Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chapter 23 -- Four Views

As the sun was going down: From the restaurant, the officer
exits, walks north up the block, passing the dress shop with
the ever unlatched door and ramble of cloth bolts on the floor
still as unviolated as the manikin was naked.
Further up the paved hill to the turn, between the corner of the
bridge and the old merchants' office building, where he'd tucked
his three wheeled 'panda' out of the usual eye range.

A view from within the restaurant's double layer of doors,
through the entry foyer, of the back of the bald and bulky,
badly clothed detective getting into the passenger side of a
green, squared off vehicle, (a cheap import), driven by a
middle aged woman with red hair.

Neither?/both? with a glimpse of the white ambulance van,
(repainted and used to carry evidence), parked in front of
the theatre where the 'body wagon' had been earlier that day;
or of the man in the red shirt standing below the billboard
across the street.

But, all three--officer walking north, turning, sound of small
unseen vehicle leaving; the bald, now yellow orange detective,
(the sunset), being picked up again by the same green car that
had deposited him that afternoon; the second, (evidence) van
awaiting its single occupant's return from the theatre---
all three in the view of the man in the red shirt, standing hip deep
in the overgrowth below the automated, 'beer & pretzel' sign.
Coolly curious, he shlakes through the weeds to look up at the
back of the huge board and the meagre motor generating the
'action', kachucking along quietly in the greying twilight.
What more had he expected??

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chapter 22 -- The Actual Conversation

"Victor!!", erupted the Inspector.

"How did you recognize me so quickly ?", said the bandaged man.

"The way you shifted your butter knife at the table. That, and the fact you're the only
individual on the whole island in dire enough condition to be wrapped in bandages from
crown to fingertips."

"Hnh. Ohh. Don't make me laugh."

Winsteeple had seated himself at Victor Plesch's restaurant table. "Sorry. How are you
feeling? Are you off the liquid diet?"

"Mmn. I think so. I won't know until they serve my order."

"We visited you a few times--whenever i could get away. But, you were always asleep."

"The only time I can sleep now is in the daytime. From being exhausted into insomnia by
the pain at night. But, thank you both for all the flowers."

"At least you're reading again I see", as he reached over to tap the spraddled paperback
to Victor's left. "One of yours?"

"One of Ima Audun's. I was supposed to review it for the local paper. Before 'The Accident'."

"You know, she was declared officially missing a couple of weeks ago, while you were still
in the hospital."

"No." They were both peripherally aware of Officer Glidden watching them from behind the
dusty plastic fronds. (Like some demigod of his friend's fiction, Winsteeple also had acute

"What actually happened to you that night?" asked Winny, carefully.

"Showing the chef how to prepare lamb leg a la paw paw." Plesch quipped through the
muffle of his head wrappings.

"Giving unsolicited advice in the kitchen again?"

"Two words...flambe'. I've since decided epicureanism is for the Great Unsinged. I ordered
the club sandwich."

"Well, I hope you can manage solid food soon. My wife wants you to come have dinner with
us, whenever you're willing and able."

"A liquid die-et is not con-du-cive to socializing." His friend gulped this almost sheepishly,
and the two were almost moved too close to real tears.

After a few beats, Winny absently touched one of the table's settings. "Syrup dishes...", he
whispered. "My wife bought some like that." Then, rousing, he added more wholeheartedly,
"In fact, she's picking me up out front here any minute!"

Before the bandaged man could answer, Officer Glidden came dutifully around the plants
and announced, "Cloxon's man is upstairs now, sir. Two men are helping him move all the

"Not those two that moved the body??"

"No, sir." He smiled.

"VERY good. You can go ahead and leave by the door here, then. It will save you a lot of steps."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chapter 21 -- Disturbing Words

Down the well-trod steps, and out, into the restaurant.

Around the artificial plants, and there seated at a table, the bandaged man.

A potent, mutual greeting.

'How did you recognize him so quickly ?'

"The way you shifted your butter knife at the table," declared the Inspector, with a slight note
of ironic pomposity.

"That, and the fact you're the only individual on the whole island in dire enough condition
to be wrapped in bandages from crown to fingertips."


A few moments later, Officer Glidden had followed Winsteeple down the same formerly secret steps, but held back, his view obscured by the dusty plastic fronds, on seeing the Inspector
seated with the unusual patron.

His superior had his back to Glidden, so that he could not quite hear easily all that he said to
the man(?), nor could he be certain of his mood. Was this, already, a suspect?

Just as he began to transfer his own unease and curiosity to the bandaged patron, he partly
heard the Inspector ask what, (in fact), had happened to him.

'Shwgth shiff had a three pair of lab legs, Ala Babah,' the impossible reply.

