Noir Readings

I guess this post should have technically been done first this week, but I just jumped right into the other assignments we had to complete. This week we had to read at least 3 pieces of noir work. One that was required was “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and the other two that I chose were “The Killers” and “The Pig Farmer’s Burden.”

First up was “The Postman Always Rings Twice” by James M. Cain. I don’t usually like being told what I absolutely have to read, but this time I didn’t mind. This is basically a story about a married woman (Cora) falling in love with another man (Frank) and their plot to kill the woman’s husband (Nick). However, they still have to live with the consequences afterwards. The creative title reveals the outcome before reading the story, however you don’t realize it until the end.

Next is “The Killers” written by Ernest Hemmingway. This story is of two hit men coming into an Illinois town to take out a popular boxer named Ole Andreson. After the two hit men hold the workers of a diner hostage while awaiting Andreson for a few hours, they figure he is not coming and let the men go. They go to tell Andreson but he seems unafraid and basically says that there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Lastly is “The Pig Farmer’s Burden” written by Darren Guest. This story is about a man who lives on his farm by himself since his wife died. One day he catches a young man feeding his pigs and makes his way out to the field to shoo him off. The pig owner, Mr. Connor, meets Lloyd for the first time and tells him to no longer feed his pigs. Turns out, Lloyd’s wife, Joy, was having an affair with his best friend, Joe, and Lloyd says that they have left town. He seems desperate to get Joy back. Mr. Connor offers to help him with fixing up his house in order to get his girl back. However, when he enters the house, he soon finds out that Lloyd actually murdered the both of them upstairs. Lloyd knocks out Mr. Connor, pulls him outside, and then kills himself and lights his house on fire. However, the other twist is that Mr. Connor now still has to deal with the guilt of murdering his own wife many years ago.

A recurring theme in all of these stories is death. No matter what, someone is always dying and someone is always trying to get away with it. I would define the writing styles as mysterious. They give you enough information throughout the story that you could figure it out yourself, however, it’s not always easy to put all the pieces together until the very end. That kind of writing makes these stories exciting to read.

Data Of The Dead (As Lena Meyers)

This is the writing assignment “Data of the Dead” written from the position of my noir character of the week, Lena Meyers. This assignment was worth 3 points.

assignment link: http://assignments.ds106.us/?s=data+of+the+dead&post_type=stufftodo&assignmenttypes=writingAssignments

I’d like to think that I would be remembered well. I hope to be remembered by my family, friends, classmates, young kids I work with, and running buddies as someone who always goes after what she wants and stays motivated. Although my family is now in Scotland, I hope they would come back to lay me to rest in my hometown of Windsor, NY. That’s where all of my sweetest memories are and that’s where I would like my body to be for the rest of the existence of this Earth. As for my belongings, I hope that my friends and family would take something from me that would bring nothing but good memories. Whether that be anything from a piece of clothing to a notebook…really anything. The only thing that I will specifically leave to someone special is the ruby ring from my great great grandmother. I wish to leave it to my younger sister, Jocelyn. Joce, I hope you hold this ring close to your heart and that one day you’ll have a daughter to give it to. There are so many memories that this ring has been there for that I wouldn’t want anyone besides you to have it. You’re now the one daughter to our parents and the one sister to our brother; please, always treat them with kindness and make me proud.
I love all of you more than words can ever say!
xx, Lena

How does that ending go?

This is an alternate ending I wrote for the story “The Pig Farmer’s Burden” by Darren Guest. This was a required writing assignment titled “Write An alternative Ending” and is worth 3 points. Here’s the link to the assignment instructions: http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/write-an-alternative-ending/
And here is where the full story can be read: http://shenandoahliterary.org/641/2014/08/15/the-pig-farmers-burden/

I pick up just towards the end of the story. Enjoy!

…………….

“Lloyd backed up and stood in front of his screen door. ‘Hell, you don’t have to go to no trouble, Mr Connor.’

‘Now, Lloyd, just point me out where those leaks is gettin in and I won’t have to fix the whole damn roof but for a pin prick. And what’s with this Mr Connor shit? I told ya Bill is fine. Now come on, I can get you fixed up before the sun gets high.’

