Monday, January 11, 2010

FFF #16 - Filling In Blanks

FFF #16 - The starter sentence this week was provided for us by Cormac on his Friday Flash Fiction site.

"It was an honest mistake...or it was honestly stupid. Either way, I didn't mean anything by it."

Filling In Blanks

“It was an honest mistake….or it was honestly stupid. Either way, I didn’t mean anything by it. So I forgot to reset the alarm. I forget all the time. Dad was always giving me Hell for it.” Welky buried his face in his hands. “Aw jeez man, I can’t believe they’re dead. Mom and Pop …….Aw shit, who would do this? ”

Detective French studied the seated teen facing him. The double homicide was only a couple of early morning hours old. At this point everyone was suspect. He looked for any sign of deception by this young man. So far no flags raised. The kid seemed truly heart stricken over the loss of his parents. But Detective French had a job to do. He was not through with this young man. Not yet.

“So, you came home around 1:00 AM Welky?”

Welky dropped his hands from his face. With red eyes not seeming to focus, he looked up at the ceiling. “Uh…..What did you ask detective? 1:00 AM?.............” Welky looked confused. His face rearranged itself as the question registered. “ Didn’t I say 12 midnight? Shit I dunno. Maybe I did. But I was home by Midnight. It’s my curfew. Pop was a hard ass about………”

Welky stopped talking and stared straight ahead.

French was watching Welky’s face hard. When the despondent teen broke from his trance and looked at Detective French, French softened his stare and said, “Uh let’s see. What did you tell me?...... I wrote it down.” French began thumbing through the small spiral notepad he had in his hand. Flipping one page at a time, he finally paused and pointed with his pen. “Right you are Welky, you did tell me Midnight. Sorry for the mix up.”

Welky shook his head. “I was supposed to meet up with some friends for an early mountain bike ride.” Welky looked haggard and worn out. “I guess the ride’s off now.” He looked down at his feet. “I came home and found them. I called you guys. That’s all I know.”

Detective French was not about to let Welky off just yet no matter how torn up he looked. “You notice anything odd before you left for the evening? Something out of place inside or outside……A car on the street that didn’t belong? Anything at all out of place?”

Without looking up, Welky again shook his head. “Can we do this later? I need some time here.”

French straightened his shoulders and tucked the notebook in his breast pocket. “Okay Welky…..sure, later. I’ve asked enough questions for now. I‘ll get one of the uniforms to stay here until your Uncle shows up. Shouldn’t be too much longer. ”

French needed more information about the parents. While this murder looked like a cut n dried case of home invasion or a break in gone bad, he needed background if for no other reason than there were blanks which needed filling. Maybe the late Mr or Mrs Reynard had enemies. Always the sex angle to pursue.

French loved what he did for a living. Especially this part. The fresh crime scene full of answers just waiting to be discovered. The crime was a puzzle created just for him. His mind soared as he pondered all the possibilities that might come together to explain why one human would kill another. Each new homicide brought with it the potential to be that “big case”. The murder that drew in attention from all over. Better than sex most days.

Detective French left Welky sitting on his bed. As he passed the master bedroom, he looked in. Mr and Mrs Reynard lay dead in their bed. Mrs. Reynard must have been cut first, then Mr Reynard. She lay as if still asleep. Arterial spray covered the wall behind the bed and a huge pool had settled under the draping head of Mr Reynard.

“Damn. Why do these lowlifes have to make such a mess?”

A crime scene tech looked up from his sniffing around. “What’s that Lieutentant?”

“Uh, nothing…. Nevermind.”

French walked out of the patio doors and stepped into an immaculate Better Homes and Gardens backyard. It was perfect. Each bush, each blade of grass carefully sculpted or trained. The early morning Sun reflected perfect sparkles off each perfect dew laden branch and leaf. There were serious control issues in this household. French wondered which parent was the anal retentive as he turned around in this immaculate landscape. French immediately suffered serious yard envy. His own yard, his personal life was unruly and uncared for.

Other than his job, Detective French had little to live for. He would often wonder why. He never connected the dots that work was the only thing he kept organized and well defined. He had to be detail intensive to do his job correctly. The rest of his life, well, he took a broader view. A much broader view. Three marriages, a couple of bankruptcies, and a car with no corner undented filled in the blanks about the rest of his life. When called on this obvious contrast of personalities, he would just laugh it off to him being a kind of Jekyll and Hyde kind of slob.

“Excuse me …..Officer?”

Detective French turned around. On the other side of the perfect shrubbery separating this perfect yard from the next perfect yard, a young girl wearing a pork pie hat was looking at him. French smiled. She smiled. The damndest things became fashionable. These trimmed down and gusseyed up versions of old school hats from the 1940s and 50s were the perfect example. That they looked stupid was probably the point, but they still made him smile.

“Yes miss?” French did not correct her. He had been a detective for ages now. He was immune to any perceived slight to his status in the hierarchy of the police force. Position and power meant squat to him. Solving crimes was all he cared about. He did not even care if Justice prevailed and perps ended up behind bars. He just wanted to know who, how and why. Let the next bonehead deal with what came after.

