Monday, 27 February 2017

Blacker Than White

The theme of February's Short Story Entry was Colours.  Or more specifically Colours and their representations.  I chose to use the closely connected Black and White.

My initial idea was to use Black and White in, possibly, their most well known representations, as extreme opposites and the idea that Black is associated with the Bad and White with the Good.  And with that in mind my two characters were formed.  But as I was writing and my story unfolded I was reminded..

Not everything is always as simple as Black and White....

So, please, sit back and enjoy...

“You should see it Marcus. All leather interior. 0 to 60 in, like, a millisecond. Got it in Gold. You know how the skirt likes a bit of bling.” Rupert DeNoir gave the white haired gentleman beside him a bro-style dig with his elbow to accompany his last statement.

“Must have set you back a bit though Rup.

By now DeNoir had crossed their shared reception,

“Quit being an old man, you shouldn't have been so generous with the bonuses this quarter! And anyway, everyone needs a bit of indulgent fun once in a while.” he accompanied his last statement with a flirtatious wink at the secretary who smiled politely but her cheeks flushed.

Jodie walked in just as Rupert was entering his office. She turned towards the secretary's desk and was about to introduce herself when a voice from behind stopped her,

“Ms. Leonard?” Jodie turned and took the proffered hand before her, “I'm Marcus Snow. We spoke on the phone.” Jodie smiled at the friendly face, “Please, step into my office.”

As Jodie passed through the door behind him, Marcus looked up and Rupert was leaning in the doorframe with an animal look on his face. He caught Marcus' eye and, tilting his head, blew a silent whistle. Marcus shook his head and frowned slightly before turning and following Jodie into the office.

Jodie had been head hunted as the newest member of Contrast Designs, the gem of Sim City. A large design company who's fame in the design industry was only shadowed by the reputation of it's play-boy owner, Rupert DeNoir. He epitomised the world of sex, drugs and rock and roll, with lavish parties and a seemingly endless supply of cash. Rupert DeNoir was a bad boy, and he was very good at it.

However, few people knew that behind Rupert DeNoir was his business partner Marcus Snow, and it was in his office that Jodie now found herself. Snow was as different from DeNoir as night was from day. Snow's appearance gave the impression that he was an older gentleman but he was, in fact, of a similar age. They had met at college and started the business together, but it soon became apparent to Jodie that whereas Rupert was all about face and the public image, the brains of the business was Marcus.

Marcus' office was simple, white and clean, and she couldn't help but notice the choice of colour scheme.

“Please, Ms. Leonard. Take a seat.” Marcus pulled a chair out from his desk and gestured to it, as he deftly took her coat and hung it on the stand by the door. He moved behind his desk and, with a warm smile that would soon become very familiar to Jodie, said;

“I need your talents. Shall we get started?”

After 3 months at Contrast Jodie was a welcomed member of the unofficial “end of the day” coffee club. A gathering where tired workers could waste the last hour of the day in the kitchen area under the guise of 'coffee and networking'.

The group of women watched their boss' latest conquest as they grabbed coffee together. The girl giggled and turned away but expertly ensured her precariously contained breasts remained easily accessible to his over enthusiastic eyes.

They had watched Rupert DeNoir leave his office, early as usual, and make a bee line for his target. He hadn't forgotten his secretary though, making sure that she knew that the huge pile of files on her desk would need to be moved into his office by tomorrow morning and she should 'probably get on with that now, love.' Jodie was still at a loss as to what people found attractive about the man.

Now, Marcus Snow, he was a different story, her eyes scanned the office and she found him holding the door for an intern before coming to the aid of the secretary who was laden down with boxes, presumably the files DeNoir had requested. A plain clothed superhero she thought, and smiled.

Jodie had found herself captivated by this quiet, chivalrous man. And, as time had passed, even she could no longer deny the fact that she was finding more reasons to be in his company. If he noticed her growing 'groupie-ism' he was too polite to comment, but she saw him watching her and she would pretend not to see as fast as he would pretend he wasn't. At the moment this arrangement suited them both, more would have been too complicated. But she couldn't ignore the butterflies when he was around or the sadness that it would never be anything more than fantasy.

Jodie excused herself from the group, the DeNoir display was nothing new and neither was the group conversation that followed...

“It's disgusting. She must be what, 19?”

“So? He's not THAT old.”

“Not the point. He's in charge he should act that way.”

“He can be in charge of me if he likes.”

“Ewww... Gross! Who knows where he's been?”

“Oh Lord, you are terrible. He makes my skin crawl.”

“It's the money I'd be interested in. He is loaded! Have you seen that car?”

Back at her desk, her attempts to empty her in-tray were interrupted by a nervous cough.

“I'm sorry to disturb you, Ms. Leonard. Do you think I could have a word?” he gestured toward his office.

“Of course, Mr. Snow.” Jodie stood quickly. Marcus gave way to her before following her into his office.

