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News & Features » June 2017 » “Ladies’ Night Out” by Will Whitson

“Ladies’ Night Out” by Will Whitson

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, Will Whitson profiles the wrong criminals.

Ladies’ Night Out
by Will Whitson
Broadway, Nashville, TN

I could hear the music clearly from Legends Corner. Even the laughter of a few thousand drunken tourists was audible. The poor bastard was so close to safety, but it hadn’t done him any good. He was face down in the alley, not even a full city block off Broadway. Fifteen years ago, this street would be silent on a Wednesday night, now everyone has to get a little bit of the Nashville night life, and this guy got too much of it.

He was face down, but the unscuffed cowboy boots he wore told me he was a tourist. No one who actually grew up here ever wears boots like that. The stab wounds were thin but deep and were so numerous that his white, silk shirt was almost entirely crimson.

“Thank God there’s no Preds game tonight,” a patrolman muttered. “I wouldn’t put it past some asshole to drive straight through the crime scene.”

The whole alley had been sealed off, but we had at least one patrol car blocking a portion of Broad, and a few officers were checking the area around Ernest Tubb for witnesses. To no one’s surprise, nobody heard anything over the three bars with live music.

A small crowd started to form around the police tape, a dozen or so men and women, all in blue jeans and cowboy boots. Some wore silk shirts with pearl snaps—like our unlucky visitor—while others wore t-shirts with their favorite NASCAR driver on the front. I’d seen these people countless times in my life. Never the same person twice, and yet they all looked the same.

Now, they came more often and for longer. Nashville was the “it” city, meaning it brought in big tourist dollars. It also meant I had to work twice as long keeping scum off the streets. With the crappy neighborhoods cleaning up, it was pushing more and more crime downtown. Most of these people milling up and down Broad didn’t know the shit they were wading through, the shit I had to protect them from.

I rubbed my eyes. It had been a long day. I hadn’t been home—well, to the apartment, in 24 hours. I wasn’t allowed home anymore. I still wasn’t used to the feeling of a bare ring finger. The man in the alley guaranteed at least a few more sleepless hours.

It was the giggles that broke me out of my cynical trance. I looked up towards the cordon to see five girls huddled on the other side of the police tape. They were decked out in pink boas, tiaras and slender black cocktail dresses. In typical bachelorette party fashion, they had at least one or two phallic toys with them. Each girl wobbled a little on their high, thin stiletto heels, already drunk for a night that was relatively young. One pointed towards the scene and giggled. My blood boiled.

“Sergeant!” I shouted. “Get these people away. They don’t need to see this.”

The sergeant waddled towards the crowd, waving them off. The bachelorette party headed to their next bar.

“Lieutenant,” an evidence tech said behind me. “No phone, wallet or ID on the body. He definitely wasn’t moved though.”

“Any idea on the suspect?”

“Suspects,” the tech corrected me. “This many stab wounds couldn’t be done by one person. I’d say three at the least, seven at the most. Thin weapons, but blunt. He had this wrapped around a few fingers.”

The evidence technician handed me a small, clear plastic bag. Inside was thin, pink ribbon with a few dyed feathers still attached. I looked back at the police line.

It couldn’t be, could it?

The girls had disappeared, at least a few blocks away by now. I could still try and find them, but how many bachelorette parties were there in this city tonight?

I handed the evidence bag back to the tech and ran towards Broadway. The twang of a steel guitar echoed out of Tootsie’s. Five thousand people laughed along with the rhythm of country music’s home. Somewhere in this crowd were five tourists I’d worked to keep safe, when I should have kept my city safe from them.

***

WILL WHITSON is a southern political reporter turned news producer. He spends his Metro ride home wondering how Philip Marlowe would fare in today’s Beltway. He lives with his wife and daughter outside Washington, D.C.

***

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 info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jun 5, 2017

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



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