“District Coincidental” by Jean Marie Ward
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, we’ll spend an evening in a bar in Georgetown with Jean Marie Ward. Next time, Nicholas MacDonnell’s detective mournfully wonders what happened to Denver, Colorado.
“A congressman, a senator, and a lobbyist walk into a bar.” Rich tipped his beer in the direction of the bar’s latest arrivals. “Anyplace else that would be the start of a joke. Here it’s business as usual.”
Without thinking, Angie replied, “Not in Georgetown.”
He flicked an interested glance her way.
Angie could’ve bitten off her tongue. Of all the stupid things she could have said to a reporter for The Post. Now she had to explain or it would look suspicious. More suspicious, she amended.
“Too much competition from the students,” she said, keeping her voice light. “The Hill’s where they run in packs.”
“That where you do your after-hours drinking?” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
She smiled instead of answering, and checked the stations for empty bottles.
He shrugged and took another sip of beer. The casual observer would have thought Rich was watching the closed-captioned Nationals game on the TV over the bar, but his body was angled to keep the newcomers in view.
They didn’t sit together, or share a drink—which would have been news, considering their party affiliations. There didn’t appear to be any connection between them, other than the fact they all worked on Capitol Hill and used the same restroom—the one with enough graffiti to fill The Washington Post Sunday edition, and the outmoded, home-style toilets with the tank on the back. But so did everyone else.
They just used it more often—especially the lobbyist. He made his first trip less than ten minutes after he arrived. The congressman went in as soon as he exited. Not long afterward, the lobbyist answered a second call of nature. This time, the senator followed his lead. Angie couldn’t blame it on the beer, either. The lobbyist barely touched the martini he ordered. The levels of the bourbon and scotch set in front of the others dropped faster, but not fast enough to justify repeating the bathroom parade twenty minutes later.
Their lame attempts at playing secret agent would’ve been funny if the legislators hadn’t been such total jerks. They stiffed the waiters. They stiffed the waitresses, and on those rare occasions they deigned to order from the bar, they stiffed Angie. What was worse, she couldn’t bounce them, because the owner thought having a congressman and senator as regulars was good for business. Only if somebody cared, and Rich was the first.
“Now that’s going in my blog,” he said.
Her knife skidded off the side of the lime she’d been cutting, nearly taking a finger with it.
“I always suspected there was a connection between politics and prostate problems,” he continued, oblivious. “This proves it. The only thing I can’t decide is whether it’s from licking butt or poking their fingers up each other’s asses. I bet they were the only kids on the block who thought ‘playing doctor’ meant proctology.”
Angie snorted, surprised by the laugh and the sting of citrus in her nose. There might be a way to get back at those deadbeats after all.
“Just as long as you get the name of the bar right,” she said.
He did. A week later he was dead, victim of a freak sinkhole accident on M Street, a few blocks from the bar.
Although sinkholes had been appearing throughout the District as the pavement collapsed over the city’s long-buried trolley tracks, they hadn’t caused any fatalities. According to The Washington Post, the police couldn’t understand how a driver stopped in traffic could break his neck and sustain massive cranial damage when his left rear wheel dropped into a hole less than two feet deep. They labeled it a suspicious death and launched an investigation.
No suspicion fell on “The Prostate Posse.” They were working in their respective Capitol Hill offices when the reporter died. They had witnesses to spare—not that they needed any. They weren’t the ones who did the deed, even if Angie’s suspicions were correct and one of them paid for the hit.
The investigation turned up no further leads, Rich’s colleagues lost interest, and the incident was soon forgotten. Stranger things happened in this town all the time.
It was a shame, really. Rich was an okay guy and a good tipper. But on the positive side, the congressman, the senator, and the lobbyist never used her bar as a cash drop again.
JEAN MARIE WARD writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between. Her credits include a multi-award nominated novel, numerous short stories and two popular art books. The former editor of Crescent Blues, she is a frequent contributor of video interviews and short subjects to BUZZYMAG.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: Feb 10, 2014
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