Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Savage Writing: By the Book

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Missed last time due to holiday. This week’s task was “Burlesque.” I went for the old-fashioned use of the word, meaning a parody/satire.

___

‘Shit,’ swore esteemed detective Jack Manson, as he thumped quiet his alarm. Beside him, the girl he picked up last night turned her tousled head.

‘Wha-?’ she said.

‘Let yourself out,’ he said, tossing the duvet aside and setting his feet on the cold laminate floor. ‘I’ve got work to do.’

Kirsty, or Lauren – whatever her name was, he’d forgot – pouted as he left the room.

One cold shower later, he had thrown on his rumpled shirt and slacks, under his beloved trench coat. The June air was hot outside, and the girl at the McDonald’s drive-thru raised her eyebrows as she passed his morning muffin into his sweltering car.

‘I’m a very busy man,’ he growled. ‘I have work to do.’

‘Whateverrrrrr,’ she said, drawling out in the way that only impudent teen girls could.

It was all a lie, though. Jack was a consummate liar. One of the reasons no-one could ever get close to him. The truth was, it was Saturday, and the office had been quiet all week – no new case, no intrigue. So Jack had been left to do the only interesting thing he ever did on his days off.

Jack was going to visit his daughter.

He swung his 1978 Ford Cortina – his pride and joy – into the parking spot outside Shelley’s apartment. He sprang up the steps like a man half his age. Shelley answered within minutes.

Jack’s daughter, Shelley, was in her early twenties, and had the same gamine look as her mother had done, thirty years ago, before ageing got to her. They had only been in contact for the past couple of years. Shelley’s apartment was small but richly furnished – many presents from her businessman stepfather, Jack was sure.

‘How’s your mother?’ Jack asked, after kissing her on the cheek.

‘Fine,’ Shelley said.

Jack sighed. As uncaring as always. It had been years since Jack had seen his ex-wife, yet she never wanted to meet him, despite everything they had been to each other for so long. Judy had never liked Jack’s commitment to the job. After the fourth time the gang kidnapped her and he had to make another thrilling rescue, she said it was enough. She had gone for one of those Financial 100 guys, and lived like a queen ever since. Something Jack could never do for her.

When Jack had seen Shelley again three years ago, she had been frosty as well. Then Nikolai Smirnov’s gang kidnapped her, too, and they had finally had a heartwarming reconciliation.

Shelley looked tired. The kind of tired eyes her mother had had, at the end.

‘Are you narrating our backstory in your head again? You do this every time.’

Shelley didn’t understand. She didn’t understand how hard it was to be tied to the job. Even on your days off.

Jack took a bite of his Egg McMuffin and didn’t answer.

‘Do you want to hear about college? Can you promise you’ll actually listen this time?’

‘Shelley,’ Jack said gruffly, ‘when did we get all this space between us?’

Shelley sighed, aggravated. Just like her mother.

‘Dad, are you interested in my life or not? Every time I talk to you, you just want to know if I’m staying safe. Well, I dunno, dad! Depends if you’ve pissed off the Russians again and they want to kidnap me. Again.’

‘He’s out of jail again,’ Jack said. The words were like a thorn in his side. Bitter. He always failed those he loved.

‘Of course he is, dad! They only got him for minor fraud. You didn’t get any evidence or anything – and come on, dad, after so long you should have something damning on him by now!’

‘Can’t believe he got away,’ Jack muttered to himself. ‘I won’t rest until he’s behind bars for good.’

Nikolai Smirnov. Head of the city’s enclave of Russian mafia. Prostitution, drugs, trafficking – you name it, Smirnov was behind it, even if it sometimes seemed like he wasn’t. Jack had been chasing him for near on thirty years, and still –

‘Dad,’ Shelley said, rudely interrupting his thoughts, ‘I think mom’s right. I think it’s best if we don’t see each other.’

He looked at her, dumbstruck. How could she do this to him?’

‘How can you do this to me?’ he said, sadly.

‘I’m sorry, dad,’ Shelley said, equally sadly. ‘But I wanna backpack round Europe this summer, and if I’m associated with you in any way, I’ll end up getting kidnapped again – maybe even killed, like your brother did that one shocking time. And I just…I can’t handle this any more. You’re nothing but a drama queen.’

‘Fine,’ Jack said, one manly tear threatening his eyeball. ‘I understand if you don’t want to be near me anymore. I don’t want to hurt you. It’s for the best.’

Shelley only sighed in return.

‘Take care,’ Jack said. ‘And tell your mother…tell Judy, I’m sorry.’

Shelley folded her arms and watched him leave. God, she looked just like Judy used to, before time ravaged her. He turned, trenchcoat tail flapping behind him. Then he was gone.

Jack went to his car. From the glove compartment, he took out his fancy glass which he always kept hidden there, that had survived numerous car chases. He brought out his hipflask, and poured it into the glass. The overpowering smell of whisky threatened to overcome him.

‘Looks like I only have one off-duty pastime now, Cortina,’ he said to his car, before taking a swig.

The next morning, still stung by Shelley’s proclamation, and pushing another random blonde out of his bed, his phone rang.

‘Jack, good to talk to you again,’ came Nikolai’s butter-smooth Russian accent. ‘I’m afraid I have some bad news concerning your daughter…’

Jack, despite himself, grinned. Another case, another chase, and another heartwarming conclusion. Nice and by the book.

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Written by G.J.

06/03/2014 at 12:28 am

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