The offer letter is addressed to the guy who used to live here, before I moved in.
I don’t notice that until I’ve already opened the envelope. It has a glossy brochure, with a logo in flaring red, that makes me think of an unlikeable lipstick.
It says, “Stop by for our introductory meeting!” Since I’m heading
downtown for the film festival, I decide a few minutes won’t be fatal.
The arcade’s community room is the rendezvous spot. A lone lady lets me in.
She starts her spiel. “For just ten dollars, I can enroll you a custom made
Abandonment Insurance Program. We all find ourselves facing that, I’m afraid.”
I ask to see a contract, but instead, she suddenly turns into black and white.
“I’m part of a lost film. It was completed, but never released. The studio said it was too brutal, that audiences wouldn’t take to it. Then, the only copy of the film was destroyed. It was kept in an office, a lot like this building.”
I don’t know if it was a fire, or something else. Maybe she’s lying, but it seems like a good enough connection to the offer.
It’s lousy with potential, so.
I still give her the ten bucks. She hands me a receipt. “All you have to sign this
copy of it, when you want it redeemed.”
I ask her, “What do I get?”
She points to the window behind me, which ordinarily looks over the
hallway. Instead, it’s an avenue from some long forgotten rustbelt town.
I step out and even though the rain is hitting things with jackhammer force,
I don’t get wet. There’s a bus station across the street, and I have a private
bus waiting for me.
An hour later, the bus pulls into a town that thought it had a future, once.
Or maybe it never believed that.
Well, thought I’d get a bit industrious, since this is such a colorful workshop~
The “Pawnbroker” bit preceding this is for the 2nd person prompt. This is for the persona voice prompt. The link above takes you to a photo I took of a bridge, near a bus station, with some noir type textures added to it as layers.
Trent, I love that the opening premise is opening someone else’s mail! This is something I deal with a lot where I currently live—still getting really important documents addressed to previous residents—and it feels like such a rich and ripe situation for storytelling. “Agreed Value Insurance for a Film Noir Aficionado” surprised me in wonderful ways! I’m drawn in by the mail, and then the great detail of the logo: “with a logo in flaring red, that makes me think of an unlikeable lipstick,” and I love that the narrator is on his way to a film festival—it’s smart to give us that detail and him that agency/plan. The concept of personalized “Abandonment Insurance” is so rich! “I ask to see a contract, but instead, she suddenly turns into black and white.” YES! Oh man. She’s from a lost film! This is so cool. And the narrator is cool with it—just going with it. Maybe my favorite line and my future reason for doing anything: “It’s lousy with potential, so.”
I love how she’s already transformed, and now we get this really clear and concrete description of the setting being transformed: “She points to the window behind me, which ordinarily looks over the hallway. Instead, it’s an avenue from some long-forgotten rustbelt town.” Very nicely done! And those final two lines are killer: “An hour later, the bus pulls into a town that thought it had a future, once. / Or maybe it never believed that.”
We all find ourselves facing that. Abandonment. I’m afraid.