Simplicity Itself (A Vignette)

dark night moon

When a guy opens his eyes, he generally expects to see something. Maybe not blinding sunlight or Myrna Loy or anything, maybe just a dim glow, but something. I didn’t think he’d hit me that hard.

It was a bit of a shock to realize I was blind.

It was somewhat less of a shock to realize instead that I was laying face down in the gutter under the ’72 Impala I’d rented downtown. It’s not much better from the vision standpoint, but I felt it an improvement nevertheless.

As I crawled out of the gutter I didn’t notice much advancement in the luminance department. My watch explained that this lack of the necessities for sight was normal for 4:17 a.m. Thank God for Indiglo.

After I’d sat on the curb for ten minutes holding the pieces of my head together it occurred to me that someone who has just been beaten with a bludgeon as large as what I had should be taking more of an interest in his surroundings.

dark night houses

Once again, there was little improvement. There were some dark houses on a dark street on a dark hill. Yeah, yeah, on a dark night in a dark life. Headaches make me cynical.

In one last round of bad news/good news, it came to me that I still had wheels. At least I wasn’t facing a 12-mile walk to La Jolla tonight. The pieces of my head seemed pleased.

dark night freeway

The car door was open, just like I’d left it when I got out and lay down for a three-hour nap. Whoever sapped me down hadn’t even taken the keys from the pocket of my cheap overcoat. They didn’t have to; this was one ’72 Impala that wasn’t going anywhere tonight. Someone was either very angry or frighteningly strong to rip out that much wiring that way. I hoped the rental agency would be able to find the car again. I didn’t think it likely they were going to find me.

A careful check of my assets revealed a wallet with no cash, no pictures, and no character, a pack of Beeman’s gum, a religious tract, and half a bottle of drinkable water. Where else but California? No, I don’t carry a gun. The noise scares me, and besides, they don’t seem to be very effective against guys who hit you from behind with John Deere tractors.

dark night lamp

Gathering my enormous wealth about me, I sat down again to devise a plan. The side of the Chevy was cool against the throbbing heat of my brain pan. After another ten minutes my giant intellect came to the conclusion that people with no money, no credit cards, and no friends shouldn’t let their car get assaulted by thugs. At least not if they have anywhere to go.

I dragged myself up by the door handle, and staggered down the dark hill.

Twelve miles. With a broken head and an empty stomach.

Piece o’ cake.

12 thoughts on “Simplicity Itself (A Vignette)

  1. So, is this ‘filed’ somewhere, or is it a “work in progress”? Maybe a ‘chapter book’, like “Little School in the Ghetto”?

    Let’s see, what do I *think* I know already?
    He’s on a one-way street, else the gutter would be on the other side of the car from the driver’s door…
    Can’t tell (yet) if this is set in 1972+/-, or if he’d gone to “Rent-a-Wreck”…
    “Dark houses, dark street, dark hill; dark night, dark life. ” – but it doesn’t seem to be “stormy”, too – this is probably a good thing ;)
    The walk to La Jolla will likely be ‘trending’ downhill – this is probably a good thing, too…
    How did he know it’d be 12 miles to LJ, though? ~ Ahhh: no mention of “where am I, and how did I get here?” issues. Beyond the “in the gutter” part…

    Tons of exposition in these few paragraphs, Joel. I like it!

    1. Nice thought patterns, Karen. It was originally written as an entry in the Raymond Chandler writing competition held in his home town of La Jolla, California every year, but I discovered as I was entering that all entries become their property. Not mine.

      I’ve always wanted to turn it into a book, and I think this year is the year. I’m going to bang out a bunch of quick and simple mysteries to see if I can find a following for this character.

      1. winners got in the paper. otherwise I think it was just standard taking unfair advantage of crowdsourcing, like Elance and places like that do today (I wrote this vignette before the days of the web.)

      2. So, I wonder who the alleged rights have reverted to? St. Martin’s? They’re the only ones I saw who run a “Mystery Writer’s Competition” (several, in fact) – at least on the first page of Goog-hell. Which leads to the next obvious question – Could you get ’em back, since it’s been languishing for a long time (“since before the days of the web”) ??

        1. Oh, I never submitted this. I’d never submit anything to anyone who was going to own my art. Never. Others, who knows.

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