A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

YOU LOOK SO FINE, I WANT TO BREAK YOUR HEART


It's been almost a whole month since the Bobby Pins and Mary Janes project wrapped. I had been meaning to post a round-up of all the chapter links closer to the August 5th anniversary, but last night the above drawing showed up on Megan Levens' blog, and though she hasn't said it was a drawing of Parker from the novel, the Garbage quote she uses for a headline makes me suspicious. Regardless, I'll take it!

And if you're looking for handy way to download all of Bobby Pins and Mary Janes, look no further: 

Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3 * Part 4
Part 5 * Part 6 * Part 7 * Part 8

I am currently working on another novel and developing some other things, including a couple of comics projects with Megan, but I still plan to put this book out in some form or other, something complete and separate from this, hopefully with another copyedit.

Current Soundtrack: Blur, Leisure (Bonus Disc)


Monday, July 30, 2012

WRITING DOODLE: AND THEN I DREAMT OF YES

The "Daily Doodle" concept is intended to warm up my creative engines, and is essentially free writing, poetry or prose, usually accomplished in under an hour with a minimum of corrections. From time to time, I will post the results here.

In some cases, the piece will also be a special commission, prompted by a particular buyer. Readers can still custom order their own quick short-short stories: details here.

*
            Her very presence unnerved him. She stole his presence of mind and his lung capacity in a way no one had since he was a teenager. The fact that compared to him she was practically still one herself was not lost on him, but that didn't matter. It wasn't like he was talking to her or implementing a plan to get her phone number or even her name. He was just looking. Looking across a crowded room. Observing.

            He catalogued certain things.

            She touched her earlobe five times, as if she were confirming she still had an earring, as if maybe she'd lost one before.

            When it appeared the conversation she was engaged in made her nervous or bored, she'd demonstratively check her cocktail glass, gauging her need for a refill. Twice, she found a glass empty enough to excuse herself to get another. The gambit worked once, but the second time, the person she was talking to offered to get the refill for her. While he was away, she changed position. It took him awhile to find her, and by the time he did, she'd found a new conversation partner. He handed over the retrieved drink and then disappeared.

            One of her shoes bothered her. The left. From what he could guess, it had something to do with the way the strap cut into her heel.

            She carried no handbag. She seemingly had no ID, no cash, no phone. There was not a coat check, you carried what you came in with. Or she had stashed it somewhere, suggesting she either knew someone or she was very trusting of the people their host would invite to a party.

            At least three times she saw him staring. The second time she smiled, but he ignored it. This, he felt, confirmed she was indeed too trusting and he didn't want to take advantage. The third time she caught him, she smiled again, and at that point, he decided it would just be rude to act as if he wasn't staring and had not noticed.

            "I'm Chris," he said.

            "Shanti," she replied.

            Now he was talking to her. Now it mattered.

            "You don't look like a Shanti."

            "How does a Shanti look?"

            "I don't know. Indian? Or wearing a big flowery dress."

            (She was wearing the classic black cocktail dress.)

            "My mother's closet is full of those," she said. "My parents were hippies."

            Shanti laughed at her own revelation. Good. She didn't take things too seriously.

            "Why are you here, Chris?" she asked.

            "Because of the happenstance of evolution. At some point the right cells divided, and I stepped through the cracks."

            She touched her ear again, and he decided it wasn't what he thought it was originally. It was some kind of tell. She was devising something.

            "You're being purposely mysterious," she said.

            "And you smell like lilac," he replied.

            "There. You did it again."

            "I don't intend to cultivate a mystery," he told her, "I just don't what us to get comfortable with the absolute truth just yet."

            "Which would imply..."

            "That there is an absolute truth, yes."

            "Do you believe there is?" And before he could answer, she slid in, "And don't say me."

            "I wasn't going to say 'me,' I was going to say 'you.'"

            He was faster.

            "Touché." And she laughed again--only this time, there was a different lilt to it. She had information he did not.

            "Do you know what the two greatest words in the English language are?" he asked.

            "I doubt we agree," she answered, "so just tell me."

            "'And then.'"

            "'And then'? I don't get it."

            "As in, 'And then he asked her if she wanted to get out of there.'"

            The girl nodded. "Interesting. But I'd counter that the best word in the English language is actually 'yes.'"

            "As in, that's your answer?"

            "No," she said.

            And then she checked the level of her drink....

Current Soundtrack: Kevin Rowland, My Beauty
 


e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Midi-Confessions123 * Criterion Confessions * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, July 26, 2012

WE CLOSE OUR EYES


NEW TO THEATRES...

* The Watch, your summer safeguard against laughing. Trust me. You won't. Starring Stiller, Vaughn, Hill, and a bunch of dead air.

UPDATED TO CRITERION CONFESSIONS...

* Pygmalion, Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard work with George Bernard Shaw to bring his famous stageplay to the silver screen.

THIS WEEK IN BD/DVD REVIEWS...



* 1900, Gerard Depardieu and Robert De Niro star in Bernardo Bertolucci's sprawling, mad epic.

* Force of Evil, a sharp gangster picture from 1948, with John Garfield as a mob lawyer looking to take his gambling racket to the big time.

* Panda! Go, Panda! an early kids movie from Hayao Miyazaki.

* La terra trema, Luchino Visconti's second feature, is a classic of Italian Neorealism.


Current Soundtrack: Saint Etienne, "Side Streets;" Pet Shop Boys, "London (Piano Mix);" Belle & Sebastian, "(I Believe In) Travellin' Light;" Tindersticks, "The Other Side of the World"


e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Midi-Confessions123 * Criterion Confessions * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, July 20, 2012

OCTOBER SOLICITATION: IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS #3

IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS #3
story JAMIE S. RICH
art MIKE NORTON
cover MICHAEL & LAURA ALLRED

OCTOBER 17
32 PAGES / FC / E
$2.99

“DARK STREETS, SNAP CITY,” Part Three The Skunk’s old gang is up to trouble, and It Girl has a few choice words for the man who killed her sister. But who’s the shadowy presence that follows her wherever she goes, and can she and the rest of the Atomics stop a crime spree before it starts?



Current Soundtrack: Kylie Minogue - remixes of "Timebomb/Better Than Today/Put Your Hands Up"



Thursday, July 19, 2012

ARISE THEREFORE

NEW TO THEATRES...




* Beasts of the Southern Wild, a noble effort with great acting and beautiful cinematography, but overbearing music and a muddled script.

* The Dark Knight Rises, maybe the most anticipated movie of the year. But must what goes up also come down?

