“Blood Suckers” by Laurie Loewenstein
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.
by Laurie Loewenstein
Tami didn’t even count her night’s tips before she shoved the wad of coins and damp bills into her purse and went out the back door of Chevy’s Pub just minutes after closing. She gunned the Fiesta past her apartment, past the Sidney city limits, heading straight for the used RV she kept down by the river. She knew she’d find Dale with that slut who had been hanging on him all night.
As she closed in on the Riverside Campground, the smell of fish and mud came first. Then came the glint of Ohio’s Great Miami River itself, slipping like a water snake past a single lamp pole at the end of the dirt track. She didn’t try to steer around the potholes. She kept her rubber-soled shoe, sticky with crud from Chevy’s kitchen, pressing down on the accelerator. The single row of campsites edging the river was dark on this chilly September night. Everyone had closed up a couple of weeks ago. She jolted past two pop-up campers and an ’80s van that had a crumbling foam mattress which stank of mold.
Someone had lit the string of lanterns outside her RV. Tami cut the engine. The Fiesta rolled silently over the gravel. Dale was passed out on a plastic lawn chair. No surprise; she’d watched him toss down five boilermakers from his stool at the end of the bar. He liked that spot, he’d told her once. With his back against the wall, he had a good view of the whole place. That had been the first night he’d picked her up. He was very chatty those first couple of times. A regular Chatty Cathy.
The real question was, where was that slut Crystal? Tami had overheard Dale loudly whispering to the bitch that there was an RV they could use down by the river. The fucking cheat had been too drunk to notice who was loading a drinks tray just behind him.
Tami quietly skirted Dale’s outflung arm. The door to the camper was open. Tami listened. Nothing. Then a slippery giggle floated up from the river.
“Day-el!” More giggling. “Come get me.”
Splashing sounds. Tami tiptoed away from the RV. Crystal was humming as she paddled around in the dark. Tami pulled off her nylon jumper. She left on the necklace Dale had bought her after a particularly sloppy weekend. And she kept her shoes. No one swam in this part of the Great Miami without shoes. Its muddy bottom was thick with broken bottles and rusted cans.
“Hey baby,” Crystal called. “I know you want it.”
Shut the fuck up, you slut. Tami inched into the river, careful not to splash. Her right foot slid across something squishy. What the hell was that?
The river had been the hangout place when she was in high school. Sitting on a picnic table, drinking Little Kings, smoking Tareytons. Fine. But Tami never swam in the murky water with its putrefying secrets. And its leeches. Unbelievably gross. Slimy turds that stuck to your skin and had to be pried off.
Crystal was still humming. Tami doggy-paddled in Crystal’s direction, keeping her head up. If a leech attached to her face, she’d freak. Now the dim shape of Crystal’s blond head emerged from the darkness. Tami slipped off her necklace—a gold heart with a diamond chip.
“Day-el. ’Bout time. Come here for—”
Crystal’s voice collapsed into a gurgle as Tami flipped her necklace over the skank’s neck and yanked hard, praying the cheap chain would hold. It held—long enough for Crystal to stop drunkenly struggling and lose consciousness, long enough for Tami to shove her head under the thick water.
Panting, Tami crawled back onto the bank. Dale was still passed out. Inside the trailer she pried five engorged leeches off her belly and flung them outside.
Tami drove fast back into town. When the cop pulled her over he said she’d been doing 57.
“Where you headed?”
“Home. I just got off work at Chevy’s.”
“You haven’t been drinkin’, have you?”
He made her get out of the car. That’s when she saw the bloated leech stuck to her ankle. She looked up. The cop had seen it too.
“So tell me where you’ve really been.”
* * *
LAURIE LOEWENSTEIN is the author of upcoming novel, Unmentionables, set in western Illinois. It is the inaugural publication of the new Akashic Books imprint, Kaylie Jones Books. Laurie is a fifth-generation Midwesterner.
* * *
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 to [email protected] Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: May 13, 2013
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
- Two Times Intro: On the Road with Patti Smith
- Seriously, Just Go to Sleep
- I Love You Too
- Please Take Me Off the Guest List
- Black Music
- Will Work for Drugs
- Seriously, You Have to Eat
- Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan, and Clinton–and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush
- All the Power: Revolution Without Illusion
- What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches – STANDARD EDITION
- No One Told Me Not to Do This
- This Is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake