Out of Ideas, Out of Time: Chapter 1

A noir detective tale in search of Karen’s Creativity

Digital illustration by Author, using photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

I just read an article about writer’s block by Karen Fayeth and it inspired me.

Sorry about that Karen, because I find inspiration in just about everything.

I’ve written about creativity and applying the peak performance training techniques used in sports to writing*.

I saw a wonderful sentence she wrote and used it as a writing prompt for a film noir story.

Here is Chapter 1 of “Out of Ideas, Out of Time — The Search For Karen’s Creativity.”


I saw a shadow pass across the cracked, frosted glass of my office door. Over the years, the letters on the other side of that door had worn off or torn down to the point where it would have taken a detective to figure out my name and profession.

Luckily, I am a detective, so I know who I am.

I saw a message slide under the door and ran out to find an empty hallway.

After coming back inside, I locked the door. A shamus can’t be too careful these days.

A torn, folded sheet of paper contained a single, run-on sentence.

I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write.

It wasn’t much, but it was a clue. A writer in distress.

Someone who didn’t like commas.

That says a lot about a person’s personality.

The handwriting was in italics. Stylish. Understated.

No all-caps goon or bold narcissistic pretty boy would write like that.

It had to be a skirt.

There was nothing else remarkable about the note: no blood, no lipstick, no coffee or less savory stains, not even a whiff of perfume.

I scratched my head and then turned over the paper to find another clue.

It was a ripped corner of a poster hawking the carnival next to the shoreline.

My gut tingled as if I was on to something big.

I blew out of the office and went to the headlands, ready to look through the crowd of rubes, shylocks and two-bit punks to find the dame in question, who didn’t seem to believe in question marks.

I arrived at the right place, but it was definitely the wrong time.

It was more like the carnival that left town. Quiet. Dead. Random bits of debris blowing around.

The trail was almost hot and then it wasn’t, like a sudden gust of wind that just as suddenly went still.

As I turned to go back to the car, I looked down and saw a card.

It was a driver’s license with the bottom cut off.

No name. No address. Just a picture.

The trail just got warmer.




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Lon Shapiro

Lon Shapiro


Creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach. Teach the world one joke at a time