* Trishna. It's a bummer summer with Michael Winterbottom adapting Thomas Hardy. Pity poor Freida Pinto. 

UPDATED TO CRITERION CONFESSIONS...

* Design for Living, a lithe comedy from Noël Coward, directed by Ernst Lubitisch. Love triangles at their most pointed!

*  Le havre, a middling dramedy from Aki Kaurismäki

THIS WEEK IN BD/DVD REVIEWS...

* Treme: The Complete Second Season. HBO's most challenging show is a lot like life. And, hey, ain't life worth it?

Current Soundtrack: The Vaccines, "Teenage Icon;"

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Midi-Confessions123 * Criterion Confessions * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

Sunday, July 15, 2012

TR!CKSTER NOIR, SUNDAY: THE WITNESS

Instead of the regular writing doodle, I am taking Scott Morse's challenge for Trickster attendees to create a pulp story, prose or comics, in their hotel room each day of Comic Con International. Obviously, being at home, it's a little different for me, but I decided to take this on remotely. I'm taking a little longer with it than I did with my fast fiction, but that's because I am aiming for at least the semblance of a complete story.

This is actually an old idea, an unrealized Liberty Comics pitch, originally planned for three comic book pages. Hence, it's rather to the point.

* * * 

I took the job as a favor. No one else wanted to touch it and Tynan needed someone he could trust. The case was the hottest of potatoes. A grenade with the pin already pulled. Leave it to me to throw my body on top. Some would say there’s a word for guys like me, and that word is “sucker.”

The gig seemed easy enough: sit in a hotel room with a scared secretary and make sure no one bugs her before her big trial. The case was in all the papers. This girl was rolling over on her boss, the unions, and the United States of America in one fell swoop. We kept saying that we weren’t going to war in Europe, but the people she worked for were gearing up as if it were otherwise. War profiteering before there was a war.

Her name was Myra. She sat on the bed, her hands in her lap. She was a tiny thing. Not much you’d notice if you just saw her somewhere. Even the bed eclipsed her, you could probably fit two of her end to end on that mattress, and two more side by side. She was pretty enough, but unassuming. To look at her, you’d think she could barely stand up to carry her dirty dishes to the sink, much less stand up to the big machine. That’s probably why they made her privy to the backroom deals that she had exposed, they would have never thought she’d do anything with the info.

I had a perch for myself by the window. I sat on a medium-height chest of drawers, resting my legs but keeping a vantage point where I could spy through the curtains if anyone was coming near. Tynan put some guys on another hotel, a couple of officers he thought were probably okay, and made them think that Myra was there. In truth, they were just sitting on air. Decoys. It was just her and me on our own.

We didn’t talk much, but I think the waiting was starting to get to her. She was fidgety. “I didn’t want any of this, you know,” she said. Her voice was quiet and small, as one might expect from a gal of her size.

“I wouldn’t think you would.”

“It just seemed like the right thing to do. Don’t you think so? Don’t you think a body should do what she thinks is right?”

“It’s really none of my business.”

“But surely you have an opinion?”

“I don’t get paid to have an opinion. And really, the less I know, the better for me in the long run.”

“There’s more people like you than me these days. No one wants to know anything. Do you read the papers? I do. I read the papers and listen to the radio and I watch the newsreels before the feature because what else am I going to do? I see things and I wonder why no one else sees them, too.”

The longer she spoke, the less shaky her words became.

“I’m starting to think that’s why Europe is going the way it is. Because people don’t want to see anything, and if they see it, they don’t want to admit it. It’s hard to do something, but it’s harder to do nothing sometimes. Don’t you think I’m on the side of the righteous?”

“I’m no one to say, really.”

“But you’re here, you must have thought I was okay.”

“I’m getting paid.”

“And it’s really that simple for you? If the other guys wanted to pay you more, the ones who wanted to kill me, would you take their money instead?”

I didn’t want to answer, but she had me. “No,” I said.

“I didn’t think so.”

Truth was, I admired the hell out of her, and I had done everything I could not to admit it. I just wanted to get through this day and get through tonight and get her to the courthouse tomorrow, let her do what she was going to do. I didn’t want to think about much more than that. She was going up against a giant. At least David had a slingshot when he slew Goliath; this poor girl was stuck with me.

I heard the screeching of tires. It made me sit up. I signaled Myra with my hand, waved for her to duck down. Car doors opening and closing. Something deep in my animal gut told me to get down myself, and seconds after I dove from the dresser, the window shattered and the walls turned to swiss cheese. They’d brought a tommy gun with them, and they were filling our one-room accommodation with lead.

When the shooting stopped, I heard footsteps on the pavement outside. I reached for my gun and tried to get to my feet, but my timing was bunk. They kicked the door in with me right behind it and knocked me back to the floor. My head immediately went into freefall, my brain was spinning. There were two of them. They didn’t speak. I needed to get up before they shot Myra, I had to protect Myra.

Except they didn’t fire their guns. They just walked back out.

Panic took over, and it compelled me to push harder. I got to my feet, turned around, and saw right away what they saw. Myra had never made it off the bed. She’d been hit three times before my warning could register. They were willing to kill her face to face, but they didn’t have to. The poor kid never stood a chance.

I ran for the door. Tires were screeching again. The assassins were already in their car and speeding away. I fired three times, trying to get a shell through the back window, praying I’d blow the backs off their rotten heads, but I was as useless a shot as I was a bodyguard.

The whole thing had taken less than two minutes. Two minutes to snuff a life. Two minutes for the bad guys to win.

As I tried to gather up my breath, I took a look around the parking lot.

There were people everywhere. They were watching. Bystanders on the street, patrons in their room, a man in his boxer shorts by the ice machine, the hotel clerk in his little office--all of them just standing there, staring, not speaking.

I waved my gun at them, spinning around, one to the next. “Say something!”  I said. “Go ahead! Anything! I dare you!”

They must have thought I was crazy.

Which was better than I thought of them.

I went back into the room and I picked up that girl and I held her close and I kept my gun on the door while we waited for help to come. They had done enough to her, I wasn’t going to let them do any more.

* * *

Current Soundtrack: Typhoon, Hunger and Thirst




e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Midi-Confessions123 * Criterion Confessions * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

CELLULOID HEROES

Shawn Levy at The Oregonian did a round-up of Portland comics folks, asking them their opinions about superhero movies. Included are Brian Michael Bendis, Jeff Parker, Natalie Nourigat, Dylan Meconis, David Chelsea, and many others. And, naturally, yours truly.

