To give you an idea of how novel’s change along the way, I dug up an early beginning to Justice in a Bottle. At this time, maybe four years ago, it was titled, Earl Melvin the Magnificent Liar. A lot is the same, but so much is different. Enjoy!

When he asked me if I had the blues I wasn’t sure what to do. I’d never spoken to him before and was in no mood to start. And I was more seeing red after what Alexis Evans had said about me wearing the same pink pants to school two days in a row. What business was it of hers anyway? Besides, if she was so involved with what I was wearing then she should have known that I’d worn those pants on Monday and my jeans on Tuesday. So there.

This was Wednesday, and I just stood there, one sneaker on the porch and one on the splintered step, my rambling old neighbor on the edge of his rocker awaiting my answer. He was always out there, rocking and reading old magazines, humming or talking to himself and otherwise just off in his own world. I couldn’t tell you what else he did all day but he was there when I left for school and there when I got home. Sometimes in the evenings he was chewing on an old pipe that stunk up the whole street.

Mr. Melvin wasn’t wired all that tight, and he was the main reason Mom had stressed the don’t-talk-to-strangers speech until my ears hurt back when she gave me my own key to the apartment. And in a world of strangers Mr. Melvin here was the strangest of all. Because how many people do you know who once tried to burn down the city library? Now if that isn’t the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. But that’s what Mom said, that he’d even been to jail and that I should mind my business and look straight ahead when I got home for school. And usually I did.

But being that I was spit-on-somebody mad about Alexis and the pink pants incident I’d hesitated and somehow cracked open the door to our little conversation. He tipped his hat my way, like he was the finest gentlemen who’d ever attempted arson. But he got me with that thing about the blues. What did that even mean?

He crossed his legs and had set the magazine down, still anticipating what I had to say. I just rolled my eyes and pushed the door to go inside.

Mom got home a little after five. I didn’t tell her about the pants or my little chat with Mr. Melvin. Little good it would do. She was always too tired to do much of anything after work so I spent most of my time in my room after school reading and jotting down little notes. Dumb stuff mostly, like this story I’d written about a…

Yeah, nice try.



Justice in a Bottle, by Pete Fanning. Now Available!




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