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The Coffee Shop => The Gallery => Topic started by: Foxy on May 08, 2008, 11:35:51 AM

Title: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Foxy on May 08, 2008, 11:35:51 AM
Dust danced in the strips of weak sunlight shining through the Venetian blinds. The angle of their stripes on the wall told me it was coming up for midday. I'd been dangling my feet since nine-thirty and the phone hadn't rung once. Business had been slow for two weeks, and it had got to the point where I'd even welcome divorce work. A guy has to eat after all. That was the trouble with being a private detective, some days you get to banquet like a king, but other times you had to dine on memories.

I was just about to call it a day when Mrs. Termagant, the office cleaner and resident busybody, stuck her wizened, weasel like face around my door. "Sorry to intrude, Mr. Stone," she said, edging her hunchbacked body into the room. She was wearing her trademark stained, creased, and faded Day-Glo orange housecoat, which made her look like a traffic cone that had been run over by a sixteen wheeler, and then left discarded in a lay-by.

"What is it Mrs. Termagant? And may I say you’re looking particularly rebarbative today."

She burst into a peal of what could be described as girlish giggles, if the girl was a hyena with a bad case of laryngitis. "Ooh, go on with you, Mr. Stone, you are a one."

I may be a one, but I've never been one for noise pollution. If I was I'd have bought a James Last record and had done with it. I raised an eyebrow and the giggling stopped.

Mrs. Termagant looked flustered for a second then she fixed me with her good eye as the evil one glanced around the room. "You've got a client, Mr. Stone. A lady, she’s in the waiting room."

The waiting room was a converted broom cupboard on the landing next to my office. "Show her in please, Mrs. Termagant, you pestiferous flower." She started to giggle again, so I raised the other eyebrow.

"I'll send her in now," she said, backing out through the door like we were due a change in the weather.

"And give my regards to your sisters the next time you're on the blasted heath." I arranged some papers in front of me, then sat back in my chair and assumed a casual, but ever so slightly menacing pose.

The door opened a crack and she slipped into the room like a bishop sneaking into a cathouse. She closed the door quickly and leaned back against it as though taking a moment to compose herself, which, from where I was sitting, seemed like a waste of effort. Even covered by her long black coat she looked to be composed pretty good to me.

"Take a seat." I hoped she could tell the difference between an invitation and a command. I'd already lost three chairs this year to literal-minded clients and I was down to my last two.

She stepped away from the door, removing her wide brimmed black hat and hanging it on the coat stand in one graceful movement. Her head turned to look at me over her shoulder, and I almost gasped but decided not to in case I needed to later. Eyes the colour of liquid chocolate regarded me through long dark lashes as the tip of her tongue traced a line between her full, red, pouting lips. Lips that cried kiss me. Lips that demanded to be nibbled, and licked, and sucked, and tasted, and forced to explore dark secret pla— I dragged my eyes away and looked at the framed photo of my ex-wife on the desk, the one that I kept there for just such occasions. It had all the restorative properties of a cold shower without having to get wet.

I risked a glance back at the client. She had removed her coat and was standing like a runway model in a black silk cheongsam dress that was as tight as a second skin and split almost to the top of her thighs on both sides. She tossed her long dark hair then she tossed me a smile that I felt in my lap. I let out the gasp I'd been saving.

"That's a comment I've heard before, Mr. Stone," she said, crossing the room with her hips swinging harder than Sinatra.

"If you want originality try a scriptwriter. There's one down the hall."

She smiled. "So, you're a comedian."

"No, a private eye; if you want a comedian I hear there's one next door to the scriptwriter." I watched as she sat down, bringing her knees demurely together like butter wouldn't melt. "So, what brings a dame like you to a high-class establishment like this?"

She flinched at the comment and pouted her lips even more. "Why, Mr. Stone, I'm not altogether sure I care for your manners."

"I'm not altogether sure I care for them myself. I know they were a big disappointment for my mother, but I've had them for so long now I guess I'm used to them."

She appeared to relax. "Are you ever serious about anything?"

"Sure."

She raised her perfectly arched eyebrows. "And what would that be, Mr. Stone?"

"Oh, you know...anything that's green and folds."

"I'm aware of your prices, Mr. Stone," she said, smiling with one side of her mouth. "I figure for what you charge, there's not a lot you won't do."

I gave her a deadpan look. "Smoke?" I rolled a cigarette. She didn't answer so I picked up the cigarette and rolled it again, this time it travelled further across the desk.

"Thanks." She picked up the cigarette and placed it between those full, pouting lips.

I leaned across the desk and lit her up. It was the first time I’d ever been jealous of a cigarette. She settled back in her chair, exhaled the smoke and crossed her legs at the same time. A long perfect thigh revealed itself from the split of her dress. I thought I was all out of gasps but it turned out I was wrong. I gasped and let my eyes travel along her perfect skin, on her perfect leg, almost to the top of her perfect thigh, where a mole blemished the perfection and brought my gaze to a full stop for a period. I'd seen that mole before. I'd recognise its hourglass shape anywhere.

