Working on a story for you guys

It will take a little while.  This is how it opens:

The White Lady of Christmas

It was snowing – thick, white, fluffy flakes – when I came across the beauty with empty eyes.

This was rare, because it didn’t normally snow in LA.  In fact the last large snow storm worthy of the name had been in 1949, almost a hundred years ago.

But then again, we were in the vicinity of the spaceport, and once the space magicians had started doing their thing in this neighborhood, the weather – and just about everything else – had gone to hell.  It was about as normal to wake up to a hundred degrees as to freezing weather on Christmas morning.  Or midsummer.

On the other hand, it made the neighborhood really cheap for a barely-surviving PI like me.  Lately frankly more attuned to the barely than the surviving.  The rent was late again, I hadn’t had a decent meal in three days, and the holes in my soles which I’d plugged up with cardboard were letting snow in to freeze and wet my shoes.  And there would be no jobs till after Christmas.

For some reason, cheating spouses, crooked business partners and evil warlocks might not take a break at Christmas, but those who wish to catch them seem to.  It’s as though for the duration of the season, people want to believe the best of everyone around them.  Which meant that people like me, who made a living off the worst in humanity starved.  I’d be going to the soup kitchen for Christmas dinner at this rate.

My mind was on my problems, my heart in the vicinity of the holes in my shoes, when I saw her.  She was tall and beautiful, like the lost dreams of youth, with pale blond hair, big blue eyes, and the kind of lips that made you think of frozen raspberries.

I thought I was hallucinating her, and stood, my eyes wide open, staring, as a man does who walked into a dream.  In this weather, she was wearing a form-fitting white dress of sparkling  white silk.  Snow flakes clustered in her pale hair.  Her eyes were thoroughly empty.

She stared at me without blinking, and then the frozen raspberry lips formed two words: help me!

I tried to say “with what?” but my throat was dry, and I couldn’t summon words.

She put her hand out and touched mine.  Her hand was ice cold. And then she was gone, walking very fast, past me, her heels clicking rhythmically on the pavement, somehow not at all muffled by the snow.

I’d seen those empty eyes before.  A PI comes across all sorts of things, but eventually we always come across necromancers.  My first case had been a necromancer who used the residents of entire cemeteries as workers in his factories.

For just a moment, under the unnatural snow, I considered running to St. Joe’s down the street.  I wasn’t very prone to religion, but there are things in this business that make even an atheist want to cross himself and bathe in holy water.

Worse, after the shock wore off, I realized that not only did I know what those empty eyes meant, I knew who that woman was.  Myrene Myrreile had smiled at me from a hundred movie screens, her expressive face reflecting whatever the movie plot called for.

The hair rose at the back of my head.  Someone in Hollywood was playing with necromancy.


46 thoughts on “Working on a story for you guys

  1. Take your time, this one doesn’t seem likely to melt anytime soon.

    P.S. – thank you for the story, nice lady.

  2. Ohhh. A little hard boiled holiday story.

    Which reminds me, I need to go turn off the timer since I already turned the heat off under the eggs.

  3. Necromancy in Hollywood: Cheaper to hire; no with-holdings (no medicare or SocSecurity), can’t tax the dead…

      1. I have watched enough film to conclude that emoting was not the priority with women for the screen. Bouncing maybe, but not emoting.

        1. I was truly startled by the effect of Botox and wondered why an actor would use it as I watched Faye Dunaway’s performance in the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. When facial expression is an elemental part of your tool box and your work is being project on a large screen the lack thereof becomes most notable.

  4. Thank you very much ma’am.

    She was tall and beautiful, like the lost dreams of youth, with pale blond hair, big blue eyes, and the kind of lips that made you think of frozen raspberries. Oh, you do such nice things with words.

  5. Is she allowed to put up so many PJM stories in so short a time? How are we supposed t find time to properly troll in the comments? Does she get paid more if we swarm the comments at PJM?

    Living In the Light
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Around this time of the year I become obsessed with lights. Yes, lights decorating the outside of houses, Christmas tree lights, light displays at the zoo, light displays at the botanic gardens, and – when we have time, which we haven’t the last several years – driving slowly through neighborhoods to enjoy their lights.

    Curiously, I don’t put my own lights out very early or very profusely, partly because I’m always on deadline of one sort or another, and partly because I find myself afraid of overdoing it/doing it tackily.

