How the Dead Live

Robert William Arthur Cook (12 June 1931 – 30 July 1994), better known since the 1980s by his pen name Derek Raymond, wrote a series of novels about a lonely cop on the beat, a sergeant at London Metropolitan Police’s Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14. The quote below is from the third book in that series, a quote that has sunk down in for many years:

As I stood there I suddenly felt afraid – not of what confronted me but in a general way. I thought and felt that the secret of existence was perhaps to get old with beauty, ironically, coming closer and closer to you as you aged; innocence, everything that you had rejected or ignored as a young man, entering you like music all the time until in the end there was no more time. Then much of what had seemed so hard would be over, after too much work in cities, after patrolling too many streets for too long, after studying too many faces with the sly, fixed look of the dead.

Intelligence is at the service of us all and I believe that curiosity and investigation, like a chicken’s beak, are intended to kill the viper that threatens an egg. Powerful curiosity is the source of all detection and is surely its own end, a field cleared and well ploughed – but it is too simple for us only to have justice and logic; what use are either without mercy? The eternal cycle, the beginning, middle and end of a human being, the incomprehensible dance in the magic of our own theatre will continue for ever. But ignorance of our birth and death makes us largely mad; the majority of us clap at our disasters as though they were a play; but it is a work that we cannot possibly understand. Throughout our obscure race in life our entire frame is intended, is inclined to return to the earth on which our parents lay flat to conceive us; from a great distance our planet is an extraordinary sight, more so than most of us can yet understand, and I think that in the meantime we ought to be very careful about how we treat the flesh that we are.


  1. Raymond, Derek, How the Dead Live (Factory 3) (pp. 149-150). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.

Andy Rausch: Bloody Sheets – A Revenge Tale

Sometimes a person is forced into that dark place where either you turn and confront it or it kills you. In such times, and in such places there is no escape, only the hatred that is neither forgiving nor accepting just full of that wounded pain that want go away, ever. Reading Andy Rausch’s tale Bloody Sheets is like that, a place with no easy outs only a one way trip to hell.

Continue reading

Derek Raymond: Crime as Event – The Factory Novels

derek-raymond

What I suffer isn’t self-pity; it is my coming up against the absolute. The ordeal the writer sets himself is to track down existence and then, both stripped naked, fight it out. Everyone experiences this in the end, some-how or other. But often the contest is short and sharp—the last seconds of a motor crash, a fall from a roof, a heart attack, being rolled and beaten to death in a dark street.

– Derek Raymond, He Died with His Eyes Open

Of late I’ve returned to noir, reading a few of the classics and generally enjoying the nuances of the differing styles and contours of this black art of night. Recently began reading Derek Raymond’s Factory novels.

Robert William Arthur Cook, better known since the 1980s by his pen name Derek Raymond, was an English crime writer, credited with being a founder of British noir. The eldest son of a textile magnate, Cook spent his early years at the family’s London house, off Baker Street, tormenting a series of nannies. In 1937, in anticipation of the Second World War, the family retreated to the countryside, to a house near their Kentish castle. In 1944 Cook went to Eton, which he later characterized as a “hotbed of buggery” and “an excellent preparation for vice of any kind”. He dropped out at the age of 17. During his National Service, Cook attained the rank of corporal. After a brief stint working for the family business, selling lingerie in a department store in Neath, Wales, he spent most of the 1950s abroad. He lived in the Beat Hotel in Paris, rubbing shoulders with his neighbors William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, and danced at fashionable left bank boîtes with the likes of Juliette Greco. In New York he resided on the Lower East Side and was married to an heiress from New England for all of sixty-five days. He claimed that he was sick of the dead-on-its-feet upper crust he was born into, that he didn’t believe in and didn’t want, whose values were meaningless. (wiki)

I’m almost finished with his first novel in the series He Died With His Eyes Open, which like most noir has an inevitability about it; a sense that we are witnessing a litany of doom, the steady march of death that inclines from a horror of life to a life of horror. As A.L. Kennedy will tell us this work “has a remarkable and disturbing physicality” about it.1 I would add that it is not so much the physicality as in a substantive vision as it is in a visceral immaterialism: the throb of words that inhabit one with a knowledge of the darkness within and without tingling in the very flesh of thought.

There is a moment in the book when the main character – a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police division A14 – that unlike Scotland’s Yard deals with the deaths of outcasts, unknowns, and the poor, etc. – remembers an early memory of a Sculptor he once knew. The unidentified detective conveys his meeting with the Sculptor saying:

Nobody who mattered liked his sculpture; when I went over to his council studio I understood why. His figures reminded me of Ingres crossed with early Henry Moore; they were extraordinarily graceful, and far too honest to mean anything whatever to current trendy taste. There was a quality in them that no artist nowadays can seize anymore; they expressed virtues—toughness, idealism, determination—that went out of style with a vanished Britain that I barely remembered. I asked him why, with his talent, he didn’t progress to a more modern attitude, but he said it was no use; he was still struggling to represent the essence of what he had experienced in the thirties.2

This notion of his failure to represent the essence of his experience conveys the very truth of what he sought, brings with it that moment of insight into things of which Zizek has repeatedly seen as the central core of a materialist vision: the most elementary figure of dialectical reversal resides in transposing an epistemological obstacle into the thing itself, as its ontological failure (what appears to us as our inability to know the thing indicates a crack in the thing itself, so that our very failure to reach the full truth is the indicator of truth).3 The Sculptor’s very failure to attain the essence of his experience is in itself the very condition of its truth, acknowledging the cracks in the stone that will not reveal that knot of light quickens the very truth in the mind that beholds it.