Lloyd took to chewin his lip and tuggin at his greasy mop. ‘Truth is, Mr Con— Bill, I aint been keepin up with my chores since Joy left me. I thank you again for your kindness, but I couldn’t have you step foot in there. It just wouldn’t be right.

‘Hell, Lloyd, after my wife passed it was two months before I pushed a broom in my place, let alone ate off a clean plate. If you think I have any womanly sensibilities about cleanliness, think again.’ I stepped by him as he jabbered somethin, and opened the screen door. When I opened the front door proper, …..” (here’s where I pick up)

I saw why he wasn’t wantin me to come inside. I immediately felt his hands holdin mine so tight behind my back that I couldn’t get out and he was pushin me inside so he could shut the door.

There they were. Joe and Joy, sittin like two ducks all tied up with tape around their mouths. Next thing I know, Lloyd is puttin rope around my hands and tying me to a chair just like Joe and Joy.

“Told you they were cheatin on me Mr. Connor. I couldn’t let ‘em leave together though, that just seemed too easy for them,” Lloyd was sayin as he bound me tight as he could to that chair.

“Well Lloyd,” I said, “what exactly do you intend to do now. You’re a smart boy, but people are gonna start to take notice once the three of us have gone missin.” But Lloyd didn’t like what I had to say and quick as a whip slapped the duct tape over my face and shut me up quicker than my late wife ever could.

Those next two days seemed like two weeks. Sitting next to these two people I had never met, but in a situation that could be death or life. Lloyd didn’t say much, mostly just paced back and forth and constantly lookin worried as hell. Anyone with a brain could see the desperation in his eyes. The desperation for a plan. I never could see this boy just goin off and killin us all when the other day he was feedin my pigs and sayin they were smilin at him.

Lloyd disrupted my thoughts with a loud “HMPH!” and he shrank to the ground. After sittin there for a minute or so, a light suddenly came to his eyes. We all looked at him quizzically. He took notice and instantly stood up, all straight and proper like he’d just won the presidency or somethin prestigious.

“Well you three,” Lloyd started, “I think I’ve solved my little mystery here.” Lloyd was now speakin with this creepy tone that made the hairs on my neck stand straight up. “Mr. Connor, I think I trust your judgment the most out of the three of you idiots,” he was sayin as he slowly started takin the tape off my mouth. “But I hope you know that one shout out of you and you’re gonna meet the barrel of this shiny revolver I’ve got here in my side.” I gave him a nod lettin him know I was agreein to his terms.

“So here’s the deal.” He started makin his way towards Joy. “You’re gonna be comin with me,” he said as he was strokin her hair. “I’m gonna sell the pigs from Mr. Connor’s farm over there and give you the lavish life you’ve been wantin.” I tried not to let out an aggressive response, and just thought of what my wife would do in this situation. So, I sat quietly as he went on.

“No opposition there, Mr. Connor?” he asked me with a sly smile and a hand on his revolver. “No sir,” I said, “you know them pigs are worth a lot.” My response shocked him a little.

“Uh, well, good” he said. “And of course I know it’s smart, that’s why I’m doin it.” He started to loosin up a little, but was still creepin us all out by the looks in everyone’s eyes. “And as for the two of you gentleman,” he continued, “you two are gonna be able to find out your true destinies.”

“What do you mean, Lloyd?” I asked him.

A sly smile came across his face. “Well, everyone already knows that you’re a real son of a bitch, Joe. So yours shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. But for you, Mr. Connor, no one really knows…do they?”

He turned to look at me and saw the fear and confusion in my eyes. “Could he really know?” I thought to myself. Of course not…how could he?

“You don’t think anyone knows, do you Mr. Connor?” Lloyd continued. “Well, the funny thing here is, I do. How might you ask that I know? Well let me tell you.” I kept quiet hoping what he was about to say wasn’t what I expected.

