“Desperate (1975)” by Morgan M. Page
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, Morgan M. Page makes a deal that will change her life in Montreal’s Red-Light District.
“Baby, don’t go,” he says as she gets out of the bed—that same bed they’ve shared a dozen times or more. She slips on the tight mauve dress and slides her feet into her leather pumps. He’s pleading with her not to go, not to leave him here. But she doesn’t listen.
She collects her things, putting her stockings into her purse and making sure she doesn’t leave her lipstick behind on his dresser.
“You can’t do this to me,” he says, his pleading now tinged with outrage.
She zips up her dress and takes a moment to check herself in the grimy mirror above the dresser. Her bottle-blonde hair’s a mess and her makeup’s run halfway across her face. He always sweats so damn much. She takes a deep breath and walks slowly, precisely toward the door. She knows that this is right, that all she has to do is leave him, grab the suitcase and leave him. It’s all planned out. Just do this thing—this one, terrible thing—and everything she’s ever wanted will be hers. All she has to do is leave.
“Please,” he says, panicking more and more the farther she gets from the bed. “I can fix this. I can fix everything. It doesn’t have to end like this!”
The suitcase is near the bedroom door. She picks it up by the handle. It’s much heavier than she imagined it would be. But then, it’s not just what it contains that’s heavy here, is it? It’s a heavy scene altogether.
She takes one last look around the bedroom, almost hoping that the ghosts of all their sighs and late-night moans will hold her, will stop this all from happening. But it’s much too late for that. She looks at him, and at the goon standing at the edge of the bed, staring down at the man who used to be her lover. It’s better this way.
She nods at the goon, turns away slowly, and heads down the hall. When she grasps the doorknob, she can hear him pleading with the goon. Begging. She never meant to emasculate him like this. She isn’t sure why, but she’d imagined the whole thing would be so much more dignified than this final, animal struggle to hang onto a life he’d shot through with junk-filled needles. She hadn’t expected he’d so earnestly want to hold on to it.
As she turns the knob, staring ahead at the peeling paint of the apartment door, she hears it. Crack. It’s like thunder, and the volume of it turns her face red with embarrassment. There’s no way the neighbors missed it.
She slips out the door, purse clutched under one arm, a suitcase full of heroin in her other hand. Another shot rings out as she closes the door, making her flinch. Her eyes burn, tearing up. But it’s better this way, it’s better this way. Sure, keep telling yourself that. Keep telling yourself that selling out your junkie boyfriend for the promise of enough cash to pay for your sex change was worth it.
Whatever she may have felt for him, years of desperation, years spent working the cabarets just for enough to get by with no hope of ever being able to afford what she knew she truly needed, propel her down the staircase of the rundown apartments on Saint Laurent.
When she gets to the bottom of these stairs, she will hand over the suitcase to the men waiting in the fancy black car. The ones she cut this cruel deal with. The ones her lover ripped off, putting them both square in the middle of this mess. And then her whole life can finally begin.
MORGAN M. PAGE is a trans writer, performance artist, and activist in Montreal, Quebec. She is a 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow in genre fiction (noir), and her writing has been anthologized in Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse (Exile Editions) and Best Sex Writing of the Year (Cleis Press), as well as on Prettyqueer.com, Feministing, and Tits and Sass. Her website is Odofemi.com.
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: Aug 3, 2015
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