On the edge

My ears were still ringing as burning gunpowder filled my nostrils at the speed of smell, and as the wisps of smoke from the gun barrel spiralled and floated away.

Funny thing about guns; you pull the trigger, the bullet breaks the sound barrier as it flies out of the barrel and at that moment you put your faith in smoke, peering through the mist to see if you hit your target.

You don’t even notice if you’ve been shot until a few moments later, it happens so fast.

Standing up straight was a mistake.

I felt it in my gut, sharp pain just before my stomach muscles clenched and I hunched over a second later, staring at the red stain blooming through the fabric of my shirt as my legs crumpled beneath me. The pain cleared the fog in my mind and brought everything into sharp focus. I was suddenly aware that all of the mooks in the room were still there and still pointing their guns at me.

“We could’ve been good together if you’d have just been a little more ruthless. That’s the trouble with you Frank; you’re too soft, too nice. You’ve got no edge, you know?” Eva purred as she rose from her chair and strolled towards me, compact revolver in hand. “Right now, I bet that if you were in my shoes you’d feel a pinch of guilt. I don’t. That’s the difference between you and me. You’d only shoot people if there was no other choice, where as I simply see it as the most efficient way of getting what I want.”

“Bitch.”

“Yes Frank, I’m a bitch. I’m a fucking bitch because that’s what it takes Frank, that’s what I’ve got to be to get anywhere in this life. What do you think, I’m meant to find a nice guy and settle down Frank? Find a nice guy like you? Look at yourself Frank; you’re a fucking loser. You barely make rent and you’ve got no ambitions beyond the next drink.” She crouched down and looked into my eyes, pouted. “That bullet wound looks nasty; you should go to the hospital and get that seen to.” She winked, stood up and smoothed out her dress. “We’re going to go now Frank, but listen; if you come after us again, I’ll fucking kill you.”

I didn’t have time to reply, because somebody kicked me in the back of the head and the lights went out.

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Patience is a sin

I checked my gun for ammunition, left Kowalski and the dead mook and made my way through the club’s kitchen, walking slowly through the next corridor so that I could hear if anybody was coming.

The only sound other than my own footsteps, was a semi-chaotic tinkling of ivory keys on a piano as somebody played a familiar jazz tune.  Eva was expecting me, and this was an ambush I was walking into.  Peter would probably be there, fawning over her.

Still, I needed the money his late auntie’s lawyers were paying me, so there was no real choice.

I walked into the main room and paused in the doorway while I glanced around.  It was just how I remembered it; plush red carpets, crystal chandeliers set amidst a mural of the night sky painted on the ceiling, tasselled drapes and gold framed pictures, dark wooden furniture all soaking up the dim warm glow of gas lamps and smoky candles on the tables.

My eyes found her legs first, the supple smoothness of an exposed calve and thigh leading up to the place where the split in her long evening dress ended, then travelled up past the curve of her hips and trim waist to the swell of her bosom and the tantalising glimpse of cleavage.  A long lingering moment later I looked up at her face to find her voluptuous red lips parted revealing neat pearly white teeth set in a wide grin, her own eyes twinkling like those of a demented shrew.

There was a gorilla in suit on either side of her, each of them holding a Tommy gun.  As I stepped into the room I heard the click of a gun being cocked behind me, felt the hard muzzle press firmly into my back.  I put my hands in the air as a hand reached around and relieved me of my own weapon, another pair of hands patted me down before I was herded towards Eva’s table.  I saw Peter sat at a table just behind and to the right of hers, he slouched into his chair and glowered at me as I approached.

I half smiled at Eva.  “I see you’ve been busy.”

“I always thought of patience as a sin, letting life pass you by while you wonder what could have been, waiting for some perfect moment to find you with a ray of sunshine.  Utter baloney.”

“Yeah, you got me.  There again, I didn’t have anybody killed to further my ambitions.”

Eva looked at me with a withering smile, then giggled.  “You used to love my ambitions.  You told me that someday I could be a star.  Do you want me to sing for you Frank?  Do you miss my voice?”

“A singsong villain huh?  Is that what you wanted to grow up to be when you were a little girl? With little Petey-boy looking after you?”

She pouted. “Oh shush, there’s no need to be jealous Frank.  I always wanted to end up with you.”

Peter sat up straight, eyes wide.  “Eva!  My darling, my love, what are you saying?”

Eva ignored him, smiled at me.  “You know, after I’m done with him we could get together again.  What do you think honey?  You game for another turn on the dance-floor?”

“Nah.  I’d rather take my chances with some floozy in a bar and see how it goes.”

She scowled, pursing her lips. “At least I’m not some washed up tragedy of an alcoholic.  I’m getting ahead in life, while you rot away like the trash you are.  I’m going to be somebody! You’re not a great detective anymore.  How dare you judge me?”

“I can judge you because no matter how low I might sink, I’ll never murder somebody for their money.”

“Oh yeah?  Well you can keep your piety and go back to the gutter you crawled out of you sanctimonious bastard.  I’m finished with you.”

