Excellent hook! One of the best first three sentences I’ve seen outside of a published novel. The premise of transitioning from youth to old age while behind bars was an attention-grabber, and these first three sentences were skillfully crafted to do just that.
There was just enough detail provided to bring the reader into the prison yard, the jail cell, and the visiting room. The description of the guard “expertly whipping out his keys” as he escorted Paddy through the maze of corridors was the kind of elaboration that brings the reader right into the story. Very well done.
The main character, Paddy “Kid” “Irish” “Pops” Murphy was well-established as a multidimensional personality. His story, particularly the tragic death of his wife and children, established empathy and contributed to the rich portrayal of his seemingly hopeless existence. The characterization of Danny Miller, with his deep voice and large stature was also satisfyingly detailed. Other characters (prison guards, his original attorney, the chaplain, Richard Zimmerman, and Katie) were touched upon just enough to give depth to their places in the story.
The dialogue was natural and appropriate to the setting. Dialogue tags were varied, well-placed, and properly punctuated.
A man who truly cannot remember if he is innocent or guilty, who has lived almost his entire adult life behind bars, who has lost his family and therefore his reason for continuing existence, is suddenly given hope. It is a powerful premise for a story, rich with dramatic promise.
The ending was thought-provoking, emotional – and somewhat unexpected. Given that there were basically two possible endings and the reader knows what those two possibilities are, one particular element was unanticipated. I won’t give it away here. Nicely done.
Another winter, he thought. Another Christmas. And like every year, he wondered if he could survive it. Wondered if he could make it to the twenty-sixth without thinking about the dark thing, the black thing he kept hidden in a secret compartment in his mind.
The lawyer glanced at his watch and then pulled out a pen from an inside pocket and began tapping his upper teeth with it. He stared at Paddy intensely far a moment, appearing to contemplate something, and then he went on.
It was a cool and windy morning, but the bright sunshine and blue sky made the day feel a bit warmer.
"Come ’ere, kid," he`d say, "let me tell ya about the Attica riots," and the young, stupid punks would gaze at him wide eyed like he was freaking Joe Dimaggio.
In the years between kid and Pops, they called him Irish.
He was a hot tempered Irish kid back then, especially when drinking. He had done a lot of that that night.
But, as long as he lives, he’ll never forget waking up in a jail cell next morning, his head aching, and wondering where the hell he was until he turned over and saw the steel bars, and the two fat guards with smirks on their self-satisfied faces.
Insert “the” after “cell.” Delete the comma after “bars.”
“Well, Frank, not only is he a drunk and a murderer, but he ain`t too bright neither."
“Murderer!” Murphy screamed. “Stop playing games with me!”
Add a carriage return between these two paragraphs.
There was a small window in front of his cell, and from where he lay on his bunk, he could see tiny snow flakes fluttering softly to the ground below.
“Snowflakes” is one word.
I Can’t do it! he screamed in his mind.
Make the “C” in “Can’t” lowercase.
When he woke early next morning he jumped from his bunk like millions of little boys had done that day.
Insert “the” after “early.” Insert a comma after “morning.”
Little Katie asks about her Daddy every day, and Paddy Jr. Looks just like you.
Make the L in “Looks” lowercase.
Chaplin wants to see you."
Correct the spelling to “Chaplain.” This occurs several times.
The chaplains office was small and cluttered,and a plump little man sat behind the desk.
Insert an apostrophe into “chaplains.” Insert a space before “and.”
I am truly sorry to inform you, Mr Murphy, but theres been an accident.
Insert an apostrophe into “theres.”
Apparently your family were on their way here to visit you.
“Family” is singular, “were” is plural. Either “...your family was...” or “...your family members were...” would make the tense match.
It was only several days later that paddy was called back to the chaplains office and told that his daughter had survived. The little chaplain was waiting at the door of his office and he took paddy`s hand warmly into his own. His face was flush and his eyes were afire with the glory of his god.
Insert an apostrophe into “chaplains.” Capitalize “paddy.” You might want to review the rest of the story for capitalization of proper nouns and words at the beginning of sentences. There are quite a few occurrences.
He has told me your daughter,Katie, is alive and that...that it`s a miracle she has survived! A miracle!" he exclaimed, proudly.
Insert a space before “Katie.” Also, I would strongly recommend that you do not include adverbs to describe dialogue. Show the action, don’t describe it with an adverb. In this case, the “he exclaimed” would probably suffice. If he stood taller and puffed up with pride at the feat accomplished by his God, then show that.
That it was his fault , however indirectly, that her family was killed in a car accident coming to visit HIM.
Delete the extra space after “fault.”
This letter is to inform you that I have been retained on your behalf to petition the District Attorney of Monroe county, N.Y., to release d.n.a evidence collected from the crime scene of the crime in which you were convicted, and to order a blood test of yourself , for the purpose of d.n.a testing, conducted and administered in a timely manner by the department of correctional services of New York State.
Capitalize “county.” Capitalize “D.N.A.” Delete the extra space after “yourself.” Capitalize “department,” “correctional,” and “services.”
Paddy stared at the letter stunned, and for a moment thought he was dreaming.
Insert a comma after “letter.”