Flash Fiction Friday – A Thorny Twist

This past Wednesday, on Sweden’s national day, I was at a market and I saw this older woman who just had the most amazing look. She looked like a steampunk witch and I wanted to compliment her outfit but I was honestly too intimidated. I found myself thinking, though, “gosh, I’d like to write a detective story about her”. The thought hasn’t quite been able to leave me since then, so here is a little snippet of that notion (hence also the rather cheesy title). It’s not steampunk in setting, rather I’ve tried to light-heartedly emulate the style of classic noir detective stories. Hope you enjoy:

The wind tore around the corner, chasing up a swirl of dead leaves, old newspapers and candy wrappers. The woman looked up at the run-down apartment building, fourteen grey stories stretching up against the overcast October sky. She pulled the beige trench coat tighter around her supple frame and pressed on towards the entrance, the heels of her red pumps clicking against the pavement.

There was no doorman, and the elevator smelled vaguely of urine. She wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like this on most days, but today wasn’t most days. Today, she was desperate and she was going to the only person in town that could help with a problem like hers. She arrived on the eighth floor and a the elevator doors opened with a dull ding. The hallway was poorly lit, and most of the doors had no signs on them to indicate what business went on inside. She stopped outside the door at the end of the hallway, eyes wandering over the motif etched in the glass pane. A rose growing out of a pentagram. There was something about it that made her shiver, and she took it as a sign she was in the right place. Underneath the symbol was etched the words “A. Thorne, P.I.”. Hesitating a moment, she put hand on the doorknob and turned it.

The office inside had been well-decorated once upon a time; now everything looked in need of repair. It was dimply lit, and her eyes were drawn immediately toward the heavy wooden desk in the middle. The woman took a step inside and was about to speak, then stopped mid-step, mouth open in surprise. Behind the desk was not the greying but still handsome detective she’d been expecting, but an elderly woman of perhaps seventy, grey curly hair down to her shoulders. She wore a white blouse with drills about the neck and cuffs, under a purple-and-gold brocade vest which matched the heavy patchwork skirt, harem pants peeking out underneath it. Her feet were bare, casually resting on the desk as she leaned back in the chair, an anklet on one foot. She wore a lot of jewelry: rings and bracelets and a heavy watch around her neck, and on the table was a purple felt hat with silver charms on it. A tick cigar, only a short stub of it remaining, hung in the corner of her mouth.

“Oh,” the woman in the doorway said, apparently taken aback. She looked around as if she was expecting to see someone else in the room. “Oh,” she said again when she didn’t see anyone. “I’m terribly sorry, I think I might be in the wrong place. Or maybe I’ve come at the wrong time. I’m looking for A. Thorne. The P.I.?”

The old woman plucked the cigar from her lips and looked the visitor up and down. “You’re looking at her,” she said.

“I’m sorry?” Bewilderment fluttered across her features.

“I said you’re looking at her.”

“You’re A. Thorne?”

The woman behind the desk drew a deep breath that was so layered with varying forms of annoyance that it somehow came off as patient. She took her feet off of the desk and sat up straight, leaning her forearms against the desktop. “Agatha Thorne, that’s me. Best paranormal detective this side of dead.” She took another puff of her cigar and gave her new client a moment to composer herself and try to stop blushing. “Now are you gonna stand there all day, or you got a case for me?”

Honestly, writing in this style was quite fun and I’m getting a lot of ideas for things I could do with this. Time will tell what it all turns into though…

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