Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)
TITLE: Rhyme, Crime, & Color Schemes
By Troy Manning
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Noelle rapidly turned the pages of her book. Several of the scenes were simply too lurid to linger upon. They examined in relentless depth the effects of the amphetamine as it coursed through Noelle’s veins like a flashflood in a Venetian canal, overturning every last boatman that dared stand in its procession.
Though they were without real foundation, Noelle’s surfacing worries caused her look up at Guido the Gondolier who stood above her, pole in hand, guiding them gracefully along a calm waterway. His smile was nearly as reassuring as the familiar red-and-white striped pattern of his shirt. She returned to her book.
Guido knew there was a substantive basis for the fears he felt regarding Noelle’s habit. She wouldn’t be the first moll he lost to the netherworlds of manufactured reality. He attempted to lift her to her feet but she was languid as a neglected doll, and the red lines that traversed the whites of her eyes heightened his distress immeasurably.
Noelle gave a quick glance back at Guido. He began to sing an Italian lullaby that she recalled hearing Charles Aznavour sing in a nightclub in her hometown of Nice. Her Italian was still insufficient to understand many of the words, but the rhyming sounds it contained lulled her into a listlessness that made it difficult to focus on the page.
Noelle slipped in and out of consciousness. The Guido to which she attempted to look was alternately a benign boatman and a conflicted crime-boss. The former was sweet as gelato, but what the latter lacked in rhyme he made up for with ruthless reason. Noelle allowed herself to slip into oblivion so Guido the Mafioso could descend into Hades after her like a Dalmatian Orpheus tailing his wayward Eurydice.
A sensation of increased turbulence and the spray of liquid forced open Noelle’s eyes. She recalled falling asleep while reading way above grade-level in the tub as a child and her scheming baby brother’s dripping water on her face like a Hong Kong mobster administering water-torture to the prized geisha of a Tokyo Yakuza member transgressing ceremonial stipulations at a Year of the Pig festival. In the present instance, though, she saw it was merely the splash of water from Guido’s pole as he removed it to the other side of the gondola to check the craft‘s speed against an unexpected current.
Staring at the red of Guido’s striped shirt as the water splashed into her eyes made Noelle afraid that she had burst blood vessels through undue concentration on a page that would have been better left unread. But then if she hadn’t read it, she wouldn’t have discovered the sprinkles were really due to the machinations of Babyface Guido trying to rouse her from her self-induced delirium. Or was that another crime novel? Noelle wondered. If reading itself isn’t a crime, why does it carry its own form of punishment?
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