“Angel” by N.V. Maresca
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, N.V. Maresca takes us to a busy club on the Barbary Coast in the summertime.
by N.V. Maresca
Barbary Coast, Jersey City/Union City Border, New Jersey
In the 1950’s, I lived on The Barbary Coast—a five-block stretch that separated the “men only” taverns of Jersey City from the “women welcome” honkytonks of Union City. I lived there because you could get anything you wanted there—easy women, easy money, or maybe it was easy money, easy women. It didn’t matter; it was all I needed, until I met Angel, who looked like an angel but was anything but—blond hair, eyes that seemed to change color with every flicker of the strobe lights that constantly blinked on and off the girls gyrating in the cages above the bar.
Geez, she was gorgeous.
Everybody stared when she walked in, not only because she was beautiful, but because she had class. Suddenly, the place seemed tawdry; even the working girls turned their faces so they wouldn’t have to confront the difference between their reality and hers.
She walks right up to me, looks me square in the eyes, and says, “I need help.”
The way she looked at me, I felt like I was the one that needed help. I couldn’t make out what color her eyes were, but I couldn’t stop looking at them either.
“What kind of help?”
“The kind that the .38 you’re packing can take care of.”
“You got the wrong guy,” I say, thinking that this is the kind of filly that can get a guy in big trouble. “I’m a cop.”
“You were a cop.”
“Ok, so I’m not a cop anymore, but I’m not a murderer for hire either. You want the mob for that.”
‘It’s the mob I need your help with.”
“The mob? You don’t need me. You need the Marines.”
I guess that wasn’t what she was hoping to hear, because she melted, tears filled those big, irresistible eyes—and I melted right along with her.
I slid off the barstool and guided her out of the bar, every guy in the joint hating me. I’m breaking every rule of the game; at this point, I don’t even know her name much less her game, but I don’t care.
“Where are we going?” she asks.
“To my office,” I say, and I take her outside onto a crowded, neon-lit street. It’s a summer night, so all the booze joints have their doors open and music is pouring out—cowboy crooners clash with saxophones, bass guitars, and hard rockers.
“Ok,” I say, “talk.”
“This is your office?” she says looking around a little astounded and maybe disappointed too.
“Nobody can hear anything we say here. Talk.”
She shrugs, frowns, bites her lip, looks around. “Some guy in the mob is giving me trouble.”
“Which guy? What kind of trouble?”
“Tony Profumo’s son—Mad Dog.”
“Mad Dog! What did you do to get him on your tail?”
“It’s not what I did; it’s what I wouldn’t do.”
I look at her, and I can see the whole story. Mad Dog is . . . well, he’s a mad dog. My mind is working a million miles an hour, but she misunderstands.
“Never mind,” she says. She spins on her five-inch stilettos and walks away.
I’m admiring her walk when a car pulls up to the curb and two guys jump out and grab her.
Brains I don’t have a lot of, but reflexes I have in abundance. I’m on them faster than you can say ‘Jack Robinson.’ Kidney punches straighten them up, and then I knock their heads together so hard they must have heard the crack in Brooklyn.
“C’mon, let’s get out of here.”
I take her for a quick walk through a couple of back alleys, and in a few minutes we’re on a quiet residential street.
“Tell me about Mad Dog.”
“I think he’s dead.”
“You killed him!”
“”No, you killed him.”
“Yeah, you. He was one of the guys you just sent to la-la land. Jesus, you really crunched them. I think I saw his head crack open.”
I hadn’t looked at them. I had come up on them from behind, and didn’t stay around to chit-chat.
“You sure it was Mad Dog?”
“How do you know he was dead?”
“I’ve seen dead guys before. Besides, his head cracked like a walnut—and that blood coming out of his ear wasn’t a very positive sign. “
But she doesn’t hear me. She’s already walking away, high heels clicking in the darkness.
“Thanks,” she says, waves over her shoulder, and she’s gone.
N.V. MARESCA is a public relations consultant, free-lance writer, and adjunct professor of English at several New Jersey colleges and universities. He holds a Master’s degree in English Literature, is an inveterate traveler, and author of The Journey, a humorous romp through the art and history of Italy with a group of eccentric American tourists. He lives in Toms River, New Jersey, with his wife, Judith. For more information, visit him on Facebook at: www.Facebook.com/NVMaresca or on the Web at: www.nvmaresca.com.
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 [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jan 23, 2017
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