The World Mystery Convention, Bouchercon, is in St. Louis this weekend, September 15-18, and that seems like a great time to re-post these excerpts from a short story.
Way back in 1980 I took a fiction writing class at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville taught by Lloyd Kropp, and my final project was a short story that, frankly, doesn't live up the the promise of it's first two and a half pages. Those first pages, though, are worth posting here.
It was 9:45 in the morning when the ringing of the telephone ended my sweet dreams. I know it was exactly 9:45 in the morning when the telephone rang because I'm a detective and I get paid to remember little details like that. It had been a long time since I'd been paid for remembering little details, though, so I did a fairly good imitation of a man leaping out of bed to answer the phone. The imitation was flawed because I was sleeping on the floor of my office and only had to roll over on my side to answer the phone. As far as I was concerned, I was leaping out of bed and it's the thought that counts.
"Uh, yeah, what do you want?" I inquired of my caller.
"This is Black Diamond Detective Agency, isn't it?" I allowed that it was and further admitted that I was George Blake, head honcho. "George," the caller continued in much happier and excited tones, "this is Curt Simonson. I just got into town a couple of days ago and I thought I'd give you a call to invite you over."
"Oh, hello, Curt. It's been a long time. You've been off in Africa or someplace, right?"
"That's right. I've been doing fieldwork in Ramiland in eastern Africa. The political situation got pretty hot so I decided it was about time to come home to the family for awhile."
"So you're back at "the Mansion," eh? I think I can still remember how to get there. What time do you want me?"
"Around 3:30, if you can make it. And, George, I may have to ask you to mix a little business with pleasure."
"That's fine with me. Lord knows I could do with a little of both. I'll see you at 3:30, then. 'Bye." I hung up and began getting ready for the upcoming reunion. The first thing I needed, I saw when I finally located a mirror under a pile of old newspapers on my desk, was a shave and possibly a haircut. A haircut soon became a necessity when it became obvious that no amount of combing was going to produce any style other than grubby. It'd been a long time since I'd dealt with anyone who would mind hiring a detective whose hair was grubby.
(To Be Continued)