Goodbyes Rewrite

NoirSix-Thirty.

The glare from the setting sun cuts through the window, bathing the clutter in the office in a warm orangey hue. Remly, lost in his thoughts, looks up from his desk. Time. He straightens his shirt in the mirror and walks out into the hallway.

Passing by the grimy sign hanging on the wall, Remly dances his fingers across the tarnished bronze, feeling the shallow grooves of the letters beneath his touch. In faded text, the legacy of this agency lays etched. James & Manson – Private Detectives.

Walking into the room beside, Remly spies Albus brooding at his desk, the bald patch on his head turned towards the door. Whether Albus notices the younger man coming in or not, Remly cannot tell. Waiting patiently, he admires the evening sky, watching it cool into a navy blue.

As the light fades, Albus stirs from his stupor, wiping the streaks off his face with rugged hands.

“Well kid, this is it.”

“Yup.”

Remly looks down at the floor, kicking at the imaginary dirt as Albus pulls his coat on, eyes transfixed on the sky.

“Never thought this day would come you know. Been here for over forty years.”

Remly smiles, “Forty-one to be exact. Twenty-eight with dad, thirteen with me.”

Albus turns and grins, wrinkling his eyes. “Forty-one years with the best damn partners a man could have wished for.”

“You can always visit,” Remly says, walking towards the desk. Albus produces a bottle and two glasses from his drawer and pours out the drink, handing one to Remly.

“Ain’t gonna be the same kid. It’ll just be me yapping and taking up your time. You gonna spruce up the place?”

“Maybe.” Remly says, looking down into his glass.

“Well, at least the old girl’s in safe hands.” Albus sighs, running a hand across his mahogany desk. “Been with me since day one you know. A present from the boys down at the station.”

“Still keep in touch?”

Albus eyes glaze. He shrugs, stretching out to make a toast. “James & Manson is all yours now Remly. Remember, if you ever need anything…”

“You’ll be the first to know.”

“Good.” Albus says, blinking back his tears. “We’re proud of you, you know that?”

Remly grins, “Too bad pride doesn’t pay the bills.” He downs the smoky-brown fire in a single gulp and grimaces. “…where you get this stuff?”

“It’s been sitting around.”

“For what, a decade?”

Albus smirks, downing his own with a satisfied smile. “Strong stuff. Bet your old man would have appreciated it though. Now that’s a man who knows his whiskey.”

“Enough to die from it.”

The moment lapses into silence.

“Well,” Albus coughs, putting on his hat. “Guess I better get going. Me and Margery have a plane to catch, and I haven’t packed.”

“Oh, where are you taking her?” Remly asks, in a friendlier tone.

“Hawaii!” Albus beams, years falling off his face. “Just me and the Mrs on the beach.”

Remly grins, “Send me a postcard then. Haven’t had a chance to see paradise myself.”

Albus breaks into a hearty laugh and shakes his head. “You ain’t gonna find paradise out there Remly. You gotta find it in here.”

Remly gives a weak smile as Albus taps a finger over his chest. “Sure you don’t want me to call you a cab?”

“Save it kid. Buy yourself a nice dinner tonight. God knows you’re gonna need it.”

Remly gives an appreciative smile. “Thank you Albus.”

“You too junior.”

The two men share a quiet hug.

Albus shields his eyes. With a final pat on Remly’s back, he breaks away, walking out the front door of his office for the very last time.

Glancing after the retreating back of Albus, Remly sheds a tears, forcing himself back into the real world. His partner might be gone now, but life goes on. It always does. Bills still need to be paid, and clients need to be informed. Looking around the musty old office, Remly worries about making the rent this month.

For years, James & Manson has languished, surviving on scraps thrown their way by their limited client list. Debt collectors, job agencies, and anyone else who needs the low down on the dirt, they call Albus. The work might not be flashy, but it puts food on the table.

Dragging Albus’s rolodex across the table, Remly fingers through the yellowing cards. Now that both founding members of the agency are gone, Remly needs to find out which of the regulars will be sticking around. Picking a card out at random, he makes the call.

“Wachowski! Long time no hear from ya. How’s the bailor business?”

