Die Writing

Encumberances

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on February 28, 2012

He sat on the low windowsill outside the bar. It was obviously late. The band was setting up on the stage and the crowd was excitedly heaving itself through the doors. He held a glass of whiskey and a cigarette in one hand, while the other hand was being kept warm in a pocket. The sharp tobacco smoke was biting his eyes, so he had to squint as he took a deep draw.

Recognition was instant for both of them. Time seemed to circle back in a hurry. The chance encounter has played out in their minds so many times that it failed to surprise either of them when it actually happened. If anything, the moment did not live up to the intense drama they had anticipated. Past lovers outside a jazz bar. How common.

“Hi,” they said. The greeting awkwardly stood next to them for a beat, then followed everyone else inside, leaving the two alone.

“You smoke now?” Her question was, surprisingly, accusatory in tone. She did not really expect it to come off that way. She did not expect to even ask that. It caught him off guard as well, so he stared for a moment over the top of his glasses.

“Of all the things that keep us apart, this is hardly at the top of the list.” The defensive comeback was likewise unintentional. Another odd beat, and then he said,

“I ought to buy you a drink, I think. Not as an ice breaker or anything. Just… erm… seems proper.”

“If you’d like,” she answered looking at her feet. Then a confused smile stumbled across her lips and she went inside.

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Farce remix – How does your garden grow?

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on February 22, 2012

Aside

This is a long piece, so more explanation. This is an absurd, farce version of Agatha Christie’s How Does Your Garden Grow? This is a short story about the great Poirot. You should probably read the original before reading this. If you ever find yourself in a conversation with me and I suddenly begin to giggle for no reason, it’s probably because my mind has turned our exchange into something like this.

This all really started when I realized that one of the characters was such an incompetent liar he came off completely insane, simply blurting out surreal give-away statements.

Grrreat blow!

Hercule Poirot handled an oversize hunting knife in one hand and his mustache in the other. Growling, he kept stabbing at a pile of letters in front of him.

Patience! Nous allons arriver!” He exclaimed when one of the letters finally got caught on the serrated blade. A mixture of confetti, candy, dried flowers, and pieces of paper with words and phrases on them spilled out of the ruined envelope. In no particular order, the messages comprised the following list:

  • Recommended
  • Private and confidential
  • Hushed up
  • Circumstances (accompanied by a crude drawing of a squirrel)
  • A cut-out pictures of Poirot and some old lady, superposed in a way suggesting kissing.
  • Rosebank, Charmen’s Green

At ten o’clock precisely, and with a mouth full of hard caramel, Poirot burst into his secretary’s room. Miss Lemon, a demented hag confined to a wheel chair and always packing several loaded pistols, was sleeping.

“A case!  Private and confidential! Werther’s!” Poirot was shouting incoherently. Startled, Miss Lemon unloaded one of her pistols into a wall. Being almost completely blind, she could not aim and simply shot off at random.

“Soft soap! Purr purr!” She screeched like mad harpy.

Never the one to test his luck by giving Miss Lemon another opportunity, Poirot plunged through a window and ran off toward Charman’s Green. Despite his short stature, the great detective possessed the speed and the health of a horse and made along at a good clip.

Arriving at the Rosebank, the great detective stationed himself near a bush, munching on its leaves and observing the house. He was covered in spittle and dirt from the road, yet his mustache remained regal and proper. His continental sense of propriety was unshakeable. While he was waiting, he began to quietly sing,

Mistress Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With cockle-shells, and silver bells,

And pretty maids all in a row.

Drawn to his enchanting voice, a young maid appeared from the brush. However, once she caught the sight of Poirot, she exclaimed in terror,

“You’ve come for the dead!” Then promptly disappeared back into the bushes.

“Come back, blue eyes!” Pleaded Poirot and launched himself into the bushes after the pretty little maid, but she was nowhere to be found. Even Poirot’s unmatched intellectual talents could not rival her many years of experience scurrying through shrubbery. Giving up the search, he wandered into the house where he encountered a small, sullen, sallow girl that stared at him uncomfortably.

“Why have you come?” She inquired sternly.

“Candy?” Poirot continued to plead and, pouting, produced a handful of empty wrappers.

“Are you a lawyer?”

The two have arrived at an intellectual impasse.

“Katrina!” The mistress of the house arrived atop a great white horse. Henry the husband followed, occasionally yelping “Ruskies!” and biting furniture.

“Aunt Amelia is dead!” The mistress announced. “Long live Aunt Amelia!”

“Grrrreat blow!” growled Henry the husband and tore a leg off a chair with his gleaming white teeth. His eyes were wheeling around like two shopping carts driven by the mischief of faulty bearings.

Parfaitement,” thoughtfully said Poirot, then ran across the room and escaped by hurtling through a window. His great detective’s intuition alerted him that something was wrong in this scene. Something was terribly amiss, and so he directed himself to the local police station.

“Facts, inspector!”

Inspector Sims was a hybrid of an old grandfather clock and a dresser. The glass case containing the pendulum and the clock face was surrounded by a cluster of variously sized drawers. His unbending stick arms spun around like a demented cartoon whenever he spoke.

“That’s easily done. Old lady was taken bad after dinner on Tuesday night. Very alarming. Fish pie.”

“Aha!” The great detective has sensed that he was on to the case.

“Very nasty bit of work. Half a Russian girl. She left the soup on the stove and the fish pie in the oven, and the apple tart was cold.”

“A bêtise!”

“I don’t know about that.”

“A little favor – you will send me a little word how the affair marches.”

“Why, certainly.”

“Also, chocolates.”

“Why, certainly.”

Poirot raced back to his house, where Inspector Sims already awaited him, excitedly whirring his arms and hovering near the roof’s ledge.

