“Grand Casino” by Tom Andes
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, Tom Andes takes us to Biloxi, Mississippi, where a strip of hotels and casinos makes the perfect pit stop for crime.
Parker had stolen half a million dollars from the men Mulligan and Harriman worked for. He’d escaped as many times as Mulligan and Harriman had caught him. That last time he was living in Biloxi, where he’d checked in to a suite in the Grand.
“Nice digs,” Harriman said when they burst in the door. He stood by the window, which overlooked a kidney-shaped swimming pool and cabanas you could rent by the hour. A strip of hotels and casinos followed Highway 90 along the coast; at intervals, pedestrian bridges crossed from the hotels to landings erected like scaffolding above the empty beach. Out the other window, past a barrier island, the blue-gray gulf swelled as if drawn by a magnet toward the horizon.
Mulligan looked in the bathroom. “He’s got a Jacuzzi.”
“I bet you’re wondering how we found you.” Harriman sat on the mattress.
Parker shrugged. He was sitting up in bed, fully clothed, reading a copy of GQ he’d found in the lobby. How did they ever find him?
“We have our methods.” Mulligan wore a rumpled suit, and the butt of a gun protruded from his belt. He crossed the room and helped himself to a bottle of water from the dorm fridge under the flat-screen.
“That stuff’s four dollars a bottle,” Parker said.
Mulligan screwed the top off the bottle and drank.
“He says that like he can’t afford it,” Mulligan told Harriman.
Mulligan laughed, a knocking sound.
“It’s not likely he can’t afford it.” Harriman shook his head.
“I see you managed to get a keycard for the room,” Parker said.
“We told them we were your long-lost brothers,” Harriman sneered.
“This place is nicer than some dumps I’ve lived in.” Mulligan sipped his Dasani.
Outside, kids were hanging out in front of one of the cabanas, and sunlit jets of water turned cartwheels thirty feet above the fountains. Palm trees stirred on the barrier island. A tractor-trailer passed on Highway 90 above a concrete slab swept bare by the storm, the slab’s perimeter marked by chest-high weeds.
“You really gave us a run for our money this time.” Mulligan faced the bed. “But you should know we’ll always find you in the end.”
“We have our methods,” Harriman repeated.
“You should pack your things.” Mulligan waved at the bathroom. “You’ll want your toiletries, a change of clothes.”
“We have a long way to go,” Harriman said.
“Do you mind if I take a shower?” Parker asked.
Harriman and Mulligan looked at each other.
“I guess not,” Mulligan said. “But one of us has to watch you.”
“Yeah, one of us has to watch you,” Harriman echoed.
“I’ll order some room service while I wait,” Mulligan said.
Shielded from Harriman’s view as the shower stall steamed, Parker squatted to extract the blade he’d wrapped in electrical tape and inserted in his rectum that morning. Standing, he steadied himself against the Pepto Bismol–colored tile. He unwrapped the knife; blood clouded the water around his feet.
He shut the tap off. In the other room, in front of the television, Mulligan munched a club sandwich and french fries.
Elbows on knees, teeth gritted, Harriman watched Parker toweling off. When the shiv punctured Harriman’s windpipe, he didn’t scream; as his lungs sucked air in and blew it out again, the hole in his throat whistled like the reeds Parker had fashioned by putting blades of grass between the knuckles of his thumbs when he was a kid.
Mulligan was laughing at the TV: knock, knock.
The sound choked off.
He didn’t have time to reach for the gun. Naked, dripping, Parker bounded across the room and sprang on the older man, driving the blade into Mulligan’s jugular before Mulligan could rise from the chair.
Hefting his duffel, Parker walked across the hotel lobby, skin pink from the shower, thinning hair scraped across his forehead. He handed the valet the ticket he’d lifted from Harriman’s wallet. He hummed, brushing crumbs from his shirt.
The valet brought out the car, a charcoal Escalade—last year’s model, with Rhode Island plates and tinted windows.
Parker stuffed a twenty in the kid’s hand, climbed in the vehicle, fastened his seatbelt; he tuned in Top 40—Rihanna—on the radio.
Orange light blazed in the rearview. Arm propped in the window, the gulf on his right, he drove east, toward the band of darkness just beginning to spread across Highway 90.
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 9, 2015
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