A gruff voice on the other end answers. “Ain’t got nothing for you Manson, better luck next time.” He hangs up.

Remly picks out another card. “Milo? Remly here, James & Manson. Naww, just calling to check if…” Same answer. Stung by the rejections, Remly pulls out three more cards from the pile.

Two of them shoots him down immediately. Last one. 

“Words on the street that you’re flying solo now Remly. The boss ain’t too thrilled about that, says you lack experience.”

“Krippie, come on. We’ve been working together since I was a kid! You know my dad.”

“I like you Remly. Sorry.”

Five strikes in a row. Remly’s psyche is shot. He slams the receiver down and makes a grab for the bottle, pouring himself a double. He fumes, chugging down the whiskey and feeling the fire burn down his throat. “To you dad,” he croaks, raising his glass. “And to so-called friends.”

The warmth spreading inside of Remly makes him feel good. It helps him to relax. He pours another double and gulps it with gusto. Just one more. By the time Remly stops, half the bottle is gone.

“Sorry dear, won’t happen again,” Remly slurs, chuckling as he mimics his father. Leaving the mess on the table, he stumbles out of the office, ready to call it a night. He promises himself to call again tomorrow, though the prospect of being rejected again weighs heavily on him.

But tomorrow can worry about itself. Tonight, Remly has his mind set on steak. At least the thought of one anyways, as he looks into his wallet. Sighing at his sad state of affairs, he wonders how Albus managed to save up enough for Hawaii.

Grabbing his coat and hat from the other room, Remly shuffles out the front door, making doubly sure to lock up everything behind. Without Albus to look over his shoulders now, Remly feels the need to be extra careful. Fumbling with his keys, Remly lets out a smile. Barely an hour, and already he misses the old man.

He gives the door a swift jerk, hearing the lock falling into place. Someday, when finances allow, he will replace this damned door, and the grimy sign out front. Better yet, he might just move out, eave the ghosts behind and make a fresh start. Smiling at the thought, he makes his way down the hallways, whistling to himself a nameless tune.

The elevator shaft is a distance away, across to the other side of the building.  Why this is so, Remly never asked. But it does mean his rent is cheaper. Being far removed from nosy neighbors and prying eyes only sweetens the deal.

The fact remains though, Remly will be out on the streets if business continues to slide. He thinks about letting out one of the offices as a temporary measure, but that would mean having to share the signage space out front. After forty-one years, Remly is not ready for that. Not yet.

What James & Manson really needs is a new gig. A big fat client to move the agency out of its doldrums and into a new life. And Remly wants it now. Taking his cigarettes out from his coat pocket, he lights one up as he rounds the corner, distracted by his problems.

“Excuse me!”

Remly looks up just in time. He skips a step and turns aside, narrowly avoiding a collision. The figure appearing around the corner turns and glares at him, muttering his discontent.

“Pardon me,” Remly says, breaking away from his thoughts to offer an apology. But the elderly gentlemen in the white suit ignores him, hobbling away on his walking stick. Instinctively, Remly’s investigative senses come alive. Trimmed beard, studded ivory cane, a spot of the latest Eau de Cologne. Remly smells money.

Intrigued, he moves into the shadows along the walls, taking another drag on his cigarette. He eyes the old man hobbling from unit to unit, scrutinizing the names and signboards.

“You looking for something?”

The old man turns around, searching for the voice.

“Would be easier for you to just ask.”

Spotting Remly in the dark, the man replies in a thick English accent. “This is none of your business young man.”

Remly blinks, keeping his cool. “You’re trespassing on private property here, so I suggest you remember your manners.”

The man straightens his back and stares defiantly, “And who might you be?”

“A nobody.” Remly grins. “But at least I pay the rent. So who are you looking for.”

The man eyes Remly suspiciously, “The only reason I’m having trouble is because this blasted building doesn’t seem to have a directory. Do you know when I might find the offices of James & Manson?”

Remly perks ups. He takes one last puff from his cigarette and throws it to the floor, stubbing it out with his boot. “Depends on why you want to find them?”

“That is my private business.”

Remly walks up to the man and extends a hand. “You found him. Remly Manson at your service, what can I do for ya?”

The man steps back. “May I see some identification?”

