“Just Another Day” by M.E. Purfield
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, M.E. Purfield takes us to Jersey City, where a high school student’s day takes an unexpected turn.
Just Another Day
by M.E. Purfield
Jersey City, New Jersey
Geneva grabbed Roosevelt’s shoulder as he stood at his locker and turned him around. He rolled his eyes and went back to rummaging through his books.
“We need to talk,” she said.
“No, we don’t. I got nothing to say.”
“Nigga, you got only one thing to say to me.”
“Shit. Go talk to Kahil.”
“Kahil was man enough not to feed me no lines,” she said. “He knew his body enough to know he couldn’t hold his shit and did the right thing at the time. He put me before his needs. So I don’t need to talk to his ass.”
He closed his locker and gripped his English III text.
“Not mine.” He held up his hand. “Good-bye.”
Roosevelt walked down the crowded hall.
“This ain’t over, Roosevelt,” she called out.
“No, it’s not,” he mumbled.
Roosevelt sat across from Isaiah at the lunchroom table. Their boys sat with him and talked shit along with the rest of the kids around them. In an old Comcast envelope he found in the trash at home, Roosevelt passed over three one-hundred-dollar bills. After Isaiah pocket the money, he handed Roosevelt a wadded-up black rag. The boy slipped it inside his hoodie pocket. The boys ate their lunches.
Roosevelt sat on the locker room bench as kids changed around him. He gripped his cell and stared at his mom’s text: contact your father?
He replied: My dads dead.
He wants to fix that. Call him!
Roosevelt slammed Kahil face-first into the locker. The kids spread out, chanting Fight! and pumping their fists. Kahil turned around. Roosevelt plowed his fist into the taller boy’s face and drove an upper cut into his jaw. Kahil fell back and covered his face with his arms. Roosevelt jumped back and waved his hands.
Kahil charged at the shorter boy and rammed his head into his gut, pushing him into the lockers on the other side. Roosevelt pounded on his back. Kahil rapidly punched Roosevelt’s groin. The shorter boy screamed out as the crowd echoed his pain.
Security guards pulled the boys apart and set them in chokeholds. Roosevelt stomped on a guard’s foot a few times. The older white man released him and fell to the side. Free, Roosevelt broke into the crowd of kids and ran.
He stopped on Magnolia Avenue and walked to the corner of Pavonia. No one was around but the skinny Chinese guy and the chubby bald white guy working at the garage. Roosevelt slipped his hands into the hoodie and gripped the gun. Kahil lived on the block passed Magnolia. School wouldn’t let out until three—but maybe he would bust out earlier.
Someone shoved his shoulder, almost sending him to the street. Roosevelt found his balance and turned around. Kahil held his fists up. Blood highlighted the anger in his face.
Roosevelt pulled the gun out and aimed it at him. Fear replaced the anger in the tall boy’s face. He held his hands up and backed off. Roosevelt stepped forward and gritted his teeth. His phone vibrated in his pocket. Probably his mom. Or maybe it was the deadbeat bastard himself.
“Do it if you gonna do it,” Kahil said. “Stop fucking with me.”
A siren blared. Roosevelt lowered his arm. A cop car from Pavonia sped toward him. His body tensed. The gun went off. Silence filled the air. Kahil grunted as he hit the sidewalk.
Roosevelt ran down Pavonia and onto Newark, past the cemetery and under the freight train overpass. By the time he reached the fire station, a cop car braked in his way, and two cops popped out with their weapons drawn. He held his hand in the air and pointed the gun at the sky. Tears ran down his cheeks, and his lungs burned.
“Drop the gun and step away from it,” the cop shouted.
The phone vibrated again in his pocket.
Roosevelt slowly pressed the gun to his head.
“Put it down!”
His finger wiggled on the trigger, testing the tension.
The other cop stared into Roosevelt’s eyes and shook his head.
The world fell into silence except for the vibration in his pocket.
An anguished cry escaped from Roosevelt’s mouth.
His wrist jerked up and he pulled the trigger.
The shot was heard all the way back at Dickinson.
M.E. PURFIELD is from Jersey City, NJ. He writes the urban noir fantasy Miki Radicci series and other crime stories. You can find him at www.mepurfield.com.
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: Mar 28, 2016
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