I'll come up with something in a minute.

Baby’s First Noir (Part One)

This is the story of a poor little squirrel, that lost all his acorns. And winter is just around the corner. I know, only about 10 billion of those around right? Well, this one has a minor twist in that I set it in a Hard Boiled context, because Captain B.J. Smethwick (in a white wine sauce with shallots, mushrooms and garlic) (Mrs) was complaining about having to read them for her job as an editor. I decided to see if I could make one Mrs. Smethwick would enjoy reading.

It was late and Chirpy the Chipmunk was walking home from a night of carousing with his fellows. It wouldn’t be a complete lie to say that he was quite drunk, having sampled many of the soured grapes in the old hollowed out tree that the weasels ran. He checked his pockets, looking to see how much money he had left. Totally unaware that he was being watched, he drifted from tree to tree, trying to find his way home. He stumbled past the rats who were swinging their purses and waiting for customers. He looked threateningly at a mouse, who was trying to sell late night sausages beyond all reasonable hope of profit.

Behind a large raspberry bush, a figure watched as Chirpy snarled something at the mouse. A small warm speck of light shown as the figure took a drag on its cigarette. A cold breeze passed through the forest, reminding everyone just how late in the seasons it was. Three weeks, there was only three weeks before the first snows of winter could be expected. The figure’s silhouette became obscured and then settled into a sensible shape as the figure adjusted its overcoat. As Chirpy got closer to his personal tree, it was becoming time to have a word.

Chirpy looked up at his tree and wondered if it was worth all the effort to climb to the top where his room was located. Besides, with all the nuts he had stolen recently, it would be hard to get in there and get comfortable. He’d be comfortable when winter finally came, but it was still warm enough to lie in a drunken stupor here at the roots of the old hickory. He was just about to make up his mind when it was made for him by a large smooth rock that grazed the back of his head. He sank to his knees and before passing out he felt a pair of paws on him. Had he been capable of thought at that moment, he would have thought that he was in deep trouble.

When Chirpy came to, he was tied to a toadstool. He looked around, but he couldn’t see much in the dark besides an indistinct shape. Absently, he began to wonder how much he’d actually had to drink. His head hurt a lot and he was in a strange situation. He began to think that maybe he was in some kind of trouble and began to think who he had ripped off recently. There were so many though, and his head hurt so much. He figure approached him and he tried to focus on the face that was coming through the gloom in the dim light.

“What you want?” Chirpy asked before something splashed in his face.

For a moment, he thought it was water, and then he got a sniff of it. He was in trouble all right, big trouble. Someone had gone to the effort of stealing some gasoline from the farmer’s machines. The only person he knew who could do that regularly was Big Tony, and he’d always kept on Big Tony’s good side.

“What’s this?” He asked as the figure turned the can up and splashed more gas onto his head. The smelly stuff started to soak into his fur, it would take days to get the smell out. “Look, you’ve made your point. Whatever it is, we can work it out huh?”

The figure looked at him and then reached back into the gloom, dropping a sack in front of him. The bag spilled slightly and a few nuts scattered onto the ground in front of him. A grey paw swept out and scooped them back into the bag. He recognized the bag, it was one of the bags he used for robberies. The gang had stolen a load of nuts recently, and that was his cut.

“You want the nuts?” He asked. “I got loads. Here, let me out of these ropes, huh?”

The figure picked up the sack and pulled it back into the gloom. Chirpy was starting to get nervous, the fact that whoever this was kept silent was getting on his nerves. He was starting to panic, animals who don’t talk are animals you can’t talk out of things.

“SAY SOMETHING, WILL YA?” He finally shouted, the panic jumping past his brain and leaping out of his throat.

“Winter’s coming.” The figure said, flicking a lighter and showing his face. It was a squirrel, Chirpy could see that right away. It wasn’t just a squirrel though, it was that squirrel they’d beat up and robbed a week ago. He was covering his face with his hat, but it was hum. “Gets cold in the winter.”

“Look, we can work this out.” Chirpy said, panic making his voice shake and shudder.

“Sometimes I feel like I’ll never be warm again,” The squirrel said, “You know, in winter? You want to be warm, don’t you Chirpy?”

“Don’t do this?” Chirpy begged.

“Winter is coming and I don’t have enough nuts stored up.” The Squirrel said. “I did my hard work and you guys robbed me.”

