Tuesday, 13 December 2016

GOTHAM REDUX

 

{ ~ Setting: The `Film Noir` Years ~ }
 
 
Season One
 
 "Carlotta Wynn"
 
Act 1
 

 Carlotta stood leaning her weight against the heavy wooden desk in her office... and looked out through the greasy, dirt smudged window at the cars below her as they rolled back and forth along Fifth Street. 'They look like black beetles with shining white and yellow eyes'. She thought to herself. The gloom had this effect on her mind, which always ran in macabre overdrive once the light clocked out from the routine day shift workers with whom she shared the old damp office building.

She inhaled deeply on her ju-ju stick, sucking in the noxious substance like it was a meal and a delicious sedative rolled into one. Perhaps it was. Part of her felt nourished by the addictive oils of the illegal substance... another part of her enjoyed the mind numbing coldness of the muggle, anesthetizing her worries into oblivion for that oh so brief a time.

Through the gloom and the light of car headlamps, Carlotta noticed the distance between herself and the life outside. How many of those cars contained dutiful husbands returning home after a hard day's work in the office, to their wives and children? Carlotta stared down at a tram moving with pre-ordained regularity, sounding it's beetle horn to warn the happy shoppers of the next approaching stop... tired, contented women returning home to their domestic felicity, laden with arm loads of shopping... returning to make their perfect men, their perfect dinners, to end yet another oh so perfect day in happysville. The Blight Depression obviously was only an empty collection of words to such people.

Carlotta pulled her jacket closer about her shoulders, and dragged deeply on her self roll until the miniature furnace on the end glowed a hellish red, exaggerated by the fact there was no light on in the office... what was the point. There was only Carlotta in the building, alone and cold: no swell gee to cook for, no dream home to return to at the end of her daily grind, and certainly no family to dote upon and to cherish.

Carlotta Wynn was alone.

She could see the sign outside the window, high above the ground, still winking on and off intermittently 'Carlotta Wynn: Private Investigator'; the wiring fizzed badly: half the strip bulb burned out and streaming currents of mirage air, as the chilly fog like rain cast dimpsy dusk cinders like hot neon into the sky.

Time to go home! Lock the office, walk the spiralling stairs to the ground floor, head out into the trepidacious evening, and hurry to the corner store to purchase a brain fix... a bottle of Jack Daniels and a file of aspirin for the ensuing headache in the morning. Then home to her two room dive by the waterfront. What a life.

Such was Carlotta's life.

It hadn't always been so. Oh no, once she had been Mort's girl... gun moll to one of the hottest rods this side of Cheap Side, all the way to Dime Avenue at the end of Pinkalou Boulevard. Things had been swell back then and the East End had been a place to make a name. She had been one of the main faces midst a sea of punks, and had enjoyed the notoriety of the Gang's ill-repute across twelve whole city blocks. She had been Mort's frau, his right hand, his confidant... and then everything had gone dutch.

Set up and ambushed in a crossfire by the Thompson brothers` hot muzzled finger men, the whole gang had gone down biting lead. All except Carlotta... absent and playing chippy to the tramp sailors down at Peeky's Palace.

For the thousandth time she closed her eyes and swallowed hard, trying not to feel the gut wrenching guilt. She had lived, the rest had bitten dust... hard. Chance had spared her, and now she must go on.... or die. Neither option particularly suited her, and so the bottom of the liquor bottle or the inhaled puff of a dope stick sufficed as her personal slice of the rotten apple she called 'life'.

Carlotta stayed leaning against her empty desk, smoked marijuana cigarettes... and generally put off returning to her cheap rented abode above the fishmongers on the corner of Dock Street, and instead stood staring out at other peoples' lives as they meandered their way hither the thither to and from their nice comfortable homes.

... truth to tell; she didn't have anything of her own to return to any more.

On the night of Mort's demise: Smiley, Charlie Z, Mel and Sandy Dee.... the whole mob had died that day, caught between the waterfront warehouses and a hail of slugs from three Tommy guns - Widow Makers as they called them on the streets.

Carlotta had, at first, lain low, but over time, then the name Mort became nothing more than a half forgotten street legend, she had crawled back to her old haunts; only to find her home turf was changed. With Mort gone, the streets were torn wide open and carved apart as a new wave of immigrant hoods hit the street: the Irish O Hares and the Chinese Ku Tong, who faced off in an uneasy truce; as they worked to tame the vacant slice that had once been Mort and Carlotta's haven.

So what else can a girl do when the chips are down? Carlotta turned straight, learned a new trade, and used her wits and knowledge of the streets to dig a dime for her services... coffee cakes... barely enough to pay her lease on the P.I. joint on the third floor of Fifth. But at least it was honest work. A "gumshoe" paid for her services, used and abused as she sorted out other people's complicated and often sordid problems. But the rent on her pad on Dock Street was a snatch, and her personal needs were small, save the occasional bottle of whisky and a wad of dope now and again, to ease the pain of living.

So she made her way in the world without having to fawn on anybody's charity. She was her own woman... and a bright one at that. If she could only keep her head straight and her mind focused long enough to keep a client.

Truth to tell, she hadn't had a decent sniff of a case in almost a month, and she was beginning to feel this bum job was soon to go the way of the do-do if she didn't pick up something sweet - and fast.

And so it was that Carlotta Wynn stood looking out over the suburbs of The East Bay Hills, deep in the Cheap Side district.. and wondering what exactly she was going to do with the mess she was in: when she heard the bell chug lazily on the small desk behind her.

It was late, and everyone else in the shared office building was long gone. For a moment Carlotta felt a pang of panic; half forgotten baggage from a former life kept her wits constantly on edge.

The buzzer sounded again. Someone was at the front door.

Peering out of her window she tried to discern who it was calling at this late hour, but the grime caked to the bottom of the glass made it impossible to see anything other than a dark shape standing in the door archway on the pavement below.



It had started raining hard, like an invisible tap had been turned full on, and heavy precipitation flooded the sidewalk like a hail of gunfire.

Moving slowly to the desk, Carlotta pressed the intercom button.

"
Who's there?"
she enquired in a half whisper, suddenly kicking herself for sounding like a lame dame. The fiery streak of her natural redhead demeanour was always one jump away from rising to the surface... despite a layer of peroxide and flowing locks of false golden hue.

A female voice answered... sounding nervous and uncertain.

"I.. Is this the Private Investigator, Miss Wynn?"

Carlotta rested her hand over the intercom, and for a second she nearly severed the link and determined to ignore the stranger entirely. But her curiosity; the need to know the riddle, overcame her natural caution and she replied:
"Yeah, Carlotta here. What do ya want?"

"Miss Wynn"....silence from the other end: "Miss Wynn?"

"Yeah, I'm here?"

The voice suddenly sounded more confident:
"Miss Wynn, I'm in trouble and I need your help. I was told you might be the person to come to for assistance?"

Carlotta paused, drew deeply on the last quarter inch of her smoke, and exhaled a cloud of fumes into the office. She pressed another button, and with a slight click the door downstairs unlocked: "Okay, you'd better come up... make sure the door closes behind you, it sticks sometimes."


 
 
Article by Steve

 











 
 

13 comments:

  1. Of anything.. everything ever written at The Game Cupboard, this is the one that excites me the most. The trepidation, the excited anticipation that has been sitting on my shoulder with this one, like a nervous twitch of anxious, and invested delight – its all really quite delightful. We are PLAYING IN THIS WORLD, and that makes it a `living world,` a place we play in, immerse in, and bring to life by our own actions, deeds, and adventures: steered skilfully by your hand as the game world host. It feels like being inside a comic book, and it feels amazing, and sublimely euphoric finally to see it begun here on the site.

    I cried out in joy to see you start it all off with one of your oldest and most beloved iconic game NPC`s, Miss Wynn. It feels like she has existed in your world(s) for years, and is every bit as familiar (to those who have ever been fortunate enough to get to play in your game world campaigns) as Elminster the Mage of The Forgotten Realms, or Khelben "Blackstaff and his lovely lady love Laeral Silverhand. Our own elegant and intelligent Carlotta is every bit as dynamic and colourfully charismatic. It really made me smile to see her inclusion in Gotham, and I can only hope this means you have added many more of your own NPC`s into the world as well.

    I was curious about the title “Gotham Redux” and felt the same way I did about Star Wars “The Phantom Menace,” which took me ages to get used to it first time I ever heard that title. But like Lucas`s masterpiece, eventually it took a hold and now it would be inconceivable to think of it named anything other than what it is hehe.

    Redux.. brought back, revisited, re-invented. Yes it is a good title I think. Full of hidden promise and as of yet, untold, untapped dreams: possibly nightmares as well.

    Great start Stevie, and as I can say is, I can`t wait to play our next bi-weekly Gotham Redux game session.

    May this game last and go on for many years to come.

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    1. Tar` sweetie. this world is as much your as it is mine. I hope we will all be contributing to it with adventures, ideas, and blog posts from time to time. But thank you for your encouraging words. Bless you little darling.

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  2. I wasn't expecting a post until tomorrow, so an unexpected gift (the best kind of gift). And what a start! As it appears my ideas regarding what makes an interesting dystopian future are same as yours, i'm pretty excited to see the start of this. I think i previously used the expression 'retro-futuristic noir' similar to the old Dark Conspiracy RPG, and this has that feel. If this city has voodoo crocodile-men living in the sewers and strange men, their parchment skin a shell for the colony of intelligent cockroaches masquerading as humans, then it's the city I think it is. If not, it's still going to be blast finding out what it does contain!
    Very cool, Steve. I look forward to the next episode...