It's a pretty neat round-table. Read the full version online here. A shorter version is printed in today's arts section of the paper.

You should also check out this ridiculously fun comic strip they ran Friday, in which Mike Russell and Bill Mudron jam on their own feelings about the whole superhero movie craze.



Current Soundtrack: Jack White, "Freedom at 21/Inaccessible Mystery"




Saturday, July 14, 2012

TR!CKSTER NOIR, SATURDAY: CRIME SCENES

Instead of the regular writing doodle, I am taking Scott Morse's challenge for Trickster attendees to create a pulp story, prose or comics, in their hotel room each day of Comic Con International. Obviously, being at home, it's a little different for me, but I decided to take this on remotely. I'm taking a little longer with it than I did with my fast fiction, but that's because I am aiming for at least the semblance of a complete story.

Today's piece was actually from a suggestion by Joëlle Jones. I texted and asked what it should be about, and she wrote back, "CSI noir." The result is not exactly that, but it got the ball rolling.

* * * 

The rain stopped at just after 3 a.m. at nearly the exact moment when Police Detective Tynan’s shoe leather met the pavement at the crime scene. The deluge had been going on for nearly eight hours. It brought a body with it.

The victim was facedown on the pavement, his body bent at odd angles. White male, late 20s, dark hair. Judging by the position of his head, Tynan ascertained that his neck was broken. Likewise the bones in his limbs, as all four went in different directions, including ones that weren’t natural. Exposed flesh appeared bruised. His suit was a cheap knock-off, but tailored to look more expensive. It was soaked through, and judging by some of the darker stains, not just with water.

No one had touched the body yet. They had waited for Tynan to make the scene. The beat cop who had found the corpse and called it in was standing with his superior, waiting for a pat on the back most likely. Tynan chewed a toothpick, as was his wont. The tang of the wood was so familiar now, it stayed on his tongue even when he was between sticks. It helped him think. Sycophantic rookies with a need for praise just for doing their basic duty did not.

“I’m guessing he was thrown from up there.” The beat cop pointed at a fire-escape landing several stories up, attached to a brick sweatshop where they made and housed the kind of clothing the dead man wore. It was probably just a coincidence.

“Not likely,” Tynan said.

“You think he came from higher? Or like from the roof or a window?”

“None of the above.”

The rookie was confused. “But he’s dead from a fall, ain’t he?”

Tynan crouched over the body. “Uh-huh. He just didn’t fall in this spot.”

“How you mean? He’s there, ain’t he?”

“Sure. But where’s the blood? A drop like that...a body is like a big bag of goo. This poor schlemiel gets tossed from a height of that kind, he’s gonna pop and there’s gonna be nastiness all over the stone. Don’t let the puddles fool you. He’s just sucking up rain water. He bled all over some other street.”

There was a flash of light on Tynan’s periphery, to his right, and an audible pop.

A photog’ took the bulb out of his camera housing and replaced it with another. He lifted his gear to his eye, moving to snap another shot. All he got was the police detective’s hand.

“You don’t want to do that, Watson.”

“Gimme a break, Tynan. You’re not usually one to strongarm the press.”

“It’s not like that, fella. I’m just looking out for you. This case might strike you different.”

“How so?”

“Where’s your pencil pusher tonight?”

“Joplin? Not sure. I’m on this solo for the moment.”

Tynan bent back over the body. “I know where he is,” he said, “but I’d really like to know where he’s been.”

The detective gripped the dead man’s hair and lifted his head, showing the broken and bloodied face to Watson. Even swollen, Tynan could see who the corpse had been, and he knew the photog’ would, too.

“Oh, Jesus.” Watson’s complexion turned white, and then green. “What happened?”

Tynan stood again. He slapped his hands together, wiping off the rainwater and hair that stuck to his palms. “Right now, your guess may be as good as mine. Was Joplin working a story?”

“Uh-huh. Always.”

“What was it? Did he tell you where he was going tonight?”

Watson choked back some vomit and turned away from his colleague’s mangled frame. “Believe it or not, he was interviewing an actor. Clark Flint.”

Tynan was looking over the particulars of the body, checking the pockets for any evidence. A matchbook, a stub from a hat check, a handkerchief with long red hairs on it. Tiny bits of glass were stuck into the cloth of his suit and pants. “Why was a crime reporter talking to some Hollywood gadabout?”

“He had gotten word that Flint was the hub for distributing drugs to his movie buddies. Jazz cigarettes, morphine, that kind of stuff. Flint was doing the rounds for that new flicker of his, the one where he plays a Canadian mountie. Joplin talked the gal who normally does this stuff into letting him take point this time around. Sold her a story about being a big fan of Flint’s pirate movies.”

The matchbook was for a swank hotel downtown. Tynan didn’t need three guesses where Flint had been staying.

*

The night clerk told Tynan that Flint had a wake-up call for 7 a.m. Tynan told him to cancel it. Unless he hadn’t come back out. If that were the case, call the desk sergeant at the precinct and wake him up instead.

Clark Flint was a B-list actor who had one major success in a World War I picture where he played a reformed coward who makes good in No Man’s Land. His other movies were largely action pieces, and he was said to do his own stunts. Lots of jumping around in funny costumes from what the police detective had seen, but he liked the movies fine enough. They were certainly better off-duty distractions than all the weepy dramas and brother-can-you-spare-a-dime hoo-ha that was popular these days. Tynan actually preferred westerns, but Flint had only been in a couple of cavalry pictures. He hadn’t made any true cowboy movies.

Tynan’s theories about maybe the actor knocking the reporter out of his hotel window after Joplin pushed a few too many touchy questions quickly evaporated when he found out Flint wasn’t staying in the hotel proper. Instead, he was in one of the high-price private bungalows out back, on the other side of the pool. The swimming hole had overflowed due to the rain. It caused such a mess, a pair of janitors were out there at this hour with brooms pushing the excess up and down the sidewalk, cleaning up any post-storm debris.

When Tynan got to the bungalow, the lights were on. He wasn’t waking up Flint at all. The beat cop had come along, and the ranking officer told him to take a position out of sight before he knocked on the door. The actor came out in a bathrobe, smoking a cigarette. Tynan showed him his badge. “You the house detective?” Flint asked. “Because it’s not me that’s been making that noise. Chaplin’s got his floozy in the bungalow next door. She throws hissies like clockwork.”

“Look again,” Tynan said, pushing his tin star closer. “That’s city, not private.”

