Rain is a novella I wrote of some 43,000 words. It was my attempt to do a literary pastiche of those old film noirs; a pastiche, or a tribute, however you liked to see it. I decided to put in all of the tropes of those sort of old movies: the dead partner, the devil in a red dress, the fact that the police force was institutionally corrupt. I don’t want to say much more about the novel than that, as I don’t really want to give away too much of the novel.
The city is not named in the book. It could be somewhere like Chicago, somewhere on the shores of a large body of water. I intentionally left the name of the city blank: it is the Ur-city of film noir, the place of a million stories, of people Tommy gunned to death, dead bodies discarded in alleyways.
Oh, yeah, one other thing: whenever the hero is awake it is raining in the city. The rain is a constant in this tale.
Extract from Rain
Rain. It was raining outside. It was always raining outside.
The droplets machine-gunned onto the windows of the offices of Daniels & Doone, Private Investigators, kamikaze-ing themselves on the glass, sliding down the panes like corpses.
Then down off the brown stone outside window ledges, that hangman’s drop to the dead ground below. Zigzagging streams across the wet paving stones, seeking out the nadir of the world, the lowest point to flow into. Flowing around all obstacles, around tan leather shoes, around red stilettos.
The rivulets jumped off the kerb, abandoning the sidewalk, for the surety of the gutter, the fast flowing stream glittering with the reflections of the street lamps. No stars to be seen, the rain clouds saw to that. No one was looking up, anyway. Not in this town.
Rushing along the gutters, gurgling like a strangler’s victim as they sought passage into the overflowing drains. Seeking the dark.
A black auto, going five miles an hour too fast, careened around the street corner, skidding sideways before the driver regained control. No one chasing, only a fool at the wheel, desperate to get home, out of the rain. But it was always raining in this town.
The metal coffin-to-be accelerated, lurching forwards. Wheels spun, then got traction, as the coffin sped forward, through a mirrored puddle, breaking up the looking glass sky, street lights dissolving, rain clouds broken up. But when the puddle reformed to once again reflect the sky, the rain clouds would still be there.
An arc of water sprayed out to the side, soaking the right leg of a dame as she red stiletto-trotted along the sidewalk. She proved her knowledge of sailors’ slang as she cursed, looking down at where her scarlet dress had been soaked through. It was an unsuitable dress for a lady; unsuitable shoes, too. The driver did not stop, though: he did not hear a single Saxon oath. He drove on, into the rain.
The red dress, soaked through down the right side, clung even closer now, a cold wet skin as the rain continued to fall.