Reaching into this coat pocket, Remly pulls out a card. “If you’re hoping for a badge…”

The old man squints at the card. “This will do Mr Manson. But I’m actually looking for a Mr Albus James.”

Remly’s enthusiasm wanes. “Albus is gone for the day, if there’s anything I’ll be more than happy to…”

“Thank you, but no,” the old man says, raising a hand to decline. “I’ll like to speak to Albus in private, it’s… well its a matter of utmost confidentiality. Is there anyway I can reach him?”

Think fast Remly. “I can assure you sir, that as a partner of James & Manson, I am just as capable in handling your request, Mr…”

“White, Sullivan White.” The man says, tipping his hat with his cane.

“Mr White.” Remly nods in acknowledgement. “Now, me and Albus have been working together for a very long time, and there’s not a thing in this world we don’t trust each other with. Don’t let this youthful mug fool ya now,” Remly says, forcing a laugh.

The man glances down at the card and back at him. “You’re the Manson?”

“Presently so,” Remly answers, tipping his own hat in response. “Now why don’t we go to the office so that we may discuss this in private.”

Mr White bites his lips. “Perhaps when Mr Albus is available…”

Remly’s heart skips a beat. He weighs the costs in his head, and goes in for broke. “You win Mr White, I’m going to send for Mr Albus right now.”

Surpised, the features on the old man’s face begins to soften. “If it’s not too much trouble.”

“But while we’re waiting, why don’t you join me for dinner and some wine. There’s a nice little restaurant just across the street.”

 

Author’s Notes: 

– This is a repost from a story intro I uploaded earlier in the week.

– Trying out a more economical form of writing. Basic stuff like:

  • Cutting out dialogue cues
  • Single-word verb approach for action
  • Less “Ands” “As” and cluttered link words. Using more periods and commas.
  • Letting things go unsaid, unexplained. Particularly in the narrative. This forces the dialogue to come to the front.
  • Playing with bigger chunks of dialogue. Only breaks in the sequence should only be actions, not narrative explanations, which I tend to do.
  • Essentially, after trimming all the fat, I cut a 3000 word intro to a 2000 word one and made it sound better.
  • I think I’ll like to explore this style of writing more, but its tedious.
  • The game of subtext – Two big chunks here. Instead of just words, I tried to put some hidden meaning and agenda and leaving it unexplained. Seems to work.

Feedback Requested: 

  • Any jarring parts? Any parts that just seem to jump?
  • Some parts might need to be slowed down. but I’ll cut down first and pad it up later with content instead of word.
Initial Write Ups
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Moving On From Goodbyes

Private Eye

Remly gives the door a swift jerk, hearing the soft click of the lock sliding into place. Someday, when finances allow, he will replace the damn door. Better yet, he might just move out, and leave the ghosts behind. With a satisfied grunt, he makes his way down the dimly-lit hallway of the building, whistling to himself a nameless tune.

The elevator shaft is a distance to the other end of the building. Why this is so, Remly doesn’t know. But it does mean his unit is the cheapest in the building. Being far removed from the nosy neighbors and prying eyes only sweetens the deal.

Still, it doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be out on the streets if business slips. He could let out one of the offices, but that means changing the signage out front as well.  No, what James & Manson really needs is a new gig, and Remly wants it now. Taking his cigarettes out from his coat pocket, he lights one up as he rounds the corner, distracted by his own problems.

“Excuse me.”

What? Remly looks up from his stupor to see a elderly gentleman in a white suit walking towards him. Well-groomed beard, a studded ivory cane and a spot of decent cologne, Remly smells money.

“I say young man, do you to know where I might find the offices of James & Manson? The unit I was given doesn’t seem to exist.”

Remly blinks, trying to control his excitement. He plays it cool and throws his cigarette to the floor, stubbing it out. “You found it, Remly Manson at your service.” He extends a hand which the man warmly accepts.

“Oh wonderful, I’ve been referred by an associate of mine, he tells me I should speak to a Mr. Albus James.”

Remly feels his enthusiasm wane. “James is gone for the day, if there’s anything I’ll be more than…”

“Thank you, but no” the old man says, raising a hand. “I’ll like to speak to Albus in private,  it’s a matter of upmost confidentiality. Is there anyway I can reach him?”

