“No Mercy for Jameson” by Howard Gimple
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, Howard Gimple takes us to an unconventional recruitment center.
No Mercy for Jameson
by Howard Gimple
New York, NY
Eammon Doyle wrapped his fist on the bar. “This is Col. James Kelleher, Jungle Jim to his friends. He’s just back from Belfast. I know some of you lads are thinking of joining the fight, so I asked him to talk to you.” Doyle’s downtown tavern, DeValera’s, was a key IRA fundraising and recruitment center.
Kelleher spoke in a low voice. “Hello, men. I’m not here to sign you up, just the opposite. I’m here to tell you that if you got any romantic notions about battling the British for fame and glory, forget it. The Brits are well-trained and well-equipped. The IRA is a fucking unruly mob. Training is minimal, discipline is lax and the equipment is either ancient, broken, or homemade.”
One of the boys stood up. “So what are you telling us, that we haven’t got a chance?”
“No, I think you can win. But it’ll be a long, slow, war of attrition. The Brits don’t want to be there and you’ve got to punish them for staying. It may be a noble cause, but it won’t be a noble fight. You will never see real combat, only assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, and murder. Innocent people will be killed. You’ll be hated and vilified, branded as criminals and killers, even by some of your own people. If you’re not killed, there’s a better than even chance you’ll spend your life rotting in a British jail.” He looked out at the sullen crowd. “Now, if any of you are still interested, give your name to Mr. Doyle.”
A voice from the back of the bar shouted, “So, if it’s so bloody awful, why do you do it, Mr. Jungle Fuckin’ Jim Kelleher?”
“I don’t do it because I’m Irish or because I believe in a free Ireland, though I am and I do. I do it because the IRA Central Committee pays me handsomely for my work.” Kelleher glared at the kid. “And I wouldn’t advise talking to me in that tone again—next time I might take offense.”
Doyle stood. “Don’t be givin’ Colonel Kelleher a hard time. What he’s tellin’ you is true. I thank him for sayin’ it, and you lads for hearin’ it. Now everybody in the house gets a drink on me.
Brigid Quinlan walked over to Kelleher. “What can I get for you Colonel?”
“Double Jack Daniels, straight up,” he mumbled, unable to take his eyes off her.
As soon as she left, a young headbanger walked over to him. He wore a black t-shirt, black jeans and motorcycle boots. “You think yer sho tough,” he slurred.
“Go home boy, you’ve had enough.”
“Washa matter, too chickenshit to fight me?”
The kid launched a slow roundhouse right. Kelleher caught the flailing fist and bent it all the way back. There was an audible crack. The kid yelped then cried, “You broke my wrist, you fuckin’ bastard!”
Kelleher let go. The young punk fell backwards onto the floor. Kelleher looked down at him. “Remember what just happened the next time you decide to take a swing at somebody.”
The kid rocked back and forth, holding his wrist, wailing, “Fuckin’ bastard, fuckin’ bastard, fuckin’ bastard.”
As soon as Kelleher turned his back, three of the kid’s buddies jumped him. Kelleher tried to shove them off, but his arms were pinned at his sides. They flailed away, fists and feet coming from all different angles. It was like fighting a drunken octopus. He grabbed a finger, twisted it and heard a muffled yelp, but whoever was attached to it was too shitfaced to feel much pain.
Brigid tried to get to Kelleher but Doyle held her back. “Don’t worry darlin’, Colonel Kelleher is fully capable of takin’ care of himself.”
After a minute, she broke free, grabbed a half-full bottle of Jameson’s Irish Whisky and cracked it over the head of the one holding Kelleher. The kid fell awkwardly to the floor.
Kelleher quickly subdued the remaining two—cracking two ribs on one, then head-butting the other, dislocating his jaw.
“That was a terrible thing you just did,” Doyle said.
Brigid glared at him. “You have a problem with women in bar fights?”
“Not at all.” He grinned. “I thought you acquitted yourself well, save for one thing. The next time you want to knock someone on the head, grab a water bottle, a soda bottle, even a baby’s bottle fer chrissakes—but please, keep your hands off the John Jameson.”
HOWARD GIMPLE recently left his position as senior writer for the Stony Brook University alumni magazine and website to pursue writing fiction full time. While at Stony Brook, he taught two freshman seminars: “Rock & Relevance,” about the political influence of ’60s rock ’n’ roll, and “Filthy Shakespeare,” exploring the dramatic use of sexual puns and innuendos in the plays of William Shakespeare. Prior to that, he was a writer at Newsday and an advertising copywriter. Born in Flatbush, the heart of Brooklyn, Howard now lives on the north shore of Long Island with his wife Chris and his two goldendoodles, Brinkley and Mia.
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—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.
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Posted: Mar 20, 2017