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I thought I could make out the clicking of knives and forks, but that must have come from the kitchen. The service left something to be desired: still nobody around. At the rear of the dining room, a staircase lit by a dark red light led to the floor above. I shook the bell on the table. A few moments later, a woman came out of the back room. She was wearing a wide white dress that went all the way down to her ankles. A multicolored madras scarf was knotted around her head, hiding the top of her forehead and her ears. Her careful makeup gave her an incongruous appearance: such stylishness within these lonely walls was certainly unexpected.
A solid gold Virgin hung from a massive chain around her neck and danced as she breathed. She was beautiful despite her plumpness, which weighed down her features and figure. An artificial smile stretched her lips and I admired a perfect row of teeth. The kind of black beauty who is hardly affected by time. She must have been about fifty. There never were a lot of people here, and they leave, one after the other, every day. She scored a point there.
Her only answer was to hand me a key. How much is the room?
11 Elements of Writing Noir | Writers Anon - Taunton's Writing Group
Appointed to the police as a level two officer August 15, , at the Port-au-Prince Academy. After your first year of service, you won a scholarship to Japan, where you went through twelve months of intensive training in the investigation of drug trafficking and related money laundering. Back in Haiti, you were a detective for eight years in the anti-gang division, and you were then appointed assistant to the head of the Criminal Investigation Department.
In the capital, you live at 39 rue Bouvier. As for the price of the room, you will be perfectly satisfied. Trust me. The place was now so cold it was freezing my very core, paralyzing my reactions. Despite how surprised I was by the declarations of the woman standing before me, I could only think of getting a bite to eat and sinking into a bed. Tomorrow I could review the situation, look around the place, find police headquarters, and begin to adjust, so to speak. I asked my hostess if she could have dinner brought to me in my room.
She confirmed this.
I took the key she gave me; it had the number 6 on it. It is reserved for you. At night, try not to make too much noise, so as not to disturb people in the other rooms. I went out to get my bag and locked the car. Room 6 had minimal furniture. A double bed that seemed fairly comfortable. A table with a reading lamp on it. Opposite the bed, there were armchairs on either side of a small round table. I found a few hangers in the freestanding wooden closet decorated with a long mirror.
Noir at the Bar: St. Louis
The bathroom was just as plain. A narrow shower, a sink, and a toilet. The towel was clean and the soap had not been opened. I took a shower; hot water flowed from the faucet. This hotel was surprising me at every turn. I felt better after the shower. A pleasant torpor was invading my muscles and brain. I was surely going to fall asleep soon. The situation seemed less dramatic than I thought it would be. In my mind I was thanking my old friend Froset, who used to be my partner in my years as a detective. I had been stunned by the news of my imminent transfer to Gokal and called him up.
It was known in high places. Froset had rapidly climbed the ladder because of his excellent service record and was now part of the high command. I put on a loose undershirt and clean underpants. Not too surprising-that often happens in out-of-the-way parts of the country. Someone knocked at the door. A young woman stood there with a dinner tray. The mauve light from the corridor darkened her very black skin still more. All I could see of her was her white smock, her eyes, and her teeth.
I waved her in and she set the tray down on the round table. In the light of the room, I could see she was a very young girl, no more than sixteen or seventeen. An oval face and big eyes that looked right through me. Her lips were thick and well defined: a mouth that ate up her face.
Her kinky hair showed from underneath her scarf. Her breasts, firm as unripe fruit, pushed out at a little blouse cut off at the navel. A long filmy skirt covered her ankles. No jewel decorated her wild beauty.
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Once the tray was set down, I expected her to leave. I looked at her more closely. She reminded me of someone-but who? Oh, yes! The woman at the reception desk. My landlady must have looked like this girl forty years ago. The presence of this adolescent disconcerted me. I swallowed with difficulty and finally sat down at the table to eat. She retreated and stood in a corner of the room, watching me stealthily.