“ITEM NO. 1!” He inspector bellowed. Poirot ran inside the house, only to be greeted by a bullet from Miss Lemon. He dodged it by diving behind a ragged couch.

“You are a Russian girl!” Poirot yelled at Miss Lemon, hoping to distract her long enough for him to make an escape.

“Yes!” She replied and fired another gun.

“A PRETTY BIG ITEM!”

“You are alone and friendless!” The great detective engaged the old hag in a battle of wits, making a deep psychological attack.

“IN CONSIDERATION OF HER GREAT KINDNESS AND ATTENTION!” Inspector Sims was flying around the house, warlike thrustings of his pelvic drawer ruining the roof tiles. His deep voice boomed and echoed down the street.

“The old lady takes a fancy to you!”

“Yes!” A bullet shuttered a window.

“ITEM NO. 2!” The Inspector became so excited that his arms became positively a blur. “MISS B.! EVERYTHING ELSE TO K.! NOBODY BUT K.! THE YOUNG LADY – K.?”

“The dripping will be in the fire! Enfin!”

“Yes! The fishmonger?” Miss Lemon finally caught on to at least some of the words – this sounded like something related to food – and wheeled toward the kitchen. Taking advantage of the pause in the shooting, Poirot dove through the window and into the garden. There, Inspector Sims got caught in an apple tree, like a bewildered washing machine thrown at a fruit stand in a grocery store. The great detective was showered a mixture of chunky apple sauce and fresh mulch.

Knocking down a fence, the mistress of Rosebank rode into the yard, Henry the husband in tow. He quickly climbed a tree not yet assaulted by Inspector Sims.

“Ruskies!” he barked from his vantage point.

Poirot regarded the new arrivals with suspicion, narrowing his eyes to slits.

“They are not cockle shells,” he noted with bitter disappointment and leveled an accusatory finger. “They are oyster shells!”

“We’ve done it for years,” she began to declare theatrically to no one in particular, gesturing broadly with her arms. “It – it seems quite fantastic. My aunt died on Tuesday. It was quite unexpected. My name is Delafontaine. This is my husband. This was my aunt. The matter you speak of is no longer of importance.”

EVERYTHING FADES.

“Grrrreat blow!”

Again

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on February 13, 2012

She stood up abruptly, tried to take a deep breath but choked on the tears. A moment’s hesitation, and then everything ended with a faded, “Goodbye.” The persistent noise of the traffic was unbearable. Her hands and lips trembled, trying to articulate something, anything, but there was nothing left. She had spent all her words, so she turned around and walked away. The heels clacked on the tiles like some old clock measuring out the rest of his damned eternity.

Where she had no more to say, he was drowning in words. The verbal vomit filled his mouth. The emotional debris flooded him, but none of it made any coherent sense. He had too much to say, and so he said nothing.

For the hundredth time, he ashes his cigarette, and the thousandth time his shaking hand picked up the coffee cup. He has lost count of how many times he looked in the cup for more coffee, but it was empty every time. The cafe would always spin, and every single time he arrived at this moment, he noticed that it was a tremendously sunny day. He had straightened out the table cloth a million times, and would do it a million times again, and every time he couldn’t get it quite straight.

Why do you keep coming back here? Why this grain of sand? Why this particular tick of the clock?

Is it truly so meaningless? Perhaps this is the point about which the whole universe turns. Perhaps the moment that door slammed shut is the instant from which all the time springs.

Rooftop

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on February 5, 2012

The city lights below spread out like the sea. There are so many lights below I can practically feel the warmth of the midnight oil. Why sleep on a night like this. The brisk air is clarity.

The day is filled with distractions, an endless myriad of needless minutiae. It is complicated, frustrating. The night is simple and inspiring. We take off our masks and put them next to work suits – at night, we come out as ourselves.

The void at the end

Posted in Neuropilot by erdaron on February 1, 2012

Aside

Some details might not match up with a previous version. Sorry?

To the skies!

I’m holding this pamphlet in my hands again. I’ve kept it with me this whole time, for some reason. It’s kind of worn and beat up now. “Defend the Future. Take the Fight to the Skies!” I remember the recruiter who handed it to me, his firm handshake, steely eyes, confident smile. I remember bantering about the Fleet, and how he got hurt in boot camp and that kept him out of the cockpit. He never got his wings. A few months later, though, I did.

I run my hands over the paper. It feels rough and odd. It feels jagged under the fingertips. Paper’s rustling sounds like a bucket of broken glass. It’s all turned up too loud, colors over-saturated. That’s normal, though, everything seems weird and unreal for about an hour after you get out of the cockpit. All that stuff they inject into you to keep you flying… it’s like they took the whole 24-hour day and squeezed it into a five-minute firefight. The rest of the time comes off bland and empty after flying.

The brochure features a young pilot posing in front of his craft. He is handsome, with his pressed dress uniform and movie-star smile. That’s Jake. Around here, everyone knew this guy. A fighter pilot superstar, the best of the best, all talent, all hard work, with a list of kills that’s a mile long. I couldn’t believe my luck when I was assigned to fly in his wing. That was literally the best day of my entire life.

Jake’s dead now. Crashed his machine. He wasn’t shot out of the sky. Nothing failed in his craft. He didn’t run out of fuel. He fried his brain.

A moment before his starfighter went belly up and spun out of control into the ground, I happened to open a comm channel to him for a status check in. His face appeared on my screen. Normally, you’d see the face of a focused pilot. Everyone’s got that hunter’s look on them.

Jake looked absent. He seemed to be looking out a side port at something far, far away. There was zero concentration on that face. Jake looked relaxed, and there was something like an absent-minded smile on him. I called out, but he did not respond. His craft began to spin, spiraling into the moon below. His head rolled onto his shoulder. His lips seemed to move, but I could not hear any words. Then the video cut out.