So I needed a fun writing project to balance my mopey poetry and stringent freelance work and I came to the conclusion that maybe my blog might help me write that detective novel I've always dreamed about.
Set in South Boston in the 1980s, this is what I have so far:
The big dog barks on the arm of the sofa. He’s lounged like a pool hall lackey and only moving his jowls. The rest of him poses, reclines, making her feel embarrassed being afraid in the first place. Her first night in the house was empty and quiet but Karen couldn’t shake the fear of being caught trying to live a normal life, of being sent back to Joe and being kicked for leaving. As she heads out, to the gym again, she resists checking the lock. Across the street, the house of the big dog, lives a small Russian man with many visitors. Today a friend, a sister, Karen wasn’t sure. But she saw her on the step smoking and felt surprised the woman seemed confident on the ground. Her walk was bent over, nearly parallel from the waist.
Karen notices a lot these days, or at least a lot more. During the trial she became accustomed to people’s shoes, what they say about a person. She’d been afraid of looking up, even after her cheek fracture healed and shoes helped describe the world. The judge wore burgundy, patent-leather school marms. Joe wore greased up dress shoes he might have borrowed from his uncle. She wore white keds, meticulously clean.
The weight lifters throw themselves around and Karen stares from the stationary bike. They are all big as or bigger than Joe but they don’t bother her so she remains calm. Little by little she’ll make eye contact with these people, see them seeing her, but for now she whisks quickly through her workout and returns to the house. The big dog still sits like a statue in the front window of the house across the street. Karen thinks he might be a statue after all.
Keys to counter, lock locked, Karen pulls a Nutra-Rich packet from the cupboard. It isn’t that she wants to slim down it’s that eating makes her nauseous and has for years. When the occasional fortunate circumstance hands her a good mood, she might be less bothered, might indulge herself in a brownie or a salmon filet but soft things, buttery things, flaky things only. Her cupboards, still bare from the move are mostly soup cans. Her fridge is a valley of fresh fruit and jugs of water. She tries to drink a whole jug a day and if she can’t finish, she drinks the rollover first thing the next morning.
His office is dark but that’s because Roland has a hangover. The pretty brunette waiting at his front door is dismayed, perhaps too gentle a term for the look she casts at his unshaven face and gin stink, but he keeps her moving, ushers her into the waiting room so he can pull it together. Roland hasn’t seen a pretty brunette in his waiting room before, not a pretty blond or redhead or raven haired beauty either for that matter. Being a PI isn’t like they say in the movies. His business is mostly built on insurance fraud, and bald fat men who think their pretty young things are going out with motorcycle toting goons behind their backs—which they usually are. At first nothing strikes Roland as odd, not the girl, not the cut on his cheek beneath his right eye, not the broken window in the bathroom but this is mostly because he has a hangover. Roland’s always been a good detective, just not an ambitious one.
His brunette is named Felix. An uncommon name for a girl with an uncommon story. She claims her sister is missing, probably dead. That the woman, Karen, was last seen at the trial of her ex-husband, a Joe Dean: one abusive, gambling, drug addict with ties to the Irish mob. Boston being Boston, every local has ties to the Irish mob but this Joe Dean’s apparently a step up from the casual Southie barber or bartender. Felix goes on to explain Karen and Joe’s marriage, the trial, how Karen called her the night the trial ended, claiming she might never return, saying, “I love you,” then disappearing for the last three months. It’s when she finally stops crying that Roland’s brain begins to spark. Felix pats her delicate nose with an embroidered handkerchief and looks straight through him. She says, “I think the spirit of my sister is trapped in my macintosh.”