Thursday, July 26, 2012


This was another piece from my creative writing class that I thought I would throw up on here to see if it stuck. It was something of an experiment for me.


She turns the knob and the door opens, fanning a few loose pieces of scratch paper off her store-bought home-assembled desk. She steps forward, grabs the side of the door and holds it open for the man in the white suit behind her. He walks into the center, mulling and rolling his head around until she stands between him and the chipped paint of the door edge.

“In two months every room in the building will have the same renovations, including additional phone jacks, central air and heating.” She takes a long silent breath between the end of her sentence and his expected response. His fingers straighten a striped purple tie and rub a stubble-decorated chin.

“Well,” he starts, lips under blue eyes and a platinum manicured mess stretch the word. Every sound is punched through with the impacts of rain against the window. “I like what I see. I was worried about whether the rooms were weatherproofed, but today's forecast provided an ample test of that,” he says and stops, a chuckle providing flourish.

She reciprocates with a small smile as her thumb breaks a white chip off the wood.

“So, what's the verdict Mr. Nocera? Wait, no, don't answer yet. You still need to shop around. And stuff.”

“And stuff,” he echoes, thumbs now hooked in his pockets. “We'll keep in touch. Your asking price is a bit high but it just might be worth it.”

She blinks manually, but not consciously. Seconds pass.

“Well, if there's nothing else you need to see,” she starts.

“I will meet up with you at a later date. Keep in touch,” he finishes with a click of his tongue and 'pow pow' of his hands, like old west revolvers.

Her eyes follow his, then his ear, then the back of his head. She closes the door behind him and waits until she's sure he can't hear her vent her lungs. Her smile slumps down on her face as she slumps down in her chair. She pulls out her smartphone and hits the power button. The lock-screen displays the time and date: 10:47 a.m. On July 9th, 2013.

She then dials her voicemail number and leans back in her cracking pseudoleather chair.

“First message from: July 9th, 2013 at ten twelve a.m.”

She leans forward and takes a flourescently wrapped piece of candy from a clean ash tray. Gray light from beyond the rain-washed window, between bent shutters flows across the plastic.

“Hey Ms. Puzo, it's Cassandra. I hate to have to ask you this, I really do, but can I get a one week extension on my rent? Something came up and I can pay with my next paycheck, but I just can't make t right now. Please call. Bye.”

Ms. Puzo pops the sour yellow sphere into her mouth. Saliva cradles the sting. The freed hand runs over a chin short strand of black hair back over her ear.

“Second message from: July 9th, 2013 at ten thirty two a.m.”

She wedges the tangy ball between her molars. Her fingers drum across the flaking particle board finish.

“Mrs. Marina Puzo? This is detective Robert Pierce with the NYPD. I wanted to go ahead and call you to find out when a good time would be for me to ask you some questions. You can reach me almost anytime on this number. The sooner the better. Thank you.”

She ends the call holds the phone in her hands. A finger plays across the black, insensate screen.

She bites down and shatters the candy. Tangy shrapnel rips into her tongue as she hits the on button and dials a number.

Severely distorted music plays out of the earpiece as she pulls out a keyring. Marina uses one of the smaller keys on it to unlock and open an oiled, aged green metal file cabinet. She could hear the whisper of air escaping the minute spaces between paperwork as she pushes the files aside and finds a transparent plastic bag. Holding within it a hacksaw covered partially in rust, partially in coagulated blood.

Well. You're still there. No luck on my end on finding out who you belong to.” she says.

The brass rapier-thin second hand on the grandfather clock in the corner of her office ticks over twelve, marking the end of 10:49 a.m.


The same clock ticks to 12:12 p.m.

“Come on in Cass,” Marina answers the soft knock on her door, to the blur playing across the textured glass. It opens, and Cassandra steps in with brown eyes half closed and shoulders made wide and high.

“I take it you got my message.”

Marina sits on one of the chairs in front of her desk and motions to the other. “Yeah. Sit, take a load off. Tell me what's up.”

Cassandra stands in her workwear: white blouse, black skirt and pumps. “I'm fine ma'am.”

“Not if you're using 'ma'am.”

Cassandra's eyes close for seconds, open again to look at Marina's own. “One of my kids – James. He did something stupid. It cost me. I can have your rent this day next week and then so-”

“-what did he do this time?”


“What. Did. James. Do? This time.”

