Wordsworth v Chandler (reposted)

It rained on my Chrysler all day long

as I sat high up in the Hollywood Hills,

peering through my binoculars

past a soggy clump of daffodils;

beside the lake, beneath the trees,

till I was hit and fell on my knees.

 

Things went black for a little while

and when I woke I smelled of gin,

– not casually as though I’d sipped,

but reeking, as if I’d had a swim –

Framed, I realised at a glance,

a hasty departure my only chance.

 

A dame beside me, fairly dead,

and on the floor my bloodied gun;

a pounding in my aching head,

once again I’m on the run.

To clear my name my only hope

And catch that Stinky McFlintoff, the dope.

 

And oft, when on my couch I lie

and tell this story to my shrink,

I wonder why I didn’t try

the window high above the sink;

instead of making for the door

and ending up here in the clink.

Noir detective with daffodils

Humphrey Bogart, wandering as lonely as a cloud, o’er Hollywood Hills.

 

With apologies to William Wordsworth and Raymond Chandler.

*

*First posted in 2014. Today I had a (very frivolous) conversation (over here) about combining totally unrelated styles, or genres, of writing – chicklit and dada, & this made me think of my previous attempt to merge romantic poetry and hard-boiled detective fiction – another two deliberately incongruous genres – together. I think you’ll agree it’s quite ground-breaking. Of course, I don’t expect academics to discover its subtle complexities and put it on their  Post-Truth-Era Australian Literature reading lists for another 10 years or so.

PS – how do others repost old posts? I can’t see any simple way to do it so I copied and pasted the text into a new post, which means the old one also still exists separately. I can’t work out how to repost any other way. If you know, please share!

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Trouble Is My Business

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Dog Named Bob.”

I skimmed the skin off a cold cup of coffee that had been sitting on my desk since Tuesday, and took a sip while I tried to recall what day it was. In return, my stomach sent word that it wasn’t accepting any more of Tuesday’s cold coffee. I figured it must be about Thursday. I couldn’t remember anything about last night, but judging by the way I was feeling it must have involved either a lot of alcohol, or contracting a deadly disease that was now invading my brain and stomach.

My notebook was under a plate with half a jam donut on it. An entire colony of ants had died in an attempt to swim through the syrup oozing out of the donut, but if I wiped them off, it would do for breakfast. According to townhall clock I could see from my office window, it was 3.15pm.

I flipped open my notebook and reviewed my notes on the case so far, in an attempt to get my brain to kick into gear. There had to be something I’d missed. The mysterious message I’d received 2 days ago led me to a mailbox, containing a note written in old-fashioned pen and ink. The note led me to a mansion out in the hills, where an elderly dame lived with a pack of birds – of the feathered variety. The old dame, a Mrs Fennessey, had more money than she knew what to do with. She was particularly fond of a bluejay that basically had its own apartment. I could have put my office inside the bird’s apartment and built a nice little house for my retirement in the space that was left over.

Mrs Fennessey also had a butler, a maid, a dog, an aquarium full of fish, a room for her jewellery, and a story that was so weak that if I had poked it with a feather it would have fallen over. I didn’t poke it just then though. Something was up with the bird lady, but I wanted to find out more before I quizzed her any further.

I put down my notebook and rifled for a cigarette. My head was aching like I’d used a cement block for a pillow last night and wound up in a pillow fight with a chum. The 2-day old coffee was making my stomach join in on the fun.

I glanced out the window as I patted my pockets for matches. The weedy guy who runs the laundromat below my office was across the road buying the paper, and on the footpath next to the newspaper stand, a dog was sitting, waiting for its owner. It was untethered, just sitting there looking like it had all the time in the world to wait for whoever it was waiting for. I knew that dog. His name was Bob, and he belonged to the bird lady, Mrs Fennessey. Not too many brown dogs have large white patches on both ears, but more to the point, not too many dogs that head out to do the shopping without accompaniment wear a collar that’s worth about 50k. What was he doing here, in a crummy suburb, miles away from his mansion in the hills? Who was he waiting for? Was he keeping an eye on me?

