“Jump,” by Reed Farrel Coleman
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, Reed Farrel Coleman (Indian Country Noir, Brooklyn Noir 3, Wall Street Noir, Dublin Noir, Long Island Noir) shows us the darker side of Coney Island. Next week, experience a catnapping when Timothy Ready takes us to Capitol Hill, Seattle.
Skeleton umbrella. Coney Island crucifix. Tilyou’s Eiffel Tower. Steeplechase shrine. Icon. Landmark: looming, impotent, mocking, futile, naked, moot, regal, red, and ridiculous. Soaring twenty-six stories above the beach and boardwalk, passersby genuflecting at its feet, the Parachute Jump was all of these and none of these and more. Never less. Never. All you had to do was ask Richie.
Richie Rabinowitz spent his free waking hours on an invisible tether attached to the Parachute Jump. Sometimes he paced the boardwalk in front of it. Sometimes he sat on a bench beneath it, but he could not escape it. It was his obsession, always had been. Richie didn’t mind tethers so much. His life was defined by them. In the womb the cord that tethered him to his mother had wrapped around his neck so tight that it squeezed the oxygen right out of his head. Brains with it, the doctors said.
Every day after his school, from the time he was ten, Richie came to be near the jump. On weekends, he would shower, eat breakfast, grab some juice boxes, make himself peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bag them, and run the boardwalk from his apartment in Brighton Beach to the jump. He liked it best in the winter, when he could be mostly alone with his obsession. He didn’t mind the cold. The colder it was, the more alone time he had. But it was spring now. He hated spring, especially after Passover and Easter came. That’s when people came back and he had to share. By summer he adjusted, but he hated the spring.
This spring was different, though, because he had started to notice things. He noticed girls. He noticed them a lot, all sorts of stuff about them, like how they smelled different than boys. He liked how their hair looked on them, and their breasts. He liked their breasts. He really really liked their breasts, not the way he liked the jump. Not like that. Nothing was like that. The breasts he liked most were on the girl he liked most, Karen Klingman. He didn’t understand why he liked her so much. She had always been mean to him. She was the first kid in their building to call him Richie the Retard, but somehow that didn’t seem to matter now.
It was really late. Almost no one was on the boardwalk and Richie was getting sleepy. Then he heard girls’ voices carried on the breeze. Richie’s heart thumped in his chest when he saw that it was Karen and her girlfriends coming his way. Seeing her did that to him lately, but he was also scared because he’d gotten in trouble for telling Karen about how much he liked her and what parts of her he liked the most. That happened to him sometimes, him saying stuff he shouldn’t. Mrs. Klingman had told his parents and they went crazy. His dad yelled and his mom just cried. He hated it when his mom cried, and she cried a lot.
“Hey, Richie,” Karen whispered in his ear. She was so close to him he could taste her in the air, wisps of her blond hair brushing his cheeks. “Do you wanna touch my tits? It’s okay.” He didn’t have time to answer because Karen grabbed his hand and put it on her right breast. “Ummmm,” she sighed, squeezing his hand over her breast. Her girlfriends giggled. She took his hand away.
He stirred inside like he did sometimes when no one was around, but he didn’t speak.
“If you climb the jump, Richie,” she was in his ear again, touching it with her lips, “I’ll let you touch them under my shirt. You can lick them.” She kissed his ear, bit the lobe a little.
When he hesitated, Karen took his hand again and put it under her halter. When he felt her nipple, he shook. She pointed up.
Forty minutes later Richie had climbed his Everest, the winds buffeting him as he slid along the red steel to the rim of the jump, where the parachutes used to hang. He could see the whole world from there, a world that made him sad to see because, for the first time, he saw his place in it. Suddenly he didn’t care so much about Karen’s tits. When he let go, he realized his mom would cry, but she could do it all at once now. And he liked the sense of falling.
* * *
Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the “noir poet laureate” in the Huffington Post, REED FARREL COLEMAN has published sixteen novels. He is a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year and a two-time Edgar Award nominee. He has also won the Macavity, Anthony, and Barry Awards. Reed is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University and a founding member of Mystery Writers of America University. He lives with his family on Long Island. www.reedcoleman.com. Visit Reed on Facebook and twitter as well.
In March, Dirty Work, Reed’s first novella featuring little person PI, Gulliver Dowd, was released by Raven Books, and his penultimate Moe Prager Mystery, Onion Street will be on shelves from Tyrus Books in May.
* * *
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 to [email protected] Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Apr 15, 2013
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
- The Failure
- Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs
- The Immune System
- Hard Art, DC 1979
- Simon’s Cat in Kitten Chaos
- Sale GTFTS/YHTFE Bundle
- Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan, and Clinton–and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush
- Animals and Objects In and Out of Water
- Copycat: And a Litter of Other Cats
- Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene
- Simon’s Cat Off to the Vet . . . and Other Cat-astrophes
- What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches – STANDARD EDITION