I wrote this piece of flash fiction after I’d been given, what we writers call ‘a prompt’. A writing prompt is a word or phrase that is intended to stimulate a story of some type or a poem. The prompt I was given was just the phrase ‘Gardenias again’. I’ve always loved noir fiction and this scenario below came into my mind from somewhere out in the ether …
It was past my usual finish time, when I wearily climbed the stairs to my apartment. The Soames woman stepped out of her door catching me in the hall.
“Did you come home for lunch today, Mr Harris? I heard you singing along to the radio. Quite a nice voice, dearie.” She dropped a plastic charity sack to leave for collection sometime maybe.
I thought about the windows I once broke caterwauling at the Glee Club, and said “No time for lunch today. We were closing a big deal and the owner asked us to work through. Said he’d see us all right at the end of the month though.”
Mrs Soames frowned, and shook her head at my masochistic attitude to nutrition, retreating back to her apartment, like a gnarled turtle to its shell.
Someone’d stamped out a half-smoked Black Sobranie outside my door. “Damn’ postmen … paid too much these days.” I grumbled to myself. “That and their elastic bands everywhere. Goddamn Sumatra’s gone broke ‘cos of them.” I was really enjoying being a crusty old guy these days.
Opening the front door I realised, must have left the hall light on before walking out this morning. I hung my coat on the hall stand, dropped my case and headed for the drinks trolley, like a fish looking for water.
“My usual, bartender.”
Funny thing… not like me to leave a drink unfinished, but there was a glass with a half inch of bourbon still hanging around on the trolley. Could I afford to ditch even a half inch of old bourbon? Didn’t smell the same when it was left out all day but whatever way you drank it, it was still bourbon. Down the hatch.
After filling a new one with a couple more fingers of the good stuff, I left the old glass in the kitchen for the maid to sort out.
Yeah that’s right… me, the next time I wash up.
I pride myself on my nose. (I know, it’s big enough – there, I thought I’d say it before you did), but in spite of having started in on the Woodford Reserve, a pretty fragrant brew in itself, I was sure I could maybe smell gardenias.
“Reminds me of the perfume Jane used to wear”. It had crossed my cerebral cortex before I had a chance to stop it.
I hadn’t opened any of the windows yet, not even the French ones. So it couldn’t be the smell of flowers drifting in. Then, just as quickly, it was gone, like cigarette smoke in an afternoon breeze. I hunted high and low with my famed nose, but no gardenias anymore. I reasoned it was better to have loved ’em and lost ’em than never to have smelled ’em. I’m like that. Pragmatic, all the way down the line.
After a tv dinner and a half bottle of good ole Mister Montepulciano, I went to turn in. I dunno… all work, and no play these days.
Would you believe the maid hadn’t put my spare toothbrush back in the bathroom cabinet after that last work trip to St Louis? There it was on the washstand, like I’d used it this morning. But I hadn’t. Weird stuff happening round here.
Can’t understand this drop in my usual household standards. I’m usually quite a ‘together’ guy.
Folks’ll be phoning the Good Housekeeping Institute if I don’t clean up my act.
© adewils 2018
If you enjoyed this post why not have a listen to a podcast from a creative writer’s meeting I attended.