I was going through some old files today, and found this sassy snippet of a story starter, which I wrote to a dear friend while I was off galavanting the globe and she was taking a creative writing class and needed to get her creative juices flowing. . . After reading it over, I decided it was strange and silly enough to merit sharing! At the end, I threw down a challenge, and I am leaving it there in all its unedited glory. If anyone feels like writing the next part, feel free . . .
It was a quiet day when it all began; a Thursday, just past four o’clock, if it matters. I had just finished filing the papers on my last case and was looking forward to some madeleines I’d splurged on at the Market this morning when he strode into my office. Fairly unassuming, as Frenchmen go, his hood was pulled low over his eyes and all I could see in the rainy gloom was a grisled jaw-line. I’d never understood what it meant to have “hooded eyes” before. Now I knew. He didn’t give me any time to linger over this discovery, though. Oh, no. Hood-Man spoke right up.
“Excusez-moi, ‘demoiselle, mais…j’ai une problème. C’est impératif que je parle avec le détective de cet établissement! C’est une question de vie ou mort!”
Life and death, huh? Sounded urgent. . . Sounded right up my alley. Little did this man know, there was no other détective here. I was no secretary. Oh no, he was going to deal with me and me alone. This man needed my help. Who am I, you ask? My name is Genevieve Martin. And I am a Private Ear.
(Insert Theme Music Here…)
The Private Ear business started with me. As the world’s only Private Ear Detective, I possess a unique and subtly hones skill set. I hear things. I listen. Its downright shocking the things people say when they don’t expect someone (namely, me) to be listening. For those who doubt the legitimacy of my methods, I will let my successful career speak for itself. Lots of people try to make it as Private Eye, but business goes bust because they look in all the wrong places. If I’ve learned one thing as a professional, its that eyes usually confuse the issue. Par contre, I find that the Private Ear business is eerily successful. Nobody ever really thinks I might be listening. I give them a tasty little eye-full and, in return, I usually get a useful earful. Nobody looks past the surface.
But enough with the chit-chat . . . Back to Hood Man.
So there he stood, my new client, looking more assuming by the minute. Speaking of assumptions, I hate when people think I’m the secretary just because I sit out front and take care of my own business. It reeeeeallly hate it. So, I stretched out in my best imitation of my cat, Ringling, and slowly eased from the chair. When I stood my full five feet, seven inches (ten, if you counted my heels), I put two deliberate hands on the desk and leaned a little forward.
“There’s only one boss in this joint, doll, and you’re looking right at her, capiche? Now, what seems to be the problem?”
Hood-Man shook off his hood. Normal people would’ve been stunned. Not this girl. Oh no, Privatearing is a lifestyle and I, I don’t get shocked by looking. It was none other than Jean-Claude Juppé, the well-known son of former French Prime Minister, Alain Juppé. Unlike his father, Jean-Claude was easy on the eyes. Also unlike his poised father, J-C seemed less inclined to guise emotion. Living up to his well-known reputation as one of Hollywood’s finest Soap Stars, Jean-Claude looked at me turbulently.
“Pardon, Miss, but I was told that this was where I could find a … a serious detective. Forgive me, but it is a matter of some delicacy…and urgency.”
He looked at me skeptically, his romantically accented politeness doing nothing to disguise the doubt brooding (yes, brooding) within. I knew what he saw. His long-lashed eyes (was he wearing mascara?) took in just under six feet of intentionally accentuated woman. My long, mocha-colored hair was newly bronzed from my recent work on the Côte d’Ivoir and it curled indulgently down past my shoulders. I followed Jean-Claude’s gaze as his eyes took in my flawlessly poised expression, accented subtly, but unquestionably by a creamy powder and the lustrous contents of my vanity table. From neck to thigh I was covered in an artful mix of rosy pink and sensual black lace. And from thigh down, it was all me, right up until you reached the black lace ribbon that spiraled from mid-calf down to meet my three inch pink stilettos. I knew what he saw…not because I’d memorized myself before leaving. I don’t hold with narcissism. Unfortunately, my interior designer feels differently. I know exactly what he saw, because I live in a room that is lined with full length mirrors. That’s right; I had an outfit to make youthful starlets drool and an office to inspire envy in any hair-dresser alive.
But since I know what Jean-Claude saw, I also know what he was thinking. So I said it…just to save him the time.
“I know what you’re thinking, J-C, and you can hold it right there. You came here because you heard there was a private ear, right? An innovative new take on the detective business. Well, before you walk back out that door thinking I’m just some wannabee in Dior and lace, let me just tell you something. I may look like some fashion-absorbed secretarial company figurehead, but you’d better take a long moment to think about why that might be intentional. If I was an arresting somber woman in a tan trench coat with a magnifying glass, don’t you think people would notice? Don’t be as superficial as the perps that I deal with and think that this is all there is to me, doll. You have no idea what people will say when they think you’re not deep enough to listen. You have no idea. This is what makes me the Private Ear. This is the innovative take you were looking for. So, if you want to walk out: walk out. Be my guest, doll. But you’ll be giving yourself one bitch of a handicap.”
And with that, he was hooked. He gave me the “up-down” one more time and then nodded tersely. Just one little move, but he was mine.
He only said it once, but I got everything down. Two days ago, J-C went into Marseille with the usual Paris-in-the-Fall, Aix-in-the-Summer crowd. They were heading to La Note Bleue for some overpriced café and some of the world’s best brioche. Apparently the buttery bread wasn’t enough for the Days of Our Lives crowd and they did a little bar hopping post-café. It wasn’t until the hangover had cleared the next day that they realized J-C’s cousin, Benjamin Frédérick had disappeared. Thinking it was all accidental, J-C and his friends waited for the missing group member… to no avail. Returning home to Aix to await contact, J-C discovered that his other three cousins (Florence, Laurence and Lydie) were also goners. Almost 24 long hours ticked by until the letter arrived.
ALL RIGHT, YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, IS TO WRITE THE NEXT LEG OF THIS STORY (AND WHEN I SAY LEG, I DO MEAN A SCANDALOUSLY REVEALED UPPER THIGH). I’M LEAVING YOU ONLY WITH THE NAMES “NANINE” AND “DAMARIS” (BOTH GIRLS) TO USE. SO, IF YOU HAVE THE INCLINATION, GO FOR IT. WORK THE FULL 9 YARDS OF CLASSIC DETECTIVE STORY BUT ADD AN OUTLANDISH AMOUNT OF SPICE: LITTLE SEXY TRENCH COAT (WITH NOTHING UNDERNEATH?), CIGARETTES THAT COME IN LONG HOLDERS, HATS WHOSE BRIMS TILT OVER YOUR EYE, SMOKE AND MIRRORS, YOU GET THE PICTURE…