April 15 – April 28, 2021 Writing Prompt “Noir”

Theme: Noir

noun

a genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.

Classic noir features hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings.

Required Elements:

  • There are many sub genres, the story must be based in the “Classic” period of film noir.

Word Count: 1,200

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Please Note: Comments may be considered “published” regarding other contest requirements.

All stories are fall under general copyright laws. No part may be reproduced without the express consent of the respective author.

Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must stay within the word limit set for each contest.

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118 thoughts on “April 15 – April 28, 2021 Writing Prompt “Noir”

  • April 15, 2021 at 1:39 pm
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    Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked in this comment within a day or two, feel free to use the contact form to let Carrie know she somehow missed it.

    Meanwhile, please be patient, there is only one moderator, and she is not always online. We’ll get to it as soon as possible. Thank you.)

    Reply
  • April 15, 2021 at 1:47 pm
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    Signing in.

    Reply
  • April 15, 2021 at 3:27 pm
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    Salutations! Signing in!

    Reply
  • April 15, 2021 at 4:54 pm
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    When she opened the door and I got a whiff of that perfume, I knew she was trouble. Her legs reached all the way to the floor. Whatever she wanted me to do, I knew then I would do it. “Are you Rock Hardplace,” she whispered in a husky voice that had seen its share of Old Fashioneds. She was my kind of woman.

    Oh yeah, I’m in.

    Roy

    Reply
  • April 16, 2021 at 11:40 am
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    Signing in.

    Reply
  • April 16, 2021 at 1:44 pm
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    Signing in, definitely wanting to read others’ stories for inspiration as to how to tackle this prompt.

    Reply
    • April 16, 2021 at 1:44 pm
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      Whoops, was multitasking while I wrote that, forgot to even sign in.

      Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 4:55 am
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    Hi, Carrie

    Could you please delete the two stories above? There’s a formatting issue (the separators aren’t working properly).

    Also … has the editing function disappeared?

    Thanks, and sorry for the bother.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 7:34 am
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      Done!
      And no the editing function should still be there!

      Reply
      • April 17, 2021 at 2:26 pm
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        Thanks, Carrie.

        (I’m having trouble logging in to the WP account – that’s probably why the editing function isn’t showing. But then why is it letting me post this comment? A mystery. I’ll keep trying.)

        Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 3:17 pm
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    Don’t want to complain, but my post didn’t get me a confirmation email, so I’m trying again. Got some kind of goofy message. Oh well, let’s see if this works.

    Roy

    Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 3:46 pm
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    Nope, that didn’t work. still no confirm. If this doesn’t work, I’ll try a different computer . That’s what I had to do last time.

    Roy

    Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 6:53 pm
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    A BREEZE

    She got me. She got me good. Stilettos. Made that baby roll like a puppy in a grocery bag. And do I like puppies!

    Hers was the finest I’ve ever seen. The first time I met her she was standing with her back to me in the outside office, gabbing to Glenda. I thought she might be a friend of hers, the way they were laughing. I threw them a ‘good evening’ on my way past, towards my office. Glenda stopped me dead.

    “Mr Hennessey!”

    That’s my name. Richard Hennessey. Or Dick Hennessey to my friends. But no one calls me Dick. And gets away with it, anyway.

    “Evenin’, Glenda. Who’s your friend?” I said.

    Now I got a good look at her from the front. Her face was one of those faces … you just wanted to go “Hubba hubba!” I resisted, but I said it to myself.

    Her lips – crimson, just like I like them – seemed to be twice the size of her face, but in a mighty fine way. And she had these green, hooded eyes that said “I might deign to do something with you one day, if you ask nicely.” I decided there and then that I was going to. Very nicely. But not there and then; Glenda was watching, and me and Glenda … well. You get the drift.

    “This is Mrs Clayton. She needs our … your help.”

    I could tell from Glenda’s voice that she wanted to get more acquainted with that puppy herself. A strange twist, Glenda.

    “Come in,” I said, stepping aside to let the goddess pass. I made sure to get another look at the pup as she rolled by me. It was all I could do to stop myself dropping to my hands and knees and getting up close and very personal. She smelled like the breeze coming off the Bay, and as she moved, her tight, gray two-piece hissed softly like a field of wheat in a different kind of breeze.

    In short, she had me. Whatever she was going to ask me to do, I was going to agree to. As soon as she’d sat on the chair in front of my desk, crossing her legs and showing me the way to the puppy, this is what she said:

    “My husband is having an affair.”

    That was all I needed. I knew what she wanted but let her tell me anyway, just to hear her voice. It was smoky, like downtown on a cold November evening. It took nothing away from the rest of the package, let’s just say that. In fact, now that I’d seen, smelled and heard her, I’d have paid her for the honor of doing the job.

    I told her I’d take her on, making sure not to sound too eager, and offered her a shot from my good bottle. She declined, so I asked her to give her details to Glenda. Then she got up and took that puppy out of there, closing the door behind it.

    I tapped out a Lucky, poured myself a slug of the good stuff and swivelled in my chair, contemplating the sun as it slipped below the bridge, letting the muffled conversation beyond the door flow over me. Yes sir, I was feeling pretty damn good. Then.

    ~~~~~~

    Glenda told me Mrs Clayton would be out of town for a week. It was an ideal opportunity to check up on Mr C. He didn’t disappoint. They had a smart house out on 35th – Georgian columns and a billiard-table lawn out front, pool and more lawn out back. The Claytons weren’t short of clams, let’s put it that way. From day one I saw him with his twist; they weren’t being shy. At night, they didn’t pull the drapes. They should have pulled the drapes. I took photos. There was enough material to sink an aircraft carrier.

    ~~~~~~

    The client was back from her trip, Glenda said, and wanted to see me. At the house. I visited Sal the barber, put on my best threads and drove down to 35th that very afternoon. If her husband was at it, I thought maybe she might be of the same mind. I hadn’t been able to get those eyes and lips out of my head. Not to mention the puppy.

    I was banking on Mr C being at work. His wife said he was. She showed me round the house. It was some place. She let me be the first one into the rooms, teasing me with the mystery of what each one might contain; I was teased, I can tell you. There was just one room she didn’t let me enter. I had the door half open but she put a hand on my forearm, stopping me.

    “Our bedroom,” she whispered, those lips too close for comfort. But then who needs comfort?

    Down in the lounge, she offered me a bourbon, of the very good variety. I’m not one to turn down a free shot, so I didn’t. She was wearing a low-cut, red satin dress, too night-time for the day-time. But I wasn’t complaining. Nor did I complain when she leant over to place the drink on the table by my chair; the more I saw of her, the more I wanted her. I couldn’t take my eyes off the prize. No sooner had I knocked back the shot than she was leaning over me again to fill me up. She was filling me up all right.

    I told her what I’d found and patted the folder on my lap. I wanted to be patting my lap with no folder on it. I wanted her to be sitting there. I wanted to breathe in the breeze, to feel the puppy moulding itself around my thighs. I could hardly concentrate on what I was saying. Then it hit me.

    It wasn’t thinking about her that was ruining my concentration. It was something else. I looked at the glass, empty after I’d downed my second shot. Then I looked at her. At the blurred her. At the swaying her. Then I wasn’t looking at her at all. I wasn’t looking at anything.

    ~~~~~~

    The cops woke me the next morning. I was in my Chevy, a couple of blocks away. I hadn’t driven there. In the trunk, they found some antique coins that I remembered seeing at the Clayton house. Behind the passenger seat a knife, bloody. A maid had found Mr Clayton, in the master bedroom, his throat slit from ear to ear. My dabs were on the knife and all over the house, especially on the doorknobs. There was no record of my job for Mrs Clayton; the folder had disappeared, and Glenda said that the goddess had never been in my office, that she’d never typed up a contract for her.

    But she admitted she knew Mrs Clayton. Oh, she admitted that, sure. They were lovers, she said. And they’d been together at Glenda’s the day before. And all night.

    Of course, she didn’t tell the cops what they’d be spending the insurance money on.
    .

    Reply
    • April 18, 2021 at 9:13 am
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      Terrific Phil. Loved the ending. Well done.

      Reply
      • April 24, 2021 at 3:09 am
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        Love it. I could hear the narrator in that black and white ’50s drawl.

        Reply
    • April 26, 2021 at 10:05 pm
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      Hiya Phil,

      A good solid killer noir with a nice twist there. That ‘puppies in a grocery bag’ line is kind of weird (to me.) I’m sure it’s an English thing as I see that Ken Frape used it too, like ‘bangers and mash’ for sausage and potatoes. Over here we have weird sayings too, like, ‘Chicken and dumplings’, which means ‘a chicken, with some dumplings. Okay, let me try again. Ah yes, a BLT, for bacon, lettuce and tomato. Hmmm. Hot dogs on the grill? No, that’s exactly what it is.

      My wife/mistress often says, help me with the groceries and then ‘it’s time to set the puppies free’ just before she takes off her bra in the living room with her shirt still on. so, puppies in a bag just confuses my brain. I’m thinking about you, thinking about her, thinking about your characters ass, my wife’s boobs. It’s too much Phil. I’m just a simple man, with two heads, constantly in conflict and your clever English-ism is like fingers on a chalkboard.

      I can offer you this weird consolation, (maybe. We’ve been together for twenty years, this October.) I was going to the store a few weeks ago and Kim said, ‘bring me back some nachos.’ and I said, ‘O.K.’

      I went to the store, a place I’ve been to many times, and there were a million bags labeled ‘nachos.’ I picked one that seemed safe, and when I brought it home she said, “Those aren’t nachos.” (The ‘you idiot’ was implied.)

      I showed her the word ‘nachos’ on the bag and she didn’t care. “I don’t care what it says, they’re not nachos.” She couldn’t believe that I didn’t know what a nacho was. I think I smelled one once and said, ‘No thanks.’ Without even looking at it. I’m not a health nut either, I’m bathing in a pool of chocolate ice cream as I write this, but I still have no idea what a ‘proper’ nacho is, and frankly, I don’t care.

      She, on the other hand, is probably vacillating between hostility and hope, that I pay so little attention to what she puts in her mouth.

      Puppies in a bag indeed. You Anglish fellers sure leave me stumped of a times.

      Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 4:46 am
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      Hi Phil,

      I have to say that I am not that familiar or comfortable with this genre but I loved this story. Ken C is confused about the use of the word “puppy” or “puppies” but it fits as far as I am concerned. That has been one of the joys of this site and this group of writers ( no, not confusing Ken C!) as we learn about some of our cultural and linguistic differences.

      You tell a complete story that really works. In my case, I just chose one scene from a film and it doesn’t work nearly as well as yours. The twist as the two women are lovers and the narrator is led by his stiff pencil into trouble is really good writing. I would expect nothing less and you didn’t disappoint.

      Well done Phil.

      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 1:49 pm
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      A very good story, as always, but and I say this hesitantly, it could have used a little bit more ‘noir’ for me. But, you did it right, and I have no quibbles with the writing. Loved the puppies bit. Like Cartisano, at first I was confused as my wife usually refers to the ‘girls’ as girls, but I have heard her use the expression ‘puppies’ as Ken suggested in setting the ‘puppies’ free. However, since the protagonist was viewing from the rear, I surmised quickly that the puppies were held captive somewhere else and magnified by the stiletto heels, of which I am also a fan.