The soup was thick and tasty. I was wondering if this child was really all right in the head. Are you going to stay in the hotel a long time? For every answer, she was now asking me another question. What a funny girl. I thought I could detect a small note of alarm in her voice. Her eyes were staring at my face with touching attention and her question almost resembled a prayer. I continued to doubt her mental capacities. Living year-round in this desolate environment, serving all kinds of guests in their rooms, could shake up a young mind.
Josiane sighed and turned her eyes away. The situation was becoming stranger and stranger. I continued to eat, thinking all the while. The atmosphere of this place had weighed on me as soon as I arrived. And now, this girl in my room. I picked up the glass of rum on the rocks from the tray and took a good swallow. Here I was, Commissaire Vanel, a career police officer, awarded medals by the high command, shut up in a strange hotel room in the middle of nowhere with a girl with exciting breasts and a deranged mind.
When I got the envelope with the official seal on it yesterday-the envelope of my disgrace-I had absolutely no idea what was waiting for me. My limbs were growing heavy, my joints seemed made of cotton. I finished eating and drank the rest of my rum. I thought Josiane was going to clear the table and I went over to the bed. When I sat down, she walked right up to me, very close.
Now I was surprised by the passivity of her features. She was acting like an automaton. She was putting herself at my disposal. A violent perfume was coming up from her armpits and provoking chain reactions under my skin. She was standing directly in front of me with her nipples brushing my face. She took my head by the nape of the neck and pressed my face between her breasts. I was progressively losing consciousness. Thoughts of prudence did flash through my mind-she must surely be a minor-but no argument in the world could stand up against the tide that was sweeping me away.
I wanted to touch her, my fingers were burning to caress her dream of a body, but she stopped my hands every time. She wanted to be the only one in charge. Her desire was of no importance; perhaps she felt none at all. All I had to do was let her do what she wanted. Was this service included in the price of the room? My eyelids were getting heavier and heavier, and as I threw back my head, the big mirror on the wardrobe showed me the picture of a child kneeling as if in prayer before my erect virility.
I woke up relatively early. Roosters were still crowing. From my room I could see the main entrance. My car was in the same spot. The brilliant sunshine reflecting off the stones of the street burned my eyes. The trees were rare and stunted in this place. There was something like a bit of life animating the main street. Doors on the side streets opened and a few people with dull looks on their faces were leaving their homes. I freshened up and put on a pair of jeans and a green T-shirt.
First I wanted to take an inventory of the place, more or less, and transmit my report to the high command. I got the idea of taking a discreet little tour around the property. The uneasiness I had felt the night before was persisting. I wanted to get a better idea of the Paradise Inn. I slipped my. My room, number 6, gave onto the stairway at the end of a long corridor that connected the different accommodations. I tiptoed by them.
When I reached the first landing, I opened the little door that closed off the corridor. It opened onto another series of steps leading to the ground floor at the back of the house. Might as well learn what was happening down below, stage left. I came upon a vast courtyard. The place seemed dead; everything was covered by a thin layer of dust. The courtyard faced a garden overgrown with brambles. Empty pans were waiting around the dry basin of a fountain. I would have preferred to see people: the silence and desolation of the spot were giving me the shivers.
I heard a noise and my heart started pounding wildly. The lady upstairs had turned on the radio. I glanced at the roof. No solar panels. And yet everything seemed to work on electricity at the Paradise Inn. The backyard of the hotel was uninhabited. No staff, no life, no smell. I continued my tour, hugging the walls as I walked along. I opened a door. It made an eerie sound, amplified by the emptiness of the place. A bedroom with closed windows bathed in a red half-light. Cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. The place smelled stuffy.
There were many mirrors hanging on the walls, in all dimensions. Most of them were covered with big, dark veils. I made out the shape of a motionless body in a large bed, and I could hear regular breathing. Josiane was lying in the middle of a mess of dried flowers, veiled mirrors, and spiderwebs. Her perfume reached me despite the strong smell of mold. I was chilled to the bone. What was Josiane doing in this sinister setting? How could people live in a place without leaving any trace of life?
Who were these people? I moved on. Two other rooms had the same dusty, abandoned appearance-what used to be a kitchen and a pantry in brown ceramic tile. It was all muddled up in my mind. Everything seemed frozen, fossilized. The lady at the reception desk greeted me as coldly as before. She suggested fried eggs and boiled bananas for breakfast. I agreed. The room was empty. No employee was bustling about to serve up the meal.
My landlady appeared to do it all herself. I walked over to a table-number 5. I stumbled again and tried to pull out a chair to sit down, but it resisted. I looked around. What do you know? The receptionist was watching me from behind her desk. Then I remembered what she had told me and walked back to table 6, rather embarrassed.
I sat down with no problem. I had to keep my eyes open. Something very fishy was happening here. I was facing extremely tough enemies. Instinctively, I felt for the gun stuck between my skin and belt. There was no strong reaction from her. Were you happy with her services? The impudence of the question threw me for a loop.
The woman smiled. An ironic smile that stung me to the quick. She takes care of room service. She has to save her energy for certain guests. The staff here is competent and efficient. But I do thank you for your interest, Commissaire Vanel. I decided not to continue the conversation. I had just received a lesson in authority, in all due form. The woman was chilling. She left me powerless. Like the previous evening, I noticed leftovers on the other tables, but no guests. The customers of the Paradise Inn were as discreet as could be. By the time coffee came which was very sweet, strong, and hot , I felt myself overwhelmed by the same weariness as the night before.
I had to force myself to get up and head out to my car. It was time to take a drive around the town and locate the police station. The two right tires of the jeep were flat and the vehicle was leaning to one side. I had to find someone who could repair the tires. There are always one or two people like that on the main street of every small provincial town. I walked for a good fifteen minutes. The whole town of Gokal was composed of one main street lined with little low houses with wooden lace cornices, all of them in disrepair and saturated with the surrounding gray dust.
In the middle of this space rose the only tree worthy of the name, and around it was a church, a general store whose shelves seemed empty, and a few other houses in the same style as the main street. A little farther on, slightly behind the square, an open space must have been used as an outdoor market. The darker ground in this place suggested that the sale of charcoal must still support the dying economy of the town. On my way I only met a child carrying a bucket of water on his head, two old men sitting under the covered passageway of a rickety house, and a crippled woman squatting in a doorway.
No able-bodied man in view. The situation seemed bad. I was sweating profusely. The best thing to do was to go back to the hotel and ask my hostess for help. But she had to know the resources of the town. I found her sitting at the reception desk. What was happening to me? Normally I was the strong one. I was the one who asked the questions, doubted, pushed, intimidated people.
I was the police officer, the expert sleuth. I represented authority. People were afraid of me.
I knew all the methods of persuasion. Why did this woman have such a strong hold over me? I forced myself to go on. So I have to find a repairman. The lady seemed embarrassed, like someone who had to give someone else a piece of bad news. She fidgeted on her chair, leaned her head to one side, then to the other. As you must have noticed, there are no cars in Gokal. She made an effort to continue the conversation, which clearly annoyed her. I was reduced to a child bombarding an irritated adult with questions. Among them there are a few policemen, like you. They rarely leave their rooms.
As for the market, every Tuesday a few trucks do come to pick up the bags of charcoal that people in the country around here carry in by donkey. How could the high command send me to a place like this? Why me, an elite police officer? Little by little, I was beginning to realize that I had been exiled, abandoned. I thought over my last conversation with Froset just before I jumped into my car to come to this wretched town.
I was too happy about the hotel recommendation to pay attention to his lack of interest in my situation. And yet I regarded him as a brother. Once I had risked my own life to save his, during a clash with a bunch of gangsters. He used to tell everybody he was eternally grateful to me. With him in the high command, I felt I had some protection.
