Lady Nono (a Broken World story)
“So here we are again” said the detective as she walked into the room. On a steel table lay a woman. Blonde, late twenties to early thirties, slim, probably of Latin descent.
“What is it this time?” she said as she lowered the sheet covering the woman. “Strangled? Bludgeoned? Stabbed? Whatever you say to them certainly gets their attention.”
The detective has played out this scene close to a dozen times. The woman on the table was no stranger to the morgue. She has been killed with regularity over the past ten years. Which makes prosecuting the murderers a bit of a moral dilemma for the detective. Even as she sat examining the latest cause of death there were four men serving time for having killed the same woman.
The woman who sat in front of the detective.
She apparently earned a living as an escort and, beginning about a decade ago, she started to threaten her married clients with exposing their sexual exploits to their wives. And, beginning about a decade ago, she started to show up at the morgue.
She called herself Lady Nono in her ads and from the many interviews the detective has had with the woman’s various clients she has no trouble offering up sex for money… until she finds out that the man is married.
“You know,” the detective says to the corpse, “I once dated a married man.” She wasn’t sure that it was an appropriate time or place for a confession, but she was starting to run out of things to say to the body.
“I have taken a number of confessions over the years, from your killers, and most of them seem sincerely remorseful. Why on earth do you continue to do this?”
A small chill ran down her spine. “Are you a ghost?”
“Aren’t you supposed to kill them? Or do you prefer the idea that their lives will be torn apart after you goad them into murdering you?”
The detective wondered about the first time the woman was murdered. If she knew then that she’d be able to come back. If she was even human.
“You realize I’m going to have to stop prosecuting the guys that kill you right? What if two of them run into each other in prison? What if someone other than me figures out that you’re the same victim over and over again?”
She laughed to herself. “You’ll have the X-Files agents in here. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I have some questions I’d like answered.”
The detective pulled up a chair and hoped whatever this woman was, she was listening.
“While Google wasn’t able to help me, I asked around about your name; Lady Nono. A few people told me that it’s a Southern American thing. Something along the lines of being a nobody, a ‘woman without a face.’ I’m looking right at you. You have a face. I guess you’re not being too literal with the name. Not sure an escort would make much money without a face.”
She laughed, but it was cold. Detached. “Were you always a nobody? Or did you wake up one morning and forget to put on your face? Next thing you knew you were ratting out horny hubbies.”
This time there was no laugh. She just looked at the woman on the table.
“So, if they’re single, you’re fine with them fucking you?”
She let the question hang in the air and then
It’s at this point I’m hopeful you’re familiar with the Ben Stiller movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Specifically, the scene where a renown photographer played by Sean Penn (The high priest of douchebagedness. Recognize that it pains me to even mention him, but it’s critical in understanding what’s not about to happen in the story) apparently spends days sitting quietly high in the Himalayas waiting to take a picture of a snow leopard. A “ghost cat” being an extremely secretive and elusive animal. When the animal finally emerges into frame he shows Ben Stiller but doesn’t take the picture. When Ben inquires as to why, he simply explains “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”
Which is a long-winded way of saying that the ending to this story is really good. Poignant and well-written, metaphorically referencing that any section of an infinite circle is indistinguishable from a straight line, it’s perhaps some of my finest work… which is why I’m not going to share it.
I just want to stay in it.
(Which might have you bringing to my attention the scene in No Country for Old Men where the character Wells, played by Woody Harrelson, is sitting across from Chigurh, a hired killer, moments before Chigurh kills him;
Wells: “Do you have any idea how crazy you are?”
Chigurh: “You mean the nature of this conversation?”
Wells: “I mean the nature of you.”)