Cassandra shrugs and takes the other chair standing in front of Marina's desk. She drops out of the amber glow of the lamp and into the gray and black stripes from the window.

“I don't know what's going on in his head.”

“He's a teenager. Not even he does.” Her chair rocks forward.

“Yeah, well. It's one kind of stupid to accept a free sample,” she breaks with a sigh. ”It's another kind to steal from his own mother to pay for the next.”

“Jesus Christ Cass. Was it pot at least?” Marina leans forward, scratched elbow on the desk, roughened hand holding her jaw.

“Just... fuck. What does it take to get it through your own kid's skull that certain things are terrible ideas?” Cassandra's voice cracks, and her fingers rub her temples.

A minute passes. Cassandra's thumbs dance with each other. “Do you at least know where he got it from?” Marina's head bounced with each word.

Cassandra's hands fall into her lap, her eyes tilt up. She finds no power higher than the ceiling fan.

“Don't worry about the rent.” Marina presses down and back with her leg, balancing the chair on its own hind legs. “Pay when you can. In fact, I have something of an idea.”

Cassandra looks back to her.

“I still have renovations to do. I could use an extra pair of hands.”

“I'll think about it, but I doubt that I'd need to think all that long or hard.”

“I'm... going to let you and your Freudian slip go.”

“Damn, ha. Hahaha. Thanks Marina.”


The coffee machine gurgles and sputters with brackish liquid streaming into a translucent pot. A small hairline fracture curves from the lip to halfway down the side, bisecting the reflection of the green standing clock in the corner of the office.

“Here we are, come on in. Care for some coffee, detective? In few minutes, yeah, but I need to know how many mugs to grab.”

“Oh, none, thank you,” Pierce says, walking to just behind the chairs. He takes a few moments to pan his vision across the room, noting in the location of things fine and large. “I can't stand it.”

“Yes! more for me. Now,” Marina starts as she walks into the adjacent room. “Where does this interrogation start? I dig the hat by the way, very retro.”

“Oh, well thank you,” he says as he spins the black felt fedora in his hand, and pulls out a photograph in the other.

“It won't take long. Have you seen this woman?”

Marina walks back in holding a green, spotted mug. She takes the photograph and studies the blonde woman with wide cheekbones, a subtle grin, and a gray knit turtleneck. Her head tilts to the side and she leans on the particleboard counter.

“I don't believe I have. Why, who is she?” Marina smirks. “And is she dead, or has she been killing?”

The coffee machine clicks off. She grabs the white plastic handle pours some of the liquid black into her cup. Pierce runs his hand over the fine stubble on his scalp. The analog watch on his wrist reads 3:17.

“Hopefully not the former.”

She stops smirking.

“You call those work clothes?” Marina questions the young man standing in front of her desk. She takes a drink of coffee, black, and her eyes once more ascend his attire.

Tennis shoes with a glazed finish and unscuffed soles. Pants, slack and held up by some unknown mechanism under his buttocks. A crimson, numbered, and named red jersey over a white t-shirt, both obscuring his underwear. A bright red baseball cap angled obliquely on his skull completes the ensemble.

What’s wrong with my clothes?” He asks.

I’m not in the mood to write an essay, James.”

It’s Jimbo.”

It’s James. Go back to your apartment, get some denim and a shirt you can get paint on, get torn up, and generally, you know, ruined. I have a pair of gloves you can wear.”

What’s denim?”

Blue jeans. And leave your cell-phone here.”

What for?”

This is work, not a vacation.”

This is bullshit.”

Cassandra not being able to pay her rent because you. Stole. From. Her. Is bullshit. You can keep your cellphone and your clothes and walk right back to her apartment with an eviction notice pinned to the back of your shirt if you’d like.”

James' lips curl into his mouth and he bites down. “Fine.”

She takes another sip of coffee as he shuffles forward, one hand plumbing his pockets, the other countering gravity and force’s effect on his pants. He pulls out a cheep, sleek clamshell phone and holds it over the desk. He drops it after the antique clock in the corner of her office tocks twice.

He turns around and shuffles out.

Marina listens to his footsteps attenuate before grabbing the phone, flipping up the screen, opening the dialed numbers list, and scrolling through every call and text he made for the past week.

She gets out a knife-sharpened wooden pencil and starts writing down the unnamed numbers. Then, named numbers that were called rarely, again for the numbers he rarely received calls from.

