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Cindie Reller Meets The Prince
A twist on the old fairy tale
Greetings, my fellow fiction lovers!
Today, I’m very excited to feature a short story from.
Terry writes, where as the name implies, he writes about anything and everything. The thread that holds all these disparate topics together is a love of good, creative nonfiction writing.
Here he takes two very different genres—fairy tales and noir fiction—and brings them together in a gripping story. Enjoy!
This is my response to a writing prompt published by Valorie Clark. The prompt was:
Cinderella went to the ball to kill the prince.
I’ve taken some liberties with my interpretation of the prompt, and have written the story in the style of 1950s hardboiled fiction, but with a New Age guru and a sort of good vibes business centre at its heart. I don’t know, but I think maybe this kind of mashing up might be an example of postmodernism. I hope not. Anyway, enjoy, and bear in mind the warning that the likes of Talking Pictures TV (which shows ancient films and television programmes) announces at the start: the following story exhibits attitudes that were prevalent at the time.
Jason Fox looked at his watch. Two am. He'd hardly noticed the hours crawl by as he was working on his latest case - a series of murders with no apparent motive, but all with two things in common: one, all the victims had been guys just starting their own business; two, they'd all been students at some joint called the Be Centered Center.
A couple weeks back he'd enrolled on a course at the Center. He thought maybe the guy who ran it was in a numbers racket or maybe just a good old-fashioned rip-off scheme. But the only thing the guy was really into was colors. Kept muttering stuff about "green energy" and "orange level". The guy was weird alright — he even called himself The Prince — but not the murdering kind of weird. Still, Fox told himself, you never can tell. He thought back to the Corelli case, where the guy was a top hit man for the Mob, posing as a Baroque composer.
Fox looked over at his assistant, Grimwald, who was typing up the report on the Menelli case. He'd been at the typewriter for a couple days now, and still hadn't finished the first page. "Good kid" thought Fox. "If it hadn't been for Grimwald, Menelli might be in Florida by now. But good thing he didn't have to earn his living as a secretary, or he'd be on Welfare."
"Hey, buddy", Fox rasped. If anyone wants me, I ain't around. If you want me, I'm getting a drink."
"Sure thing, boss" replied Grimwald as he reached for the second bottle of Tippex1.
Jason Fox stepped out into the neon-lit city night. He paused in a doorway to light his cigarette before dragging himself to the speakeasy across the street.
The bartender nodded towards Fox. "What'll it be, Mister?".
"Gimme two shots of Bourbon, no ice," Fox gritted. "And make it snappy."
Fox suddenly became aware of a dame in a red dress standing next to him. Her perfume was like the scent of nectar in a city of broken dreams. Fox took himself another cigarette and then, almost as an afterthought, motioned the pack towards her. She took one.
"What's your label, honey?" Fox grated.
"Say" she cooed in a voice like a mink coat in the frozen wastes of Alaska. "You don't waste any time”, do you?"
"OK, sugar" Fox grunted. "Cut the cackle. This ain't no chance meeting. Who sent you here and what do they want?"
She lowered her eyelids and half smiled, like a schoolkid being asked out on a date for the first time. "Well since you ask so nicely" she said in a voice that could stimulate a corpse, "I thought maybe we could talk about business. You look like the kind of guy who wants to branch out on his own. That's the kind of guy I like."
This was the chance he'd been waiting for. Maybe this was all a coincidence, but Fox didn't believe in coincidence. He decided to play along.
"Sure, baby," he muttered. Let's go to your place and get down to business.
As he followed her down Manhattan, Fox suddenly realised that he hadn't left word with Grimwald about where he was going. Still, Fox mused. What can a dame do?
Ten minutes later they were at her pad. As she poured him a Bourbon, Fox noticed the filofax on the coffee table. It bore the name Cindie Reller.
She brought him, his drink, and smiled at him. "Guess I'll just go and change into something more comfortable," she whispered as she ‘accidentally’ brushed past him on her way to the bedroom.
"Yeah." Fox grated.
While she was out of the room, Fox flicked through the filofax. There was something screwy about it, but he couldn't quite make it out. He turned to today's date. The entry for this evening read "Dinner with Mike". He heard the bedroom door open, and quickly shut the filofax.
"Nice place you got here," he grunted, "Yours?"
"Why not?" she cooed. He turned to look at her. She'd poured herself into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Fox approved.
"So tell me, honey" Fox gritted. "Where you been tonight, and how come you were in that bar? That ain't no place for a classy dame like you."
"I know what you must be thinking," she replied, "but it ain't the way it looks. I just got kind of lonesome sitting here reading about marketing and stuff.”
That was the clue Fox had been waiting for. Now all he had to do was get proof. She was the murderess alright. The proof wasn't long in coming.
She sat next to him on the sofa and snuggled up to him. Their lips met like they'd been lovers for a long time, but Fox wasn't taking any chances. He kept his eyes open.
As they kissed, her hand reached into her bag. She pulled out a small brown dropper bottle. He'd seen one just like it at the Be Centered Center, but it hadn't meant anything to him then.
He broke off the embrace and pulled the bottle away from her. "What's this?" he demanded.
She looked phased, but only for a second. "That's Rescue Remedy2" she smiled. "It makes me feel relaxed. Maybe it could ease some of your tension too?"
"Rescue Remedy, huh?" Fox snarled. "Let's see what this stuff can do."
He undid the top and poured the contents over a plant. It died instantly.
"OK, baby" he rasped. I know you're the dame behind all those murders. Why d'you do it?"
"Why? Why?” she screamed. She was hysterical now. "Because I got sick and tired of all those smart asses who knew exactly what they wanted. Me? I'm confused. I done a Transformation workshop and some nut I know tried to turn me on to the I Ching.3 And you know something? I got even more confused. So I decided to avenge myself. If you hadn’t shown up tonite I’d already be giving The Prince what’s coming to him. After all, he’s the Big Cheese around here. Anyway, I did the guys I bumped off a favor, cos they won't ever be confused like I was. But how did you know it was me?"
"The filofax, honey," Fox grunted. “It had things in it you hadn't done, like having dinner with Mike, and it didn't have things in it that you had done, like visiting the speakeasy. You kept the filofax to keep the cops off your tail. But you gotta remember, baby: if you fake a filofax, you oughtta keep another one somewhere just to remind yourself of what you're really doing."
Fox walked into his office..' It was 5am. Grimwald was just starting the second page of the Menelli report.
"Say, boss. You, were gone quite a while."
"Yeah", said Fox as he opened his Tarot pack. "Quite a while."
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In case you’re too young to remember, Tippex was a typing correction fluid.
One of the Bach flower remedies. It’s designed to calm you down if you’re in a bit of a panic.
The Chinese Book of Changes. You use coins to help you find the verse that’s applicable to your current situation, and the verse explains it and tells you what to do — if you can interpret it, that is!