Glidden felt like a child, trying to make sense of such muffled mishmosh, as if he were hiding
from his parents rather than not wanting to burst in inopportunely. Amidst further strings of
muttering, he heard distinctly the words "club", (but unthreatening?), and the more disturbing "die", (said without menace, but with some melancholy or fatigue).

With a few beats more, and the whispered "surreptitious", (so coincidentally & reflectively
accusatory), the officer threw aside his non-professional stance, 'rehearsed' the little message in his head, and came on about to interrupt the Inspector's mysterious meeting.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chapter 20 -- The Inspector's Notion

Winsteeple stood stockstill, facing the hall entrance into Jampers' office. He felt sure something
vital was right in front of him.

He turned to his right a bit, to take in the vacated desk one last time, still thinking about the body. Officer Glidden was down the hall, making sure the van attendants did not need further help.

When the officer returned, he held back, not fully reentering, knowing not to disturb the ruminating Inspector. Winsteeple beefily gestured at the overabundance of cabinets and carafes.
"We'll have to have all these bottles moved. Likely, their contents will have to be checked for
any poison. And tell Cloxon's man to make note of all the dust, especially on the different stoppers."

Almost unconsciously, he planted himself again facing the hallway as Glidden peered in discreetly. Winsteeple again sensed a nascent notion coming upon him like a shroud of light.

At first he did nothing. Then, slowly and without thought, he turned his bald head to the wall
along his left shoulder and saw with new eyes the black and white print on the wall.
Originally a lithograph ?

He knew now it was not the excessive dust that would matter to him--obviously quite old.
It was the picture itself. Of a grimacing, wide mouthed beast, yes, crouching, one long arm
wrapping its knees. Crouching in a dry desert landscape...

Outside the west windows, soon to be greying in the late afternoon sun moving behind it...
the billboard ! He gaped amusedly at the rocking action of its giant salted pretzel and
big (flat) mug of foamy beer. He was getting thirstier himself, just looking at it.

But, if Jampers really drank so much of this water, where did he go to the bathroom??

There were no amenities in the office itself. And he could not see Jampers galumphing down
the stairs to the street to someplace, and then back up again, every time he...

Glidden, who had slipped in by now, (to view the billboard), now watched the Inspector,
with the enthusiasm of certainty, heave himself the few steps into the cramped hallway
directly opposite the door.

With fingers like runover hot dogs, Winsteeple pawed at the edges of the thin wall, searching
for a crevice, punch or purchase.

When the wall popped open with a gasp to match their own, and let in an L-crack of light,
he half-turned delightedly and greedily pulled the door the rest of the way open.

Not exactly a secret door, but so parenthetically set (by someone) it would remain for private use in this little-visited quarter.

The barely carpeted steps to the restaurant below beckoned.

Of course, he went down them.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chapter 19 -- On the Coast Road With 235X12

nothing but interior, car window views of ocean, ocean, ocean to the right; hillocks and scrub growth to the left. And too many winding curves along the way to take anything in, for all the
leaning side-to-side to stay upright.

"Slow down", commanded Doctor Y. to his robot driver. But, again, there was no reply.
235X12 was in definite need of an overhaul.

Doctor Y. sat up straighter in the limo's rear passenger seat. There were at least a few yards
of road ahead that did not curve so, and would offer him some few seconds of 'melodramatic

He ruminated briefly about the small, flat box now in the specially lined, lapel pocket of his
grey suit jacket. Its last minute retrieval had been a 'coup', yesss...

But, there was the fact of having forgotten it in the first place.

As his body began to lean again from side-to-side with further abrupt coastal turns, 'Y.'
lost the thread of his 'scheming'. His mind jumped to the yellow paperback he had seen
so briefly. Trying to recall just what he had actually read in the silly book.

No matter. Either malicious or stupid, the local writers. They never get it right.

As if to censure his smugness, the speeding limo suddenly hit a rock, moving on, but causing
him to stamp his grey-polished shoe into the floorboard to avoid sliding off the seat & piling in a heap. Gnashing his teeth and righting himself, he cursed the empty grill head of '235' and the
day he'd ever overseen the takeover of menial tasks by his inventions.

But his own memory was no better. He still wanted to recall the book passage, damn the thing.

And this little road trip never afforded him one chance to analyze his errors. Appalling. To walk out without the box...

For an 'evil genius', he was having quite the memory lapse.

Perhaps, he had on 'the wrong attire'. Didn't the Philosopher(s) say something about selecting
the wrong outfit spoiling the whole of the day's actions?

They were always saying some god damn thing.

Was the robot speeding up?? He hated this road, its ugly views. And unpredictable turns
guaranteed to interrupt all thought and render one an insipid, flaming wreck. Figuratively,
if not literally.

