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I know this is fiction... (1 Viewer)

thedreamweaver

Senior Member
...but it's been requested by a certain Russian genius.

This isn't really my normal style, so isn't my best work. But it was an assignment and I thought it was at least half-decent, so here goes.


It was a sweaty, sultry night – the kind of night that always followed one of New York’s notoriously blistering summer days. I’d have much rather been in bed in my apartment with the air conditioning turned up to full, but unfortunately I had an appointment to attend.

I’d never been this far into the suburbs before, and I wasn’t altogether comfortable with it either. The streets, which just a few hours ago had been full of curious tourists braving the midday sun, were grittily deserted and I suddenly shivered despite the muggy air. This wasn’t an assignation I’d been looking forward to, and now I was uncomfortably aware of how unfamiliar my surroundings had become.

There were no streetlamps here; the last one I’d seen had been just after I’d crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, several miles back. But in a New York summer it never gets properly dark, and even though it was nearly 1am it was as if dusk was still glimmering in the pale sky.

I checked the instructions I had received from my yet nameless, faceless client; Flat 4B, 365 Lafayette Avenue, at midnight. I quickened my step. It wasn’t like me to be this late. I squinted at the peeling door nearest to me, which read 353. I was getting closer.

365 Lafayette Avenue was one of the older blocks of flats – it’d probably been built back in the ‘20s – and, by the look of the discoloured windows with their rusty frames, not renovated since. It was definitely less classy than I’d expected. The door was tall, narrow, and stripped bare to its splintering wood. It was ajar; not completely open but not closed, and for the first time I felt that something was definitely wrong. I pushed it open, half expecting it to creak ominously in the clichéd way a crime writer would have it do. Everything stayed strangely silent though, like a vacuum in the suffocating air. I remember thinking I’d never heard New York so hushed, and being slightly disturbed at the idea.

Apartment 4B was on the ground floor, but hidden away in a tiny annexe at the back. Newer yet somehow shabbier than the others, it had a dank smell, mingled with an unpleasantly sweet stench that I thought I recognised. With a deep mental breath, I strode into the room and recoiled.

It was quite large but gave the impression of being windowless; the furniture had been good-quality but was now frayed and copiously stained. The scent in the air was a sour amalgamation of bitter alcohol, stale cigarette smoke, along with that foul musky odour. With an abrupt twist of my stomach I knew what it was. I stepped lightly and quickly around the room, over the matted rug in the centre and the scratched floorboards surrounding it. I knew what I was looking for – not that I wanted to see it.


It was in the bathroom, a sordid closet with a grimy sink and a soiled toilet to match. There was a bathtub too, with a rag that had once been a shower-curtain pulled across it.

The plastic was damp and clammy to the touch and I had to resist the urge to remove my hand and run. I rubbed my drying lips uneasily and, before my nerve could desert me for good, pulled the shower curtain across. It came off in my hand, sodden and rotting, but I took no notice. I’d known what I would find but at the sight of it I bit my lip so hard I drew blood.

It lay before me, pale and stiff. The head was twisted back unnaturally against the corner of the tub, exposing the bloodless neck with the decisive slash which had been almost vicious enough to decapitate. The arms were crumpled, covered with scratches. He wore nothing but a pair of dark corduroy trousers; whatever shirt he had been wearing must have been drenched in the blood that would have gushed from his neck. The stomach was oddly pathetic; unblemished, pasty and flabby. He wore no shoes. The bath was as filthy as the rest of the flat but, strangely, there was no trace of blood anywhere in the room or on the dead man. His pallor and the open wound in his throat was all that revealed how he’d died.

I turned away, and swallowed hard, tasting my own blood in my mouth. I’d seen sights as bad as this before, and worse, but right now I was in here alone. I tried to think rationally. Identification, I thought; was this man anyone I knew? Compelling my eyes to once again look down upon the body, I forced myself to reach into the bathtub and relieve the warped position of the neck so that the face was visible. The gaping gash folded in on itself, and I had to once again readjust it so that it didn’t fall down upon itself and the head rest on the chest.

Standing back and wiping my hands hastily on my trousers, I surveyed the face of the dead man. The eyes were small and pugnacious; mere indents in the fat of his stubbly cheeks. He had a fleshy nose and a wide mouth that sneered even in death. I wondered suddenly how long he’d been dead – a well of guilt rose up inside me: had I been on time, would it have saved his life? A quick feel of his pallid forehead reassured me. He was cold, and his legs lay stiffly. Rigor mortis was in place; this man had been dead for at least five hours already.

Then I noticed it. My business card lay underneath his left leg, slightly soggy from its sojourn in the bathtub.

I frowned, and then it came to me. This was my client, the man for whom I had agreed to take on a case; the man who I had come here to meet. Unfortunately for both of us, someone else had reached him first.

 

aimeefriedland

Senior Member
thedreamweaver said:

It was a sweaty, sultry night – the kind of night that always followed one of New York’s notoriously blistering summer days.

Ouch; it hurts me. Do I endure the agony of struggling past this first sentence?
 

thedreamweaver

Senior Member
I know: it's always hard when you find someone is better than you at something. But power on, Aimee, you just might learn something.
 

aimeefriedland

Senior Member
thedreamweaver said:
...but it's been requested by a certain Russian genius.

This isn't really my normal style, so isn't my best work. But it was an assignment and I thought it was at least half-decent, so here goes.
How many more disclaimers do you want? Geez.

thedreamweaver said:
It was a sweaty, sultry night – the kind of night that always followed one of New York’s notoriously blistering summer days.
Huh? Two adjectives, one adverb, in the first sentence? C'mon kid. And I've lived in New York City - the "notoriously blistering summer days" aren't always followed by "sweaty (sweaty? huh?), sultry nights"...?
 
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thedreamweaver

Senior Member
AndI got full marks for this, so it matters little what people on a board think.
Not that I think it's worthy of full marks: it's not amazing, I admit.
 

Shawn

WF Veterans
"It was a sweaty, sultry night."

Wow... that's... let me count. A prounoun, a linking verb, three adjectives and a predicate nominative in the first.

Grammatical structure means nothing, it's the impact of the sentence. I like it.

Sultry: hot, humid.
 

Shawn

WF Veterans
You can at least judge a piece objectively rather than carry out a rather pathetic attack.
 
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