First alterview with the Film Noir Persona, where he introduces the mysterious case of The Re-appearing Beige Boiler
The Film Noir Persona, pleased to make your acquaintance. We welcome and congratulate you here and now for joining us in The Sewers.
The sewers, where all the scum of the city eventually winds up. The hopes, the dreams, the tears, the loves. All ends up flushed, washed on to its final conclusion: waste. Waste of people. Waste of time.
She uttered, clearly my words made her uncomfortable. Oh well. Isn’t that always the case when you speak what you see as you gaze into the dire truth of our poor existence in this concrete jungle?
So how are you?
She asked, not knowing what she’s asking. How am I? After four sleepless nights, with the dark sky hovering above me like some black, liquid cough syrup –
No wait. The night sky hovering above me like some black, worn out blanket of lost dreams that keep me warm no longer –
The incessant pound of the clock –
Why aren’t you sleeping?
Sleep was the only peace I could afford back then –
Before. Before I saw her in that smoggy, hell of a night, standing under a street light, the air around her thick and uhm, heavy –
Because she was right under the street light that is, you got the sense that the air around her is visible since it was in contrast to the dark surrounding.
What are you doing?
I’m trying to visualize the scene –
There’s no scene, I’m telling you what happened.
She looked at me with those green, cat-like eyes, her lips silently uttering a smile, it had fake written all over it, like a flickering neon light of an abandoned shoelace store late at night. But what was it that still drew me to her?
It all started two weeks ago, a Wednesday, as I sat in my joint, an array of files and papers scattered on my desk, trying to get my head around what seemed to be at the time an unsolvable case –
You’re a detective?
I don’t work with the johns anymore. Corruption is everywhere, I’m on my own, a lone wolf, in the service of none, without a pack, alone, I make my own rules.
So you work on your own.
It was the case of the re-appearing beige boiler. I refused to get involved in it at first. Why get involved in anything really, but I was intrigued. A dame came seeking my help, and she was not of the good kind. It was written all over her, like a low price tag on a dishwasher advertisement. Her tears running down with her mascara were black for a reason.
She came to me shuddering, confused, or so she pretended to be. Was she a grifter? I don’t know what it was about her that I couldn’t tell at the time. An insurance fraud, I thought when she told me about her beige boiler. And yet –
When you say boiler –
I mean automobile –
That’s some dated slang, isn’t it?
I’m working on it. She drew a match to light her cigarette, the smoke swirled around her like a cloud of guilt. Last week she went to visit an old friend, she said, parked her boiler where she always does. When she came to leave, her boiler wasn’t there. She called the johns of course, very little did they do, as always. She didn’t expect much of them anyway. It suddenly hit me this wasn’t the first time she had sought their help. Anyway, a week had gone by and she came to visit her friend again. This time she took a hack.
A what –
A taxi. And she saw her beige boiler, parked just down the street. “Did you forget where you parked it?” I asked, wrongfully of course, because anger leaped immediately into her eyes, “no!” she said, “no!” she shouted. She explained that the car, uhm, the boiler, wasn’t where she parked it. It was about two feet from where she had parked it a week earlier, and it wasn’t there on the night she lost it.
She must have been confused that night, or perhaps had a bit to drink –
Were my thoughts exactly. But as I gazed into her eyes, with these words of doubt nearly on my lips, I saw there was no point in uttering them. Her deep brown, almond shaped eyes –
I thought she had green cat-like eyes –
No, it’s not that part of the story yet.
She said she could see I don’t believe her. I said “that’s right toots, I don’t”. She looked into the ashtray, I could see she was trembling. “It don’t matter if you believe me or not, coz it’s not there anymore, the boiler,” she said. When she looked back up at me, her cigarette smoke shadowing her face like a scarf of fear –
A scarf of fear –
I saw it in her eyes, the dread, the despair, the defeat. She wasn’t a dame to let all this show on her face –
Don’t you think the word ‘dame’ to be somewhat offensive?
Offensive to whom?
No. maybe that was it, that’s what did it.
What did what?
The thing that drew me to her. This way she let herself appear, for this split second, truly afraid. As I said, she wasn’t the kind to let it show.
So what drew you was that she seemed weak and distressed? Is that your thing? Are you a pervert?
Not only is that a rude remark, but also it really shows just how deeply you don’t understand my story.
Maybe you’re telling it wrong.
I’m telling it perfectly fine.
Who cares about a beige toaster anyway?
Talking to you would require some more eel juice I see. I’ll cut to the chase. She told me that she saw her beige boiler everywhere from that day on. It was parked outside her workplace, her home, it was there when she went grocery shopping, it was there when she visited her sister in the hospital.
Did she see who’s driving it?
