It’s been a while.
I’ve been busy with…cases that didn’t involve her. You know, cases of milk from Costco, cartons of cereal, and bags of vegetables — that kind of thing.
There was also the reams of paperwork, piles of junk mail — the usual suspects.
But yesterday, I came back to the office, just to check on things.
And there she was, my Muse.
She was lounging on the client chair — a wooden number that purposely not too comfortable, especially with that pose.
But I don’t think she minded.
The shimmery outfit she had on was light and airy, draping over her curvaceous form in just that way that makes men’s hearts flub-a-dub just a wee bit faster. The slits show off her legs, which were stretched out in long diagonals, crossed at the ankles, as she demurely rested her elbows on the back of the chair. She looked at me with sky-blue eyes as her lips curved into a small smile.
No, that pose certainly wasn’t too comfortable. But, I didn’t mind either.
“How’ve you been, darling?” she purred.
“Oh, busy.” I replied.
“Oh, I know–I know about that thing called life. But I meant up there,” she said, pointing to my head.
“Still sharp as ever, I guess.” How sharp it was before I didn’t know.
“I’ve been keeping your place tidy,” she said as she rose, and started walking around.
“Yeah, I’ve noticed. Thanks, but you didn’t have to.”
“Yes, but I wanted to,” she replied. She turned suddenly to look at me in earnest.
“Are you coming back to work, finally?”
“Well, I figured maybe ease in back to it, if you know what I mean.” I said, even though I wasn’t really sure.
There was one of those awkward pauses.
“Um…well, you look as lovely as ever…” I managed.
“Of course,” she said, “I always look great to anyone who finds me. You know that.”
“Yeah, I guess I do.”
“Well, I hate to chat and run, but–”
She came over to me without another word, and planted a soft kiss on my forehead.
“For luck,” she said, as she disappeared out the door.
Image via WikipediaI recently finished Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Directive and The Bourne Supremacy and years and years ago I read The Bourne Identity (you may recognize the names of the last two, as a trilogy of films based on the Bourne series were made, starring Matt Damon. There was also a made-for-TV movie starring Richard Chamberlain and Jacquelyn Smith — and that was how I became fascinated with memory, and why I sought out the Bourne Identity book).
If you’ve never read any Ludlum novels, here’s a short wikipedia description of his stories:
Ludlum’s novels typically featured one heroic man, or a small group of crusading individuals, in a struggle against powerful adversaries whose intentions and motivations are evil, adversaries capable of using political and economic mechanisms in frightening ways. His vision of the world was one where global corporations, shadowy military forces and government organizations all conspired to preserve (if it was evil) or undermine (if it was good) the status quo.
Having real only a few of Ludlum’s numerous titles (he actually died in 2001, and recent novels are ghostwritten off his manuscripts or notes), I can say there must be a Ludlum style, which I shall try to distill:
- Realism – a lot of what drew me into Ludlum’s novels is his depiction of the world. On the surface, his world is exactly like ours — cities and nations, economics and politics, etc. However, underneath the surface are forces we know nothing about: secret government organizations, clandestine operations, conspiracies and puppeteers who control the puppeteers who manipulate our hero, etc. The way Ludlum describes procedures and policies, weapons and tactics all seem real because of the “technobabble” he deftly uses, enabling readers to suspend their disbeliefs. (Technobabble is what we hear in sci-fi, such as Star Trek, when terms like “structural integrity field” and “Heisenberg compensator” are used to explain concepts to advance the plot). He describes operations, tactics and motives of organizations, governments and economic mechanisms such as secret bank accounts with such detail that they all seem more than plausible — it’s like we’re getting real-life lessons on how things (may) work.
- “Evil” Characters – by using the third person narrative — and a most omniscient narrator at that — we are many privy to the thoughts of major characters. As such, we learn about the motivations for them, and realize that while the characters that are “evil”, we know that they do not think of themselves as such. Rather, they have their own justifications and motivations for their actions. In D & D parlance, they tend to have an chaotic-evil alignment, meaning these antagonists see only themselves as being right, being the smart one, and that the end justifies any means needed.
- Intense Action – we are so used to the “summer blockbuster” movies, filled with special-effects, THX sound, etc. Well, Ludlum novels are also filled with action, although it’s all described in words. Car chases, hand-to-hand combat, gunfights, you-name-it it’s probably in one of his novels. Reading the sequences sends my heart pounding, and I start reading faster and faster, eager to find out what’s happening next. No wonder they’re called thrillers.
- Exotic Locations – in typical James Bond-ish style, Ludlum’s characters invariably need to travel the world, and here again, the author inserts an “in the know” travel guide for the location he uses, describing places in such detail that we can easily picture the natives, hear the foreign tongues in the markets, smell the scents, etc.
