Sunday, May 20, 2012

a little noir flash fiction

Recently, I had the honor of learning that writer / professor Robert Arellano was including my story "Shanghaied," along with some other Portland Noir pieces, in his Noir Lit class at Southern Oregon University. When I remarked to him that it would be fun to be a fly on the wall as the students discuss the story, I threw out some comment like, "Don't look now, Bradley, but the author's hiding under your desk," and Robert said, "If you were in my class right now, I'd say run with that."

pretty gal discussing the story

So, I did. Now that the class has indeed read and discussed the story, I thought I'd honor the moment by posting the little flash fiction piece that came out of that impromptu prompt.


Noir Master Class

Good morning, students, and welcome to this semester’s Master Class in Noir Fiction. We’ll be starting off with the modern noir short story, “The Black Before” by Willem Morray.

In fact, the author is local, and he was quite pleased when I contacted him to say I’d be including his piece. In fact, he said he would love to be a fly on the wall and listen in on our discussion. In fact, don’t look now, Bradley, but he’s hiding under your desk. Please try not to kick him.

I guess you could say Mr. Morray got a little more than excited when I contacted him. He claims he doesn’t get out much, which I find surprising since his story is full of sizzling descriptions of the city at night and gripping interactions between cool people, which you wouldn’t expect from a man who supposedly “has no friends”—a fact that he has asked that I tell you. He says he hopes you enjoy his story and that if you do, he’d like to invite you all out for drinks afterward. He says to tell the class he does not like to drink in public but would love to have you back to his house where, in his study, he has a desk with a hidden bottle of whiskey and a library of every film Bogart ever made. He also has a neon motel sign strategically bolted to his study window so that the light blinks through the slats of Venetian blinds and creates a nice noir pattern on the floor.

Now, Bradley, didn’t I say “Don’t look now?” You’ve gone and looked. Please try to refrain, as the author isn’t fond of being looked at. Although he has asked me to tell you students who may be interested in that drink that he is, however, fine with being looked at if you’re wearing a fedora—or, ladies, a hairdo similar to Claire Trevor’s in the film Murder My Sweet. Preferably blond.

Don’t look now, Bradley—and I mean that, please don’t look—but Mr. Morray has found your lunch bag and is eating your corn chips.

For the love of god, Bradley, didn’t I say, “Don’t look now?” Alright, you’d better put your hands up. That gun in Mr. Morray’s hand isn’t only a replica from the 1950 film Gun Crazy—it’s also loaded. Hands up. Good. Now, keep your eyes front—and everyone act like nothing’s going on, and no one will get hurt.

Ah! This is refreshing, isn’t it, having an author sit in on class! In fact, I was so pleased with the idea that I’ve decided to book an appearance with every author whose work we read. I apologize for the manner in which we must conduct these little sit-ins. I know it gets crowded when you have an author under your desk, but there just aren’t enough chairs.

Now, let’s get started, shall we? This morning we’ll be comparing and contrasting “The Black Before” by Willem Morray with the short story “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot” by the classic noir author Raymond Chandler.

Of course, Mr. Chandler died back in 1959, so he’ll be a bit less engaging as a guest—but, Andrea, may I at least ask that you stop using his pelvis as a footrest?


Robert Arellano is the Edgar-nominated author of Havana Lunar. His most recent book is the incredibly taut thriller Curse the Names. You can check it out here.

1 comment:

  1. Charming and quite strange. As are you, pet, if the world but knew it.