Die Writing

The alley

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 23, 2016

At the mouth of the alley, he broke stride to pause and light a cigarette. That always casts a bubble around you – lighting a cigarette – for a moment you can curl into a tiny world within your hand shielding the fragile flame from the wind. The people flow around you, and you can feel a bit of aloneness.

Entering the alleyway was like bursting through the tight water surface, drawing the breath to save yourself from drowning. The busy street left behind, the alley was empty, dark, and a little musty. No one here but the ghosts. Patches of varied lighting revealed the alley. Bulbs in various colors and stages of decay didn’t exactly light the way, but maybe suggested that one might be found.

In a mirror image of the postcard-perfect street facades – the way hell mirrors heaven – backs of the houses formed an irregular, chaotic fjord of porches, claustrophobic yards, and kitchen windows. Gliding along, he could see someone absent-mindedly making dinner. A young wiry man on the phone; on hold forever – or maybe at the receiving end of a run-on monologue. Indistinct TV images flickering on  curtains and ceilings. A middle-aged woman in a  soiled white tanktop smoking by an open window; he raised his cigarette in an invisible, fraternal salute.

The alley twisted sharply, curled up like a hand cradling him. It was quiet and warm, a gentle darkness that relaxed the eyes. He inhaled the tobacco, the damp back alley air, the faint detergent drifting from the clotheslines, the distant fragrance of curry, the alley cats and the alley rats.

Another impossible twist, and the street, bright and peopled, was in view. Dive again, with lungs renewed.

A breath of whiskey – Jenny Dollar

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on November 23, 2015

Aside

This time I rolled a couple suggestions into one – a Johnny Dollar episode, and a gender-swapped noir piece. As with writing similar pieces, DJ Food provided the perfect working music. The result is an attempt at a short radio play.

The Sam Slacone Matter

Characters:

JENNY DOLLAR, insurance investigator
ALEX McCRACKEN, compliance officer with Continental Assurance and Liability
SAM SLACONE, proprietor of The Chrome Jet

NARRATION VOICEOVER
From Hollywood, it’s time now for…

(Background sounds of a public lounge – people’s voices, glasses and dishes clanking.)

ALEX McCRACKEN
Jenny Dollar, there is barely a breath of whiskey in this glass. What’s the big idea here?

JENNY DOLLAR
Well, Mr. McCracken, I thought I’d give you a bit of a show-and-tell. This is Mr. Slacone’s newest and biggest – the prime digs right on the Waterfront. But take a bit of a closer look, and the place feels just paper-thin.

(Intro trumpet flair)

NARRATION VOICEOVER
Tonight, and every weekday night, Betty Bailey and the transcribed adventures of the woman with the action-packed expense account, America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator…

JENNY DOLLAR VOICEOVER
Yours truly, Jenny Dollar.

The following is the accounting of expenditures during my investigation of the Sam Slacone matter. Expense account continued, item number 8, twenty-five dollars and thirty-six cents, fare to an incidental expenses at The Chrome Jet, and establishment owned and operated by one Sam Slacone.

I found Alex McCracken alone at the bar, swirling a tumbler with a serving of sub-par whiskey too skinny for the supposed luxury of this newly opened hotel-lounge. Like most insurance compliance officers, he wore a square dark suit, looking a bit too bland to be a cop.

JENNY DOLLAR
I would have loved at least a couple of breaths in this glass.

ALEX McCRACKEN
Now Miss Dollar, Continental Assurance holds the policy for this hotel, but we can hardly bother Mr. Slacone over a whiskey-pinching bartender.

JENNY DOLLAR
Of course not. But the show-and-tell ain’t quite over. If Mr. Slacone holds to his habits, we may snatch an introduction shortly. Ah and there he is, I believe.

(Distant sounds of a car coming to a halt, its break squealing a bit. A rumbling engine idles. Doors opening and closing. Sam Slacone’s voice is heard, first distant, then slowly approaching, greeting people along the way.)

SAM SLACONE
I can hardly believe my eyes – the famous Miss Jenny Dollar under my own roof! Do what I do owe the exquisite fortune? May I have that you are here for pleasure and not business?

JENNY DOLLAR
It is always a pleasure to do business, Mr. Slacone. May I introduce my kind acquaintance, Mr. McCracken.

ALEX McCRACKEN
How do you do, Mr. Slacone.

SAM SLACONE
Grand, just as yourself, I hope.

JENNY DOLLAR
Mr. McCracken here is with Continental Assurance, and at the moment, I am in his employ.

SAM SLACONE
Is that so, Mr. McCracken?

ALEX McCRACKEN
Indeed.

SAM SLACONE
Well, lucky you, Mr. McCracken. I hear Miss Dollar is a crack shot investigator. I am sure she can help you with whatever trouble you are pursuing. I’m afraid I’ll have to take my leave – urgent matters that need attending. Good day!

ALEX McCRACKEN
Good bye, Mr. Slacone.

JENNY DOLLAR
Ciao!