- Plot Twists – the hallmark of any good mystery thriller is its ability to keep the reader guessing. Sure, there must be clues so that we can develop their own suspicions as we read, but at the same time, we don’t want the story to be too predictable. It’s a fine balancing act, one that Ludlum seemed adept at.
- Good Guys prevail – at least so far, in the three novels that I’ve read. I know this may not happen in real life all the time, and you certainly will find less of this in the plots of foreign movies — good guy wins, gets the girl, etc., is what’s known as the “Classic Hollywood” ending — but I usually go watch movies or read books because I like to feel good at the end.
What I’ve described is certainly not limited to Ludlum novels — but for developing the Ludlum “brand” so that readers expect a certain type of story in a certain type of style, his novels certainly deliver the goods.
My name’s Nez. And I’m a blogger.
Today I woke up early. It was something folks like me did often, especially when we’re on a case.
The calm of the early morning is the best time to think. And this case required a lot of thought.
But first, duty called.
I fired up my Quad, the familiar bong of the Mac OS interrupting the silence. Faster than any one-armed bandit, I went through my usual routine.
My agents brought me the usual suspects, mail goons who had too much askey to drink the night before. I recognized a few characters from the local RSS. A few were new, defiant, even emboldened.
I picked out the ones I wanted from the line-up, leaving the rest for processing by the disposal team. I don’t envy those guys — the cyber-sanitation engineers — dealing with the everyday deluge of bogus deals on meds and warez, get-rich-quick schemes, flesh-peddlers and spammy low-lifes. It’s a thankless job.
Anyway, the minutes flew by, and before I knew it, they arrived.
My morning visitors.
I knew it would happen — it was inevitable, living in the Pa Rent ‘hood. Their footsteps got closer, and I wheeled around, expecting the worse. Clad in colorful, polyester outfits, the two made quite a pair. One had hair that was in all directions, as if he’d just gotten out of bed. Clearly, grooming was not high on this guy’s priority list. Of course, in their line of work, it rarely was.
In a high, squeaky voice, the other one said, “Daddy, can we have the Honey Nut Cheerios today?”
“Sure, kids.” I told them.
Two minutes later, the two brothers were contently munching away on the cereal, momentarily distracted. It won’t be long before they’ll be back, though. But by that time, I’ll be ready for them.
Returning to the job at hand, I continued working on tracking down my elusive target. She had given me the slip for a couple of days, but today I was determined to find her.
It had been a long, hard chase. For a while there, it was like I was always one step behind her. But I was close. I could feel it, for she was careless. There were clues left strewn about at each crime scene: a smooth and polished comment, a snippet of idea clearly cut by a sharp wit, and several incriminating photos to boot.
But she was good, and she knew it, and she knew that I knew.
Perhaps being careless was just her way of taunting me.
But I vowed it won’t be long before I found her again.
Just then, though, in walked a pair of the finest smooth-skinned legs any bipedal organism of the female persuasion would want for locomotion. And there were other uses as well, I can assure you.
But today, any stocking-covered, stiletto-heel bearing gam-gandering was precluded by the dark cotton-blend covering of a loose-fitting pair of sweatpants. The luscious lips that belonged to the rest of the warmly dressed body parted. What followed was to the point, a point I had no trouble getting.
“Honey, I’m off to class.”
“Okay, honey. Good luck on the exam today.” I replied. I gave the wife a kiss, and she went out through the garage side door. Such a cutie.
And then, another hour passed before I could get back on the case — you know, kids. School. ‘Nuff said.
I dug out my dog-eared notebook — great for keeping track of clues — and again worked on the case, going over and over all the pieces of information I had, somehow knowing that I needed to form a puzzle without the picture on the box. That puzzle could turn out to be highly valued, revered, maybe even talked about. But I wouldn’t know until the job was done.
I agonized and thought some more. I went to the john to pay my respects and thought there, too. Then I made a cup of tea and quaffed it down like there was no tomorrow. Decaffeinated, if you must know. And green, too.
And then I found her.
She appeared right where she was the other day, when everyone was out of the pad. When I was alone.
She stood right there in all her splendid glory, dressed in some sort of ethereal, swirling, wispy thing of excuse for a dress.
This was no ordinary dame.
Unlike a cornered animal, she would not fight back. Now caught, she would willingly relinquish herself. There would be no more games.
So without a word, she drifted up to me and peered over my shoulder at the screen.
“Oh, Nez, that looks like a great post!” Muse said. “Why don’t you fix that typo…”
To be continued…?
photo credit: borderhacker