I’m not a descriptive writer in the sense of “the tall, languid man with dark, grizzly hair appeared” would be considered descriptive. I’m definitely not excessive like Charles Dickens and I’m also not even generally, pleasantly descriptive like my former classmate Nadia Saleh.
But I might be lyrical. Or something. Not sure what the right word is.
I’m revising “Hidden,” a short story inspied by Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” and I came up with this passage:
George Delacroix would not come home that night.
As he walked up the dark front steps of his apartment building on Kennedy Boulevard, the woman from 13G came out and kept him from entering. Their movement awakened the dying light hanging above the door frame and its dull glow cut across them softly like a knife. She had an empty suitcase in her hands and a grave look on her face. Delacroix knew who she was. Her name was Rebecca. She was a simple, usually quiet woman who practiced singing the blues when, against all reason, she made herself believe that one else was home. Strands of her long blonde hair fell into her face as she spoke. “Don’t go up there, George,” she said. She crumpled a paper into Delacroix’s hand, considered giving him a peck on the cheek and decided at the last second to settle on giving him a muted prayer. She walked past him to her car.
As she unlocked her car door, she looked Delacroix straight in the face like she had never done before, knowing she needed to cherish every moment she had left. They both knew they would never see each other again. Rebecca had seen too much. Her car would turn up in the Hudson a week later when things cooled down; her body, on the other hand, would never be found.
“Good-bye, Rebecca,” he said.
“Good-bye, George. It’s been nice knowing you. You don’t have much time. I suggest you leave.” She opened her door, got in and drove away. Delacroix wondered if she would cry for him when he was gone but that wasn’t what mattered now.
Delacroix looked at the paper she had given him. It was a death note, no doubt pinned to his door with a dagger. According to the note, the message had been delivered only an hour before. If everything it said was true, Delacroix would be dead within the next two hours. That gave him until 1:56 a.m.
For once in his life, Delacroix felt slightly unsure of himself. It would be exceedingly difficult for him to vanish, but there had to be a way.
Perhaps there was someone who owed him a favor. Someone who had connections. Someone undetectable. Someone who was still awake at this hour.
A candidate came to mind and Delacroix turned towards West Side Avenue to find him. He began walking and then stopped. For a moment, Delacroix considered running inside his urban, matchbox apartment one last time. He thought of the things he was leaving behind, the parts of his life he wanted to take with him most. He thought of his father’s old cigar box. Of the baseball he got all the Yankees to sign. Of the dress Rebecca never allowed herself to go back for. Of that one night he was not the George Delacroix, but just an ordinary man with ordinary feelings with an extraordinary someone in his arms.
He put those thoughts out of his head, knowing he didn’t have enough time. Instead he started making his way to the diner as subtly as possible, hoping that tonight would be the first night he wouldn’t be recognized as the tallest man in town. On nights like these, unnoticed meant untouched.