“Death on the Border” by Tonya Monteer
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, things seem too good to be true for Tonya Monteer when she moves to Imperial Beach, California.
It was a Friday night when it all began. I was sitting in my living room enjoying a tall Bud Light and listening to music playing on my laptop. I’d only been in IB—Imperial Beach for the nonnatives—for three weeks, but Cali was a taste of freedom I never wanted to let go of. I had moved into a house only fifty feet from the beach and found a job in Coronado that people would envy me for. It felt too damn good to be true. Turns out it was.
As I sat there listening to “Rude” by Magic, my roommate’s friend Rocky approached me. Rocky was a man on the edge, hiding from some tragedy. You could tell he was on the run by the way he talked. He wouldn’t make eye contact with you unless he was sober. I never did see that man sober while he stayed with me. Then again, I was too in love with California to pay attention to him. Still, Rocky seemed to pay attention to me. I wasn’t sure then, but Rocky was afraid of me. He made this clear when he turned to me, thinking I couldn’t hear him, and told me I’d better not call the police. Afterward he mentioned he had an uncle in Hells Angels that would kill a man if he needed him to. I had no idea why he was afraid of me calling the police, but I didn’t want to know. Something about him gave me the creeps so I wasn’t about to open up Pandora’s box. Instead I pretended I didn’t hear a thing.
I did pretty well at pretending I didn’t know Rocky had it out for me. I played stupid when he asked me questions, and I smiled at all his jokes. Despite my facade, I was terrified. I didn’t want to know, but my roommate told me anyway. My roommate gave this man a reason to keep threatening me.
“Rocky got in to some trouble in Indio. He might have killed a man.”
I knew this man was determined to do what he needed to in order to keep my mouth shut after that. Only problem was I didn’t want to admit to him that I knew. I knew what Rocky did in Indio and why he was there. I knew we were all in danger if we pushed his buttons too much. Despite all this, he stayed in my home until that fateful night.
I had finally fallen asleep at 3:30 a.m. when things began to heat up. I was soon awoken by a giant crash outside my bedroom door. I jumped up, determined to see what it was, except I was missing my pants. As I went to put my pants on, one leg and then the other, my door came crashing in. What happened next would make me question California, the beach, and everything this little house on Elder Avenue had to offer me. I was standing face-to-face with three SWAT members. As they told me to get down and put my hands in the air, I forgot about my pants. I forgot about my love of the ocean and the adventure I had driving out to California. All I could think about was the fact that I drove halfway across the United States to have three men point guns at me, in my room, while I was missing my pants.
As the SWAT team ordered me to get down and put my hands in the air, my whole world stopped. I came to when one whispered in my ear, “Where is Joseph Gentile?” I had never heard the name before; I guess that’s why I came to.
“Who?” I mouthed, the words barely escaping my lips.
“Rocky,” he whispered once more. It was then I knew it would all be over. I could go back to my beach, Imperial Beach, and everything California had to offer me. I pointed to the garage, handed them my key, and watched as they all walked toward the back door.
“Joseph Gentile, this is the police. Open up!”
TONYA MONTEER grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and recently moved to Imperial Beach, California. She graduated from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas, with a BA in English, the first of thirteen grandkids to receive a bachelor’s degree. Her grandfather, a poet, is the reason writing has become such a big part of her life. She wanted to appease him, so at the age of eight she wrote her first poem, “I Sing With the Bluebird,” which was published in her school paper. Since then, she has written over a hundred poems and two books.
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: Mar 23, 2015