Friday, September 14, 2007

Her Story - Continued

You see, the problem with the rich acting out, and the reason so many people spread gossip of the most mundane infractions is that the rich have the means by which to truly act out. When a lovelorn Baron decides he wants to cheat on his wife, no on asks him why he did it or how his wife feels. No, they want to know what he bought, how big was the fight and where he’ll be living for the coming months.

That’s not to say that I was overly expressive with my rebellion. I was just a bit…frivolous and in my frivolity I decided I would seek out a means by which to define myself within my family. Too bad for me and my family that method came looking for me instead.

I never really left my parents’ home, but I did start gathering as many men of intellectual and artistic importance as I could find. More importantly, I sought out those who no one of noble lineage would recognize. You see, my handmaid Clare visits her family in the lower city every three days when she is given leave. I sent with her a message and a small bounty. Anyone who could provide me with something no one had ever seen before would receive my favor and a residence in the upper city.

I didn’t honestly expect to find anyone with an incredibly invention or heart melting masterpiece. I just wanted to make my parents squirm as penniless wretch after wretch trudged through their drawing rooms. I admit it now…it was the poorest decision I could have made at the time. It was heartless and unnecessary. The upper city was full to the brim with men and women whose ideas would lead the kingdom into a new era, anyone of whom needed a patroness with only time on her hands.

But, my hunger for acceptance was matched by the desire to be different and so I asked for the lowlifes and the poor, giving them false hope every evening as handfuls arrived at my parents’ gates wearing the best imitation of fine dress they could find. One man, no doubt a shoemaker or carpenter by the looks of his hands, arrived dressed in a torn and stained yellow undergarment that I could have sworn I threw out myself only weeks before. The man had brought me a rather striking painting actually – a style unlike any I’d seen before, a combination of odd cube-shaped noses and swooping currents of air and water. My hypocrisy showed that much clearer when I turned the man away.

Another hopeful, a girl who could not be any older than me, seventeen at most, arrived with an overwrought version of a telescope. It was long and spindly with numerous tacked on knobs and scopes. She claimed that it would allow me to see the surface of the moon. The sun was still more than two hours from setting though and the poor girl was scratching violently at the back of her head while the servants sweated nervously behind us. I told her to come back another day, that I had pressing business that evening.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chapter 2 - Her Story

I was always a spoiled child. I know that. I never pretended I wasn’t, but the world looks at you differently no matter how well you handle your fortunes. My mother was the fourth daughter of a Countess and my father a moderately well off merchant from outside the city. The two met casually at random during some or another royal family member’s birthday ball. Nine months later I was born, Sarina Bell McConnell, forty-third in line to the throne and the daughter of the richest couple in the city beside the king and queen.

So, things were different for me compared to other children, even for the upper city. I was schooled in my father’s study by one of the premier scholars at the University, an old friend of my father’s from his long past education. I was never left alone in the city, for fear that rabble from the lower city – no offense to your home – would find me appealing and take advantage of my standing by kidnapping me…or worse.

So, I grew up in the silver plate bird cage of the city’s finest veranda’s and drawing rooms, drinking tea with the Queen’s cousins and being courted by the sons and nephews of Dukes. It was an incredibly boring life; to be blunt I was quite ungrateful for what I had been given and started acting out as soon as I was old enough to carry my own purse and command my own servants.

For me, the life of a child of privilege was stifling. However, I used those privileges to attempt my rebellion, defeating my cause before I had even begun. I was trapped in the world I was born into, eager to get out, only because I had never seen anything else. I admit I made mistakes. You must know what it is like though, being trapped in the shell of the regal hypocrisy on the hills for so long that you yearn for anything else to happen.

So, eventually I did act out. I left home and started searching for a means by which to claim an identity for myself. I was reckless and childish and the warnings I’d received for years from my tutors, parents, and servants were meaningless as I strode to see the outside world for myself. That was only 8 months ago.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Of Cigars and Gold Coins

Brutus lit another candle and poured an extra glass of the lacy, dark whiskey into the only other glass he owned and had the troublesome blond sit in the sturdy assessor’s chair on which he occasionally ate his dinner. She moved nervously at first, dragging her feet through the dust and tapping her toe anxiously, but eventually she settled down in the chair.

The room was small and dank, filled with ants and enough dust to take down an asthmatic horse but it was warm. That little wood stove did its job well; the heat was one of the few things Brutus was willing to admit he liked about the place. So, it didn’t take more than a handful of heartbeats settled at the edge of that chair before the woman stretched her arms behind her and started peeling the heft of the black cloak free of her back.

“Do you mind if I take this off. It’s like a furnace in here.”

Brutus didn’t say anything – maybe it was because he was still thinking about Reggie….or maybe it was the fact that a woman hadn’t peeled any piece of clothing off in his presence in far too long. He reached and took the blackened lump of wet fabric from her and did his best to look the part of a host, hanging it carefully alongside his own meager collection of clothing beside his bed.