Flint’s eyes got wide, making it clearer to Tynan how much smaller  his pupils were by comparison. “Who did she wake up to get you down here?”

“No one. Now, you mind if I come in?” Tynan pushed past the actor without waiting for an answer. The room was disheveled, but nothing to indicate violence. All chairs were upright and in one piece. The mess was mainly empty glasses, towels, some wet bathing suits on the floor. There was a blonde boy with tan skin asleep on his stomach on the couch. He was naked. A strategically placed pillow covered his rear. Flint was probably nude under the robe. “You and your friend been swimming in this storm?”

“You’d be surprised how freeing it is. Water above and below.”

“It’ s a good way to get struck by lightning. Cooked goose for Christmas.”

Flint crossed to the table in the center of the room and took a cigarette out of a gold case. It looked normal enough, and when he lit it, the smell confirmed for Tynan that it was just tobacco. “I’m sorry,” Flint said. “Why are you here again?”

“You have a reporter over here to your rabbit warren earlier tonight?”

“No.”

“So you didn’t get interviewed for that mountie movie?”

“I didn’t say that. I did meet with a newspaper guy, but not in my bungalow. We met in the hotel nightclub.”

Theories were solidifying again. “The one on the top floor of the hotel?”

“That’s the one.”

“Anyone see you there?”

“Everyone saw me there. I don’t go out to places like that unnoticed.”

“When was that?”

“He showed up around 10:00.”

“And when he left, was it through a door?”

“Come again.”

“It’s simple, Flint. Was he walking on his own two feet or was he flying?”

“Whoa, hang on,” Flint said. “Did something happen?”

Tynan got up in his face. The actor had a good three inches on him, but Tynan had enough experience to use that to his advantage. You get under a taller man’s vision, make him back up. The point of his toothpick nearly poked Flint in the chin--which did not go unnoticed.

“What about you, thespian? Were you flying?”

Flint laughed. He flapped his arms up and down. “These are just flesh, inspector. No feathers.”

“You’re flying now, and we both know it. I bet if I get a doctor down here, he’ll tell me your plaything on the couch is packed with dope, too, that he’s not sleeping the sleep of the just over there. He got an ID to prove he’s even legal?”

“Let’s not get hasty. We can make arrangements--”

“Save it for the papers. Because if Joplin was right about you, and you did to him what I think you did, they’re going to have a lot to write up.”

Panic was setting in. “Now wait. I’m going to cooperate with you, but you have to believe me, I left that scribe up top as soon as he started making accusations, and he was alive and enjoying his cups when I did.”

“On the level, was he right about you? You dealing narco?”

“I just pick up for others, I don’t up-sell. I swear.”

Tynan studied the man’s face. He was stoned, but not so stoned that he was dumb enough to lie. He had gauged the temperature of the hot water he was in and decided not to drown. The cop pat the actor on his cheek, and then he crossed back to the door. He opened it up and whistled for the rookie.

The uniformed officer came over to the entrance. Tynan put a hand on his shoulder and positioned him so he was visible through the opening. He pointed at Flint. “Recognize that fellow?” he asked, but then stopped his junior before he could answer. “Doesn’t matter. Memorize that face. If you see it try to leave, shoot it.”

“But my shift--”

“Is over when I tell you that you can go home. Capiche?”

Dawn was approaching and the sky was growing lighter as storm clouds parted. Tynan passed one of the janitors--a black man--and noticed he was rinsing his push broom. The runoff from the bristles was red.

“What do you have there?”

“Someone made a real mess out here,” he said. “I don’t know what it was. Glass and somesuch. Like they spilled a case of wine or something.”

More theories flashed in Tynan’s mind. “Stop what you’re doing!” he said. He showed his badge. “That broom is police evidence now.”

“I didn’t have anything to do with whatever it was.” The janitor looked scared.

“I know, pal. Don’t worry. Just hold on to that for me, don’t wash it anymore. Put a bag over it if you can and wait for me right here. I’ll square whatever time on the clock with your boss.”

Tynan stepped back and looked up the face of the hotel. There were no immediate signs of murder, no visible broken windows, but it was hard to see all the way up. The building was facing East, and the rising sun was already reflecting off the glass and blinding his vision. Tynan would have to take a closer look from the inside.

*

As Tynan rode the elevator to the top floor, he worked on the math. Accepting Flint’s account of events as fact, he met Joplin for drinks just after 10:00. He talked to the reporter for a bit, maybe an hour, and then left when Joplin revealed his true intentions. Joplin stayed. At some point, Joplin had to leave, and it looked more and more like he had exited via the outside of the building. The glass on his clothes suggested he was definitely pushed through a window, so there had to be some evidence of a struggle somewhere, even if it was a sign of a freshly installed window pane. Joplin went splat just outside the pool and then ended up in the garment district sometime before 2:30 a.m. when the beat cop found his body.

“Excuse me.” Tynan was talking to the elevator operator. “What time does the nightclub close?”

“1:00 every morning.”

Tynan nodded. That could give folks time to move the body. The rainstorm was likely already providing cover in terms of the mess Joplin’s dying had made.

The elevator reached the top floor and the police detective exited. The nightclub was quiet. Empty. No deductive reasoning required. It was not a “morning club.”

As he headed inside, Tynan passed a hat check. His mind flashed to the unclaimed ticket in the dead man’s pocket. The detective pulled it out of his own. He went into the check area. It was drafty back there, and it made him shiver. Homicide detectives shouldn’t make room for superstition, but that was a bad omen. Murder scenes were often as cold as any grave. Tynan started to scan through the left-behind garments still hanging on the racks. There wasn’t much. Sure enough, a hat and rain slicker had been left there. There was an old ink stain over the left breast. A pen had leaked in the interior pocket at some point. If that wasn’t enough to tell any investigator who’d been around the block that this coat probably belonged to a reporter, the label on the inside, indicating the slicker was property of an “Antoine Joplin,” was elementary.

“Can I help you?”

A woman was standing at the entrance of the closet. The lady was short and had red hair. She wore a black dress with white stripes. She looked tough. If she worked a nightclub, she had to be. She’d have had to contend with her share of drunks.

Another flash of his badge. “I’m police detective Tynan. Care to tell me your name?”

“It’s Jones,” she said. “I run this hat check.”

As she spoke, Tynan did more math. A simple 1+1. The girl had red hair, and he’d found red hair on the victim.

“You work here, then? In this drafty space?”

“What’s it to you, flatfoot?”