Once inside Jodie sat in the guest chair, expecting Marcus to take his usual seat but he pulled over a chair and sat opposite her, their knees almost touched. This was the closest they had ever been, Jodie controlled her breathing. She looked into his eyes. They were worried.

“Jodie can I trust you?” the question hung in the air as Jodie processed what she had heard.

“Of course. Why?”

Marcus looked as if he was about to change his mind about elaborating further, he glanced out through the windows of his office. Jodie followed his gaze and saw Rupert now involved with a very animated conversation. They were laughing and DeNoir was making some less than subtle thrusting motions which caused more raucous laughter from his associate.

Jodie looked back at Marcus. He was nervous, something she had never seen in him. It made her want to hold him. Whatever it took to take away his fear, she wanted to do, right now.

“I need you to do something for me. And do it as fast as you can. I can't say much, I will explain, but right now it's too dangerous.” he glanced back out at DeNoir.

“It's not.... illegal?” asked Jodie.

Marcus smiled, leant forward and put his hand on Jodie's knee, her heart fluttered,

“Of course not, Jodie. I'd never ask that of anyone. I just need you to gather together all the information regarding our latest product development, you know the one I mean, and bring it all to me.” he looked at her earnestly, “All of it, Jodie.”

She looked down at his hand which still rested on her knee, such a strong hand, such a safe feeling. She looked up again.

“Of course. Anything.” she said. He breathed out slowly, he raised his hand and cupped the side of her face.

“I need it by tomorrow. No matter what. Can you help me, Jodie?”

Jodie swallowed,

“Yes.” It came out as more of a whisper than she intended.

Marcus smiled slightly and ran his thumb across her lips. Decades passed in a few seconds.

“Thank you, Jodie.” he whispered back.

She left his office, her head spinning. This was not the professional woman she had aspired to be. She mentally shook herself and resolved to complete her task as any professional would do. But inside she was doing cartwheels.

“Did you speak to anyone?” he asked.

Jodie shook her head.

“And this is it all? There's nothing left anywhere?”

“All there.” 

The task had actually been surprisingly simple, as she was the only current staff member assigned, the files had been easy to locate. She looked up at Marcus, part of her was hoping he'd sweep her into his arms in gratitude but he didn't. He was too busy gathering the boxes she had brought him. He headed to the door, in the threshold he stopped and turned. He stared at her, a whisper of sadness behind his grey eyes.

“Thank you, Jodie. You have helped more than you can know. And,"  he paused, “And Jodie, it'll be ok.” 

Her face portrayed her confusion but Marcus walked away, pausing only to hold open the main door for a delivery man with a trolley of paper towels.

That was the last that anyone saw of Marcus Snow.

Two frustrating days later Jodie watched as three plain clothes detectives burst through the office doors and marched into Rupert DeNoir's office. Behind the detectives swarms of officers filled the room and began relieving all the employees of their computers and paperwork. Everyone, including Jodie was herded into the boardroom, and, after what seemed like hours, a female detective came in and addressed the group.

“What's going on?” a voice shouted from the back.

“You are all to be sent home until further notice.”


"Business here will cease until the end of our investigation at which point you will be contacted. Please leave your name and contact details with the officers at the doors before you leave and do not leave town.” The tone of her last statement was such that most people felt it would probably just be safer to stay here in the boardroom until she contacted them.

Their reluctance to move meant the majority of Contrast Designs was witness to Rupert DeNoir being frog marched from his office by two detectives, unsympathetic to the loud protests of innocence.

“Money laundering!? What the Plum! What do I need with more money than I have?! There's no proof. No Proof!”

The screen showed images of Rupert DeNoir, suit as fine as ever, descending the court house steps and gesturing at the camera,

“I'm innocent. I said I was. And I am.” he barked at the cameras.

The anchor's face returned,

“New evidence in the DeNoir Money Laundering Case has forced Sim City Police to rethink, as indisputable proof has emerged that Mr Rupert DeNoir, playboy CEO of Contrast Designs, had nothing to do with the money laundering that took place and subsequently forced the company to close their doors.

SimTonight has been told that interest has now turned to Mr. DeNoir's partner, Marcus Snow. Snow has not been seen since March 7th, two days before the leaked information that brought down Contrast Design. It appears that Marcus Snow had been filtering money into multiple untouchable offshore accounts and Rupert DeNoir was framed. The company is now looking at liquidation with over a hundred jobs lost and questions regarding employees pensions.

Mr. Snow's whereabouts is currently unknown but it is widely believed that, with the discovery of missing company product design data that Mr. Snow will attempt a company restart.

The inquiry is ongoing.”

Jodie clicked off the screen. Her mind was whirling, she wished it was just from the fallout of the company closure and the fact she was facing unemployment. 

But in truth it was more to do with the envelope that had arrived that morning. Inside was a one way plane ticket in her name. There was an unsigned note accompanying the ticket, it simply read,

I need your talents.  Shall we get started? 
She knew what she aught to do, but...

Sometimes things aren't always just black and white.


  1. WOW mysterious ending .. intriguing!

  2. I love how the ending has come around full circle!