Monthly Archives: July 2007

Stumpy’s Revenge by Stephen Allan

Hookers cost more when you don’t have any arms or legs, so it’s a good thing I took out that insurance policy on my late wife.  It allows me to live by rather extravagant means: a 24-hour nurse, unlimited supply of Johnny Walker Blue, a gorgeous patio and pool, lots of shrimp cocktail, and hookers by the handful…if I had hands. If you’re forced to live the rest of your days as a stump, it’s the way to go.       You wouldn’t think whores would be all that picky about their Johns (plenty have turned me down), but Mandy was different. She did her job like a real professional; always making sure I was satisfied; which made the blackmail all the more disappointing.

      Her pimp, Vinnie, videotaped me with Mandy adnd sent a copy to the house with a note asking for $50,000. It wasn’t the best amateur porn. My humping looks like a fish flopping out of water – not a pretty sight.  A security man I knew said it was a common scheme: Johns will cough up serious dough so their family won’t know they pay for sex. The trouble with Vinnie’s threat was I didn’t have any family.

      However, I contacted my blackmailer and told him to come to the house for the payoff. When Vinnie arrived, my full-time nurse Freddie showed him to the patio where I was positioned under an umbrella next to the pool. My mini-fridge where I keep snacks was beside me. I have it close because I like to feed myself. I use a mechanical arm that I control with my tongue. I told Vinnie to be careful of the mini-fridge’s extension cord, which was frayed toward the end.

      “I’m glad we can come to an understanding here,” Vinnie said as he stepped over the cord and sat down in a chair next to me. He was a pudgy man in black leather; a real mouth-breather. “I think this will be, like, beneficial for everyone.”

      “Please, have a drink,” I said, motioning my head toward a pitcher of Sangria.

      Vinnie grunted something and helped himself. It was gone in two gulps. He poured another glass without my offering more.

      “I don’t want this video out and you don’t want this video out,” Vinnie said. “So, you got the cash or what?”

      “Was Mandy part of this?” I asked.

      “Well, yeah, she’s the one on top of you in the movie.”

      “Is she in on the blackmail?”

      “Nah, she don’t know nothing. I keep my girls outta the loop, so I don’t have to pay them extra.”

      “I’m curious,” I said. “How much of a cut do you get of Mandy’s money?”

      “Half,” Vinnie said and had another glass of Sangria.

      “You brought the tape?” I asked.

      Vinnie smiled and held up a manila folder. There was a bulge the size of a videocassette in the middle.

      “This is it,” Vinnie said. “Now, show me the cash.”

      I moved my mechanical arm with my tongue and grabbed a leather satchel sitting beside me. The arm hooked the bag and I swung it over the pool and dropped it into the water.

      “Oh, I’m terribly sorry about that,” I said. “Just reach into the water there and get it. I’d get up myself, but…”

      Vinnie said something about what a motherfucker I was and kneeled at the edge of the pool. When he stretched out for the bag, I swung the mechanical arm around and pushed him in.

      “What the fuck?” Vinnie said when he came back up.

      “Sorry about that,” I said. “But I think this will be, like, beneficial for everyone.”

      I used the arm to push the mini-fridge with its frayed extension cord into the water. Vinnie stiffened up and I thought I could smell something cooking. The electricity shut off after a minute and Vinnie’s dead body just bobbed in the water. I watched him for a while, and then used the voice-activated phone to call Mandy.

      When she answered I said, “If you come over, I can give you double your normal take home. Vinnie won’t be a problem for you anymore.”

      She agreed. 
 

 Stephen Allan is a sick individual who has been successful (so far) at avoiding the loony bin, mainly due to his ability to act normal around the authorities. His odd sensibilities are on display at www. Noirwriter.blogspot.com. This is Stumpy’s second outing; his first appearance was in FLASHING IN THE GUTTERS

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Johnny Jinx by Patricia Abbott

“So your name’s Johnny Jinx?” Sergeant Duffy asked. “Jinx with an x. Right?”

“That’s what people call me. People in baseball, that is.” Johnny Jinx’s chest puffed up. 

He was sitting at Detroit Police Headquarter, wearing an official Detroit Tigers baseball uniform and holding the regulation cap in his hands. He was short, barely 5’5 and probably didn’t weigh more than 135. He looked like the kind of guy who’d heard some pretty bad names in the schoolyard. Worse names than Johnny Jinx.

“We brought in the guy you I.D.” The sergeant nodded toward a beefy, balding guy in the holding cell. “He claims it got his goat that you had that name sewn onto the back of your shirt. Says that black eye you’re sporting was provoked.” 

Sergeant Duffy got up slowly and walked around to the back of Johnny Jinx’s chair. The shirt read Johnny Jinx. He jabbed his finger over the “I” as if to dot it. 

Jinx winced. “I only took the shirt to a seamstress after fans began to call me that.” 

“A witness says it started on the radio,” the Sergeant said. “I have a copy of the show in question from Tiger Talk. August 12, 2006.” 

He picked the document up and began thumbing through it. “Here we go.” He adjusted his glasses. “A caller from Taylor told the host you announced you’d been to twelve games and hadn’t seen the Tigers win once. Everyone in the bleachers heard you say it.” 

“So? It’s the truth.”

Sergeant Duffy looked up. “Not one win during the best season since ’84?” he asked. 

Jinx shook his head. 

“The caller claims you bragged about being a jinx. Were you trying to start trouble, Mr. Jinx?”