Think fast Remly. “I can assure you, that as a partner of James & Manson, I am just as capable in handling your request, Mr…”

“White, Sullivan White.”

“Mr White,” Remly tips his hat. “Now, I’ve been in business with Albus for the last thirteen years. There ain’t a thing we don’t trust each other with. Don’t let this youthful mug fool ya.” He forces a laugh to appear to friendly.

The old man looks at Remly warily. “You’re the Manson of the company?”

“Presently so,” Remly answers. “Now why don’t we go back to our office so that we may discuss this business in private.”

The old man bites his lips, considering the proposition.

Remly weighs the costs in his head. “Tell you what, there’s a nice little restaurant just across the street. If time permits, perhaps we can discuss this matter over dinner.”

The old man’s features start to soften. “Well I guess….”

“Good, let’s go then. I hope you like steak.”

<– Part 1: An Intro To Goodbyes    <–Part 2: A Follow Up To Goodbyes

 

Authors Notes: 

  • This part has the ‘sudden’ appearance of another character to let the story move forward, let me know if the handling of it here is ok, or is it just too sudden. I can always add a “he looks up  and sees a man exiting the elevator”, or something like that.
  • As per the part 1, I have opted to do away with most dialogue tags. This makes it read faster which can be a good or bad thing.
  • I’ve went back to edit Part 1 and 2, trying to insert the character descriptions into the text without dedicated an entire chunk to it. I need to create an image for Albus. I’ll see if it works.

A Follow Up To Goodbyes

Detective

Picking up his uncle’s rolodex, Remly fingers through the yellowing cards. scanning the all too familiar names. James & Manson hasn’t had a new customer in years now, and its day-to-day survival depended entirely on the few companies unafraid of employing a little subterfuge in their dealings. Debt collectors, employment agencies and other shady businesses. They make up the entirety of the agency’s client list.

Now that both founding members of James & Manson are gone however, Remly needs to find out which of these regulars will be sticking around with the new management. Only one way to find out. He picks out a card at random and makes the call.

“Hey Wachowski, long time no hear. How’s the bailor business.”

A gruff voice on the other end answers, “Ain’t got nothing for you Manson, better luck next time.” He hangs up.

Remly picks another card. “Milo? Remly here. James & Manson. No, just calling to check if…” Same answer. He pulls out three more cards and tries again, and again, and again.

“Words out you’re flying solo now Manson. The boss ain’t too thrilled about that you know, Albus has always been the one handling our business. You lack experience kid.”

“Krippie, I know your business inside out, I’ve been working with you since I was a kid! You know my dad.”

“Sorry Remly.”

Another hang up. Five strikes in a row and Remly’s psyche is shot. He slams the receiver down and grabs for the bottle, pouring himself a double. “I’ll show em’,” Remly fumes, chugging down the whiskey. The liquid burns down his throat, forcing him to wince. “To you dad,” he croaks, raising his glass. “And so-called friends.”

The heat spreading inside Remly’s belly helps him to relax. He pours a generous helping again, gulping down the fiery liquor with gusto. Just one more. The drinks start to fly, by the time Remly stops, he had finished half the bottle. “Sorry dear, won’t happen again,” Remly slurs, chuckling as he mimics the voice of his father. Leaving the mess on the table, he stumbles out of the office, ready to call it a night. He will call again tomorrow, though the prospect of rejection looms heavily upon that promise.

But tomorrow can worry about itself. Tonight, Remly has his mind set on a steak dinner. The thought of one anyways, since he can barely afford a sandwich. Sighing at his sad state of affairs, he grabs his coat and hat off the rack, shuffling out the door. Without uncle Albus around, he makes doubly sure to lock up everything behind him. Fumbling with his keys, Remly can’t help but smile. Already he is starting to miss the old man.

