He left the music playing in a loop around the clock. Slick, sultry, honey-drenched, the tune mesmerized him every time, submerging him in his story. When the words came to him like this, Frank Portishead lengthened his name to Franklin and donned his fake moustache and silver-rimmed monocle. He found getting into character helped.
Mornings he’d spend clacking away on the keys in time with the music, writing scene after scene. Frank regulated his composure while the clear-eyed detective did the math in a leather-bound wingback, the heavy-eyed girls danced in evening gowns and jewels, the tuxedoed waiters positively dripped with champagne, and the earnest secretaries in underbust corsets solved crimes.
Lunchtime, he’d don his overcoat and step out, securing his creations with a key that he kept chained at his waist. Today Franklin paused on the front walk to admire two young hares, rump to rump like dueling pistols, crouched by the gate. A thousand flowers bloomed in the background. Franklin captured it all through his imaginary view-finder and felt like a man as he strode toward the unsuspecting bunnies, frightening them off with a thump. He continued on through the gate and took a leisurely bite in a café overlooking his favorite bridge, crumbling above a lazy stream.
He was quite a character, Franklin Portishead was.
Franklin would follow up his lunch with a snifter of brandy and a waltz by the stream. The world was big. He’d snap a few mental pictures and return to his abode to dice out the finer points of his morning’s work.
Franklin Portishead was a formidable editor.
By evening, as Franklin swayed to the music and oiled his hair, meticulously knotted his cravat, and slipped on his evening jacket, he felt the beginning of forever opening in his mind. He’d venture out to the evening’s soirée, and wander until a lucky lady took note of his dramatis personae. It never took long and Franklin Portishead never left a soirée alone.
Nights always ended the same way: With the lovely lady du jour lying spread-eagled on his poster bed, tied with his cravat, belt, a leftover stretch of jute, and his key-chain. Franklin would loom over her with a glistening bottle of vodka in his right hand and his jaunty walking stick in his left.
Frank’s abandoned typewriter would gather dust in a corner while Franklin attended to his fait accompli.
Frank always felt guilty in the mornings. He’d take his newspaper and coffee in his leather-bound wingback in the drawing room and let the music settle his soul while he occasionally looked out the window at the bunnies cavorting again at the front gate.
Finally he’d gulp the dregs of his coffee, scuttle to the window, give the glass a rap to scare off the bunnies, return to the scene of the crime, and brush the dust from his typewriter. Writing, his raison d’être, Frank would sigh with resignation as he pasted Franklin’s handlebar moustache to his upper lip and began to type.