Reddit Writing Prompt #1: A Pair of Private Eyes

“You hire two private detectives to secretly follow each other for a week. Write their reports back to you. – bittiesnhoes

The two men sat across from one another in the diner, their trenchcoats, still damp from the rain, piled on the cushioned bench next to them. One of the men, a shorter man with a mustache hairy enough to make up for the lack of hair on his scalp, tapped the paper on the table in front of him with the tip of his pen, leaving behind a few tiny dots of ink. “So, how should we start it?”

“I don’t know,” said the other man, taller, younger, and with a face that looked like it was sculpted for the purpose of being a private detective. A pointed nose, a sharp chin, a square jaw, eyebrows that made him look like he was always glaring. “What do you think the guy wants?”

“A laugh, definitely,” the shorter man said. “Or maybe he’s testing us to see which one he’ll hire for the real job. You know, whichever one has the better report.”

“Probably the laughs.”

“Yeah, it’s always the laughs.” Pen was pressed to paper. “So, first day. Let’s say we both did the usual fact-finding stuff. Visiting an informant at a bar?”

“The same bar,” the taller man said.

The shorter man grinned. “The same informant. One of us gets to him first, gets the info, and passes by the other on the way out of the door,” he suggested, getting a grin from the taller man. “Should I get there first, or do you?”

The taller man picked up the quarter sitting in the center of the table. “Heads, I’m there first,” he said, flicking it up. It fell back into his palm, and was clapped against the back of his other hand. He checked the result, then returned the coin to the table. “Tails. You’re first.”

The shorter man added it to his list. “Alright, so in your report you have to make some reference to the contact being sort of, you know, quietly amused that we just passed each other and have no idea,” he said, making another bullet point. “What next?”

“Hold on, I got your picture in the dossier from the client. I’d recognize you on the way out of the bar,” the taller man remembered. “You’ll have to be wearing a disguise.”

“Oh, damn, good catch. You too,” the shorter man said, adding it onto the tail of the previous bullet point. “Fake mustache for you, wig for me. We both make some small mention of it.”

The taller man cleared his throat, and his voice turned to gravel. “Walking into the bar, I had to squeeze past a man with a bad mustache and a wig that was even worse,” he growled. The shorter man snorted.

“Disrespectful little twerp,” he said, a smile in his voice. “So, next…”

A middle-aged woman swept up to them, carrying steaming mugs on a tray. “Afternoon, boys,” she said, smiling as always. “Got your usuals for ya.”

“Thanks, Daisy,” the shorter man said, taking one of the mugs. The taller man took the other, and started spooning sugar into it.

“I already put some in there for you, Trent,” Daisy said.

“I know, but you never put enough in,” the taller man said, adding a third and final spoonful of sugar. Across the table, the shorter man was pouring a golden-brown liquid from a flask into his mug. Daisy gave him a scowl.

“Same thing I just told him, Louie,” she said, pointing at the taller man.

“Same thing he just said to you, Daisy,” the shorter man said, returning the flask to his pocket.

Daisy sighed, shaking her head at two of the diner’s most familiar patrons. “So what’re you boys up to today?” she asked, leaning over to get a look at Louie’s paper.

“Work. Some guy hired me to keep an eye on Trent, and hired Trent to do the same to me,” Louie said. “Paid us the usual rates for a week, so we figured we’d write up our reports together. So we don’t do anything contradictory.”

“Why would he hire you to do that?” Daisy asked.

“Lots of money and not much else to do,” Trent said, shrugging. He took a sip of his mug of sugar that contained some trace amounts of coffee. “Not the first time it’s happened.”

“We’re getting paid for a week of not much work,” Louie said with a grin, taking a pull of his ‘coffee’. “God, I love my job.”

“You gonna want some lunch while you’re working?” Daisy asked.

“Yes, please,” Trent said. Daisy smiled and left, not needing a reminder of what the two PIs always had for lunch. “Now, after the bar, you stake out my office, I stake out yours?”

“Sounds good.”

Over the summer, I’ll be stretching my writing muscles (all the ones in the wrist and hand that have really fancy names that I’m not going to bother typing for a silly joke) by taking advantage of the writing prompts submitted to /r/writingprompts. They’ll be short, self-contained stories, and knowing /r/writingprompts, around ninety to ninety-five percent of them will involve aliens, time travel, Hitler, or all three. For example, “You are a time traveler sent back in time to kill Hitler and prevent WWII, but after offing the Fuhrer (I don’t know how to add umlauts), you discover that he was actually an alien in disguise.”

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