A comedy in which a man struggles with some odd existential issues (flash)
|Damian Smith exited the building and headed home, but he was a worried man. What just happened a moment ago? he wondered.
I exited the building, but what actually did I do? Did I run down the stairs? Did I slip out a back door? Was it a revolving door? Or glass ones? Was there a concierge or a hat check girl? He couldn't remember and he had a suspicion it wasn't his memory at fault, it was the author. The author hadn't thought about it. Had chosen the first lazy vague verb that entered his or her head.
And what about that building? Was it a glassy state of the art research institute or was it City Hall? Was it the Dole Office or perhaps a decaying old brownstone where his detective agency was located? Please let it be that. Had the author even thought about it? Probably not. That's what you get with these lousy pulp hacks. He smiled and then frowned. So far the tone of the writing, weak though it was, vaguely suggested a noir mystery. Please god let it be the brownstone.
Roundabout now it would be good idea, he mused, to insert a bit of a hook. I could think about the hot young thing waiting for me at home or maybe the big money I'll see if I bring this case off. Assuming it is a case.
He trudged along blankly. No such luck then. Not even the hot babe? Damn, what kind of a hack have I been landed with?
He turned the corner onto Fifth. The action line was reassuring. He'd been beginning to fear the gray undefined space in which he had been walking.
Suddenly he ducked as bullets flew over his head. Down the road a cop car wailed. None of my business. He shook his head and walked on. Nonetheless the whole thing was worrying.
For one thing hadn't he ducked before the bullets were mentioned? Like he had a sixth sense? Maybe he had. Never can tell with these author types. And those bullets. Did they whizz? Did they smack into the stone throwing off chips? Did the muzzle flash? Did the smell of cordite float on the air? He had no idea.
Perhaps, he reflected, the author lacked the normal portfolio of senses.
Anyway it shouldn't've happened. Not yet. Not before he been given any backstory or had done anything charitable that might elicit reader sympathy.
The light at the crossing was Don't Walk and he stood composing his thoughts. An old panhandler was sitting on a bench.
"Brother can you spare a dime?"
"Sure," said Smith, "in fact here's a five." The man's mongrel licked his hand.
"How ya doing fella?" Smith ruffled the lovable old hound's ears.
"See if you can't do something for the mutt too." He said.
"Sure thing Mr. You're a gent."
That's it, thought Smith gloomily, it's open season for any kind of funny business now. A moment later it occurred to him he couldn't visualise either the man or the dog.
He came to the park and passed along the avenue of trees. He snorted.
Here I am, he thought, veteran of twenty years in the National Forrestry service...
[editors note: at this point the manuscript becomes illegible. A note from the proofreader indicates a large number of pages appear to have been used as nesting material by squirrels, others pages are either entirely missing or seriously damaged by an unidentified yellow liquid. We therefore resume the narrative at page 212. The author states (private communication) that the missing pages were mostly exposition the nature of which he cannot remember. He further states that though they were exemplary writing, their loss in no way affects the plot. ]
...you would have thought I would be able to tell one tree from another.
But what do I see? Just trees! It's that damn author again, he realised. He doesn't care if they're oaks or elms or willows. Whether they are full of autumn colour, or bare from winter. Guy probably looked that up in a book.
Suddenly an old woman approached out of the fog. Blast, he thought, that came on quick. The fella might have given us some warning. Shown it curling round those trees or something. He looked at her suspiciously. Was she a dangerous old crone to be shone firmness or a vulnerable old lady requiring respect? He couldn't tell.
The matter was important. After all these pages he still had no idea what theme the author was exploring and a wrong choice could quickly get you into hot water.
"Buy an apple, Sir? Lovely red apple." She held it out a ridiculously ruby red shining fruit. It did look good.
Clearly then, an honest old woman requiring fair dealing. He handed over some coins, took the apple and bit in. With cold horror he realised his mistake. A ruby red apple. The detail! The focus! His hand leaped for his throat but it was too late. He felt himself shrinking, his skin turning green. In a moment a frog sat blinking on a pile of discarded clothes.
That no good lousy cheat author, he thought. Changing from Noir to fairy-tale!