She writes out categories and frequencies before copying the commonly called numbers. She exits the the main menu, claps it shut, and sets it precisely where James dropped it on her desk. She tears off the page, folds it, and sticks it in the oiled, aged green metal file cabinet.Marina takes a long sip from her mug as she hears Jame’s footsteps scuff across the linoleum.
And boots. Don’t forget boots.”

He whispers, “god damnit.” She hears him.

She picks the phone back up, and navigates to the text messages. She selects a few sent by a girl named Alexandra.

The ones with pictures.

“I want those tits.”

Her nerves jolt as she hears and feels footsteps rattle down the hallway. She quickly replaces the phone, leans back into the chair's squeaking protest, and stuffs the list into her pocket.

He wore sandals, and shorts, and a tropical print shirt under wire-rimmed glasses. A mad gray bush was eating his wizened, wrinkled head.

“Oh. Hey Jeff. What's up?” she asked with a smile and arched brows.

Jeff points up. Then back, towards the other side of the building. “Bad vibes. Literally, I'm not going on my self-amusing conspiracy rants this time.”

Marina feigns a pout. “So this won't be solved with a tinfoil hat and a promise to let you use my M-82 to shoot down black helicopters? I had other things planned this afternoon.”

“I'd do it myself but I'm a 'jerk,” he starts, with actual fingerquotes. “Most of the time, the guy above me has some pretty decent taste when he goes off to rattle the walls. But every once in a while he puts on some kind of bad... screamix, I think I'll call it.”

Marina blinks, then leans forward. “Screamix?”

“When you remix music with screaming, I guess. It must be a new thing. It ruins Daft Punk, I can't imagine why he does it.”

Marina carves a long scar of lead over the second phone number with her pencil. She lifts her hand up and taps her forehead with the eraser as she dials the second. Lightning flashes via reflection into her room, off the mirrored windows of the skyscraper across the street. Her eyes adjust and blacken the room before she sees the amber glow refill it.

The tinny pre-paid cell-phone's speakers relayed to her ear a recording.

“Please stay and listen while we reach your party.”

The phone then played a bass-heavy, distorted beat that don't drown out the lyrics: “Fuckin' bitches, fuckin' cops, fuckin' money, makin' hops.”
“That's really subtle.” The music stops, and a short silence precedes a low static-rife groan.

“Who's this?” says a man on the other end of the line.

“Alex,” Marina says, an octave higher than she's used to.

“Alex who?”

“Alex who's Jimbo's friend. He said you can hook me up. You're Freddy, right?”

The antique clock ticks once. Twice. Five seconds tick away.

“Word. What you want?”

“And he told me you do free samples so no bullshit,” her lips twist into a wide, tooth-filled grin.

“That's cause he bent over for me baby. You're gonna have to do the same.”

“If you got a pencil dick I'm leavin'. I already got one.”

“Nah girl. Mine's a magnum. What do you want after?”

“I'm just kidding. Got any snow?”

“That all you want? Tell you what, Let's meet up and I'll show you some merch.”

“Where at?” She readies her pencil over the paper. Her incisors bite into her lip.

She scribbles the directions down on a separate piece of paper before asking “when?”

“Is tonight good?”

She turns in her chair and looks out the cracked, quartered panes and to the sky's reflection on the office building. Clouds flow non sequitor from mirrored rectangle to mirrored rectangle.

“Yeah. See you there?”

“Alone, gal. Or I'm leaving.”

She closes the phone, then stands out of her chair. Marina grabs a compact camera and a keyed chain off her desk before walking to the door. She grabs the orange jacket hung on the back of the guest chair, slips it on, steps out of the office, closes the door, and locks it.

She pokes the knob with her key until it slips in. She unlocks and opens the door, turns off the light, relocks it, and slams it closed.

The free-standing clock that was the same color of green as the horizontal stripes on the wallpaper ticked from 5:39 to...

… 10:12. The blinds over the window are retracted, and the haze gray late-morning cloud-filtered sunlight forms a rectangular shaft of glittering, drifting particles. The diagonal column lands on Marina's shoulders.

She uses a foot to close the lowest right drawer of her desk. She holds her head between her arms, the elbows resting on the flat top. Her breaths change from short and fast to long and deep.

Fingers crawl over and set themselves around the automatic pistol on her desk, over legal paperwork detailing property and ownership. She sits straight up and puts the hand gripping the pistol under her desk, on top of her knee. The other makes a fist, which she rests her chin on.

