The following short story is from Suzanne Gochenouer, a writer and editor at Transformational Editor. She was one of the first Writer's Block Coffee subscribers, and I hope that's helped fuel her work.
She submitted this short noir story in support of the charity drive for Feeding America event on April 27. She also wrote this one previously. This is so cool. Thank you, Suzanne!
The Writer’s Block Coffee Hour: Noir and Writer Give Back
The first thing I saw when I stumbled into the living room was a pair of naked feet propped on the arm of my sofa. They hadn’t been there when I went to bed last night.
Inching into the room until I could see over the back of the sofa, I discovered the feet were attached to a jeans-clad male sporting dark, disheveled hair and a yummy hint of beard. Strong hands balanced a steaming mug on his flannel-wrapped chest. I took advantage of his closed eyes to drool over the muscles hiding under those clothes.
Joe Noir was back in town.
The fragrance of rich, fresh coffee surrounded me. And I was fine with that. Mornings were hard enough. Who wouldn’t take comfort in that first cup of coffee while meeting the start of a new day? I tiptoed to the kitchen in search of my favorite wake-up beverage. If someone breaks into your house, it’s a bonus when they brew up a pot of your favorite coffee instead of murdering you in your bed.
“I wondered how long you were going to laze in bed, Writer. We’ve got a lot to do today.” His rich, deep voice caressed my senses almost as much as my first sip of coffee. Maybe a bit more. Okay, a whole lot more. But only because it had been a while since he’d dropped in without notice.
“It’s still early. What’s so important that I have to get a running start? You know I like to ease into my day while enjoying my morning brew.” I watched Joe sit up, put his mug on the coffee table, and stretch. Oh yeah, I do love a sweet view with my morning wake-up. Then he donned a dark face mask. I reached for the pink paisley one hanging on a hook by the door. Darn. It just wasn’t fair. He looked like a dangerous ninja warrior, and I like a flower-child playing doctor.
“Did you make your list? We’ve only got a few days before the Writer's Block Coffee charity order.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. “Here’s mine.”
I strolled into the living room and snatched it from his hand. A dozen names I wasn’t familiar with marched down the page. “Who are Scourge, Ace, and Main Man? And Temptress?” My voice rose just a tiny bit as I read that last aloud.
“Babe.” He gazed at me with a look that meant those were questions I didn’t have the clearance to ask. He pulled the paper from my fingers and folded it back to its original configuration.
“If you didn’t want me to ask, you shouldn’t have shown it to me.” I totally ignored the fact he hadn’t offered to share as I searched for the list I had started last night. I’d left it on the coffee table, but I didn’t see it or the pen I’d thrown on top of it.
“Looking for this?” He reached under the edge of the sofa and pulled out a wrinkled pink post-it note.
“Yeah, gimme.” I grabbed for it, but he drew it back until I overbalanced and fell across his lap.
“Okay. Now, this is how I like to start the day. Undertaking an important mission with my favorite writer.” He held me close for a moment before going all serious business and moving away from me. “You need to get your list finished or this mission won’t be a success.”
“Why don’t we combine our lists? Then I’ll have a better idea of who I should add to mine. We can make it one big order to support Feeding America on the 27th of April.” I really just wanted a better look at the names he’d written down.
Joe brushed a strand of hair from my face. “Then you’d have access to information and addresses that would be dangerous for you to know. And people you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley would be able to find you.”
“Fine.” I marched into my office and grabbed a clean sheet of printer paper. When I returned to the sofa, Joe had refilled my coffee mug. I flashed him a look of gratitude, took a deep breath, and started writing as he watched over my shoulder.
“Okay, Kaylee Juve and her parents.”
“How’s the kid doing? Still determined to graduate high school with the lowest attendance record in history?” He rested his chin on my shoulder.
“No, she’s got a boyfriend now who’s a real student. If she wants to spend time with him, she pretty much has to show up at classes every day.”
Below the neighbor family’s name, I quickly penned David Jefferson Grand and Samantha Peach on the same line.
Joe’s snort of laughter would have tickled my ear had he not been wearing his mask. “You mean Samantha’s mama hasn’t snagged the banker for a son-in-law yet?”
“It’s not for lack of trying. Mrs. Peach is running herself ragged attempting to show David how cozy it would be to have a little family of his own.”
He snatched the pen from my hand and dug out his list again. “Thanks for the reminder.”
I sneaked a peek while pretending I wasn’t interested in what he was writing. Temptress’s mother. What in blue blazes was that all about? Just who was this Temptress character, how well did Joe know her, and how did he come to know her mother?
I slid the pen out of his hand and rubbed it down with a disinfectant wipe. After all, a girl can’t be too careful in the middle of a pandemic. I wrote on my list. Mack Hawkshaw. Marlene Ministre. “Did you hear Hawkshaw is a PI now? And Marlene’s running his office.”
“Good for him. He has skills beyond those he can use on the police force of a small town.” He interpreted my raised eyebrow and said, “You have to ask him. It’s not my story to tell.”
So there was a story there. I couldn’t wait to find out if Marlene was privy to it. After all, she spent hours each day with the handsome detective.
I bounced a couple of times on the sofa and shook out my list. “Now for the important stuff.”
We looked at each other and grinned behind the masks covering our faces. Then we took turns adding to my list.
Joe scribbled fire department and ambulance drivers.
My contribution was nurses’ station, doctors’ on-call room, and chaplain’s office.
Then in quick succession: mail-lady, UPS driver, grocery store employee lounge, post-office, trash collector.
“Satisfied with what we’ve got?”
“Yeah, babe. Looks good to me. Let’s find that link again.”
We moved to my office and powered up the laptop. I typed in https://writersblockcoffee.com/blogs/news/save-this-date-april-27-help-us-raise-1-000-for-charity.
It was time to place our order.
One week later, a package showed up in the mail addressed to “Temptress.”
I’d dream up a creative way to thank Joe Noir for the pound of my favorite Writer’s Block Coffee. But he’s out of reach again.
Suzanne Gochenouer, of TransformationalEditor.com, continues her tales of The Writer’s Block Coffee Hour Gang with an invitation for readers to place an order for Writer’s Block Coffee on April 27, 2020, to help fund the efforts of Feeding America during this time of need.