Confessions

Only a news site born of the print world would have a confessions section. Jake clicks on the link.

The latest confession is a women trying to understand why she has dreamed of an old crush which she had thought forgotten.

The next entry is a disappointed reader of the section. The schadenfreude junkie has read four entries and vents his frustration at the lack of acts confessed by belittling them.

Jake reads on. Vegan irony, bitter satire and an anti-left rant. The schadenfreude junkie is right: Where are the confessions?

Jake skims through a long unloading by someone who is in difficult times, borderline depression. He struggles to sympathize. The speedy reading is his way to avoid judging the writer. He knows a lack of reaction to tough times is not a measure of toughness.

He scrolls. More of the same. Rants, opinions and laments. He stops, stares at the screen. He sees that it is a place for the anonymously personal; a mind dump ground with no user name necessary and moderation to keep out the smelliest garbage.

Jake stares at his screen hoping that the scrutiny will lead to a profound insight of human behaviour. Lesson number one: he has again gone too fast and missed an important detail: The posts can be voted up or down and can also be commented upon. He now understands why there are opinion posts.

He scrolls backwards; The opinions are losing the popularity contest.

He is back at the top of the page. It is telling him to confess. “I am in the mood for thievery but I can’t find anything here worth stealing.” He is pleased with his entry. It is scandalous, unbelievable and technically true.

And it would make him check the reactions. He cancels the submission. He does not want to come back to this page. The only reason he opened the page was in the hope of finding ideas to steal.

Silent Rant

There is a space in the middle of the communal table and a chair squeezed between two groups. Jake, after confirming it is free, moves the chair to the the opening.

Sat, his attention is monopolized by table mates, two twenty-something women. First noticed while looking for a spot, his first impression was business meeting. Sitting down, he noted they weren’t equals: one with a laptop, the other with a print out. It reminds Jake of the many job interviews he has seen take place in coffee shops and fast food joints. A manager monopolizing a table, going through a corporate checklist with the candidates CV in hand. Now he can hear bits of their discussion.

Jake wonders how a boss can think it is normal to do a performance appraisal in public. He starts doubting that they are employees of the coffee shop. The more he hears, the more he is sure they work elsewhere. This mystifies Jake even more. If they were having the meeting at work then it is a very bad choice but deliberately choosing a public space is beyond Jake’s comprehension.

They are negotiating objectives. As-if you can call a boss’ “suggestions” negotiable. And ones made in public even less so. The setup makes him distrust the boss.

The whole business is hard to ignore. It is not an issue of volume. It is that he is dialed in and the remote control is broken. The longer it goes on, the more Jake is bothered by it. The more Jake is bothered by it, the clearer the signal. Was the employee given a choice?

Occasionally adding a light coat of sugar, the boss starts bad mouthing the methods of her colleagues. It is painted as business theory. A how and why things should be done.

Jake checks himself. He is doing the same thing; being critical, negative, better-than-thou. She spends time thinking about her work. Good intentions, lots of effort. But it is not on the right things nor the right way. What is the rationale for having a private meeting in public?

It is all management guru now. The disciple’s captivity ensuring an audience. Her insecurities are showing. The teacher slash mentor role as a way to elicit validation. Benevolent dictatorship. Dressing up an alpha display as a lesson. An aggressive passive-aggressivity. Neediness signaled by a secret-sharing confidential tone. Engineering the reactions; compliments likely, agreement assured.

Jake gets up and leaves. He is enervated. His quiet journaling session became a silent rant, the too quickly empty cup the only memory of the coffee he had planned on sipping.

When People Wore Hats

There are rules about when you are supposed to take your hat off. Jake puts his hat on the desk, places the coffee in the other, far, corner and slaps his notebook down.

October 10
Outline — Neo-noir story.

The flat surface will misshape the brim and it is in his way. He moves the hat to the door’s knob.

Chandler is the model. He is known for believing the story is incidental. It’s the telling that counts. Yet his twisted plots typify the genre.

The Detective: Post-war L.A.. A man of character, weary, feeling the scars from years of month-to-month living in the margins of society. Cynical about the people he deals with without being a full-time cynic. He cares about justice more than laws and its corrupt representatives.

Name? Kris, a different type of dagger. Kris Kindly. An homage that will probably go unnoticed. Nevertheless it is amusing to leave clues in a detective story.

Marlowe rolls his own cigarettes and, like Chandler and Holmes, smokes a pipe. In the movies he pops tailor-mades to the side of his mouth and if he ever smoked a pipe it is demonstrably forgettable because it is not part of the trope.

The Dame, because it has to be a “Dame.”

How much period appropriate language to use? Minimize by avoiding adjectives. Making Kerouac race-blind always makes his prose more acceptable and takes nothing away from it’s quality.

The Dame: To borrow Chandler’s words,“less than beautiful and more than pretty.” An original way to say it? Made-up she turned heads and she had her makeup on.