      Roy

      Reply
  • April 17, 2021 at 6:58 pm
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    B*gger. It’s done exactly the same thing, and no editing function. And I’m logged in to WordPress, so that’s not the problem.

    I think there might be some gremlins in the house …

    Can you delete the story again, Carrie? Or … could you insert separators (like the one near the end of the story) before and after the paragraph that appears in a different font? And change the font so that it matches the rest of the story?

    Sorry, but I don’t know what else to do.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • April 17, 2021 at 7:34 pm
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      No worries Phil, I can take care of the editing in the morning!

      Reply
      • April 17, 2021 at 7:54 pm
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        Thanks very much, Carrie – I really can’t fathom what happened/ what’s happening.

        (The edit function is still not showing.)

        Reply
        • April 19, 2021 at 8:00 am
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          Do you want to email your story in word with the formatting? I can copy and paste it into the comment and the formatting will stay.
          That way it’s exactly as you want it.
          The edit button is showing up for me so I’m not sure why you’re not seeing it. Maybe try a different browser and/or just enter your name/email/website information manually.

          Reply
          • April 19, 2021 at 8:57 am
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            Yes, I will send you an e-mail, Carrie. What’s the address, please?

        • April 19, 2021 at 8:04 am
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          I did change the ~ to a line so maybe that will work!

          Reply
  • April 20, 2021 at 6:26 am
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    THE THREE MUSTACHIERS
    by Ken Miles
    (1,200 words)

    No-one’d ever seen The Three Mustachiers. Or, put differently, no-one who’d seen them remained alive to tell what he’d seen.

    “She’s got her late husband’s life-savings under a floorboard… We’re going in there, I want that money!” Stasher plotted the Three’s next job.

    Stasher was a sort of leader of the Mustachiers. He wore a biker’s mustache, the kind of man you won’t want to mess with. He was in the business for the spoils, anything he could lay his hands on. Like when the Mustachiers ravaged Framptontown’s very Police-Station and slayed all the officers. Stasher took the very lockup bars off the walls and traded the metal at a foundry for an extra penny! When new officers eventually replaced the dead ones, they limited themselves to traffic offences. The unwritten tenet was to leave The Three Mustachiers alone.

    “What’s in it for me?” Swanker wrangled, “I’d do no granny!”

    Swanker, with posh mustache not unlike Clark Gable’s, was in this for the sex. Said to have inherited some hot real-estate in Vancouver, from an uncle he didn’t know, he raked in rents that made Warren Buffet seem middle-class. Whatever the Three pocketed was loose change for him, but he did it to do the girls.

    Legend has it that in his college days he’d got smitten with this beauty, a year ahead of him, called Beatrix. He’d never spoken to her, but man, did she rock his boat!

    He got wind of something. A gang led by one known as Ringo planned to pin Beatrix down. This was his chance. He dressed up as Zorro, with mask and all, rented an authentic medieval sword and cut his way through the attempted gang-rape. He took Beatrix away, and then unveiled his face to her.

    What he never understood was why she gave his identity away to her attackers. By the time he was out of hospital – they’d broken every bone in his body and wouldn’t’ve survived weren’t for some very talented doctors – Beatrix had disappeared from college and Framptontown.

    That’s when he took on womankind in his own way. He’d lead women on – he’d perfected that art – and use them to get in where the Three wanted to go. Take the police-station case. He held sway over this female recruit. The police-station became his second bedroom, so when the Three attacked they were playing on home turf. The Trojan Horse had already gone in.

    “Hold on there, Loverboy, I got you fixed. We’ll do it on Saturday…”

    “Saturday or whicheverday, still a granny!”

    “Just let me talk, will you? First Saturday of each month, her granddaughter visits. I want you to get into her… She arrives Friday evening. Plenty of time. Then lay the red carpet for us…”

    “Now you’re talking! This granddaughter, is she good material?”

    “Good? A fashion-model, mate. Big in LA. Goes by Lara X.”

    Swanker nodded. And a nod was contractual. He spared an uneasy glimpse at the third Mustachier, Slasher, lumped up on the floor, oblivious to the plans.

    Now, if the first two Mustachiers were bad enough, well, it gets worse with the third. Slasher, too, didn’t string along for the dole. Not because he was filthy rich like Swanker. Not at all. He was just filthy, period. His scruffy mustache reminiscent of an unkempt stray-dog’s, Slasher was a squalid man. Some believed he was the hobo who dwelled for a while in that abandoned rat-infested caravan by the river. But that was one of many theories.

    If Stasher was after the money, and Swanker after the meat, then Slasher was after the blood. He got his high (‘job-satisfaction’, Stasher called it) from knifing the Three’s victims. The other two worked comforted by the knowledge that, after Slasher, the slate was clean. There’d be no witnesses, no intact mouths left to talk. That was the Mustachiers’ method. The Three didn’t even know each other’s real names, had very different mustaches, but fitted together like jigsaw pieces.

    Swanker did his homework. This Lara X drove a California-plated white Cadillac. He crossed her path as she pulled into her grandma’s street. She braked on time, but he threw himself against her bumper and dived beneath the car. Wearing stilettos and a long narrow dress, it took the woman a good half-a-minute to reach the front of her Cadillac where he lay on the asphalt.

    She bent over to ask if he was okay. The car-accident was fake, but the real shocker came now.

    “Beatrix!?” he couldn’t believe his eyes, “You’re hell-bent to kill me, one way or another!?”

    “What d’you mean? Who are…? Oh my God! You’re Zorro from college…! You got a real mustache now?”

    “Why did you do it, Beatrix? Or are you called Lara now?”

    “I didn’t see you crossing…! Lara’s my stage name…”

    “Not that. I mean, why did you tell those dogs who I was…?”

    “I never told anyone!”

    She handed him a piece of paper she got from her handbag. “I still have this…”

    It was the receipt for the sword, with his name emblazoned on it. On the other side, handwritten, it said: “Your hero was careless, dropped this. We’ll deal with him first, then you next, Fairy Queen.”

    “I wanted to warn you, but you vanished. They must’ve been quicker than I thought. That note freaked Dad out and he shipped me across the country to my aunt’s in California. I didn’t see Framptontown for ten years…”

    Beatrix offered to drive him to hospital, but he said he was fine. She then insisted he joined her for a drink. That Friday night he slept with her at her grandma’s house. That was the plan. Except that Lara was Beatrix…

    There was no way Stasher would call things off, so Swanker quietly ensured the house was secure from the inside. If only he didn’t forget the skylight!

    Once inside, Stasher headed straight for where he thought the money was hidden.

    Slasher, instead, hobbled over to the two terrified women, knife wielded and a mordant smile hanging from his mouth.

    Swanker pointed a revolver at the hideous maniac.

    “Had your meat, huh? Now, my turn for the blood!” Slasher didn’t break his stride and only retreated when Swanker shot him in the leg. He crawled to Stasher who’d just ripped out a floorboard, uncovering the money. Slasher grabbed some bills, but Stasher stopped him.

    “Swanker won’t let me slash’em… And I don’t do nothing for nothing… I’ll take the money instead, this time…”

    “That’s not the deal…,” Stasher would have nothing of that, “The money’s mine, you take your blood…”

    With that, Slasher dug his knife in Stasher’s throat, reveled in the fountain of blood till it lasted and picked up some more dollars, not even too many, then slipped away, never to be seen again.

    “You saved me again, Zorro!” A shaken but elated Beatrix embraced him deliriously.

    ….

    “I wanted to tell you all of that before I’m gone,” my dad said, lifting his head with difficulty to observe the expression on my face.

    “That’s how you came to be, son. You’re what? Fifty-six? You can handle it now… ’Twas a rough start, but the rest was honey.”

    Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 10:46 am
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      Hi Ken,

      Good one, my friend. Just love the names Stasher, Slasher and Swanker. What an awful gang they must have been.

      This is a genre that I do not know a lot about but I am learning by reading stories such as this, told with your usual panache.

      Not sure about the final paragraph. Don’t see how it informs the rest of the story but that may just be me.

      Ken Frape

      Reply
      • April 29, 2021 at 11:03 am
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        Hi Ken!

        Indeed, an awful gang they must have been! I set out parodying The Three Muskateers (hence The Three Mustachiers), switching the heroic originals for patethically detanged ones. But I had problems with the direction of the story, which started off as humorous, but then slipped from my hands into a slasher type of (shallow) drama, and even into romance… But, perhaps, never into proper noir (see Roy’s comment). If you’re a noir newby and you’re learning the genre from here, my story is not the best example of it (if it’s an example at all!).

        Thanks for your comment and nice words! I like the names too… Stasher, Slasher… I wanted a name for Swanker that is more similar to the other two, like Smasher or something like that, but I didn’t find a “s-x-asher” word that fits him! Any ideas?

        Thanks,
        Ken

        Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 2:16 pm
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      Good story Ken and I thoroughly enjoyed it except for the pesky little detail it isn’t film noir. Film noir is more 30’s/40’s Bogart stuff, Philip Marlow and the like. And your swashbuckler would have needed to be done in color, not B&W as noir is suggesting. I suppose we could stretch it a bit and call it pirate or gangster noir, but that would be cheating.

      You’re still writing longer stories and then cutting back, aren’t ya? Oh yeah, If Slasher killed Stasher, what happened to Swanker? Besides bedding the elated Beatrix, he was the one who should have saved Beatrix, not Slasher, as it says in the end of your story. It says Slasher slips away never to be seen again, but we have to deduce that Zorro is Swanker.

      BTW, when my kids were little, they asked me about black and white TV. I told them that their Mom and I did not see color Television until right after we were married in 1965 when we bought a color TV. Before that I said, not only was TV in black and white, but the whole world was black and white. My wife overheard me and came in and told me I should be ashamed of myself for telling the children that, and then set them straight. I was gonna tell ’em … eventually.

      Roy

      Reply
      • April 29, 2021 at 11:02 am
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        Hi Roy,

        I’m not too familiar with that very specific noir style. I’ve heard of the guy, but never watched a Bogart movie. Noir’s heyday must’ve been well before my arrival on this planet… So I may have taken this story somewhere totally different. To the 1970s, maybe, in faded kodakchrome colorama. But not noir! I don’t like this story, and didn’t enjoy writing it. Now that you mentioned it, perhaps it was because of that (ie. my unfamiliarity with the genre).

        Yes it’s Swanker at the end, not Slasher. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. That “him” in the last sentence before the epilogue, should be substituted by “Swanker”.

        As you suspected, this story started off longer, and had to be brutally chopped down to size. It does show, apparently; you noticed the chopping marks of my axe! There was a lot of backstory to put in (who the Three were), and that was quite a challenge to fit into the word limit. I tried to intersperse backstory with the sparse dialogue to kill the monotony of exposition, but I’m not sure if it worked well enough. I needed more words to give Swanker a proper transition from a romance-seeking young guy to the point when he flips out into a crazed lover-boy slash serial rapist. But I just didn’t have the space for this kind of complexity, and the character does come out somewhat paper-thin, I think.

        Thanks!
        Ken

        Reply
  • April 21, 2021 at 7:16 pm
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    Cherry Bomb
    By Roy York
    1178 words

    I woke to the sound of high heels clicking on the hardwood hallway, stopping outside my office door. I tried to sit up and the effort felt like it would split my head open. I collapsed back onto the overstuffed leather sofa where I had spent the night. It was early morning when I threw the empty whiskey bottle across the room.

