Last year I was visted by a character, Dirk Hartog, when I was musing on a [Fiction] Friday prompt about unrequited love. I was encouraged by MD Benoit to keep writing, that this character… Dirk Hartog, was a keeper! And it appears she was right. After a long break Hartog’s back…
To make it fair, I’m starting from the start in a new revised, shorter delivery style (thanks Lily Mulholland for the idea of busting it up into tiny little segments – though my Hartog is no Jo Carter!) offered up for the foreseeable future as my #fridayflash. I hope you enjoy.
~THE WHORE HOUSE~
Hartog stood at the brothel door holding the tiny capsule between his bent pointer finger and thumb. He turned it over allowing what little sun penetrated through the smog haze to bounce off the titanium covering then slipped it back into the inner pocket of his coat.
It was too hot for a coat like his but it was the one thing Global Warming couldn’t make him give up. Hartog felt naked without it. Hot and smothered in it. Still he wore it.
He pressed the buzzer on the intercom and wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his sleeve.
Before the receptionist could, reply he said, “Detective Hartog here to see your boss. She knows I’m coming.”
“Good morning, Detective Hartog.”
He wondered what she was wearing. He couldn’t help himself.
A French maid in vinyl – or leather? After all this was an up market establishment if his research was correct.
A flimsy silk nothing with cheeky nipples peeking out at him or a gushing black creation of lace revealing a lush expanse of cleavage?
“I appreciate your enthusiasm for you work Detective, but I will just confirm your appointment with Miss Amanda.”
The woman had summonsed him. And here he was loitering at the door like some common Joe. He pulled himself up again. This was an establishment, not a brothel and the door looked like any other door on the strip. He could easily have been waiting for his accountant or lawyer or style guru to buzz him up.
“Thank you for your patience, Detective Hartog. Miss Amanda will see you now.”
Hartog glanced at his watch and waited for the door to click. He’d now been awake for 36 hours.
It was a good thing he’d never had an interest in getting on the Vice and Device team. His mind was too fertile, too active already before adding sex and breasts and legs up to here into the mix. And too little sleep…
He could deal with the sleep dep, it never clouded his judgement. Women however…
Dead – they didn’t screw with his head. Not that he wished the entire female population dead. He just…
The door clicked open and he left the train of thought behind with the welcome door mat. He recognised that train of thought only too well and knew which station inevitably terminated at.
The receptionist was waiting for him when the elevator door opened into a large elegant waiting area. She was wearing a simple black suit, a flourish of scarlet beneath the jacket.
Fumbling with his holographic badge, he mentally dropped kicked himself – caught up in his own fantasies. No lace or leather here. Purely business.
“May I get you something to drink, Detective Hartog? Coffee, tea or perhaps something a little stronger?”
“Water will be fine.” He’d given up the hard stuff. His doctor telling him it was booze and an early grave, which for a while had seemed the better option.
“If you take a seat Miss Amanda will be with you in a moment.”
Ten minutes later Miss Amanda appeared in an almost identical black suit, this time with a violet blouse beneath, plunging to unbusinesslike depths beneath the tailored suit jacket. Hartog dragged his eyes from the cleavage and rose from his seat. She towered over him and that was saying something. Even without heels she was a giant.
He knew, she knew.
“I appreciate your expediency Detective,” she said, striding down a corridor to a large, sun drenched office with lush tropical plants at strategic decorating points. He wondered if it were feng shui.
It had to be a trick of lighting. There was never that amount of clean, clear sunshine in the city. Everything was painted in the tawdry shade of pollution – but in here, the den of iniquity it was bright. No shadows dancing in the corner.
“I was just tying up a loose end. I apologise for the wait. Are you certain we can’t get you a coffee?
“No, I’m fine with water.”
Miss Amanda motioned to a spartan leather chair to the side of her desk and settled herself opposite him, a pitcher of water between them and two crystal glasses. No expense spared here. The couch was more comfortable than it looked. Many things in this place were more or less than they seemed.
Miss Amanda, the Madame was one point in question. She was neither young nor old. Her dark hair rolled into a timeless French Roll at the back of her head and her long legs casually crossed. Neutral make up enhanced her natural beauty. She could have been stunning but she chose not to be.
“I am interested to know how Portia’s case is progressing Detective.” She poured and offered him a drink.
The girl hadn’t even been dead for 12 hours and she was already on his back.
“It looks like the case of another whore being cut up.” He took a long gulp at the ice cold water and winced the pain freezing his frontal lobes for a moment.
Miss Amanda uncrossed her legs and lent forward. “My girls are not whores Detective. Let’s get that straight from the beginning. Portia was one of my highest paid girls. She has a Masters degree in Engineering and was studying for her PhD.”
“And her death is bad for business.”
