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Thread: Write-Off

  1. #1
    Rogue Mutt


    No one's posted a story in nearly 2 months on this board so here's a flash fiction story from my collection Last Dance & Other Stories:

    It starts out like they all do: a dame walks into my office. She’s about five-six and built like a brick house. Blond hair and full red lips like a Veronica Lake impersonator. But I bet Veronica never had a black eye like this dame has.

    She’s wearing a bright red business suit, the skirt cut at the low end of professional. She’s got a mink stole around her shoulders and a wide-brimmed hat in one hand to shield her eyes on the street. The handbag she’s carrying is Gucci—genuine from the look of it. Probably not a girl from the steno pool then. More likely the trophy wife of some rich slob who pulls down six figures or more. Might be that guy’s mistress.

    Did he give her the eye? Maybe he’s the jealous type and caught her flirting with someone else. It could be a mugger; God knows there are plenty of them in this city. If it were a mugger, why leave her with the stole and Gucci bag? Those have to be worth a pretty penny on the black market.

    I motion her to a seat. My mama raised me as a proper gentleman, so I stand up for her. I wait until she’s seated to sit down. “Mind if I smoke?” I ask her.

    She doesn’t say anything; she just shrugs those red shoulders. I take the pipe out of my pocket and light it. As I’m doing that, she reaches into her purse for a handkerchief. She dabs at her eyes with it, smearing her makeup. It’ll take some bleach to get that handkerchief clean again.

    “So, how can I help you, ma’am?” I ask. I try to sound neutral, though every impulse in my body wants to go over there and put my arms around her. It’s hard to resist with a dame like that, but I don’t want to spook her.

    “I need your help. They said you’re the best.”

    “Well, I won’t deny that.”

    “I’m in an awful mess. I don’t know who else to turn to.”

    “What seems to be the problem?”

    “Donald has been cheating on me.”

    At the mention of his name, something clicks in my brain. I realize I’ve seen this woman before in the society pages, though minus the black eye. I ask her, “Donald Collins? He’s the one cheating on you?”

    “Yes. I need you to find some evidence my lawyer can use.”

    “I can try. I won’t make any guarantees.”

    “How much do you charge?”

    “Ninety dollars an hour, plus expenses.”

    That rate scares some away, but she doesn’t miss a beat. She reaches into her handbag again, this time for a checkbook. “Hold on there, ma’am. I don’t want your money now. You can pay me after the job is done.”

    She closes the checkbook. It vanishes back into her purse. “That sounds fair. How long do you think it will take?”

    “It depends. I’ll need to get some information from you.”

    “What sort of information?”

    I lean back in my chair and then take a drag off the pipe. I give her a nonchalant shrug. “I’ll need his tax returns for the last seven years. If you can’t get them, I know a guy at the IRS who owes me a favor. Whatever else you can get your hands on—receipts, pay stubs, bank statements, and so forth—will be helpful. Then we should be able to tell if he’s cheating on your alimony or not.”

    “Thank you so much, Mr. Anderson. My lawyer said you were the best forensic accountant in this city.”

    “I’ll try not to let him down.”

    Much as I want her to kiss me, she doesn’t. I settle for shaking her gloved hand. Then she starts to sashay towards the door. “Say, what happened to your eye?” I ask.

    “Oh, this? I tripped on one of my son’s roller skates. I keep telling him not to leave them on the stairs, but you know how kids are.”

    “Sure I do. I got three of them myself.” I show her the picture in my wallet. They’re the reason I can’t get mixed up with this dame, them and my wife. Margaret might not look like Veronica Lake, but she is a good dame, loyal as a German Shepherd.

    I show my new client out of the office and then I get to work.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Heh heh. The ol' bait and switcheroo.

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt
    Quote Originally Posted by jayce View Post
    Heh heh. The ol' bait and switcheroo.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    I like it. The whole noir style with a few twists. I'm confused by the use of present tense, though. Isn't literature typically past-tense? Usually when you talk ABOUT literature it's in present tense.

  5. #5
    Rogue Mutt
    Quote Originally Posted by Nico View Post
    I like it. The whole noir style with a few twists. I'm confused by the use of present tense, though. Isn't literature typically past-tense? Usually when you talk ABOUT literature it's in present tense.
    In the old days people didn't use present tense. Now it's more common. The Hunger Games is a popular example.

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