    The inside of my mouth tasted like the bottom of a bird cage. There was a knock at the door. I didn’t answer hoping who ever it was would go away. The knock got louder, then insistent. “Go away,” I shouted. I heard the door knob being jostled and twisted, then opened. That got my attention. I sat up.

    “Rock Hardcase?” Standing in the doorway was nothing but trouble. I knew it from the second I laid eyes on her. And that headache I had started to throb even more.

    She was 5 and a half feet of platinum blonde with more curves than the Pacific Highway. She was wearing a thigh length red dress that was so tight It looked like it was painted on. Pouty lips that sported a red sheen from freshly applied lipstick and dark eyelashes highlighted by eyes so blue, they could make the water off the coast of Key West jealous.

    “Who’s asking,” I mumbled.

    “Cherry Lane,” she said, in a voice just husky enough for me to hear.

    “Cherry, huh? It figures,” I said. She walked from the doorway and sat down across from me and didn’t cross her legs. I could see all the way to Pasadena.

    “Mind if I smoke?” she said, as she lit up a cigarette.

    “Yeah,” I said. “I do mind.”

    She cooly blew smoke toward me and acted as if she didn’t hear me. “I need your help. Someone is trying to kill me.”

    I looked at her through bloodshot eyes and wondered why someone would want to kill a dame that looked like her. There’s usually a reason. “Why don’t you go to the police?”

    “Because,” she said, “the guy who wants to kill me was a cop … my ex.”

    “That could be expensive. I’d need hazardous duty pay. How’d you find me?”

    “You know my dad, Danny Lane. He told me you were the best private dick in the business.”

    I grunted. I’d known Danny since High School. We joined the police force together and worked as partners for almost ten years. I went through two wives and had an expensive habit – alcohol. I’d taken AA’s twelve step program so many times I could run an Arthur Murray Dance School. They finally took my badge for missing too many shifts. We lost track of each other after that.

    ‘Wait a minute,’ I thought. “Cherry? Danny has a daughter named Penny, not Cherry.”

    “Yeah, well, I changed it cause it sounded too cheap. You know?”

    I smiled at the irony. “Look, it’s twenty-five bucks an hour, twenty a day in expenses and I need $500 up front, no refunds.”

    “I … I don’t have that kind of money. I was hoping you’d be more reasonable, knowing my dad and all.”

    “He tell you to say that?”

    She hesitated. She looked down at the ground and looked up. Then the waterworks started. She nodded her head up and down.

    “Ah, Jeez,” I said. “Here,” I held out a handkerchief. She took it by one corner and dabbed at her eyes. I can’t stand it when dames start the crying thing. They must see it in my eyes, because I melt when that happens. “I’m not gonna promise you anything, but I’ll see what I can do. What’s your ex-husband’s name?”

    “Johnny Whittaker.”

    I let out a long, slow whistle. “He worked with your old man after I left the force,” I said. “He shouldn’t be too hard to find.”

    “Not any more. They quit working together when Internal Affairs got involved. Johnny was on the take. It’s why I divorced the scum bag. That and the fact he spent more time in the backseat of our ’36 Packard with old girlfriends than he did at home with me.” I found that hard to understand.

    “Dad dropped a dime on Johnny when he found out and Johnny got busted from the force. He’s working as Chief of Security for Hanson Industries.”

    “Charlie Hansen hired him? Hansen’s a straight arrow.”

    “He’s got Hansen over a barrel, somehow. Nothing serious, but Hansen wants to run for Mayor next year, and Johnny’s got some dirt on him that would probably ruin his chances.”

    I heard a door slam a floor below and heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. It took every effort I had to move. I got behind the open door, put my finger to my lips and motioned for Cherry to be quiet.

    The door was pushed open even more, and a big guy in a cheap suit came rushing into the room. He stopped when he saw Cherry. He had a rod in his hand.

    “Johnny, “ she said, startled.

    I pulled out my gun and stuck it in his back. “Drop the gun. Hands behind your head,” I said. “Walk slowly toward the couch and sit down. Do it my way and nobody gets shot. Do it any other way, you’ll be pushing up daisies. Got it?”

    I pushed the gun hard into his back to impress him. He did as told and sat on the couch. I picked up his gun and smelled the barrel. “This thing’s been fired,” I said.

    “I had to shoot a rat,” he said and looked at Cherry, smirking.

    Her hand flew to her mouth. “What are you saying?”

    “I’m saying I retired your old man early after he told me where you were.”

    She jumped up before I could say or do anything and tried to slap him. He grabbed her arm and turned her around facing me, holding her close. With his other hand he had pulled out another gun. “I always carry a spare, shamus. You should have patted me down.”

    “Put the gun down, Johnny.” I said. “Nobody needs to get hurt.”


    “It’s too late for that, Hardcase. I got nothin’ to lose. Her old man’s already dead. Now it’s her turn – and maybe yours …”

    Just then Cherry jabbed him in the side with a sharp elbow and ducked. I put two bullets in the middle of his chest and he went down. Blood pooled around his body. Now my head hurt even more.

    Cherry picked up her cigarette and took a long drag. As she blew out the smoke she looked at me coldly and said, “I don’t think I’ll be needing your services anymore, Rock. Nobody’s trying to kill me now.”

    With that, she turned and walked out the door, leaving me standing over a dead man holding the gun that killed him. I was right. She was nothing but trouble from the second I laid eyes on her. And she was wrong about nobody wanting to kill her anymore.

    To be continued …
    </font color>

    Reply
    • April 26, 2021 at 8:56 pm
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      Fabulous story, Roy. Simply fabulous noir. The ending is perfect. I loved it.

      Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 11:16 am
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      Hi Roy,

      Excellent story and a really enjoyable read. Nice neat ending where the girl gets one over the guys.
      I am beginning to see the thread of how to write in this genre.

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
    • April 29, 2021 at 11:03 am
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      Hi Roy,

      This must be one of my favorite stories not only this week, but in the entire A Place for Fiction Writers/FictionWritersGroup repertoire. It’s so well-written, well-paced, well-delivered, well everything!

      Cheers!
      Ken

      Reply
      • April 29, 2021 at 2:04 pm
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        Well, Ken, you just made my day a lot brighter. Thank you for the nice words. This was one of those stories that appeared in scenes in my mind, and all I had to do was write down what I was seeing and hearing. My beta reader (the lovely Mrs York) looked at me after reading it and said, “Wow, this is good. Really good. One of your better stories, I think.” Which she seldom does. I was pretty sure then it turned out like I wanted it to.

        I sure wish other stories came that easy.

        By the way my friend, I think you are a great writer. But, yes, it’s visible, at least to me, when you’ve written far more than you need and then have to literally take an axe to the work. The reason I see it is because I am guilty of the same thing myself, although not as much as I used to be. It usually happens when I really don’t know where the story is going, or, I don’t have an ending.

        It’s difficult to write something you’re happy with and then can’t figure out what to cut.

        In ‘Cherry Bomb’ I actually had to add words to tweak it a bit. Thanks again Ken, and I was thinking about going and getting a cup of tea, but, I’m not sure my head would fit through the door.

        Roy

        Reply
  • April 24, 2021 at 1:24 am
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    THE FOLLOWER

    Have you seen Ravi?” Mr. Singh asked me.
    “No, Mr. Singh. He was telling me that he is going to visit his native place for some days. Probably he has gone there.” I lied.
    Okay let me tell you about Ravi and Mr. Singh. You must be wondering who the hell  are they!! Ravi and I were neighbours. Mr. Singh was the owner of the flat. I don’t know why Mr. Singh is so concerned about Ravi. Every now and then he asks his whereabouts to me as if I am his guardian. It’s so irritating sometimes. I locked the door and was about leave and again all of a sudden that same dog started barking at me. It was Ravi’s pet dog, a street dog whom Ravi used to always feed with his leftover food. I always carry a packet of biscuit with me and I gave him a small piece only not to follow me again like he does other days to my office. Mission accomplished!!!!

    After work, I was coming home and again that nasty dog followed me. I don’t know how to get rid of him. Just like his owner, Ravi. Irritating, stalker, abuser and blah blah blah.I think all the the bad characteristics that a person can have was in him and that’s why I….ooh ok … nothing.. it’s a secret😏.
    Even after all these days that dog can still smell his owner’s blood on my hands.
    Can you suggest me a way to get rid of it? I will be grateful to you then.

    Oh now you came to know about my secret. It’s ok to share with you readers. I hope you won’t tell this to anyone else 😉
     

    END

    Reply
    • April 26, 2021 at 11:39 pm
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      Prapti,

      Two takes. One: I like it. It’s a nice short sharp punch of a story with a clever reveal. A couple of minor mistakes, but nothing that took me out of the story.

      Take two:
      Too short

      I have a suggestion. (No, seriously.) The fulcrum of this story, the tipping point, is the blood that she can’t get off of her hands. If this story were re-written, (I’m sorry, it would probably have to be re-written) the blood and the dog become the focal point. It would be less film noir than nouveau Poe, but I wouldn’t complain about that.

      In any case, your secrets are safe on this site. See that lock in the address bar? Totally safe.

      Reply
      • April 28, 2021 at 11:23 am
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        Hi Prapti,

        There is definitely the basis of a really good story in here. I think that with a word limit of 1200 you can afford to have used more words to develop your theme. The universal theme of horrible man meets young woman is there but the confession at the end should be a warning to all such men.
        Luckily, dogs can’t talk.

        Kind regards,

        Ken Frape.

        Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 2:29 pm
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      Prapti, you are a new, young, and very promising writer, but don’t get caught up in author intrusion as in “Okay let me tell you about Ravi and Mr. Singh. You must be wondering who the hell are they!!”

      No, my dear, I am not, because I know as a writer you will soon be telling me. If you left out those two sentences the story makes exactly the same amount of sense without the author intrusion. You don’t need it at all.

      Then, at the end, you do it again. Drop the last four sentences and you have a wonderful ending. End it with ‘blood on my hands.’ and lengthen the story a bit. Then, you’ve got something. And, you’ve turned a good story into a great story. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite ‘noir’, but you’re in the neighborhood.

      And, don’t worry, like Ken, I won’t tell anyone you are a murderer.

      Roy

      Reply
  • April 24, 2021 at 3:14 am
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    Digging up dirt

    She had the kind of face that could slap you senseless, the kind that would stop you in your tracks and make you beg for mercy. But she was never going to be easy. I knew that and yet I let myself get sucked in. I just didn’t have the ability to say no to her.

    I wasn’t a rich man, or successful, and yet she chose me. Looking back, it was obvious she wanted the anonymity that came with hiring a schmutz like me, a nobody who she could chew up and spit out when she was finished. A loser who wouldn’t cause her any problems.

    It was a cold, miserable Tuesday morning when she first crossed my threshold, changing my life forever. Her arrival was announced by the whiff of menthol smoke that always accompanied her, a half-finished cigarette permanently protruding from her cherry red lips, teasing me with unspoken promises. As she stood in the doorway, shaking her umbrella and loosening her silky auburn hair, I couldn’t speak, my mouth as dry as the Sahara on the most arid of days.

