In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

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TheHivemind
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In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by TheHivemind » Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:25 pm

Occasionally I get really terrible ideas in the shower, and then I have to write them down and show them to people so that they can talk me out of continuing them. This is one such idea.

KS Noir

I think it was around nine in the morning when the knock first sounded on my door. Looking back, it seems odd that I could have avoided this whole sordid mess if I'd just pretended to be asleep, but I doubt that the person knocking would have bought it anyway. Chances are, they'd done their homework before making contact; and as such would know that my medication usually has me up early. I put down my book and walked to the door, knowing that it would probably be someone wanting something from me. Nobody's got any other reason to knock on my door.

The girl standing on the other side is a familiar but not entirely welcome sight for my eyes. Medium height, curly pink hair, the sort of figure that some men call 'curvaceous' and other men call 'fat.' Golden eyes that are already focusing all their effort on looking vulnerable and in need of protection even though we both know that's bullshit. A mouth with full lips turned downwards into a helpless expression of supplication. “We need your help, Hicchan...”

“That ain't my name. You should know that by now.” I should close the door in her face right now, but instead I step back and allow her to enter my room. She makes her way to my bed and sits down on it, crossing her legs just fast enough to keep modest, but only just. I walk to my desk chair and sit there, noting the brief glimmer of disappointment that flits across her features. This was obviously supposed to be a seduction gig, but I'm having none of it.

“It's the name we gave you, isn't it Mister Nakai?” Simpering cutely and leaning forward now, “Back when you worked for us...”

“Once, sister. I worked for you once, and you repaid me by letting me take the fall when things got twisted.”

She looks offended. “Look, we're all very sorry about what happened to Miss Miki, but--”

“Not another word out of you, Miss Mikado. You didn't come here to apologize to me, you came to ask for something.” I mentally curse myself for losing composure so quickly and quickly reassert control over myself. “Say your peace and then heel it. I've got no time for catching up with old friends today.”

Much to my surprise, Misha briefly looks remorseful—really remorseful. “I'm sorry. I just...we need your help pretty badly on this. There's nobody else we can trust.”

“Trust?” I snort, “That's rich, coming from you. I didn't know that you knew the word at all.”

Ah, that provoked a response. The sort of glare that could take down a full grown elephant, much less a man with a dicky heart. “You wanna play the martyr, Hisao? Fine, but if you're gonna get specific about it remember that we weren't the only ones who could have helped out Miki and didn't.”

Nothing's worse than hearing the truth from someone you've gotten really accustomed to hating. I heave a sigh of resignation. “Fine, I'll keep the editorials to a minimum on this one. Let's hear it.”

“Could you close the door? The walls have ears in this school, I hear.” Misha's all business now, of course.

“The only set of ears the walls have got in here are mine, but if it'll make you feel better...” I stand up, swing the door closed, and return to my seat. “Now come on, out with it. The suspense is killing me.”

“Shicchan—that is, Miss Hakamichi, is being blackmailed.” Misha produces an envelope from her purse and tosses it to me. “We got this after lunch yesterday. It was sitting on the student council president's desk.”

I open the envelope and read the simple instructions contained therein. 'We have photos, we're not afraid to let them out into the wild, but of course we can always be persuaded to keep this sort of thing to ourselves if you're inclined to pay us to do so. Drop the cash in a plain brown bag in the girl's locker room, locker 12 E and we'll contact you again to let you know where to find the negatives and all copies.' The sum is the sort of amount that says whoever's behind it has to be holding something pretty breathtaking. “I don't suppose they sent you proof of their material?”

“Wouldn't be coming to you for help if we didn't think they were serious, now do you?”

“I don't suppose I could have a look at it?”

“I don't suppose that's necessary, do you?”

I shrug. Clearly Misha doesn't want more people to know whatever the full story is than already do. “Could be. It would give all sorts of information—time, place, some kind of guess as to where the photos were shot. That sort of thing helps to determine who could have had the opportunity to shoot 'em.”

This seems to placate her, and she pulls out a second envelope. Before she hands it over, she gets a look even worse than the one before and growls in a low and dangerous voice, “I don't need to tell you what happens if people who aren't you get a hold of this.”

“Hey, I never gave you a reason not to trust me.” I snatch the envelope impatiently. I've got no time for theatrics here. Every second this girl's in my room the chances of the wrong sort of people getting the wrong sort of ideas grow larger, and I've had enough trouble on account of Misha and her boss already. The pictures inside are the sort of thing that could make a priest reconsider his vows, and I note with a strange feeling of satisfaction that I was always right about those two. “Cute couple.”

“Always the comedian, aren't you Hicchan?” Misha looks completely and utterly unembarrassed. “So what can you tell from the pictures?”

“Other than how flexible your boss is?” I leer nastily at Misha and receive a slap in the face for my troubles. “For starters, it was taken through the window of a classroom door, if the slight blur is of any indication. Secondly, whoever took the photo was smart enough to keep their reflection from showing up. Finally, you two shouldn't be using the council room for that sort of thing.”

