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News & Features » February 2017 » “Monday at Johnny’s” by Christian Aguiar

“Monday at Johnny’s” by Christian Aguiar

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, Christian Aguiar blurs the lines between D.C.’s most dangerous Wards.

Monday at Johnny’s
by Christian Aguiar
Brightwood Park, Washington, D.C.

The sun is only just getting tired, sliding itself down behind the row of houses on the other side of Missouri. The sky is gray and restless. “Might be one of them derechos tonight,” Miss LeVon, the new front desk guard, had said on the way out of the precinct. It used to be an old cop would have that job, but everybody was retiring so there were no desk jobs if you have a badge, unless you’ve got a bad knee or had to recently shoot somebody.

“Anything?” Lieutenant Johnson asks the clot of uniformed officers standing in front of the carryout. The calls had started coming in ten minutes before, and he’s pleasantly surprised to see three officers already here with tape strung between the telephone poles.

“Nada,” says one.

“Just that,” says another.

The body – still clinging to life, maybe, but a body soon enough – is gone. Johnson saw the bus pull off as he pulled up. It must have been in the area, because nine times out of ten his people get there long before FEMS. There’s a hasty outline on the sidewalk, the same blob-looking thing that Johnson sees in his sleep. The shell casings are still there. The front window of Johnny’s is shattered.

“Witnesses?”

“Johnny there says the victim comes in a couple times a week for egg rolls or wings. He didn’t see who shot him though.”

“And?”

“That’s it. We only been here ten minutes.”

Johnson takes a step back. There’s a gas station across the street that’s always busy. There’s a liquor store on the corner, a dry cleaner’s, a daycare. It’s evening, people coming home from work, people going to work, people going to pick up a bottle for the night, pick up their kids, pick up some curry goat. People with eyes.

“Better start asking around.”

“That old lady was here when we pulled up.”

“Anybody talk to her?”

“Don’t speak English.”

“Spanish? Onofre, you-”

“She’s African. We don’t know what she speaks.”

Johnson sighs. All three of these kids are new. None of them are from D.C. None of them could even pick Amharic out of language lineup, never mind interview somebody in it.

“Casper,” he says to the newest, a white boy from far away, “call in for Tesfaye.”

“Who’m I testin’?”

“Officer Tesfaye. Robel. Just go.”

The other two officers look at the sidewalk.

“Finish up with the tape,” Johnson tells the officer closest to him.

A curious lady is standing in the middle of 3rd Street, waiting for him. Since he took over, he’s had to learn to deal with people like this: concerned, persistent, helpful, self-absorbed. New to the neighborhood. Surprised. She writes a blog about restaurant openings, real estate prices, and home improvement.

He crosses over to her.

“We got nothing. Call me in the morning.”

They see each other at least once a week, so he dispenses with the formalities.

“Does the MPD have any plans to guarantee the safety of the residents of Ward Four in light of the recent uptick in violence?”

She hadn’t even blinked. Johnson hooks his fingers into his belt.

“So far this year, there have been nine shootings and three fatalities in Ward Four. There was a man stabbed to death four blocks from here last month. It feels like a war zone out here.”

“There have been hundreds of shooting and stabbings with eighty seven fatalities across the city. We’re doing fine. If you’re keeping track, we’re in a very distant third place.”

“The residents of Ward Four are sick of the tired old excuses. It’s better than it used to be, we get it. It’s better than Ward Seven, fine. But people want to be secure.”

In Baltimore, there have been over two hundred murders. There’s a motto in D.C. government right now, from the Board of Elections to DCPS to the MPD: be better than B-More. Everyone’s doing their best to make sure they do better, his officers especially.

“Look, Karen, the victim is a black male, 18-20 years of age. He’s been transported with multiple gunshot wounds. We have no further information.”

He walks away.

“You know there’s a lot of children in this neighborhood,” she says. She has to raise her voice above the sirens of another car arriving.

“Lots of kids!”

Johnson stops just outside of the tape. “Just like him,” he says, pointing to the sidewalk.

“That’s not what I meant.”

He ducks under the tape.

“Oh, I know.”

***

CHRISTIAN AGUIAR was born in Worcester, MA and grew up in and around Providence, RI. He writes poetry and fiction about places where being is hard.

***

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: Feb 1, 2017

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



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