“Oh, I’m no flatfoot. Your lingo is wrong. I’m a detective. I don’t walk the streets.”

“Thanks for the jargon lesson.”

“Seriously, you feel that? You must. It’s like a breeze.”

“You’re imagining things. There’s no window, no vents.”

Tynan looked around. She was right. There was just the back wall, and a bunch of crates stacked against it. There was sawdust and dirt around them on the floor, and slide marks, like they’d just been moved there.

“They make you store stuff back here? What is that?”

“Empty liquor bottles. And, yes, we make do with what space we have.”

The detective nodded. “Do you mind?” he asked, pointing to the wooden boxes, and he moved to them without waiting for an answer. Tynan started to unstack them.

“What are you doing?” The girl was practically shouting.

The cold and the wind increased. Because once the boxes were moved, Tynan revealed a broken window. “Look at that,” Tynan said. “It’s big enough to fit a man through.”

“Dammnit.” Now she was whispering.

“Something tells me, Jones, that you have a story to share that’s far less common than your name.”

*

The Jones girl was mum at first, but Clark Flint rolled on her without much hesitation.

“I get the drugs from her. I give her my jacket, she fills my pockets with what I need. Naturally, I saw her on the way out after I left the reporter. He might have picked up on a vibe, I don’t know. Or she might have gone after him, because I told her what was happening, told her to watch out if he started asking questions.”

When a stash of opiates and marijuana was found in a cubby in the hat check closet, along with a small pistol, Jones knew the jig was up. Tynan put all the pieces together for her, showed her the long division. They even had a broom with blood on it.

“He didn’t pick up any vibe from Flint. For a journalist, he was just as dumb as any man. It took a minimum of flirting to get him to come back into the closet. Once he was inside, I pulled my gun on him and made him move to the back by the wall, where we wouldn’t be seen. I wanted to know what he knew. If he got close enough to know Flint was a messenger boy, he might know for whom. He laughed when I threatened him, he didn’t believe I’d shoot him in public like that. I tried to tell him that the place was almost empty and suggested he reconsider, but he tried to push past me. I pushed back, and he stumbled, and that was that, he went right out the window. The storm covered most of the noise, and I just pretended that I had broke a martini glass.”

Naturally, Jones had a couple of thugs on her payroll, and they worked for hotel security. She got them to bring in the crates and she went with them to cart away the body. Janitors are low enough on the payroll that she knew they’d do the clean-up without asking any questions. She had come back early because she was going to try to get them to fix the window, only to find a cop waiting for her. Unfortunate timing.

“You almost could have gotten away with it straight-up,” Tynan told her. “Another few feet to one side, he’d have landed in the pool. The fall would have still killed him or at least knocked him out so he’d drown, and who knows?  No one might have suspected murder. Just your bad luck.”

Tynan didn’t have to tell her. The redhead knew her luck had run out. Her face said it all.

“Come on,” Tynan said, “I got a photographer out there who is more than ready to get a shot at that mug of yours.”


* * *

Current Soundtrack: Irma Thomas, Straight from the Soul



e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Midi-Confessions123 * Criterion Confessions * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

LET'S ENTER THE LIVING WORLD, LET'S MAKE IT A BOY AND A GIRL


The massive Oni Press announcement from Comic Con yesterday included the first official mention of my comic book collaboration with Natalie NourigatA Boy and a GirlComics Alliance has the early details of this and all the other super cool new Oni Press projects. We're proud to be in such esteemed company! Natalie and I worked on this book all through 2011, and we can't wait for everyone to read it!


I've basically been referring to this book as a "futuristic romance." It's a date night where two people meeting for the first time find themselves going from one crazy good time to another, with hints of danger along the way.




Current Soundtrack: 





All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, July 13, 2012

TR!CKSTER NOIR, FRIDAY: DOC

Instead of the regular writing doodle, I am taking Scott Morse's challenge for Trickster attendees to create a pulp story, prose or comics, in their hotel room each day of Comic Con International. Obviously, being at home, it's a little different for me, but I decided to take this on remotely. I'm taking a little longer with it than I did with my fast fiction, but that's because I am aiming for at least the semblance of a complete story.

* * * 


It had been a long day. There were already three patients waiting outside the door when he unlocked it at 7:00 that morning, and there had been a steady stream all day. It only got worse once the regular working shifts were over. The penalty of being the neighborhood doctor in a poor area like this one was you had to put in more hours than even the sun.

People came when they could. They all called him “Doc.” It had gotten to the point where he could barely remember his actual name. “Doc” it was and “Doc” it would be.

Doc’s last patient was a man who worked a shovel at a coal yard. He had fallen down the week prior and had really done a number on his hip. His son made him come in. A smart youngster, about nine years old, sold newspapers on the corner most nights, and did so without complaint, even though he had to wear a metal brace on one leg. The coal man’s bruise was the size of a flapjack and about three different colors. There was some pus. Doc was worried about him and tried to demand that he take it easy for a while, stay off his feet, but he knew that would never happen. Poverty forces a man to pick up a shovel and then it ensures he can never put it back down.

Now that the work was done, it was just a matter of cleaning up and locking the doors. Doc lived in an apartment at the back of the office. He had a little kitchen and a bed to himself. It wasn’t much, but he needed little else these days. He’d been alone for some time now. His wife had passed, and his daughter married into another life and never looked back. Doc had an old basset for a while, long enough that the two of them truly did start to resemble one another, but the dog passed on, too, and that was about all the death the old man was willing to take in his personal life. Instead he’d focus his energy on keeping as much death out of the community as possible.

He was cleaning the scalpel he had used to lance the coal worker’s wound when the door opened and a frenzied teenager burst inside. The kid was sweaty and in a panic. He had curly red hair and freckles, and he wore a suit that was at least a size too big. He didn’t say anything at first, he just closed the door and locked it, and then looked out the window like he was maybe expecting something to be there.

“Excuse me, but I’m done for the day. Is there something you need?”

The kid turned around. The front of his shirt was stained with blood. It was his own. There was a nasty wound in his right shoulder.

“Yeah, I need you to shut up an’ fix this hole’n me.”

“You in trouble, young man?”

“Whazzit look like, pops? You the doctor or the janitor? What the hell!”

Doc left the scalpel in the sink, just out of sight. He held up his hands. He did his best not to appear threatening. “Let’s calm down,” he said. He motioned toward the exam table. “Take off your coat and shirt, and hop up here. Lemme take a look.”

