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News & Features » November 2017 » “Desperado” by Michael Loniewski

“Desperado” by Michael Loniewski

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, a man hopes violence will bring him good fortune . . .

Desperado
by Michael Loniewski
Baghdad, Iraq

Bashir had witnessed his share of riddled bodies since the Americans had invaded, but this was the first from his own hand. The man had pieces of his face missing and Bashir couldn’t comprehend how the bullets had hit their mark. There was screaming and flashes and now it was over. He stood there hoping this burst of violence would change his fortunes.

The war had swept through homes, loud and hot and bloody, with Humvees and tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles that rumbled through streets with men shouting from hatches. Bashir’s cafe became a hollow shell offering bitter tea and buttery sweet kahi pastries to weary neighbors with shell shocked eyes and the blood of their loved ones dried into their nail beds. He opened the pockmarked doors each morning as dump trucks packed with explosives leveled markets and roadside bombs obliterated caravans of soldiers, a state of perpetual war filling the void of a toppled regime. 

Americans came with cash and doled it out to anyone willing to help point their bombs at the barbarous insurgents burying IEDs in the sand. Bashir did not know any insurgents. He was a quiet man with a meager cafe whose customer base grew smaller by each day’s end. The money was meant for greedy men, extortionists, and traffickers who saw the occupation as a feeding trough filled with American wealth. 

Bashir’s nephew told him about Yousef Awali, a trafficker without loyalty who prospered from both ends of the war. He fed foreign fighters equipment with one hand, and targeted them for laser-guided bombs with the other. One such airstrike blew apart Bashir’s cafe and tore an arm off his young son, leaving Bashir only to think of Awali, the crooked man who prospered from his misfortune.  

He convinced his nephew, a westernized brat who ran with the criminals and thieves, to help with his plan. They collected guns and grenades from weapon caches buried in palm groves and drove to Awali’s wearing hoods on their heads and rifles across their laps while Arabic hip-hop blared from the car’s stereo. 

The posse stormed through the gates, past Awali’s children playing soccer in the court yard, and on to the second floor where they held Awali’s wife while he emerged from a room with a satellite phone and an Uzi that blazed toward them. 

Bashir now stared at what he had been done to Awali’s face. The satellite phone crackled and an American spoke on the other end. He recognized the word Humvee. Americans were coming. 

Bashir’s nephew and friends had already torn the cash loose from cellophane wrapped bundles in Awali’s room and raced past Bashir with their loot, knocking him into the children weeping over their parents’ corpses. Bashir crawled to his feet, slick with blood, stumbling into walls and out into the street, shouting for his nephew to wait as his car sped away, leaving him behind with soldiers in faded green and gray spilling from Humvees with rifles raised. 

Brick and mortar shattered into dust as American rifles emptied their barrels toward him. Bashir fled, dropping his gun and pulling off his hood, sprinting through the network of side streets and littered alleys, a terrified and moneyless cafe owner bracing for a round to shatter his skull. 

He ran on, past store fronts and homes, fighting to keep pace with his nephew’s car weaving its way toward Freeway 1, waving his arms as the car sped through the onramp with his restitution for a shattered life in the trunk. Helicopters cleaved the air above. One banked left. A white plume streaked from its belly.

His nephew’s car disappeared in a gray cloud burping into the air with American bills fluttering down like tossed confetti. Soldiers rushed passed Bashir to control the desperate Iraqis swarming the wreckage for American money before it burnt to ash. Bashir looked on from the edge of the road, ragged and dusty like his fellow countrymen, holding his hands skyward, hoping some fortune would finally drift his way. 

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MIKE LONIEWSKI is a writer from New Jersey. His fiction has been published by One Eye Press, Shotgun Honey, Switchblade Magazine, Big Pulp, and others. His comics have been published by Image Comics, APE Entertainment, and DC Comics’ Zuda imprint. You can find him on twitter at @redfox_write.

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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: Nov 20, 2017

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



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