NOIR, Chapter 3

What kind of self-righteous introvert etches LOVE GOD into the wall of a bathroom stall? If you wanna have an impact, than get out of the bathroom and meet some one. Get to know somebody. You know, start a conversation?

Holly, the dame, lived in an elaborate house. It was ridiculously over sized; especially considering that she lives alone. Monsieur de Claire, whom we'll refer to as Maxim, bought her the joint. He also bought the furniture and all the house accessories. Everything. Holly comes from a wealthy family and is set to inherit quite a fortune. She'll never work a day in her life. Yet somehow, because of this, Maxim finds it necessary to ensure she never spends a dime of her own. Well, her father's dimes that is.

She takes me through the foyer, past the ballroom and into the parlor. This is where she continues her proposition.

"I have everything you need to carry out the plot," she explains, "I've thought it all out."

"What plot?" I ask.

"Why murdering Maxim, of course."

"A little back story would be nice," I start, "Why does Maxim want to kill you and why do you find it necessary to one-up him instead of going to the police?"

"Don't you wanna see my gun?" she asks, bewildered.

I have to admit, I was a little shocked myself.

She pulls a golden box from a nearby drawer. An engraving his made in the box that reads, "JUSTICE." She opens the box and inside it is a Walther PPk, a silencer and a clip. She removes the gun, loads the clip and screws the silencer on.

The PPk is black and perfectly cleaned to a fine gloss. It looks as if it could be made of glass.

"Wanna handle it," she asks, "Get a feel for it?"

What man doesn't?

I grasp the gun with both hands and take aim at the vase.

"The safety isn't on, Ace," she starts, "And you are aiming at my mother."

"Sorry, Kid," I lower the PPk, "I didn't realize it was an urn. I thought it was a vase."

"Everything in this house is worth more than you," she brags, "And for the record, I collect urns. There isn't a single vase in this house. Only the ashes of my friends and family. Not all grow, but all die. The meaning of life is death."

I turn and look about the parlor and I roughly estimate at least 30 urns. Something ain't right, but schmeck sounds all the more reasonable, if not even justified.

"I'll give you your back story, Johnny...

"We met at a birthday party; Maxim and I. It was his birthday party. It was hosted by his parents and held in their lavish home. My family and I were invited, as we always were to the de Claires' charades, though I rarely met them. There was some work connection between my father and Monsieur Jacques de Claire, Maxim's father. It was distant enough that they barely knew each other by appearance, but they knew they had to be permanent guests to each other's functions.

"On this occasion, Maxim was turning 30 and edging into a confirmed bachelor state. Everyone was talking and revelling, save me. I was getting loose on champagne, which is quote a task.

"Maxim sat next to me, I didn't recognize him and so I confided in him what I thought of the party, his family, his mom's virtues and himself. He then introduced himself and we talked for hours. Rather, he talked and I listened. He spoke of love, relationships, politics, psychology, sociology and even murder... but mostly, he spoke of himself. Naturally, because everything relates to Maxim Jay de Claire. Did you know Maxim isn't even French?"

I reply, "No... I did not."

She obviously has forgotten that I know nothing of her dear Maxim.

"Well, he isn't, though he and his family parade the beret. They're British immigrants who changed their name to gain some stature."

"Has it worked," I ask.

"I suppose it has."

"Look, Kid, I ain't much for love stories so please hurry to the part where I'm suppose to care," she gets a look of irritation and my impatience and then continues.

"We courted for three years, but the love never grew, though our parents bounded," her irritation tripled at this point, "A marriage of convenience was pressured by both of our parents."

I can't help myself and I ask, "Since when does courtship involve buying the honey a new house?"

"My parents prefer the term courtship to dating or relationship for publicity's sake."

"This is boring, Kid. And, I still don't care."

"Maxim and his family are communists," she blurts.

"Still don't care," I start, "And you're grasping at straws."

"I will pay you, did I mention that?"

Alas, she finds my weak spot. Well, that and she was born the right gender.

"How much?" I ask.

"More than you've ever earned."

"You mean more than you've ever earned?"

"There will be more than enough up front to cover expenses and even more after Maxim is dead."

"Alright, Kid, you reeled me in but I still don't care whether you live or die."

"If you want your money, you will."

And with that, she makes a very valid point.