    “Mr Watson?” she enquired, her Southern drawl making each letter sound like an invitation to join her in bed.

    “That’s me. How can I help you?” I wanted a witty response but couldn’t muster anything more than a feeble question.

    “I’ve got a problem which I think only you can help me with. I’ve heard you’re the best in the business.”

    I know deep down she was buttering me up, stroking my ego in the most shameless way possible but I didn’t care. It felt good to have someone make a fuss about me. I was living my life in black and white but here was a lady to add some colour.

    “Well, let me know what it is and I’ll see if I’m the right person.” I was treading the line between self-deprecating and unconvincing, but it didn’t seem to deter her. She just simply closed the door behind her and settled in to the second (or maybe third) hand Chesterfield I allowed my visitors to sit in.

    “There’s some dirt I need to get rid of and, well, we need to be delicate about it. I, um, I need it done quickly and without anyone else knowing.” She bowed her head apologetically, giving me the chance to really study her. Late-twenties, curvy in all the right places and, as she raised her head once more to look at me, sparkling green eyes that I could get lost in for months at a time. This dame sure knew how to cut a pose.

    “Well, I’m sure I can give this a go. It sounds like it could be a lot of work though.”

    “Oh my, that would be just fabulous. Here, let me give you the details and how about we say ten times your usual price plus expenses.” She knew she had me at this point and it didn’t matter what I tried to do to hide it.

    “So what is it? Husband?” I thought I was joking.

    “Why, yes it is. How did you know? Anyway, let’s not worry about that now. I just need you to go to the house first and uh, sort it out from there.”

    I should have turned away at this point. I prided myself on doing a good, honest job, but this sounded like it could be a bit dicey. The problem was it was all a bit too tempting. Maybe I should have listened to my inner voice a bit more, but the money was too much to turn down. A definite way to get a normal Joe like me in trouble.

    “I’ll be…well, I’ll be eternally gratefully to you if you can help me.” She uttered this last sentence breathily, breaking down any resistance I had to her request. I knew I would do it, I just needed to know what ‘it’ was.

    We went through all the details before she breezed out of my office, leaving her distinctive minty smell and a taste of despair in the air. I felt like I’d been hit by a ten-tonne truck but I needed to get out of there, to walk the streets and clear my mind. The fresh air did nothing though to dispel any lingering images of her, those emerald eyes clear in my dreams as I pounded the streets. I wasn’t sure if I should do what she wanted me to, but how could I turn her down?

    I ran through the plan in my head. Get in, sort it out, and leave again. I had the information in my office, ready for tomorrow’s execution, all the directions and details I would ever need. I was getting animated, a little excitement in my otherwise mundane life. I should have settled for a life in the slow lane, a life without unnecessary complications, but as I said, she’d sucked me in, and I was a goner from that point on.

    Getting in was going to be easy, but it was what we’d be faced with which really worried me. From the sound of it, this was gonna’ be a dirty job, a job that would stick with me for years to come. A job the like of which I would never do again.

    I called the team and briefed them, their astonishment hanging in the air like a fragile mosquito trap on a musty Florida evening. They knew it was going to be tough, but they were my guys, my team for moments like this.

    From the moment we entered her property I knew why she’d chosen me. It must have been one helluva party to leave a mess like this, ‘dirt’ being a massive understatement. My cleaning crew was going to get to work and I hoped one day I’d get one final chance to see this deadly bombshell.

    Reply
    • April 26, 2021 at 9:14 pm
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      Oh my God. This is outstanding, fabulous writing. So many brilliant lines and quips. I won’t say anything more to avoid spoiling it, but I’m just floored, Mike.

      Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 11:35 am
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      Hi Mike,

      Great story that should go really well with the voting. I had no idea where you were leading me and the end was a great surprise.

      Good stuff, Mike.

      Regards,
      Ken Frape

      Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 2:33 pm
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      Mike, Gotta admit, it was ‘noir’ with a twist and good writing, but along about the time he was debating whether or not to turn it down, I suspected a rat. At first I thought it was the classic ‘Birthday Party Surprise’ ending, but it wasn’t, just a bit of the aftermath.

      On the plus side, it was good noir, and the writing is excellent. Good Job.

      Roy

      Reply
  • April 24, 2021 at 3:16 am
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    Tried to edit this but it wouldn’t let me – last line should be ‘see this deadly bombshell’.

    Reply
    • April 24, 2021 at 8:21 am
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      Mike, the last line already says “see this deadly bombshell”. Do you need it to say something else?

      Reply
  • April 25, 2021 at 1:52 am
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    No, it looks like it edited correctly. Wasn’t showing up once I changed it yesterday but seems to have corrected it now – thanks.

    Reply
  • April 25, 2021 at 3:02 pm
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    Carrie,

    When I composed and posted my story, it was, as any ‘good’ film noir should be, arranged into five distinct blocks that clearly denoted the scene changes. Without those separators the dialogue runs together and the reader doesn’t know where a scene ends and the new one begins.

    It’s unacceptable.
    There is no edit function, so I can’t fix it myself.

    Please remove the story as it is posted and I will try re-posting the story with several and various different separators. If that doesn’t work, then I will post the story in four (or five) DISTINCT separate posts, each carefully labeled, titled, denoted, bonded and insured. If that doesn’t work, I’ll be forced to resort to more drastic means. Like showing up at your house, (In a tuxedo, of course.) …and using your computer, (assuming you have one) and posting it myself. (Then we have a drink, maybe one of those Minnesota Pickle sandwiches you claim are so great, and then send me on my way. This is all extremely impractical and highly unlikely I know, but I am, after all, I believe, a fiction writer. Which means, it should sound believable no matter how improbable.) I have no doubt that your mixed-breed pit-bull/Doberman will be eagerly awaiting my arrival. (He has three heads and makes me guess his name, I’ll bet.)

    “Hitler?”

    “You have two guesses left.”

    “Pythagorus?”

    “You have one guess left.” (Snarl, drool.)

    “Oh fuck. Just eat me.”

    “That is correct. Come on in. Can I get you something to drink?”

    We can avoid all of this unnecessary travel Carrie, if you’ll just delete the story as posted.

    Thanks,
    Ken

    Reply
    • April 25, 2021 at 4:01 pm
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      OMG you’re so dramatic. 🤣

      The requested task has been completed…..

      And for the record, I have cats. And like my horse they are jet black and never declawed……. 🤣

      #EnterAtYourOwnRisk

      Reply
      • April 26, 2021 at 2:49 pm
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        Carrie,

        No kidding. I’m dramatic? Well I’ll be a reptilian scalliwag with beer foam on his fribiloids. Foiyk, I didn’t think it was that obvious.

        Reply
  • April 26, 2021 at 10:06 am
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    The Gal on the Train.

    Originally posted in response to The Train prompt in 2019 but it fits The Noir prompt so much better.

    By Ken Frape.

    She had the kinda face and figure that launched a thousand ships and make innocent guys do stupid things. The way she swung those hips woulda created her own waves as she sashayed down the aisle of the ol’ Canadian Pacific Steam Loco 8472 heading out of Jasper. Silky, honey-blond tresses trailed down her slender neck and then took a detour over her bare shoulder, reluctant to cover even one inch of her curvaceous decolletage.

    As she wafted past I caught a nose full of her scent and for the first time since I was a kid I kinda understood that ol’ Bisto gravy ad. But this gal sure wasn’t advertising gravy.

    By spreading their shoulders nice and wide, every guy in an aisle seat tried to make contact with those silky hips in that tight red dress as she slid past like a liner slipping her moorings. There was a big guy standing at the far end, all muscle and Marlboros, cowboy hat tipped back, feet akimbo inside dusty cowboy boots. He had gotten on kinda late and missed the kerfuffle for seats but he didn’t seem to mind as he leaned back against carriage wall, smoke curling lazily from his smoke. Now he found himself in the prime position as she progressed towards him, closing the gap real slow. As she passed each seat a head would appear behind her, each pair of eyes checking out those two- pups- in- a- bag and silk sheathed calves. The big guy looked like he was packing a pistol in his tight cowboy pants and he could have picked each one of us off like targets at a duck shoot at the county fair.

    The gal gradually closed the gap and her progress became real slow as she made to open her silk bag. Even before she had time to slip her gloved hand in, the stranger’s smokes appeared from nowhere and he tapped one free for her. She caressed the cigarette between her slender fingers and slid her pink tongue across her reddened lips and moistened them in anticipation. They glistened like the cherries on an ice cream sundae. She gave the guy the kinda smile that said “I’m real grateful” and maybe a whole lot more besides. She tipped her head up and they fixed their eyes on each other like hogs in season as the guy leaned towards her and fired up his Zippo. She rested her hand lightly on his forearm then took a long pull on the lighted smoke. She puffed a perfect ring towards the ceiling and then half turned towards her waiting audience, who let out their breath too, only it sounded kinda like a collective sigh. The gal smoothed her dress down across those rounded hips and almost took out the eye of the nearest guy as she thrust her Playtex – pointed breasts forward in a way that your grandma wouldn’t approve of. It was a price any guy on that train woulda been happy to pay.

    The train chugged around a sharp bend and the gal nearly went with it. The guy slipped his hand around her waist and pulled her towards him. Long after she was back on an even keel he kept his hand there. She slipped her hand onto his shoulder, her breast pressed hard against his chest. If they’d got any closer a fire woulda broken out and we could smell the smoulder from our seats. They looked like they should get a room. They looked like they wanted to. I guess we all did. I know I did.

    They stayed up close and personal for just too long for comfort, ours not theirs and there was a collective adjustment of men’s pants as she stood there pouring smoke into the air and moving those hips oh so gently from side to side against his leg in time with the movements of the train on the track. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack. Oh yeah, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

    She finished her smoke as the train slid into Green Valley station. The slowing down threw her hips up against his and that final jolt pulled them apart. He slipped the catch on the door and she oiled her way smoothly towards it. The guy stepped ahead of her and down the wooden steps. He waited and held out his hand and she took it, carefully stepping down from the train onto the trackside. She came down those steps backwards and gave that guy the kinda view we’d all have paid a week’s wages for.

    He slipped back up the steps and closed the carriage door, his eyes never leaving hers. Their hips may have parted but their minds were still smoking in time. She had a curious look on her face, her mouth curling at the corners. The guy could read the signals as he mouthed a kiss and blew it her way. I could swear we all saw it land on her pretty pink cheek.

    The train slipped away from the halt. Every eye stayed with that gal until we cricked our necks too far. Then we all breathed again. The guy opposite me looked kinda embarrassed and his wife gave him a look that said a lot and none of it good.

    “That’s a wrap” shouted the director on the trackside through his megaphone. “Marilyn, you were wonderful. And you, Mitch.“
    Marilyn Monroe waved back at the train as we all applauded from the open windows. “Oh, thanks guys” she said. “You’re not so bad yourselves!”

    Her laugh was like a mountain stream, smooth and cool.

    We all just love that gal!
    ………………………………
    Author’s note: This film, “The River of no Return” was filmed in Jasper, Canada in 1953 and featured Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum. My words describe a scene from the film with my own artistic interpretation.

    Reply
    • April 26, 2021 at 10:39 am
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      Ken- the staccato beats of your sentences was perfect noir. Great piece of writing!

