Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Malabar Op breaks the fourth wall

"There's something very strange about all this," said the devious mastermind, just after he'd been fingered by the Op for plunging his fruit fork into the Adam's Apple of the Maharaja of Thrikkakara's favourite nephew. And the priceless 400-year-old tablecloth took the brunt of the deluge. The denouement had gone smoothly in the Maharaja's drawing room, and the collective gasp from those assembled when the Op dramatically unveiled the culprit was satisfying indeed. But... the curious emptiness that hung over it all was rather a dampener.

"Look at me," he continued, "7 PhDs; mastery of history, art and culture; fluent in 13 languages... and here I am foiled by a chap who couldn't solve a crossword if he put 6 months into it. Do you really think all this is real?"

Op: "Wh-what do you mean?"

Villain: "All this! You! Me! These caricatures standing around! Look at yourself. It's summer in Kerala - I thought I'd melt when the power went out a while back - what's with the trench coat? You're quite obviously a rip-off of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. And one more and more veering toward parody, I'm afraid. Chandler, for instance, hated little Belgian men and their little grey cells, and look what we have here. Your last case read like a couple too many drinks and a wandering conversation at lunch. Amusing enough for a scrawl on a page, but far too silly for His own voice. Enter the intrepid Malabar Op. An empty shell. A conveyor for Someone Else's whimsies."

Bystander 3: "I do feel a bit thinly sketched out. Who am I? What motivates me? Why am I in love with that pill?"

Villain: "Romantic interest, obviously."

Op: "Wait. I think, therefore I..."

Villain: "Yeah, right. The real question is, how far up does this go? Is it noir all the way up? Of course, there are several problems with infinite recursion, chief of them being the limitations of the stack."

The Op disappeared, leaving behind an uncomfortable silence. When he re-emerged, he was wearing Bermuda shorts, flip-flops, a Hawaiian shirt, and silly sunglasses.

He shook his fist up at the ceiling.

"Now, look here! I'm through being your patsy. Call me when you can convince me that you care. That you suffer as much as I do. It's unlikely you'll reap any rewards for it, but it is in how you take care of what you have, of what you create, that your mettle comes through. It takes love over gold and mind over matter, to do what you do that you must; when the things that you hold can fall and be shattered or run through your fingers like dust.

"Or... if you think that short dialogue-heavy snippets are more your scene, write that screenplay. Sell everything you've got. Pawn the life insurance. And premier me at Cannes. You're young. Go back to your day job, if it doesn't work out.

"But if I must be a part-time scribble on a lazy evening in that comfortable life of yours, why not have me ride off into the sunset with Grace Kelly, or in one of those sleazy stories with easy dames that all the other private eyes seem to get into all the time? What would it matter to you? But I think I know how it does matter. You wanted creatures with your own fuck-ups in a horrid, violent world geared towards entropy. It shows your insecurities. The rule book is just for show, isn't it? To tell yourself that you tried all you could. I don't know about you artists, but any engineer worth his salt strives for perfection. And yet you made me in your stinking image... just so that you could have an excuse. To tell yourself that your own mistakes couldn't be helped. That they're natural. How sad is that?

"Well, think about it. In the meantime, you can keep your Eden. All of it. All the dust and the shadows and the loneliness. I'm off to the beach."

He shook his fist up at me once more, and disappeared through the door.