He wanted to know what cases I was working on. Why had he asked me this question at that exact moment? I was trying to trace a network of fake customs documents to the top. I could take it up again when my stay in Gokal was over. Now the connection between the investigation and my transfer stared me in the face. Instead of coming out here, I should have headed for the border at a hundred miles an hour.
You always think things like this only happen to other people. I was like a rat caught in an invisible net. These ideas were whirling through my head. I had to lean on the desk for a moment to continue the conversation. This time she lost some of her composure. Her eyes clouded over and she stumbled on her words as she answered. I am from here, you know, Commissaire Vanel. But I decided to keep calm.
This woman was the only one who could help me. Josiane was floating between intermediate worlds in an amnesiac room. I kept asking questions. Things will be okay. I walked over to table 6, surprised at my own obedience. The sensation of not being alone in the room bothered me for a moment, but I got rid of the feeling very quickly. My brain was being heated up by too many questions and too many sensations at once.
After some coffee, I did feel better, much better.
My skin, my limbs, and my muscles pleasantly relaxed. All my worries seemed light to me. I was filled with a sweet sense of well-being. I watched the hotel owner move around and she seemed to float as she walked.
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I had a gentle smile on my face. I spent the rest of the morning in bed. I felt a strange new sensation: my body was being emptied of its substance. I was drifting, carried along by a languor that only my bed could soothe. First I had to get rid of my fatigue, I thought. Once I was back in shape, I could get things under control and consider the situation. My first goal would be to fix my tires and find a phone. The only family I had was my younger brother Roland, with whom I shared an apartment. I had left him a note to tell him what was going on.
I had to call him, reassure him. I also had to call the high command, tell them about my situation, and wait for orders. But nothing seemed urgent to me now. I might as well take advantage of my forced vacation. After all, I had a hard life. To have a career as a police officer in a corrupt environment meant coming close to death all the time. Colleagues and friends kept dropping around me every day. Sometimes I had the feeling I was fighting shadows. The law watched impotently as convicts got out after just a few days in jail.
Only the high command made real decisions. A thankless, risky job. This rest might actually be good for me. I caught myself waiting for the night, waiting for Josiane. If she came back she would give some sense to my situation.
Do Some Damage, Noir at the Beach House – The Fishing Trip
She would make me forget my powerlessness, just as she had the first time. I spent the afternoon in my bed, sleeping. From time to time I would wake up with a start, feeling the presence of shadows moving around in the room, but I would immediately fall back into a deep sleep. Josiane returned at nightfall. She knocked on the door; I was expecting her.
I had dragged myself out of my comatose sleep half an hour earlier, and a cold shower had cleared up my mind. When I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, the sight of my emaciated face gave me a shock. I could hardly recognize myself. Probably an optical illusion. All fresh and perfumed, I was chomping at the bit, hoping Josiane would come. When I opened the door for her, the hinges squeaked with a familiar sound.
She stood in the hall lit by the bulb with purple reflections, wearing the same clothes as the night before. The same ice cubes were clinking at the bottom of the same glass of rum. What day of the week was it? How long had I been in this place? I had to make a great effort to place myself. My God, what was happening to me? From time to time, I simply lost my train of thought. Josiane watched me eat. She was spying on me from under the thick fringe of her eyelashes. I could see her breasts again, the hollow of her belly.
Once again, after dinner, I felt almost faint. I was drifting sweetly, wearily along. All my questions sank into oblivion. The rhythm of my blood was slowing. My movements were getting all bogged down. And yet when she put her hand on me, a last burst of conscience propelled me to my feet.
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I was sinking, calmly disappearing into quicksand. Paradise Inn would be my final destination. I had to get out of here right away, on foot if need be, this very night. My survival instinct was telling me to react, to shake off this torpor that was inexorably condemning me to oblivion. I badgered her with questions. Who is your mother? Who do you put up in this hotel?
Where are the other guests? Who are you working for? She was turning blue with pain under my grip. It hurt me to manhandle her, but I had to save my skin first. I only work here. Got it, you little bitch? Who are you, you and your mother? She was groaning with pain but said nothing. I squeezed her wrist harder still and kept on pushing her with questions.