      Reply
    • April 27, 2021 at 12:12 pm
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      Ken, (Your Royal Frapeness, sir.)

      You know I’m not one to mince words. I disagree with Trish.

      I don’t know when you wrote this, and you may be fond of it for sentimental reasons. But speaking as a reader, an editor and a definite and confirmed fan of yours, you write much better than this now. This is not IMO particularly noir-y, noir-ist, or noir-ee. It’s more ‘Hollywood selling sex to post-war America,’ than film noire.

      I was really looking forward to an original Frape noire. I think we all want an original Frape noire. ‘Don’t we, people?’
      ‘Original Frape noire. Original Frape noire. Original… Come on. Who’s with me on this?’
      Original Frape noire. Original Frape noire. (Come on, everyone, don’t make me look dramatic in front of Carrie, I hate that.) Original Frape noire. Original Frape noire. (All together now.) Original Frape noire.

      Hear that? (Use your imagination.) I hear it. I can see heads nodding in agreement. Please don’t disappoint us Ken. (Look, I even used the word ‘please.’ When has that ever happened here before?) Original Frape noire. Original Frape noire.

      Come on, Ken. Start with a note on the kitchen table, she brings it to a private eye. What does the note say, Ken? Get off your butt, wait, that’s not right. Get back on your butt and write us a noire story, Ken. This simply won’t do. Not from you. Not the way you write, mister.

      Reply
      • April 27, 2021 at 6:16 pm
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        Hi Ken C,

        We seemed to have missed each other lately and now you’re back with a blast. Mind you, and I can’t always say this, I think you are mostly right in your comments. I do write better stuff than this but I don’t read Noir genre and, in fact, in reading the other stories posted this time round, I have just read more Noir than I ever have before. I don’t really know how to write this stuff and that’s why I reposted The Gal on the Train. I’m not especially attached to her and that’s why I have tried to get rid of her twice. It just seemed to fit the prompt and my creative cupboard was bare, so bare in fact that the mice have died of crumb starvation or moved to another, more crumby county.

        Don’t hold your breath for a another entry from me on this prompt. My task tomorrow will be to reread all of the (admittedly) better Noir entries and to comment and vote. I don’t have a kitchen table to sit at to even get started on something better.

        I might take issue with you regarding my piece being more about Hollywood selling sex to post-war America. The Gal on the Train was certainly Hollywood but if you look for sex in most of the other stories in our group, there is a lot of it mostly involving a curvaceous dame, with puppies in abundance and smokin’ hot lips. Anyway, I can’t pursue this line of argument as I am out of my comfort zone with Noir ( with or without an E.)

        I do hate to disappoint so watch out for my further literary efforts in the future. We must continue to strive for a Kens 123 placing so I will need to be back on top form because I want to be Ken 1 in that scenario.

        Kind regards,

        Ken F

        Reply
        • April 28, 2021 at 11:25 am
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          Hi back Mr. Frape,

          Well, I was disappointed at not seeing a story from you. I didn’t realize it was so late in the contest when I posted my plea for a story from you. And clearly, I know so little about film noir, that I don’t even know how to properly spell it with any consistency, (apparently). I really felt like this would be a kind of noir amateur hour, but a lot of the stories are really good examples of the genre. I was discussing this with my mother yesterday, and we agreed that we’re not film noir fans, but (as was once famously uttered) ‘we know it when we see it.’

          I know the feeling of a bare cupboard and experienced that a few weeks ago, and again on my own prompt. I opened my mind and my laptop and nothing was forthcoming. Having no real knowledge of film noir, I studied up on this genre for about an hour and a half, an admittedly rudimentary primer by any standard, but from that information was able to find a starting point, ‘an unhappily married bombshell’ and went with it.

          After writing my story in its entirety, I was surprised to learn that brake fluid smells like fish oil. (Who on earth would know such a thing?) I wanted to work that into my story after the fact, but it just wouldn’t go without deforming the story around it. It was an interesting and fortunate factoid, but not necessary to the plot, so I left it out.

          As for Marilyn and Mitchum, I’m afraid my prejudices may have effected my comments, (but not my judgement of your talent or skill.) Mitchum was a very gifted actor in my opinion, Marilyn, by contrast, was more of a victim of her own sensuality. That makes them both very interesting characters in reality.

          There seems to have been an extreme fall of of participation on my return to the thread, as diabolical as that makes me feel, I think the site is suffering from something more serious than my simulated dramatics. (Which are intended to amuse and stimulate interest, not drive away participants.)

          I’ve been eagerly awaiting Mr. ‘Rumplefinkies story too, but it hasn’t posted yet. Seems to be a dearth of stories, and comments.

          I sure hope you come up with something for the next prompt, Ken.

          Sincerely.

          Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 2:37 pm
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      Ken Ff., Again, this was excellent writing. Really excellent. But it ain’t ‘noir’, dang it. Howsomever, well see how the voting goes. I could be surprised. Because it’s a great story, even if you rewrote a movie.

      Roy

      Reply
    • April 29, 2021 at 11:07 am
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      Hi Ken,

      You did it once again, Ken! Exposition can be boring, most times, especially lengthy exposition. But not in your hands. You bring every scene in this story to life, painting it in words. I’ve said this before about your style of writing (the convent, the Victorian puddle, the warfront…), but here you exceed yourself! There is underlying erotica here, never leaving us throughout the whole piece, yet never descending to the level of vulgarity – which is a tricky balance to hold on to. Yet you hold on to it, and brilliantly so. The ending is interesting, a bit of an “oh, so that’s what it was”, but it didn’t disillusion me. I don’t personally like Marilyn Monroe, but you improve her considerably in your talented hands, Ken!

      Now, I know this may be diametrically opposite to what the other Ken has had to tell you. And I don’t know if it’s noir or not-so-noir; I know I like it!

      I wasn’t here yet when the Train Prompt you mentioned appeared, so this was my first go at this story.

      I hope Janice and you have fared well with Astra-Zeneca… So the pandemic Anno Horribilis is over for you two 🙂

      Cheers!
      Ken

      Reply
  • April 26, 2021 at 3:04 pm
    Permalink

    Speaking of dramatic? Here are everyone’s belated, (but no less entertaining) Critiques on ‘Car on the Roof’ prompt.

    Hello friends, enemies, strangers, earthlings, goats, Ukrainians, et al.

    Feel free to scroll down to your own specific abusive critique if you wish to avoid all the intervening abusive critiques on the way there. ‘sup to you’s all.

    I had limited access to the Internets last week or so, therefore, I was not privy to any of the comments on the site until now. (Yesterday.)

    Miles: Congrats on the win. Definitely one of the best stories in the competition. (Last week.) I thought my story was slightly better, but it’s hard for me to be objective when I’m so fond of you. (But I predict your ‘Three Mustachio’s’ will go nowhere, as it should.) You’ve been writing some excellent stories lately and it’s nice to see one finally squeak its way into the top spot. (How’s that for a left-handed compliment?) It got my first-place vote, that’s for sure. But I don’t think this is one of your best stories. A change of pace for you. Nothing like your usual depraved blood-drinking south-American priest, Wolfman for dinner fare, or Inspector Vasinder Floss stories.

    But it’s a sweet, gentle story, handled with your usual skill and vitality. And thanks for the comments on my story. Much appreciated, Ken.

    Robt.

    Phil’s comment added some clarity, but I understood the gist of events and who got ‘gisted’ without difficulty. The dialogue and characters are great, though there were a few errors in the presentation, like how removing a roof from a car, equates with putting a car on a roof. The explanation hinted at a very clever take on the story, but I don’t feel like you quite pulled it off entirely.

    Kirstennairn:
    The dialogue is great. Lean, crisp, believable. But for all of that, I suppose we’re to assume that Rupert (no relation to Rufus) got the car on the roof by sheer muscle, and with some prodding can get it back down in the same fashion. A bit of a stretch, but… at least the zoning board and the character’s neighbors weren’t involved.

    Yours is one of the few stories that actually reveals how the car got on the roof in the first place, as you yourself even commented on.

    In response to your comment on my story, the word count was less than 800 words. So I could afford to waste a few if I wanted. But more importantly, as per the title of the story, ‘K.I.S.S.’, twelve step programs are rife with simple phrases and slogans, ‘One Day At A Time’ is another of these, and the one that inspired Dave for the methodology of raising the car to the roof.

    The allusion to her ‘sister’s problems’ without any detail, explains why his wife left town for ten days without taking him along. It was not a misplaced brick in my masonry, it was a peephole into his wife’s background as well as a literary device.

    Nevertheless, I appreciate your reading it and commenting.

    Hi Phil, thanks for your comments on my story.

    Ask me anything you want about Genghis Khan, but I know very little about Napoleon. I’m a big fan of Sherlock, (but no expert, I confess.) But I have a picture of me, Kim and Dr. Watson in their study on Baker Street, with me smoking Mr. Holmes’ famous pipe. I even have a tie with his name printed all over it. (I’m not making this up. I’m a cornball, what can I say?) We would have stopped in at Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, but the line stretched around the corner and down the block. Can you believe that? It was easier to sit in Sherlock’s study than to get into the Wax Museum?

    So, this is a story that I felt like I should have enjoyed but was too confused from the get-go to really appreciate it. As you know, I think your penchant for subtlety sometimes bites me in the ass. As clever as the dialogue is, I was hopelessly lost as to who these people really might have been. (Side note: I just came across a news item that claims that the actual owner of Sherlock Holmes’ fictional apartment cannot, at present, be determined with any certainty.)

    Over here in the states, we don’t have many designated ‘asylums’ anymore, as such, as you can tell whenever you get news about our country. We only lock up those who are a danger to themselves. People who are dangerous to others are given a driver’s license, a gun and a ride to the nearest shopping mall. (Or they run for political office.)

    To get back to your story: This is what I call, ‘The lighter side of Phil Town.’ Two schizophrenics having lunch in a nut-house. (I would respectfully withdraw my gentleman’s picnic invitation, but am afraid to do so now.)

    Seriously, it was kind of light-hearted, wasn’t it?

    I think, as Ken Miles suggested, the idea of two famous historical figures, (or more) meeting and talking somehow, is an extremely alluring temptation. But you need time travel, a warp or a wormhole. I was thinking what would it be like if I, or you, or Robert accidentally drove through a wormhole in a brand new car and somehow wound up in the late 1940’s or early 50’s. How would that work out until the authorities came? Even to people who lived in my lifetime, cell phones, cars with sensors, LED’s, automatic tinting sunglasses. Even the money has changed since then. You’d try to pay for a meal and your cash hasn’t even been printed yet. You’d have to have relatives, and some way to prove, without a doubt who you really are. It would be wild. Might make a good prompt. (Or an evil one.) Either way, sure would be interesting. (To me.)

    Mike Rymarz

    This is a fun, fast moving story that could be a little tighter, but it still works. The fact that it is slightly unbelievable sets up the reveal perfectly. I was wondering just how fantastic the driver was, and then the mother calls them down for dinner. Took me totally by surprise. If I may answer Roy for you. ‘I’m a little more familiar with video games than he is and, yes, in a video game, even a somewhat realistic one, cars can fly over palm trees. Heck, Evil Knievel flew over 18 cars or something once on a motorcycle. So I thought the narrator was exaggerating about the action but in fact he was describing a video game. I thought it was very clever…

    One suggestion, if they were on top of a train, going 100 mph, that would make them pretty hard to catch already. Why get off? Unless, the train was heading in the wrong direction, taking them away from their hide-out, or better yet, out of their territory, or turf. This is merely to support the illusion. In GTA, you don’t need a reason to launch your car over a palm tree. You just do it for fun.

