “Sheila reminds me of the character Villanelle in ‘Killing Eve’. Villanelle is a totally ruthless assassin who would perform jobs just like this one, being very well disguised for each one. She would receive instructions for her next job in a similar way to Sheila, also with a photo of her next victim. Never with a lottery ticket though. I paused when I got to the ticket part…I thought I missed something at the start and scrolled back to check. ‘Some of those academics can be a bit handy when a girl is carrying a tray of drinks, in a fairly short skirt. Women were the worst.’ This line was lost on me I’m afraid. I’ve no idea what it means or how it fits into the story. I couldn’t figure out why Mr Ambulant was killed. Something to do with the university, I think. He obviously wronged someone somewhere. … Because the TV series, Killing Eve, is etched in my mind, I think that Sheila’s grandmother might have a past of her own and could give Sheila a few tips on how to be a great assassin! Maybe Grandma is her employer. Hee hee! Not all elderly women are sweet little ladies! Thanks for the intriguing story Philip. Looking forward to connecting with you on your blog and reading more of your stories.”
  • HUGH’S VIEWS AND NEWS: “Loved reading this short piece about Shiela. She reminded me so much of a female James Bond. I think nobody will ever be able to trace her because any CCTV will be wiped by the government. As for the lottery ticket as payment, I’m convinced somebody rigs the numbers on each draw, probably the government, so it’s a great way of them paying somebody who needs to be off the radar and needs never have to record wages. A delightful read, Philip.”
  • PRIORHOUSE BLOG: I really enjoyed this thriller of a story and the succinct writing sure gave us a lot of story with a short entry here! I enjoyed the little details and Sheila is in a tough line of work (It reminded me a little of the show called “Alias”)

Themes and Tips in the Discussion

No One Is Invincible, Why Murder Is Not a Proper Job, and Which Sex Makes the Better Serial Killer?

  • RAMBLINGS OF A RARING WRITER: “I think the theme of this story is; that no one is invincible! The good, the bad, or the ugly!”
  • HUGH ROBERTS: “A job that is not a job but isn’t a job because the person doing it does not exist in society.”
  • ROBERTS WRITES: “What a conversation Phil’s story had generated. It seems that women serial killers have a tendency to kill their husbands, children, and other relations rather than strangers. I suppose women aren’t as strong as men, generally, and so hanging and some other forms of murder aren’t as accessible.”

Ongoing on Always Write

  • August Story Chat “Backstab” by author, Gloria McBreen AKA Rambling of a Raring Writer
  • WQW #27 (Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays) – “Agreeable Animal Amigos” The only rule is to have at least one quote in your post about the topic. Remember a song can be a quote, too. Then just post a story, poem, or pictures that tie into and respond to your quote or quotes. The last day to post links is Tuesday at 12:00 noon Phoenix time.
  • PPAC #56 (Photographing Public Art Challenge) “Publically Going in Circles” every Friday at 9:00 (ish). The last day to post links is Thursday at 12:00 noon Phoenix time.

Thank you Philip for submitting your behind-the-scenes – criminal story. Readers, thanks for the time you took to read, think about this story, and respond honestly. You are all the heart and soul of Story Chat.

12 replies »




Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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