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Christmas Noir

Some of you, who were around last year, might remember I started writing a story about the Holiday season. It was sort of a mystery story, and I hadn't had it well thought out. In the end I gave up because I had really run low on the ability to give a shit and in the end the story was canned. I nearly deleted the three posts I'd made of it. But... for whatever reason I didn't. Instead I kept thinking about it, and thinking about it. Then November came along, and there was nano and I said to Fancy "Fance, this is time to write that story!"

So I did.

I kept with it through computer crashes, and different computers and a new keyboard that I'm beginning to think was a mistake and through it all the story has persevered. It's a mystery story in a serial format so that it gives you no more than 4 or 5 pages worth of text a day. I'm hoping everyone will give it a good read as I'm pretty happy with it so far. I'm only up to day 14 at the moment, but I know where it's going and I know how it ends now. As for length, I have a very specific idea of how long this will be. In short, and to quote too many people talking about too many wars, it'll all be over by Buddha Day.

This is very possibly the most allegorical story I’ve ever written, symbols and side comments abound. Almost nothing in this story is really what it looks like, they’re all symbols of different things. This is also the first time I’ve actually tried to write in the style of a genre. The Mystery story must have certain things and particularly a story that is trying to ape Hammett and Chandler must indeed follow a certain pattern and live up to a number of requirements. All In all, I’ve tried to make something that would explain my points, and possibly be an entertaining piece of pulp.

So without further dilly dallying, here is the first part of my story.

Christmas Noir

You can’t see my name from my office, because things aren’t like they used to be. There is a small waiting room that separates my office from the world outside and I don’t have my name painted on the windows. The window faces north anyway, so the sun never shines in and puts the name that isn’t painted on the wall like that great shot in the Maltese Falcon. It wouldn’t say Spade and Archer if the firm name was painted on the window, and if it weren’t facing north.

If I had a southern facing window, and had painted the firm name on the window, then I wouldn’t be me and it still wouldn’t say my name on the floor when the sun shone in. In the building directory though, it does say that there is a Jack Collier who runs a private investigation concern on the third floor, down at the end. It doesn’t say down at the end of course, but my office is at the end of a hallway. All it says on the directory is Jack Collier, Private Investigations, 305. Or at least it would if the five hadn’t vanished in April.

Really it’s a marvel that anyone can find my office to hire me, which they don’t do very much, but I still make out alright.

It was late, a cold night in December, and I was sitting at my desk. My desk isn’t a big thing, not one of those massive things that you think of when you see CEOs in the movies sitting behind. It’s an old Victorian relic though, and thus it’s solid enough to take the weight of two lonely people who have surrendered to the urge of physical contact. I wish they would find another desk though, they keep messing up my papers when they do that.

Sadly, I wasn’t in the throws of passion, I couldn’t even call my secretary into the room and ask her to pick something up off the floor. Debbie had left hours ago, and she wouldn’t play that game if she were here. I was alone, with just a few containers of Thai food, my memories of happier times, and the bills which had to be paid. It is proof of a civilized world that there are such things as credit and payment through the mail, but sometimes I’d rather just slip Detroit Edison a packet of used bills in a plain envelope.

That’s what I was doing there at that advanced hour of the night. I refuse to take my work home with me, and I refuse to make Debbie do the monthly bills, and I’m a particularly lazy beast who lets the bills pile up until the pile threatens to topple over. It wasn’t an issue of money, the bank balance was as it always was. There was enough to pay the bills, enough to pay Debbie her pittance, and enough to pay myself. There was even enough to give ourselves a nice office party, and a decent annual bonus for Debbie to take her vacation in March when she usually went on one of her trips.

I was just putting the stamp on the envelope for my landlord when the phone rang. It wasn’t my cell phone, which means it wasn’t one of the four people who might actually call me on my cell, but rather the office phone. I had to leap up and run across my office to the waiting room and dice to Debbie’s desk to pick up her receiver. The phone in my office only rings when Debbie puts a call through because I’ve never bothered to have her set up the phone system beyond the voice mail if we don’t pick up.

“Hello?” I asked as I picked up the phone, not bothering to announce the company name. Debbie does the phone answering in this office and if she wasn’t going to be here after hours just because she wants to get home at a reasonable hour, I wasn’t going to do her job for her.

“Jack?” The voice was familiar, but not immediately.

“Yeah.” I said.

“It’s Tom Noonan.” Detective Tom Noonan of the local constabulary said.

“Hi Tom.” I said. “What can I do for you?”

“You haven’t been out and about have you?” He asked.

“No.” I said. “I was just kicking up my feet with a bottle of rye and a grateful client.”

“So you don’t know then?”

“Know what?” I asked, a cold tumor suddenly forming in my belly.

“Officially I’m going to have to ask you about your movements tonight.”

I knew, at that moment I knew. Sure, it could have been anyone, there are hundreds of thousands of people he could be calling me about. There was only one that mattered though, only one that he would ask me about in that way. I could feel my heart groan, my feet sigh and my shoulders grumble. I was going to be involved with her again. She was going to be re-entering my life again, and there was nothing I could do about it. I knew that whatever it was, I was going to be involved one way or another.

“I was at the office all day.” I said. “Debbie can verify that up until about five when she went home, around seven-thirty I got hungry so I ordered some Thai food, it got here at eight. I ate, and I’ve been sitting here paying the bills.”

