Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Desert Wind

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. " - Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind"

There was no assigned sentence this time, so I took the above Chandler quote as an inspiration.


It was a dark and stormy night... Well, actually, it wasn't. The full moon, bright and orange, was burning in the night sky like a Chinese lantern. The sight of it filled all the dogs with indescribable yearnings and dispair, till they were howling their songs of unrequited love into the night.

There were hot winds blowing from the desert, carrying with them dust and ancient curses. They rattled the windows, overturned all the planters, played pinball with the garden furniture, and brought down the old willow tree in the neighbors' yard. They knocked the whole world off-kilter.

As always, Marge Cooper soothed her frayed nerves with a romance novel. Ruefully she gazed at the cover of her latest. The man on it looked a little like Ben; more handsome, but with similar dark curls and hazel eyes. A small sigh escaped her lips.

Back when they met, Ben had seemed like a romantic hero to her. He had been handsome and quiet. Every Sunday they had gone to the movies, and afterwards stopped at the diner. Over their milkshakes he had looked at her, with his dark eyes full of sorrow. She had been certain Ben was brooding over some dark secret, or lost love. She had spun fanciful fantasies about her love and unwavering devotion freeing Ben's heart from it's dark prison, and two of them falling into each others' arms, lips burning hot like their love...

After the wedding Marge had gradually realized that Ben was so quiet because he had nothing to say. His needs were basic: food, sex, beer, sleep, tv - not necessarily in that order. That look in his eyes was not sorrow, just indigestion. Having a conversation, going for a walk, a picnic weren't among his interests. The only time she saw him animated was while watching "the game" on tv. He would sit down with a beer or two, or six, and then he would hoot or curse, shout at the set. There was always some "game" on. Football, baseball, basketball... What was it with men and balls? What made a bunch of testosterone cases chasing after a round object so engrossing?

It was awfully hard with all that noise to concentrate on her books. At first she used to try to distract him with romantic overtures. Later she just gave him the silent treatment. Not that he noticed. Well, at least it was quiet now. Ben was sitting on the couch, feet on the coffee table, beer in front of him, as always, but there was not a sound. She supposed she should pull that butcher knife out of his chest eventually. Not yet though, the knife sealed the wound, if she removed it blood might start spurting all over her clean carpet. She’d read that bit about knife wounds and blood in a medieval story about the handsome nobleman and the milkmaid. She’d just have to wait.

She picked up her book: It was a dark and stormy night…


  1. LOL! I hate blood on the carpet - much better to wait until it clots.

  2. Awesome, Vanda!
    What a great quote to start you off; I love Chandler.
    Wonderful imagery setting the scene; those opening paragraphs are a little movie in themselves.
    Marge's deconstruction of Ben's initial appeal is too delicious for words. I know so many guys like that.
    I hope she's got a good set of knives in the kitchen so she won't miss the big one come when dinnertime comes round.
    She ought to drag his chair out to the yard and let the hot desert wind dessicate and mummify him before he goes all icky. At least that way she can wheel him back indoors and he'll make an interesting ornament and a conversation piece when she has friends round.

  3. Thank you Dive! I was inspired by the full moon I witnessed while hiking once.

    I like your idea about the body. It's very Norman Bates. She could set him up in the basement rec room.

  4. ... and then your Honor, I saw my neighbor hauling a rolled up carpet out of her house at 3 in the morning.

    Makes me wonder what our lives would be like were it Adam who ate the Apple instead of Eve, would our roles be reversed? Would Adam sit there rolling his eyes while Eve burped and farted on the couch watching sports?

    Actually, do you think she'll just leave him there for a few days while she goes on about her life? :D

  5. Oh, I think she might leave him there for a little while, but will do something about him before he starts to smell. She can't have that.