One Trick Pony

For the last fifteen or so years I've been living with a bunch of dead guys at a motel in West Texas. Like the characters in my stories, I'd really like to move on, see the world, go places. But I'm just like them. Anchored by love, worn down by circumstances and fascinated by how much there really is underneath it all. So I keep writing their stories and tell myself that someday, when I've got this all out of my system, I'll write deep, meaningful literature about... something else. In the meantime, this is a place for the short attention spanned. I'm making a commitment to keep it small here. Flash fiction and scenes from the life inspired by, The Bella Vista Motel.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Forget It, Ramiel

Agent Ramiel parked near 56th street and paused to look over the notes he had written so far that morning.  His notebook, though small enough to fit in his breast pocket, was meticulously organized by subject and date.  His handwriting was small and precise.  He liked to write his notes in the car after an interview, not during.  It was too easy to miss contradictory expressions in the eyes or subtle clues in gesture while trying to transcribe.  He listened, he watched.  His memory was infallible.  And sometimes, as with writing down his dreams upon waking, he found that answers and understanding flowed from solitary contemplation after the fact.

Carol’s murder was different from the others he had worked on or researched in ways that were especially puzzling.  There was something deliberately wrong about it.  He had no doubt that it was the same killer.  But it was almost as if he had been forced to hurry, or not allowed to do things as he preferred and so had thrown caution out the window.  Ramiel was sensing an almost belligerent attitude in the choice of victim.  She was a nice, respectable girl.  Her death might not be forgotten by the end of the day.  Leaving her out in plain sight like that in an alley where it was well known that street walkers would pass by was a cruel act in and of itself.  He wondered if any other women besides Ruby might have seen her and been too frightened to do anything but run away.

He got out of his car and walked the couple of blocks to the precinct.  It was a crowded, chaotic neighborhood filled with people who were happy to keep the cops busy night and day.  Inside the precinct, he followed the sound of Detective Finn’s voice carrying above the general hubbub and stood in his doorway for a moment before Finn looked up and saw him.

“So, there you are, come in,”  Finn said.  Ramiel sat down in the chair that faced Finn’s desk.  The detective's gaze was sharp and interested. "Our young lady is in the capable hands of the coroner."

Ramiel nodded.  "Good.  The sooner you get the autopsy reports the better.  It will be useful to see records from the other cases.  I can help with that."

Finn leaned back in his chair and fixed Ramiel with a calculating stare.  "You're a narcotics officer."

"Yes.  I'm currently assigned to narcotics."  Ramiel met his stare with an absence of expression that may as well have been a shrug and a "so what?"  "The FBI is a law enforcement agency, Detective.  We cooperate when we can with other departments.  Especially where murders are concerned."

"Oh, we're always grateful for cooperation,"  Finn said dryly.  "So, how many murders you think this guy's good for?"

"I think a great many, but it's hard to say for sure.  We haven't recovered as many bodies as I suspect are out there.  He usually goes to some trouble to conceal them.  There were eight on record, this would be the ninth," Ramiel said.

"If this is the same guy,"  Finn reminded him.

"Have you ever seen anything like this before?  Does this look like just any garden variety killing to you?"

Before Finn could answer, he was distracted by a man standing in his doorway.  Ramiel glanced over his shoulder at a hard-featured man, dark, sunburned skin stretched tightly over the bones of his face.  He wore his hat down low over deep black eyes that were difficult to see behind thin, shiny spectacles that reflected the light in glittering flashes as he moved his head.  The man smoked a cigarette that glowed red hot like a coal at the bottom of a fire.

Ramiel had a chance to think, So rude to come into the detective's office like this... 

It seemed to Ramiel that the man introduced himself... his name was... and came into the room speaking as if he were in the middle of telling a story.  Part of the story was about Ramiel, and how he was going to go back to Virginia because his prisoner had a good lawyer and he wouldn't be traveling back there to be tried after all, he would just stay right here in New York where he belonged.  And another part of the story was about how Finn had done a fine job of cleaning up that neighborhood...

