“Colorful Characters” by Bruce Harris
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, Bruce Harris has a run-in with Spider-Man.
“I busted whores here years ago. Now? Minnie Mouse.” The patrolman’s name badge read Iannelli. Hair grayed by too many toughs and two marriages. It was early morning. The costumed crew, as Iannelli liked to call them, were few. The Statue of Liberty was posing for a family of five. The Times Square performer had pulled three liberty torches from somewhere Iannelli couldn’t fathom. Two girls and one boy, none more than eight years old, posed with their mother, proudly holding their torches high. After the old man snapped a few photos and the torches were returned, Iannelli clearly heard the word tips uttered through Liberty’s rubber mask. The man handed Lady Liberty a few bills, enough to satisfy her. “She’s probably here illegally,” Iannelli said to his young partner Montgomery.
“Why do you say that?” The young officer touched the handle of his pistol. He needed constant reassurance.
“Shit. Most of these jokers are.” Iannelli chuckled. “How many of them do you think speak English?”
Montgomery didn’t respond. Less than a year on the force, he knew better than to challenge Iannelli. The two uniformed officers surveyed 45th Street. A small group of Disney characters huddled together.
Iannelli nudged Montgomery on the shoulder. “Check it out.” He pointed to a family of three. The father, an Empire State Building brochure protruding from his back pocket, was speaking to Spider-Man. Iannelli and Montgomery watched as the father took his position about ten feet from his young son. His wife, sporting a wide smile, stood next to him. Spider-Man was doing his thing—posing in all sorts of positions, ready to scale a high-rise building or pounce on an unsuspecting villain. The little boy with a toothless grin mimicked the superhero as his father snapped photo after photo. Spider-Man fist-bumped the boy and approached the father. Iannelli and Montgomery couldn’t hear what was being said, but it was clear that things were beginning to heat up. The voices became louder, although still out of the patrolmen’s earshot. A few of the other tourists stopped and stared. Captain America walked toward the discussion, which was becoming more animated by the second.
“Maybe we should intervene?” asked Montgomery.
Iannelli didn’t take his eyes off Spider-Man and the father. He placed his hand across Montgomery’s chest, as if to hold him back. “No. Watch this. Watch him!” Spider-Man bumped into the father and just as quickly retreated. The masked cartoon character waived his hand in disgust and walked away, with Captain America, shaking his head, at his side. “Did you see that Montgomery? Nicely done.”
Iannelli kept staring at Spider-Man. “He picked the fucker’s pocket. You didn’t see it? It was as plain as day. When he bumped into him, he lifted his wallet. Welcome to New York!”
Montgomery turned toward his partner. “Well?”
“Do we arrest him?”
“Are you out of your rookie mind? No one’s physically hurt, right? We’ll both be buried in paperwork for hours. And for what? Jose or Pedro’ll be back here tomorrow doing the same shit.”
Montgomery took a step forward, but Iannelli stopped him. “Don’t do it! Listen, in less than a year the city’ll be paying me a full pension to sit on my ass. I’ve earned it. Broken bones, stitches, a couple of knife wounds, nights, weekends, holidays.” Iannelli seemed to be thinking out loud. “Yup, I’ve earned it.”
12:30 p.m., peak tourist time in the West 40s. The streets were crawling with Sesame Street characters, movie characters, and superheroes of all shapes. Iannelli spotted him first. The victim he had seen earlier in the morning was now pointing at the two officers, running toward them. His wife, holding their son’s outstretched hand, trailed a few feet behind.
“Officers! Officers!” The father came to a stop inches from Iannelli and Montgomery. He was breathing hard. His hands tapped his pants pockets, first front, and then rear. “I’ve been robbed! I was here earlier and someone, I think it was Spider-Man, stole my wallet! It’s gone!”
Iannelli seemed empathetic. “Are you sure you didn’t misplace it?”
His breathing slowed a bit. “I’m sure. I had it earlier when I was here taking pictures of my son with Spider-Man. The guy in the Spider-Man costume bumped into me. I think that’s when he took my wallet. You’ve got to search him.”
Iannelli said nothing. He turned toward the costumed crew. There were no less than a dozen Spideys plying their trade.
BRUCE HARRIS is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: ABout Type.
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: Apr 27, 2015
Category: Mondays Are Murder | Tags: Mondays Are Murder, Noir Series, New York, Manhattan, flash fiction, short fiction, New York City, NYC, Colorful Characters, Bruce Harris, Times Square, Spider-Man
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