    Marien,
    A fun, action packed story. Great title. Totally believable and of course, you always manage to inject a little wisdom or moral into the story.

    Roy,

    Saved you for last. Your comments about the neighbors and property values was not as important a consideration, but for the fact that I wasn’t clear about which roof the car was on. That certainly is. And I considered it at the time of writing and before posting. Just couldn’t figure out a way to work it in to the story smoothly and properly at the time. I was well under the word limit, felt like I met the prompt requirements, my wife, girlfriend, mistress and mom enjoyed it. (That’s two people, not one, wise ass.) And with the limited online availability I was subject to, I posted it as is. Also, I didn’t even find out about that prompt until the 17th. So I only had a few days to create it, edit it and post it.

    When I read your comments about it after the fact, I guess it was easier to come up with a quick, glib sounding solution than it was when I was writing it. But it’s a good catch Roy. That was the key, on the front of his house, it becomes a bigger problem, but on the garage or workshop, often behind or beside a house, the problem of a car on the roof is not so egregious. But with all the room I had for extra words, if not for the connection problem, and the limited time I had to create the story, I would have held the story back until I’d solved it.

    That was also the reason for the brevity in my response. Picture me sitting in my car, which is running, logged on to the wi-fi of an empty diner, in the middle of nowhere, the temperature is hovering around 40 degrees, it’s getting dark, it’s raining, I have to take the ‘Betsy’s Fatal Pass’ highway over the mountain to get back to my cabin, but I was determined to respond to your comment, Roy.

    I appreciate your comments as I know you don’t pull your punches with me. And I’m as tough and ugly as ‘weatherbeaten’ bilge scum anyway, so, you know, I can take it.

    Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 8:52 pm
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      I understand Mr C. I try not to pull my punches, and appreciate when others don’t. Call ‘em like you see ‘em. But, gently if possible. Nice to see you’re so dedicated. This site is one of the highlights of my life and I’m glad you’re on it, along with a few others I can name. Stay safe.

      Rpy

      Reply
    • April 29, 2021 at 11:42 am
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      Thanks for the compliments (the left-handed one too), Ken (Cartisano).

      The vox-populi generally seems to favor the “sweet, gentle stories” fare to the depraved ones you sited… It’s not a perfect world, and we know it, Ken. How would the voters prefer this gentle, elderly lady over a blood-drinking Nazi priest who extends his life in the most creative of ways in the Bolivian jungle? (I had placed last with that story, if memory serves me well). Something is wrong with people. But you, for one, do seem to have a grip on things.

      Between you and I, the original ending for “The Jag on the Roof” story was as follows:

      “That was it. Everyone has a breaking point. Nelly gave Leslie’s wheelchair a good push, the hardest her arthritic hands could muster. The wheelchair danced down the paved path towards the beach, jostling up and down on the uneven tiles. It finally landed on the roof of the ice-cream kiosk below and got stuck up there. By then, Leslie wasn’t screaming anymore.”

      I don’t know what got to me. I changed it. Yes, I know I had done that with Sergeant Wolfgang, the flosser. And you beat me up for it. But then I let it all out again with the mustachios (“mustachiers” for musketeers)… I bet I’ll place last again with that one…

      Now don’t tell anyone about any of this…

      Ken

      Reply
      • April 30, 2021 at 12:01 pm
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        Ken (Miles),

        As you might have guessed, I loved the original ending of Jag on the Roof, much more than what you posted. (Which I can’t even remember now.) I have a name for this effect, it’s a kind of literary alchemy that turns crystalline shards into finely ground saccharine. The effect is not universal but does seem to thrive in some isolated protected environments. It’s like mold, not especially virulent, just a nuisance that, in general, one would do best to avoid.

        I’ll be in touch, Brother Miles. Keep up the good work.

        Cheers, Meng.

        K.C.

        Reply
  • April 26, 2021 at 4:01 pm
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    The Jilted Babe Caper
    by Robt. Emmett

    Chapter 15
    July 18, 1983
    9:03 a.m.

    I’d all the windows open in my tiny corner office in West Des Moines, both of them. The one-room affair had just enough space for a small desk, a pair of client chairs, and a file cabinet with a coffeepot on top. The window behind my desk, which was painted shut, ran kitty-wampus to Maple Street or 5th Street. Kitty-wampus is an engineering term meaning 45 degrees, I think. The windows, the one facing 5th and the other fronting Maple, had fans. One fan to blow in and the other to blow out. But it didn’t help all that much; the building was a heat magnet. It was already 81 degrees and projected to hit 103 by noon. I’d almost finished reading the comics in the Monday edition of the West Des Moines Register, all six of them. The soft knock on my door interrupted me. The blue lettered chipped enamel sign said, WALK IN. The diminutive shadow on the semi-transparent glass in the door hesitated.
    “Come in,” I shouted. I needed to get a pair of quieter fans. Hesitantly stepping across the threshold, she gave the office a quick glance. I gave her a quick glance. Then a second, she definitely deserved a second glance. The brown linen pants, a matching jacket, beige high-heeled sandals, and a sleeveless tan see-through silk chemise hadn’t been purchased in Des Moines. She resembled a young Ingrid Bergman.
    “I need your help.” She sniffled into a real Irish linen handkerchief. “It’s my husband.”
    “Please explain.”
    According to her, her husband was a very prominent lawyer in Des Moines. He had a drop-dead knockout of a secretary. The kicker, he worked late every Tuesday evening. She wanted to find out if he and she were having an affair.
    A one-day job, better yet, make that a three-evening job. I’d take a page out of the Being an Attorney for Fun and Profit handbook and double. Nah, triple my one hundred a day fee. I didn’t have the heart to add, “and expenses.”
    Her eyes were puffy and red.
    “An a hundred a day for expenses.”
    “Is a check…?”
    “Cash.” I’d be paid. However, Uncle Sam and the governor wouldn’t. Sucks being them. She took two dozen fifties from her small purse and handed them to me. She started sobbing, and it wasn’t about the money. She wiped her nose and sighed.
    My guess… she still loved her cheating hubby.
    Damn, I hate it when I have to tell delicate women they’re married to a two-timing bastard. “For now, I need you to give me as much information about your husband as you can. A picture will be a big help if you have one.” She slid it across my desk. He was a handsome-looking dude, a real chick magnet. “You wouldn’t happen to have a photo of the secretary, would you?” She did. She slid it across to me.
    I looked. Holy Crapoly! I shouldn’t have drooled, but I did.
    Her quiet sobbing snapped my dirty mind back to reality. “I love him,” she said, “ and I don’t want to lose him.” She wiped her nose with her hanky. Her voice darkened, “But if he’s bonking the bitch, I want pictures of them doing it. Lots of pictures.” Composed, she stood, smiled at me. “When will you start?”
    The fifties went into my desk drawer. “As of right now. Meet me back here on Wednesday afternoon, say at three o’clock.” I walked her to the door.
    ~*~

    Tuesday afternoon, the temperature had blown the red stuff out of my thermometer, and I knew the humidity was over one hundred percent. A typical Des Moines summer day.
    With the air conditioner on high, I parked in a loading zone near the YWCA, on the shady side of Grand Avenue. It’s a very distracting location. Too many young women heading into the Y for their after-hours exercise workout. Spandex, what a wonderful invention. The entrance to Mister Cheater’s office building was in the middle of the next block, West of 8th Street. I waited for him to come out so I could follow him to his love nest.
    Mister Cheater’s medium blue Buick Skylark with a powder blue vinyl roof stopped in front of the entrance to his office just as he came out at precisely five-thirty. The secretary was driving. He walked to the Skylark and held the door. She stepped out. Miss Holy Crapoly! Had a body to die for. The photograph did her a gross injustice. I waited for him to kiss her. He didn’t. She walked down the street to the parking ramp. Unfortunately, I had to follow him, at a discreet distance, of course. The heavy homeward-bound traffic worked for me. At SW 63rd, he turned south and entered West Des Moines. A few minutes later, he turned right onto 5th Street. Four intersections later, he parked his Buick in front of the Stationery Store next to my office building. I took a picture of him as he entered Chuck’s Tavern, my watering hole. It’s the only place I know that still serving quarter a glass beer. It’s all I can afford. The camera went into the back seat. I locked my car.
    At the bar, I saw him stop to chat with the bartender, Toby, who owned the place. Toby thumbed over his shoulder to the dark corridor leading to the back room. Then he noticed me and motioned to the stool at the end of the bar. He set my glass on a napkin as I planked my ass on the frayed Naugahyde stool. We chatted.
    Halfway through my second beer, I asked him about the man I’d followed in his bar. Toby said he was a regular at the Tuesday night poker game in the back room. He told me the guy was a lawyer and had started out in the office I now occupied. He worked hard, married right, moved to the big city, and had a house in the burbs somewhere.
    Out of habit, I nursed my second beer.

    I drained the warm beer from my third glass as a happy, smiling Mister Cheater strolled past and said, “A very profitable evening, Toby.” He handed the bar owner a five. “See you next week.”
    I followed him as he drove away. Ten minutes later, he turned into 9317 Lincoln Avenue in Clive. It’s one of the affluent burbs of Des Moines. The garage door of the red brick barn-shaped home opened, and he drove in. The place was worth north of a coupla hundred grand.
    It had been a trifecta kinda evening. Mister Cheater wasn’t cheating on his gorgeous wife, his poker night with the boys had made him a winner, and I had money to pay some of my bills.
    Crossing back into West Des Moines, I thought about his secretary, Holy Crapoly. I wondered if she was seeing anyone. Ruminating on that thought brought a smile to my face. I felt warm. Because of a babe who wouldn’t give me a second glance? No, the car’s air conditioner stopped working.
    – ※ –

    Reply
    • April 26, 2021 at 8:45 pm
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      Excellent Noir, Mr. Emmett. I would make two minor changes. Start a new paragraph at ‘Unfortunately I had to follow him…’ and make it clear that ‘Mr. Cheater’ gets back into his car after dropping off Miss Holy Crapoly. Still, an excellent noir.

      Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 12:11 pm
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      Hi Robt.,

      A great story this one with several memorable lines and a great description of the secretary, Miss Holy Crapoly.
      I like the basis of the story and the down-at-heel private detective. It’s all very much on the prompt.

      I spent a little time reading and then rereading the first paragraph. Too much detail that slowed down getting into it. Also, it seems that one of the two windows was painted shut but both were open?

      Definitely a contender, Robert.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape.

      Reply
      • April 28, 2021 at 6:58 pm
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        Ken Frape,
        “The window behind my desk, which was painted shut, ran kitty-wampus to Maple Street or 5th Street. Kitty-wampus is an engineering term meaning 45 degrees, I think. The windows, the one facing 5th and the other fronting Maple, had fans. One fan to blow in and the other to blow out.”

        Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 2:41 pm
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      Well done, Robert. Great start, nice middle, good ending. Good ‘noir’, but then, you and I are the age to appreciate ‘noir’. I’m a big fan of the genre and found it fairly easy to emulate, and it looks like you did, too. Good job and you are definitely in the running for the top spots.

      Roy

      Reply
      • April 28, 2021 at 6:59 pm
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        Roy your great story is of the noir era, but then, as you say, so are we.
        After school, instead of doing homework, I’d take a Damon Runyon novel or an Argosy magazine from dad’s bed side table. I thought I was great at the seek and peek. Then one day the paper bookmark said, “Rob, read your own books.”

        Reply
  • April 26, 2021 at 8:18 pm
    Permalink

    The Road To Candy Bar.
    1190 Total Woids.
    K. Cartisano
    ©4/26/21

    Fannie was drop dead gorgeous; some would say irresistible, stuck in a loveless marriage with Carlton Milan, a wealthy aristocrat more than twice her age. But wealthy doesn’t fully do him justice. He had his driver stop the car in the middle of a one-way street so she could get a candy bar from the grocery stand while a dozen drivers honked and swore.

    One of those drivers was Zane Toffer, sitting in the car right behind them. His breath caught as Fannie Milan’s legs emerged from the vehicle, followed by her perfectly formed derriere, and then she turned and faced him as she got out: The full Fannie.

    He was impressed, but steamed. Who would act with such disregard for the rights of ordinary men, men just like him, Zane Toffer? He left his car running and followed Fannie into the grocers. The place was deserted but for the two of them.

    They looked each other up and down, and it was obvious that they both liked what they saw.

    Zane broke the ice, “So, where’s the idiot grocer, sugar plum?”

    She rolled her eyes, tossed her head. “He ran into the back room looking for candles.”

    “Yeah? Whataya need candles for, you goin’ to a funeral?”

    “I wish,” she purred, “I was looking for a candy bar.”

    Zane said, “What kind?”

    “A Million Dollar Bar, what else.”

    He leaned in front of her and plucked one off the rack, then presented it as one would a flower. He flipped a ten dollar note on the counter. She accepted the bar with one hand, and slowly peeled the wrapper off and raised it to her parted lips. Zane was glued to the spot, held in the grip of his own lust.

    She lowered the bar, looked at the bill on the counter and said, “You’re a mighty big spender, ain’t cha mister…?”

    “The name’s Toffer, but you can call me Zane, ma’am, and I’d spend everything I had on a dame like you.”

    She smiled, raised the bar and wrapped her glistening red lips around its lumpy girth, bared her teeth and bit it in two, chewing slowly, like it was made of taffy. She tilted her head at the cash lying on the counter and said, “I think you just did,” then strolled past him so closely, one of her hips almost brushed against his faltering manhood. She paused at the door, “If you ever need some extra side work, Mr. Toffer,” she then produced a card and flicked it in his direction, “call me,” she said, as it spun to a stop at his feet.

    When he returned to his car, a cop had one foot on his fender writing up the ticket, while the tow-truck operator ignored him completely.

    ()

    “What happened?” She said.

    “It was no accident, Mrs. Milan. Someone tampered with the steering, loosened a few nuts maybe, and over she went. The car plunged off the skyline drive and tumbled more than a thousand feet before exploding.”

    “Oh my word. What happened to the driver? Was he…”

    “Then it rolled and fell an additional 500 feet before hitting the water and sinking into the Pacific.”

    “So—is he…”

    “Yes ma’am, your husband’s dead.”

    “And the driver?”

    Detective Morton raised both eyebrows in surprise. “Yes ma’am, he’s dead too.”

    When she exhaled he realized she’d been holding her breath. “Did you have some special relationship with the driver, Mrs. Milan?”

    “Oh, uh, no,” she said, with her hand poised coyly over her lips. “But he was such a nice man. What a shame.”

    “Yeah,” Morton said, “a real shame, ma’am.” He was sweating profusely in the cool morning air and loosened his short, fat, tie. “I’m gonna have to insist that you stay in town until we wrap up the investigation, ma’am. It’s just a formality.”

    “Anything you say, Detective Marlboro.”

    “Right. It’s Morton ma’am, Detective Morton,” as he handed her his card. “If you think of anything else…”

    “Oh I will, Detective Merlot. I most certainly will.”

    “…call me.” He finished, then tipped his hat and left her standing there.

    ()

    “Concern for her limo driver? You don’t find that suspicious, Morton?”

    “Sure, Chief, but it ain’t likely that she cut the brake lines herself.”

    “Did you mention the brakes to Mrs. Milan?”

    “It slipped my mind, Chief.”

    “Maybe she’s got an accomplice. Put a tail on her 24 hours a day. If she pops a button on her blouse, I wanna know about it.”

    “Don’t we all,” Morton mumbled as he left.

    ()

    They met in an all-night diner on the seedy side of town. Its short-circuited neon sign blinked on and off in a kind of random Morse code.

    She dropped his offering into a waste bin, lit up a fag and studied him coldly.

    “What’s the rub, Fannie? I thought you liked candy.”

    “Expensive candy, not that cheap crunchy crap. What do you want, anyway? I told you I was busy.”

    “I did what you asked. I thought…”

    “You think too much, or not enough. If they connect me with you, or you with the driver, or the driver with the mechanic and the salesman and his girlfriend, you won’t know what hit you. It’s getting too complicated, Zane.”

    Zane was baffled. “What mechanic? And who’s the salesman, and what’s so complicated?”

    “Forget it, Zane. I told you, if you wanna get away with murder, you can’t leave any loose ends. But I thought you were writing a book, or a short story. I didn’t think you’d really go through with it…” At this point the waterworks started.

    “Murder? Book? What are you talking about? You said to call you if I wanted some side work.”

    “Oh yeah, sure, you wanted some side work all right. You wouldn’t take no for an answer, you animal. What are those stains on your shirt, if not brake fluid, Zane? You think I don’t know what it smells like?” She leapt to her feet. “Get away from me you filthy, disgusting dog. You murdered my husband. Officers! Officers! Arrest this man.”

    Sure enough, several plain clothes officers materialized and surrounded them. Roughly putting the cuffs on Zane Toffer as Detective Morton grasped Mrs. Milan by the upper arm and led her outside.

    Fannie recovered quickly once outside the diner. “I hope you throw the book at that bastard.” She dabbed at her eyes with a scented handkerchief.

    “Yes ma’am, that’s between him and the judge, who I’ve been told is very tough on scofflaws who park their cars in the street. But you’ll be lucky if you get life in the big house.”

    ()

    The Chief was pleased with the outcome and offered Morton a smoke. “Pretty slick trick, Morton, dousing Zane with brake fluid before their meeting. No self-respecting dame would know what brake fluid smelled like unless she’d cut those brake lines herself.”

    “That’s what I figured too, Chief.”

    Mrs. Milan was not so lucky, it turned out. Two years and three appeals later, Fannie’s ass was lethally gassed.

    Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 6:28 am
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      Mr. Cartisano, if you insist on using my “Skyline Drive,” please capitalize it.

      Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 2:51 pm
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      Ken, A detective story for sure, but I’m not so sure it’s noir. That seems to be a running fact in a few of the stories this month. I see you used () for your spacers, and I have been having trouble with that too, but I think if we all just said something like, … later … or … three days later … or whatever as to the passing of time or scene that would work just as well.

      Otherwise, I liked the story and I liked your twist. And, your last line was total comic relief.

      Reply
      • April 28, 2021 at 10:48 pm
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        Roy, I’ll be straight with you. Using parentheses for spacers, on a writing site, is idiotic. It’s like bringing a microscope to an astronomy class, or holding a swimming lesson in the middle of the desert. It’s like someone handing you a map with no index. Now, if we had an index, we could use that to quickly achieve the effects we were trying to create. I refer you to Philip’s repeated attempts to post his story in the style and form that he intended. I had a similar problem. The idea that you would suggest that I adjust my writing to accommodate the peculiarities of the site is, well, it leaves me without a respectable response.

        Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 5:45 pm
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      Hi Ken C,

      OK, OK, so I am beginning to get Noir(e) at last. Good story of yours that took me a while to work out but I think I got there in the end. The full Fannie! Ha, that’s a great line that means something different here in the UK where fanny is an alternative word for vagina. Two pups or puppies is all about the notion of two puppies ( dogs) wriggling around inside a bag looking like a female bottom in a dress / skirt / other item of clothing (* delete or remove as appropriate).

      Enough of this literary banter. i am just collecting a few items together so that i can write my own noir story.

      Bottle of half decent whisky TICK

      Sweat stained trilby TICK

      Pack of Marlboro ciggies TICK

      Down at heel shoes TICK

      Right Janice ( wife) RELEASE THE PUPPIES!!!

      Ken F

      Janice said that would cost me $250 a day ( plus expenses) so I guess it’s not gonna happen.

      Reply
      • April 28, 2021 at 6:56 pm
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        Ken, here is the outline I used.
        11 Elements of Writing Noir
        1. The outsider:
        2. No Heroes:
        3. Fatalism and Nihilism:
        4. The Femme Fatale:
        5. Creatures of the Night:
        6. First-person:
        7. The Mystery:
        8. City Streets:
        9. Broken Noses:
        10. City Streets:
        11. Pared Back Prose:

        Reply
      • April 28, 2021 at 11:08 pm
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        Ken F.

        Well I’ll be a son of a gun. Over here, Fannie is either a woman’s actual name. Like Scrooge’s sister in ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Or a kid friendly word for butt. I was using it simply as a name, ignoring the kid-friendly connotation. I had no idea the word had any such vulgar usage.

        Christ, writing for you English is a fucking pain in the ass. (But worth it, so well worth it.)

        Thanks Ken, for telling me, at least. That’s more than anyone else would do.

        Reply
        • April 29, 2021 at 4:18 pm
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          Yep, Fannie (or Fanny as we say in the UK) means something very different here, but makes me laugh every time I hear it. I also laugh when I hear a bum bag called a fanny pack. So childish,

          Reply
    • April 29, 2021 at 12:10 pm
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      Hi Ken,

      Noir or not (as some have complained), this is a well-told, well-rounded story, nicely interspersed with a chuckle here and there and great Cartisano-standard quips.

      The dialogue flows nicely (I think it’s gonna be my choice for the award), and you’ll certainly be on my voting roll.

      I like the way the story ends, it first goes this way and then that way – satisfying.

      Cheers!
      Ken

      Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 4:38 pm
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      Impressive!
      I think you nailed it…

      Reply
  • April 27, 2021 at 11:58 am
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    I’m in a meeting for another hour – I’ll post the voting link shortly!

    Reply
    • April 27, 2021 at 12:27 pm
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      It’s time to vote already? Where’s Finklestein and Rosencrantz? The Vicker, Chvatal? I’m disappointed in the showing. I should probably go on vacation more often, and stay away longer. (Vacations really take their toll, though. Especially at my age.)

      What a bummer. Oh well. (Did somebody say, ‘permanent vacation?)

      Reply
      • April 27, 2021 at 3:24 pm
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        Looking forward to sipping something and reading these all tonight!

        I have had a roughish interval over here…. but I got my eldest vaccinated and I am still going to try for a (written-drunk and edited-sober) attempt at something at some point (even if I run out of time).

