Friday, June 11, 2010

THE DAMP FEDORA ~ By Absolutely*Kate


~ By Absolutely*Kate 

It was raining that night in the City by the Bay. A hard rain. The kind of rain that washes the regrets from men's souls and streams the chalk outlines off the sidewalks. I was in my office, waiting for the phone to peal a ring-a-ding-ding. I had just finished a case which had me peeking from behind the Iron Curtain under cover so deep I'd almost forgotten my own name. But it was worth it. I had stopped a war, broke a Ukranian heart, and made enough money to put me straight with some old and very unpleasant acquaintances. Now that I'd paid my landlord the rent I owed on my office, I was finally back up to broke, on the nut and needing fast new action. 

I heard the crunch of his Florsheims before I saw his silhouette go rugged behind the frosted glass of my office door. He rapped that glass like he really meant it. 

"It's open, " I called out. 

He stepped in like the breeze off a good Narragansett sail and strutted his stuff just as robust to my desk. "You Callahan?" he barked. 

"That's how it reads on the door, mister."

"I'm looking for something. You find somethings?" He challenged like a chip with a man on its shoulder. You could cut his bluster with Ace Hardware power tools. Yet, I knew my stuff. I let his bluster muster and his jets cool. Hey, I'm no fool.
"That's the business I'm in. What's the searching you're for?" 
Only sound was the scratch of his match. To make it darb, he did it off the side of my desk. Nope - flinching wasn't in me, nor was his check if I did. So wise guy, that's the way it's gonna play. He took a deep drag on a Pall Mall. I actually had places to go and promises to keep on keeping on but not the desire to have it known. 

Nix on that. Why, I'd bet the George Washington under my steel file cab -- Yep, my bottom dollar -- this was going to prove very interesting. Time wasn't on my side though to wait out his tease test. At the moment the ash got too big for itself, the ruby red manicure of my left hand slid a blue crystal ashtray his way, while my right hand readied accoutrements to become my write-hand. As the canary yellow pad moved several inches closer, the yellow canary in the cage feathered likewise. "Your name?" I queried him an easy one. 
"I could be any Tom, Dick or Harry . . . hell, even just your average Joe, " he front parried. A no-nonsense look leveled that nonsense. Our eyes locked for just a split. No blink, no flinch. Same bottom GW ruled out the Joe right away - no profile fit average on this bub.

"Howsabout I just call you Harry until all four of you figure who steps forward?"
Imperceptible smile mingled with gauntlet of perceptible hand doing the slow mo to doff his dampened fedora. Soon, a soggy spot was morphing my mahogany. I hate when someone messes with my mahogany. Matter of pride. Matter of principle. As a matter of fact this darn rogue's tryin' to get under my skin.
His bushier eyebrow challenged.
I quirked back, double time.
Statements understated are best understood. "Harry it is," his voice lowered, timbre of pillow talk. Ticked me off, that talk. Reminded me of my partner -- well, former mush partner yet still stuck-as-a-gumshoe partner -- Jake. Since that jingle-brained chippy had chirped in his nest, things were no longer jake with Jake. Timbre like that's tough to take. Timbre that makes you fall hard once, makes your caution take root and branch out. Didn't know who was going to get a rise out of what first, but no one was seeing this dame flap under the warmth of any cool breezer.
"Fine -- I ever get wild over you, I'm all set with lyrics." Now, to burst the urge of his puss showboating non-expression all over again, plus getting his damn damp fedora off the new puddle on my old mahogany, a change of venue was in order. Time to blow. 

"Cup o'Joe, Harry?"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Trenches kept stride. Professional pride, ya know? No tippin' of the mitts goin' on here. We gave each other the old ups and downs along the gutters of the silent slosh that ran up State Street, that gritty fate street. Even the shadows know who's boss on a mean street. 

"Tough place. People seem bewildered by the world they see around here." His gruff observation edged down cool night air the rain had forgotten to freshen up.
Reminiscent of the way the wind's song played on my mind, my retort shot back same temp as that disheartening air ~ 

"That's what a town without pity will do."

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Stay Tuned.
There'll be more.
There's always more
when a guy like this
struts serious in your door.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I'm Detective Nelle Callahan.
I've met some of you before and no doubt I'll run a lookover on some of youse when we meet up some dark rendezvous that spooks or sparks a meandering soul. But for now I gotta case -- well it looks like it. I'll keep you posted ... You take care til then. Don't take any wooden nickels, hear?

©  ~ Author Absolutely*Kate
graced by Bryan Costin and Michael Penn photos



pegjet said...

You nailed the genre. Interesting case, and hat.

My youngest is infatuated with fedoras. We bought the spray to prevent the damp... but that doesn't help a noir tale.

Cool to see you flashing.

Crybbe666 said...

Hey Kate, long time, no see.

Peggy is right - you have captured a perfect voice for this story. I always enjoy your wordplay but this really was something else.

Well done, Diary!

Ténèbres à la lumière... said...

Hi! Absolutely*Kate,
Thanks, for sharing!
I most definitely, will be keeping my "eyes" order to read what happens next...
...Detective Nelle Callahan,(Absolutely*Kate,)
I'am so glad to make your acquaintance.
Because you write like a "slumming" angel.

