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doghouse reilly
January 18th, 2012, 05:03 PM
One of my favorite story openings was Raymond Chandlers "Red Wind."
I wrote the following as a kind of parody to the "hardboiled" school of crime writing. But I'm not a plagiarist. Just not sure if this applies. I took his opening and did it my own way. So should i finish the story and send it out (not sure yet if this is a novel or just a short story)?


Hardboiled




A loud thunderstorm was brewing that afternoon, one of those big rumblers that come roaring across the staked plains like the hand of God with enough dust and grit to grind your teeth down to your gums. As these boomers pass it gets as dark as a whore’s heart and your car gets mud streaks from panhandle soil.
On days like this family dogs whimper at back doors, begging to be let in. Drug dealers sit a kitchen tables, cutting their deadly white powder with sugar and jumping every time the lights go out. Hell, anything can happen. Politicians might tell the truth. Lawyers might keep their hands in their own pockets. You might even see a pretty girl in a south Dallas bar.
I sat at a knife-scarred table by the back door, playing five-card stud with Player, my best friend, when she came whispering through the door. She had curves that didn’t need padding and long, whispy black hair that reached cream brule’ shoulders. Her four-inch heels clicked a staccato beat across the beer stained concrete floor. She wore a black leather raincoat over a lavender silk dress. Diamond studs pierced delicate ears and emerald rings hung from violet-tipped fingers. She was out of place as at beer at a tent revival.
“Not bad,” Player said under his breath. “For a rich white bitch.” Player was a short, muscular guy with skin the color of midnight. He had a withered arm, but it didn’t keep him from dealing from the bottom.
“Yeah,” I said, lighting a tailor-made and letting the smoke drift toward the water-spotted ceiling. She skirted the pool table and picked up the house phone, ignoring the scrawled message – ‘for great blow jobs call Janine.’ “She’s begging to get mugged in that get-up.” She looked like a refugee from the Crystal Charity Ball. What was she doing in my part of town?
“Jacks and fives,” I said, my only good eye on the lady.
“Aces and eights,” Player said, slapping his cards on the table.
I coughed loudly.
“You crazy, Player.”
He grinned like a tiger taking a piss.
“I ain’t superstitious.”
He eyed the money pile. Geeze. A guy that would take a chance like that on a twenty-doller pot. The woman wiped the phone off with a hanky and dialed. Well, I thought, maybe her car’s on the blink. She was still talking on the phone when a man burst into the bar. He didn’t see the woman, his eyes were focused and wild. He looked to be in his early forties with thick glasses and thinning hair. He wore a gray pin-striped suit with frayed edges and his black brogans were caked with mud. His voice was loud and gravelly as he slapped his hand down on the bar.
“”Whisky,” the man said as a crack of thunder made the lights flicker. For a few minutes all I heard was the steady patter of rain on the tin roof and the wind whistling through the back door. The bartender, a fat, round guy with a ponytail, poured the house whisky. Bad stuff. I felt for the dude. The Comanche Peak Nuclear plant has been known to use it to dissolve waste. He grabbed the bartender’s arm.
“Has Jaybo been in here?”
“Don’t know him,” the bartender said, pulling his arm away.
“I do,” a sweet voice purred from the back of the room. We all looked up. The lady stood four feet away from the man, a silver-plated .22 in her gloved hand. The man reached for the whisky and downed it in one gulp.
“Grace,” he said, staring at the barrel of the pistol. She squeezed the trigger three times. The acrid odor of burnt powder mixed with cigarette smoke and cheap whisky. The man crumpled like an old piece of newspaper and fell to the floor. She put the gun in her purse and walked out like she was leaving the theater, carefully avoiding the small pool of blood that was leaking from the man’s chest.
“Damn,” Player said.
“Stay put,’ I said, getting up and walking quickly out of the door. I watched as she crossed the street, got into an olive green Mercedes and drove off. I wrote down the license plate and stuffed it into my pocket.

