Writer’s Throwdown – Rip Steel: Charity Starts at Home

A group of folks over at Gamers with Jobs decided we wanted to try our hand at some writing workshop type challenges.  Here was the first one. Each writer had to pick at least 8 of 10 terms to include in their story.  The terms were: simulation, nude, charity, monster, costume, games, warrior, “big rats”, roller-coaster, and machete.  I got them all, except simulation.

As a giggle, I wanted to try and write something in the style of hard-boiled noir fiction, which is a style I’ve never tried before, but turns out to be an absolute scream to write, especially if you’re shooting for over-the-top.   And so I give you

Rip Steele in the case of Charity Starts at Home

It all started with a dame. It always does. This particular dame, a redheaded vixen with a temper to match, stalked into my office like a tigress entering a Bengali orphanage. She said her name was Charity Honey. Of course it was.

“You are Ripling Steele, I presume?” she asked, tossing a long box on to my desk. I glanced at it as I stood up.

“My friends call me Rip.” I said, reaching out to shake her hand.

She looked at my hand quizzically before looking back at me and replying “Yes. I’m sure they do.” She looked around the office, her eyes scanning the clutter, the shirtsleeves and trouser cuffs visible from under a couch, the empty bottles of rye tucked around the room, the pile of red collections envelopes, before turning back to me.

“You are a detective, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Licensed gumshoe, Doll. But you know that if you’re here.” I replied.

“Chen Fat sent me.” She said, raising her ice blue eyes to mine.

I whistled under my breath. Chen Fat controlled most of the dockside of the city. We knew each other once, a long time ago. Before The Incident. “So, how is Big Rat?”

“Missing.” She pointed at the box. “That machete was beside his desk this morning, covered with blood. Nobody can find him. He wouldn’t just disappear, especially not this week.”

“Why especially this week?” I asked.

She tilted her head and looked at me like I was as sharp as a cue ball. She walked past my desk to the window and raised the blinds and a cloud of dust. When she stopped coughing, and the dust cloud had settled enough for me to see through the grimy window, I could see a billboard on the roof of the building across the boulevard which had been pasted with eleven foot tall nudes, their interesting bits costumed by judicious grammar.

 

Chen Fat Welcomes You to Chilport Arena!!!

A Spectacle For The Ages!!!

Warriors VS Monsters, in a Game of Life and Death!!!

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!!!

 

She watched me read with the amused expression of someone watching a schnauzer try to do algebra. “Are you sure you’re really a detective?”

“Sure Doll, one of the best. So, you think the Rat got cheesed because of this hootenanny he’s got swinging?”

“Do you speak English?” she asked. “And stop calling me Doll. What is wrong with you? I only came here because your name and address was on a note in Chen’s desk. I thought maybe you knew something. However, I doubt now that you are capable of knowing anything.” She spun around so fast her spike heels almost drilled through the carpet, or would have if they hadn’t picked up scraps of paper from the Johnson case. “Ugh.” she said, looking down.

“Just a minute, Miss Honey.” I said, crossing the room, as she leaned against the door, trying to remove the notes from her shoes. “I want to help you find Big Rat before somebody fits him for a wooden kimono, for old times sake. Besides I like the palooka. Pipe me the lay, dollface.”

“No. Because you are obviously a crazy person. And if you call me Doll one more time, I promise you a childless future.”

Like I said, she was a fiery one. Life with her would be a roller-coaster. Lots of screaming. “Alright, alright, no need to have made this trip for biscuits, just tell me what you know.”

She pressed her hands against her face, rubbing her temples. “Ok, fine. He was last seen this morning before breakfast. His valet, Roland, said breakfast had been delivered, but had been untouched. It was Roland who alerted me to the bloodstained machete beside the desk.”

“So, why not call the coppers?” I asked.

“Because I’d rather not give them permission to search the grounds.” she replied evenly.

I crossed back to my desk and opened the box. Inside was a polished and seemingly unused machete. “Where’s the blood?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”, she said coming over to look inside the box. “Oh dear. Chen has such well trained staff. So efficient of them to clean it before boxing it.”

I picked up the machete and examined it. The blade appeared to be factory honed, with no chips or dents. Holding it by the handle, I looked down the length of it, but again it was as flat and straight as though it had been made yesterday. Even the screws in the handle appeared to be brightly polished and new.

“This machete has never been used.” I said. “I don’t know what was on it, but it wasn’t coffin squeezings.” As I put the chopper back in the box, Charity appeared next to me with a glass of rye from a fresh bottle.

“Here,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to interrupt your morning ritual.”

“You’re all right, Charity.” I laughed as I tossed back the drink, then thought “How would she know what I do in the morning?”

That was the last thought I had for a long time. When I came to, I was face to face with my old friend Chen Fat. Too bad the rest of him was across the room. And down the hall. And maybe on the ceiling. And a lot of him seemed to be on me and the machete that dropped from my hand.

Charity was a thing of the past, and as the sirens collided at the bottom of my building, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see Liberty anytime soon either.

 

 

 

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