Our detective will ask him “why, with his talent, he didn’t progress to a more modern attitude, but he said it was no use; he was still struggling to represent the essence of what he had experienced in the thirties” (ibid. 176). The Sculptor will reply:

‘What I’m always trying to capture,’ he explained, ‘is the light, the vision inside a man, and the conviction which that light lends his action, his whole body. Haven’t you noticed how the planes of a man’s body alter when he’s in the grip of a belief? The ex-bank-clerk acquires the stature of an athlete as he throws a grenade—or, it might be, I recollect the instant where an infantryman in an attack, a worker with a rifle, is stopped by a bullet: I try to reconstruct in stone the tragedy of a free man passing from life to death, from will to nothingness: I try to capture the second in which he disintegrates. It’s an objective that won’t let me go,’ he said, ‘and I don’t want it to.’ He had been full of promise before he went to Spain; he grubbed about and found me some of his old press-cuttings. In one of them he was quoted as saying: ‘A sculptor’s task is to convey the meaning of his time in terms of its overriding idea. If he doesn’t transmit the idea he’s worth nothing, no matter how much fame he acquires or money he makes. The idea is everything.’ (ibid. 176)

This notion of retroactivity, of reconstructing in “stone the tragedy of a free man passing from life to death, from will to nothingness” of trying “to capture the second in which he disintegrates”: this moment or event at the horizon of intelligibility, when the oscillation between life and death, will and nothingness collide in the instant that can never be re-presented except retroactively in the very movement of the sculptor’s hands on stone: this is event of which Zizek speaks of Hölderlin:

he sees the solution in a narrative which retroactively reconstructs the very “eccentric path” (the path of the permanent oscillation between the loss of the Center and the repeated failed attempts to regain the immediacy of the Center) as the process of maturation, of spiritual education. (Zizek, KL 577)

Isn’t this the Lacanian object petit a – the central paradox of the excess which cannot be conveyed because it is always beyond representation:

The paradox is here the paradox of a thing which is always (and nothing but) an excess with regard to itself: in its “normal” state, it is nothing. This brings us back to Lacan’s notion of the objet a as surplus-enjoyment: there is no “basic enjoyment” to which one adds the surplus-enjoyment; enjoyment is always a surplus, in excess. The object-in-itself (photon, atom) is here not negated/ mediated, it emerges as the (retroactive) result of its mediation.(Zizek, KL 95)

One could read this as pure Idealism, as the typical realist of Ideas; or, one could read it in another way, as the opposite of what we usually think of an Idea. As Zizek in his reading of the Parmenides suggests:

…as to the status of Ideas, then the result should be that Ideas do not exist, do not have ontological reality of their own: they persist as purely virtual points of reference. That is to say, the only appropriate conclusion is that eternal Ideas are Ones and Others which do not participate in (spatio-temporal) Being (which is the only actual being there is): their status is purely virtual. This virtual status was made clear by Deleuze, one of the great anti-Platonists. Deleuze’s notion of the Virtual is to be opposed to the all-pervasive topic of virtual reality: what matters to Deleuze is not virtual reality, but the reality of the virtual (which, in Lacanian terms, is the Real). Virtual Reality in itself is a rather miserable idea: that of imitating reality, of reproducing experience in an artificial medium. The reality of the Virtual, on the other hand, stands for the reality of the Virtual as such, for its real effects and consequences. (Zizek, KL 1739)

He will continue in this vein on the Parmenides, telling us that Plato’s battle against the Sophists consisted of reaction to their fracturing of words and things, and philosophy “proper can only be understood as a reaction to this, as an attempt to close the gap the sophists opened up, to provide a foundation of truth for words, to return to mythos but under the new conditions of rationality.” (ibid. KL 1953) Plato himself was the first philosopher who tried to provide a foundation for truth based on his theory of Ideas, and in his battle with the Sophists he realized just how fragile this foundation truly was. As Zizek will tell us:

 The irony of the history of philosophy is that the line of philosophers who struggle against the sophistic temptation ends with Hegel, the “last philosopher,” who, in a way, is also the ultimate sophist, embracing the self-referential play of the symbolic with no external support of its truth. For Hegel, there is truth, but it is immanent to the symbolic process— the truth is measured not by an external standard, but by the “pragmatic contradiction,” the inner (in) consistency of the discursive process, the gap between the enunciated content and its position of enunciation. (Zizek, KL 1962)

The irony in Derek Raymond’s book comes in acknowledging that the truth his friend tried to convey in his efforts would all come to naught:

I knew what would happen to Ransome’s work when he died. The council would come round, view what Ransome had left behind, and order it to be junked; a truck would arrive, and a couple of men with sledgehammers. The whole lot would be smashed up and go into the council dump; in a thousand years’ time one of his stone faces might be found staring enigmatically upwards from the base of a demolished block. Meanwhile, in our lifetime, horrible pieces of rubbish, commissioned by the ignorant from the ambitious, would continue to clutter London parks, blessed by the senile patronage of the Arts Council. (‘The most terrifying responsibility in stone,’ Ransome said, ‘is that it’s eternal.’) The dwindling number of places in London parks where you could peacefully eat a sandwich in the shade of the plane trees on a hot day would go on being deformed by stone drivel, bronze and marble drivel, eternal drivel. (Raymond, 177)

Isn’t this truly the sadness at the heart of noir, the acknowledgement that our lives, the lives of those situated outside the accepted halls of the rich, powerful, and elite – for lack of a better term, “the beautiful people” (those captured in the mediataiment stain of an irreal world) will ultimately go down into the darkness forgotten and alone. The trace of our accomplishments broken in the dustbin of history like so many stone sculptures shredded and pulverized into oblivion. This is the bleakness of noir: people would rather live in the illusory than know the truth of their unlived lives. Yet, one also realizes that our anonymous detective has redeemed the truth of this man and his work through narrating it retroactively so that we the readers receive the very light or aura that was hidden in the ruins of those stones become words.