Misha snorts impatiently. “So you didn't pick up anything useful, is what you're saying. Great.”

“I didn't say that. That's just on first glance.” More importantly, those are the only things I feel like sharing immediately. “I'll take a closer look before I start asking anyone any questions.”

“You expect me to leave that here with you?” Misha looks at me incredulously.

“I can guarantee that nobody is going to see this photo but me, and I can also guarantee that if you hang around here pestering me I'll never get any work done.”

Misha considers her options, which aren't that great, and finally scribbles something on a piece of paper. “Shanghai. Six o' clock tonight. If you don't have any new information for us, then we start abusing privileges. Here.” She hands me the piece of paper with the address and time on it. “So you don't get lost.”

“Does this mean I'm on the case? We haven't discussed my fee yet...”

“Show tonight, and we'll discuss it then. Now if you'll excuse me, I have other business to attend to today.” She sweeps out the door, hips swaying seductively even though I know she's got no interest in a guy like me or any other, leaving me with my thoughts and the picture.

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SirMax
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by SirMax » Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:20 pm

well I like it at any rate. Planning on continuing it?
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Silentcook
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by Silentcook » Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:56 pm

TheHivemind wrote:Occasionally I get really terrible ideas in the shower, and then I have to write them down and show them to people so that they can talk me out of continuing them.
"Don't continue this, Hive. It'll only end in tears. Crocodile tears."
There. :mrgreen:
Shattering your dreams since '94.

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DuaneMoody
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by DuaneMoody » Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:18 am

TheHivemind wrote:hips swaying seductively even though I know she's got no interest in a guy like me or any other
You are the king of trolls. GJ

TheHivemind
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by TheHivemind » Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:41 am

DuaneMoody wrote:
TheHivemind wrote:hips swaying seductively even though I know she's got no interest in a guy like me or any other
You are the king of trolls. GJ
I do what I can.

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Snicket
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by Snicket » Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:15 pm

whoa didn't see that coming

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Warwick
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by Warwick » Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:35 pm

Aww man, I love noir, too. I was grinning from ear to ear while reading this. Hope you continue. If not, what a shame *pouts*
静音是买外夫

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Deimos
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by Deimos » Mon Jul 13, 2009 3:09 pm

Wonderful!
Ahh, Morticia? I would die for her. I would kill for her. Either way, what bliss.

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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by G3n0c1de » Tue Jul 14, 2009 6:28 am

TheHivemind wrote:the sort of figure that some men call 'curvaceous' and other men call 'fat.'
oh, you.

Anyway, nice fic. And you must continue this, there's so much more shit that can go down.
It's a good thing Shizune is deaf, she is the only one who can stand (not) hearing "Wahaha~!" over and over.

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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by TheHivemind » Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:03 am

Since you all have not caught on to how terrible this idea is, I wrote some more in the hopes that it would convince you once and for all.

2. It took the rest of the day for me to glean a few more things from the picture. First thing I noticed was that the camera's reflection seems awfully big for the sort of thing someone would be carrying around in their pocket. Someone knew that the girls would be in the room, doing what they were doing, and prepared. The use of film had me thinking the blackmailer was probably part of the photography club, but that didn't follow. Nobody I could think of with beef against the Council was involved in that particular club. At least I had a few theories I could spin to Misha to keep my kneecaps intact for another day. A bad heart is enough trouble for one man.

And now I had to go down to the Shanghai for the meet-up. Trouble was, a meeting in public with the council wasn't going to do me any favors with some of the other movers and shakers at Yamaku. I had to step twice as careful to keep my movements unnoticed, which is more or less what found me wandering the city area two hours before I was supposed to show up. Even bought some groceries from the Aura Mart before finally heading to the Shanghai, hoping to whatever gods were out there I wouldn't be noticed.

Yuuko didn't seem surprised to see me at all, or she actually managed to hide her surprise if she was. Which I doubted. There weren't many people easier than Yuuko to read, and when it came to keeping secrets she was just a few steps better than putting an announcement out in the papers. The whole thing stank of a set-up. The council clearly wanted it known I was working for them, but I couldn't figure out why that was the case. If nothing else, they risked spooking the blackmailer into more drastic action, making them go to ground or maybe release one of those photos to show they meant business. But a job was a job, and even if I had to step twice as quick to stay out of the mess, I was going to do it as long as the pay came through.

Shizune regarded me cooly from the corner booth where she and Misha sat, and with a nudge to her interpreter signed a formal greeting. I took my seat, ordered some tea from Yuuko, and produced the envelope with the pictures in it. “Thought you girls would want these back.”

