Sunday, October 21, 2012


Hi, all,

Well I must apologize to my fellow ROMANTIC FRIDAY WRITERS for posting my entry SO INCREDIBLY late.

This week with the remodel has been beyond stressful and busy. I know you all understand how life throws so many obstacles in our way. BUT on the bright side I did begin to pen my first EVER Film Noir Novella.

It all began when I started writing with the Romantic Friday Writers. During one prompt I had created the Film Noir word. I found myself escaping back into the 1940's and LOVING every minute of it. This was a time where woman were strong, feminine, and beautiful and Men were heroic, classy, and masculine to the ENTH degree.

For my entry today I am posting an excerpt from the first chapter of my novella. I had wanted to post it from the beginning, but since we have only a thousand word limit, I would have gone over by over five hundred. And I must say the co- hostesses are sticklers for the rules AND they really put on through the paces on this one.

Since it's October, the prompt must be a chilling story with perhaps a ghost or haunted locations. A romantic element must be present and tension is a must.

I chose the haunting location of 1940's Chicago. I hope you enjoy my excerpt of a slim 853 descriptive words.

A sterling mist swirls like autumn leaves, shading the full moon on this All Hallows Eve. Only a single beam of light weaves through the chilly veils and settles on the swinging fringe of an unsuspecting flapper’s dress: the ever present wind, catches each and every delicate strand.

She stops in front of a brilliant marquis; hundreds of lit spheres floating in golden bronze. A masterpiece of mirrored images reflect Chicago’s finest citizens as they enter into the Palmer House. 

After adjusting the feathered headband, she wraps herself in a bubblegum pink faux mink, steps behind a masked Cleopatra escorted by a bandy-legged Marc Antony,  and slips into the lobby.

“Over here, honey.” Doris’ nasal voice rends through the din like a foghorn on a stormy New England night. She glances down from the top of a polished marble staircase centered with a hand-woven, blood-red Persian runner. The ceiling reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel, and appliqued with hundreds of inlaid gilt medallions, frames Doris as she waves a lacy, gloved hand to the approaching flapper.

The man standing next to her, suited up in navy pin-stripes and spats extends his arm. “I’m Marty. Glad you could make it tonight toots. Doris was right, you’re a livin doll.” He wraps his arm around her waist and ushers her toward a tall, strapping man. “This is Cal Cavanaugh ... your escort this evening.” He glares at Cal. “Well say something to the dame, you boob.”

Cal’s throat constricts and he swallows hard. He bends slightly as a cowlick brakes free from his greased, raven hair and covers the right side of his horn-rimmed glasses. “A pleasure,” he says low.

A penciled brow raises and she licks her ruby, bee-stung lips. “How do you do.” Her eyes rake over his broad physique. “I don’t understand your costume. Am I missing something?”

A bead of sweat clings to his brow as a grin etches into his square jaw. 

“Well ... show her you big palooka.” Doris giggles and smacks him on the back with a senorita’s fan.

He raises thick fingers and loosens a tight collar and three buttons. Sapphire blue and a red S incased in a yellow triangle strain across his chiseled, muscular chest.

Doris fans herself frantically. “What I’d tell you, honey. He’s a real pip.”

A slight pink glow peeks through her powdered face. “I see. I have a date with Superman. Is that all you?”

Now it was his turn to blush.

The gangster, the flamingo dancer, the flapper, and Superman climb the alabaster stairs flanked by blank onyx illuminated figures. Open etched glass paneled doors graciously invite the quartet into the Empire room. A heavily encrusted gilt medallion holds center stage on the elaborate ceiling as rainbows of faceted light drizzle down on the polished hardwood floor from dozens of draped crystals cascading like an opalescent waterfall.

Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade touches every romantic as hundreds of masked couples sway like coconut palms on Havana’s sugary white beaches. 

Marty drags Doris onto to the dance floor. “Bye, we’ll see ...”

Cal extends his hand. “Care to dance?”

She folds into his arms and the music sweeps them into a sea of glittery gowns, cloaks, masked strangers, and mysterious creatures of the night. 

The chandeliers dim to barely a whisper and a spot hits the orchestra leader on stage. 

“Tonight I have the great pleasure to introduce the debut of the world renowned pianist, Liberace.”

Hundreds of raised hands applaud while lips pucker and whistles howl.

