Over the past few weeks, I’ve read “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler and also watched the movie of the same name, starring Humphrey Bogart – twice. I followed them up by watching Bogart in Dashiel Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon” (on my soon-to-be-read list) and several of the other classic noir-style private eye movies. I was so impressed by Chandler’s style of hard-boiled, noir fiction that I was inspired to try and write something similar.
The first few hundred words were originally handwritten while enjoying an excellent light roast coffee and a toasted bagel in my local Panera Bread on a cold, wet Sunday morning. This has become something of a ritual for The Haunted Pen.
However, I had a problem and it wasn’t a small one.
As I read the first couple of paragraphs, I kept hearing the awesome Leslie Nielsen in the role of Sergeant Frank Drebin from “Police Squad” and “The Naked Gun” fame narrating the story. As hard as I tried, Drebin wouldn’t go away. So, just for fun, here’s my hard-boiled, noir detective tribute to Chandler and Hammett, with more than a little dash of input, influence and interference from the lovable Sergeant Frank Drebin. Enjoy!
Act One – Deadly Curves
The mercury inside my fifth-floor office had just hit a scorching 104 degrees. It was hot, and today – of all days – the air conditioner decided to stop working and call in sick. It was one of those days where it was so hot you really could fry an egg on the pavement. It was so hot you could cook bacon and hash browns to go with the eggs. Damn, it smelled like Denny’s down there.
I was leaking so much I looked like someone had thrown a bucket of water over me. My hair was plastered to my scalp, my shirt clung to my body like a second skin and beads of sweat were dripping off my nose onto the desk with metronomic regularity.
Let’s face it, I was a mess. I hadn’t slept in 36 hours and hadn’t eaten a proper meal in 48 of them. My breath was so bad I didn’t know whether to use a breath mint or toilet paper. I’d been living on coffee, cigarettes and cheese balls. I’d eaten so many of the tasty corn-based snacks, my sweat looked like orange juice.
My latest investigation had me pinned on the ropes and I was all out of energy and resources to land the knockout punch. After I’d used it to dry off, I needed to throw in the towel and get some real food inside me. I was going to brave the damned heat and lash out on a dollar-menu burger, and maybe some fries…
As thoughts of delicious energy-giving food filled my spinning head, I heard the outer office door open. That was the moment SHE walked in. Had I known the next few minutes would change my life forever, I would have invested in some deodorant and bought a smaller bag of cheese balls from the grocery store.
When she came into my line of sight, the world stopped spinning on its axis. All thoughts of energy-giving food evaporated into the stale, sweaty, humid air that filled my cramped office. I swear the room temperature increased another 20 degrees when she walked in.
She was beautiful. She was one of those women who, whenever you saw her, was accompanied by a sultry saxophone solo playing in the background. She had the kind of body that could make a room full of Trappist monks break their vow of silence and drool like Pavlov’s Dogs.
“Hello,” she purred; her voice smoother than a 15-year-old malt whiskey.
“Sorry to disturb you,” she smiled.
Lady, from this moment on you’re going to disturb every waking thought and sleeping dream I have till the day I croak.
“I’m sorry, Miss. Could you ask your friend to stop playing that saxophone? I can’t hear you.
“Tell him to take a seat in the waiting room with those monks; they’re trying to find the definition of the word ‘celibacy’ on Google.”
She breezed in and sat in the chair opposite me without being invited. As she crossed her legs, she exposed a firm, toned thigh. At that moment, one of the monks had a heart attack. Two of the others had a stroke. I asked them not to do that in my waiting room or they’d be cleaning up the mess afterward.
She was hot and she knew it, but I’d been to the dentist several times and knew the drill by now.
“Yes, I know. No thank you, I’ve just put one out.
“My name’s Rubina Lippschez, but my friends call me Ruby Lipps.
“I need your help.”
“I wish you’d called ahead for an appointment, Miss Lipps. I was about to go and eat.”
“I was going to call, but my girlfriend hadn’t been shot then.”
To be continued…