Here’s another bit of a scene under edit from the manuscript of my mystery & suspense novel-in-progress Flint & Feather. Yes, I know it needs a lot more work – it has not escaped my notice that the only action in this piece is that a) a pigeon has landed on a ledge and b) a man has turned up. How mysterious, how suspenseful! Most of this will have to be excised … ouch! Feedback is welcome.
“Pomegranates full and fine …”
She had to eat her lunch standing, using a wide stone ledge as a dining table. Beyond the ledge was an evil drop to public gardens that wound down to the road. Beyond the road was the Seine, swelled with giant Batons Mouches and smaller boats, all heavy in the water with their cargos of tourists. Beyond the Seine, the Eiffel Tower. Tourists ascended and descended indecently inside its lacy iron petticoat. She shuddered at the image.
A pigeon made an awkward landing onto the ledge. One of its feet was fixed in a permanent backwards fist. It was thin-necked, with nervous darting eyes, orange irises, jet pupils. Cripples were low down in the pecking order. She felt sorry for it; tore bits from her panini and threw them. The pigeon hobbled across, snatched at the morsels of bread.
Like the pigeon, the man seemed also to arrive from the sky. He was tiny, the top of his head – a huge dome – level with her shoulders. His forehead was knobbed. As though too heavy for his stalk of a neck, he held his head cocked to one side. The pupils of his eyes were like black toffees sucked nine-tenths away, brittle and sticky. Greasy grey shoelaces of hair were stretched across his otherwise bald pate. The pupils of his eyes were like black toffees sucked nine-tenths away, brittle and sticky. His chalky skin had one livid round on each cheek; his lips were the colour of pomegranates. He was dressed in a light-coloured suit – Payne’s Grey – the colour of a dove’s breast. It was ingrained with dirt, however and stained, the nap shiny. The jacket was double-breasted with unfashionably wide lapels. It had huge black buttons that reminded her of Pontefract cakes – her favourite childhood sweeties – flat rounds of soft liquorice the size of the big old penny it cost to buy one from the jar in the corner sweet shop. There was no sign of other clothing under the suit and he wore no socks. It was as though, naked, he had jumped into it and run off. He was looking sideways at her, a wide grin spreading across his livid mouth.
Eat your heart out, Harlan!