I was about thirteen at the time, and my teacher had sent me to the girls’ school to deliver a message, but the corridors and hallways were virgin territory to me, and I took a wrong turn, entered a wrong room, and saw something that was wrong for me to see.

She didn't notice me at first as I stood just inside the door to the locker room. But I noticed her. I noticed every naked inch of her, all the way down from her breasts to her feet. Then I noticed her all the way back up again, which was when I noticed her noticing me. She was half turned and posed like a thrift store mannequin, her face a mask of surprised indignation, her hand frozen; reaching for the black nun's habit that hanged on a hook like a deflated vicar. A heartbeat passed and she didn’t move, so I took my eyes on a return journey. A mole at the top of her thigh caught my attention and held it for a moment, it was small and dark and shaped like a filled in figure of eight. It was a stain on perfection and it had no more business being there than I had being where I was. But, like me, it looked content with its situation. And that was when she moved, wrapping herself in the black cloth. And that was also when she spoke. "Damn your soul to Hell for the rest of eternity," was what she said, and when a nun says something like that you can be pretty certain she ain’t kidding around. Sister Theresa, the nun who had damned me all those years ago, was sitting in my office.

"Why, Mr. Stone, one would think you'd never seen a girl smoking before."

I tore my gaze away from her thigh, and lay the photo of my ex face down on the desk. "I've seen plenty of dames smoke. I just never seen one send out as many signals as you while they're doing it."

Her eyes widened like she'd sat on a ferret. "I’m sure I don't know what you mean." She stood up quick like the ferret had protested. "This is obviously a mistake, I shouldn't have come here." Her lips quivered with emotion, or it could be they just quivered, and then she turned and headed for the coat stand.

It was time to turn on the charm. "You can drop the act, you ain't fooling anybody. Nobody comes here by mistake. They come because they've got a problem. A problem they don't want to get their hands dirty fixing, so they come to me to fix it for them. Why don’t you tell me what your problem is and stop pretending to be something you're not. Because, believe me, you ain't in any danger of winning an Oscar. Your act's about as convincing as a hooker's orgasm."

She turned to face me so fast it was like someone flipping an ace. Her mouth opened and flapped for a moment but no sound came out. I leaned back in my chair and allowed myself a half smile as I studied her reaction. A circus parade of emotions marched across her face and those full, red, pouting lips pouted even more as they struggled to form words.

"What's the matter sweet lips, forgot your lines?"

Anger flashed in her chocolate eyes and her hands balled into fists the size of blueberry muffins. She looked good enough to eat. "Why I oughta..."

I bared my teeth and shot her a grin. "You oughta what?"

"I oughta slap your face is what I oughta."

"Why, that's pretty feisty talk," I said before she could utter another word, "especially for a nun."

Her eyes imitated saucers and her mouth flapped again. Then she sat back down in the chair and stared into her lap. After a few moments of silence had ticked noisily by, she said in a whisper, “I didn’t think you’d—”

“You didn’t think what? You didn’t think I’d be able to see through you, is that what you didn’t think?”

A small smile settled on those pouting lips and then vanished as quickly as it had come. "How did you know I used to be a nun?"

I felt that damn pleased with myself I decided to allow myself the other half of the smile. "It's my job to know, it's what I do. I observe. I see things that the average schmuck wouldn't even notice if they were lit up in neon. It's what keeps me ahead in this crazy game. Without it I’d be driving an ice-cream wagon to pay the rent, or shining shoes on a street corner or...wait a minute. Did you say you used to be a nun? You’re not a nun anymore?"

"Yes. I used to belong to The Order of the Little Sisters of the Screaming Head of St. Nigel the Flagellant, but I’m not anything now."

"So all this," I gestured to her. "This is you? It ain't an act?"

She looked up and fixed me with a steely gaze, but her lips still pouted. Those lips would always pout. "Yes, this is me. This is what I am, for now. And it ain't easy looking like this, people make assumptions," she paused and wiped a tear from her eye. "It was so much easier when I could hide it all behind a wimple and a habit."

"So why did you stop being a nun? It seems to me to be a pretty safe career choice for a dame who's stacked like you," I said as gently as I could. She looked to be pretty upset already and I didn't want to upset her more. Crying dames were always a problem.

"It's a long story and it's not really important. I used to be a nun and I’m not one now. That's all you need to know. What's important right now is I've got a problem...a mistake from my past that’s holding me back, and I won’t be able to rest peacefully, or move on until it's fixed."

Without even hearing what her problem was, I was pretty damn certain it all hinged on the fact that she was no longer a nun. Which meant she wasn't telling me the truth, and which also meant I'd have to tread carefully. Lying dames were a bigger problem than crying dames. "Don't you think maybe you'd be better off talking to a priest about this problem you've got?"

She laughed. "A priest!” She slowly shook her head. “For a supposedly smart guy, you can be a real dumb-ass…A priest would be the last person who could help me." She laughed again.

