This week’s challenge can be found here.
The task: To pick (ideally at random) two subgenres; one from each list of twenty, and blend them together.
I went to RNG for my two subgenres, and that got me
- Greek Mythology
- Noir Detective
This is what I did with it.
In this business, you think you’ve seen it all; then suddenly, you’ve never seen anything like it.
It all started with a knock on my office door.
She rounds the door, and closes it shut behind her. I’ve seen some beautiful things in my time, but this dame could make you forget your own name.
‘Mr Lees?’ she asks
I gesture to the seat opposite mine. She glides across the room; her dress is expensive, so too is her perfume, a scent like sunsets and flowers. Everything about her speaks money. She takes the seat; crosses her legs, and places her bag on her lap.
‘What can I do you for Miss…?’ I hold out my hand
‘Athena’ she says, taking it.
We shake politely; her skin is soft and smooth, like dipping my hand in fresh milk.
‘Well what brings you here today Miss Athena?’
‘Well Mr Lees’ she eyes the name plate at the end of my desk
Herc. U. Lees – Private Detective
‘Can I call you Herc?’ she asks
I nod. She continues.
‘You see Herc, I’m in need of your services for a most sensitive matter’ she reaches into her bag, and withdraws a few sheets of paper; handing me one across the desk. It’s a photo of a large white horse.
‘That’s Pegasus’ she says ‘He’s been abducted’
‘Yes, two days ago’ she continues ‘I thought maybe he’d jumped the paddock and ran away, that was until I got this’ she hands me another piece of paper; with letters cut from a newspaper, it reads:
WE WILL RETURN THE HORSE WHEN YOU GIVE US WHAT WE WANT.
‘What do they want?’ I ask her
‘That’s just it, I don’t know’ she withdraws a tissue from her purse and holds it to her face, her eyes begin to tear.
I place the note atop the photo of Pegasus, and reach down into my desk draw, the lowest one. I study some of the bottles and, reluctantly, I withdraw the Dionysus. She’s a classy broad, and that’s the best wine my money can buy. I pour her a small glass and pass it across the table. She mumbles a thank you through her tissue, and drains the glass. I give her a minute to compose herself.
‘Why not just go to the police?’
She hands me the final piece of paper. Another note made out of paper clippings.
IF YOU CONTACT THE POLICE YOUR HORSE WILL BE KILLED.
I place that on top of the others.
‘They’ve never said what they want?’
‘And you have no idea?’
‘No’ her eyes shimmer with tears.
‘What about your husband?’
‘I’m not married’
‘No’ she shakes her head, and begins to put away the tissue, finding composure.
I nod ‘Okay Athena’ I say ‘I’ll look into it, see what I can find out’
‘You will?’ she says, smiling for the first time.
I nod again, returning her smile. I saw her to the door, exchanged a brief hug, a thank you on her part, and told her I’d be in touch. I studied the three pieces of paper she left me, and still couldn’t find an angle. I put on my hat and coat, and headed out the door.
I walk into the bar. A few dregs are in there, but otherwise it’s quiet. I walk up behind a man wiping a table.
He jumps, then turns and glares me ‘Chrissake, Herc’
‘I need some info’
‘Yeah, what’s new’
‘I’ll be fair’
I place a Drachma note in an empty glass he’s reaching for. He walks away, leaving the glass where it is. I catch up with him again at the bar.
‘What is it you want?’ he asks
I lean in, keeping my voice low ‘Pegasus’
His eyes flash with recognition, and then he says ‘What?’
I smile. Never trust a man in sandals, without a beach beneath him.
He shrugs, avoiding my eyes, and walks round the other side of the bar.
‘What’s it going to take Hermes?’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’
‘Hey whatever man, I don’t know everything’
‘Damn straight you don’t, or you wouldn’t be thinking you can slip one by me’
He busies himself with the glasses, as though hoping I’ll disappear.
‘One last chance Hermes’ I said it like I meant it.
‘Okay, okay’ he knew I did ‘meet me out back’
I left the bar and made my way down the side to where they kept the bins out back. A few seconds later Hermes came creeping out the rear door. He surveyed the alley, left and right, and when he’d satisfied himself the alley was clear, he started to talk.
‘Look, you know I don’t like to jerk you around Herc, but I gotta be careful, ya know’ he rubbed the back of his neck and continued to talk ‘this Pegasus shit, I can’t be getting caught up in it’
‘Caught up in what?’
He gave me a suspicious look ‘you mean you don’t know?’
I couldn’t bring myself to say it, but the look I gave him confirmed it.