<– Part 1: An Intro To Goodbyes     Part 3:

Author’s notes: 

  • So far this is my writing style, write as much as I want, rewrite the entire thing, then cut it down to size. Usually I can cut off about 25%-30% of the text without losing any context, though I have to try to slow down the pace if it reads too fast. 
  • Playing the subtext of the relationships without being too direct.
  • First time writing a scene about drinking. Lemme know if it works.
  • My constant war against “As” “And” “Before” “Then” “After” — Basically link words. I try to cut them down and just separate the sentences if I can, as long as it still reads right. I am overly reliant on the word “As”, usually I find about 10-12 of them in a 500 word chunk before I cut them down. It is incredible how versatile that word is, yet is totally meaningless and can often be replaced with something more descriptive.

Removing as to make it more descriptive: (as is usually associated with the dreaded -ly, the telling words)

  • Albus turns away, shielding his eyes. With a final pat on Remly’s back, he …
  • Albus turns away, shielding his eyes as he pats Remly firmly on the back. He…

Where it fulfils no purpose: 

  • The warmth spreading through Remly’s belly makes him relax.
  • The warmth spreads through Remly belly as it starts to make him relax.

 

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An Intro About Goodbyes

Detectives

Six-Thirty.

The glare from the setting sun cuts through the window, bathing the clutter in the office in a warm orangey hue. Remly, lost in his thoughts, looks up from his desk. Time. He straightens his shirt and walks across the hallway, passing the tarnished signage with its unremarkable lettering: James & Manson – Private Eyes.

In his room, Albus sits on his desk, the back of his bald head turned to the door as he stares motionlessly through the blinds. Whether he notices Remly coming in or not, he makes no show of it. Waiting quietly by the door, the younger admires the view of the evening sky outside, watching it cool into a navy blue.

Eventually, Albus stirs, wiping his face with rugged hands.  “Well, this is it I guess.”

“Yup.” Remly looks at the floor as Albus picks his coat off his chair and puts it on, eyes still transfixed on the sky.

“Been here over forty years ya know.”

Remly smiles.“Forty-one, twenty-eight with dad, thirteen with me.”

Albus turns back and grins, wrinkling his eyes. “Forty-one years and the best damn partners a man could have hoped for.”

“You can always visit,” Remly says, walking towards the desk. Albus produces a bottle from his drawer and pours out the drinks, handing one of them to Remly.

“Ain’t gonna be the same kid. You gonna spruce this place up?”

“Maybe.” Remly says, lowering his eyes to the glass in his hand.

“Well, at least the old girl’s in safe hands.” Albus says, running a hand across his mahogany desk. He stretches out to make a toast. “James & Manson is all yours now Remly. Remember. If you ever need anything…”

“You’ll be the first to know uncle.”

“Good,” Albus says, blinking back tears. “We’re proud of you, you know that?”

Remly sighs, “Too bad pride doesn’t pay the bills.” He downs the smoky brown malt in a single gulp and grimaces. “…where you get this stuff?”

“It’s been sitting around.”

“For what, a decade?”

Albus laughs, downing his own with a satisfied smirk. “Strong stuff. Bet your old man would have appreciated it though, that man knows his whiskey.”

“Enough to die from it.”

The moment lapses into silence.

Albus makes a slight cough and puts on his hat. “Well, guess I better be going…”

“Sure you don’t want me to call you a cab?” Remly asks, taking the glass from Albus.

“Save it. Buy yourself a nice dinner tonight. God knows you’re gonna need it. Goodbye junior.”

Remly gives an appreciative smile. “Goodbye uncle. Thanks for everything.” The men share a quiet hug.

Albus turns away, shielding his eyes. With a final pat on Remly’s back, he breaks away and disappears out the door of his office for the very last time.

Remly sheds a tear before forcing himself back to reality. Looking around the abandoned office, he worries about making the rent this month. Other than that though, life goes on. It always does.

 

 Part 2: A Follow Up To Goodbyes –>

Author’s Notes: 

  • Does the silence work?
  • Going for a more mellow tone here, the yin to Pixel’s yang.
  • Inspired somewhat by Madmen. Picture Don Draper and Roger Sterling at one of their bar scenes. Don says almost nothing of direct note most of the time, but the emotions still get through.
  • Men always have trouble with good byes.
  • Want to get a Noire thing going without being overly cheesy. The mention of private eye already conjures up a grayscale 60s office.
  • Trying out subtext here. Letting words go unsaid etc. I need to be less direct.
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