1. A.L. Kennedy’s Darkness Visible: ‘He Died With His Eyes Open’ Is A Crime Novel Like No Other (NPR March 10, 2013)
2. Raymond, Derek (2011-10-04). He Died with His Eyes Open (Factory 1) (p. 176). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.
3. Zizek, Slavoj (2012-04-30). Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (Kindle Locations 588-590). Norton. Kindle Edition.

Slavoj Zizek: On Hegel’s Identity of Opposites

The same goes for crime and the law, for the passage from crime as the distortion (negation) of the law to crime as sustaining the law itself, that is, to the idea of the law itself as universalized crime. One should note that, in this notion of the negation of negation, the encompassing unity of the two opposed terms is the “lowest,” “transgressive,” one: it is not crime which is a moment of law’s self-mediation (or theft which is a moment of property’s self-mediation); the opposition of crime and law is inherent to crime, law is a subspecies of crime, crime’s self-relating negation (in the same way that property is theft’s self-relating negation).

A Habermasian “normative” approach imposes itself here immediately: how can we talk about crime if we do not have a prior notion of a legal order violated by the criminal transgression? In other words, is not the notion of law as universalized/ self-negated crime ultimately self-destructive ? But this is precisely what a properly dialectical approach rejects: what is before transgression is just a neutral state of things, neither good nor bad (neither property nor theft, neither law nor crime); the balance of this state is then violated, and the positive norm (law, property) arises as a secondary move, an attempt to counteract and contain the transgression. In Martin Cruz Smith’s novel Havana Bay, set in Cuba , a visiting American gets caught up in a high nomenklatura plot against Fidel Castro, but then discovers that the plot was organized by Castro himself. 30 Castro is well aware of the growing discontent with his rule even in the top circle of functionaries around him, so every couple of years his most trusted agent starts to organize a plot to overthrow him in order to entrap the discontented functionaries; just before the plot is supposed to be enacted, they are all arrested and liquidated. Why does Castro do this? He knows that the discontent will eventually culminate in a plot to depose him, so he organizes the plot himself to flush out potential plotters and eliminate them. What if we imagine God doing something similar? In order to prevent a rebellion against His rule by His creatures, He Himself— masked as the Devil— sets a rebellion in motion so that He can control it and crush it. But is this mode of the “coincidence of the opposites” radical enough? No, for a very precise reason: because Castro-God functions as the unity of himself (his regime) and his opposite (his political opponents), basically playing a game with himself. One has to imagine the same process under the domination of the opposite pole, as in the kind of paranoiac scenario often used in popular literature and films. For example: when the internet becomes infected by a series of dangerous viruses, a big digital company saves the day by creating the ultimate anti-virus program. The twist, however, is that this same company had manufactured the dangerous viruses in the first place— and the program designed to fight them is itself the virus that enables the company to control the entire network. Here we have a more accurate narrative version of the Hegelian identity of opposites.

V for Vendetta deploys a political version of this same identity. The film takes place in the near future when Britain is ruled by a totalitarian party called Norsefire; the film’s main protagonists are a masked vigilante known as “V” and Adam Sutler, the country’s leader. Although V for Vendetta was praised (by none other than Toni Negri, among others) and, even more so, criticized for its “radical”— pro-terrorist, even— stance, it does not have the courage of its convictions: in particular, it shrinks from drawing the consequences of the parallels between V and Sutler. 31 The Norsefire party , we learn, is the instigator of the terrorism it is fighting against—but what about the further identity of Sutler and V? We never see either of their faces in the flesh (except the scared Sutler at the very end, when he is about to die): we see Sutler only on TV screens, and V is a specialist in manipulating the screen. Furthermore , V’s dead body is placed on a train with explosives, in a kind of Viking funeral strangely evoking the name of the ruling party: Norsefire. So when Evey— the young girl (played by Natalie Portman) who joins V— is imprisoned and tortured by V in order to learn to overcome her fear and be free, does this not parallel what Sutler does to the entire British population, terrorizing them so that they rebel? Since the model for V is Guy Fawkes (he wears a Guy mask), it is all the more strange that the film refuses to draw the obvious Chestertonian lesson of its own plot: that of the ultimate identity of V and Sutler. (There is a brief hint in this direction in the middle of the film, but it remains unexploited.) In other words, the missing scene in the film is the one in which, when Evey removes the mask from the dying V, we see Sutler’s face. How would we have to read this identity? Not in the sense of a totalitarian power manipulating its own opposition, playing a game with itself by creating its enemy and then destroying it, but in the opposite sense: in the unity of Sutler and V, V is the universal encompassing moment that contains both itself and Sutler as its two moments. Applying this logic to God himself, we are compelled to endorse the most radical reading of the Book of Job proposed in the 1930s by the Norwegian theologian Peter Wessel Zapffe, who accentuated Job’s “boundless perplexity” when God himself finally appears to him.

Expecting a sacred and pure God whose intellect is infinitely superior to ours, Job finds himself confronted with a world ruler of grotesque primitiveness, a cosmic cave-dweller, a braggart and blusterer, almost agreeable in his total ignorance of spiritual culture …

What is new for Job is not God’s greatness in quantifiable terms; that he knew fully in advance … what is new is the qualitative baseness. In other words, God— the God of the Real— is like the Lady in courtly love, He is das Ding, a capricious cruel master who simply has no sense of universal justice . God-the-Father thus quite literally does not know what He is doing, and Christ is the one who does know, but is reduced to an impotent compassionate observer, addressing his father with “Father, can’t you see I’m burning?”— burning together with all the victims of the father’s rage. Only by falling into His own creation and wandering around in it as an impassive observer can God perceive the horror of His creation and the fact that He, the highest Law-giver, is Himself the supreme Criminal. Since God-the-Demiurge is not so much evil as a stupid brute lacking all moral sensitivity, we should forgive Him because He does not know what He is doing. In the standard onto-theological vision, only the demiurge elevated above reality sees the entire picture, while the particular agents caught up in their struggles have only partial misleading insights. At the core of Christianity, we find a different vision— the demiurge is a brute, unaware of the horror he has created, and only when he enters his own creation and experiences it from within, as its inhabitant, can he see the nightmare he has fathered.

