I know what you are thinking, and no, that’s not what I was marinating in. We did have a beer with dinner last night, and that’s as much as I’ve drunk in a week, so I’m not *that* kind of writer. What I am is one gathering flavor for my writing by reading. In this case, because I am writing a climactic scene for Pixie Noir, I’m reading Mickey Spillane. I’d picked up a couple of pulp paperbacks in a used bookstore a few weeks back, anticipating this need to add some flavor to the story at some point. I’ve read a bit of noir, over the years, and watched some, but a refresher to keep the language and tension level in the story is occasionally needed.
Spillane may not be considered great literature, but he could tell a story, and that is what counts. That, and characters that walk off the pages and snarl in your face, or vamp you with his vivid descriptions of the dames his anti-heroes try not to love. I stopped a couple of times to read passages out loud to my partner because they stuck me so strongly. There’s no attempt at a message in his writing, but the enduring impression is of vitality and gritty realism. I’m trying to capture a little of that in my writing. I’m a red-headed hack, who wants to give you a little escapist literature, and maybe you’ll remember the characters and world I’ve built out of these flavors, soaked in from reading and squeezed back out on the page.
And if you don’t remember, I’ll fade back into the fog, with a tip of my hat as I go, for what was meant to be and didn’t pan out…
Meanwhile, I’m writing today, and I’ll share a little snip of Pixie Noir, written after a short marinade with The Deep, a Mickey Spillane novel published in 1962.
Georgio’s was literally a haunt, too. The tall man was a ghoul, and I don’t mean that in a metaphorical morbid guy sort of way. He lived by eating dead bodies, and there were enough forgotten ones in the back alleys to keep him alive, in a manner of speaking. He refused to go Underhill, and we had a deal. I left him alone, he left the living alone, and he provided me with supplies when I was in town.
It was foggy, no big surprise in Seattle. The world was a smear of colors from neon and headlights, and then we pulled into the back alley behind Georgio’s, and when I had it in park, I closed my eyes. Bella nudged me.
“I can do that.”
I opened my eyes and looked at her. She was pale in the dim light, but even so, I could see the determination written on her face. I nodded. It would speed my reaction times up if she could do the watching with the Sight and I could stay in the real world the whole time.
She closed her eyes. “I see a flare of magic in there,” she pointed without opening her eyes. “Sort of greenish.”
“That’s Georgio. Anything else?”
She concentrated for a moment longer and then shook her head. “No, no more magic.”
“Want to stay here?”
She opened her eyes and winced slightly. “No, I’d like to stay with you.”
I got out of the car and she followed on my heels as I rapped at the heavy steel door. It swung open almost immediately. He’d been expecting me. He was almost seven feet tall of bad road, with a side order of roadkill that you smelled right away. When my eyes started watering, I choked out, “Georgio, remember we talked about soap?”
“You threatened me with a pressure washer, last time.” He grinned, and I could feel Bella’s flinch at the sight of ghoul teeth. Closely related to sharks, I sometimes thought, rows of sharp, serrated things. They shed them like sharks, too, he’d given me one, once. I’d bleached the hell out of it when I got home, and it still smelled faintly of death and rottenness.
He looked at her. “Welcome, Lady. Come into my humble abode, please.” He made a little bow stiffly, and we followed him up a short, dim hallway into a large, dim room. Ghouls are not overly fond of bright light.
He spoke to her again, rather than me. I was mildly amused. Women were a rare commodity to him, and he was enjoying this, although I doubted Bella was, she seemed to have a normal sense of smell.
“Can I offer you some refreshment?”
“Oh, no…” I could tell she was torn between graciousness and horror at the idea of ingesting anything from his pantry. I intervened.
“No time, Georgio. I need to get back on the road.”
I saw a flash of disappointment, and then he shrugged. “Sure thing, Lom. I have it for you.”
He reached behind a dusty sofa and hoisted out a leather satchel that had seen the last century – maybe two. “Everything you asked for, boss.”