The kid wasn’t taking any chances. He pulled a revolver out of the back of his pants. “Go ’head an’ look. But I’ll be lookin’, too. Y’got me?”

Doc nodded.

Their eyes stayed locked as the kid worked off half of his shirt and jacket. Just the right side, the side with the wound. He let the other side hang limp off his body. Either he was a southpaw or he couldn’t really use his right hand anymore, but either way he didn’t want to put the gun down long enough to completely strip. There could have hardly been more distance between these two, the young and the old, yet the young was still scared his elder would get the drop on him.

The kid climbed onto the table. It took considerable strain. He was dripping blood all over the floor. It looked like a particularly sweet syrup--though Doc had been around the stuff enough to know it was anything but. The salt of life ran in a man’s veins, whether child or senior.

As Doc approached, the kid jumped with a sudden thought. “Y’don’t have a phone in here, do ya?”

“I do,” Doc said. He pointed to it on the wall.

Blam!

The kid shot the device, dead center, destroying it. He brandished the gun in front of Doc’s face. “Just so’s you know it’s loaded.” he said. “And that I know how to use it.”

“Fair enough,” Doc replied. His patient was a southpaw after all. “Now brace yourself, because this won’t feel good.”

He began to probe the area around the wound with his fingers, assessing the damage. The kid groaned despite himself, but Doc could tell he was trying to act tough. Sticking the gun’s muzzle into the old man’s side was also a good indicator of his posturing.

“Easy now. You’ve been tore up pretty good. The man who did this...a policeman?”

“You feelin’ nosy?”

“I just know what a cop’s revolver can do to a body.”

“Who cares? Just get that dirty pig’s lead outta me before I catch some kinda pig disease from it.”

Doc said nothing to this. He moved to his medicine cabinet and removed the rubbing alcohol. He poured the clear liquid into a rag and then returned to the boy, applying the cleanser to the wound. The thug recoiled, but Doc put his other hand behind his shoulder and pressed both together. “Let me work,” he said.

Once the wound was clean, Doc took a better look. “This is messy business,” he said. “The officer catch you by surprise?”

“Maybe he’s just a bad shot,” the kid hissed.

“Anything’s possible. What kind of trouble were you getting up to?”

The gun barrel returned to Doc’s side. “Whazzit to you?”

“I just want to know, in case there’s any ill-gotten gains in my office, anything I can’t see.”

“Don’t worry ’bout it. Even if there were, you wouldn’t get your hands on ’em.”

Doc stepped away from the gun and went to get his tools. He returned brandishing forceps. “The only thing I have any interest in taking from you is that bullet. And since I’m guessing you won’t let me put you under, I must ask that you keep your finger off the trigger. I don’t need you shooting me by accident when you convulse from the pain.”

“You sure assume a lot. I can take whatever you dish out.”

Doc poked the forceps into the gunshot. The kid’s whole body spasmed and he screamed. When the wave passed, he gathered himself, taking a deep breath. “That’s not so bad once you get used to it,” he said.

“Good sign,” Doc said, feeling around for shrapnel. “Means you’ll heal quick. Not everyone’s the same.”

“Yeah, the other folks’re lucky. They ain’t on the run. They can go to a hospital, not a dump like this. They have options.”

“Others? Did you shoot the police officer?”

“Whazzit matter to you?”

“Plenty. I’ve lived in this neighborhood a long time. I’ve seen a lot. The police put more energy into looking for someone when that someone shot one of their own.”

The kid laughed. It was a wicked little giggle. Free of guilt or compassion. Doc had heard similar too many times before.

“Nah, see, everyone knows that,” the kid explained. “I did ’im one better. I saw a newsboy across the street. I shot him instead.”

Doc’s heart sank.

“It was a sucker bet that the flatfoot would go rushin’ over to try’n save the squirt. And boom, I lit out of there.”

It was Doc’s turn to take a deep breath. “This child you shot? Did he have a brace on one leg?”

The kid thought about it--if you were feeling generous and would call what he did thinking. “Yeah, now that ya mention it. You know ’im?”

“I treated his father today.”

The kid clicked his tongue and said, “Mazel tov.” His tone was strangely apologetic.

“I don’t think that means what you think it means.”

“Sure it does. Y’know. Condolences or whatnot.”

Doc corrected him no further. He had finished removing the bullet. He moved on to sewing up the wound.

“Since you’re so good with words, do you know the first rule of medicine?”

“Cash up front?” the kid snorted.

Doc pulled the thread especially hard, and tried not to show pleasure when the kid winced. That would make him a hypocrite given what he was about to say. Which had a connection to something with a different, yet similar, name. Not that the kid would know, even if he’d pretend he did.

“No. It’s ‘First do no harm.’”

He applied a bandage to the shoulder.

“That’s why a punk like you can come in here and get my help, gun or no gun,” Doc said.

The kid started to ease back into his shirt.

“Good t’know. But what about after that? What’s the second rule?”

Doc went to the sink. He picked up the scalpel he had left in it. “There is no second rule,” he said.



* * *

Current Soundtrack: New Order, "The Perfect Kiss" at Common People are People on Turntable.fm

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Midi-Confessions123 * Criterion Confessions * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

TR!CKSTER NOIR, THURSDAY: THE PRIVATE DETECTIVE'S SECRETARY

Instead of the regular writing doodle, I am taking Scott Morse's challenge for Trickster attendees to create a pulp story, prose or comics, in their hotel room each day of Comic Con International. Obviously, being at home, it's a little different for me, but I decided to take this on remotely. I'm taking a little longer with it than I did with my fast fiction, but that's because I am aiming for at least the semblance of a complete story.


* * * 



The odor coming from the fish market was pungent. It was hard for Elsie to tell if what she smelled was the legitimate cost of doing business or just garbage. All she knew is she wouldn’t buy any fish here herself, not if she could avoid it.

She was overdressed for the location. Her silk polka-dot blouse and dark skirt were fine for the office, but not for this far down the harbor. Her boss had insisted she wear his raincoat, and she was glad he did. Still, she wished she had worn a less bright shade of red on her lips. At least she was able to use her scarf to tie down and cover some of that blonde hair.

The instructions were for her to whistle “I Wanna Be Loved By You” while she browsed the stalls. Her contact would identify himself once he heard it. As she looked at the cod and the mackerel and pretended to be interested, the music brought her strange looks. This worried Elsie. How would she know the difference between a masher and the informant, if one of these burly fishermen decided to take a pass at her? This was starting to feel like a mistake. A private eye’s secretary maybe should stay behind the desk, stick to paperwork. This assignment was...unpleasant.

