Exquisite Corpse 2019-1: The Discussion

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Hey gang!

It's Exquisite Corpse time again. We have a great line up ahead of us. The first Exquisite Corpse of 2019 was organized by @gardengnomepubs and I have the privilege of being the first to post. Following me are @fromage, @felt.buzz, @blueeyes8960, @stever82, and @sarez, in that order.

The idea is that we will tell a story together. My job is to introduce the characters and the situation in 1,500 words or less. Each of the other participants will pick up where the previous storyteller left off and carry the story forward in 1,000 words or less. The final writer will pull all the pieces together and tie up loose ends. There are no rules other than later writers can't change details earlier writers imposed without a reasonable justification based on the story line. Otherwise, plot twists and unexpected turns are welcome.

So, without further ado, here we go. The first 1,500 words.

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The Discussion

The nameless girl pranced about, all smiles and legs, walking by the big man a hundred times or so, cigarette between her red lipsticked-lips, never once looking up from the book she was reading. If I was the big man, I'd have knocked her out. I don't mean that in a cruel way. I mean that in a caveman way. Knock her out, drag her by the pony tail, and cart her off to my man cave. Too bad I'm not the big man.

The big man, however, had other ideas. And I'm not one to make judgments on other men's ideas, but this guy's ideas weren't straight, if you ask me.

"Psst! Hey, Toots!"

Big men always look at the pretty girls and say "Toots." I learned that reading those trash novels. But this guy's "Toots" was more than your ordinary Toots. It said something, something no big man should ever say.

The nameless girl stopped in her tracks, looked up from her book, dropped her cigarette, and curled her lip.

I could see the corner of that lipstick smile rise toward the eye brow from across the street. Her fishnets made me cringe. They still wear those things? I thought fishnets went by way of the hula hoop, but what do I know? Her lip curl was kinda cute, but it wasn't aimed at me. I couldn't stop myself from watching.

"Wanna go for a ride?" The big man asked in a low baritone drawl. He was standing next to a classic white Cadillac. When he said ride, he patted the hood of the car with one hand and motioned to the passenger's door with the other.

"Sure." The nameless girl didn't hesitate to accept the offer and tossed her cigarette as the big man opened the car door.

As he pulled away from the curb, I hailed a taxi and threw a twenty at the driver, "Follow that car. And don't lose them."

"Yessir."

The driver had some kind of accent. Middle-Eastern, Arabian, something exotic. But I focused my attention on the nameless girl and the big man. What was he up to? And why did she go along? So much for talking to strangers.

It was about fifteen minutes, maybe twenty-five, when the taxi driver pulled off to the side of the road following the lead of the Cadillac a half a block ahead. He turned and looked at me as if to ask, Should I keep going? I could see the big man walking around the rear of the Cad. When he got to the other side, he opened the door and out stepped the nameless girl, coy and looking cute. I threw another twenty at the cabbie and jumped out the back door onto the sidewalk.

They entered the door of some tenement. It was one of those that locks when the door shuts. I got there just in time to stick a finger in and keep it from shutting. Then I followed a flight of stairs to the top of a two-story condo.

There were doors. Four of them. Two on the left and two on the right. I could hear music emanating from the first door on the left and a man shouting from the second door on the right. I stuck my ear to the first door on the right. Silence. Then I went to the second door on the left and did the same. Whispers.

I could hear them. A man and a woman discussing something. They tried to keep it hush, but I could hear the whispers, catching every third or fourth word. Unable to make out the gist of the conversation, I tried the knob. I turned it, slowly, gently, just to see if it would open. It did.

Gently, and slowly, I nudged the door, sliding my left eye through the crack and poking my nose into the room. My eye cleared the door jamb just in time to see the fishnets leave the front room and enter the bedroom. Their voices were somewhat louder, but still faint. The discussion continued. Then it rang out like a clamor of confusion.

A gunshot. A wail. The big man's voice boomed through the walls of the condo. "What did you do?"

And the woman's soft, demure whispers continued. I couldn't make out a word. Who shot whom? What did I just witness? What to do now? And before I could decide, the gun slid across the floor and stopped at the toes of my boots. The woman fell to the floor with a thump, her powdered face and lipsticked lips clearly visible in the soft light from the kitchen. Her eyes locked on mine as if to ask for my assistance, or was it to enquire as to the nature of presence?

The big man's voice faded to silence as noise from the street replaced it. The mystery of the other room beckoned me, but I froze and gazed into the eyes of the nameless girl as blood oozed onto the floor from some unseen wound on the other side of the door. Then, her face began to fade, and in the shadow of the light I saw it transform from that ageless beauty I first saw on the street to something as hideous as I've ever seen. It was dark, it was ugly. Scales took over where once there was flesh, and her lips, which moments before had been kissable red, were suddenly slime green, and her eyes--oh, those gorgeous eyes--mutated so quickly it seemed like a flash, the brownness that had been a mark of a lovable soul then turned purplish-black and beamed like a dark hole of despair as the room grew cold as ice.

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What Happens Next?

Here I'll leave it. @fromage is next. Is this story a mystery, or something else? The genre is #speculativefiction, so it could go anywhere. I leave it at the mercy of those writers who will follow.

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