I felt way too crappy to care what the answers to those questions were, but I knew that I’d have to find out.

*

**I cheated!! This is a response to a Wordpress Daily Prompt (Link at top of page), but part of this particular challenge was to write the piece in 20 mins. When my timer went off, I had the basic 4 paragraphs that make this “story” written but was having so much fun I didn’t want to stop. So I’ve spent about another 20 mins changing bits here and there, embellishing and tidying it up. So total time was 40 minutes, with no pre-planning (I start writing and then think!). I’ve stopped here in order to honour the idea of having a time limit, but also because I’m really not sure how Bob, or the bluejay, were going to bring the case to a close. I’d like to say “Stay tuned…” but I’m sorry to say that there may never be any satisfactory conclusion to this story.

Wordsworth v. Chandler

It rained on my Chrysler all day long

as I sat high up in the Hollywood Hills,

peering through my binoculars

past a soggy clump of daffodils;

beside the lake, beneath the trees,

till I was hit and fell on my knees.

 

Things went black for a little while

and when I woke I smelled of gin,

– not casually as though I’d sipped,

but reeking, as if I’d had a swim –

Framed, I realised at a glance,

a hasty departure my only chance.

 

A dame beside me, pretty dead,

and on the floor my bloodied gun;

a pounding in my aching head,

once again I’m on the run.

To clear my name my only hope

And catch that Stinky McFlintoff, the dope.

 

And oft, when on my couch I lie

and tell this story to my shrink,

I wonder why I didn’t try

the window high above the sink;

instead of making for the door

and ending up here in the clink.

Noir detective with daffodils

Humphrey Bogart, wandering as lonely as a cloud, o’er Hollywood Hills.

 

With apologies to William Wordsworth and Raymond Chandler.

This post was my variation on the The Daily Post prompt: A Form Of Flattery  – in my variation, I chose to pick two incongruous styles of writing – the romantic poet and the noir detective thriller – and try to marry them together. 

 

A Man Called Liebster

The first thing I knew about this case was when a little red star appeared at the top right of my blog, indicating that someone had left a comment. I yawned and rolled off the office couch, and hit my head on the floor with a thud that woke me up good. A comment! I hadn’t had one of those in weeks, not since before I fired my secretary. I’d fired her because I couldn’t afford to pay us both. Now I had to make my own coffee.

I rubbed my sore head, and fixed a coffee the way I like it – strong and black. I  opened and read the comment. “I nominated you! All should become clear.” It was from someone called “Pinkjumpers”.

Hmmm. I considered the possibility that it could be a cryptic message from some leggy dame in one of those coral colored mansions down in the Canyon. Naturally she would want to keep it hush-hush that she was seeking the assistance of a private detective. I took another sip of my coffee and laughed at myself. As unlikely as it seemed, it was probably just as likely that it was just someone nominating me for an award for my blog, The Big Sleep – where I detail each of my cases. False names, of course! – a guy wants to be discreet in this line of work! Then I reminded myself that I’d had no cases for a good 6 weeks now though, so there was nothing new to be nominated for.

That award could look good on my mantlepiece next to the Maltese Falcon.

That award could look good on my mantlepiece next to the Maltese Falcon.

I leaned back in my chair and contemplated the view of the meatworks across the road, while I finished my coffee. The newspaper on my desk was from 10 days earlier. So was the half eaten donut that the ants were swarming over. I wondered just how much sugar it took to preserve a donut for that long, briefly felt some regret for firing my secretary, and made a mental note to clean up some time soon. Just as I was about to leave the office to go and find some brunch, another star appeared at the top of my blog page. Another comment! I opened and read this one.

“I’ve nominated you for a Liebster award. You can find the details here” and a link. This from someone called “Yeahthsme“. Yeah, sure that’s you, I thought to myself with a smirk. The question is, which “you” is it?