A beefy gentleman in overalls and a beanie dumped a huge crate of ice and shrimp into a wooden partition, and the water splashed on Elsie. She jumped, but it was too late. The brine dotted her coat. The stench increased, and she feared it would now follow her wherever she went. “Sorry,” the man said, with a voice that was far smaller than his size.

“It’s okay,” Elsie replied. “It’s not my coat.”

“Then whose is it?” another man asked.

He was Hispanic, but he spoke without an accent. He had greasy black hair and wore a plaid shirt and a heavy jacket--standard fair for boatmen. His one distinguishing feature was a rather large mole above the left nostril on his rather large nose.

“It belongs to my boss.”

“Did he give you that tune, as well?”

“Yes.”

“He was supposed to come himself.”

“He couldn’t.”

“And so he sent some dame instead?”

“Not ‘some’ dame, but a dame he trusts. Are you Six Toes?”

Sixto. It means ‘prince.’”

“My apologies.”

“I’m not some circus freak. I have five toes like everybody else.”

“I said I’m sorry. Don’t you have something for me?”

Sixto motioned with his head for her to follow. He stuck his hands in his pockets and put his chin down, like he was trying to lower himself, to walk smaller. He was actually pretty short, shorter than Elsie, probably even if she took off the heels. They went through a doorway covered only by clear plastic slats. The coverings were filthy with sea salt and viscera from the millions of sea creatures that had been gutted in the marketplace. It was dark through there, and the stink increased ten-fold. Elsie took the scarf from her head and used it to cover her nose.

There was a single light bulb in the center of the room, and Sixto turned it on by puling a chain that dangled beneath it. There was a metal table next to Elsie. It had a drain at its center and still-fresh blood circled the hole. A long fish with a long snout and razor teeth lay there. The one eye it had facing up seemed to be staring in her direction, accusing her of being its executioner, and ready to take her flesh in return. As warning, it hissed at her--a noxious, threatening wheeze.

Elsie gasped, but she did not scream. She knew better.

The informant pushed past her and pressed his hand down on the fish’s face, covering its eye. “Don’t worry,” Sixto said, “he’s dead, he just doesn’t know it yet.”

Sixto pushed the fish to the back of the cleaning table. He then reached his hand down into the bloody drain. His child-like fingers slid easily into the tiny hole. He felt around for something, and then pulled up what Elsie had come for.

A small copper key.

He held it between two fingers like it was a lit match. “If certain people find out I gave this to you, I’ll be as dead as that fish.”

“You have a way with words, Pancho.”

Two men had entered the room behind them. They looked as out of place in the fish market as Elsie did. They wore big coats and fancy hats. Their hands were clean, and their shoes had been, as well, at least until they’d stepped onto the slick floors of this seaside butcher shop. The ocean slime was creeping up on the dark polish, almost as if it were eating away at their soles.

One of the men was clean shaven, the other had a thin, well-combed moustache. Other that that, they were nearly identical. The one with the hair was the one speaking. “Something tells me when you got all lyrical about that snapper,” he said, “you really meant yourself.”

Sixto was quick. He pulled a knife. It had a serrated edge, all set to cut open a fat belly if necessary.

He was outmanned. Both of the newcomers pulled guns.

Elsie was in the middle. She looked from one to the other. Guns to knives and back to guns. “Listen, fellas,” she began, but the clean-shaven thug cut her off.

“Keep it quiet, Jean Harlow, before you make me slap the peroxide right out those curls.”


Peroxide! Elsie was no bottle blonde!

Angry, she grabbed the closest thing to her: the cord for the light. A quick yank, and before any of the tough guys could react, they were in darkness.

Lucky for Elsie, she had a little more warning. In the split second before her eyes went blind, she grabbed the second closest thing: the dead snapper. Its tail was slimy and its scales were sharp, and just the thought of it made her want to vomit, but she held that back and began swinging the fish over her head, turning in circles, hitting whatever got in her way. She was pretty sure she connected with at least one of the hitmen and her informant, as well. She heard hard objects hitting the floor, and maybe a body. On the third spin, the snapper slipped out of her hands, and she heard it smash against the wall, like a wet kiss given without invitation. Elsie fumbled around for Sixto, finding him, knowing it was him by the feel of his workman’s jacket. “Give it to me,” she hissed, doing her best impression of the fish’s gravelly death rattle.

His hand found hers, and he put the key in her palm. Sixto then shoved Elsie, hard, pushing her right through the thugs and out the door. A pistol was fired three times as soon as she was back in the open. It was all the distraction she needed. Half of the fishermen ran for the little room, the other half ran for the exit. Elsie followed the other half. She wasn’t sticking around.

#

The stone pathway that led down to the baths was shiny with water, the leavings of the men who came and went from its tubs. The condensation on the walls made it look like a storm cloud had blustered through. The brick walls made it feel like the tunnel down to a tomb.

It was off-hours, so the locker room was empty. Otherwise Elsie would have not been able to go down there by herself. She’d better get a bonus for this. It far exceeded the usual duties of filing, typing letters, and answering calls. The key had the number “D6” scratched onto it, and Elsie found the corresponding locker. It was rusting in all this damp, and the gears on the lock were sticky, but it still opened with just a little force.

Inside was a small box. It was rectangular, about six-by-nine, and maybe three inches deep. It had a gold clasp keeping it shut. Elsie was tempted to open it and see what was inside, her boss had not told her, but she thought she’d best move fast just in case more thugs followed her.

She grabbed it, and turned to go, only to see the Mexican waiting for her. “Not fast enough,” she said aloud.

“Plenty fast for me,” Sixto said. He had blood smeared on his jacket, the one she felt in the dark back in the cleaning room. “You were out of there like a race horse on opening day.”

“It was dangerous for you to come.”

He pulled a pistol out of his pocket. “Not really, I have a gun now. I took it off of one of those men after I knifed him. What say I trade you one of the bullets for that box there?”

Elsie had never had a gun pulled on her before. This was twice in one day, and the first time directly on her, not just in her vicinity. She didn’t like it. Not at all. It made her feel like she did when she went over the crest of a roller coaster down by the pier. Like an air grating underneath her stomach was trying to blow her guts up into her ribcage. “I don’t understand,” Elsie said. “You had the key. Why give it to us instead of just coming here yourself?”

“I had that key, but that private dick of yours had the location. It seemed like a good idea to make him pay me to take the treasure off his hands.”