“Ladies and gentlemen, LIBER-RACE!”

Sporting a beaded black tie and tails, he steps on stage holding a lit twelve taper candelabra and places it on the high-glossed Steinway. 

A deafening silence filters through the room like a noxious gas.

With the waving of one diamond-studded hand, Liberace cast his spell. From Mozart’s,  The Magic Flute, to Beethoven's Fifth, to, As Time Goes By, each new melody blends seamlessly into the next. Pin-pricked eyes dart across the keyboard and never miss a single note. 

Suddenly a girl screams and a sharp crack breaks the spell. She struggles behind a marble pillar as the final fringe of a flapper’s costume disappears into the shadows. 

Chandeliers ignite. Faces unmasked reveal dropped jaws, glazed eyes, and vacant expressions. Bodies are paralyzed. Silence louder than Hitler’s Blitzkrieg jolts the once euphoric atmosphere.

As the crowds disperse, the original foursome are now two. 

“Where’s Marty?” Doris shrieks. “And what happened to Rosemary?”

Cal stands on tip toe, searching frantically. “I thought she went to the ladies room with you?

“Oh, no ... I didn’t wait.” Tears explode from Doris’s black-lined eyes. “What could’ve happened to her?” She stares up at Cal with a tear stained face. “You don’ think?” she whispered.

“Marty do such a thing? I’ve know him my whole life. I know he could be a goon sometimes ... but this?” He shook his head.

Doris latches onto his arm. “We need to find them.”

As dawn breaks through a driftwood gray mist on All Hallows day, a body floats in the Chicago river.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt .... Please let me know what you think.....

Have a great day everyone!


  1. Flapper? OMG Michael; Flappers are so cool, and so descriptive of the "fad" women of this era. And is Marty wearing a Zoot Suit? Such incredible atmosphere in this writing.

    This is so nostalgic, and I know its uncool to like Liberace; but man, could he play the piano. Noir has a ghostly feel, and this is so intriguing.

    You efforts have paid off Michael. What a fantastically culural mystery. I think I'll go swoon now!


  2. Michael, I know you were under pressure with your research but fancy living in Chicago and being able to write so knowledgebly of this period. I've just finished teaching the Great Gatsby again, this was a little before the Bonnie and Clyde years. Love this film noir. Love it. Love the dialogue. Well done you. I'll be back to read it again after I've had some Sunday night dinner.
    Sleep well!!!

    And I wish you well with the judging. I'm so glad Nas and Ann have the job, not Donna and I!! :D

  3. Hi Michael, this was well worth the wait. I enjoyed reading this, you are so very descriptive. I could see the costumes, feel the atmosphere and you left me wanting more. Well done.

  4. I'm sure they forgive you.
    Very descriptive - I could feel the era.
    And we get to meet Cal Cavanaugh! Oh, yeah, no problem with that - honored!

  5. Crime in the 40s I LOVE this! Wonderful imagery, I could actually hear the music, the glasses clinking and the scream! I also like the way you skilfully wound up the story in a single sentence. Eerie and powerful.

    I suspect Liberace.

    Looking forward to that novella, promised to have a bit of noir spice ;)

  6. Hi Michael
    Wonderful description, I could almost taste the scene. I know you said no ghost, but I was sure Cal and his flapper gal would show up in haunting display at the end. Great mystery.

  7. This was great. I love hour the noir genre frees you to purple it up a bit. Your word paint was beautiful and perfect for the genre.

  8. Great imagery for that time period.

  9. Wonderful description, dialogue and imagery!

    Well done!

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  11. As always, you know how to pull someone right into your scene! I love the references to the 40s: Hitler, the descriptions. I love the descriptions and details. And what a cliffhanger at the end!

  12. Well worth the wait Michael!

    Wonderful, I can't wait to read the entire novella.

    I think the RFW group has done amazing things for all of us in regards to our writing.

    Such rich stories!

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  14. Hi Michael,
    What a rich story you have written. It must have been hard to choose an excerpt under 1,000 words. Your descriptions are so painterly. I love the costume-party guests, especially Superman! I like the last line's reference to waterlogged wood: 'As dawn breaks through a driftwood gray mist...'
    I look forward to reading the entire novella.
    Good work!