“What happened? Are the Reynards okay?”

French looked at her. “There’s been an incident. An apparent break in. We are investigating.”

“But someone died right? I see the coroner van in the drive. What happened?”

“Who are you miss?” French already knew the answer from the canvas done by the two uniforms earlier. He just could not help himself. Never give out information when seeking it in the first place.

“Nancy. Nancy Drew.”

Lt French smiled. “ No it’s not. Your name is not Nancy Drew.”

The girl grinned sheepishly. “Okay, so it’s not Nancy Drew. You’re the detective. Who am I Sherlock?”

Detective French stepped closer to hedge separating them. Pulling out his notepad, he once again thumbed through it. “Uh, if I had to guess, your name is Mary. You live next door. Since you are here would you mind if I asked some questions?

“Well I didn’t see anything if that’s what you want to know?”

French was not interested in knowing what she did or did not see. The uniform had already asked those questions. His inquiries now were the questions intended to pry loose guilt, innocence, or dirt that might lead him in either direction.

Mary stood up higher as if on her tip toes. Turning sideways, she stepped through the hedge. Taking two more steps placed her not two feet from him. Close enough French could smell her youth and vitality. Her eyes focused on French. All of him. Immediately he felt ill at ease. Middle aged men were not accustomed to this kind of stare without paying for it. Ignoring his own discomfort, he asked her, “What I really need is some background, you know some blanks filled in.”

Mary was grinning. “Do I make you nervous Officer?”

“Yes…..Yes you do.”

Why is that?

“The look on your face. But let’s keep to the subject okay? Have you known the Reynards long?” French was working overtime to keep this as professional as possible.

Still smiling, Mary took off that awful hat and began to flip the red feather stuck in the band. Her long nails were immaculate. “Well yeah, I’ve known the Reynards all my life. Old man Reynard had a stick up his ass and his wife well, she dropped in a bottle and never came out. She was always shitfaced.”

It was then Detective French noticed the red feather Mary was flipping. It did not look right. More like strands of hair than the wafting barbs of a feather. And they were blood red. He continued his questions.

“So, sounds like you didn’t have much use for the Reynards. Did you and your family get along with them?”

Mary placed her hat back on. “Oh we got along okay I guess. Never really thought about it much. I just never liked the way the ole man treated Welky.”

French perked up. “What do you mean about Welky? Did he get along with his parents?”

“Oh sure. He idolized the ole man. Catered to every one of his tight ass rules. Sometimes he didn’t like his mom much, but then you know, it’s hard to like a drunk all the time.”

Detective French said nothing. He was studying her hat. He finally spoke up. “So why did you kill them Mary? The ole man come onto to you? Or maybe he didn’t come onto you and that pissed you off. Regardless, I have a job to do and now it is time to apprise you of your rights. Turn around please.”

Mary stopped smiling. Now she looked her age.

Later that evening as French sat in his apartment nursing his third vodka and Collins, he contemplated the bad day he just had. Yeah, he had solved the case before breakfast, but that was not what put jazz in his jockies. There were blanks still sitting empty. He drank himself to sleep that night feeling somehow cheated. (1680)


Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, but you aren't kidding about the blanks!!! I want another few thousand words to fill them in. :)

BBC said...

On the 2good2toss website today I got a set of brand new cable tire chains for 25 bucks. It turned out to be an expensive day for me, I met him at the parking lot of the Home Depot store in Sequim to make the buy.

Decided to look at wood splitters while there and ended up buying a 20 ton gas powered one that is towable behind the truck. Wanted a gas powered one in case I find a place in the country or in case the grid is down for a while.

But I wanted to buy it on my terms so they made a couple of phone calls and I got twelve months no interest, I’ll have it paid off before then. I could have paid cash but didn’t want to draw my piggy bank down.

Cormac Brown said...

As Anton said, though I'd be happier with just a couple of more lines.

MRMacrum said...

Anton and Cormac - I re-read it and yes, it lacks substance. The leap I had the detective make was way more intuitive than I was able to represent with words. I am not sure why I thought it worked in the first place, but I did. Oh well. That's the beauty of make believe. I can re-do it or make up a new one.

BBC - Thanks for the update. Gas powered splitters are way more dependable if the engine is a good one. And they can be used remotely.

Doc said...

"Better than sex most days."

Substance my ass. This is SHORT fiction and sometime you have to leave some stuff out. It's like a one act play. There just isn't room for act two and three to tie things up in a neat bundle. You hit the mystery and painted a beautiful character study of French. We meet the other two characters, Mary and Welky (great name by the way) and move to the conclusion at double time. Leave the details to the reader because if you can't end it by page three you might lose them anyway. The only trade off I can see is shortening the description of French to insert more dialog and details. All in all, a solid story.


Randal Graves said...

Sometimes you want an ephemeral watercolor (with lots of red, of course) and that's what you gave us here. Crazy crimesters and their detailing, gimme an impression.

David Barber said...

Nice piece, Mike but it ended a bit to sharpish for me. As Cormac and Anton said,a few more words would have been good. You could have had some fun with 'Mary' and then shocked us. Great writing though, bud.

Regards mate, David.