Sixto raised the pistol.

Elsie braced herself. She closed her eyes, she didn’t want to see it coming.

The gunshot echoed in the basement chamber, almost like many bullets had been fired, like a Gatling gun. Bang bang bang.

Only he must have missed. Or death was painless. She hadn’t felt a thing.

Elsie opened her eyes. Sixto was on the ground in front of her. He was clutching his neck, trying to dam the river of blood flowing from it.

The hitman with the moustache was standing there. He still had his own gun. Its muzzle exhaled smoke the way a Frenchman does, little ringlets tumbling against gravity, rising to the ceiling. His clothes were stained with blood as well.

Elsie held out the box to him. He took it.

“Thanks,” he said. “I wasn’t told to kill no twist, and I’d rather not, if it’s all the same to you.”

“I’m not going to argue.”

“Good thing. I’m not like my late partner. I’d hate to mess up that pretty hair of yours.”

The man winked at her. Here she had been afraid a fisherman would make a pass at her. She hadn’t figured on a different kind of working man taking a liking to her golden locks.

“Keep dreaming, you schnook.”

The killer smirked. “Some other time then,” he said. “Tell that fella you work for to do his own dirty work next time.”

The girl couldn’t help but laugh.

* * *

Current Soundtrack: Echo & the Bunnymen, "Thorn of Crowns" at Arbiters of Taste on Turntable.fm

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Midi-Confessions123 * Criterion Confessions * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'M YOUR FAN: MORSKIE

A young artist named Morskie is the lastest to contribute a drawing of the girls from Spell Checkers.


Pretty cool, huh?

Current Soundtrack: Spotify playlist of songs from Treme

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WRITING DOODLE: FAIRY PARADISE


The "Daily Doodle" concept is intended to warm up my creative engines, and is essentially free writing, poetry or prose, usually accomplished in under an hour with a minimum of corrections. From time to time, I will post the results here. 


In some cases, the piece will also be a special commission, prompted by a particular buyer. Readers can still custom order their own quick short-short stories: details here.

Today's post is based on some stuff I've been thinking about in connection to some creative brainstorming with Megan Levens.

*

The smoke swirled around him like grass. He lay on his back and the green fields of never grew up all around him. The soil formed and remodeled itself to nestle him, to allow for maximum comfort. The fire burned down to his fingertips but he didn’t notice the heat. The world was his mattress.

The movement was at first perceptible only out of the corner of his eyes. He stared to the white ceiling of sky and dared not look away, lest he frighten the visitors on his periphery. To see a secret is to know it, and to know it is to make it public--a secret no more. The way candle scents and vapor disappear from a room when you open the door.

The first was green, the second blue, the third orange. The pink came last, and it came closest. They all flittered and flew, ducking behind a dandelion, vanishing behind a tree, re-emerging on the other side. The pink walked around up to him, he could feel its presence, could smell the lilac on its breath. He tried to stay perfectly still. Let it make contact.

Which it did. The pink fairy held a bumblebee’s wing the way a human child might hold a feather, and it tickled the inside of his ear with the thin point of the object. The man giggled, but he was careful not to jump, even if that was his reflex. Instead, he turned his head slowly so as not to startle his new acquaintance. The fairy remained. It was leaning forward, examining him, smelling him, hands on knees, lips curled in a smile.

“Hello,” the man said, and the pink fairy jumped at the sound of his voice. Wings flapping sounded like a deck of cards being shuffled. Flakes of its epidermis trickled from its body, sugar from a donut. Fairy dust. He inhaled it in his nostrils, and the world turned cherry in the man’s vision.

The fairy did not flee. It hovered above him, where it was joined by the others. The orange, the blue, and the green. They examined him closely, trading observations in their fairy language. Or so he assumed, for he could not understand them. Their voices reminded him of pachinko balls falling down the machine. Except that sound was of money being lost, and this sound was of something exceptional being found.

“Am I intruding?” he asked.

The orange fairy zoomed forward, stopping mere millimeters from his face. Its wings blew its shedding in his direction. His vision went from fleshy to carroty, the atmosphere bending to the will of the spectrum faerie, to the color of the dust.

He had believed this was the path. That little girl at the turn of the century had found it first, and though she had been widely discredited by those not wanting to believe in anything other than their pre-established mysticism, he had always assumed their was truth there. He sought truth however it came.

The green was first because the green is nature; pink was last because pink is man.

He held out his hand, palm up, fingers flat. An invitation. Would the orange fairy touch down on his skin? In his mind, he drew a big F in a circle over his lifeline and loveline, connecting the two. “Fairy Landing.”

The orange creature floated away from it. Much in the way a spore dislodged from its flower is carried by a breeze, it looked as if the air currents had just nudged the little creature away, it did not go by any great choice.

Perhaps it wasn’t its own choice. Perhaps it was the change in airspace, the push of wind kicked up by the blue fairy rushing over to take its spot, to settle gently on the man’s hand. Its feet were sticky with little hairs, and he could feel an odd adhesive or oil seeping from the blue fairy’s soles. It stared at him defiantly, and it exhaled heavily through its nose, nostrils flaring. The cerulean dust came now and everything became like water. The man’s vision grew blue and the air grew thick and suffocating, cool and heavy with condensation.

The blue came second because blue is water; the orange third, because orange is light. The center of life. Yet, water is most precious.

The man exhaled in response. His breath carried glitter of all four colors, of the full rainbow: pink, orange, blue, green. The air smelled of cinnamon and gasoline.

“I conjured you,” he said, speaking in a soothing whisper, the way one might explain a death of a pet or a family member to a child who had not yet experienced loss. “Or more accurately, I made you. I invented life. My dreams...my reality.”

The blue fairy opened its mouth and more metal balls tumbled down its throat, making conversation, the kling-klang of vocabulary.

“You are my key,” he said. “I have unlocked something. Just like that little girl. The one with the photographs. I will raise her from the dead, prove both of our theories at the same time.”

This bothered the blue fairy. It balled up its fists and held its breath, and the watery tint began to dissipate, the sky around them returning to its original hue. In solidarity, the green fairy was flying along the edge of the ground, gobbling up the grass and fallen leaves.

The pink fairy was already gone. It left first.

The orange, it seemed, was the true center. He did not see it coming until it was right there, arms extended, its hands coming close, and settling on his eyes. The lids closed, the way one’s eyes do when a foreign object approaches. The last thing he saw was its splayed fingers and the grimace on its face before all went dark.


Current Soundtrack: Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE



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All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich