OK - here's a sample of what I do on the "fly".
I'm going to post something I wrote in probably under 40 minutes. All because Miss Snark made a comment about "needing" something.
I like her blog - btw - it's informative, funny, inspirational and more. I wish there were more like her out there.
Anyhow - here it is. Please, don't think that this is the "best" that I can do --- nor think I should edit it.
I'm not "writing on the fly" to get published.
It's more of: Can I build a quick storyline... Can I punch out the Characters? Can I get dialog into sequence? Can I get some sort of "Hook" --- and all in under an hour.
So - you're free to tell me what you think (You can laugh at it - you can say it's horrible - you can say it's great - you can say it's so-so... I won't hold it against you, I promise... )
Miss Snark's Private Detective Story...
The Private Dick and The Ghost - By Lady M
It didn’t take long for the phone to ring, once I turned the damn thing on.
Surprising was the fact it wasn’t just another telemarketer or a bill collector. I can’t seem to get the money rolling when it is time to pay the bills. It seems to trickle in right about the time the cabinets get empty. But, I digress.
A breathy, female voice came on the answering machine and owing all of those bills, you know I’m not going to pick up the phone without checking to make sure it isn’t the credit card company... again.
“I hope that I have the right number,” the breathy voice said.
Shit. I’d forgotten to make a message for the machine. Oh freaking well.
“A friend of mine says you’re really good.”
Good? Good at what?
“I have a case I’d like you to take.”
Interested finally, I grabbed the phone. “Jordison, Private Eye.”
Ahhhh. Bright. Just the way I like them. Dumb and a little curvy. There isn’t anything like the not-so-bright woman. I like the Marilyn Monroe look, and if the gal has the same personality… Kowabunga! Match made in heaven!
“I need a private detective.”
And here I’d thought she was calling for a plumber.
“Well, ma’am...” Money, man. Think of the money. “That is what I do.”
“Oh good.” She paused.
Now go figure, I might be a private dick, but unless someone tells me what they want, I can’t read their minds over the phone.
“And what can I do for you?” I put on my best poker voice and tried to not get sarcastic. Remember, I’ve got to make the car payment every month before they decide to tow it away and give it back to the bank.
“I think I’m in trouble.”
Oh great. I’m a sucker for a dame on the brink of disaster. Happens every time. Some time, I’ll have to tell you about the wife that took the house. And she wasn't even my wife!
“What kind of trouble are we talking about Ma’am?” I ground my teeth.
“I’ve got a little problem.”
Oh this is getting better, I thought to myself. Yeah. She’s got trouble--and her little problem is not being able to articulate her trouble over the phone.
“What kind of problem?” Maybe if I repeated her questions back at her, she’d eventually spit it out.
“I think I’m dead.”
“Somebody is after you?”
“No. I think I’m dead. As in, I’ve been killed already. You know? Dead body. No heartbeat. Blood everywhere?”
I’ve looked at phones in many ways; To see if they were broken, to see if they had gunk on them and many other reasons, but right then I was staring at the handset just trying to figure out what was causing the earpiece to squawk impossible gibberish in my ear.
“What do you need help with; I’m sorry, I thought you just said you were already dead.”
“Well, I am,” she said a little indignantly.
“You are in trouble and think someone is going to kill you?” I again tried to help her out, because obviously she’d read one too many gothic books and had flipped her cookie.
“No, I’m in trouble. Or I was. And now I’m dead.”
“I see. Makes sense. All right, well, it was certainly nice talking to you.” And I hung up the phone. Just like that.
I looked at the clock on the wall. The sun had started going down and it was time to turn on the lights. But I really wanted to save that extra penny. I hadn’t had a case in over three months and after that call, it didn’t look too promising at that point either.
I figured I’d go make myself a hot dog.
I walked into the smallest kitchenette this side of Jersey and popped one of those suckers into the nuker. I’m not big on cooking. Probably why I’ve always liked dumb broads. They cook with a smile and the dishes are always done. Those smart ones are a real pain, you have to cook for them. And if I had a smart one, we’d both end up starving, and I don’t think that would be such a good idea.
The smell of the hot dog floated out of the microwave and got my stomach rumbling. I thought about the last time I’d eaten and I’ll be damned if I could remember when it was. Maybe yesterday. Maybe this morning. Who the hell knew? I just knew that I was hungry right then. And right then the smell was making Pavlov’s dogs look like dried up husks of whatever – and I was drooling like I was trying to fill up the Pacific Ocean.
I pulled the hot dog out of the oven and grabbed a piece of bread, making sure there wasn’t any mold I would have to pinch off. I yanked open the little rectangle that was supposed to be a refrigerator and grabbed the mustard, dumping on the watery part first until the real stuff came out. Great, the damn thing would be soggy.
I went to take a bite when a noise startled me. I held the dog up to my mouth, ready to take a bite as I walked out of that tiny, square part of my house.
Right smack dab into a ghost.
“I told you I was dead.” She said.
Now, I’ve read plenty of ghost stories in my time and they didn’t prepare me for what was standing in my hallway. She was knock out gorgeous and built to you know where. In fact, if I hadn’t been able to see my coffee table right through her, I wouldn’t have known she was a ghost. And never having seen a ghost at that point in my life, I wasn’t exactly sure what I should be doing.
She didn’t seem scary. I’d always pictured ghosts to be spooky and glimmery. Something you find in horror stories. But she looked just like a normal person – except she was a little see through. O.k. So she was a lot see through. But she still was a real looker.
She waited until I had caught my breath back and then nodded at me. I think I nodded back, but I’d realized that my hot dog was still poised an inch from my mouth and stopped mid way through, lowering the hot dog. I looked back at her and tried to think of something to say.
“Uhm, you gonna hurt me?” Was the first thing that popped out of my mouth.
A sad smile played at the corner of her mouth as she shook her head to the negative. Her short blond hair was cut in a curly bob and it shook right along with her.
“No Mr. Jordison, I just need your help.”
I decided at that point that I might as well put the hot dog down, so I turned slightly and set it on the kitchenette counter. I really didn’t want to take my eyes off of her. I’d never had a ghost in my house and I wasn’t so sure I liked the idea right then, either. Still, she didn’t seem like she was out to steal my soul or anything.
I turned back to her, “I’m not sure if I can help you.” I mean, she was dead. Right?
“I think you can. One of my friends told me about you and said you’d helped them out a few years back.”
One of her friends? Who?
“And who might that be?”
“Tony Postino.” Good old drug czar Tony. At least he had paid his bills on time. I kind of missed him. He'd given me some pretty interesting cases.
“How the hell did a nice girl like you get to know Tony? Wasn’t he killed a few years ago?”
She nodded. “He told me this morning.”
Just like that. She couldn’t break it to me easy or nothing. No. She had to go and tell me that ghosts were talking to each other and that meant more of them were out there. Shivers started dancing up my spine.
“Great.” I glanced at the couch. I think I needed to sit down, but I wasn’t too keen on going through her. “Mind if we sit down?”
Her ghostly image looked around at my place. Pizza boxes stacked up on the table. A few beer cans, empty, I’m sure, laid on their sides. Newspapers all over the place. You know. A bachelor pad. It isn’t so bad when you’re the only one living in it, but when she got that look on her face that said she’d rather stay dead than sit on my couch, I had to rethink whether my place was fit for even myself to live in.
“Yeah. I get it.” I moved past her, making sure I didn’t bump into her. She kind of floated to the side a bit. Maybe she didn't want to touch me either.
I shoved the newspapers onto the floor and dusted the crumbs and cigarette ashes off the couch. She made it obvious that she needed a clean spot. Me, I don’t care so much what I sit on, just as long as it isn’t wet. Nothing like having a wet pair of pants on.
She sat down gingerly on the edge of the cushion. I could see the seams of the couch right through her. So far, she hadn’t seemed threatening or even mildly scary. She seemed more like she was that lady in that invisible girl movie. You know, the one where she kept turning invisible? I don’t know if she was solid enough to feel, but at that point I wasn’t gonna touch her.
Do you blame me?
I sat down on the other side of the couch. Far enough away that I could jump off if she made a move. I hoped like hell that she didn’t have superhero speed or anything, but how was I supposed to know?
“So what’s your name?” I asked her after trying to make myself feel a little more comfortable. Although how one is supposed to feel comfortable with a ghost sitting on their couch, no matter how cute they might be, is something I’ll never figure out.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know your own name?” I looked at her and realized that she was pretty upset by all of this. I tried to think of something else to ask her, something that wouldn't upset her any further.
“So when did it happen?”
“Well see, Mr. Jordison, that’s part of the problem. I’m not really sure.”
“Fine, then. Let’s kind of narrow it down. Shall we?”
“O.k.” She looked a little dubious, but hey, if Tony had suggested me, then I was going to try and help her. Besides, I already told you, I’m a sucker for dames in trouble. Even partially invisible ones. Sigh.
“What were you doing last week?”
“I was working.”
“You work? Good, where do you work?”
“I work at Lydon’s Publishing Company. I read articles before they are published, I pre-edit them.”
“Where’s Lydon’s at?” I had no clue. I don’t often get down to the business district. I’m more of a small town kind of guy.
“It’s on the waterfront. At least it used to be.”
“What do you mean it used to be?”
“Tony and I took a walk down there today and it wasn’t there anymore.”
“What kind of company is there now?
“There isn’t anything there.” She looked at me a little strangely. “Trees are growing there now, tall ones. Pines, I think.”
Oh. I wondered what that meant, but decided to let it pass.
“What was the last major event you remember happening?”
She scrunched up her face a little bit and it made her nose kind of tweak up a little. I thought it was cute.
“Babe Ruth just hit 60 home runs.”
I jumped off the couch. She was a ghost that was older than my mother!
Now as a guy, it is my primary duty to know certain things and I damn sure knew that 1927 was the year the Bambino tossed in the 60 home runs. I wasn’t even a sparkle in my parent’s eyes. Hell. I wasn’t even a sparkle in my grandfather’s eye at that point. This blond bombshell that was semi-invisible was older than most members of my dead family.
No wonder she was dead.
“Well. That’s why you’re dead. It happens to be 2006.” I figured I’d solved her problems and she could go merrily haunting someone else for all I cared. I just had to figure out how to shoo a ghost out of my pad.
She looked at me and her bottom lip started quivering. I knew it. She was gonna cry. Damn, if there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s a dame that’s gonna cry.
“I know time has passed, Mr. Jordison. I just don’t know who I am or why I died.” A tear dripped down her cheek, glistening. It looked just like any other tear in this world.
: Wet, silvery and sad.
I rolled my eyes. Fine. I’m a sucker. I’m a numbnuts. I’m an idiot. Heaven help me from myself.
“Fine. I’ll help you.”
For the first time, I got a wide smile, and she was deadpan gorgeous. Sheesh. My knees went weak and I knew right then I was in trouble.
Deep shit was more like it.