This is the first episode of DALSTON NOIR, a weekly Noir-Hipster-Crime-Serial set in London Fields.
Meet Egon Schmuck, 37, Hobby-Detective and antihero, at times filled with existential angst (due to not getting out enough) but mostly calm and currently unemployed. He’s deeply indebted to the UK welfare state because with some housing benefit and the odd cash-in-hand jobs he survives, and not badly.
The seeming wilfulness of his fashionable outfits hides a time-intensive approach of carefully considering various juxtapositions until a satisfying new combinations of his Oxfam bargains has transpired. This process takes almost as long as reading the sentence about it.
Oxfam has proven a haven for time-rich and purpose-seeking people like Egon and hours fly by when browsing the extensive book section, trays with cutlery and colourful postcard boxes.
Whenever nosy citizens have the cheek to ask Egon, what he does for a living, he replies as throwaway as possible that he is a freelancer, remaining as vague as possible about the actual nature of his non-work.
Egon calls himself a London native (though he was born in a little village in Shropshire), his roaming ground is London Fields, not Dalston as he likes to point out, a great place to watch the human condition pass by, filling him with existential thoughts as he sips his coffee on Broadway Market.
Episode #1: Trouble on Kingsland Road
Egon checks his bank account and wonders whether he’ll make it till the end of the month when his housing benefit comes in. Lost in anxious thoughts, he walks down Balls Pond Road, when his attention is suddenly drawn to a crowd of people. His anxiety disperses instantly as he realises that today is his lucky day, as he has just happened upon a crime scene, and he elbows his way into the crowd of ogling by-standers.As a child Egon had admired Sherlock Holmes’ brain-intensive way of solving crimes, even though he had a nagging suspicion he was more of a Dr. Watson. However, deductive intelligence came in all shapes and sizes and this might well become his first case.
What he sees makes his heart stop: something that resembled a former dog lay flat on the side of the road. Egon averts his gaze and takes a few deep breaths, as he feels tears forming behind his retina. Annoyed with himself for not living up to the image of the hard-boiled crime-solver, he pulls himself together. In order to function at your highest level, you have to detach from your emotions and be as cognitive and present as possible.
Re-training his eyes on the scene before him, Egon scribbles into his notebook as two chubby policemen examine the sorry creature. From their body language Egon deducts that the police don’t take the death of the dog seriously. After all, it seems that the heavily mutilated corpse with dirty brown fur had just been a street dog without fixed abode and no next-of-kin.
Egon always experienced the same dilemma when filling out forms and there came the request for submitting contact details for next-of-kin. Simply because there wasn’t anybody. But appearances mattered and so as not to appear a sad loner, he usually put his imaginary childhood friend Foster into the blank space and made up a contact number. But that wasn’t the only reason he was interested in how this dirty-brown-furred dog had brutally been killed at the Balls Pond/Kingsland Road crossing.
A myriad of questions present themselves in Schmuck’s imaginative mind as he observes the policemen questioning eye-witnesses without great interest: Was it a hit-and-run? Had the dog been killed elsewhere and put on Balls Pond Road to make it look like an accident? Suicide had to be considered as well.
An elderly lady with purple dye looks rather nervous during the questioning and Schmuck makes a note to catch up with her later. But for now he needs to get a closer look at the corpse, which had been relocated to the sidewalk so as not to stop the constant flow of traffic.
With a concerned air he approaches the policewoman guarding the dog’s corpse, ‘I work for the RSPCA do you mind if I take a closer look for our stats?’ The stern-looking policewoman looks at Egon suspiciously, then around for her superior, who had just entered Costa Coffee.
Next week: Episode #2 – It Was A Dog’s Life After All