Miss Amanda lent back and recrossed her legs. Hartog took out tiny recorder and placed it on the table in between them.
“You don’t mind if I record this conversation.” He couldn’t bring himself to call her Miss Amanda and she didn’t fit the title of Ma’am. And he wasn’t really asking her permission any way.
“Portia came to me about a month ago and told me she had a problem. It appears one of her clients had taken an unhealthy interest in her.”
“It’s a rather unhealthy business you dabble in.” He narrowed his right eye and looked hard at Miss Amanda – no surname that he could find on the City’s database.
“I told you Detective my girls are not whores. They are paid for services other than sex. They are sought after because they are intelligent and beautiful. Portia was worried he was falling in love with her, that it would complicate things.”
“Don’t mix love and business hey?”
Miss Amanda didn’t bite. She didn’t even twitch.
“Who was this client Portia was upset about?”
NOTE: This is a work in progress and any comments and critiques gratefully accepted.
Image: Kevin Dooley via Flickr
Do like the pacing, voice, character, and detail.
Look forward to reading more in this series!
Thanks for stopping in Marisa.
The one thing which draws me back to Hartog, time and time again, is the dialogue. I love the way he talks and interacts with others. This will be more apparent when the other characters start to emerge… BenJin, Lucinda and Mac especially.
I love the little hints that this is a near-future world, with a style routed in classic gumshoe :o)
You’ve shown us an interesting character with a mind that seems to run with jumbled thoughts. Perfect break with the question hanging. I’m waiting for more!
I think I like this MC. Very pulp fiction-esq (the genre not the movie). I think you’re right, the shining star with this style is the dialogue. I like his ballsy, straight-up way he addresses the madam, “…the case of another whore being cut up.”
That said, I would use caution with it, because I fear it will wear thin after a while but as you’ve mentioned new characters, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Now, shall I refrain from saying I would hope a certain someone finishes one novella before thrusting me into another serial story.
Oh I just read that throw away line about a novella… of course I am going to finish it. Once I swallow my pride and go back to the umpteenth rewrite of this birth scene.
It’s OK – the dialogue does change – especially when he’s not always able to get his way. And there’s some gorgeous stuff from other characters.
I don’t quite ‘get him’ even after having him hang around for quite some time… he’s a man of weird contradictions who is scared of pink birthday cakes!
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*blushing* for the mention 🙂
Yep, I’m loving the hard-boiled/futuristic setting too. Miss Amanda sounds quite the handful. Det Hartog better keep his wits about him!
(I think you’re missing a pronoun: “He recognised that train of thought only too well and knew which station inevitably terminated at”)
Bring it on! Looking forward to next week’s episode 🙂
So the madam doesn’t like to draw attention to her face (bare make-up), but doesn’t mind drawing attention to her cleavage – any significance in this, or did it just jump out at me unbidded?
Great description of the shirt plunging to unbusiness-like depths!
I’m thinking along the lines of she’s a woman who doesn’t wear masks (what I’ve always considered hideous layers of make up) .. what you see is what you get. And well, it was a brothel, for all intents and purposes. There had to be some flesh… and Miss Amanda knows this is the flesh trade, regardless of what she pretties it up as to Hartog.
I truly enjoyed reading this. It made me smirk when Hartog winced at the cold water. Your brush captured minute but necessary details to paint a gorgeous picture. I will learn from you.
Learn from me? I hate with a pasison descriptive narrative, so for you to draw attention to that very thing, and then say you’l learn something from it… the higest of compliments.
Actually I’ve had the same thing pointed out twice in 48 hours from different sources. Maybe I can take descriptive narrative off my list of hates?
I like the way this is kicking off, Jodi. Hints at his backstory really flesh out the world; I look forward to reading more.
There’s one typo: “… had summonsed him”
Cheers Tony… need to go back and fix that up, think Lily picked up the same missing pronoun.
I can’t wait to get to the bit with the description of the rain collectors. I now know why hartog’s never left me. There’s been lots of conversations in my head over the weekend. Looking forward to a chance to get them all down – especially now I know what Electric Lady Land is and why the hell he is going there… but I digress and leave nasty little taster in my wake.
I love this! Very Raymond Chandler with a futuristic twist.
Thanks Hannah – I have never read anything in this genre, so I’m giving all compliments to the good Detective. Gratefully he knows his stuff!
I like the mix of noir-type gritty crime with the hint of sci fi. And I like his voice. I could definitely get into following his investigations. Kinda, sexy, too. Er, the story, not Dirk!
The contrast of “establishment” with brothel is interesting and I wonder where it’s going.
I read this a couple of days ago on my phone and couldn’t comment then– now I’ve forgotten the other points I had to make. But I’m looking forward to this week’s installment.
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