Slavoj  Zizek, (2014-10-07). Absolute Recoil: Towards A New Foundation Of Dialectical Materialism (pp. 269-271).

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Three – Scene 4

Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans,
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens…
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood,
Where lived a country boy name of Johnny B. Goode…
– Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry

He loved that song. He’d play it over and over in his head, day and night, year after year. It was him. Except that next refrain: “He never ever learned to read or write so well, But he could play the guitar like ringing a bell.” For him it was just the opposite. He could read and write perfectly, but hell if he could carry a tune or play a guitar. Not that he hadn’t tried when he was growing up, but something in him just wasn’t quite right for that sort of thing. He couldn’t put his hand on it, either. Most of it started with his sister.

He remembered the first time he’d had sex. It wasn’t quite what he’d expected of course. He’d always dreamed about those cheerleaders at the high school. Those short skirts they wore, and that little crease of flesh he could see when they threw them up so high. No. It didn’t happen that way at all. Cheerleaders thought he was a freak. Even the ugly girls stayed away from him. He’d learned to bide his time, stay to himself mostly. Then one day something happened to change all that.

Instead his older sister had stumbled in one night when Paps was out setting traps. She was drunk and higher than a kite. She rummaged around in the kitchen for a while, munching down on whatever she could find. Satisfied she started playing with herself there on the couch. When she got tired of that she got this funny smile on her face. The young man laying over in his corner of the cabin reading or pretending to read, watched on as she ambled over and undressed right there in front of him. He thought to himself, whether he should run or just sit there. He had no clue what she was up too. So he sat there and wondered at it. He had no feelings one way or the other.

She crawled up there in bed with him and said, “What you reading there, little Johnny?” Then she took that book out of his hands and said, “Why don’t you read me, little boy blue.” It wasn’t a question, more like an invite. She felt down where his manhood sat like a stone, unmoved. She twitched at it till suddenly something happened he’d never felt before nor since. It came alive at her touch.

* * *

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

 

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Three – Scene 3

origami

One thing led to another and the boys finally got around to telling us what we were here for. Joel said they’d found something strange up on one of the dry beds out there.

“What the fuck you own about, Joel.” I wanted to sound pissed even if I wasn’t.

“Well, I was getting to it, if you’d let me finish,” he looked at me quizzically. “Oh, hell, let’s just show these boys. Don’t matter much now, they done spoiled the fun and all.”

So we proceeded to follow these pecker-heads into the flat boats. They did it the old way, too. No fancy trolling motors on these rigs. No. Just long poles to push and push and push. Sometimes when one is floating through the swamps things begin to pop up around you, things in the murk. Old things that seemed to have been there from the beginning, as if God had said on that last day before he rested: “I seem to be forgetting something. Ah, yes, evil crawly swamp things, mud creatures and slime monsters. I’ll just set them all down here. That’s good. Now multiply and grow and keep reminding these little mortal gods of their sinful nature.” Now of course such fables are full of holes, but I’ll tell you that ever since my Paps told me that story when I was a kid I keep looking round just in case. Only thing is I don’t mind such things as one finds in these muddy waters, it’s the things that crawl around in the cesspool of civilization that worry me. The one’s that walk on two feet are truly evil incarnate.

We must’ve pushed in and out of old cypress stumps and gully inlets for two hours or more when Joel said: “It’s up here boys.” Course, what the hell it was would soon be known.

We got out of the flats and slurped in some soft mud pulling them up with us. I knew I should have brought my sloshing boots with me. I looked at Caleb. He shrugged. Be dammed.

We followed Joel through the brush. He had a machete and beat back some of the overgrowth, clearing things as he moved ahead. Finally we came to a makeshift clearing in some scrub pines, thin as my legs. The we saw it.

Hanging from the trees was this cocoon like thing, all wrapped up in string and tape with wood dangling out of it, and ribbons flowing down all black and red. Strangest concoction I’d ever seen. Couldn’t make heads or tales of it till I noticed it had eyes, or should I say, “missing eyes”. Then it dawned on me, my dream. Was that a premonition of this? Dam. What was going on inside me, anyway? Maybe I’m finally going mad. I doubted that, but one could never be sure in these weird times.

I looked at Joel, saying, “Did you boys tell the local parish sheriff or wildlife about this yet?”

“Nah, knowing Caleb like we do, we figured there might be some kind of reward for such things. So we figured best to let him in on it and figure all that out for us.”

“Good thinking, Joel.” I wanted to smack Caleb up side the head now, but refrained. He’d been dealing with these swamper’s, Redbones, Cajuns, and all for years, feeding them a little money and stipend now and then just to keep them on a chain.

What was odd as I walked around this thing, this dead thing that had been a human at one time was not the way it had been wrapped or even the wrapping but the pose; it was somehow all too familiar, as if it had been set there in that pose specifically for me to see, as if it were trying to tell me something, a message. It was posed like that little piece of origami I had stuffed in my pocket now. I took it out and lifted it up examining it more closely, walking slowly around this human death in front of me. The stench was almost too much even for me, and I’d always prided myself how much of it I could take in like the odor of death was a poetry only an old detective could savor. But the truth was death is not an aesthetic substance to be savored, its a horror to be forgotten.

“Well this wasn’t some poaching affair, that’s for certain.” Caleb was always obvious.

I looked at him, shook my head. “I think this one’s too big for us, Caleb, best let the Baton Rouge boys have a run at this one. I suspect serial, and that means it’ll go State and Federal most likely.” He nodded.