“You mean you’ve been working on something?” he almost sounded hopeful about that.

“No.” I said, “I mean I’ve been writing checks and stamping envelopes.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” He said, with a resigned sigh.

“Maybe you should tell me what happened.” I said.

“It’s Christmas.” He said, and my heart would have sunk into my toes but fortunately there were a lot of organs blocking its passage. “She was attacked. She’s down at Saint Joe’s right now.”

“What the hell is she doing at Saint Joe’s?” I asked. “She lives in Bloomfield, doesn’t she?”

“She was found in the Wiegand's nursery parking lot.” He said and then began to rattle things off like a cop. “She was found about nine o’clock, but we estimate she was dropped there between eight thirty and nine. She was attacked with something like a baseball bat or other large blunt object so it probably wasn’t done there. They went over her pretty good. Smashed both legs, left shoulder, ribs, smashed up her face so bad you can’t recognize her, then they did some carving with a knife as well. She’s in intensive care right now, they don’t even know if she’ll last the night. They even strangled her a little with some of the string lights up on one of the trees. When they found her, she still had the lights around her neck.”

“You said dumped?” I asked.

“Her car is no where to be found.” He said. “I probably shouldn’t even be telling you all this, but… well you know.”

“Yeah.” I said. “I do know.”

“You’ve been at the office all night?”

“Yeah.” I said. “You want to come over and grill me a little?”

“I don’t think so.” He said. “Give me a call tomorrow and I can give you a better idea of what went down.”

“Thanks Tom.” I said, trying not to sit down because I knew I’d never move again if I did.

“You going to look into this?” He asked, sounding like he didn’t even want top broach the subject. “I mean, we sort of said.”

“I know.” I said, feeling like I’d been shot and was loosing more blood by the second. “I don’t know if I can do that again.”

“Yeah.” He said. “Well, if you change your mind, let me know.”

“Sure Tom.” I said. “And thanks for telling me before the news did.”

“You only heard it from me first because you didn’t turn on the TV.” He said. “They’ve been all over this since it happened, they were called first.”

“They usually are these days.” I said. “You sure you don’t need a real statement from me?”

“Yeah.” He said. “I’ll have to go see Church though, that’s going to be fun.”

“Good luck.” I said.

“Thanks.” He said. “I’ll talk to you later.”

“Yeah, bye.” I then hung up the phone and sat back down in my chair.

Christmas, damn.

As much as everyone loves her, very few people actually know her. I knew her, and I loved her once. The problem with her was that she made everything more difficult, being the persona dramatica did that. There was an unending list of dramas in her life, a continual procession of issues and problems. Most people just saw her show and thought that was what she was like. I knew her as a person though, and because of that the tragic side of her life was a bit clearer to me. The divorce, the addiction, the pain, the suffering was all there if you looked. People thought she was just a beautiful creature, who could create a month long anticipation, and sometimes more, for her show. I knew her though, which meant that I knew the truth.

Christmas… son of a bitch.

I felt some anger then, all of the sudden, just like that. She could do that to you, just thinking about her could bring up feelings you didn’t know you had anymore. You’d be going along in your usual dull haze of gray, and there she would be, a bright shining light. She would remind you of how you used to feel around her, even if you couldn’t really feel that way anymore. She could even make you feel things that you’d thought yourself incapable of. She could do things like that, even if she weren’t really around.

I thought of her, laying in a parking lot and I got angry. Someone had done something to her and they were going to have to pay. I thought about grabbing my gun and going out into the night. I figured I could be on the street with gun in hand in under a minute, except my guns were locked up. I would have to get them out of the safe, find the bullets, load them, it was a lot more effort than I felt I wanted to take at the moment.

It was a lot more effort than I wanted to take at the moment. I’d either get frustrated because I can’t open the safe in a hurry, or I’d get the guns out of the safe and would have calmed down by then. This is one of the reasons the guns are in that old safe, so that I can’t just grab them and go. An unloaded gun in a safe doesn’t go off at inopportune moments.

After a little while of standing there, I was calm enough to just go home. I checked all the bills, made sure I’d gotten everything, and left the office. The bills in hand I went through the waiting room and put my coat and hat on. I wound the old scarf a former client had given me as a memento around my neck and left the office, locking the door behind me. I slipped the envelopes into the mail chute and watched them sail away down to the basement.

I then walked to my car, got in and went home. I was late enough that most the shops had turned off their lights and thus the desperate displays of consumerism and holiday cheer were muted. If I was lucky, I would forget about all of this by morning.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)
I really like the line "my heart would have sunk into my toes but fortunately there were a lot of organs blocking its passage". Great imagery.

There is a typo, “He car is no where to be found.” Should it be "her car is..."?

I like how your decribing the windows in the first couple of paragraphs, but they don't flow as well as the rest of the story. Maybe they could be tightened up a bit?
Dec. 1st, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
You caught me. I put the bit with the window at the begining in because it ocurred to me that the main character's full name wasn't given until like day 4. When I go back into it later to make it one full story I'll keep that in mind.
Dec. 1st, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC)
It's a good bit and should stay in the story. It helps to describe the main character's personality, which can be tough to do.
Dec. 1st, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
I remember this bit from last year! I'm so glad you decided to continue it!

Can't wait for new chapters.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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