(Diminishing footsteps)

(A paper being unfolded and straightened out)

ALEX McCRACKEN
What is this? This paper is from a month ago.

JENNY DOLLAR
That is a story about The High-Flying Wing Resort, another one of Mr. Slacone’s, going into bankruptcy. Story is, the creditors foreclosed on the place, only to find it completely cleaned out, down to the last chair and piece of china. The court matter is ongoing and entirely unpleasant. Oh, and the chrome rod in which Mr. Slacone just arrived is a Maserati 3500GT. Factory-fresh.

ALEX McCRACKEN
What’s the story here, Jenny Dollar? How does this concern me and Continental Assurance?

JENNY DOLLAR
The District inspector who signed off on the plans for this building has taken an extended vacation in the Florida Keys, and in a hurry, too. Never been much of a maritime enthusiast, if you ask his friends. But the move seems permanent – been gone for two weeks and no one’s been able to get a hold of him. They’ve got phones in Florida alright, but apparently they don’t go to the place where Mr. Carmack now resides.

Alright, Mr. McCracken, it’s just a one, two three.

(Closing trumpet flourish)

NARRATOR VOICEOVER
Now here’s our to star to tell you about tomorrow’s episode of this week’s intriguing story.

JENNY DOLLAR VOICEOVER
Tomorrow, the trap is ready and baited, and you won’t believe who springs it.

Yours truly, Jenny Dollar.

THE END

Bits and clips

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on September 24, 2013

Shump

The impact is soft, dull. The shock is sharp, yet lingering.

The sun in the cafe was unbearably bright. It glinted off the polished bar like a fire. The scorching summer day was dying, drowning the town in the last of its heat. Parched, they drank glass of champagne after glass, the only cold drink in the place. They couldn’t get drunk; they were losing their minds in each other.

Thwack thwack

Bits of steel and brick sprayed out in a hot shower.

They were on a beach, secluded by a miracle. The golden months of autumn have covered the continent, but the water on the Southern shore was still warm and welcoming. The air was perfectly still, and the sea just barely kissed the sand. They have been talking for hours, sometimes laughing, and sometimes holding back the tears. He wasn’t really a freelance writer with a travel budget that was somehow unlimited. She wasn’t really a bookstore owner who just happened to know how to bring down a man twice her size in less than a second.

Thwack shriek thwack shump

Can’t scream; can’t hear. Colors burn up. Shadows plunge.

They were in the back of the cab. It was the first frost, and the slightest silver sheen covered the naked trees. He caught himself smiling, tried to control his face, and found that he absolutely could not. She looked at him, and he knew that she had found herself in the exact same spot. He cracked open the window, letting the chill air into the car, just as they pulled through the secure gate into the embassy compound.

Shriek shump shump thwack crash shump thwack

It’s hard to breathe through the pulverized metal and concrete. He finds her hand. She finds his eyes. Her lips move, but he can’t hear any words. The only sound the blood pounding in his head.

The sun in this cafe is unbearably bright. The glint in his eyes is like a fire. The winter day is dying, and he is drowning in its heat. He looks at her, can’t ever move his eyes, but a shadow falls across her, absorbs her, absorbs everything.

Marla

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on April 7, 2013

Aside

I need to write more. Need.

Easy

She wasn’t pretty. Bony, pale, flat-chested, with angular arms. Under the shallow stomach, her pelvic bones stuck out like pistol grips. But her look growled. You couldn’t look away. Your mind would come across her leaning against the wall next to the bar’s bathroom, examine her coldly and try to slip away toward someone packaged more nicely. You would try to think, “She is not attractive.”

But her eyes would come back, “No, fucker, I am.” And spell-bound, you would mumble, “YES.”

She took her lovers like a storm, and kept only those who did not bend, only those who did not become overwhelmed. Their bonds were implicit, unspoken, and absolute, even if momentary and transient.

The spirit

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on May 14, 2012

He stood outside the bar on the wet street. The unique bar fragrance of booze, tobacco, and sweat was slowly draining off his clothes. Hands stuck deep in the pockets, and shoulders drawn up in the cold air, he stood and stared down the street. The cobble stones meandered between aged colonials and dim street lights, dissolving in the shadows just a few blocks away. His eyes were fixed on the fuzzy darkness.

She followed him a few minutes later. The drunk air and the buzz of the music clung to her. She carried it along. She clasped his hand, he barely reacted, and she tried to follow his gaze. It was merely an empty and crooked street.

“Are you ok?” She asked.

“I came here looking for the spirit of this city,” he said, surprising himself with the revelation. He thought that in jest before, but now it seemed completely serious. “This whole time, I knew it was here somewhere, some place in this city. But now I can see it, just a block away.”

He paused. This sounded insane, but he also knew that it wasn’t. He could not really decide whether he was speaking in metaphors or not, but it also seemed irrelevant, like this wasn’t the sort of thing that could be neatly divided into “real” and “not-real” categories.

