Story of the Week: Some Days, I Feel Like the Grim Reaper

Stories are all around us. Everytime you experience life, you are creating stories in your mind. Everytime you revisit a memory, you are retelling a story. Stories are what make us human. Stories are what we use to define us as human.

Great stories are not only found in the realms of fiction. They also appear every day in newspapers, literary journals, blogs, and small postings on comment pages of websites. I will highlight one story each day and explain why it is a great story.

The first story is "Some Days, I Feel Like the Grim Reaper" by Del Quentin Wilber.

The story is a newspaper article originally published on Oct. 21, 2005, in the Washington Post and this piece definately belongs to the "crime noir" genre of newspaper writing. However, because Wilber deals with the subject with such understanding and empathy, his article transcends most news articles about the police and instead becomes a simple, but great, story. Of special notice in the story is the way Wilber makes notice of small details, such as the cigars one investigator uses to mask the smell of dead bodies, to humanize both the individuals in the story and the situation they are in.


Panning his flashlight inside the darkened Northeast Washington rowhouse, D.C. police detective Chris MacWilliams examines knee-high heaps of newspapers and magazines on the floor. Some are from the 1970s. He pokes through a stack of unopened bills.

The investigator turns to the kitchen and opens the refrigerator. The shelves are empty. The house lights don't work, and dust floats like snowflakes in the flashlight's beam. Flies, hundreds of them, are buzzing and bouncing off window shades. That's why MacWilliams is here: Neighbors called about the flies.

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