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    1. Dark Conspiracy was a big favourite of mine and the group I used to play with in Exeter (Devon) many years ago. Oh boy! even hearing that name brings back good memories for me.

      {{voodoo crocodile-men living in the sewers and strange men, their parchment skin a shell for the colony of intelligent cockroaches masquerading as humans}}

      Oh man, you will so not be disappointed. I think we read the same books lol. You been in my library again? hahaha.

      Thank you so much Jez, your kind words and attentive interest is all greatly appreciated.

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  3. Calls it 'retro-futuristic noir' and I have to agree, this is a perfect way to describe it, and how I think you plan to steer it. The game host is a captain, the castellan of his own architecture. But it is also the symbiosis of player interaction, fused with these ideas which truly helps shape and define a game world.

    Dystopia. A society characterized by human misery, squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding. A dark dystopian future. Bleak and lacking in hope; and yet if I know you Stevie, you will allow the clouds occasionally to part and a ray of sunshine to prevail, and warm the bleak stone mantle you will perhaps ordinarily portray. A penny dropped into the bowl of a homeless child in the East Side alleys: a stolen purse fluttering down from the rooftops, returned at the feet of some unfortunate victim, returned by some elusive vigilante who remains.. just out of sight: concealed by the city fog. A bag of toys stolen from under a Christmas tree, the hard working poor parents driven near distraction by despair – the echoing knock on the door a few day later, a bag left on the doorstep, the childrens` happiness restored this Yule tide and what looks like a $100 bill tucked into an envelope. High on the rooftops overhead, the flutter of a cape, and a bat swings away into the stygian night. THIS is Gotham, a city full of despair, and the unfairness of life.. yet through it all, there is sometimes hope.

    Make your world like a film noir, with neon and monorails, conglomerate skyscrapers and sewers teeming with nefarious undercity low life. Make it fiction, science fantasy and science fiction too, make it feel retro - and new: and we will LOVE every moment of it.

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    1. Well, I don't always happen to think that all things `modern` are good. Especially where the land of literature and film/movie is concerned. Writers of Gotham, Batman (many other supers too) could learn a lot by looking backwards sometimes, and working out WHY this world has endured for so many years in comic book, tv, and cinema-graphic form. Flashy effects, non stop snazzy Computer Graphics, highly paid actors rolling off `glib` one liners like they were over sweetened candy, bangs and crashes and non stop guns and violence, hmmmm. Look backwards, look to the past. Look to our heritage. Noir, back and white, and films with no more than half a dozen `film sets` but GOOD acting, amazingly inventive choreography, and where excellent scripts prevails; THIS is the Gotham that interests me. Retro I suppose, yet strangely neo modern and futuristic too.

      Melding it all seamlessly, that's the real trick hehe.

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  4. Carlotta Wynn, Private investigations...sounds great! A wonderful start anyway, you've got a style Stephen, really nice read...and picture!

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    1. Thank you kindly Phil, so nice of you to say. hehe, I sometimes think I must have multiple split personalities, as I write with entirely different styles... depending entirely on the genre I am writing for hahaha.

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  5. Hi Phil

    *waves happily to him*

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  6. I have no idea who Carlotta Wynn is but I've no doubt I'll learn a lot more about her in future posts. Is she based on an actual character from the comics and/or films or is she a creation of your own? Either way, I'm intrigued by her and I'm already hooked on your storyline. Great start, Steve!

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  7. Hi Bryan, glad you like the beginning of the new Gotham `revival` bought to life by us bunch of crazy loons here in Ireland *grins*

    Carlotta is mine mate. One of my long standing NPC characters who made her very first appearance in my games back in 2007. Since then she has popped up in different guises in my ongoing Pulp Noir and Science Fiction settings ever since. I suppose you could say what Drizzt Do` Urden is to D&D`s Forgotten Realms, Carlotta is similarly iconic in my own world creations. She has no super powers or anything like that... yet in the same way that Natasha Romanova relies only on her honed skills to keep up as Black Widow, and gets to hang with Steve Rogers, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner: Carlotta too mixed rubs shoulders with some very eclectic and elevated company.

    I think you might enjoy the ride Bryan, and I look forward to doing some interesting Cursed Earth/Gotham "Blight Depression" chronicle crossovers with you in 2017 and beyond.

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  8. Very nice Steve, extremely well written and draws you into the story. Can't wait to see what happens next.

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  9. Oh hi Andy, thanks bud... really in my element and enjoyed doing this last one. Lots more Gotham to come - literally years worth I hope.

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