“I want to go to it, but I know it will just move on the moment I take a step. I could keep wandering these streets all night,” he felt, knew even, that if he did chase the spirit, the night would never end. “But it would just turn into more alleys, slip through more arches and shadows until I find some terrible end of my own. And I still would be no closer to it than I am now.”

The goblin poet

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on January 25, 2012

Aside

This song, it has me and it kills me.

Unhidden

The goblin poet’s words reached out gently to every ear. His lips caressed his future admirers across the room. His hands seductively measured out their shoulders even as the stage separated them. A cloak shrouded him. All that was present of him was the innocuous fabric and the honey voice. The sound wrapped the women in a warm glow of fresh love and turned them back into young and foolish girls. It was not the lyrics of his spoken-word songs that drew them to the spider’s web. The words were as a mask, concealing the power of his poems, the unstoppable force of his voice.

This goblin poet, this vile vampire spoke with confidence and foreknowledge that at the end of the night, in the welcoming shadows of the theater’s wings, he could brush by one of these women and she would be completely, abjectly his. By then, his disfigured self would no longer matter. The mere touch of his hand would send shockwaves of scorching fires through the woman’s heart. She would forget her plans, her friends, her husband… give herself utterly to this creature without regret or reservation.

The trysts were not conquests. To feast with abandon on their beauty was not a prize. To the goblin poet, this was the poem. The woman’s sighs, the aching lips, the scattered hair – they spoke more beautifully and more potently than he could ever dream. Yet in the end, he knew that though this was given to him – completely and freely – these hearts were never his to keep. These bodies and souls were given to not him, but to his poems, to the specters summoned by his words. The goblin poet himself was merely present to accept the sacrifice.

This would always  drive him out of the bed before the sun would rise. He would dive back into the night, the anonymity of empty streets, cloaks, and the horrifying physique. The goblin poet would leave to mix his tears with the bitter drink of a lonely and abandoned man.

Different worlds

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on July 1, 2011

Aside

Florence + The Machine – Blinding

Thin

“You’re in love with a world that doesn’t exist, Frank.” She spoke with tears. Broken voice, cracked, scattered in shards on the floor. “You’re in love with a world that doesn’t exist…”

Languid girl with drowned eyes. Time folded her up, paper-thin, torn at by the winds. Just an echo now. “You’re in love with a world that doesn’t exist, Frank.”

“Why did it have to be a world without you?” Whisper whisper whisper breath. Exhaled.

The man on the stage

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 16, 2011

The felt shadows wove together to make the bluesman. No colors to him, not even much of a shape. Just gradients. Just a sense that he is there. The feeling, the rhythm, the broken rhythm. He leans forward, stretches out his hand – plucked a string and let it ring – the walls and the felt shadows bend and lean with him. He’s got roots in that stage. Parts of his being melted, seeped into the floorboards. That’s not a performer. He’s the joint itself now.

Not much light here, but it shimmers. Not too much color to it, just the gradient. Dark to light. Shadow to shimmer. Alcohol in the glass is just another candle. A rare spot of gold.

He leans forward, stretches his out his hand – plucked a string and let it ring – makes you sit back down. Doesn’t actually touch you, doesn’t even point at you, doesn’t even do anything different, but just lets you know. This is not the time to leave.

Blood and rust

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on May 30, 2011

The fog on the silver marsh parted, revealing a group of heavily armored knights. It clung to them with its wispy tendrils, hanging off the dull gray metal, catching the tattered capes. Stark moonlight drew them in sharp shadows, glistened on the dew set on the armor plates. The group glided noiselessly, moving between clumps of trees and towering waves of fog. The forest’s darkness and the dense fog billowed behind them like raven’s wings.

The men were hunched over in their saddles, exhausted by the endless ride. Their tired eye scanned the surroundings again and again, over every tree, boulder, twig and leaf, each familiar and remembered in exact detail. The black horses trotted heavily on.

“One last time, then, sire?”

“Yes. One last time, soldier.”

“Until the next time, then, sire?”

“Yes. Until the next time, soldier.”

The soldier’s voice resonated with faith and loyalty. The king’s voice had cracks in it, heavy with a painful burden.

The knights crossed the clearing and once again were swallowed by the shadows underneath the ancient trees. Their ride of the damned will never end, bound by a broken promise so many lifetimes ago.

Stay

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on February 28, 2011

The small army of friends cheered, waved, piled out the door, until just one remained. Groups of boxes, big and small, lounged about the apartment. Filled with loud talk and jokes just moments ago, the place fell silent.

He leaned on a wall. She dithered by the door.

“Stay with me tonight,” he said. She didn’t answer.

“The bed isn’t put together, but we got the mattresses… I’m pretty sure I know where the sheets are.”

“Listen…” she started, but didn’t finish.

“I’ll have you home in the morning before you have to leave for work.” It took him the length of the sentence to realize she wasn’t concerned with logistics.

“If I stay tonight,” she started again, struggling, choking on the anxious words. “If I stay with you tonight, I’ll want to stay every night.”

“What’s to lose, then?”

“You.”