Cigarettes and Coffee

The cigarettes and the coffee mix, vividly in incandescent ways. He relaxes, eyes staring blankly at the weathered wall. Yet, weather couldn’t have done this. Blood and gore, like Van Gogh’s bastard children play out across the cement; “Starry Night” could barely compete with the profundity of this masterpiece. And whose masterpiece was it? Blue light sprayed across the wall drips to the floor, filling the room with a sickening aura.

Footprints. That’s what we need, right now. Footprints. Like echoes of a time long past reverberating through the blue light, they appear. He can almost see the man now, walking, after finishing his fourth piece in the last month, slamming the door on his way out, an artsy smile upon his blank, generic face.

‘Detective Instpector Stewarts, daydreaming, are we?’ queries the snake of the UPF (United Police Force, that is). Sergeant James McClarance, the man’s real skin was no comparison to the inky scales that befitted his icy character.

‘No sir, just musing upon this fourth murder. How do you think it was done?’ I ask, tentatively. Honestly, I wanted to break the man’s jaw. But he was a whole three ranks above me. Getting in his good books was imperative.

His hoarse, gravelly voice falls upon my muted ears. The white noise takes over, and I look at the painting of blood upon the wall. Organs hang, stuck to the wall, and the fractured, dried red coating flakes off in heaps.

I need another cigarette. I need this one badly.

‘I’m sorry sir. May I be excused? I need to go to the toilet.’ I say, right in the middle of his sentence. A grimace is moulded in his face by hands unseen, and he lets me by. As I walk to the toilet, I feel it in my pocket. The knife.

I walk into the piss-saturated cubicle. The door screams as it opens, and closes behind me. Locking it, surely as I can, I take out the knife. Dried blood cakes it, and a thin sliver of sinew extends from the blade. I drop the knife in the toilet. Flushing I take out a cigarette, and stick it between my lips.

Lighting it, thin hairs of smoke fly up from the paper covering. I inhale, the poison filling my lungs, and calming my body. I walk back, slowly to the murder scene, and stand by the dark corner, leaning against the wall, and looking at the viscera upon the wall, I smile.

The coffee and cigarettes mix in incandescent ways, yet to the idiots of the UPF, they light no paths to the killer. Sergeant McClarance stares, stoicism the one quality his character lacks. As the inadequacy of his circumstances falls upon him, he struggles, screaming at his subordinates.

And as he does, I watch, and smile. He’ll be next.

Shourye Dwivedi

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6 thoughts on “Cigarettes and Coffee”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece- it was an extremely thrilling and suspenseful read. I love how you added the unexpected twist at the end and also the overall register that it’s written in. I only have one suggestion- some of the imagery you used was maybe a little too obscure or haphazard. I really had to try and puzzle out what you’re trying to get at by using it, and this pause halted my enjoyment of the piece. This was especially disappointing considering the relatively short length of the piece. But, if you were aiming to achieve that effect, please… ignore what I wrote above. It’s YOUR piece, after all. Anyway, all in all, it is a quality piece of writing which I will probably read over and over again in the coming months.

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  2. You’re good, Shourye. Really good. You’re writing is highly vivid, which is always a refreshing break. You seem to focus heavily on imagery, which is something I don’t read very often; in my circles we tend to write very emotive stuff, which is very different to this kind of writing. It’s very fluid, very interesting. There are some things to work on. the first would be length. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I’d bet this is about 600 words long. That’s pretty good, but I think there was much more that could have been done with the idea.

    The fluidity also seems a bit off upon a re-read. The introduction doesn’t seem to tie in with the whole murder scene. I can see you’re trying to peddle murder as an art form with the comparison to Van Gogh. It just doesn’t seem to connect with me, personally.

    Another aspect to consider is that it is always important to find a good balance between description and action. I think you feel pretty heavily on the description and rewrite could have had more action. About a year ago, somebody gave me a little advice for a story of mine, and I’ll pass it on to you. Try re-writing this story using as little description as possible and as much action as possible. I’m not sure if it will work brilliantly, but it’s definitely a very interesting and fun exercise to try out. Give it a shot and see what you think.

    Aside from those small criticisms, it was really, really good. Pardon the double “really.”

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  3. Good piece Shourye – I liked the plot outline. However, I’d like to give a few pieces of feedback. The shift from third person to first person narration is not particularly clear. It also seems to make the story flow less. Some grammatical mistakes – “Sergeant James McClarance, the man’s real skin was no comparison to the inky scales that befitted his icy character” – this is not a full sentence. There is also a few places where your verb tense changes. While most of the piece is in present tense, it sometimes shifts to past tense which is inconsistent. All in all, it is a good piece, and best of luck with the competition.

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    1. Just out of curiosity, are you of the opinion that we should always use full sentences, Tom? I often don’t, and you’re the first person that I’ve met that has raised that.

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      1. Sometimes I know that that can be used as a literary technique, and sometimes you can get away with it, but I’d reckon that personally, I sometimes forget, so yeah, a reminder is welcome. But sometimes, using non-full sentences, like, half sentences, is useful, and can sort of add to the cohesion of some pieces, or add some level of discord, as an added effect.

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  4. Good piece Shourye – I liked the plot outline. However, I’d like to give a few pieces of feedback. The shift from third person to first person narration is not particularly clear. It also seems to make the story flow less. Some grammatical mistakes – “Sergeant James McClarance, the man’s real skin was no comparison to the inky scales that befitted his icy character” – this is not a full sentence. There is also a few places where your verb tense changes. While most of the piece is in present tense, it sometimes shifts to past tense which is inconsistent. All in all, it is a good piece, and best of luck with the competition

    Like

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