Postscript: I really like the photograph of the "raindrop- let" fedora too.
DeeDee ;-D

Wendy said...

Is it hot in here or what? Man oh man, KaterMater, you got me flashin'...I can't wait for more!

Harry said...

You've out-done yourself here K*G! Too many cool lines to give 'em all "". Nelle is a cucumber, reminds me of what I first loved about your writing :)

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

PEG ~ Your youngest is one cool breeze - I'd tip my hat to him, if it wasn't also still soggy. Means tons that you caught Nelle nailing. Thanks!

PAULIE ~ Perhaps alter-egoing your widescope of musings as a secret diary taught me more of shadows and their speak. ;-) Appreci'kate!

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

DeeDee ~ You have no idea (perhaps you do) how much I hold your "Slumming Angel" Chandleresque dubbing close to my happy dancing psyche. I'm about 3/4 through a full fledged re-reading of THE BIG SLEEP before I spectrum to the final book Robert Parker finished for Raymond. Gosh, once one steps into the noir side, there's a whole new lingo-light playing with what the dark already knows. I love it and love you, the master Noir-presenter, comin' round AT THE BIJOU,(though I've always sensed your shadows casin' da joint)

Nelle says you're swell. She may call you in on a case. Be ready. ~ Absolutely*Kate (still grinnin')

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

SHOOGS ~ You flashin' hot? Like what else is new? You causin' me to smile wit' my eyes? Like what else is new?

HAR ~ Glad to know from my fave word-pard that Nelle's cool cucumber status just may keep her outta being in a pickle of any pre-dick-ament she can't shoot straight out of. Damn, but you know how to make a gal feel good for droppin' in a line. (or two, or ... )

Thanks you two BIJOU high rollers.
~ Absolutely Kater / Katie*Girl

Paul D Brazill said...

very nicely done and very stylish.

Unknown said...

I certainly am a sucker for the noir her at The Bijou.

And for me... you wrote one of teh best opening lines I've read in a long while.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, A*K, Nelle is the Belle o' the ball far as I'm concerned. Woman with a crystal ashtray (blue, she ain't no fool) and a ruby red manicure when she's just back up to broke? She's all about the style and smile, like the one she brings to my face very episode.

I love this character, love this story, and love the voice you give it. Beautiful work.

Matthew S. Magda said...


Here is my comment

"Since that jingle-brained chippy had chirped in his nest, things were no longer jake with Jake."

Priceless! One of the best lines you've written. I think Nelle won't let anything get to her. She's on a mission. Jake or no Jake.

Jeanette cheezum

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

great voice! I was hooked from the beginning

Love your MC, and "Harry" is very intriguing also

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Calibre of the writer gents considered, I've got a blush to my curtsey, MR BRAZILL and MR VENUTOLO. Knights of Noir ye are, makin' me feel so shadowy at home down these mean streets which hold so much . . . promise and potential. *THANKS!*

LADY JEANETTE ~ So glad that jingle-brained chippy line chirped for you. Takes more than a Jake to make a tough tender woman. Nelle said to tell'ya she's real darn glad you're in her corner.

~ Absolutely*Kate

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Aw Shucks J DANE ... You got it, you got it ... right down to ruby nails knowin' only a blue crystal ashtray will do. She's broke and it's Oke - that's why this lady is a champ.

And you sure are for how you made this writer'gal feel for being the vessel to what Nelle had on the tell this time around. Me and my blush both thank you a plenty.

MZ MAZZ ~ As a vibrationist of *intrigue*, your lovely thoughts are well appreci'kated. Cool to hook you. ;-)

~ Absolutely*Kate,
enjoyin' flashin' with youse guys

Barry J. Northern said...

Your colourful prose style ironically lends itself to noir. Ha ha ha, I'm so clever. Nice story, not my cup of tea, but I know a lot of people like it.

Pamila Payne said...

Kate this is fantastic. You've got this style down pat, but you keep throwing in the twists and turns of phrase to make it all come off fresh. Can't wait to see where this tale goes, someplace dark and glittery I'm guessing.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

PAMILA ~ THANKS! Your words always mean word-worlds to me, you know what I mean ... it goes way back. I stand in awe at the doorway of darknesses in rooms your protagonists beckon ... and you, you always have the generosity of spirit past how you channel your characters to say 'just the right zing' to fellow authors pluggin' the wordsmithery out there. When can I buy you that drink?

BARRY you BRIT ~ I'll pour your cup'o'tea in some desert wind someday but for this day I'd like to say ~ I think you're clever whenever you think you're clever. A clever courtesy curtsey to you good Sir Northern.

~ Absolutely*Kate thankin' you all on behalf o'Nelle who as a smart cookie steppin' on any crumbs in her way is real doggone glad you came'round to read this tale (incidentally - Ms Payne is on the glimmer of the trail)

Carrie Clevenger said...

Fantastic add here. I really like this strong female detective character. She's a lot of fun, and your wordsmithing is just colorful, bouncy, and resplendent of eras gone by. Well done Kate.


Eric J. Krause said...

Loved how you played with the language in this one. It was a fun read.