I have not written much fiction lately, as my writing energy goes mostly to The Siskiyou and its projects. I am however enjoying my contemporary literature class this quarter and the books that are assigned are different than I would usually select on my own. Throwing myself into these unfamiliar genres is proving to be advantageous since I need to do outside research on the literature to fully understand the context.
Once assigned this project, I was intimidated. The literary levels we have reached during casual class discussion, are sometimes difficult to comprehend as I have only taken a couple of few course in the field of creative writing.
The task for this course was initially comical: Write the story of a detective sitting at his desk when a beautiful women walks into his office to hand him his next case. Describe the scene and inner monologue with overwhelming noir cliches, sexism and old style references. The venetian drapes should be as, literarily, coated with cigarette smoke as a Creuelia de Vil would be, had she had her way with the 101 Dalmatians.
A polished draft of the detective tale needed to be toned down and integrated with class lessons involving free indirect discourse as well as stream of consciousness thought process. From experimentation, I learned that describing Detective Strausfeld from a third person narration allowed for comical moments as I could also flash into his thoughts while moving with traditional Noir characteristics…most of which are pretty hard for me to take serious.
I can’t really think of any films or books, before this class, that I’ve encountered which expressed these styles, but the formatting seemed so god damn familiar. Recollecting further into my childhood than ever before I was able to come up with where I had before experienced this cliche.
Hopefully, more fun papers like this will be assigned.
Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself.
Candle in the Wind was starting for the infinite time this evening and repetition of the clicking tape and mellow riffs that followed had become white noise to detective Strausfeld. His hands held each other, extending from propped up elbows on the desk before him. A spectating audience might view this stature and perceive his emotion as contention, but this isn’t a play and his thoughts are far from at peace.
Dalton Strausfeld had removed his jacket piece but still kept on his suspenders over his white undershirt, sleeves rolled up of course. The summer night’s humidity sunk through a high open window behind him. Sweating later than any hour he could ever remember, the detective cursed the “incompetent son-of-a-slut air conditioning repair man” who had taken the weekend off to “spend time with his grandmother.”
Likely fucking story. I’ve heard of those youths that spend their days down in the water. Strong bodies that permitted jumping off rocks after drinking beers. I’m not even jealous, just wish that my thighs weren’t creating their own rivers of sweat and that that shit would do his job.
The phone rang.
The detectives first thought was not at the curiosity of a caller at this time, but instead anger that he hadn’t “unplugged the bastard machine” hours ago when he first sat down to research as many dead ends as possible on his current case
Strausfeld didn’t have his gun strap on him. Theatrics like that are only in the pictures. His unrestrained arm shuffled around dozens of snapshots and court forms in an attempt to find the phone’s power source which resulted in unorganized evidence becoming more unorganized.
Seven times the phone had rung and only during the pause after the sixth ring had Dalton’s mind processed, for the first time in hours, that Elton’s voice had been accompanying him during his lack of progress.
Finding the cord only exacerbated the situation, as pulling it violently resulted in more papers shooting up as the electric snake laying dormant beneath them had awoke with a ferocity it had never known. It also remained plugged into the wall.
Frantic and defeated, Dalton swatted a paper stamped with heavy red mark in the center of it, off of his telephone.
“Hello” he breathed into the machine, expecting either the third verse of Candle in the Wind or dead silence to answer.
“Detective we need to speak, I’m taking a car over shortly.”
Her voice was lower and more professional than the last time they interacted, during a co-department merge eight or ten months ago.
“I’ll be here Cynthia,” Derek responded, coolly.
No goodbyes exchanged, only a click on the end opposite of the line and a click of Elton tape beginning again. A moment passed when Dalton held the phone six inches from his face staring blankly at the door. Action needed to be taken.
He moved briskly to the offices lavatory.
The shittier room of the shitty downtown studio.
Drinking in a reflected image of himself, Dalton brushed his hair to the left side, the way he liked it. While trying to smoosh down a cowlick that he’d had since he was born, he splashed water on his face and ran his dominant hand down his scruff. The four day facial hair he wore, flirted with a sense of elegance and enlightenment, but may have crossed over into the deranged look, if not groomed within the next 24 hours.
Acceptance of the rapid escalation to formal meeting was beginning to set in. Dalton Strausfeld slicked over his hair one last time. A fluttery feeling festered in his stomach with the new heavy reality while recollecting on the last time that he and Cynthia had entertained each others company.
She wouldn’t come at this hour to chastise me.
Another thought. 6 months? 8? How long had it been since he’d seen her?
The nervous excitement turned to brief nausea. No, from her proficiency in the field he assumed she wasn’t the type of woman to sacrifice her career with a child nor one to arrive near the stroke of 2 with a warm sack of blankets under her arm.
What would he give her if it were the case? His thank you letter from a butcher uptown who promised him a free sirloin cut…”but only on Thursdays,” the note read.
Why only on a Thursday? The shop was near a Hasidic neighborhood. Possibly, Dalton thought, the shop received most its business on Fridays, before the Seder, and hoped to clear out its meat the day previous to make room for fresh kosher cuts?
A faint but (forceful) knock on the door.
He took a breath and walked to answer it.