The job is the start of the story and not the plot of the story. A missing object or person. A person. It is easier, less mythology to create. His hiring is part of the antagonist’s diabolical plan. The Dame is an unwilling agent for the antagonist. Blackmailed through family. A weak younger brother is classic.

A mob boss in the background. Originally a suspect and a health concern for Kris Kindly. It resolves in a mano-a-mano talk where they make an honour-code deal based on the recognition of a shared objective with different motives.

The true antagonist turns out to be an ambitious lieutenant in the boss’ crew. The ambition taking the form of a heroin start-up and the boss has a rule against dealing in smack.

The kid brother is a World War 2 veteran who’s wounding in the Pacific led to a morphine habit that morphed into an opium habit before becoming a state-side heroin habit. The habit needs a sob story. A lost shipment when acting as a runner to pay for a dose. A dose he couldn’t wait to consume, the goods stolen when nodding. Now he is indentured labour. And supposedly missing.

“Tea” has to come up. The odour showing up when Kris Kindly goes to opium dens, to dive hotels, shooting galleries. A smoker forced to give him leads to places where the kid could be.

The cops corrupt. In some of the municipalities of the renamed metro L.A. area, like the boss, they were okay, for a price, with girls and gambling. In others they had a price for everything. The boss’ contribution to the deal with Kris Kindly is a warning that the suburb he is going to has a menu with so many options that, if they printed it, would look like the newspaper’s stock market listings.

The detective will need a car. Ten years old, cheaper pre-war model. A Packard or a Studebaker would be cool if they were making the right type of car in the thirties.

The lieutenant had a deal gone bad in the wrong jurisdiction. To hide it from the boss, he is trying to pin it on Kris. Planted opium hinting at a hidden habit as the motive.

Kris will end up getting sapped at least once. He will need to find a few dead bodies along the way, only some of which he’ll report to the less corrupt cops.

The brother will end up overdosing in his hideaway near the end of the story. Part of the denouement and the reason why the Dame will go back to her Midwestern home where no one will ever know how beautiful she is when dolled-up.

A few twists and turns to make the plot hold together, plenty of banter and it’s a Chandler style story.

Jake reads his notes. Where’s the neo in the noir?

Add gore, scatological details when describing squalor and graphic sex. Sex. In a couple of his stories, Chandler really took it as far he could for his day. He didn’t skip straight to breakfast. He waited before turning out the lights.

Jake leans back satisfied. He has his story.

What’s He Sayin’

Jake pulls back the curtain. The basement suite is now open to the world. Time for work.

He sits at his desk. Shadows, stories of the world outside projected on the wall. Jake thinks about the bartender from yesterday.

A bartender that, like bartenders all over the world, amuses his clients with stories. A bartender that, like bartenders all over the world, turns the stories he has heard into life-advice.

It’s a small place, owner operated, selling coffee in the morning and beer all day long.

That morning, as he was opening the place, a youth (you know the type) stopped and leaned his bike against the window.

The kid saw his look and asked what was the matter.

He replied with a question about whether the punk’s mother had taught him manners.

The question answered with a question about what gave the bartender the right to talk to him like that.

He told the little asshole that he was the owner and that if he didn’t move his bike elsewhere, he would take care of his bike for him.

The juvenile delinquent then threatened to burn the place down if he dared touch the bike.

Well he was not about to put up with threats from an apprentice gangster. He grabbed the kid by his shirt, pinned him to the wall and told him that he didn’t know who he was dealing with. His chest puffed out as he described the youth scampering away with his bicycle.

His audience, a like-minded regular, shakes his head to share the owner’s outrage at the kid’s actions and nods in agreement with his reactions. The patron has his own story about how dumb the youth of today are and how quickly they fold. He didn’t bother with the details, only mentioning that it had happened last Saturday before going straight to the ending. The fool had threatened him with a taser and he had replied by getting a baseball bat out of his trunk and challenging the kid to get close enough to use the taser.

The bartender laughs and does not ask why in a country where balls are struck with the feet the guy has a baseball bat handy.

Another local steps into the place. He greets him by name (a point of honour, good old-fashioned service) and comments on the guy dragging his kid along with him.

The father asks for a beer, chips for the kid and responds that the mite had had a tough day at school. A girl had bullied him during gym class. He comments that volleyball is a girl sport and when girls play girl sports they don’t act like girls.

The bartender agrees and leans over to give the boy advice. He instructs the kid to send the volleyball into the girl’s face the next time they play. He explains that if he calls it an accident he wont get into trouble and the bartender is ready to guarantee him that the girl will leave him alone after that. He concludes with the argument that a man needs to know how to defend his ground and that chicks love manly men.

Still talking to the boy but straightening up and starting to address the father, he suggests that the father is an example of the principle and that when the grandfather is around the girls lift their skirts. He chuckles and asks the father how many women is the grandfather banging these days.

Jake looks at his screen and makes a decision. He will pack up his computer and look for the new hipster coffee place he heard about. Maybe the stories heard there will be more believable.