Short Story – Dark and Stormy
The inspiration for this story began with the cliche opening “It was a dark and stormy night.” While I’m not the first writer to try to come up with something interesting to do with that sentence I can say that I am, for a brief period of time, the most recent.
Because the line is a well worn cliche, I chose to use a character I created for a radio play about three years ago. Rick Dickerson, cliche private eye, seemed like the best character to deal with the most cliche opening line ever.
The result is a short piece that is, I hope, pretty silly.
I’ll be reading this story live during the pre-show to Power Point Karaoke on Friday, April 14th. If you are in the area, you should come and watch! Two other writers will be presenting stories as well!
As always, you are free to comment and share!
It was a dark and stormy night. Not that Rick Dickerson, Cliche Private Eye expected any different. Every night was dark and stormy. It was, in truth, difficult for a stormy night to be anything but dark.
The wet pavement reflected the dim glow of the street lamps and Rick watched people opening their umbrellas just to run the ten feet from their car to their front door. Rick didn’t need an umbrella. He had the brim of his hat and years of heartbreak to keep him dry. Not that either one worked.
Rick stood directly underneath a streetlamp because he knew in the dark city, the best place to avoid being seen was in the only pool of light on the block.
As he watched the door, his heart sank. Any moment a killer was going to walk out into the rain and he knew who that killer must be. He wished it would be anyone else. But these cases were always the same. That’s why he was so good at cracking them.
Earlier that day, he’d been smoking a cigarette and contemplating where he could find a new partner. Ned had lasted a month before their client killed him. Just like all the others. Rick warned every one of his partners they should never trust a client but none of them listened.
He crushed out his cigarette and walked over to the bar to pour himself a drink. That’s when She walked through the door. He immediately grabbed another glass.
Her perfume was expensive but her clothes were cheap. Her dress had been expertly mended several times but even so, he could tell it was her best dress and she wore it well.
“Are you Dick Dickerson, Private Dick,” she asked.
“It’s Rick,” he responded.
“Oh. I thought it was Dick.”
“It’s Rick. Says so right on the door. Drink?”
“Thank you. I need your help, Dick.”
“I need your help, Rick.”
She took a sip of her drink and looked at him in amazement.
“How did you know I wanted a gin and tonic?”
“You ain’t my first client.”
Rick took a sip of his cheap twelve-month old scotch and sat down on his desk to examine his new client.
She sat down in a chair and crossed her legs suggestively. She took another sip from her drink but kept her eyes locked on his. She was hard to resist and she knew it.
“So,” Rick began, “you’re being followed.”
“How did you know?”
“Like I said, you ain’t my first client.”
His answer seemed to satisfy her but she was a girl who was used to being satisfied. She stood up and strode towards him.
“My ex-boyfriend. I broke up with him after he hit me one too many times. He swore I’d be with him or with nobody at all. Can you see me being with nobody at all, Dick?”
“No, babe. No I can’t. And it’s Rick.”
She shut him up with a kiss. For the next seven and a half minutes, she could call him whatever she liked.
She told him her ex-boyfriend might be staying at the Ritz but he knew better. That’s why he was standing in the rain out in front of the Savoy. Murderous ex-boyfriends always stayed at the Savoy. They had a whole ad campaign built around it.
Night fell and the storm rolled in like always. He gave five bucks to Jack at the front desk and two minutes later, he was getting ready to pick a lock.
He didn’t know why he brought his picks because he’d never needed them. The door was open just an inch or so and the faint smell of gunpowder told him all he needed to know. He pushed his way into the room and there was the ex, face down on the floor in a pool of his own brain matter.
Rick knelt down to get a closer look and that’s when it happened. Pain exploded in his head and then he could feel himself falling into oblivion. His last thought was to wonder why he never remembered to check behind the door.
When he woke up, it could have been minutes or hours later. He was lying on top of the dead man’s body with a gun in his hand. If he had to guess, he would imagine that the bullet in that dead man’s brain had been fired from the same gun and there was a dent in the back of his own head in the shape of the pommel.
He put gun in his pocket and stumbled back down to the desk. He gave Jack another five bucks to call the cops. In an hour.
Then he crossed the street and hid under the streetlamp. He knew the killer was going to be back.
It wasn’t long before he heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked and pointed at him. Not that pointing a gun at someone made a sound. He just made an assumption based on available evidence.
She stepped out of the shadows and into the pool of light Rick was using as cover.
“You know Dick,” she smiled, “It’s much easier to hide in the shadows back here.”
“Sure,” Rick said, choosing not to correct her, “it is if you like doing things the easy way.”
She smiled and pulled the trigger. Nothing but an impotent click. She pulled it again. Click.
“If you’re going to lift a guy’s gun,” he told her, “you should make sure he keeps it loaded.”
“Why wouldn’t you keep it loaded?”
“My gun gets lifted a lot.”
She dropped the gun and began to cry, the salt tears causing the her mascara to run in a way the driving rain hadn’t.
“I…I’m sorry Dick. I just didn’t know what else to do.”
“That’s what they all say,” Rick nodded, “but we all have choices. I could’ve roughed up your boy for ya but that wasn’t what you wanted, was it? You wanted him dead and you needed a patsy to blame, didn’t you?”
“It’s true,” she cried, “Hold me, Dick!”
She threw herself into his arms and he couldn’t help but appreciate the way her body melted into his. For a brief moment, he contemplated running away with her. He couldn’t trust her but maybe that didn’t matter.
Then the moon broke through the clouds and her face began to transform. Her teeth grew longer and hair began to sprout from her body. Her dress tore away as her arms lengthened and grew claws.
She pushed him away as her face became more like a wolf than a human and her features twisted into a sinister grin.
Rick pulled the gun from his pocket. The one she’d planted on him earlier. The one he had filled with silver bullets while he was still in the lobby of the Savoy. Without hesitation, he fired three rounds into her chest.
The moment the first bullet entered her chest, the transformation began to reverse. By the time she fell to the pavement, she looked human again. Her dress was torn and it would need mending. This time, she wouldn’t be alive to fix it..
She looked up at him as the life faded from her eyes.
“How did you…?”
He smiled. “Werewolves all wear the same perfume.”
She didn’t hear his answer. She stared back at him with beautiful, lifeless eyes.
Rick lit a cigarette, wiped his prints from the gun and walked to the river where he’d dispose of it once and for all. He didn’t need to explain this one to the police. Jilted lovers they understood. Werewolves, not so much.
The rain stopped and the only sound was his footsteps on the pavement. Tomorrow would be another day. And tomorrow night would be dark. And stormy. And filled with werewolves.