“Much better.” And it was much better. Without the veil of that cloak, Brutus could see the sleek body he had almost immediately assumed was there. Dressed in a blood red evening gown that cut just the right amount of inches above her knees, she looked as though she had just left an uptown ball. She also looked as though she had been beaten on the way out the door. Swollen scarlet welts littered her shoulders, grouped together in fours, the impressions of a meaty hand that had gripped too hard.

“Looks like your ‘Reggie’ wasn’t very gentle.”

Her face flushed and the welts temporarily disappeared. “Oh…no, these aren’t from him,” she said, “these are…well, he said you’d help me.”

“Did he now?”

“He said you were the best detective in the city.”

“Now I know he’s a liar. Did he also tell you I haven’t had a case in over 6 months?” Brutus instinctively reached for the cigar in his pocket and stopped…it was the last one. “Or that I have a standing arrest decree on my head if I go anywhere near the upper city…where I’m assuming you just arrived from?”

“You didn’t let me finish. He said you were the best detective in the city who wouldn’t ask questions,” she fingered a fist-sized leather pouch he hadn’t seen appear. “for the right price.”
He eyed the pouch hungrily, the half empty bottle of whiskey and stale loaf of bread reminding him that he was quite willing to withhold questions if necessary. It didn’t change the fact that there was something wrong though. No, not just something. Everything was wrong with this woman. Her appearance, her story, the slender curve of the pale skin above the straps of her dress. She shouldn’t be there. But the money spoke volumes, “I’m listening.”

Monday, September 3, 2007

More Lies from the Woman in Black

“No…that can’t be right. I just saw Regg. We had a drink uptown. He gave me this,” she pulled a yellow slip of paper from inside that disturbingly sensual cloak.

Bruutus reached and snagged the crumpled up mess from her hand, not wanting to play cat and mouse with 20 questions. “I’ll just look at that.” The paper was new, some kind of legal script, the kind he’d seen when he was at the city offices all day – the kind they write your disciplinary notices on.

He unfolded it quickly and scanned the contents. It was directions – to his office. They were written in neat little letters, arranged in perfect words that never touched one another. No way Reggie would have written something like this. “Whoever gave you this, it wasn’t Reggie. I’m of half a mind to put you in the street right now.”

“You’d send me back out in the dark alone? Mr. Weaver, please. It was hard enough just walking down here. This cloak doesn’t hide me from the rats.”

“What did he look like?”

“What?”

“The man who gave you this; what did he look like?”

“Reggie…”

“No, it was not Reggie Hunter. What did this man,” Brutus waved the building block lettering in her face, “look like?”

For her part, the shapely blond woman in the dripping black cloths didn’t flinch or cry, she just looked surprised. That look Brutus knew too well of a woman who was used to getting what she wanted being rebuked. He took special pleasure in creating that expression when he was still serving notices and protecting heiresses.

“He was short, shorter than me by about an inch. He had a thick, curly head of black hair and a little bit of hair over his upper lip. He was a strong man – handled his frame well,” Brutus tried not to laugh when he heard her essentially admit she had slept with the little liar. “And he absolutely assured me he knew you.”

“Well, whoever it was, he was not Reggie Hunter. That poor son of a bitch died two years ago next week…” Brutus stopped as he realized that it really was almost two years since Reggie had been stabbed in that warehouse. Immediately he turned to the woman in front of him suspiciously, “now, we just need to figure out who exactly is trying to fuck with me.”

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Woman Arrives at the Door

The door hadn’t been attached when Brutus first moved in. A loosely retained collection of rotting wood, crawling with ants had been sitting against the woodstove. For the most part, Brutus didn’t take the time to clean or alter the places in which he stayed. For the money he was paying, it wasn’t worth his effort. But, the door had been a special case. No self respecting detective, regardless of his occasional bent for danger would sleep with an open door to the rats and vermin of the city.

So, when the pounding started and the whisky bounced to the edge of the table along with a thick blanket of dust that tended to gather over things that were not cleaned at least once a month, the door didn’t budge.

It took Brutus about as long to get up from the sodden folds of his bed as it took whoever was outside to vent another trio of hearty pounds on the door. It sounded urgent, which in the mind of a hungry, bored ex-city guard sounded more like the jingle of gold coins. He raked his still booted feet across the dusty floor and grabbed hold of the door’s solid brass lock, the one and only thing in the place that looked like it had been touched in recent memory.

“Yeah, what do you want?”

“Mr. Weaver? Is that you?”

“Could be. Depends…who are you?”

“Reggie Hunter sent me. Said you could help me.”

Brutus didn’t say anything, but the name took him in the stomach with the full force of repressed memory. Reggie was supposed to be dead.

He twisted the heavy bolt free of the door and slowly eased it back open, reigniting the rat-infested alley with what meager light he could afford to live off. “Come in.”

“Thank you very much.” The woman at the door – of course it was a woman; he’d been hoping for trouble hadn’t he – was dripping wet, sodden from head to toe as though it had been raining. Brutus tried to remember if it had rained at all. Maybe a puddle or two when he was outside last, but no rain.