'Doctor Y.' would be glad to get back 'up to something' in his sanctum. Up to speed on his

Verbal commands were useless. Crampton 'rared back' to use both of his long, grey legs.

To kick the back of the driver's seat with both feet, again & again. And joggle some sense into his
mechanical chauffeur before they went careening off into the sea like some sorry
cinematic cliffhanger...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chapter 18 -- The Bridge To Nowhere

the 'tourist hit by luggage' sweated and huffed up the last of the Avenue, alone but for
birds he could not locate and the pfuffling in the stronger wind of the red paper lanterns .

the 'tourist hit by luggage' walks onto the Bridge itself now, nearly exhausted by its steep
curve (and all of the earlier, excessive efforts of the day).

at last, cresting its arch, discovering that it stops dead. cut off halfway in midair.

metal tube bars block further progress of the reckless. Relatively discreet warning signs,
placed so as not to destroy the view, balefully glare their advice in three languages.

staggered, he stares uncomprehendingly at the shoreline beyond, the scarcity of roadwork
on that side, and the lime green stone far on the north horizon.

he continues to stay back, well away from the end. turns to take in the eastward side...

standing on the pedestrian's side path, not even daring to lean on the five foot, heavy cement
wall, he immediately takes in the broad bluenesses of the sky and ocean...

the coast road, (the only road really connecting the two ends of the island), bordering and
enclosing a last lap of low water and soft sand way below.

He still could not decide where exactly he was--what island.

There was the declining business 'district' to the southeast, from where he'd just come, (and
spent so much of his time here already, in dubious pursuits). But, no spire visible.
No cathedral of St. Millicent's.

He recalled only fragments of the lost tour guide. Had some sort of block on the island's name.

He ignored the obvious metaphor of the half-bridge for his faulty memory.

Perhaps, the Bridge had been broken off by a massive wave. A tsunami. Or a 'too-sommy',
as the loud old man on the caravan had called it.

The tourist smiled. (Despite everything).

He felt it more likely it was another unfinished boondoggle. And had a vague memory of the
local papers somewhere calling the useless bridge a "promenade".

He wondered if there were any bars sticking out of the end , but would not walk there to see.

Odd that there was still a connecting road, (tho' it was on a rise), at the end of an inlet or
tidal basin. How the water from the ocean to the west (behind him) could just taper off and
end. Not covering the rise, and effectively creating two islands instead of the one.

He realized he was watching a limousine, running on the very road, (already on the north side
of the inlet). Curving 'near' and away again, at what seemed a slow pace, from this distance.

Taking in more of the land, he watched. Might be quite a clip, after all.

Maybe they left something undone.

There was no fencing up, as on continental bridges. A 'good' place for a melodramatic drop...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chapter 17 -- Plesch

He put the yellow paperback face down, open to his place, on the restaurant table.
He could barely see well enough to read, anyhow, through the head wrappings.

His teeth still hurt. Perhaps he'd been wrong to order the club sandwich, but it was his first
since getting off of the liquid diet.
The restaurant had not changed...since 'The Accident'. Thankfully.

That is, it had not improved nor gained any clamorous clientele. He preferred the quiet,
dining alone, (especially now it was more difficult), even writing here. Or at least
ruminating about his latest novel.

He still knew all the staff. The dust-ridden artificial fronds reminded him of the Crimble
woman, still missing. But, that could be a good thing. Criminal ambiance.
A union of neglect in not removing the 'plant', and opportunism (he had encouraged)
in trying to keep the local story alive.

'Speaking' of local stories, the paperback...he did not like to criticize his competition,
but he was certain now that Ima had skipped a step. She should have had her killer
wander through the town, in a different chapter, and then reach the Bridge.

Instead, there was an unfortunate abruptness in his fleeing the courtyard, then
so shortly appearing, gazing down at the river. 'Would he jump...?', the triteness almost

Feeling he already knew the answer, Plesch smiled under the wrappings, hurting his
cheeks a bit.

He would have to paper this over with her, cover his technical disapproval with a barrage
of compliments--so well deserved in other areas.

That is if he ever saw her again. Boris Tate had not heard from her in weeks.

Plesch was well aware of police activity in the neighboring buildings. Doubtlessly, he would
run into his friend "The Inspector"; old Winny and his wife had been so very good about
sending him lots of flowers everyday while he was in the hospital.

And they weren't always easy to come by on the island. Nor inexpensive.

He again studied his butter knife, which he would not be needing.

He did not want to move it too soon. His hands felt hot...he wanted to be sparing in how
often he scuffed them about, trying to use utensils with wrapped up hands.