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News & Features » April 2017 » “Flashlights in the Distance” by Nick Manzolillo

“Flashlights in the Distance” by Nick Manzolillo

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, Nick Manzolillo finds a corpse on a moonlit beach.

Nobody’s Home
by Nick Manzolillo
Narragansett, Rhode Island

We are supposed to meet beneath the stars, while the ocean whispers. I’ve stripped to my briefs and sampled the water with my toes; summer splashed with warmth despite the approaching onslaught of another New England winter. The plan was, if I’m in my underwear, then she’ll be in her underwear. I’m the simple kind of romantic, and when it comes to the sea, simple works just fine. Now, in an attempt to run into the waves, I’ve gone and tripped over some dead fucker.

Half burrowed into the starlight glistening sand, the man in a suit lies on his belly, back of his head a mess of bloody hair, his face suctioned into the receding muck as if his dying breaths drove him to evolve into a bottom feeder. This stupid dead thing, threatening my night. How many die in Rhode Island a day? It’s probably one of them, a college prick from the university the town over, where she teaches. A haunter of the frat houses tucked between here and Bonnet Shores. Leeches, infesting Narragansett. A fella can’t even sell liquor by day, enjoy a little loving at night.

There are headlights fluttering the parking lot, and this will not do. I will not have these brats ruin this. Quick, before she comes closer, I slip to my knees, beside the body, and begin digging, scooping wet sand to drip over the corpse, bury it up. The tide’s receding, and there are lifeguard chairs, further down. She’ll want to walk but I will soothe her desire. She’ll want to swim, but we’ll hardly make it past the lifeguard chairs. You don’t need the water to romance on a beach, just a lightly salted breeze and the wide, infinite sky.

It’s easier than you can imagine manipulating the grains of sand to obscure and consume. Soon, the body is an awkward lump of sand. I clap my hands, marvel down at my quick work and a second pair of headlights pulls into the parking lot.

September 1st the beach closes, and Narragansett breathes a sigh of relief as it’s drained of visitors. For a moment, the headlights spearing along the parking lot seem to illuminate me. The one I intend to love upon a beach drives a little Toyota. These are trucks, beat up SUVS of sorts. Working man’s vehicles. Doors are a clopping open. Figures sprayed with shadows from distant streetlights are conjugating. I can hear their growls from the shoreline. Flashlights are snapping alert, scanning over the beach, searching, hungry.

“Tito!” They shout.

I consider my options. I consider the corpse. Men fan onto the beach. I consider the love, due to arrive any moment. Voice held in my chest, I approach the lights, my bare foot prodding cold steel.

“He was armed…” I hear a voice caution, as I bend over to examine the gun in the sand. There are bits of fleshy gristle, nestled around the barrel. Clumps of hair. “…talking nonsense, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think….Tito!”

“They were after him.” More caution carrying in the wind. The lights are boxing me in. I run to the left or right, I’m spotted. No car for them to find, I walked here. Lights squeezing together, narrowing my position and the buried one behind me. I want my date, I want what I deserve. Can’t I bury them? Can’t I make them all go away? A spotlight centers on me, and a swarm of voices denounce my presence.

“Hey, you! You, don’t move! Where’s Tito?” Yelling, huffing, and puffing as sand is kicked up and I am blinded and they are on me. I don’t judge books by their cover. Not that I read. I don’t judge these men and their neck tattoos, scars across their lips. A dancing clown insignia on their leather jackets. The obsidian of their pistols, beckoned my way. Gun at my feet, dead man behind me. These men are a jury.

“You’re with them dog Scions, yeah? All alone?” Men push me into the sand, discover the pistol at my feet. Their muzzles align with my skull. The body I buried like a dog trying to cover up a turd on the rug is picked apart by the scrutiny of their beams. “What have you done?” Their screams aim to drown me. All I’ve done is want a little love, a perfect night, and no intrusions. Is that so selfish?

I am found guilty.

***

NICK MANZOLILLO is a Rhode Island native that finds himself living in Manhattan, with his girlfriend. His short fiction has appeared in publications such as Thuglit, Mother’s Revenge!, Out Of The Gutter and Shotgun Honey. He’s currently earning an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University.

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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 [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Apr 24, 2017

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



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