I Want to be a Paperback Writer

6027 words and the beginnings of a plot. Unfortunately the NaNoWriMo site won't let me log on to post some of it. So, here's the passage I've just written.

Morden sprinted up the stairs to his office, pushed open the door and stopped.

There was a tall, slim woman - about sixty, with a wrinkled face and severely straight white hair - sitting in his chair, calmly reading a report, with her feet crossed on his desk.

She didn't register his entrance, her eyes continuing to flit rapidly from one line to the next. For some seconds Morden was lost for something to say, caught between astonishment and outrage. Eventually he found his voice.

"Your feet are on my desk."

"Yes, I put them there. You do realise Jacob White's girlfriend - what was her name? Claudia Mannheim - she stood to benefit from Roger White's death too. We've only got her word for it Jacob came home at all that night, and she provides him with a nice detailed alibi for the next day as well.

"It could have been her visited the White's home while Jacob was out getting drunk. They liked her more than their son, so perhaps she went there on the pretext of pleading on his behalf, perhaps took an interest in the father's chemistry experiments with toxic compounds, had him whip up some cyanide and slipped some into his coffee.

She'd have plenty of time to write the two notes, and even plant the third for the wife to find later. It's more plausible she did all that in an hour than her drunken moron of a man did it all in ten minutes."

The woman had a fruity, rich voice, like a black-and-white movie star who played sophisticated, wise and cynical man users. Morden considered before responding.

"Jake confessed at the weekend."

The woman looked up and him and smiled broadly, the lines on her face deepening. "He could be protecting her. Why don't you ask her?"

"Because we've got no evidence. Just the guesswork of a strange old woman who's feet are on my desk. Who are you?"

"Anna Gray. Sergeant Anna Gray. I'm your new sidekick."

"I already have a...sidekick. He's called George."

"I'm afraid Sergeant Locke has accepted promotion - and transfer. You did know he'd applied and been accepted, and you knew the arrangement was he'd finish his current case before moving on."

"Yes but...I expected he'd hang around for a few days to clear up the paperwork. And to say goodbye."

But he had said goodbye. 'Goodbye sir', not 'Goodnight sir'. The old woman didn't speak.

"Alright, but I wasn't consulted. I expect some say in who works under me - as a courtesy if nothing else - and I don't appreciate someone being parachuted in without even telling me. Especially someone who...who..."

"Especially someone who's a rude old bat, old enough to be your mother. Someone who's spent her entire working life in the police but never made it above Sergeant. Someone who's close to retirement, far too good at annoying her superiors, and is being farmed out to whoever will put up with her."

Morden took a long deep breath. "You're the one who said it."

"And you're the one who thought it. But we've been talking for five minutes and my feet are still on your desk. You haven't shouted at me or tried to slap me back into place. You haven't gone storming to your boss and you haven't got me thrown out of the building. I think you like me."

No comments:

Post a Comment