All I hoped for now was to pick up the crumbs they’d leave behind till it lead me to that Big X I had in my mind’s map.

Caleb talked to the boys while I looked around the perimeter. Nothing here. Didn’t expect as much. Whoever this was worked alone, methodical, and was intelligent; and, most of all, had been raised in these parts somewhere close by. Made me begin to think. Who did I piss off? Then I began running all those old cases through my mind’s computer.

 * * *

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Three – Scene 2

Painting Cajun Sunset by Aaron Freeman

The boy was still in the trunk of the red truck, out like a light. The bottle of chloroform had done the trick. The boy would sleep like a baby. At least for now.

The young man had been a lab tech at one time and knew a few things about mixing chemicals. Some bleach and acetone in the right parts cooled down to the right temperature till it became cloudy had worked like a charm. The boy had been so surprised when he’d snuck up and put that potato sack over him so fast he’d frozen. It gave the young man just enough time to put the sleepness over his face. Even through the burlap it was doused enough it almost made the young man himself a little dizzy, but the boy went limp before he even reached the recommended time-frame. He was happy with himself about that. He even allowed himself a smile.

He’d parked the truck up in the trees and made room in the lockbox, a little blanket and pillow for the trip out to the cabin. He put tape over the boys mouth just in case, and tied his hands up tight with just enough room to maneuver without getting loose or cutting circulation. He wanted this boy to live and suffer long. 

The boy wouldn’t go anywhere after he locked the box up. So it didn’t much matter.

Once he laid the boy in there he went back into his cab, popped the lid on a Jax and sipped it till dusk.

He listened to some of that new Cajun music station which seemed to be all they played anymore round these parts. Amanda Shaw was playing; he liked her voice, had that comfort zone inflection to it he so liked.

When it was pitch black out he started the truck up, and plunged off into the darkness listening to that warm lovely voice singing about Sweet Honey.

* * *

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Three – Scene 1

He wasn’t talking yet, just driving out and away from the city. Sometimes Caleb could be an ornery cuss when he wanted to be. But I did as he asked, kept quiet let him finish his little charade, allowed him to take me to wherever it was that he would finally unload on me, tell me his thoughts plainly and without emendation.

We’d turned off of Highway 10 onto a watershed road leading to the break lines deep into the Atchafalaya swamp. It was a clear day and the sun beat down on us like an old man with something terrible on his mind. I kept thinking about Bethany’s homemade buttermilk loafs she’d been pulling out of that oven of hers, wishing I had a little of that sweet blackberry marmalade and a slab of butter right now. Instead I was chewing on jerky tougher than sod in a bad winter wondering how I’d let myself be talked into this affair by Caleb in the first place. I finally said: “What the fuck, Caleb, where you taking us? Old Man Jabon Choats place?”

Jabon was Redbone, part of that people that migrated long ago from South Carolina after the Louisiana Purchase. He and his sons lived in an old rickety cabin in these parts close by the bayou with his three sons. He did gatoring out there in those swamps. Made enough to keep him and his three boys busy, though; that is, unless poachers would snag his bait traps and abscond with his livelihood. He’d gotten himself in trouble a few times when folks went missing out here, but such was the way of the swamp; if you crossed the line, you’d have to pay it down if you were caught. People lived beyond such worlds as law and order in these swamps, they didn’t give a shit about your laws or your governments out here. They made their own sort of freedom, and death, too. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement kept a pretty good tabs on such things now, though. So most of the notions of killing had become just bunk and grist for tourists touring the region. Yea, even the tourists were getting in on these lands now. Dam.

Finally Caleb slowed down to a crawl and stopped by an old levee fallen in disrepair years ago. Long ago they’d tried to drain parts of this swamp and redirect its flows trying to absolve problems with the Mississippi river at that time. It hadn’t done much good for the river, and had caused havoc on the swamplands turning parts that had been dry wet, and wet dry. Real smart people they got up there in the Capitol. Yep, hired all those young scientist types who really know what their doing alright. Those boys and their books seem to know everything from what I hear tell. Well, I’m not keen on all that study, but I know a couple things here and there. I just keep my nose in front of me like an old coon dog and scent a trail when its odor comes my way. I’m full of shit, too. Still it’s funny how things always seem to run amok when smart men get together and think they can fix things up that don’t need fixing; nature has her own way, and man’s been interfering in her business for far too long now, and it may just come back to bite us one day.

“We’re here.” He said matter-of-factly like we was parked in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or some such place.

I looked around me and could see nothing but sugarcane and moss spun cypress trees running down into the backwash of swamps further in the distance. We were somewhere above Attakapas Island on the Atchafalacha river where Bayou Sorrel meets the Little Bayou. But who was keeping names, anyway? There was an overgrown footpath leading off toward a clump of birch and pine in the distance on higher ground. Further to the right I could make out a lone ibis, and what appeared to be a spoonbill in the brackish waters off and away from the dry ground. Up high, floating there like the hunter it is, was a dark hued hawk; most likely a red-shoulder with those white freckles on its feathers, hovering on the wind, at ease with life seeking a rabbit or squirrel far below. Hard to tell sometimes from such a distance. As a kid my Big Daddy took me out in the swamps all the time and would point out every single thing that was living, and even the things that weren’t. Sometimes I surprise myself at what stuck.

Caleb pulled up when we reached the edge of the shadows falling between the sun and pines, saying: “We’re meeting Jabon Choats boys down here.” Yea, here being in the middle of Iberville parish, meeting some cagy swamper’s that would just as soon shoot you for poaching as look at you. He yelled out: “Hey, Joel, you in there?”

A voice came out of the pitch black: “Nah, we ain’t in here. Go away!”

“Now is that a way to be, Joel, after we being so kind to come out here all this way just to chat with you and your brothers on a Sunday afternoon?” Caleb could be persuasive when he wanted.

