“New Anchor” by Iain Ryan
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, journey to Australia’s Moreton Bay with Iain Ryan, where summertime throws all trust and clarity out the window. Next week, David Inglish solves a nearly impossible situation in Beverly Hills the only way he can.
Never take a job in summer—that’s rule one. Rule two is never trust anyone. They have that rule all over, but rule one, that’s my thing. No one thinks straight in summer. You can’t rely on anyone after November.
They called me because they needed someone with a boat. “You can’t just waltz on over there on the ferry,” the guy said. “One of our guys tried that. The locals noticed.”
“And this woman? What’s she done?” They wanted me to watch her.
“We don’t know what she’s up to,” he said. “But Sammy doesn’t like her.” That was enough for me. Sammy didn’t like people who asked too many questions either.
“Okay. How many days you want?”
“As many as it takes.”
He gave me half the money upfront.
October had been quiet, but still. This was a big mistake.
I headed out before dawn and had the boat moored and my first drink before sunup. The boat wasn’t much, a twenty-foot hole in the water I inherited from my father. It was right for this. It had a cabin and canopy. Dad loved the thing, would have died out here if he had the chance.
As the day started, I got a read on the house. It was a nice place, a timber split-level, backed onto the ocean. The paperwork said the woman didn’t own it. It was on a long lease to someone else. She came out onto the balcony, and I took a long look at her through the telephoto. She was attractive enough, lean with a gym body. That was all I needed. She was a cop; they have a way about them. And when Sammy’s accountant—a manicured little fucker they called Petey K.—stepped out behind her, I didn’t need to wonder why I was there anymore.
For two days they didn’t do much other than eat, fuck, and smoke cigarettes. I slept in the cabin and washed myself in the ocean. The humidity came up, and the breeze dropped like a stone. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the salt off me. So I sat there in my father’s boat, and it was just as bad as any car sit I’d been dumb enough to take on during summer.
On the third day she disappeared. Petey K. stuck to the bedroom and kitchen. Something was up.
That night Petey dragged something wrapped in a blue tarpaulin down to the sauna. There was a drain in there. Petey didn’t look good. He definitely wasn’t thinking straight. He had the lights on. The whole world could see him if they cared to.
I guess I wasn’t thinking too clearly either.
I went to shore and came up along the beach. The back door was wide open. Petey was still in the sauna when I came in. I peaked through the little window, and sure enough, he was hard at it, covered in blood. Her blood. It didn’t seem right to me, so when Petey came out I took care of him right there, like I had some sort of stake in it. Petey didn’t even seem to notice. He had no idea how he died.
In the end I dropped them both out into the bay. It was a stupid, impulsive move, but that’s how it gets in the summer. I had sweat in my eyes the whole time. The job was fucked, and I was going to need a new anchor.
Sammy called me himself.
“So I had a problem,” he said. “And now I don’t.”
“I like to fix my own problems. If I catch you anywhere near my problems again, you’re in trouble. You understand?”
He didn’t even mention the other half of the money.
Some mornings out on the bay, I think about Petey and the woman and how they’re lying on the sea floor somewhere beneath me. I don’t like to dwell on it, but it comes up. I can’t help it. As the boat skims through the water, I find myself standing at the wheel wondering how this one thing I had—the bay, this boat—and I wonder how even this got caught up in the rest of it.
IAIN RYAN is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He maintains a blog at www.iainryan.com.
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: Jul 28, 2014
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