October 31, 2007

Lord Dashleberry the Third

         Lord Frederic Dashleberry the Third walked into the living room quietly, as a tiger, stalking its prey. His only half-buttoned shirt caressed his strong, muscular chest in the light wind from the open windows across the room, and he noted the curtains waving fitfully in the wind, the light slipping past the curtains when it could to touch the keys of an old grand piano. The scene, the effect of wind and light, was perfect. Before him, turned slightly to face the piano, was an armchair. And there! Resting on the doily clothed side table beside the chair, a lily white hand! His heart beat a sarabande rhythm in his chest, his eyes excitedly taking in the youth, the beauty of the petite hand. His breathing quickened, became louder, and even his half-buttoned shirt seemed to stroke his chest more rapidly. His eyes were drawn briefly to the floor where he noticed an overturned tea cup, its contents spilled on the rich carpet, and he smiled knowingly. At last! He rushed forward to stand between the armchair and the windows, staring down with a fiery intensity at the young woman resting in the chair. He felt excitement building in his body, pushing him to a dangerous breaking point.

         “I knew I would find you here,” he rasped, struggling to keep control of himself. He took a few labored breathes before he continued. “Oh,” he said with a moan, “how I long to take you into my arms, to hold you close to me!”

         “But that would be a disruption, if not misuse, of evidence,” his sexy female assistant, Lorietta Loveswich, reminded him sternly from the door with an annoyed toss of her strawberry blonde curls, “and we won’t last another inquiry!”

         “Yes, yes, I know,” said Lord Frederic Dashleberry the Third impatiently. “But look! Her cherry red lips move me to heights of pleasure and passion which can hardly be borne!”

         “Well, bear them!” snapped Lorietta. “The chief of police will be here any time to commiserate and he’ll want to know what you’ve discovered.”

         “Of course, my dear Lorietta,” Lord Dashleberry said, turning his gaze of smoldering, pent-up passion on his beautiful personal assistant, taking in the way the wind played tug-of-war with her defiant curls. She gazed back, unmoved. Lord Dashleberry transferred his gaze from her perfectly sculpted cheekbones and wonderfully bouncy locks to the piano, and back to the young corpse’s cherry red lips.

         “Oh, those lips,” he sighed.

         “Just my luck to get stuck with a necrophile detective,” said an exasperated, yet still breathtaking lovely Lorietta.

         “Don’t you see, Lori, darling? The lips tell a story!”

         “Sure they do.”

         “They do,” insisted Lord Dashleberry. “They tell the story of this young woman’s last moments!”

         “Am I too late to hear it?” said the dashingly handsome Richard Hewitt-Smitherton from behind Lorietta, as he dragged his right hand through his golden tresses.

         “Chief!” cried Lorietta happily, giving him a smile she reserved, Lord Dashleberry had noticed, solely for the chief of police. “I didn’t even hear you!”

         Richard Hewitt-Smitherton smiled toothily back at her as he stepped into the room.        

         “Not at all, Hewitt-Smitherton,” Lord Dashleberry said with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. As Lorietta continued to smile at the chief, Lord Dashleberry decided he would have to show her who the better man was, when they were next alone together. “In fact, what I was about to say concerns you as well.”        

          “Indeed?” asked Richard Hewitt-Smitherton.        

          “Yes. Because I think that you had something to do with the death of this young lady!”        

          “What?!” gasped Lorietta, placing one of her capable hands against her ashen cheek.        

          “An outrage!” cried Richard Hewitt-Smitherton, taking an angry step forward.        

          The corpse said nothing.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. I really love the mock-bodic-ripper style you’ve got going on; a lovely choice, and I think in places you carry it off. But for example:

    “His only half-buttoned shirt caressed his strong, muscular chest in the light wind from the open windows across the room, and he noted the curtains waving fitfully in the wind, the light slipping past the curtains when it could to touch the keys of an old grand piano”

    This is cumbersome and confusing. The image within is vivid, and you’ve done a good job conveying the obscurity of some olde-schoole literature, but your piece doesn’t need itself to be cumbersome and obscure – to lampoon the style, you must point out its foibles, without actually falling into them. Tricky I know, but… well, some good examples can be found here -
    a marvellous collection of mock-awful beginnings to stories.

    I liked the premise for the story – delightfully surreal. But I think you can afford to be more explicit with the conceit (necrophiliac detective in a bodice-ripping stately home) earlier on. I didn’t understand what was going on, and that the two characters were talking to one another sensibly, until after I had read the end (where the setting was made explicit). My inital reaction upon the entry of Lorietta was “Oh, so a bodice-ripper has crash landed in a film noir” (which was a tantalising enough prospect that I kept reading – but not necessarily what you intended)

    Oh, and cudos on the last line. That one’s a gem. Treasure it.

    20 Nov 2007, 13:10

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