Why is the rest of the house dead? What is hidden behind all that? I was foaming with rage. This little woman thought she could manipulate me through sex, lead me to the scaffold by my prick. I let go of her wrist and slapped her very hard. Her head was wobbling, she looked like a puppet. She holds her M. She currently lives in the Bay Area with her beloved husband and charming guinea pig.
She loves trying all sorts of food and would love to try a plaid hot dog someday at the Rainbow Zoo. He is the editor of an anthology of U. Kurt was a featured poet at the prestigious Geraldine R. Dodge 12th Biennial Poetry Festival and was the first spoken-word poet to receive an Archibald Bush Foundation individual artist fellowship in literature He emerged on the poetry spoken-word scene in the late s and has won several Poetry Slam competitions across the United States and in Germany.
He currently resides in Oakland, California. Kurt is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Lakota Tribe. She received her B. Everything Irish , her sixth poetry collection, was published by Scarlet Tanager Books in But lightly. A light spray. By mid-May the pot plants were four feet high and the stalks beginning to thicken. These were some richly fed pot plants. Intense winds and rain. Mick was delighted for the surfing possibilities but worried about the pot plants, and the day before the storm he brought over a tarp and some iron posts and clamps and stood out there, hammering away until the plants were safe.
The next day, in wind and teeming rain, his car rolled up the driveway with the headlights on. He was coming to check on the plants. A few minutes later he knocked on the kitchen door, his blue T-shirt soaked through and clinging to his torso. He was in an ebullient mood, the tarp had held. By the time we get there, should be pretty clear. He was big on new experiences and this promised to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
He made Mick promise to drive slowly and to bring me back by nightfall. The first thing I learned on the way out to Montauk was that Mick Todd was twenty-seven, much older than he looked or acted. The second thing I learned was how to snort coke off his leather wallet, the straight lines cut by an American Express credit card and the crisp dollar bill rolled evenly while he was driving one-handed in the teeming rain.
The worst part of it, besides getting arrested for drunk driving and losing his license, was that his Mustang was totaled. There was very little I could say to any of this except, Wow. I also learned, watching Mick surf off Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk, that he was completely fearless. Boy, could he surf. He glided effortlessly over the crests and into the barrels, and several times I thought he was going to die, drowned or crushed on the ocean floor as the blue-green mountains rolled down over his head.
But each time he emerged with a shake of his wet hair and a whoop of adrenaline-fueled happiness. He took off his wet suit and swim trunks standing beside his car and slipped on a pair of battered shorts and a T-shirt without drying off. He got in, cut some more lines on his wallet, and that was the first time he kissed me.
He was too old for me, I realized that. There was no reason at all he should be interested in me. I was a virgin; I knew absolutely nothing. But I did know my dad would blow a gasket if he found out. We kept it pretty chaste, making out a couple of times in his car in the Caldor parking lot or down at Wainscott Beach, when we were supposed to be out running errands. Yukiko drove him to Huntington, which had the best hospital and the best heart specialist on the Island.
The doctor decided to check him in, mostly for tests, and Yukiko stayed with him. I was sitting in the kitchen watching The Bionic Woman on TV when Mick walked in through the back door, without knocking. Come on, let me give you a massage. It felt sacrilegious, letting him lie on my bed in my room while my dad and Yukiko were at the hospital. He pulled his own shirt off right over his head.
His body was thin, his muscles strong and taut. He pressed my hand against the bulge in his jeans, which felt entirely too big and unfriendly. I pulled my hand away. He unbuttoned my cutoffs and started to tug them down my legs. This was my fault. People would blame me no matter what.
I started to struggle, trying to push him off. He was not a tall guy, but his muscles felt like steel. What was he talking about? The rest happened so fast it was like one of his juggling tricks. The same way he rolled joints while driving, or cut lines on his wallet, or could carry a bottle of wine and two glasses in one hand. No one would think rape.