Pencil Noir

Pencil Noir

*Beginning of soft, smooth jazz*

A pencil. Such a simple tool. Any man can make any thought in the world physical with one in his hand. Like all tools, it has no morality: its only an extension of the will of its user. That’s why it saddens me to to see it corrupted, knowing that it could have once been a force for good.

It was a typical day at Monarch. Sun was shining. Birds were chirping. Every Tom, Dick and Harry was more chipper than a raccoon in a double-wide dumpster. It was the perfect day for everything to go wrong.

I hear a scream. My scream.

“WHERE’S MY PENCIL!?” I inquire

The class looks at me, like a python staring at a blind, limbless, all-too-trusting baby mouse, but like if the mouse insulted the python’s religion, nation of origin, and close relatives/acquaintances. Irritated… and predatory.


That sigh of disgust made me do a 180 degree turn to come face to face with its creator. Luckily for the sake of my eyes and heart it was Jessica. A dame, a real dime, gams that go all the way up, which means she’s got tall legs. Like really tall. She’s 6’2’’ and that intimidates me, as do all tall women. And tall people in general. And women in general. I smile a crooked grin, charming but in a roguish way.

“What’s wrong with your face… and you?” she asks in a way that shakes my heart like San Francisco on a bad day. She’s got such a way with words.

“Well doll,” I begin, “It seems that the ugly head of crime has reared once more and stolen something of mine. Well two somethings actually, as you seem to have made off with my heart. Also my pencil is gone.”

Those beautiful baby blue eyes rolled in their sockets, as they typically did whenever I spoke to her.

Another voice:

“Dude, calm down, I’m sure it just rolled onto the floor here somewhere.”

Scott. He couldn’t be less reassuring if I was a sheep and he was a bloodthirsty chupacabra, straight from Tijuana. He was a snake in the grass, ready and willing to bite the sheep that still represented me from the last metaphorical phrase.

“Spoken like a true crook, Scotty Boy,” I retorted cleverly.

“What does that even mean?” he replied, his shifty eyes being all shifty.

“AHEM,” boomed a voice from the front. It was the Teacher. “Can we get back to business please?”

“Proceed pal,” I answered, an equal yet casual authority in my voice.

Later that day, I opted to do a little of my specialty: intrusive investigation. I knew exactly where to start: Scott. I put on my trademark trenchcoat and fedora that had brought me a lot of flak, with piercing questions like, “dude why are you wearing that? It’s 95 degrees out,” and “that style of fashion literally died over half a century ago, why?”

I started at his locker. Combo number 45-13-25. Through stunning detective work, I had uncovered this password by looking over his shoulder last week. I sorted through the villain’s rubbish. Books, pens, a note that says “do u like me check yes or no,” and pencils. Not my pencil, though. At first glance mine was a standard wooden number two pencil, but I knew which was mine. In this line of work, you notice the subtle differences. Differences like how the locker was well organized, clear of trash. Scotty Doo liked to throw his garbage away…. And evidence. He wouldn’t ditch it here, though. He’d bring it to his own turf.

When school let out, I went straight to Scott’s house. 1872 Pinefield Lane. My pristine job as a freelance amateur detective had led me right to his address when I followed him home one night, also one week ago. I grabbed the key he kept in the little ceramic turtle in the garden by his back door and headed into the lion’s den. I b-lined straight for his upstairs bathroom trash can, where he dumped anything that posed a threat to his false image of innocence. Dumping it all on his bed in the adjacent room, I sifted my hands, looking for ol’ Lucky #2. It was useless. Aside from a mostly empty can of Fanta, a somewhat rotting apple, toilet paper used to staunch the flow of multiple bloody noses, and a half dozen more of those “do you like me” cards, each with different handwriting, it had nothing of use or interest. I’m ashamed to admit that I got rather emotional at the lack of good results. I swept the garbage off the bed with my arms, scattering it throughout the room. I had gotten too attached to the case. There was just so much riding on this, darnit! I headed home in defeat, sprinting away from the scene to distance myself from my emotions, and also because Scott would be home in a minute and a half.

The next day, the class felt a little more empty. It was probably due to the lack of my good partner, Johnny McGraphite, the only pencil I ever loved. It might have also been related to the fact that Scott wasn’t there. Apparently his house had been broken into last night and whoever did it caused quite a mess, leading him to stay home, citing “emotional distress.” It was lunacy. Someone must have infiltrated his house between the time I left and when he got home. The crime in this town is nuts.

Do you know how to overcome feeling low? You get your heart broken. THEN you’ll feel low.

In my glum state, I looked across the table. Jessica, the apple of my eye, the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas, was sitting there, writing. Writing, with a familiar looking pencil. My heart stopped before breaking, shattering into tiny shards that also broke into further little pieces. The events of the previous day flashed before my eyes. Her initial irritability, her signature on the note in Scott’s locker, the fact that she always tormented me with her loveliness to the point where she must have enjoyed it. It all added up to betrayal, the kind that only those close to you could pull off.

“AH HA!” I screamed, my voice breaking as hard as my heart.

“Sweet Christ, WHAT!?” the villainous vixen vocalized.

“You almost had me baby…. Almost.” The tears in my eyes held on like a rookie cowboy, competing at his literal first rodeo.

“What are you saying!?” The Amazonian leading lady of my life shouted in a way only her scary and attractive frame could muster.

I dove across the table in the hopes of snatching back my beloved pencil from my beloved. However, due to the impressive and normally useful amount of strength I have in my legs, I clean missed her. My last thoughts as I blacked out from immediately concussing myself against the edge of the next table were how big the hole in my heart was and how I could have used one of the other five pencils in my bag. Sorry kid, them’s the breaks sometimes.