“It didn’t seem fair—with the Tigers winning so many games.” 

“Getting famous for being a jinx made life better, huh? So when did the name first come into play?”

“The same night. This joker—that guy from Taylor said— ‘So what does that make you then— Johnny Jinx?’ Everyone in the stands laughed.” 

“The guy from Taylor says you laughed too and said, “That’s me, alright. Johnny Jinx.”

“I may have said that. It was nice having people know my name.” 

“So how many more losses did you sit through, Mr. Jinx? Didn’t it ever occur to you to stay home? We’re into September, 2006 by now, right?”

“Another five,” Johnny said. “In the regular season, that is. People were starting to boo me instead of the team. I tried sitting in the boxes but people knew me there too. Even  the men’s room was out. Seventeen losses by then,” he repeated, “and I’m not counting the playoffs.”

“Well, let’s count them now. Let’s talk about New York.”

“I was visiting my sister in Astoria. She happened to have an extra ticket to the division series.” 

The sergeant narrowed his eyes. Jinx reached into a back pocket for his regulation handkerchief and wiped his upper lip. “Alright, alright, I made her buy it. Cost me five hundred bucks.”

“And the Tigers lost, right?” Duffy’s voice was a mere whisper in the noisy station. 

“Sure, sure, but I stayed away after that. Got threatening calls so I holed up. Detroit lost on their own in the Series. Nothing to do with me.” 

“Did you watch the Series on the tube?”

“Yeah, but…” 

The sergeant shook his head. “Okay, so now it’s 2007 and they won’t let you into the ballpark. Wah! Wah!” He said the words like a crybaby. 

Johnny nodded. “They have my picture at every entrance. I can’t even get out of my car. That guy over there— ” he motioned toward the beefy guy, “sits outside my house in his ’78 Torino. Last night I got home and the set was gone. The radio, too.” He looked around and whispered, “I’m talking slashed tires.”

The Sergeant looked at the guy in the holding cell and nodded. “I’ll put a cop outside your house tonight, Mr. Jinx.”

“The team’s in Cleveland.” 

Sergeant Duffy shrugged. “Might as well start the detail.”

“No more games for me, huh?”

“It’s called ‘taking one for the team?’”

Closing Time by Julie Wright

Half-eleven on a Friday night and I’m at the window watching out for him. Twenty-four hour opening hasn’t hit the pubs round here, they’re old men’s pubs mostly, still stop serving at eleven. He’ll have been tossed out of the Duke at about quarter past. Billy reckons that gives folk long enough to drink up; if they can’t drink a pint between last orders and closing time, they should have got a half, and if they can’t drink a half, they should have stopped at home. Time it takes him to stagger to Kebab Korner and back with his supper, he should be coming up the street any minute now.

 

He’ll be in a right state, he’s been out all day. Leastways, there was no sign of him when I was home at dinner. I ate me pastie what I got from Greggs then picked up after him, put his empties and the crisp packets and that in the bin. After that, I hoovered round then grabbed me PE kit and legged it back to school. He’s a lazy bastard, he never does nowt. That’s why me mam went off with that bloke from Cash Converters.

 

It looks cold out. Coming up to the May bank holiday and lovely through the day with that global warming they keep moaning about. I think it’s a good thing, me, if it lifts the temperature. Trust the folk who can afford to go somewhere sunny to begrudge the rest of us a few rays. Cold at night, though, especially if there’s no cloud, and it’s clear as anything tonight. Big, fat moon like a spotlight in the sky. I’ll clock him no bother under that.

 

I check me watch. Here he comes, the old fucker! I can see him turning into the street, doing that pissed bloke walk. Getting round the corner he looks like a pony doing sums, counting the answer out with his hoof. One, two, three, stagger and turn, then he’s on the home straight, looking like a lardy carthorse attempting dressage. He’s in an even worse state than usual. I finger the bruise on my cheek then clench my fists. I hope he’s not in a fighting mood.

 

I nip down to the kitchen when I hear him fumbling with his key, trying to get it into the keyhole. If Dosser was with him, he’d do his shit joke about how they should put a bit of fur round it, get it in first time every time then, ha bloody ha. The door swings open and he crashes into the house, bounces off the wall, gets his feet in a knot and lands on the floor in a heap, whump, the breath knocked out of him.

 

I run upstairs. He’s still on the deck, kind of gurgling in his throat when I get back. I shut the front door, don’t want the neighbours to see, then come back and stare down at him. He looks pathetic. Lank hair, stubbly chin, trousers peppered with fag burns, shirt collar frayed and gray. He’s rolled onto his back, his parcel of chips, fried rice and curry sauce just out of reach, but it hasn’t burst, thank Christ. I stand next to him, over him, clutching the pillow with both hands, marvelling at the contrast between the clean white linen and the grubby old man. He breathes noisily, sucking air in through his mouth, spit bubble in the corner ballooning every time he exhales. His teeth are brown and pitted and his breath would shame a camel. He’s a fucking health hazard. I stoop, the pillow moving swiftly toward his face, then I take a handful of his hair and raise his head high enough to slip it underneath. I roll him onto his side so he doesn’t choke on his sick, then, as he starts snoring, chuck a blanket over him. He looks so sad and old, worn out and fucked up. Twat packs a canny punch, mind. But not tonight. I kiss him on the cheek then go on up to bed. Whatever else he is, he’s still me dad.

Julie Wright lives by the seaside in the north east of England and hangs out on Crimespace http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/Julielew when she’s supposed to be writing.