Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » August 2017 » “An Afternoon in Lake Park” by Chris Chan

“An Afternoon in Lake Park” by Chris Chan

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, an elderly man holds on to the homicidal memories of his past.
 
An Afternoon in Lake Park
by Chris Chan
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Old Mr. Willman’s head twitched, and with some difficulty he pointed an arthritic finger at the gigantic oak tree with the peeling bark. “That’s where that girl is buried. The blonde with the sparkly green dress. Disappeared in 1990. Never found her. It was in the newspapers for weeks.”

“Uh-huh. Sure, Mr. Willman.” Maddie, the young woman pushing his wheelchair, wasn’t listening. She could just barely hear that the elderly man had said something, and she pressed her earbuds a little deeper into her ears and turned up the volume on her iPod so she wouldn’t have to listen to him again. A judge could sentence her to a hundred hours of community service looking after senile senior citizens in an upscale retirement home on Milwaukee’s East Side, but no member of the judiciary could force her to pay attention to an old man’s ramblings.

Maddie sullenly chewed her gum and kept walking through Lake Park, shoving Mr. Willman’s wheelchair forward, and briefly fantasizing about giving him a gigantic push, sending him down the rock-paved pathway down the steep hill, picking up enough momentum to keep him sailing across the soccer field, across Lake Drive, and through the little grassy area until he splashed into Lake Michigan. She checked her cell phone and sighed. The retirement home supervisor, who was eerily reminiscent of Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, had told her to take Mr. Willman for a stroll through Lake Park because it was such a beautiful day, and not to come back before five. It was twenty-two minutes past four. Thirty-eight minutes to go.

Last week, when Maddie was told to give an elderly woman a nice afternoon in the park, Maddie had parked the woman’s wheelchair underneath a shady tree, and sat on a picnic bench by the children’s playground and played Angry Birds on her phone for an hour. One of the other retirement home employees had seen her while walking to work, and reported her. Now, the supervisor was tracking Maddie by her cell phone to make sure she didn’t stay in one place too long.

Mr. Willman started gesticulating frantically again. “Those shrubs! See those shrubs over there? That waitress in the black suede jacket in 1991. She was strangled on the golf course, then dragged all the way to the edge of the woods and buried there.”

Maddie knew Mr. Willman was trying to tell her something, and she was determined not to hear it. She focused on the Katy Perry song currently playing, and by singing along under her breath she made her way across the park without hearing anything more from Mr. Willman.

As they crossed over the Eight Stone Lions bridge, Mr. Willman started nodding in the direction of one of the lion statues. “The pixie cut redhead! She tried to run away, but she slipped on the wet grass and hit her head on the statue base. It was 2 AM and very cloudy, so it was easy to smother her with her own beret, carry her down to the lakefront, and tuck her under a gigantic boulder.”

Eventually, five o’clock rolled around and Maddie brought Mr. Willman back to the retirement home. “How was Mr. Willman?” the front desk clerk asked her.

“I’m going home now,” Maddie replied, without touching her earbuds.

“It’s so sad to see Mr. Willman like this,” the front desk clerk mused as she took hold of his wheelchair. “He was one of the top defense attorneys in Milwaukee in his prime, you know?” She was talking to Maddie, but Maddie was already out the door and halfway to her Prius.

Mr. Willman’s most famous case was that of the Monster of Lake Park, a serial killer who had preyed upon attractive young women during the early 1990’s. The Monster had been caught redhanded, and thankfully his last victim had escaped with only minor injuries. When the police had searched the Monster’s apartment, they’d found an assortment of trophies and a diary that indicated that there were at least three victims whose bodies had never been found.

There was no chance of an acquittal, but Mr. Willman had provided his client with a strong defense. His client had told him many secrets, but decades later, dementia had obliterated Mr. Willman’s scruples towards attorney-client privilege.

There was still a $50,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of the missing bodies, waiting to be claimed.

***

CHRIS CHAN works as a researcher and “International Goodwill Ambassador” for Agatha Christie Ltd.  He writes and reviews for the official Agatha Christie website (http://www.agathachristie.com), the magazine Gilbert (https://www.chesterton.org), The Strand (https://strandmag.com), and NerdHQ (http://www.nerdhq.com).  He also teaches graduate history classes for Southern New Hampshire University.

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—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.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Aug 1, 2017

Category: Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , , ,



Featured: Black Interest