        Reply
  • April 28, 2021 at 5:37 am
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    Hi Carrie,
    I can’t see the full box for my comments. I have lost several attempts already so I may not be able to post any further comments. Don’t know what’s happening today. I can only see the top half of a single line.
    Ken Frape

    Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 10:58 am
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      Hi Ken,
      I’m not sure why your browser wouldn’t be loading all the fields. Try logging out and entering your name/email manually. But if you do that and they don’t show up immediately they might be caught in spam, just give me a moment.
      I was able to see all the fields and you do not currently have any comments in the spam folder so I’m not sure what you are seeing.

      Screenshot: https://fictionwritersgroup.com/screenshot/

      Reply
  • April 28, 2021 at 6:18 am
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    Carrie, now, all of my comments posted are disappearing, and responses. Strange things are happening.

    Roy

    Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 10:54 am
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      Roy – which comments have disappeared?
      Any comments you posted in response to my posting the voting link early would be removed from the system because they are nested under my comment.
      I just checked the spam folder and it is empty.

      Are there others you are missing?

      Reply
        • April 28, 2021 at 11:38 am
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          Because I accidentally posted them yesterday instead of today….

          Reply
      • April 28, 2021 at 1:41 pm
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        Carrie, I wrote a couple of reviews yesterday for Phil and Ken M., that went missing when I looked back on my iPad last night. However, I left shortly after posting them on my iMac and it was still going though that little delay that happens when I left. When I turned the iMac back on this AM I found a notice that a server was down, so the reviews are now probably cyberspace fodder floating in perpetuity. Not to worry. I’ll be reposting them.

        Roy

        Reply
  • April 28, 2021 at 12:04 pm
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    Ok everyone – sorry for the mix-up from yesterday –

    Today is THE actual day to vote!
    Here is the link: https://fictionwritersgroup.com/voting-noir-2021/

    Once again you have twenty-four hours from right now to vote.

    **Trish already voted, so if you’re reading this you don’t have to vote again, there weren’t any stories posted after you voted.

    Reply
    • April 28, 2021 at 12:22 pm
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      Carrie,
      Thanks for the quick response to my query. Things seem to have sorted themselves out now.
      Ken F

      Reply
  • April 29, 2021 at 6:39 am
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    Very sorry, but I won’t have time to read and vote (left it too late again and I’ve just been handed an urgent translation to do) so please don’t vote for my story (if you were going to).

    Hope to be more organizized* next time …

    (*’Taxi Driver’ reference before you say anything, KenC.)

    Reply
    • April 29, 2021 at 9:26 am
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      “I got some bad ideas in my head.”

      Thanks for letting me know!

      Reply
  • April 29, 2021 at 1:40 pm
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    Alrighty writers!!
    Here are your winners:

    1st Place: Digging Up Dirt by Mike Rymarz
    2nd Place: Cherry Bomb by Roy York
    3rd Place: The Jilted Babe Caper by Robt Emmett
    4th Place: The Gal on the Train by Ken Frape
    5th Place: The Road To Candy Bar by Ken Cartisano
    6th Place: The Three Mustachiers by Ken Miles
    7th Place: The Follower by Prapti Gupta

    The favorite character was “Cherry” from Cherry Bomb
    And the story with the best dialogue was “The Road To Candy Bar”

    Congrats to all!

    Just as a side note and bear with me. They say a woman uses 20,000 words a day and I’m about to use a few of those allotted to me.

    I really love this group, I love writing and when I don’t have time to write I love reading your stories.

    But the point of this group, website and these prompts are to help us grow as writers. And sometimes growth requires horizon expansion.
    I had someone email me asking if I was going to allow the stories that wouldn’t technically qualify stay in and I thought about that for quite some time.

    This prompt was very specific, and unfamiliar to some. But that was the point of it.
    A few of the stories did not meet the elemental requirements of the theme, but I decided to leave them in anyway for a few key reasons.

    #1. It’s not up to me to force you to research what the key elements of a “classic noir film” are. The voting will reflect who stayed on track anyhow. We’re all adults (or close to adulthood at least) and your peers will quickly call you out if you are missing the darned orange cup that was a requirement!

    #2. These prompts are just for fun, if there is a blatant disregard for the requirements such as “it needs to be a story about a red car” and you write a story about a blue boat, no your story will not be included. But this prompt was exceptionally difficult in my opinion. And I refuse to entertain the classic “hard sci fi vs soft sci fi” type of an argument.

    #3. I just want you guys to enjoy writing. I know many of you feel I play it fast and loose on some of the rules, but I am of the mind that if you took the time to write a story, as long as you at least try to conform to the theme, I’m fine with that. Your interpretation of a theme helps me expand my horizon and think a little differently. And I believe that these allowances have created an internal culture that grants exceptional license for creativity.

    If you guys feel I should be more strict please feel free to weigh in. You can comment here or shoot me an email or use the contact form.

    Either way, I wasn’t sure how many stories we’d get with this prompt, but the stories written were all exceptional!

    (End Carrie’s Soap Box Rant)

    Reply
    • April 29, 2021 at 6:10 pm
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      Well said, O Revered Leader. I agree the voting will right the ship.

      Roy

      Reply
      • April 29, 2021 at 9:49 pm
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        For the record it wasn’t even Roy who mentioned it!

        Reply
      • April 29, 2021 at 9:50 pm
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        Although I might change the “from” in the email newsletter to “O Revered Leader”….. I kinda like the sound of that hahaha!

        Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 4:37 am
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      Hi Carrie,
      Thanks for taking the time to put down some of your thoughts about the use of the prompts. By the way, if that was a rant then you aint seen nuttin’.
      I was unfamiliar with the Noir genre and could easily have been one who got the chop (if that was decided upon)

      Reply
      • April 30, 2021 at 4:43 am
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        Ken’s comment continued…

        My view may not be much use as it will not offer a definitive answer. I think you have to look at each situation as it arises or you must become a fierce upholder of every letter of the rules. By all means tell us if you think we have missed the prompt *or we will no doubt have seen it too) but the beauty of this site is the quirky group of disparate writers all wanting to write and happy to receive critiques.
        So, nothing too rigid and your discretion suits me .
        Hope this helps.
        Keep on doing what you’re doing.
        Ken Frape

        Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 5:48 am
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      Hi Carrie,

      I’m of that opinion, too… i.e. don’t be too strict with the interpretation of the prompts, to allow for variations on the themes in question.

      Having said that, some strict, but precise conditions (like “there must be a purple goose” in the story) often help with getting the creative juices flowing. Limitations foster creativity. The worst prompt, for creativity, would be “Write 1.2K words about anything”!

      But all the required elements, strict or otherwise, ought to be present in the heading of the prompt, and not part of an assumption of prior knowledge of the theme (or requiring a ton of research).

      For the Noir prompt, perhaps a requirement to include cigarettes and high-heel shoes (and some other things like that) in our stories would have aligned those of us who were not too familiar with the genre closer to what was expected.

      And then yes, the comments and votes will do the rest… we are all much more noir-wise now compared to last week!

      Btw congrats to Mike, and to Roy and Ken C. too for the category prizes!

      Cheers!
      Ken

      Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 8:42 am
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      Your rant was very constructive and I think your system is perfect for fostering and incubating creativity while still having boundaries and critical feedback (all the things that I need).

      Also, there is always a ton of crossover between noir and other subgenres… it is a real confusing mess but good stuff!

      Reply
  • April 29, 2021 at 5:38 pm
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    Thanks all. Very humbled but enjoying these prompts that set the creative juices flowing. Need to find a gin-joint and a smoky dame to celebrate with.
    Might also give me the courage to offer my thoughts on all the other fantastic stories.
    Evening all from Blighty.

    Reply
    • April 29, 2021 at 6:00 pm
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      Congratulations Mr. Rymarz,

      That was an excellent story, a fun story, and frankly, I would’ve given you the dialogue award as well, (in fact I will, here, take it. “There you go oh no you dropped it right in the kitty litter box! Jesus Mike, be careful, will ya? Shit… Here, let me clean the cat crap off of the… damn… It’ll just take a second. There you go. Good as new.”

      Seriously though, that was an excellent and fabulous story. I loved every word of it and gave it my top vote, but I will say one more serious thing, Mike. (At least, God help me.) Except for the last line. The last line almost moved that fabulous story into second place for me, because it doesn’t match the rest of the story. You have to tell me Mike, what was the previous version of the last line? What were your other options? Is there a story behind that last, awful, line? I know you changed it because of your messages on the thread. I couldn’t think of anything better either, (although I didn’t really try,) and the rest of the story is so good that it didn’t’ matter anyway, so this is all academic and highly speculative. Still, I’m really curious about it. That’s the story I want to hear. How did you arrive at that last line?

      You can ignore me if you like, and just accept my heartfelt congratulations. It’s not THAT important. Dropping the dialogue award into the kitty litter. That was… okay, that wasn’t important either. Congrats on the win, Mike.

      Reply
      • April 29, 2021 at 6:38 pm
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        Believe it or not, I had about fifteen different versions of a last line in my head but none of them seemed to work. I wanted something ‘noir-esque’ but couldn’t quite get it right. I think I’d run out of puff by then.
        I might revisit it in six months and come up with a killer line which I’ll gladly share. Failing that I’ll wander the streets kicking pebbles, smoking cheroots and drinking whisky from a brown paper bag.

        Reply
  • April 29, 2021 at 6:02 pm
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    Mike, congrats. I loved this prompt, Good job, mate. And a special congrats to Robert Emmett, you’ve upped your game and it shows.

    Roy

    Reply
  • April 30, 2021 at 8:36 am
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    Good job everyone and I am sorry that I sat this one out!

    (I love this genre but it is VERY intimidating to write for me and I had a rough time in the real world I guess)

    I did have plenty of ideas, but the tone of my story would have been very cynical and sort of mocking the whole noir genre… more a parody of a noir than anything… and I just didn’t want to stain the internet with such an abomination… but it could have been funny at best!

    I always encountered a line of asterisks for spacers that show a period of time has passed between two segments, is that not the fashionable and hip way to do that anymore (/was it ever)?

    Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 12:27 pm
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      Rumple, I think that Ken C., was doing that, but it wouldn’t format the way he wanted and was not working for him. Hence his frustration, and the use of ().

      * * * * *

      Let’s see if my spacers work, and if so, maybe the problem is solved.

      Roy

      Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 12:29 pm
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      They moved way over to the left.

      So, let’s see what happens this time.

      Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 12:30 pm
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      This time they didn’t show up at all, so it isn’t solved. I’ll try something else this time.

      * * * * *

      Now, let’s see.

      R

      Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 12:31 pm
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      That time I left an indention of 5 spaces and they moved to the right. This time, I’ll try 25 spaces.

      * * * * *

      Again. Just a test.

      R

      Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 12:35 pm
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      Hey that seemed to work with an indentation of 25 spaces. There you go everyone, 25 spaced indentation and problem seems solved,

      * * * * *

      30 spaces this time, and if it is near the middle, everyone has a starting point for their spacers.

      Yay!

      Roy

      Reply
    • April 30, 2021 at 1:31 pm
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      I use a space to show the passage of a few minutes to a few hours.
      For passaging a day or more, I use ~*~ . The nice thing about using these marks is I use them with “shift.”

      Reply
  • April 30, 2021 at 1:09 pm
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    comedy gold!

    Reply

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