“Who’s your friend, Caleb? I don’t ‘member Paps saying anything about other people tagging along.” He chuckled, and in the background one heard the other boys chuckling as well, as if it were all in a day’s fun.

Caleb got pissed then, “I’m going to kick you fucking fools from here to the other side New Iberia, boy, if you keep messing with me; you, hear?”

“Ok, ok,” Joel said. “Don’t get your gander in a tizzy, we’s just a joshing. You know that.” The other boys all agreed and mumbled.

So we proceeded into the darkness of those pines like we had good sense, to meet these swamper’s who had only the sense their Paps had laid down in them somewhere between being eaten by a gator or killing one. Of course they were a deal smarter than that, hell Joel himself held a degree from Louisiana State, but hated the city world so much, and the dead end jobs with their insufferable bosses and creep up the corporate ladder that he’d given up after three years and come back to home to live without all those plastic luxuries that life could afford. Yea, something about the smell of swamps seemed to ooze out of these boys. But it was their way, and sometimes I envied them, that.

* * *

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

 

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Two – Scene 5

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Caleb’s son Jack was off to college at Tulane, playing in his second year as a wide receiver on the Green Wave’s prime roster. I’d never played much ball myself, but Caleb had been an off-guard tackle in his day; short, squat, and flush mean, pound per pound.

I was sitting here on the edge of his son’s bed with a cup of Joe that was steaming thick and good. I could smell hominy, grits and bacon and a lot of other tidbits coming from the kitchen. Bethany if anything was one of the best cooks I’d ever had the pleasure to have a sit with and exchange insider information of certain old time recipes. She was really good.

I couldn’t take a shower now. I needed some of that good food.

She’d fry up some of her perdu – or, day old French bread in lard with slabs of thick cut bacon, and a honey and cane mixture that would light a mind for a year. Topped it off with rice, grits, hominy and sweet potatoes with a touch of homemade mayhaw jelly and fig preserves, and some dipped peppers deep fried in buttermilk and cornmeal and I was fit to be tied. Then came the cooked onions, garlic, bell pepper and celery with the sea bass and shrimp or crawdads in a creole that would send me to hell happy. All of these fixings that would have made any grown man crawl on his knees begging her to marry him. Shame she was already taken, and to my partner Caleb, too. Dam. Well, a good dam at that.

After slurping down a few more hot steaming cups of Joe she gave me some towels and told me to march my ass off and get cleaned up. I said: “Yes, Mam, right away!”

She grinned at me like I was just an overgrow oaf, saying: “You ain’t so tough, you just think you is. Now get out of here, I got to clean this man mess up. Go on, go on… Get!”

She pushed me out of there and the sliding door closed with a thud behind me. Of course Caleb was sitting there reading the Sunday paper looking up shaking his head at me.

I laughed and proceeded to the shower stall.

“Hurry up, we got to talk!” He hollered as I shut the door and turned on that hot steam. He could wait, this couldn’t.


* * *

 – Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.  

Notes: This is one of those I’ll come back to add more context and vocals, figure Bethany should have something to say to him, a little advice, etc. Women down home love to give advice, let you know what your life is, and what it should be, and how you need to get away from moping, etc. Work, work, work is always the answer down there, until you so exhausted and the money is on the table then she’s happy.

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Two – Scene 4

 

She was walking away from him toward the back of the house, her soft hair so fine and pressed smooth with layering’s that shifted blue on black; yet fluffy, as it dipped down into the little ringlets that fell about her thighs. He called to her, following her faster and faster down a long hallway. Every time he caught sight of her she’d disappear again into the blackness. Finally he came to a door, her door; opened it and went in, and saw her their tied up like some kind of malformed bird or winged creature, her eyes being gnawed on by two large crows, black and shiny; pecking at her eyeballs till all that was left were two empty pits staring at him with neither pity nor sadness, just an emptiness that cast a deep shadow across his life so large he’d live in it till time or time’s ruins were finished with him or else done with life itself.

He woke up in a sweat. The bed was wet in it, he felt around for some water on the side stand but forgot he wasn’t home. He was sitting in the middle of a flea-bitten motel bed on the edge of town. He threw the covers off turned on the TV went to the sink in the lavatory turned on the water: rust colored crap dribbled out, full of odd bits of metal and bugs; who knew what else. He waited for it to clear and dampened a towel that looked like it’d been chewed up by a pit bull out of pure spite and orneriness. “Dam,” he thought to himself. “What the fuck am I doing?” He was about to look in the mirror, but he knew what was there, no sense belaboring that fact again. He washed his eyes out best he could, sat down of the commode took a long constitutional and thought about things.

He wasn’t getting anywhere, he knew that. He knew Toot was not the answer, yet he’d have to follow down every path he could just to weigh out everything like a road map till it lead him to the black spot sitting there like a big X on that blank map. That was it, too. He needed something to start that process. Then he thought about that gnawing sensation in the back of his mind. Why crows? Why her eyes plucked? What did it all mean? It came to him. That little bit of nothing in his coat pocket, that folded up carnival mask or origami contraption made out of paper: what did it mean, what was it trying to tell him? First thing in the morning he’d have to go on down to Lee’s and see what he could make of it.

First thing first he needed some fresh clothes, a shave and a real shower. He felt like hell warmed over. He reached for the phone, dialed a number, said: “Coming over, ok?” Whoever was on the other end must’ve been agreeable, because he hung up, put on his clothes and left that room behind like it left a bad taste in his mouth.

* * *  

 – Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.  

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Two – Scene 3

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He watched the young boy on the swing swaying back and forth. The boy looked to be about eight or so, tall for his age, wearing a striped blue and white shift. Had those funny looking running shoes like one of those basketball stars he loved to watch on the TV once in a blue moon, when his mother would let him. The young man in the pick up had been watching the boy for a week now. Knew his every move. Knew his friends, where he liked to hide out, what paths he took too and from school or play. He’d studied him carefully; methodically.