“Plenty of time for thanks later. How did you know Reggie’s name?”

The woman was shivering and had stepped directly in line with the woodstove, rubbing her hands and squeezing her hair to get out some of the water. Not bad looking, this one. She had the look of a woman who was going to wring him dry if he let her – sharp features, long slick nose and thick black eyelashes, flittering nervously above the deep blue of her otherwise bloodshot eyes. She was tired, cold and scared, but be damned if she wasn’t gorgeous. Dressed from head to toe in black, wearing the pleated cloak of either a city guard or a serial killer, the brilliant shock of blond hair stood out even now as it dribbled water onto a swarm of ants that had come out to see the visitor.

“I..I told you…he sent me to see you.”

“Don’t feed me lines, hun. Reggie Hunter is dead. I was standing next to him when that snake put a dagger in his gut. Now, who told you to give me that name?”


Feel free to leave comments, ask questions or tell me where to head next. I'm always open to new ideas. Makes it more fun

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blog Novel - First Entry

Chapter 1

Brutus looked deep into the alleyway, obscured by the dust and detritus of a hundred hungry rats and dozens more of the insects that fed on them. It was a slow night in the back alley office. Forget nights. Nights were always slow. It was a slow month in that back alley and Brutus needed the fresh air. Days on end he’d spent listening for the knock. Not that it mattered much anymore. The nights were growing shorter and in a couple more weeks, he’d be out on his ass, picking old banana peels from the trash with the rats.

No, Brutus was more than just hungry for a bite of clean air, not something he’d find in the smoky confines of the city’s darkest trenches. He wanted a bite of something juicy, anything really. Boredom had stolen over him with the kind of determination he come to expect from despair and the raw thirst for whisky that hit around moonrise each night. He wanted a bit of action and if it wouldn’t come to him, he may as well find it himself.

Not that that would pay the bills though. Brutus Weaver had moved into the back alley room only a year ago. It was a cozy little bungalow, if you fancied the smell of moth balls and urine and didn’t mind a bed made of sewn together burlap sacks. It wasn’t the worst place he’d ever stayed though and he wouldn’t entirely loath the idea of having a few more months there.

The minutes passed and Brutus Weaver finished his cigar; there was only one left now, a final goodbye from an old friend. An old friend that hadn’t been around in a good long time. He snuffed it out and kicked the stub towards a pile of hungry rats, hoping they’d scatter. Pouncing on the smoldering cigar end, they moved closer. Couldn’t even scare the rats in this part of town these days.

The inside of his office/home was fit for a King if you considered the conditions just on the other side of the door. Fortunately, Brutus was about as much of a King as he was a detective these days and the room was workable. Compared to previous locales, it was downright cozy if you discounted the nest of ants living behind the woodstove.

Everything was carved in the cheapest wood the building’s owner could find, quickly fit together with tiny wood nails and unmeasured cuts. His meager bookshelf, ten books wide at best and two shelves high sat crookedly above his tiny, one armed desk. Currently, two editions of the City Guard Manual and three volumes of his youngest daughter’s favorite nursery rhymes sat sideways on the top shelf, hanging precariously over the edge, threatening to fall at any moment. The desk was built for a Scribner, one single slab of wood set atop four feeble legs, barely wide enough to hold a bottle of ink and three sheets of paper. It had a bottle of whiskey and two dead lizard-like creatures on it at the moment.

The latrine was no better than a hole in the ground, carved behind the wall beside his bed. The plumbing in the city had always been a proud addition, trumpeted by the King as a heralding achievement of “civilization”. It worked one in three days and when it did, the room smelled of death. Collapsing backward on the burlap bed, a loose collection of dirty feathers padded into the dirty old sack, Brutus stared at the ceiling, wondering why it was he had not poured the whiskey yet.

The room was almost claustrophobically small when he was sober and the effect was draining much of the ambition he had until recently felt coursing through his veins, telling him to seek danger. The night was dead and his room was trying to crush him and add to the living corpse of the Lower City.

For how long he laid there, staring at the smattered gunk-lined patterns on the ceiling, Brutus wasn’t quite sure, but he was sure of was that in the last thirty seconds or so, he had just heard the most beautiful sound in the world, the dull rapping of a human fist on the outside of his door.

Welcome to My Blog Novel

I know this is about three years after the fact, but I still think a blog novel sounds like a cool enough idea, so I'm going to give it a shot and see how things turn out. Generally speaking, I need readers, so if anyone reads this, goes on to read the novel itself and is interested in sharing their thoughts and helping to keep me writing, please leave a comment. Otherwise, I have no way of knowing if anyone is actually reading and/or caring about the content on the blog.

Otherwise, I should just introduce the novel itself. I'm starting with a basic idea for a detective story I had a few years back and never quite started. It's an ambiguous, third world-ish city and Brutus Weaver is down on his luck; about to be ambushed by a case he can't refuse (you know the drill).

Enjoy