    Who can forget the Christmas Light display from our neighbors in our first starter neighborhood? No one who saw it. He not only illuminated every possible thing, from roof to mailbox, but the lights chased each other, in multicolored splendor all night long.

    It was a good thing that, as I was confined to bed for much of our last year there – with a difficult pregnancy – my room faced the back and not the front. If I’d seen that light display till all hours of the night, sooner or later I’d have found the air rifle and tried to stop it.

    And yeah, there are Christmas light displays that are done in a style that seems like they would have used graffiti, only they used lights. You are probably right now bringing the images to mind of giant inflatable, lit up Santa clauses, nodding elves, singing nativities, and who knows what other horrors.

    There was a house, down in the ‘Springs, where, unable to decide which of the giant inflatable figures they wished to inflict on the world, they crammed them all cheek to jowl in a handkerchief-sized front yard.

    But even these displays, while they can be a torment to the neighbors, are fun to drive by, even if the fun is “oh, my Lord, and they crammed in a lit up partridge in a pear tree.”


    1. When I hear “The 12 Days of Christmas” now I have to wonder exactly how the person got all these birds, trees and people for their true love . . .

          1. I expect most here have seen one or another versions of this:

            12 Days of Christmas, in thank-you letters
            First Day of Christmas

            Dear True Love,
            Thank you so much for the partridge! You know how much I love birds. It looks great in the pear tree. I have named it Ronald. Have a wonderful Christmas!

            Second Day of Christmas

            Dear True Love,
            Wow, two turtle doves! And another partridge! You’re right — Ronald would have been lonely. I’ll call her Nancy. They are all singing beautifully together. Thank you so much for a lovely gift.

            Third Day of Christmas

            Dear True Love,
            Thank you for the three French hens! One French hen would have been impressive enough. I guess the first two turtle doves would have been lonely without another pair, so thank you for those as well. Ronald and Nancy seem a little confused by their new friend, whom I am naming Mikhail, but I am sure they will grow accustomed to him in time. Thank you again.


            Seventh Day of Christmas

            Dear True Love,
            Please stop. I never did anything to you. Look: I do not want you bringing any more birds to my home. I don’t know where you got this tank of swans. They are vicious. They bite. The 12 geese are frightened of them. Partridges 5, 6 and 7 make threatening noises whenever I try to make them go outdoors. My house has become a hell. Stop this, please. No more birds.

            Eighth Day of Christmas

            Dear True Love,
            When I said “No more birds,” I never thought that this would be your response.

            I don’t know where you got eight milkmaids. Do I want to know? I do not think so. At first when they showed up I was sure they had the wrong address. But the UPS guy knows me because I had to sign for all those miserable birds.

            I tried to find them hotels, but they insisted they would “just stay and milk.” I don’t want them to stay. I don’t want them to milk. I never asked for this. Can you come take the milkmaids at least? I will figure out the birds on my own.

            [END EXCERPT]

              1. You are busy? Really? How could someone who wears the hats of a writer, a wife, a mother, a friend and the woman of the household be busy at this time of year? 😉

              1. Oh come on – from what I hear of the economy in Southern Europe, especially Italy, the lanes are lined with lords waving signs declaring “Will leap for lira!”

    2. There were no direct flights between eastern Tennessee where I attended boarding school and Philadelphia.  So I would fly up to Washington, D.C. and take a small commuter hop on up to Philadelphia.  The flight did not gain much altitude for the short hop.  This meant that the flight home at Christmas provided you with a spectacular view of the light displays below.  It was beautiful.  It was also from a particular and limited vantage point, so there was no risk of overexposure.

      1. When I lived in San Jose, a treat was walking through the old neighborhoods at Christmas. One family would start decorating the day after Thanksgiving, and would add more each day. By Christmas Eve, it was impressive. Glad I didn’t live on the street, though; the traffic was equally impressive with several houses decorated.

        My immediate neighborhood was pretty dim; we had fairly Jewish area. Made for a quiet Halloween, too. I’d do a couple of strings of lights, but that was it. We don’t bother with outside lights here; nobody can really see the house, so we decorate inside..

        Merry Christmas to all!

  6. Sarah, thank you for another year of your writing. For the rest of you, one of your lurkers thanks you for providing endless mirth. Merry Christmas all!

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