to celebrate national novel writing month (or the unfortunately nicknamed "NaNoWriMo") this year i will spare myself the white-hair-inducing effects of writing 50,000 words in the month of November by writing a story a day.

these stories will be of any length and veer into any territory i wish. the idea is for me to write one a day for every day of november. these will be first drafts with minimal editing.

if you are into any of it. please comment below! perhaps you can help me figure out if there's ANYthing in these stories worth adapting or polishing into something awesome. 

story 5. inspector penny (by jenny yang. monday, november 4th, 2013)

“una paleta fresa, porfa’,” penny shoved the dollar bill into the ice cream truck window. standing at five feet nothing, penny impressed the neighborhood kids with her spanish. she was chinese and her parents spoke strictly mandarin chinese but she grew up in highland park and spanish was the currency.  before she knew to say “popsicle” she was demanding “paletas,” and would buy her own as soon as we let her play with the neighborhood kids in the culdesac behind our apartment building.

penny is definitely the smartest twelve-year old you’ve ever met.

“ge, you want one too?” she yelled to where i was sitting on the curb.  i’m penny’s brother. sometimes people think i’m her uncle because i’m so much older than her. let’s just say penny was an “accident.”

“no. i’m good.”

penny had to hold up the line, “oye, chino! i told you vlade was gonna take the whole team down with his crappy acting! i called it!”  chino, the ice cream truck driver who was quadruple her age and weight, was used to getting an earful about lakers basketball from penny. he didn’t say much and honestly he got a lot of crap from all the kids in the neighborhood, especially penny.  but at least penny knew where to draw the line between giving shit for fun and being just straight up mean. and she’d protect him if other kids were outta line, like even big teenage dudes that even i’d take a second to think on before i’d step to them.  chino was a little slow. he probably has the speed of a ten-year old in a forty year old man’s body.  chino was the slowest grown man you can find who can still manage to count and make a small living from his ice cream truck.

“yeah yeah penny, next!” chino was not having any of it. penny was the only kid chino would talk back to. two little peanuts behind penny hustled up to the window until penny had to step back.

“fine! you know i’m right chino!” penny yelled over her shoulder as she walked toward me.

“yeah penny…” agreed chino with a sigh. as penny walked toward me she mouthed the remaining words of chino’s sentence, “you’re always right!”

here’s the thing with penny: she thinks she knows it all. she is THE know-it-all of all know-it-all.  well that’s because she likes to get into people’s business. it’s like she can’t help but sniff around if she think something funny is happening around her.  then she’ll take crazy amounts of notes in her little book. god knows what she does that for. it’s not even for school. it’s just for herself.  even if it is not at all cool in a situation, she will say the uncomfortable thing just because her brain is thinking it.

“dang, bro! your feet smell.” is a common one for penny.  and that’s even when we are just in line at the target.

i’ve been worried about penny because she’s been snooping around next door to our apartment.  that’s the little set of tiny apartment houses that are rundown and let’s just say where a lot of shady activity happens.  i guess when you’re young you have to take notice if you lived where we did. our apartment shared a chain link fence with them so you can see everything happening over there. i know there’s some drugs, and gun running that happens over there but i don’t want penny getting involved. i’ve been telling her to stop going over there because it’s not where kids should be.

penny sits down next to me on the curb and starts ripping off the plastic wrapper, reflecting the sun right into my eyes.  ouch.


“so i started figuring out what they’re doing. flaco is the one who is dealing the little packets of drugs. moco always has these gross girls i think who help him.”


“i know! but listen! i have a map and the map is almost done. like. the drug part. i don’t know as much about what’s inside the bigger boxes and suitcases of stuff. like they look heavy.” penny just won’t stop with this.

“you know mom and dad would kill you if they found out you hang out over there,” i warned her, again.

“i know. because no one’s gonna tell them.” she elbows my arm, “and it’s not like i don’t know what i’m doing.  they love me over there. i help moco  with his hot cheetos fix. he gives me five bucks and i keep the change. hahah. he thinks i just like doing homework over there. and i don’t think he knows how much spanish i understand.”

“well you still shouldn’t hang there because those hooker junkies can get crazy and you shouldn’t be around for that.”

“i just don’t think they should be making money hurting people like that. and i’m almost done. i just don’t know how they get their stuff into those little houses. like i know the cops have been sweating moco and his buddy pelon,” penny was the only kid i knew who could talk as much as she did and still eat her food the fastest - her paleta was gone.

crack! crack! crack! crack!

“what the hell?” i grab penny and duck down. that sounded like gunfire. then we heard a bunch of loud and low voices yelling.

penny threw down her cleaned off paleta stick and ran toward the sound, toward the chain link fence we shared with the druggie neighbors.

“shit, penny!” way to run toward the guns.

i ran after her but her little legs already got her to the action.

there they were. moco and pelon on their knees and their hands behind their heads and several police officers in tactical vests behind them.

“i knew it! i knew it!” penny yelled. i finally grab hold of her and pull her back closer to our the bushes of our building.

“what do you mean you knew it!? you knew this was happening?” i scream at her in shock. “i swear i need a leash for you.”

penny is almost celebrating. she slapped her hands together with a huge grin and said, “officer fernandez told me something was gonna go down today!” she lowered her voice, “i’ve been sharing my notes with them.”


“penny you telling me you’ve been ratting out moco? you take his money for the cheetos and you’ve been informing?” i was outta my mind pissed.

“they always turned me away but i’ve been giving them letters with my notes, yeah!” penny couldn’t contain her glee.

sargent fernandez walks over to us.  he pats penny on the head and said, “i need to to step behind the building, penny, and you too sir.” i swear i saw the sargent smile when he said that.

“oh! no prob! no prob officer fernandez! but just one thing...did we figure out how they were bringing everything into the houses? i still couldn’t figure it out and i hung out there so much…” penny yelled.

“shhhh! penny!” i said.

“we can’t talk about this, penny. you know that,” said fernandez.

“fine.” penny pouted. i pulled her back toward our side of the building and away from any chance that moco and pelon can hear us.

penny was so happy, instead of toward our door, she jumped straight into our community pool - with clothes on all. oh no. and with her glasses on.

“wooooo!!!” how can she be so happy?

but i was sweating.  penny can’t know. when she got comfortable in the pool i walked as fast as i could without looking suspicious and headed out to the culdesac.  i can’t hear that damn chipper ice cream truck song playing. i run out to the curb and see the truck down the block. then i hear the first verse of the song played and then stop. okay. i can relax.  that’s chino’s sign that we are cool.

penny can’t ever know that chino and i are the ones helping chino. she’s a narc and probably gonna be a cop someday. fuck.

the end.