“You're mistaken, Mister Nakai. We have little use for copies of photographs. What we have a use for is information about how to get back the negatives, preferably without having to pay the ridiculous sum demanded.” I never was able to get used to the way that Misha's voice changed when she was translating. It was probably because she was using a lot of vocabulary that she wouldn't normally use. I was surprised, however, that she managed to refrain from calling me 'Hicchan' again. Shizune was clearly trying to be all business this evening.

“Might I ask why you aren't going to just pay them off? You've certainly got the means, and while pride is important I think having the negatives would save you more face in the long run. Plus you wouldn't have to drag me into this mess.”

Misha took a moment to translate my question. I could tell Shizune didn't like it, because her eyes narrowed dangerously and she somehow managed to make her hand motions look like ice was forming off her fingertips. “Our reasons are our own, Mister Nakai, and they are hardly relevant to your task at hand.”

“That's a dangerous thing, making the call on what's relevant and what's not. I need to know why you need those pictures back, and why you're over such a barrel when it comes to the money situation. Otherwise it's going to be almost impossible to figure out your blackmailer's motives.”

Shizune didn't take to that response at all, but I knew that she'd see the logic in it. I could watch her make the calculations as to what she should tell me and what she could keep back even before she started signing to Misha again. I kicked myself mentally then for not trying to pick up any sign language at all.

“While I could pay them off by asking for some extra money from my parents, I would rather not have to explain what the money is for. And my father is liable to bring all sorts of outsiders into it in a classic overreaction to the situation. The sort of thing he'd doubtless uncover in the course of his mad dash to take down the blackmailer would probably spell an end to the comfortable lifestyle to which I have become accustomed.”

“So he'd throw you out if he knew about your misappropriation of the student council room. I can understand that.” This gave me a little more to work with. Maybe. I hadn't quite decided on any likely suspects just yet, though I knew I'd have to throw these two at least a profile if I wanted to keep out of trouble.

“Speaking of our blackmailer,” Misha spoke up—without, I noticed, Shizune doing any signing, “Did you come up with anything new for us? Or will we not be hiring you after all, Hicchan?”

“Well, if it's already a foregone conclusion...”

“Hicchan, do you really think it's the time for joking around like that?~” Misha's voice had her usual lilt again, which in my case was a sign that I was pushing my luck. The fact that she dealt straight with me was a sign of respect, and if I lost that then I'd lose a hell of a lot more.

“Guess my comedy routine could use some work.” I shrugged and pulled out a notebook in which I'd written down a few notes on the pictures. “Okay, here's what I've got: Your photographer is probably a female, and probably in the photography club. I'd also venture to say that she's stopped by the council room before; it's possible she's the rep for the photography club. That's my initial guess.”

Shizune digested this information before signing an interrogative back to Misha. “You said 'photographer,' but Shizune noticed you didn't say 'blackmailer.' Why's that?”

“At a guess, I'd say your blackmailer had someone else take the photo. Last I checked, you didn't have any enemies in the photography club—and like I said, I'm pretty sure that's who took the photo. The size, the fact that it used film in an age of digital technology, the slightly messy condition of the edges, it all points to someone who does this stuff by hand rather than by machine. Whoever wanted this photo of you wanted it kept as quiet as possible.”

“And if we said that we had enemies in the photography club?”

“But you don't, so there's no need to bring up hypotheticals.”

Shizune smiled mysteriously then, as if I'd just said exactly what she wanted to hear. “Well then Mister Nakai, I believe we've decided to take you on as our temporary employee.”

“Good. The usual rates apply.” I slid a piece of paper across the table detailing just what the usual rates were. Misha plucked the paper up, folded it, and put it in her purse. Both of them already knew what the usual rates were, having used me once before. “I'll let you know as soon as I find anything.” I stood up, signaling that the meeting was over. “This time it would be nice to avoid getting stabbed in the back.”

I didn't wait for a response. The doors of the Shanghai closed behind me, and I hurried down the street hoping that nobody had seen the meeting. I figured on at least a day before word got out and the photographer would go to whoever employed her in a panic, which meant that I'd have to get pretty damned busy tomorrow if I was going to get the information I needed.

DuaneMoody
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by DuaneMoody » Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:13 am

"And by rates, I meant threesomes."

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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by whiteflags » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:42 am

I don't care if the plot sucks, I think you're lying, and even so this is a pretty solid attempt at storytelling.
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by TheHivemind » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:50 am

DuaneMoody wrote:"And by rates, I meant threesomes."
A man can dream, dude. A man can dream.

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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by Warwick » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:40 am

TheHivemind wrote:Since you all have not caught on to how terrible this idea is, I wrote some more in the hopes that it would convince you once and for all.
You kidding me? My face is lit up like a Christmas tree in August. It looks just as unnatural, too, but at least you know I'm enjoying myself. :mrgreen:
静音是买外夫

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Malek
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Re: In Which I have been reading too much Raymond Chandler

Post by Malek » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:07 pm

I find it quite a good read. Nicely done if i may say so myself. Hope you write more my good chum.
Have a nice day.
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