Friday Fictioneers – Playing Hard Ball

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Playing Hard Ball 180207



The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, is an international body charged with investigating and prosecuting serious crime in Guatemala. It is particularly concerned with rooting out corruption.

Playing Hard Ball

Lilian, immaculate in white blouse and cherry-red pencil skirt, sat waiting as Hilmar Benitez crossed the bar of the Hotel Henry Berrisford to join her.

She slid a business card across the table.

“’Personal Assistant to the Interior Minister’? I want the organ-grinder, not the monkey.”

“This is not a negotiation. Have you spoken to CICIG?”

“No. But without we reach an agreement, I certainly will.”

“That wouldn’t be wise.”

“I know enough to gaol the minister for life!”

Lilian rummaged in her handbag. There was a muffled report.

Hilmar slumped back, crimson trickling from the hole between his eyes.

79 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Playing Hard Ball

  1. Wonderfully and artistically written, as always. Thanks for the new words and phrases ‘ … the organ grinder and not the monkey’ being one. 🙂Looks like Hilmar is in trouble, himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! A perfect thriller tone for this gripping tale – realy well done. Love the terse dialogue, the tension, Lilian’s femme fatale image . Would love to know more about the story around this – what has the minister done? Loved it

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      You don’t know how much you’ve just encouraged me! Yesterday I picked up my thriller again, and started trying to improve it to publishable standard. Starting with the structure…uurrrgh; I find that so hard! Your comment makes me believe that maybe I can deliver a thriller – thank you so much!
      With very best wishes

      Liked by 3 people

      • Oh, structure – my bug bear too! You may be heartened by the fact I read recently that it’s something most writers struggle with – we can write beautifully but structure contains something almost mathematical in its construction, hitting the right heights at the right time. Do persevere – I’m sure you’ll get there. I just thought the tone of this was perfect for the genre – the sparse, tense prose, the intrigue, the telling details. Really good. All the best, Penny – I hope the rewrite goes well

        Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Alicia
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Thank you especially for letting me know that you found the ending a real surprise; it always helps to know what has worked – and what hasn’t!
      With very best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the introductory note it helped set the tone. I loved the terse quick action in this scene but I did feel that a dialogue tag somewhere would have made who was speaking clearer. I had to read twice and then the comments got me distracted as I think someone observed that he was the corrupt one while I guess she is the one shielding the corrupt minister. Or did I get it wrong? Also I think there’s something off in the fifth sentence?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dahlia
      Thank you for reading and commenting in such detail; I really appreciate the time you spent on it. When I was writing the story, I considered whether I needed one or more dialogue tags, and decided against. However, I need to reassess in the light of your comment. It would make things clearer, but reduce the terseness of the dialogue. On the other hand, if the dialogue is so terse that readers don’t follow it, then it’s not working properly.
      Just in case you’re still in doubt, the interior minister is corrupt; Lilian is a hitwoman who works for the minister; and Hilmar is a blackmailer who is threatening to tell CICIG details of the minister’s corruption. So, they’re all corrupt!
      In the fifth sentence, are you referring to ‘but without we reach an agreement..’? If so, I used ‘without’ rather than ‘unless’, thinking it would be more in keeping with the character. I could well have been wrong; Hollywood gangster-speak is unfamiliar territory for me!
      Once again, thank you so much for your helpful remarks.
      With best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Penny for clearing that up – I didnt register that Hilmar is a blackmailer too. But I should have perhaps I got distracted with the ‘without’ – I am clearly not familiar with gangster language 😀 I will admit though that if it had been ‘unless’ things may have been more obvious – which is not necessarily a good thing. Thanks Penny for being such a sport 🙂


    • Dear Urban Spaceman
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I must confess I have little sympathy for Hilmar. He should either have gone straight to CICIG, or kept his mouth shut. Blackmailing a corrupt minister in Guatemala is a mug’s game!
      With best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

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