For those of you who are wondering what happened to the Stolen Man, rest assured the end is nigh and will be released soon on Tune Up Tuesdays (my time for tidying up unfulfilled blog promises). In the meantime, however we start our newest serial:  Blur. I hope you enjoy it.  Here is chapter 1.

Archie tried to sit up, but his limbs felt like an Arizona snowman in April, and so he lay still.  At least that was they way he described it, “My limbs felt like an Arizona snowman in April.”  For a moment he wasn’t sure why he was describing it at all, and why out loud, and why in past tense when it was very much the present moment.

He didn’t wonder too long about it though because he was finding it hard to think at all. “My head felt like the inside of a cappuccino maker,” he said out loud, not sure if this particular simile even made sense.

“I needed to understand why I was I speaking in past tense,” he further wondered out loud.

He shook his head, which started a beehive of activity between his ears, and tried again to sit up.  This time he had more success and managed to pull himself in to the corner, trying to remember why he was here.

“My name was Archie, “ he said to en empty room, “Archie Trump, that much I remembered for sure.  But someone had sent me off to dreamsville forcibly, if you know what I mean, and just who or why that happened was not so clear.”  Archie stopped talking with an effort.  The phrase, “if you know what I mean,” bothered him for two reasons.  One, he wasn’t sure he did, and two, just who was the “you” in that sentence intended for?

“It was clear there was no one else in the room, but it was becoming clear I was in a jam and it was time to stop talking and start acting.”  Archie managed to stand with effort by leaning heavily against the corner.

He tried again to collect his thoughts.  He began to break it down.  First his surroundings.  He appeared to be in a dingy bar.  A small single bulb hung from the ceiling, casting a muted orange glow about 10 feet in any direction.  This left the corner he was in mostly dark, but he could make out a bar and a few old tables, and he sensed rather than saw that room was entirely empty except for him. He was tempted to say something about the bar, but restrained himself and, deciding he was in no immediate danger from his surroundings, turned his thoughts to himself.

He discovered he didn’t have amnesia per se.  He knew who he was, Archie Trump, and what he did, struggling private investigator.  In fact he remembered his history in general.  The problem was it was all empty somehow.  Shallow, like he remembered reading it but not living it.  It was like he could remember past actions, cases, solutions, fights, dangers, but not a single motivation or enduring relationship.  His life seemed to be a series of events, perfectly recollected, but with no cohesion.

“I felt like I was a succession of verbs, but not a noun.  No being behind my doing.”

It was frustrating to him that the things he said seemed to mean something but he was never quite sure what.

Having established roughly where he was, and who he was, he began to ponder what had brought him here.

It was a client.

As he pondered this the words poured forth from him like a flood.  He wasn’t sure he could stop them, but more importantly he wasn’t sure he wanted to because as he spoke it seemed to sharpen not just his memory, but his sense of reality.  It made him feel more like a person, more real, so he let himself talk, listening to himself as he did.

“She didn’t knock; she just walked in.  That’s not to say she barged in. It was more like she drifted in, disrupting nothing, not even the dust of the floor, in her entrance.  She smelled of daisies and sunshine, with the face of an angel and the figure of a siren.

‘Are you the famed armchair detective?’ she asked and her European accented voice made my heart do flip flops in my chest.

‘Well, doll, I’m more of a hard wooden chair detective, but what can I do for you?” I said, shifting in my uncomfortable chair.

She suddenly looked around her surroundings in surprise like a lost puppy.  She turned back to the closed door, reading the inscription backwards through the glass,

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 12.41.31 AMShe turned back to me, alarm starting to spread across her face, ’It’s too late then.  I’ve already left England.’

I snorted, ‘That explains the accent.  Maybe you’re looking for a travel agency?  Look sweetheart, you’re nowhere near England. This is Chicago.”

She sat down lightly in the chair across from me. ‘What year is it?’ she asked with a sigh.

‘1942,’ I said growing concerned, ‘ you struggling with amnesia or something?’

‘Something,’ she said quietly.

‘Look,’ I said, ‘maybe you better tell me your story.’”

Archie stopped talking, just remembering now: remembering the way she laughed when he said that.  It wasn’t a happy laugh.  It was an edge of insanity, hysterical woman, heart-breaking laugh.  She had started slowly, built up steam, and couldn’t seem to stop.  He had offered her a scotch and she had seemed to like the idea through her tears and laughter.

His bar was just behind the desk.  He turned to get the drink and turned back in what could only have been a minute or two at the most.  His only door had squeaky hinges, so he always knew if someone tried to sneak in. There was no squeaking sound. He was positive about that after.  His window was  ten flights up and was painted shut anyway, and his office was only one room with no places to hide.  And yet, when he turned back, she was gone.

Archie’s hornet’s nest of a head began to buzz loudly, the bar began to swim before his eyes.

“The case of the disappearing lady looked to be my most challenging yet,” he said just before the darkness rushed in, and he collapsed, senseless, back onto the floor.

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