A roaring sound, blood pounding in his ears, the inside out version of breathing and he was up and walking.  Hallways and sidewalks were confused beneath his feet, he stumbled and reached out to steady himself on the edge of a desk, but his hand came down on the edge of a parked car instead.

It was his parked car.  He was sitting inside his own car gripping the inside edge of the driver's side window.  It was rolled down, all the way open, the man's face was leaning in and Ramiel could smell fire and cigarette smoke on his breath.  He was still telling stories, packing them into Ramiel's ears like cotton wads, and the inside of his car spun around like he was driving on ice, and then he crashed.

Blood gushed out of Ramiel's mouth as his head flew back from the steering wheel and his car came to a halt.  His horn and many other horns were blaring discordantly.  He turned his head to look back at the man in his window but there was a different man staring in at him.

The new man asked, with a mixture of anger and worry, "Hey, hey mister, are you all right?  What the hell was the matter with you, are you drunk or something?  Didn't you see that truck was stopped?"

But Ramiel couldn't see him anymore, his vision was swimming, he was passing out.

He heard someone shout, "Get an ambulance!" from a great distance away.  He was trying very hard to remember the girl in the alley, he didn't want to forget her.  "Her name was Carol, he muttered through his bloodied lips, "her name was Carol..."


  1. It just keeps getting better and I want to turn the page! $$$

  2. Wow, a deep and dreamy quality to this one. I felt a little under the spell the man cast myself. A haunting and well-depicted piece, ethereal and vaporous in parts. Fantastic work as usual, Ms. Pamila. :)

  3. Definitely a page turner. Or is this a page clicker? What is the term for that in the electric world?

  4. Very cool! This had quite an interesting quality to it that was impossible to turn away from. Well done!

  5. I love your stories. You have the perfect narrative voice. Your characters are always so compelling. We know they aren't going to be alright but we love the ride it affords.

  6. gotta get these out there all collated together & in print. Wonderful stuff.

    marc nash

  7. Very moody and atmospheric, really enjoyed your blog's introduction too.

  8. It's the detail that I love most about your stories Pamila. You weave the words together so effortlessly (or so it seems) to give us a vivid picture, putting us right there in the characters' skin.
    Another winner!

  9. Whoa, awesome stuff, as ever! It amazes me how you do it. Such vivid prose.

  10. I agree with Marc. It's time these get collected somewhere! One of the more distinctive voices in flash.

  11. What a bundle of creepiness. I think one of my deepest unconscious fears is having my agency taken away from me like that. Sort of plays on an Invasion of the Body Snatchers kind of anxiety. Well done.

  12. I'm with Marc and Ant, Pamila...these are good to go for pubilc consumption. Right from your clear description of Ramiel's precision to his accident we're drawn along for the ride. Compelling stuff.

  13. Strong story, flows well, with excellent descriptions. The confusion comes across well. The paragraph that starts, "It was his parked car" begins with a nice transition from the confusion into the action. The passive voice works well for the transition taking us from one state into another, but more active voice in the last part of that paragraph would really heighten the tension and everything going on for the reader.

    Good story. I enjoyed it much.

  14. Darn. I deleted my comment by accident. Well, better mine than any of yours. If I had a book jacket I'd excerpt pieces of all your comments for blurbs. I'm still shocked and pleased that people like my stuff and want to read it. I'm trying to wrap my head around how to get my work out, believe me, I want my stuff published.

  15. Add me to the people who like your stuff and want to read it! Really enjoyed this story. You are so very good with description.

  16. Fabulous flash. Your descriptions transport me and the story is quite original.

  17. Poor Ramiel. Poor, poor Ramiel.

    So fine to see him again, and with a whiff of the overtly supernatural hovering in the atmosphere too.

    Nice tease.

  18. "Moody and atmospheric" as a previous commenter put it!
    Ramiel is a very solid character

  19. Fantastic. I've gont loads to catch up on.

  20. Dropped by after seeing your excellent interview over at Chin Wag.


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