Nancy: Spring Cleaning and a Vignette

Danish Christmas Hearts

A few days ago, Michaeline told us about her ambitious plans for spring equinox cleaning and decluttering, both physically and mentally. There does tend to be something about the changing season that makes us crave restored order (or maybe it’s just a Virgo thing).

I tend to keep my physical spaces neat and orderly, but even the most stereotypical Virgo can have a mess somewhere that could benefit from some springtime TLC. Mine happens to be virtual. So while Michaeline focuses on her office and brain spaces, I’m focusing on my computer. One of the virtual folders pinned to my desktop I’ve neglected for quite a while is labeled Vignettes. Turns out, that’s where I’ve saved flash fiction pieces inspired by, among other things, Elizabeth’s Friday writing sprints. I haven’t had the time and writing bandwidth to participate in those lately, so it was fun to see what I’d written in the past.

Some of you might recall I have a plan for a mystery series set in Copenhagen, with protagonist Nicholai Olesen, or Nicky O as I often call him. One of the stories in my neglected Vignettes folder is about Nicky O, and while I’m pretty sure this showed up in the comments section at some point in time, I thought I’d post it here just to remind any Nick fans that he still exists somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain and he really will get his own book(s) one of these days. In this partial scene, Nick and his married lover/police detective Pernilla (who is often angry at him for so many reasons) are looking for clues to help track the killer who tried to frame Nick and…well, you can get caught up on how Nick got himself into this mess in the first place by first reading Parapluie (previously titled Copenhagen Blues) and Lost Hearts in Copenhagen. Then come back here to read Murder Clues (yeah, that title needs work, but hey, free fiction!). I’ll finish the scene and let you in on what Nick and Pernilla find in a second installment next week.

And to kick off our writing week in style, how about sharing a scene/vignette/opening paragraph of something of your own in the comments?

Murder Clues

When I slid into the passenger’s seat of Pernilla’s tiny black Puegot a little after nine that night, she didn’t spare me a glance or a word. Just floored the gas pedal and sent us zooming down the side streets of Vesterbro before I could even click my seatbelt into place. I took her dark mood to mean she’d neither forgiven nor forgotten the sins I’d committed against her over the past 72 hours.

The driving beat of techno dance music pounded through the car speakers in time with my pulse hammering in my temples, a lingering remnant of this afternoon’s bender. Pernilla wordlessly changed the station, opting instead for an old Billy Joel tune, Only the Good Die Young. Well, hell, if that was true, I was probably damn near immortal. When Billy got to the line about “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints”, she finally, casually, flicked her eyes in my direction, then focused again on the road.

I didn’t completely disagree with her silent judgment. I was a full-blown asshole, or at least doing my best imitation of one. But a bona fide sinner? I’d failed Chastity 101, but really, who was she to judge? She, who woke up beside her husband every morning, including mornings after late-night hookups that ended with me inside her.

As we left the edges of Copenhagen behind us, I turned to stare back at the city, now lightly dusted with a snowfall that gave it an ethereal, heavenly glow. As we climbed a hill, I kept my eye on that glowing city receding in the distance, at the way the nighttime lights created a halo around it. It looked like a harbor of angelic virtue. Not a place where a beautiful young woman could fall prey to a malicious killer. Not a place where that killer could frame an innocent American – actually, half-American, half-Dane, which the Danish press was suddenly so quick to forget as they reported my ever-growing list of transgressions.

I closed my eyes and focused on my aching skull, willing the pain to abate even just a little bit.


My body shifted and slid sideways, only to be caught by my latched seatbelt. I opened my eyes to see Pernilla standing outside my car door, which she’d unceremoniously yanked open before bothering to wake me. She stomped away, clearly lacking the patience of another second for me.

I struggled out of the seatbelt and practically rolled out of the car. I fell into step behind her as we trudged up a slush and mud-covered driveway toward a falling-down shack of a place. Hardly the ideal spot to have the knock-down, drag-out argument we needed to clear the air. Even less ideal for the inevitable make-up sex.

“Listen,” I was out of breath from trying to keep up with her in my barely sober state, “I know you’re pissed at me, but please try to refrain from giving me a heart attack.”

She stopped short and I slid sideways to avoid slamming into her back.

“Is that why you think we’re here? Because I’m pissed at you? Do you think we’re going to…?” She turned toward me as she laughed. There was no kindness in that laugh, no generosity in those fathomless dark blue eyes. “Pride, envy,” she looked me up and down, “lust. Have you ever met a deadly sin you didn’t like?”

I shrugged one shoulder. “Greed, gluttony. Sloth…never been a big fan of sloth.”

She turned on her heel and called over her shoulder. “We’re not here for a booty call.” The Americanism sounded strange but highly erotic in her Danish accent.

“This address was on a piece of paper found in the victim’s apartment.” Pernilla mounted the creaking steps leading to the dilapidated porch. “It was crumpled up and had fallen under the table.” She stopped and turned in my direction. “It wasn’t in her handwriting.”

I was rooted to the ground at the base of the porch stairs. “The killer’s?”

Now she shrugged one shoulder and flashed a more genuine grin. “That’s what we’re here to learn.”


9 thoughts on “Nancy: Spring Cleaning and a Vignette

    • Thanks so much for reading, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      To answer your question, yes, I’ve considered the correct Danish spelling, and still might go that route. However, I have a few reasons for ‘Americanizing’ it. 1) Nick is never one thing (he’s mixed race, of mixed country origin, grew up in multiple places, etc.), and everything down to the spelling of his name gets him marked as ‘other’, and dealing with that is part of his journey. 2) The Danish spelling might give American readers pause regarding pronunciation. 3) Nicholai is a nod to my husband, who has Danish parents and grew up in DK until he was 9 1/2, but has an American birth certificate because he was born on US soil (his parents were here on a green card at the time). In DK, he was Peter Nicholai until they moved to the States permanently and he became Peter (or more often Pete), but when we got our wedding rings engraved, he wanted Peter Nicholai in mine. So it’s an homage to him and his non-traditional, cross-continental spelling as well :-)!

  1. (-: Fantastic! Write, Nancy, write!

    I want to post a little snippet, but I’m just in one of those Moods. Everything I’ve got looks like juvenile crap. And it’s not just writing — restaurants look like a dreary journey through bland stodgy starch, and the theater listings all look like they are there specifically to disappoint me.

    I did have a good cooking weekend, though. I made crumpets! And they turned out more like English muffins (holes in the middle, but no holes on the crusts, and they split in the middle as if elves had been sawing them in half while my back was turned), which was even better! I made some carmelized strawberries to go on top, and my daughter and I were just in heaven. So . . . there was a little bit of creativity in my weekend! Breakfast is the start of the story called day, right? Or something like that, LOL.

    • Well, well, well, a little whining and a big dose of Vitamin D, and I feel like a new woman! I posted a little vignette over in Elizabeth’s post (blog tomorrow), and yeah. It’s very interesting how a lot of aspects kind of come together and suddenly, I’m writing again. I don’t know if I would have been able to do anything on Elizabeth’s post unless I’d been primed by this one!

        • (-: I think this is a case of wish-fulfillment. I would adore some comfortable, stylish shoes in my closet. I’ve got orthopedic sandals, and I’ve imagined jazzing them up — for several years, and through a whole lot of sets! I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen. I need a Thomas . . . or maybe I’ll try a little shoemaking so I can get into Thomas’s mindset a little more (-:.

          I’m so weird. Can’t do it for myself, can do it for “research purposes”.

  2. Pingback: Nancy: Murder Clues Part 2 – Eight Ladies Writing

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