A Rabbit In Headlights

It has been quite some time since I posted a blog, but please don’t think that’s because I’m fundamentally lazy, although I am. Actually I’ve been having a wonderfully busy and exciting time, completing one book, collaborating with a whole team of young people on a second, that is almost complete, working on a piece for a second anthology collection and planning out the story on my third book.

In my spare time my co-author, Anna, and I decided to set up a writing group with the support of a wonderful man at our local library. We both belong to a thriving group in Chelmsford called Writebulb but it is quite a long journey from home and we had met other local writers who just couldn’t travel that far so we decided to start one of our own.

Now one of the things I enjoy about belonging to a writing group are the writing challenges that we get set every week, I think it is the masochist in me that enjoys the pain of that moment immediately after the group leader gives you the title of the challenge and tells you how long it is before the group expects to hear your composition. The rabbit in the headlights moment when your brain freezes and you can’t think of a single word to write and yet, somehow, 20 minutes later, there it is, a story that has miraculously appeared on your page. It is wonderful, the feeling-rarely the story. That’s what happened to me this month.

The title of the challenge was The Defective Detective. As soon as I heard it I knew I was in trouble, you see I don’t do detective stories. I can usually guess who did it, why and how long before I’m supposed to or, if I can’t, I get cross when the author introduces some previously unknown, outlandish motive or opportunity. I think I view crime novels as an intellectual puzzle and I get cross when the person setting the puzzle ‘cheats’ by making it impossible for me, the reader, to solve. Silly I know and of absolutely no help when it came to composing my own in the short time deadline given. I sat there for ages desperately trying to come up with something, the clock ticking and the sound of the other members scribbling away only serving to add more pressure than the countdown tune. Then, without warning, inspiration stuck. A play on the title, I guess, wormed its way into my disturbed mind.

I have decided to share it with you. It is most definitely not my best work, and it is not presented to you as such, but it is short and I offer it merely as an illustration of how desperate inspiration can become when pressure is added. I hope you enjoy it, if only through the laugh at my thought processes it will provide you with. With Apologies to the late, great Agatha Christie and her estate.

The Defective Detective by Hellen Riebold (aged 46 ¼)

Poirot stroked his perfectly coiffured beard as a small smile played around the corners of his mouth. His eyes sparkled with the joy of enlightenment and he knew, once again, he, Poirot, the greatest living Dutch detective, had solved the seemingly impossible case.

He leaned forward and pressed the button on the new-fangled intercom his secretary has insisted he install. “Miss Citron, be so good as to come in here please.”

“Certainly, Sir.” Came the clipped reply.

Less than a minute later a remarkably beautiful young woman in high heels and stunning red dress marched efficiently into the room, notebook and pen in hand. “How can I help, Sir?” she asked, waiting just inside the door.

“Take a seat, Miss Citron.” Poirot smiled.

The young woman gracefully placed herself in the chair, pen poised.

“Now, Miss Citron, tell to me this, when Captain Battle visited me this morning did he or did he not refuse my kind offer of breakfast?”

“He most certainly did, Sir.”

“And do my little pink cells fail me when they recall him wittering on about some sort of dietary restriction?”

“No Sir,” Miss Citron smiled, “Captain Battle is, in fact, on the grape diet and his food intake is currently restricted to that particular fruit.”

“Ah. So it is as I recall. Then, perhaps you can explain to me why it is that the slice of Edam I left in the fridge, to which I was looking forward to enjoying for my lunch, is no longer on his little plate.” He looked at her intensely but she knew better than to spoil his fun. “I put it to you,” he continued,  “that Captain Battle, his sense of decorum clouded by hunger, came into my apartment earlier and, not wishing to, as you say, lose the face, stole my Edam. Eating it quickly and surreptitiously to avoid detection.” He beamed triumphantly at the world in general, he had solved another case.

Miss Citron squirmed in her seat.

“Be so kind as to get for me Captain Battle on the telephone, if you please. “ Poirot asked, indicating she should use the phone on his desk.

Miss Citron sat motionless, her own little pink cells chuntering away, the stolen Edam sitting uncomfortably in her stomach.

“Miss Citron, the telephone, if you please.” He looked at her questioningly.

How on earth was she going to tell the great Poirot he had made a mistake and keep her job, she wondered.

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If having read my efforts you’d like to have a go then please do and share them in the comments section or, if you prefer, you would be welcome to join Anna and I at Rayleigh WINOS Writing Group, you can find out more on our Facebook page here:- https://www.facebook.com/groups/318185391605916/