    Thank you so much for your kind words about my text. I'm glad you like the character of Jack Richardson's ghost. Do you really think that there are so few male characters who are kind and can show tenderness? If I can do anything to promote kindness by writing about male characters who can show genuine tenderness, I will do just that. It means a lot to me that you see this in my story and like it.

    Good luck with your novella! Can't wait to read it! Hope you participate in the next challenge, 'Holiday Spirit'.

    Best wishes,
    For the benefit of other readers:
    RFW No. 46 - 'Jenny Holland's Robinson Crusoe Halloween'

  15. 50 Shades of the Great Gatsby. You set the mood perfectly. It was worth the wait for the way you cast the spell of your excerpt. Great job.

  16. This was very descriptive, I really like the wording in this.

  17. oh, i love the beautiful descriptive writing in that one! The dancers and the music--the body in the Chicago river--eeep!!! :D

    Great work, Michael! :o) <3

  18. Very well written descriptions, the way you conjure up the atmosphere and dovetail every detail into it. Also loved the closure. A really good read. Best of luck with the novella!

  19. I love the way you weaved history with romance. I love this period.

  20. This line made me smile: A slight pink glow peeks through her powdered face. “I see. I have a date with Superman. Is that all you?”
    AS the thought crossed my mind. Best of luck with the novella.

  21. I am horribly late reading this, but I LOVED it! You really do have a talent for setting the scene. I felt like was right there at the party. And you built the tension wonderfully. Congrats on getting this into a whole novella. It's going to be wonderful. :)

  22. Glenn Miller! I love him!!! I'm all about the classics. And this piece transports...

    Michael, you have *such* a gift with writing in this era... it's too awesome. Your words honestly just come to life... it's... magic.

    It's hard to grip a reader in so few words, but you do it in the first paragraph. You have the ability to just... like I said, transport. I love it.

  23. I loved the description in the beginning, very atmospheric and poetical :)

  24. This is a great piece. I especially love the details. Your use of adjectives placed in every sentence sets the scene perfectly from cowlicks to those gold medallions in the ceiling. I picture it all.

    I was both surprised and pleased to see Liberace used as well. I would have liked more context as to the importance of this event to have such an esteemed historical figure. Additionally, it leaves me with many questions that I want answered.

    Bravo, Michael!

  25. Wow, you really know how to manipulate the mood through words. Awesome job, Michael!

  26. This was like reading one of the classics. Your description gave me goosebumps, loved the detailing.

    Looking forward to reading the book and I must say you write like a pro :)

  27. Great to see that you found a style that suits you so well. Way to go Bro!

  28. You've got this whole Film Noir theme down pat. Your descriptions are so cinematic, I can picture each scene with ease.

    I reckon this will make a great novella once completed. Well done

  29. Hi Michael, it's so nice to meet you! Nice blog - I love both your art and your writing. You did an amazing job establishing the setting for your excerpt. Beautiful imagery and language. Well done!

    ~Wendy Lu

    The Red Angel Blog

  30. Hi,

    Wonderful! Oh yes, indeedy... Dig those spats, the knife-edged creases, turned up bottoms and cravats. And that's just the guys. But oooohhheee them glitter gowns and strappy-healed tip-tap shoes. Yessssseree! Fab descriptive snippet. ;)


  31. And the story continues. Love it!

    I'm with you. I love that time period too.

  32. Hi Michael, I came back for a second read. This is going to be a wonderful novella. Now don't get so caught up in your work that you don't finish it. You must be pleased with all the compliments. Well deserved.

  33. Ooh, a proper Chicago-style Halloween, hehe.

    You set a very lovely scene w/ colorful characters - and this is only the beginning.. Keep going with it! And good luck w/ your remodel.

    One of these days things will slow down & we'll get a proper chat in, right?

  34. Yay for novellas! Yay for flappers! Yay for wonderfully descriptive language!

    I think I've had too much caffeine...

  35. Wow, that certainly was a descriptive 853 words! This is such a cool period to write about. Good luck with the novella!

  36. I absolutely loved this! The writing is rich and deliciously steeped in history. Well done!

  37. ...with every brush stroke, the picture you painted breathed life into the excerpt, all of us seeing your vision with absolute detail.

    Well done, Michael ;)


  38. I always like to come back and read the comments after mine... see, Michael??? You've got the women swooning and the men shouting for more! You must keep giving the people what they want. :)

  39. Ah, you've captured the essence of the era... and I LOVE Moonlight Serenade!