The cop was plainclothes, dark navy suit, white shirt, striped dark brown and cream gravy stained tie. His thick-heeled wing-tips badly needed a shine. I knew him, but hoped he didn’t remember me.
“Let’s hear all of it,” he said, pad and pencil at the ready.
“Shoot, man,” Player said. “We done tole everything to that nice young patrolperson while ago.
Dancer snorted.
“Let’s hear it again, sir.”
I spoke up.
“It was a six-foot three Chinese guy with a scar on his face and a chewed ear. He split on a chopper. Mean looking dude.”
Dancer didn’t write a thing.
“Don’t like being lied to. What’s your name, anyway. You look familiar.”
Rats.
“Joe Wallace.”
“I don’t like your looks. Where have I seen you before?”
I took a swig of Jim Beam from the flask in my coat pocket.
“It was last month, east Dallas. You were drunk. I wasn’t.”
The cop’s face got real red.
“Damn private dick.”
The bartender stuck to our story, probably figuring on a cut. Dancer shrugged his shoulders and left. I scraped up the cards.
“That’s all for me.”
Player stared at me with an exaggerated wink.
“You going after that bitch, ain’t ya?”
I allowed a small grin.
“Maybe,” I said.
“Maybe, hell.”
I called Johnny Ray down at motor vehicles and promised I’d relay a bet on the upcoming Cowboy game to my bookie on Lake June Road if he’d look up the Mercedes. He came through a couple of hours later. Mrs. Cynthia Mayberry. Not Grace? I muddled that around in my mind awhile but it just lay there, sizzling like frying bacon. I’d heard of her husband, Dr. J.B. Mayberry, a big mover and shaker at Presbyterian Hospital.
An hour later I pulled up in front of their University Park house. It wasn’t as big as Texas Stadium, but it probably had more rooms. A butler with an English accent rang the bell. Looked me up and down.
“Deliveries in the rear, suh.”
He made a motion with his thumb, as if to say get lost, buddy. I was grossly insulted. I had a suit on. So what if it was the only one I owned and had ketchup stains on the sleeve. Well, it might have been my 90-proof breath. I handed him my card. It was simple and to the point – ‘Joe Wallace, investigations. Have gun, will use it.’
He frowned.
“You have an appointment, suh?”
“I need to see Mrs. Mayberry. It’s a private, but urgent matter.”
“I’m afraid she’s indisposed at the moment, suh.”
I took back the card, scribbled the name of the bar and a question. Who’s Jaybo? He was gone about ten minutes.
“Mrs. Mayberry will grant you a five minute audience. Come this way.”
He led me through a wide hall to cavernous old fashioned drawing room. One couch took up one entire wall. The furnishings were old English walnut, dark mahogany, thick and hard looking. She sat in a flowered print chair and elephant could get lost in, smoking a cigar. She glared at me.
“Since you didn’t bring the police,” she said, stubbing out the cigar in a cut crystal ashtray,” I presume it’s something you want. How much will your silence cost me?”
Right to the point. I liked her.
“Can I ask you something? Why did you chose that bar?”
Her eyes lowered for a second.
“It was a rash act, I realize. But I felt I had no choice.”
“Can I sit down?”
“No. You’ll soil the couch. You’re already soiling my carpet.” She wore a thick velour robe, a regal rose color. A hint of a huge teat peeked out at me from top folds. She obviously knew I was looking, but made no attempt to cover it up.
“Look,” I said. “I’m not here for blackmail. From the looks of that guy, he deserved the three bullets.”
Her face twitched slightly, like the reality of the whole thing came to her in that instant. She had remarkable control.
“Then what?’ she said, taking a sip of what looked like tea from a china cup.
“A nice lady like you shouldn’t go to prison. I can promise you won’t like it, and I’ve never been in a women’s prison. You’re gonna need someone to keep the cops off your back.”
She laughed. It was a deep-throated, lung clearing laugh, and I could tell she loved every minute of it. She crossed her legs. Her thigh looked as good as the rest of her.
“Mr. Wallace. I can afford the best lawyers, the best investigators. What makes you think you can do better?”
“I’m damn good. Besides, I can go places the other guys can’t.”
She coughed. She waved for the butler, who brought her purse. She handed me a hundred dollar bill. I coughed myself.
“That is for your silence. I’ll call if I require your services.”


I got back to my apartment about midnight, after hitting a few joints along Samuell Boulevard. A bar near Tennison Golf Course is where I scored an answer. The bartender had heard of Jaybo. When I opened the door, Player was lounging on the couch, drinking a Bud Light and smoking a brown cigarette.
“What’cha found out?”
A mouse scurried from behind the fridge and disappeared under a chair. I popped a generic beer. The usual cheap rat piss, but after a six-pack you didn’t give a damn.
“It’s promising.”
“Blackmail?”
“Hope so. I can use the bread. I discovered who the dead guy is. A cheap-ass p.i. from Oak Cliff.”
Player laughed.
“You mean there’s some dude slimier than you?”
“Funny. Tomorrow I need you to find out all you can about a guy named Junior Maples. His real name is Raymond, and I think he may be Jaybo.”
“What if I get shot?”
“There’s always room in Oakland Cemetery.”

qwertyman
January 18th, 2012, 06:34 PM
Yes, you got the style bang to rights. It's amazing how they got away with the adjective dumps. But it just seems right in the genre.

A fun read.

A few hic-cups.

I was disorientated at the begginning. I didn't know they were in a bar until somebody ordered a drink.
Creme brule shoulders do not show through a black leather coat.
You didn't tell us the cop was called Dancer.
I didn't get the reference to 'taking a chance'. On a hand like that, aces and eights, in five card stud is an all-in call. If it was a reference to aces and eights being deadman's hand it still didn't make sense to me.

Very enjoyable.

egpenny
January 18th, 2012, 11:55 PM
Whispy s/b wispy
Whisky s/b whiskey (Texas boy ought to know that.)
Cops don't use pads, they have small notebooks that fit in a shirt pocket.
Terrific read. I'd have to look up the Chandler story to see how close you came to the beginning, but the story is 40's and 50ish with updates like lite beer and drug dealers. Qwerty was right on with the shoulders and Dancer. Depending on what else is said about the Chandler tie-in, but I'd say go for it.