If a sheriff’s deputy had driven by at that moment he’d of probably waved and the young man sitting in the Ford pickup with its beat up look: dents, scrapes, and rusty red exterior ready to fall apart right there on the street. But if that officer had taken a closer look, actually studied the young man’s eyes he’d of given it a second thought. He’d probably of rubbed his own eyes and hoped what he’d seen in that young man wasn’t really there. Those eyes were blank and lifeless as if there was absolutely no one home. Eyes staring out of those black sockets were like doorknobs rubbed smooth over years of neglect and abuse, leaving nothing but that tarnished and worn look that such things get after a century of use and abuse.

It was those lifeless eyes that were now staring cold and in deadly earnest at the eight year old swinging by himself in the swing. All the other children seemed to be content to play by the schoolyard, running and hopping around the gym bars like little monkeys. While others were at the tether-ball court whipping the balls round and round, back and forth like their lives depended on it. But the young man in the truck wasn’t worried the least about all these other children. No. He had a plan. Not a good one. But a plan nonetheless.

He heard the buzzer go off for school’s end. He knew the boy went home the same route everyday. He’d been watching him for a week. He knew as well there was a place the boy would take a short-cut by the creek, a cut in the fence that allowed him to sneak on down and across the now dry creek bed near a wash out. He’d walk up that way by a clump of river birch and wild lavender lilacs, and other growth of weed and wild flowers jutting up in batched defense of a hidden spot within those trees. He’d wait there for the boy and be ready. He started up the truck and headed back down the dry creek road he’d come from, his eyes still focused and dull as a doorknob.

 * * *

 – Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.  

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Two – Scene 2

Every time I walk into Toot’s joint down on Sixth and Vine I get this ugly feeling all over me, like something crawled out of the sewers and was enveloping me with its slimy waste. It was that kind of place. Clientele down and out for the count. Women and men hibernating in cold, damp booths where even the darkness was to bright for their taste. This is where Jezzie – short for Jezebel LeBlanc, Lobelia’s older sister, worked cleaning and tending bar as if it was just a bad habit she’d learned to live with; all in a day’s work: nothing to it, just another wonderful life here in God’s sweet country. Yea, but her god wore horns and did a gig every Saturday night down in Bo Town in the backwoods with more than a little hoot and whiskey, and a lot of dancing and carousing.

No telling why she did it. It wasn’t as if she needed money. Her drug slinging man, Booker T. Toutant worked these streets like it was his private store padding his wallet without a brow sweat. He had teams of hungry teens out there willing to pop one and take the heat for it now and then just to make a moment’s cash out.

She was in the back storeroom bringing up a box of Jax for the cooler from the basement. She smiled at me with those big teeth and cheery dimples that still left me in awe.

“How ya doin’, Jess? Been a long time since I seen you round here.” She said sarcastically. Then she pushed past me like she was hurt I hadn’t dropped by sooner cause of her sis.

Yea, I felt bad about that, but not enough to cry over. Not yet, anyway. “So I here tell, Toot – my nick for her man, is riding his boys hard these days.

She gave me a look. “Don’t you be bad mouthing my man now. You here me you cocksucker!”

I always did like anger in a woman, brought out the underbelly of their venom where one could deal with it. It was the ones that hid it behind smiles you had to be careful of, those were the deadly ones. Like cobras, those were. “Nah, Hun, I didn’t mean nothing by it.”

“Well, you sure and hell ain’t come here to shoot the shit with me, I know that much. So what the hell you want. Why aren’t you out there getting her killer instead of in here bothering me you bastard. Tell me that?” Her eyes had that black fire and were sparking like those July 4th fireworks down on Pogan Creek. Yea, I’d best just state my business and be gone.

“Ok, Hun…”

“Don’t you, Hun, me you son-of-a-bitch. Get the fuck out of here, will ya… of course you’re not, I can see that long way away. So get it out you toad, you. What you want. Just say it and be gone.” She said matter of factly.

“Simple, Jezzie, did Toot have any troubles of late? Anything out of the ordinary? Maybe those Big Boys from up East come collecting and not get what they came for? …”

“What you getting at? You think my man had something to do with my little sister’s death? Is that it? Why you two-bit bastard.” Those fireworks had become bombs exploding now. She picked up one of those frosted beers from the cooler and pitched it at me like an infield thrower. Dam she’s good. If I hadn’t been keyed up I’d of gotten it on the kisser, sure tell. Luckily it grazed my right shoulder and skimmed off lightly or I’d been laid out good.

“Ok, ok… I had to ask, Jezz!” I said cautiously.

“Well if you have to ask, why don’t you go ask him yourself. Get the hell outta here now, before I get all these boys to throw you out.” She pointed to a bunch of overgrown teenage hoodlums at the pool tables in the back who were all itching to do just that. One even began walking toward me in earnest.

“I wouldn’t do that, son, if you know what’s good for you.” I said with just enough force to make him stop and think about it.

She gave him a look. He slowly backed up to where his friends stood snickering at him now.

I did the same. Slowly backed out of that cage like I was a tiger ready to pounce on anything that might move my way.

* * *

 – Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.  

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

 

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter Two – Scene 1

Read earlier parts here: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress


“Hi, Jess,” she said so easily. “Why don’t you come over here and sit a bit, Hun.”

She was known as Genevieve Eglantine after her late husband, Beauregard. She was creole through and through, had that patois that gave her voice a certain music and a rhythm like no other. Her skin was creamy and coppery almost the color of twilight on those evenings late in August when the lazy sun sits there in the West like an old man who’s just taking his good old time crossing the river into eternity.

