“A Bad Day for Barbecue” by Jonathan Woods
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Dallas Noir contributor Jonathan Woods tells us about a particularly bad day for barbecue. Next week, Christian Aguiar brings us to Providence to share the story of a boy named Brendan.
Jiao Lee, the first female owner of Golden BBQ, stood in the restaurant’s doorway. She watched the morning traffic on Hollywood Road in the heart of Hong Kong Central. Massive apartment blocks rose up the slope of Victoria Peak like giant Lego sculptures. Rain clouds of a winter cold front roiled above.
Mostly antique shops and galleries inhabited Hollywood Road, with an occasional sly, upscale restaurant or bar here and there. As the landlords hiked the rents, the galleries were moving away. Life was ever changeable, thought Jiao.
Golden BBQ had been at its location for five generations, offering succulent, mouth-watering barbecue to its clientele. In the window, a suckling pig, a dozen pressed ducks and a brace of geese—favored for their fatty flesh—hung from metal hooks.
Jiao waved at Hamish MacBeth, who was walking his pit bull Doris. “Leih hou,” she said. (Hello. How are you?)
Hamish waved back. He was a regular at GBBQ. Between mouthfuls of Lemoncello-glazed pork ribs he had told Jiao he worked in security for a Scottish bank.
Doris, a magnificent brown and white shorthaired creature, loped at the end of a chain leash. Hamish had assured Jiao Doris was as gentle as Jiao’s grandmother, who had died in the revolution.
Tomorrow the Year of the Snake arrived with pageantry and feasting to honor both gods and ancestors. Jiao’s oldest customers would expect a very special barbecue.
For her venerable customer Mr. Chow, owner of a red Maserati and a condominium on the Peak, Jiao had decided to prepare a most finger-licking treat.
On New Year’s Eve a yellow fog consumed the city, sending cold, squid-like tentacles down Hollywood Road. Jiao’s nephew Ang, a thug and heroin addict, crouched in a stinking alley.
Late-night footsteps of man and beast approached. Doris and her master loomed out of the mist.
Ang sprang upon them, blackjack crashing down on Hamish’s skull. Hamish, coldcocked, collided with the pavement. A chloroform-soaked rag went over Doris’ nose. The dog went limp.
Rolling the dog in an old blanket, Ang raced down the alley to the rear entrance of GBBQ, already closed for the evening. In the kitchen he hogtied and muzzled the beast and placed it on a worktable, as instructed by Jiao.
Returning to his filthy tenement, Ang shot up and dreamed he was an emperor of the Ming Dynasty sleeping on silk sheets as soft as a concubine’s skin.
Hamish awoke in semi-darkness in a hospital bed. His head pounded like a pylon being driven into the mud of Hong Kong harbor. A figure crossed his line of sight, bringing the scent of perfume.
“Awake now?” said a female voice.
The first light of the first day of the Year of the Snake crept through the window, revealing a Chinese nurse with two gold-capped teeth and peasant eyes.
“You brought here last night, unconscious,” she said. “Lie still.”
“Where’s Doris?” Hamish demanded.
A revelation flashed in his mind. He knew exactly where Doris was. He remembered over the last several days Jiao’s hungry eyes lingering too long on her, judging the mouth-watering effects of tomato versus mustard barbecue sauce slathered on the dog’s slow-cooking ribs.
Hamish jumped into his clothes. In the street he hailed a cab. Found GBBQ’s alley door unlocked. In the kitchen Jiao stood with knife raised to pierce the pit bull’s heart.
Grabbing her upraised hand, Hamish plunged the blade deep into Jiao’s chest. “Die like a dog!” he said.
She withered to the floor.
In seconds Doris was free. Groggy but joyful, she licked Hamish’s cheek.
An hour later, GBBQ’s star chef arrived to find no dog to prepare for Mr. Chow. Before him lay the abyss of lost face. At his feet Jiao’s still warm corpse. He poured a whiskey and drank it in a single gulp. Heaving Jiao’s cadaver onto the worktable and honing his cleaver to a razor’s edge, he went to work.
JONATHAN WOODS divides his time between Key West, Florida, and Dallas. His stories have appeared in Plots with Guns, Thuglit, and 3:AM Magazine, and in the anthologies Speedloader, Crime Factory: The First Shift, and Noir at the Bar (Vol. I). His story collection Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem won a 2011 Spinetingler Award. BookPeople Bookstore in Austin, Texas named Woods’s A Death in Mexico one of the top five debut crime novels of 2012. His story, “Swingers Anonymous,” is included in Dallas Noir.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Nov 11, 2013
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