Detective Epimetheus, part III (1043 words)

WSDuffy

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This is the third section of the short story that the chrons have given me great advice on, taking us to the moment where the fantasy hits. This will be the last part I post here, mainly because the rest of the draft is, um, rough, and I don't want to spam the board more than I already have. Thanks as always for the help.

Thirty minutes later, Dorothy came back to Epi, who had ordered an herbal tea to pass the time, to which he added what seemed to Dorothy to be an inordinate amount of honey. She was carrying both of her umbrellas, along four large plastic bags.

“Let’s see if these will fit over the box. It’s not watertight, but it is something.”

“You think ahead. That is truly a gift. Trust me, I know.” Epi said. He seemed to be going for humor, but Dorothy felt a sadness behind the words that kept her from making any witty retorts. She covered the box of papers with the bags, and she and Epi pushed the door open, straining against the wind. With the older man holding his box against his chest and Dorothy holding one umbrella over him and one over herself, the duo managed to keep the man’s materials dry during the three block walk, although they were both soaked. They finally reached Epi’s office, an old converted brownstone with cloudy windows, old wrought iron banisters on each side of gray concrete steps, and an eviction notice on the front door.

“Well, that is unfortunate,” said Epi.

Dorothy stared at the notice, befuddled. “How did this happen? The documents in your box are worth tens of millions of dollars. They’re not giving you enough to pay the rent on this place?”

Epi shrugged as he struggled to unlock his door. “No, they pay enough. And I have enough. It’s just...things keep getting in the way of my getting the check over. Mr. Tarrant lets me off. I just have to pay extra.”

“That doesn’t seem ideal.”

“It isn't Ms. Lawrence. Anyway, thank you so much for your time.”

The man pushed his way into the office, until the door flew open with the wind’s assistance. Dorothy looked into the office. It looked like the basement of the world’s greatest museum after a tornado. Benin bronze heads fought for space and bowed bookcases with 1940s comic book covers. Yuan dynasty Jade lay across a desk, lying against a piece of Aztec pottery. There was Ancient Greek, Mesopotamian, and Roman art strewn about everywhere, sharing space with everything from Shakespearian costumes to Southeast Asian textiles to, Dorothy was fairly sure, master tapes with Elton John’s name on them. Her first feeling was wonder at the amazing things surrounding her. The second was visceral offense at how these priceless materials were being treated. Her third was the one she said out loud.

“You need help, Epi. And I think I can help you.”

The man put his wet tweed coat on a coat rack and looked to her, idly figuring a bronze figurine that would probably pay Dorothy’s rent for three months. “I’m listening,” he said, and Dorothy could see that he actually was.

“I’m not exactly sure what you do, but given what I’m seeing around here, you must make some sort of a living. But, and I say this with all due respect, you don’t have your sh*t together sir. There’s no way that someone with this kind of an art collection should be missing rent payments, and there’s no way that anyone carrying tens of millions in Colonial era land deeds should be getting caught in the rain. You need someone who can organize your life. And frankly, you need someone who can organize your stuff, because this is painful to look at. I’m detail oriented, educated enough to know what to do with all of your crazy stuff and most of all, I’m discreet, which is probably important for the sort of person who stashes antiquities in a busted office in Hell’s Kitchen. I can work 20-30 hours a week and take care of the things that you can’t take care of so you can focus on the work that gets you all of this.”

Epi put the figurine down and started rubbing his hands. “I could use some help. I’ve been on my own for quite some time, but having someone to work with did make things better in the past. However, working with me might require me to work strange hours in strange places, and sometimes deal with strange people. Are you up for that?”

“I work in a tea house next to the Met. I’m used to strange.”

“Capital. And how much would you need to be paid for your services?”

Dorothy took a breath. The Royal Tea House paid $18 an hour, and the work she’d be doing for this man would definitely be harder and more complicated. However, she was still a 22 year old CUNY college student with a resume almost completely made up of service jobs. How much should she ask for? Then she looked around the priceless artifacts surrounding her, and decided that the real question was how much Epi could pay.

“I’d want $100 dollars an hour plus expenses. I work around my classes, and they are always my first priority. If I take on more hours in the summer, we can talk about benefits.”

Epi’s smile widened and he stuck out his hand. “Agreed.”

Dorothy reached out and shook the man’s hand, holding down her surprise and joy. Somehow, she had turned a lost umbrella into financial stability. However, a second look into Epi’s face, still smiling but somehow serious, gave her pause.

“Is there anything else I should know?”

“You see, that’s the thing. I don’t know. I never do. Perhaps, just for safety’s sake, it is best if I tell you everything.”

Then there was a blinding flash of light, forcing Dorothy to turn away. When she looked back, Epi was suddenly a foot taller, and his tweed jacket and button-down shirt had been replaced by what her high school art teacher had called a chiton, the whole piece of clothing made from a single sheet of brilliant white material. He wore golden sandals with straps that ran up his extremely well developed calves.

“Ms. Lawrence, I’m afraid that Epi is more of a nickname than a name. Allow me to truly introduce myself. Epimetheus, son of Iapetos, Titan and embodiment of hindsight.”

Dorothy fainted.

“I probably should have seen that coming. Well, I guess that’s the problem” Epimetheus said.
 

msstice

200 words a day = 1 novel/year
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The story is moving along nicely. There is suspense building, but I felt it was building too slowly - I found myself skipping a paragraph here and there because I was pretty sure I knew what it said. I did come back and read them again, for the sake of critique. I think most parts could be made shorter by cutting out repeated information.

along four
along with four

Dorothy felt a sadness behind the words that kept her from making any witty retorts
This read awkwardly. Perhaps this could be show, or told more subtly? This needs to be reworded somehow.

It's a personal quirk, but this phrase bothers me. I always think of juvenile writing when I read this, perhaps because of batman.

It looked like the basement of the world’s greatest museum after a tornado.
This is told to us and then shown right after. It would be better to just show (which is done marvelously in the rest of the paragraph)

There’s no way that someone with this kind of an art collection
Dorothy now repeats what we have been just shown. There may be ways to have Dorothy make her case without repeating the information.

“I probably should have seen that coming. Well, I guess that’s the problem” Epimetheus said.
I think this is an important punch line, though I am not versed in the western classics. I was kind of in Dorothy's POV until now, then I got jerked out of it, which distracted me from the content. I wonder if it would be smoother and just as impactful not to have Dorothy faint, or if she does, she hears this just as she comes to.

Thank you for letting us read this. The story is certainly interesting and I would like to read more as you go along.
 

WSDuffy

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Oct 1, 2021
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70
Thanks for the notes. I agree that there are some issues with figuring out to be inside and outside Dorothy's head, which leads to some repetition. I may have over corrected after overcutting in the previous section. I think I should be able to integrate these suggestions in the next draft
 

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