“Hi, Gen, your looking good.” I said simply with no inflection. All these years I’d been knowing Lobelia I’d spent more time on Genevieve’s verandah than I’d ever done in that beautiful little alcove of hers there on Dupart. We seemed always to be over here visiting listening to the tales her moman could relate for hours on end. Her eyes were as bright as the Magnolias that surrounded her estate in abundance and were even now giving off such a wondrous fragrance. She wasn’t wealthy by any means of the word, but her husband had been successful as a Doctor – or, more precise, a Surgeon – and left her this land and enough stipend to keep her going for years.

There’s always been this unwritten history of the Creole peoples in these parts, one with its inner logics, its turmoil’s and drifts of power and corruption like anything else in this world; yet, there was this abiding sense of dignity, of a sense of justice and pride – not that false pride of ego, but of a people born out of that long heritage of slavery who’d overcome odds and risen above it all. Oh, sure, one could point the finger to the early histories, but who could say for sure; all these new fangled new historians seemed to want to rewrite the world if they could and replace the inner soul history of whole peoples with their melodramas of historical necessity and micro-surgeries of time. All I needed was a couple hours sitting right here listening to Genevieve describe her life to know the truth of it. That was enough for me. Let those historians be hanged.

“I know what you’re thinking, Jess.” she said, softly.

She always did have a way about her, like she could read my mind before I’d even formulated a thought or question for myself.

“What’s that, Mama?”

“That you’re going to kill this man once you find him.” she said with an almost provocation; then she continued, “I wouldn’t blame you, Son. But you very well no it want change a thing. She’s gone. She want be coming back. Accept it. Move on. Put this down and let the others handle it.”

I sat there for a few more minutes. I knew there wasn’t much else to say. Never was. She was right. I should just let it go, move on with my life and let the past bury the past; but, she and I both knew that wasn’t going to happen. Not now. Not ever. Yet, she was right about one thing: I’d not kill the bastard, not yet at least. No I wanted him to suffer. Suffer real bad. But first I had to find him.

I leaned over gave her a big hug. She kissed me on the left cheek, saying, “You keep out of mischief, here? I don’t want this to bury you, okay?”

“Don’t you worry, Moman, I’ll be taking care, you hear. You do the same, okay?” I said, holding back a little.

“Why you don’t have to worry about old Gen, now; you young’uns always trouble about us oldsters when its you that should be worried. You get out of here before I get up and whip you. Shoo!” She grinned.

I smiled. I knew she’d be taken care of good. I could see old man Jesper Tyburn out there in the garden even now. He had a place out back with his wife, and tended the yard and shopping. Yes, she was just fine.

 * * *

 – Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.  

Comments are welcome and needed. This is my getting wet in noir, a first stab at this genre, and all the insight I can gather (likes, dislikes, whether its too sentimental, gritty, etc.) will help out. Obviously as I’ve said before this is a fast storyline mode for the first run through. Just getting the ideas and story down day by day. I’ll come back on the 2nd draft and start filling in details of character and setting, but for now the story itself is driving things. So if you’d be so kind drop me a comment, tell me honestly what you think.

Read more: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter One: Scene 3

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I cannot say I’m a bitter man, I think it goes much deeper than that and escapes such notions of emotion as hate and anger; it’s something else, something more primal, locked into one’s life like two pit bulls cornered in rage, slung into a cage or dug hole without escape, left to fend for themselves, enact what they’ve been bred for all these many years: to fight, to kill, to silence the rage in their own hearts till it bleeds out into the black earth. I’m that pit bull in the cage, and I’m not bleeding enough.

Lobelia Leblanc lived somewhere in that hinterland of my mind where everything I hold precious and dear moves in its own paradisial light. That’s the way it would stay. Yet, something had come along one day and snatched it up, taken it off into a place it did not want to go, into a darkness so dark that even thought itself could not regain control nor move in that thick pit of despair beyond human reason or need. As I walked along the avenue in front of her old home on Dupart Avenue I began thinking about who or what kind of being would have done such an act of horror on my Lobelia.

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Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter One – Scene 2

Sometimes I almost think I’ve got it all figured out. Like there’s this map in my head of the way things are, or the way things ought to be; but then things happen to fuck the map up, little things that just don’t seem right, don’t seem to be in the right place, as if some asshole had moved the pieces around on the map just to screw with my mind. Then one day everything on the map flat out disappears, vanishes before your very eyes, as if it had never been there. That’s when your stripped down bare, left naked in the face of the darkness that seems to be everywhere and especially in you. No place to hide, no place to run because you are the darkness while the darkness last. You’re in the old parlance, fucked royal. No getting around that.

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Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter One – Scene 1

A Chapter from a noir I’m working on… a sort of trial run. More or less trying out openings for the story. Typical plot at the moment of a basic detective in a rural community, could be almost anywhere and I’m trying to leave it unsituated for the skeleton version. Working the old notion of revenge killing in which the detective’s lady is killed by the brother of a woman who the detective killed in a shoot out over a drug heist gone wrong in which a sheriff deputy had been murdered off duty. Jesse Coulter (yes using the old outlaw name unaffiliated ), the detective worked the case and ended up killing the girl and one of the other heist members in a shoot out. Now the brother is seeking not only revenge but to drive Jesse into the ground, make him pay dearly by killing everyone in his life that ever meant something. That’s the basic set up. Now I have to make the cliché interesting.

I’ve another opening that starts with the brutal killing, but for some reason it just doesn’t work for me. I want this to be a love and death noir, with that romance and underpinning of revenge. It’s as if the anti-hero who you’ll see is brutal himself is partially the cause of his own worst nightmares. As in most noir everything seems as if a script built for doom. Yet, I want it to be a opening novel in a series so am going to play the romance off the death plot see where that takes me. Either way all comments welcome as usual.

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