Noir by Jorge Aldegunde

Everyone’s going mad at the publisher. Even Gabriela called –a sign that it’s getting bloody serious–. I’m not surprised though. As of lately, my business is more about performing vanishing tricks, rather than writing. I’ve put up countless excuses to cancel catch-up meetings just to buy some time. I’ve spent all my savings and three advances on pomp and, sadly, I still owe them a draft of my novel. May I clarify: there is no such paper –and it is not expected–.

So what if I’m finished? At least, I have experienced the sweet smell of success. I owe it all to Officer Gutiérrez, a coarse, worldly and sagacious cop. A sort of local hero promoted to the top detectives’ league. Who would have thought he’d connect with so many readers? It has provided me with enough literature for two entire books –selling extremely well–; an unbeatable apotheosis of the hard-boiled genre. As for the third one –nowadays you’re nobody if you don’t own a trilogy–: it looks like it’s paying the bill of the writer’s block. I was told to grow Gutiérrez international, to have him travel the world. So well, I took on the challenge in the first person: did a bit of expensive touring here and there; all being part of my well-established methodology towards enlightenment.

I witnessed wildebeests’ and zebras’ migration at the Masai Mara –amid tons of smelly dung left behind by such horned and striped animals in the process of fleeing from crocodiles–; glaciers, geysers or the glittering aurora borealis pose no longer a mystery to me. Much have I fished together with Alaskan bush people, socialized with trappers or beheld thick ice from shady airplanes. I went across the Red Desert leading up to Ayers Rock –behind the footsteps of Australian aboriginal people–, where I unravelled dark secrets hidden within salient dunes and salty lakes. All the way from Havana to Santiago have I sought revolutionary muses leaving no corner of the island unexplored. I’ve walked The Great Wall (corns upon the toes of my feet and everything!) and sailed the Indian Ocean after pirates and outlaws. I gave in to arcade saloons up in Akihabara –lest inspiration should show pixel-shaped–. I have taken Ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazonia –old style recipe after the fashion in Iquitos– in an attempt to dive into my inner self but, still, I got nothing. I have fulfilled my citizen-of-the-world roadmap and realised that, inspiration-wise, I am pretty done for.

In hindsight, perhaps I should have got rid of poor old Gutiérrez at the end of the second book, during his latest incursion into slums; a bad encounter, a couple of dirty stabs and there you go. It would have been a decent death for such a quarrel lover. But no: I felt I’d become an eternal writer, gave in to my high spirits, and insensibly stretched the gum. And now, as I softly massage my fine goatee and wander about this huge penthouse –boasting two transparent pools, design puffs and a twenty-three-storey high view on the city–, I can only admit to a blunder and lick my wounds.

An army of whathisnames take care of the reek of my latest fart –pardon for the eschatological turn, but it’s the bare truth– to counsel me about the best doctor, lest my digestive system should trouble. Adding to this, synthetic PA’s –equipped with artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms– foresee even my latest vice with utmost precision. Last, but not least, I’ve acquired a state-of-the-art computer –namely, by the brand that brought about Adam’s downfall–, featuring an ultra-ergonomic keyboard ready to relieve phalanges. Nevertheless, the damned word processor still shows, now for the umpteenth day, a blank page.

Well, it looks like a big NO. There is no talent. Only fluke, infatuation and a petite writer grasping at straws.

I look down from a high terrace into a sunny square below. I notice the conspicuous palm trees and countless pedestrians –they seem to me tiny needles in random move–. Then something occurs to me. Maybe, after all, I still have one trip left to go; an additional mark to attach to my already run-down case. They’ll have to look for someone else to put it down in words, though.

Considering my cachet, there’s likely to be a lot of ghost writers happy to tag along.

I am positive that officer Gutiérrez will appreciate it too.

***

«He was no friend of luxury but thought he could get used to it. Expensive alcohol would make him drunk all the same yet leave almost no hangover. Gutiérrez jumped out of bed and realised she was still asleep. Making good friends with the Colombian’s hot chick was a risky way to test him. Truth to be told, he’d already crossed a few red lines; no one would give a damn for just a little more. He lit up a cigarette as he walked the large suite to and fro, thinking out possibilities.

Suddenly, shots ring out. The door opens. There they are: the Colombian and his henchmen. The blonde stirs up underneath the covers –it seemed plain she’d betrayed him–. He didn’t bother to draw an inventory of forces: half naked and unarmed, he would stand no chance.

He emptied his glass of Dalmore, came up to the balcony and had a last look. Before handing himself over to the artists of white light, he’d try to finish off the job by himself. Down on the street life would just go on: yet another warm day in the metropolis. One thought crossed his mind: five-to-one he’d get to land crotch first upon those coconut trees.»

***

Officer Gutiérrez third and last adventure became a hit. The writer, who died in ambiguous circumstances, became a cult author for black novel lovers. However, the publishing company resorted to external collaborators to complete the story. The manuscript, they said, was well-advanced anyway.

It just needed an ending.

THE END

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