‘Ah shit, the P.I don’t know dick!’ he said with a chuckle
I cut it short by putting my forearm against his windpipe and pinned him to the wall.
‘Tell me what you know dipshit, or I’m going to uppercut you out those sandals’
I listened intently, until I realised he was turning purple. I took my arm away from his throat, and let him drop to the floor. He sat panting for a minute, while holding his throat.
‘You trying to kill me asshole!?’
‘I thought you knew who owned the horse’
‘Some dame, so what’
He smiled slightly. But the glare in my eye melted it quicker than butter in a hot skillet.
‘Yeah, but it’s who that dame is that should help you understand. Her daddy bought her the horse as a present, and whoever took it, is sending him a message’ he continued, though his tone, and eyes became very serious ‘her father is Zeus’
He nodded slowly as though the very word made him drunk.
‘Head of the Olympians?’ I asked
‘The King himself’
Shit had hit the fan, and I need to make sure I stay clean. I walked back up the alley.
‘Hey, Herc!’ I heard him call
I stopped and looked back at him; still slouched against the wall.
‘How about you tip the messenger’ he said, rubbing his thumb against his forefinger.
‘Put it on my tab’
I made my way downtown. I needed to find out exactly what was going on, and be sure my name was not up on a list somewhere just waiting to be crossed off.
I traipse the busy streets in search of my source. He’s never in the same place twice, but he’s always here. Eventually it’s my ears that find him. Standing beside an upturned hat; swaying, and playing his flute like the sound of the forest.
He notices me but continues to play. A few people walk by and chuck him a few shekels; he winks at the ladies, and most of them giggle. I wait a few minutes for the song to finish before I approach.
‘Come on’ he says ‘I need a coffee, and you’re buying’
I follow him to a coffee shop a few doors down. We order our coffees, and find a quiet table in the corner. He pours in some sugar and says
‘To what do I owe this pleasure?’
‘I need to know what the word on the street is’
‘I meant specifically’ he says with impatience ‘you don’t come to shoot the breeze’
I watch him stir his coffee for a minute; he’s got a few more grey hairs in his goatee than I remember, but his attitude is about right: unless he’s consoling a bottle of wine, or a lady, he’s a miserable old goat.
He stops stirring, and looks up from his coffee.
‘You like life Herc?’
I smile and say ‘I’m still looking for a reason not to’
‘Keep searching this one, and you just might find it’
‘I just need to know a few things, I’m not looking to get involved in this’
‘Good, because that way lies death, you know who owns that horse right?’
‘Well then hear this: He’s out for whoever is involved, and if you go snooping around, you’ll end up in the cross fire’
‘How’d you know I’m not working for him?’
He nearly spits out the mouthful of coffee he just took ‘yeah right, the mighty Zeus hires a P.I to track down his horse’
‘Fair point; now tell me something useful, who’s supposed to have taken it?’
‘And if I do, will you go home and put your feet up?’
‘Do you care?’
He shrugs ‘you’re a good source of income, and I like you Herc’
I can’t help the smile I give him, which makes him uncomfortable
‘Well, I mean you’re alright, but whatever you do I don’t care’
‘I just want to make sure my name isn’t floating around town. You’re right, if I’m seen to ask questions, it could be a whole heap of shit I don’t want to deal with, but if I know my name is out there, then at least I can take necessary precautions’
He takes a deep breath, and lets the air out through his nostrils. ‘Herc, you’re a big guy, and hell I know you can look after yourself, but these are Olympians. I’m begging you, use what I’m about to tell you to cover your ass, and sit this one out – I don’t care how gorgeous she is, this isn’t worth dying over’
I nod. He continues.
‘Rumour has it the thief could be within their own fold. I mean think about it, nobody would be brave enough to make a move on the mob, except maybe the mob’
He makes sense, and my instincts have already agreed with him, but I need a name, just for my own peace of mind.
‘You’re name isn’t out there, so stop asking questions’
‘Give me a name Pan’
He looks into my eyes, and can see I won’t be letting up. He sighs, and leans in closer.
I walked back to my office. The fresh air and the stroll gave me time to think. The whole scenario is not worth getting tied up in. I’m not involved, and decide quit while I’m ahead. I get into my office, place my hat and coat on the stand, and head straight for the draw. I pour myself a glass of the good stuff, knock it back, and pour myself another. I reach across the desk to get my diary; I’ll call Athena now, get it over with – sorry lady. That’s when I noticed it. Sitting on my desk as though it’d been there for years; a cream envelope with my name written across the front. I study the room, checking I’m alone. Satisfied, I pick it up, open it, and pull out its contents: a single piece of paper with a message across it:
ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR TWELVE LABOURS?