“You see sir, I’ve been livin here a long time. And I’ve been feedin those pigs of yours for a long time too. I can’t believe it took you this long to even notice me out there. But when I was younger, I would go there everyday. One day when I made my way out there, the pigs were a little bit closer to your house than usual. I thought it’d be a good chance to maybe meet the owners of the pigs I loved to feed so much. So, I started makin my way up to your house. But as I got closer I could hear you and your wife arguin about somethin. She was fussin at you and was barely allowin you to get a word in. When I reached the bottom of the stairs I could see the two of you in the kitchen. I was decidin if I should make my way up the stairs or if I should just try to come back another day. While I was standin there figurin out what to do, your wife started yellin louder and louder. I glance up into the window and the next thing I see is you hittin your wife so hard that she is immediately shut up and hits the floor like a sack of potatoes. I started runnin so fast hopin you wouldn’t see the dust behind me out the window.”

I was shocked. My eyes were fillin with tears and my heart was goin a million miles a minute. “Lloyd…” I started, “I can exp…”

“No!” Lloyd cut me off. “You can’t explain nothin! The next few days I saw people comin and goin from your house. I saw you cryin, probably fake tears, as the ambulance left the house with your dead wife. You’re a selfish son of a bitch and I don’t know how you could even be livin with yourself.”

I started weepin hard. “Yes Lloyd,” I said through the tears, ” I killed my wife. And it’s somethin I’ve gotta live with everyday.”

“Well maybe not anymore,” he said.

Next thing I know, more tape is bein pulled around my face to shut me up. Then Lloyd goes to the back room and comes back out with three big jugs of gasoline. “So,” he began, “Joy, you’ll be comin with me to a new town. While these two boys will be sittin here figurin out if they’ll be dyin in here or not.” He started to pour the gasoline all around Joe and I. He pulled out a match and looked Joe and I right in the eye. “For my sake, I hope both of you will be dyin here.”

He swiftly cuts the rope connecting Joy to her chair and scoops her up quickly. With her hands and feet still tied, he puts her in his truck waitin outside and locks the doors. He runs back into the house, match in hands, and says to us with a smile on his face, “good luck gentlemen.”

The next thing I see is a wall of flames engulfing me and my chair while I hear the roar of his truck pullin away outside.

I opened my eyes in a state of confusion and saw white walls all around me. I tried to sit up but didn’t have the ability to. I hear a beeping to my right but couldn’t see what it was comin from. Next thing I know, I warm hand touches my arm and startles me.

“Mr. Connor,” says the voice, “I’m your nurse, Darcy. You were in a bad accident but you’re okay.”

Darcy sat my bed up so I could see the rest of the room. She was a thin woman with beautiful light brown hair and green eyes. “Sir, your body is paralyzed but the doc says your memory should still be all there.”

I was in a frenzy. I couldn’t move my legs, arms, or torso. I could barely move my face but just enough to still be able to speak. “I know who did it,” I said slowly. “And I’m gonna find him.”

Noir Example: Carmen Jones

After thinking long and hard about what example of Noir I could use, I kept coming back to just one idea. I had the thought of the early 2000s computer game “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” stuck in my head. So, naturally, I turn to Google to see if this is an idea actually worth using as an example. Flipping through a few pages of google search containing the title of the game and “noir example” or “noir characteristic,” I stumbled across the old 1954 film Carmen Jones. After reading the plot summary of the film, I became intrigued. So I took a chance, rented the movie and ended up loving it. Although this is a very recent discovery of mine, I think it’s a great example of the noir theme we are going for in this course. Here’s a very short summary (spoiler alert) and my reasoning for considering it a good example of noir:

Carmen Jones is a 1954 musical film. It is filled with infidelity, crime, running from the cops, and eventually ends in an unfortunate death for the main character, Carmen.

I believe this is an example of noir because of the production characteristics as well as other key features. Throughout the story, there is a healthy mix of doomed romance, desperate desire, strayed innocence, and cynicism. It’s set in the time period directly following World War II which makes the previous characteristics a reality for the people who were living in that time.

This film can be either rented or bought online. One of the most popular sites is below: