Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Old Beginnings 5
All Mystery Novels This Time
Treat 'em as if a fellow minion had submitted them. Would you read on? (Better to say nothing than to merely say, No, because I don't read mysteries.) Sources are posted at the bottom.
1. It was Father Martin's idea that I should write an account of how I found the body. I asked, "You mean, as if I were writing a letter, telling it to a friend?"
Father Martin said, "Writing it down as if it were fiction, as if you were standing outside yourself, watching it happen, remembering what you did, what you felt, as if it were all happening to someone else."
I knew what he meant, but I wasn't sure I knew where to begin. I said, "Everything that happened, Father, or just that walk along the beach, uncovering Ronald's body?"
"Anything and everything you want to say. Write about the college and about your life here if you like. I think you might find it helpful."
"Did you find it helpful, Father?"
2. There were crimson roses on the bench; they looked like splashes of blood. The judge was an old man; so old, he seemed to have outlived time- and change and death. His parrot-face and parrot-voice were dry, like his old, heavily-veined hands. His scarlet robe clashed harshly with the crimson of the roses. He had sat for three days in the stuffy court, but he showed no sign of fatigue. He did not look at the prisoner as he gathered his notes into a neat sheaf and turned to address the jury, but the prisoner looked at him. Her eyes, like dark smudges under the heavy square brows, seemed equally without fear and without hope. They waited.
3. It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.
4. "How long did it take them to die?" The man this question was posed to didn't seem to hear it. He looked in the rearview mirror again and concentrated on his driving. The hour was just past midnight and the streets in lower Manhattan were icy. A cold front had swept the sky clear and turned an earlier snow to slick glaze on the asphalt and concrete. The two men were in the rattling Band-Aid-mobile, as Clever Vincent had dubbed the tan SUV. It was a few years old; the brakes needed servicing and the tires replacing. But taking a stolen vehicle in for work would not be a wise idea, especially since two of its recent passengers were now murder victims.
5. Following an Easter dinner of ham, peas, and creamed potatoes, Charles "Le Cowboy" Bellemare pinched a twenty from his sister, drove to a crack house in Verdun, and vanished. That summer the crack house was sold up-market. That winter the new homeowners grew frustrated with the draw in their fireplace. On Monday, February seventh, the man of the house opened the flue and thrust upward with a rake handle. A desiccated leg tumbled into the ash bed.
Old Beginnings 5
1. Death in Holy Orders.....P. D. James
2. Strong Poison.....Dorothy L. Sayers
3. The Big Sleep.....Raymond Chandler
4. The Cold Moon.....Jeffery Deaver
5. Cross Bones.....Kathy Reichs