“My Name is Brendan” 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 brings us to Providence to share the story of a boy named Brendan. Next week, we travel to Florida with John J. White, who shares with us a deadly tale from Mathers Bridge.
My Name is Brendan
by Christian Aguiar
Fox Point, Providence, RI
“My name is Brendan.”
He repeated the words as he walked down to the sidewalk. In his mouth they were thick and soupy but he knew he had to be ready to say them soon. He hopped over the sidewalk cracks—hopped over the discarded cigarette packs too, and the crushed paper cups, because to touch litter would be as bad for him as a crack would for his mother.
The sun was almost asleep behind the rooftops. At this time of night, right after his mother came home from work, the houses came alive. The small ones on the other side were okay: they each had two eyes up top and a mouth with thick wooden teeth and gray lips. They looked friendly. But the ones on his side were towering monsters with three rows of window-eyes and only a single tiny, crooked tooth in the middle. He lived in one of these scary houses, so he didn’t like to look back after he had passed through the front door. When his mom was holding his hand he felt safe. But now she wasn’t and he wanted to run.
There were men outside the house next door, big men who cast shadows that tapered to the sidewalk like melting candles. They yelled at him sometimes, their voices crackling like witches (but of course everyone knows men can’t be witches, only zombies). They were smoking, which was bad, and being loud, which was not good. They were bad men and he wanted to run by them too, but he didn’t, because he knew he shouldn’t. He didn’t run by the house with the dog either, though he did clench his fists. If the dog jumped over the fence he would be ready.
The man downstairs had said to go get Mrs. Alves. Mrs. Alves lived next to the house with the dog. He jumped onto the stoop and then walked up the staircase, which smelled like breakfast, to the second floor. He knocked on the door and said, like he had practiced, “My name is Brendan. Please come help.”
Mrs. Alves and her sister laughed and said something to each other in old-woman-speak and smiled at him the same way they looked at the dog next door. But he asked again and their mouths tightened a little and they both came down the stairs with him and back up to where he lived, and he felt safe again.
He led them up to the top floor, slowly because Mrs. Alves had to hold on to the railing the whole way. The door to the apartment was open and they walked into the kitchen.
Mrs. Alves made a strange sound in old-woman-speak. Then she made a “t” on her face and chest, which old women did when they didn’t know what to say. Then she knelt down next to his mother, careful not to touch the red puddle, and put a hand on her chest.
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:
—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: Nov 18, 2013
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