There was a loud bang which set my ears ringing as a flash temporarily blinded me.  After a few moments I stood up straight and saw gun-smoke rising and pirouetting in the air, forming spirals in the sky-mural as the fumes dissipated.

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Kindergarten spies

blood spatter

Photo credit: Nyki m

We decided to hit Clancy’s just after closing time, sneak in the back while they were taking out the garbage. I knew Eva would still be there, and if she was there then Peter would be there too.

So there we were, ass-end of midnight, stood just behind the backdoor of the club. As soon as it opened and we saw the kitchen porter hauling out the trash I strode forward and knocked him in the back of the head with the butt of my revolver. His legs crumpled like a wet paper bag.

Kowalski peered around the door, puffing on his cigar through clenched teeth. He glanced at me then waved me over to tell me it was safe to enter. He reached the end of the dimly lit corridor, nudged his hat upwards away from his eyes before he stepped closer to the wall. He waited until I caught up with him, poked his nose slowly around the corner, stepped forwards into a patch of bright light and then…

…he shouted at the top of his lungs. “Hey! Hey he’s here! I got him here like you told me to! He’s hurgh…”

There was a crack of thunder and a flash of light, and Kowalski collapsed to the ground. I heard footsteps, so I flicked the safety switch on my gun and held it ready. I saw a shadow flicker along the wall in front of me, and I squeezed the trigger just as some goon barrelled around the corner. Got him once in the shoulder, slamming him into the wall, then again in the head before he too hit the floor.

I walked over to the corner where Kowalski lay sprawled on the tiles in a pool of blood, breathing in short ragged gasps. I took a look around the kitchen ahead of me, but didn’t see anybody. I looked down at Kowalski, at his fat pasty face, pursed my lips and shook my head slowly. He grinned, spluttering as he attempted to laugh.

“Well what did you expect Devine, a slow dance and a candlelit breakfast?”

His eyes snapped shut as he started coughing, the exertion contorting his torso upwards slightly as he took one last rasping breath, then he slumped back again, a lifeless corpse.

I stood there for a moment, watching the bullet wounds bleeding colours the shade of scarlet, crimson and ruby into the cheap fabric of his rumpled shirt. So, he’d sold out to Eva, believing that whatever she was offering him was better than Ms Frederick’s lawyers could provide? Thinking he was some kind of double agent, playing one side off the other? What did he think we were, kindergarten spies?

Dumb fuck.

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Peter’s friends

Circus clowns visit sick boy. CC photo Boston Public Library.

Circus clowns visit sick boy. CC photo Boston Public Library.

“Choose.”

The little clown’s doleful eyes were locked on his own, warm and unwavering, as he held up the shiny red apple. Peter thought it looked the same as the clown’s nose, and smiled.

“After you choose” said the clown who stood next to the other, a squirming puppy in his hands “we’ll all magically leave this surgical ward and go on a wonderful adventure together!”

“Yeah Peter, which is it? The dog or the apple?” chimed the other clowns who stood behind the first two.

Peter frowned, then grinned.

“The puppy!”

“Good choice Peter!” exclaimed the clown who held the puppy as he placed it on Peter’s lap, holding it gently on the duvet until Peter leaned forward and grasped it.

The clowns cheered and clapped their hands. Peter picked up the puppy and brought it up to his chest, beaming at all his friends.

The puppy screamed as Peter hunched over it and bit deeply into its flank.

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On a stick

Unidentified animal's ear on a stick

Copyright – Kent Bonham

“What is it?”

“What does it look like? It’s a cat’s ear, on a stick.”

“Why’s there a cat ear on a stick?”

“How the fuck should I know? Maybe it tastes nice, maybe it’s for cleaning your tongue. Maybe it’s a fucking tongue brush.”

“Why would I want to clean my tongue with a cat’s ear?”

“Well I don’t fucking know, use your imagination!”

“It wouldn’t be very good for cleaning my tongue.”

“Eh?”

“Well it wouldn’t would it? S’all soft ‘an that.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“The cat’s ear. I mean, it’s soft innit?”

“Plonker.”

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Hunt for the infernal beast – Pt 5

I love days like this.

The sun gleams in a cerulean sky, and the sweet earthy smell of petrichor fills the crisp autumn air.  Birds hop about the branches, trilling and warbling, and I feel leaves crunching and squishing underfoot.

I’m so glad the demented squire returned me to the forest, for the Baron and he had kept me chained in the courtyard, starving and beating me. Don’t know why I’m here, or if I’m truly free, but I’m making the most of it.

Wait, that smell…

…squire? Baron?

Yes!

At last I’ll have revenge!

I’ll tear the beasts apart!

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Hunt for the infernal beast – Pt 4

Tee-hee!

Soon my plan is complete; soon my Baron is bear meat!

Mine shall be his brother’s riches, for his wife is already my mistress.

Fiddle de-de, I will be free! Baron’s riches and bitches belong to me!

Oh yes my Baron, I trained Biter the bear; he’s prowling about in the woods over there.

I trained him good, gave him food – trained him to kill folks like I said I would.

First the young lord, then Baron dies; Biter the bear shall flay them alive!

My Baron laughs, soon he’ll scream; here comes Biter to rip out his spleen!

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