No, it was always parked nearby.
Right, I can see why she had a scarf of fear then.
A long silence stood between us, it was as heavy as a piano silently falling off a seventh floor window –
She said she had a simple request for me, and that money wasn’t a problem. She wanted me to follow her. “I know you can be discrete,” she said, and I wondered how she could have known that. All she asked was that I’d follow her, follow her just like the driver of the beige boiler, “let’s see if they see you before you see them,” she said, “think of it as a game.” That menace appeared in her eyes again, that invitation, that inevitable invitation. Who was I to resist it? She handed me 300$ cash, said there’ll be more next time we meet. She turned to leave, her high heels clicking on my floor, like some –
What do you make of the fetishism of female characters in old film noir?
What? I’m just trying to tell the goddamned story –
Why did you have to mention her high heels? How is that relevant to the story?
How would you know what’s relevant to the story? And it’s not like I said anything about her gams, which were spectacular, I just mentioned her high heels. And the way they were clicking on the floor as she was leaving, reminding me of a clock ticking, like I was running out of time for something. And I was, but I realized that only later.
Fine. So did you catch the person in the beige boiler?
I started following her, just like she asked. “think of it as a game”, that’s what she said when I took the job, but the more I followed her, the more I started to wonder what kind of sick game I got myself into. A little gaze from her eyes leaving the store, a little movement of her hand as she was entering a hack, the way she flung her hair back as she was walking down the street, it seemed like all these gestures were made for me. This game mesmerized me.
To follow someone who knows she’s being followed, when you know that she knows that you know she knows she’s being followed.
Yes, that’s a very non-elegant way of saying it.
How would you say it?
I didn’t say it, I don’t have to say it, I tell it. I guess I started to forget what I was doing. I saw the beige boiler parked whenever I saw her, it was always one step ahead of me.
It’s like you were being followed while you were following someone who knows she’s being followed, and who knows that you know that she knows.
I need a refill.
Days have passed, my nights became sleepless again, whenever I thought I was ahead of the beige boiler, it was already there, everywhere, like a ghost. There was no way around it. One night, on the forth night, I parked just down the street from it. I decided to pull an all nighter in my own boiler, with three cups of Joe and a deck of Luckies, thinking it’s gotta move at some point, knowing that the dame leaves her joint in the morning –
Does she have a name?
I can’t say it, confidentiality. Lady S is how I still call her in my thoughts. Anyway, 2am, 3am, 4am. Time makes a man think. Nights don’t belong to the tired, they belong to the restless. The city was sleeping like a spastic insomniac, its neon lights twitching, its windows flickering with sudden movements, its streets bursting with a silence eager to be disturbed, its asphalt waiting for that one set of tires to awaken it. The city has a way of letting you know you’re not welcome in its night. I wasn’t welcomed that night. It was too quiet, like a beast waiting on its prey. When the night doesn’t want you there, you become its prey. 5am, there’s something about a morning after a night like this, that you just can’t trust.
A long night it was.
Yeah. The beige boiler didn’t move. 6am, 7am. 7:30 she calls me. “Where the hell are you?” she answered to my hello, she already left her joint and made it to work, and I was nowhere in sight. “I’m watching your boiler,” I said –
No way, you were watching a different beige boiler all night!
No. god damnit. She called to say her boiler wasn’t there, “that’s coz I’m watching it, sweetcheeks,” I said, “and ain’t moving an inch ’til it does.”
Didn’t you have to use the toilet by then?
That’s irrelevant. I heard silence on the other side of the line, her breath shivered for a second, I could hear the chills crawling up her spine –
Right, how does it end? We don’t have much time left. Who was driving the beige boiler?
If we have to wrap it up now, I’ll have to tell you another time.
Oh come on!
No, I can’t rush it.
It was her sister from the hospital who’s not really sick.
A former lover then –
You didn’t ask me for my Safe Word, and I wonder why. Was it because you believed I didn’t need one, or was there another motive behind it. I was aware of it all along, wondering when you gonna to ask. Obviously something stopped you, you had something in the back of your mind, a plan you weren’t sure you’ve made yet –
I just forgot –
There is no such thing as just forgetting. Sometimes I wish I could just forget. But I know there’s no such thing.
Right, so what’s your Safe Word?
Maspeth. I don’t ever wanna to talk about what went on there. That’s one of the things I wish I could just forget.
Right. Is it a smart choice to have a Safe Word that triggers negative emotions? I’d recommend –
Hey, I’ve made my choice toots, there’s no going back now.
Fine. Well we can’t wait for you to come back and tell us about the driver of the beige boiler. We thank you and congratulate you!
You’ll have to be patient, sugar. Catcha later.