This was starting to feel like a set up, but I struggled to think, from all the enemies I’ve amassed in this line of work, who would be so completely lacking in subtlety? I like to flatter myself that my enemies have some brains, and since that dimwit, Bjorn the Ball Breaker, was in the slammer after his last hair-brained attempt at exortion, I couldn’t think of anyone else that would be quite so stupid.

I had nothing better to do that day, and the bar downstairs wouldn’t be open until midday, so I decided to check the links I’d been directed to by both commenters.

According to Pinkjumpers the rules of the Liebster award were:  to thank the person who nominated you and answer the 11 question they have asked you before nominating 11 other people and ask them 11 questions in return.

The badge that Pinkjumpers offered for this award was this:

liebster-award

I scribbled a few notes, and then compared Yeahthtsme. On this blog, the rules were Thank the person who nominated you, put a link to their blog in your post. Answer the 11 questions they have given you, list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less, who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been chosen

The badge that Yeahthtsme offered for the award was this:

wpid-liebster-award

Immediately my eagle eyes spotted discrepancies. They stood out like a tarantula on a slice of angel food cake.* Firstly the badge was totally different. Secondly, the conditions as listed on Yeahthtsme’s blog include listing 11 random facts about oneself, and checking that the blogs you link to  have less than 200 followers. There was an added requirement to leave a comment on 11 people’s blogs! I could already smell a rat here – these two awards were not the same. It seemed to me that meant only one thing:one of them had to be a phony. But which one – and why?

My head was in a whirl, so I started out the door to get some fresh air – or at least, to get some air – but a sudden thought stopped me. I pulled out my iPad and googled the meaning of the word liebster, which sounded Germanic to me. Sure enough, I discovered that the word means “dearest” in German. I also discovered, via another blog that had been nominated, that the Liebster award came in many guises:

In order to accept the award, we must do the following:

  1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
  3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
  4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.

The plot was thickening, like a saucepan full of custard bound for a lumpy end. Was this third blog a red herring, deliberately planted to throw me off track? Or was it a Maltese Falcon, designed to leave me permanently confused?  Was Liebster a codename? Was I being pumped for information? If so – by whom?

I was clean out of tobacco, so I stuck my empty pipe in my mouth and stared into my empty coffee cup for a while. It’s a strategy I find successful about as often as not. Finally it hit me, like a sap on the back of the head. These awards are not regulated, and they are passed on from one blogger to 11 others at an exponential rate, and somewhere along the line, or probably many times along the line, the original rules mutate, through no-one’s fault or deliberate intent. So who knows which was the true original?  I figure that it’s not a set up or an attempt to pump me for information, and there is no dame in a Los Angeles Mansion who’s going to pay me to solve her case, so in the end, I don’t really care which version was the original – but I’ll take the easier version.

 *

Apologies to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett

*stolen from Chandler. Actual quote – from Farewell My Lovely – “he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.”  

 Liebster Award – “To Do” List 

So by the way, in order to accept the award I must at least do some mixture of the following rules, all of which have been taken from the variety of rules listed above.

Thank the person who nominated you: thank you to Pinkjumpers and Yeahthsme for inspiring this story by nominating me for a Liebster award!

Link back to their blog: done

Copy and paste the award onto your blog: done – well, I put both versions in this post, anyway.

List 11 Random facts about yourself: see my last post, which conveniently and co-incidentally contains 11 random facts about myself!

Answer their questions for you. Due to having written a silly story, which was not in any version of the rules, instead of answering these questions I’ve kind of run out of steam, word count, and time, so please see my next post, as yet unwritten. In that I will conveniently, and not co-incidentally, answer those 22 questions!

Nominate 5 other blogs and let them know they have been nominated (um…also still to do. Sorry, I got a bit caught up with my completely unnecessary story)

Create 5 questions for new nominees (yup, also still to do….so stay tuned!)

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