I waited until she had stopped laughing, and then I picked up a notebook and a pen from my desk. "Okay, so why don't you tell me what your problem is and I'll tell you if I think I can help you."

"There's something you should know first."

I looked up from the notebook. "Shoot."

"I'm afraid I don't have any money...We'd have to find another way of paying for your services." She crossed her legs exposing her perfect thigh with its hourglass mole again.

The sight caught my attention and held it like a tap-dancing midget juggling chainsaws. I knew I was staring but I couldn't stop myself. Some things were made to be stared at. "I'm not sure I know what you mean," I said to the leg.

"Oh I think you do Mr. Stone," she said as she traced a line up her thigh with her fingertip. "I think you know exactly what I mean."


Continued in Part Two http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=14458.0 (http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=14458.0)
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: SteveJ on May 08, 2008, 11:42:45 AM
Utter genius ;D
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Elodie-Caroline on May 08, 2008, 12:10:24 PM
I love this line, it made me laugh  :D

Elodie

"I'm not sure I know what you mean," I said to the leg.
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: ma100 on May 08, 2008, 04:14:30 PM
An excellent read. Love your descriptions.
Mairi :)
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: DC on May 08, 2008, 04:39:52 PM
As I mentioned in another thread, one of my all-time favourite lines from MWC:

Quote
Mrs. Termagant looked flustered for a second then she fixed me with her good eye as the evil one glanced around the room.

The imagery had me falling about laughing; brilliant stuff Foxy, and nice to read it again... ;D ;D ;D

Dave.
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Foxy on May 09, 2008, 08:44:26 AM
Elodie-Caroline and Mairi, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I'm glad you liked it.

Dave, it was your comment on the other thread that prompted me to dig this out, so cheers, mate.

Steve, erm...what can I say, diolch yn fawr, butty.
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Ninny on May 09, 2008, 07:20:27 PM
Fantastically written Foxy!  I'll be looking out for more!! ;D  Bravo ;)
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Don on June 22, 2008, 01:48:16 AM
Hey, look.  I found part 1.

Utterly brilliant, Ray...er, Patrick.  My comments on part 2 still stand.  What surprises me most is that this hasn't found a home in a magazine somewhere.
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Big T on June 22, 2008, 02:19:49 AM
Thanks for bringing this up again Don, don't know how I missed it first time around.

Foxy, part 2 reeled me in ... Part 1 confirms the fact that I want to read more ... that Nun is very enticing  ;)

Excellently written, great dialogue, and, you have me intrigued.
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Foxy on June 26, 2008, 04:16:30 AM
Glad you enjoyed it, Don and Big T. Thanks for taking the time to comment.  :)
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Swampfox one on July 01, 2008, 10:29:20 AM
Quote
that Nun is very enticing 
She sure enticed me! Well done!
JH
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Foxy on July 01, 2008, 03:14:04 PM
She sure enticed me! Well done!
JH

You should see the dame I based her on, JH...  ;)

Thanks for the comment.
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Ken100 on July 01, 2008, 05:00:52 PM
Hi Foxy,
You know I read this quite some time ago on your Myspace blog. I enjoyed it then and reading it now it had me laughing out loud all over again.
I used to be a huge fan of Raymond Chandler, and this is such a brilliant pastiche I'm not sure I could ever read him again and take his work seriously.
Well done.
Cheers,
Ken :)
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: jeanette on July 02, 2008, 11:20:03 AM
"reaching for the black nun's habit that hung on a hook like a deflated vicar"

What a line! The blow-up vicar. No church should be without one!

brilliant stuff
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Foxy on July 03, 2008, 01:49:18 PM
Hi Ken, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. If you haven't guessed, I am a big fan of Raymond Chandler too, however, I have always found a lot of humour in his writing, like this quote from the great man himself:

From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.

Hi Jeanette, I'm glad you didn't feel let down by the line...*groan*  ;)
Title: Re: Short Story: The Hourglass Blemish - Part One
Post by: Ken100 on July 03, 2008, 05:09:47 PM
Hi Ken, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. If you haven't guessed, I am a big fan of Raymond Chandler too, however, I have always found a lot of humour in his writing, like this quote from the great man himself:

From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.


Yes, Raymond Chandler was a wonderful writer, if a little racist and mysoginistic! Just a product of his time, though, I guess.
I think I've read pretty much everything he wrote, certainly all his novels and most, if not all the short stories. I had quite a surprise reading the short stories though, because a couple of his books were two short stories cobbled together to make one labyrinthinely plotted novel. (Hmm, is there such a word as labyrinthinely??)

And if we're quoting Chandler....
She had a lot of face and chin. She had pewter-colored hair set in a ruthless permanent, a hard beak, and large moist eyes with the sympathetic expression of wet stones.

And just one more...
I hung up.
It was a step in the right direction, but it didn't go far enough. I ought to have locked the door and hid under the desk.


Cheers,
Ken :)