He came close and waved the lighter at Chirpy, who screamed an incoherent stream of profanity and please. He took a step back and closed the lighter, killing the flame and winking the light out of existence. The only point being the red glow at the tip of his cigarette. Chirpy could smell the tobacco as the squirrel blew smoke into his face.

“We can work this out.” Chirpy said. “I’ve got lots of nuts. We can split them right down the middle.”

“I just want what’s mine.” The voice said, laced with menace. “My nuts. Any other nuts in there belong to someone else and I don’t take what’s not mine.”

The red glow of the cigarette came close and touched Chirpy’s blue cotton vest. The squirrel blew on the tip and it glowed brightly for a few seconds before the gas soaked garment burst into flames. Chirpy screamed immediately, even though it was actually a few seconds before the heat and pain actually struck him. He screamed a lot then, but the squirrel had already thrown the sack of nuts over his shoulder and started away. It wouldn’t be true to say that he couldn’t hear Chirpy though. For one thing, Chirpy was very loud and got much louder before he got quiet and squirrels are renowned for having very good hearing. Even if one ear was badly damaged when a pack of chipmunks cracked him across the head and kicked him in the ear so that everything from his left was just a buzz of vague noises. Still, Chirpy’s cries followed him into the night, distinct and clear as he took his sack of nuts home.

He had to find the rest of them, get the rest of his nuts before winter came. It wasn’t revenge he had told himself. He just wanted to get what was his. Retrieve the things that belonged to him and maybe a little more to make up for the lost time. He couldn’t gather nuts while he was getting his stores back, and he wouldn’t be able to work as well with his ear and his eye messed up like this. He was worried about that, but maybe a winter’s rest would help them heal.

All that was for later though, for now he had to get this sack home and find the next one in the group.

March 27, 2012 Posted by | Fiction | | Leave a comment

Five, Five and Five Equals Me

I once had a young lady pose a question to me. It was during a flirtation (that didn’t end up going anywhere because I was being “too glacial” for her tastes) and as such we were knee deep in the “Getting to Know You” phase. It was a pretty good question, and I think I flubbed the answer. Yes, I still worry about these things a decade and half (or so) later. The question was “What five books, five movies and five albums would give me the best idea of who you are as a person. Maybe not the ones you like the most, but the ones that had the biggest influence on you.” Or words to that extent. I couldn’t provide satisfactory answers at the time, but I’ve had time to think about it and probably could now. Reasons weren’t asked for at the time, just titles, although the reasons for choosing each one might have been explored upon later.

5 Books
The Red Box By Rex Stout – This is the first really good Nero Wolfe book. There are better books in the series, but if you want the first one that was really great, this is the one to read. Some of you probably know my views on Nero Wolfe by now.

The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien – Because it’s The Hobbit. You need to read The Hobbit.

The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald – This above all others, was the first real piece of literature that I didn’t just plain hate. There has to be something in that.

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett – a hugely influential book on my writing style as far as detective stories goes. I like the movie, but the book is better.

Connections By James Burke – there wasn’t room in the pervue of the questions for a TV series, so I’m cheating and putting it in here because there is a book version.

5 Albums
Early Alchemy by Acoustic Alchemy, while Arcanum would probably be a better choice realistically, there would not be the opportunity to listen to the early version of Sarah Victoria and that would be a tragedy.

Narada Decade this is a compilation of some of the music from Narada’s first ten years. I like this sort of music. I find when people say they don’t, I can almost always find a song on this or the second Decade collection that they get into.

Diamonds and Pearls by Prince There has to be a Prince album on the list, and most peoiple won’t get it if I point them towards The Batman album.

Travelers & Thieves by Blues Traveler – this is not the album most people would pick when choosing something from Blues Traveler, but it’s what I choose.

Truth from Lies by Catie Curtis – Again, maybe not her best over all album. However, the question was what album would help you unlock all the little secrets.

I saved this one until last, because we can all sing this song by now…
5 Movies
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Seven Samurai
The Dark Corner
Dumbo
Young Einstein
With The Maltese Falcon as an irritating sixth entry because you need to have a sixth entry once in a while.
No surprises there, right?

I often wonder if I had given an answer like this, back in the day… ah but it doesn’t matter. If you have an answer to the 5+5+5=U question, why not post it in your own journal?

March 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment