bookscover2cover – Needles & Tears

Another story of mine has been posted at bookscover2cover; called Needles & Tears, ican be read by clicking on the link. This particular scene was written in response to a prompt in which Jen of Blog It Or Lose It asked us to write a haiku with a ‘film noir’ feel to it.
To finish, here’s Elvis Costello –

Needles and Tears


needles and tears

the only bright sparks of life

below rotting skylines


crime trampled so thin

it learns to grin like an x-ray


he rents a stool

where the cheap signals are loud

waiting hunched, bewildered


nothing is so tactful

as a stalker’s tactful hate


on stage she shows

a blonde aura of solemn marble,

a glazed closeness


lonely masks are hung up

she whispers to non-entities


their blood squirms –

her heart has small hands, clutching

silent assassins


he sees bloody particles

of the moon and howling beds


fuelled full of goodbyes,

all love tastes of questions –

he sees no remedy


he stands with the scattered rhythms

of a dying man’s heels


lurching from the bar

he greets the carcass of the night

under creeping stars


shadows excuse excuses

where night’s coiled to a cold trap


collar turned up,

her breath makes cryptic ghosts

as winter kissed her mouth


she whistles, unsuspecting

though stray dogs hear his fists clench


in puddles and piss

in sour struggles, they meet –

like the last dregs of sex


passers-by pass them by

in the trivial night


then look askance

where roses of powder-burns

draw circusing flies


This poem was written for Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #36, Haiku Noir, in which Jen of Blog It Or Lose It asked us to write a “haiku noir”, inspired by Raymond Chandler. This is another great prompt hosted by Chèvrefeuille at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai and all of the poems in the link-up can be read here. Although I wrote this as a direct response to the prompt I haven’t added it to the link-up since, having got carried away, I realise I went in a slightly different direction to “haiku that explores the darker parts of nature – nature at the dirty edges of humanity.” Ah well, you gotta go where the inspiration takes you, right 🙂

Death Is For Amateurs

Nicotine’s tarry welcome slipped down my throat and made the world a better place.  Briefly.  I needed it.  I breathed fast and tried to calm my nerves.  This case spiralled out of control so long ago that I forgot what having control even looked like.  I only knew that dead bodies had started stacking up all around me, uncomfortably close.  I never was a people person.  I always needed my own space.  And this was doubly true when all the people crowding round me were violently dead.

“Death is for amateurs,” I muttered between deep, hurried drags on the smooth Virginia tobacco.  Then I got back to ransacking the place, as quietly as I could.

I fumbled through the dark with just a feeble torch to guide me, its light shaking.  There was still that trembling in my hands and my breathing still came in quick, shallow gasps.  But breaking and entering always did disagree with me.  All the sneaking around got tired real quick.  It was too apologetic for my taste.  I preferred a more direct confrontation, given the choice, even if it had got me a few more dents in the back of my head than I’d have liked over the years.  That big stubborn ol’ head of mine could take its share of abuse and still pick itself up to lean on the nearest bar before closing time, nine times out of ten.  But, like I say, this case had changed the rules some – bullet-ridden bodies were a different proposition to dent-ridden heads.  So, some sneaking was in order.

The doctor’s office was airless and clammy from being locked up so tight.  The bars across the windows and the bolts across the door made a little zoo for all his patient’s wild secrets – all the dirty secrets, all the dangerous secrets, and the secrets that had a bit of both.

A doctor like this one costs a fortune, not because of his skill with a scalpel or for the pretty bows he can tie in a bandage.  No, the real skill he learned at medical school was how to keep his educated mouth shut.  The right kind of people (or the wrong kind of people) paid a lot for that kind of bedside manner.

I felt my skin crawl.  Ah well.  Once I cracked this case I’d quit this racket for good, quicker than bribes lose themselves in a senator’s pocket.  Ah-huh the reward would be vast if I pulled it off – I’d buy an expensive big ol’ beach house and an expensive little blonde to go with it.  Well, a house like that needs the proper accessories, am I right?

In my line of work I knew a fresh start is the wisest investment you can make.  So, I prised open the filing cabinet I needed, held the torch steady, as I rummaged.  I didn’t get far.  There, in pride of place, I saw my own medical file staring back at me.  I didn’t know how they got hold of it, or why.  Maybe they thought they’d try blackmailing me with some seedy secrets of my own?  I only wish I had any secrets worth the trouble.

Out of curiosity, I flicked open the file and found myself scanning the page of the last medical exam I shivered my way through, barely a fortnight ago – “Emphysema,” it read; “advanced, inoperable.”  They didn’t need to blackmail me at all.  I was finished.


This short story was written in response to the latest TipsyLit writing prompt: For this week’s prompt, your character must face a new beginning that is both the result of loss and new possibility.  Hmm it turns out that when I wrote the story I only half-remembered what the prompt had said.  Ah well, sod it.  All of the stories written for the prompt can be read by clicking on the image below.  

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