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Porphyria’s Lover

This was written last year for my English class as a practise piece for our coursework. The coursework itself has to be based upon an existing text, in this case the poem “Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Browning. I have attempted to change the genre of the poem into the introduction of a detective novel.

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Porphyria’s Lover

The sky is a watercolour wash of grey and the rain hurls itself against my office window with the ferocity of a swarm of bees. I count myself lucky that business this morning has not requested me to venture outside. Instead I reach for a file of notes passed to me by my secretary Meg, before she returns to absently picking at her nails with the end of a biro. The nib has been chewed.
    It is a habit of mine, perhaps brought on by the nature of my job, to study the people as they make their way past on the pavement outside. This morning there are fewer subjects than normal and most are disguised beneath umbrellas or hoods, pulled up to the mouth and drawn close to stifle the streams of condensed breath issuing into the cold February air. I swirl the spoon absently around the outskirts of my coffee cup and tap the floor with my shoe. I ruffle through the notes inside the file but make no attempt to read them. Meg has discarded the biro and now stares absently at the ceiling. Conversation does not come easily to either of us.
    Relapsing into my observation of the people outside a blur of colour captures my attention. I stop tapping the floor and sit straighter in my chair. The blur of green staggers nearer and gradually deciphers itself to be a jacket. A thin, summer jacket with two breast pockets and a missing button, it contrasts magnificently with the shoal of umbrellas and waterproofs. As the jacket becomes clearer so does the wearer and I perceive a dishevelled looking man of medium to tall height. He is perhaps around thirty-four years of age and his muscular top half appears misplaced on top of scrawny legs, covered by a pair of faded jeans, a tear above the left knee. He is unshaven and his eyes flash like strobes around the surrounding shop fronts before settling on my office. “Crickmore’s Inquiry Agency” it announces in peeling brown letters.
    Meg’s head jerks round as the door behind her is thrown open and the man stands wheezing on the doormat, water dribbling down from his forehead. He advances three steps into the room, one long, two short and then stands in front of my desk, staring with wildly dilated pupils. I say nothing and remain seated.
Meg gets up and closes the door.
    After perhaps twenty seconds of examining me the man speaks. “Crickmore?” he says. I nod encouragingly and point towards a chair but he seems not to notice. “Crickmore?”  I nod again. The man smiles slightly in half recognition, showing uneven teeth between thin lips, he then turns on his heel and walks back towards the door. Reaching for the handle he jerks it open, letting in a blast of wind which knocks the file from my desk. He then stops, one foot outside the office, and turns again. He walks back towards me.
Meg gets up and closes the door.

    “Crickmore?” he asks. I nod and he begins to walk in circles around the room, like a lion at the zoo. “Excuse me sir” I say “do you have a job for us?” The man only continues to pace around the room with jolting movements but I think I hear him mutter something which sounds like “God has spoken”. Trying to capture his attention I almost shout “Do you have an inquiry for us?” he looks at me with the same unblinking gaze and then seems to become focused. “Yes. Yes I have an inquiry.”
“What is it, you seem troubled. Have you lost someone? Had something stolen? I…”
“Murder” he mutters, taking me a little by surprise. “Murder”, he repeats it again before screwing up his face like a small child on the verge of tears. “God has spoken”.
“Have you rung the police? Do you know who did it”, perhaps a strange question for a detective I know, but we have never dealt with something as big as murder, missing cats maybe, but never murder.”
The man unscrews his face and, regaining his composure, looks directly at me. “I did it”.
I hear a small gasp as Meg reaches for the telephone receiver but hold up my hand to stop her, concentrating on the man again I say “Sir are you aware of the seriousness of what you are saying?”
He merely smiles again, showing his top teeth as before. Then he backs away muttering “God has spoken, God has spoken”. He flings a small drawstring bag onto my desk, wrenches the door open and runs out into the rain.

    After recovering slightly I reach for the bag and, opening it, find a red silk ribbon knotted tightly around a wisp of yellow hair, turning the bag over in my hand I notice that on the back is embroidered the letter P. I frown, puzzled.
Meg gets up and shuts the door once more.


1 Howard | on 12 January 2009

This is so good, Lyndsay. But I desperately wanted there to be another page, and another one after that! It’s like the start of a really good book. By the way, are you Lyndsay Cook?

2 Lyndsay | on 13 January 2009

Thank you, I’m glad you liked it. I did think about writing more, I just never really got round to it. And yes I am Lyndsay Cook.

3 Howard | on 13 January 2009

Lyndsay Cook of IP1 and Lip fame; I recognised your style from having read Obsidian Eyes. In truth, your username was also a clue! Welcome to the site, I look forward to reading more of the stuff you did get round to doing smile

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