Her face is willed expressionless as another blur passes over the textured distortion of her office door's window. “Come on in Mr. Carlisle.”

The door opens by the hands of a tall man dressed casually. His large hands start a long sleeved red t-shirt, which fall into blue jeans and rise to a pair of eyeglasses set above a well sized nose and a better shaped chin.

“You wanted to speak with me Ms. Puzo?” He asked with a mouth exclusive smile.

“I did. Take a seat, I have a proposition for you.”

Carlisle shrugs and pulls up a chair in front of the “Close the door, please.” but first closes the door.

“What's happening?”

He smiles. She neither smiles nor frowns.

“I found your hacksaw.”

Carlisle's smile flattens.

“If anything happens to me, my eye-witness account of every girl I saw walk to your room and not walk out and that hacksaw will show up at the police department sooner than you can disappear.”

Carlisle's lips curl down.

“The only reason that I have not done so, and possibly will not do so, is because I have a deal to make with you.”

His pupils constrict and his brow forms a sharp angle.

“You're the one who fucked up and tried to throw it away in your favorite brand of garbage bag. By every right, you should be on the slowboat to the electric chair. Check under your seat.”

The clock in the bottom right corner of her computer screen counts away twelve seconds, echoed by the ticking of the one in the corner.

His hands reach under the seat and pull a plastic bag free from the duct-tape rings holding it up. He examines the contents: a map with a red dot and circle around a building and a four digit number adjacent to it; a photograph of a man with a stained trench-coat and a baseball cap; a red car with it's bumper removed.

“His name is Fred Miles. You do whatever you need a hacksaw for to him, and you get to decide how to spend the rest of your life. You make it messy, you make sure he's found, and you make sure that you're not traced. Are we clear?”

Both refuse to move, but tremble under their pulses.

“I'll even give you your security deposit.”

He slowly lowers the bag, only enough for his eyes to peer over the edge.

“Decide now. If you take more than five seconds, I will self-defense holes into your skull.”

Their eyes remain locked at each other.


He lowers the bag to his lap.


She clicks the safety off.


Carlisle tenses his muscles.


She angles the barrel towards his chest.

“I'll do it,” he says.

“He has a girlfriend. She's also a target if she's there.”

“It's not that simple,” he says.

“Make it simple. Now get out of my office and get. To. Work.”

He stands up with the bag in his hands.

“When can you get it done?”


Marina leans back and leaves her arm resting on the table.
“Good,” she says with a lighter voice.

Carlisle turns around, opens the door, and steps out.

Marina's eyes follow the footsteps down the hall and up the stairs. She exhales and coughs. Her head slumps to the desk and her finger jumps out of the trigger guard, off the trigger.

She catches her breath and resets the safety.

Her head disturbed the computer's mouse, which brought it out of its sleep. The clock in the lower right hand corner of the screen changed from 10:20 a.m. July 14, 2013 to...

...7:30 p.m. July 18 2013. Marina bites out half of a small cookie as she scrolls through the lists of property prices and estimates from around the city. She writes down a few addresses and prices, then consults them with the police reports section of the news paper.

The headline on the front page, draped over the edge, nearly falling down to the floor read “PRINTED NEWS ON IT'S LAST LEGS?” Underneath it in the right column reads “GANG WAR'S BLOODY, CHOPPY START.” Lines of text detail how some of the pieces identified as belonging to a Fred Miles and an unidentified woman were found distributed over his apartment, how criminal elements reacted, and how police are all but certain that it catalyzed the surge of violence in certain neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods that had the addresses Marina wrote down.

Her cellphone played music crawled over the desk via vibration. She picked it up, hit the answer button, and placed it next to her ear.

“Hello Mr. Nocera. Yes, everything's set. I just need your signature and the building is yours. I can stay on and finish the renovations on the remaining rooms myself. Oh? Less work for me then, excellent. No, I have them ready to distribute to the tenants... Well, I'm thinking of diversifying my portfolio.”

Marina finishes her cookie and listens to the voice.

“Eh, things change and I'm feeling a bit lucky. Maybe I just have an inflated opinion of my own judgment right now. Something paid off and I'm a bit giddy.”

She picks up a pink sheet of paper from a stack and shakes crumbs off of the surface. It reads, large, n bold font: “EVICTION NOTICE.”

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