“No Prescription Required for Murder” by ID Smith
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, ID Smith takes us to London, where murderers can pop up in unexpected places. Next week, Paul Renault lends a helping hand in Charlottesville, Virginia.
University College, London. Johnson marched me through the clipped campus, down echoing corridors, past alabaster busts and locked doors. At the end of a long corridor, he stopped at a door marked Private.
“It’s never too late for university, Cartier,” he said, knocking.
“Pray enter,” said a voice from within.
Sam Goldfrapp drummed his desk, his trademark round shades bulging out of his crop of mad hair, framed certificates multiplying across the walls.
“You must have a very good excuse,” he said, hands clasped as though praying. “Considering the gravity of the situation.”
“Considering the gravity of the situation,” I repeated. “No.”
“What the fuck have you been doing, Cartier?” He slammed the desk. “Linda Mandraballi,” he shouted. “Chakra is murdering the innocents.”
“Dr. Chakra,” I told him, “is just another downtown crank.”
“Chakra is no doctor,” Goldfrapp added. “Chakra is a fake, a purveyor of dangerous quackery, a murderous psychopath who’s destroying young lives.”
“You don’t say.”
“Maybe you overlooked that piece of evidence, Cartier.”
“Maybe I did,” I added, folding my arms. “Maybe I didn’t.”
Soho, London. Cars moved slowly in the half-light. People walked in and out of shadows, their heads down, their collars turned up. Establishments pedalling cheap thrills lit up the wet street, and a pink neon sign advertised pills for every occasion. I found the Night and Fog—a green lantern above a purple door with rot in hell scratched on it.
“You scared, Johnson?” I asked.
“Hell no,” he replied.
Night and Fog was empty. Smoke filled the air, a kind of herbal scent.
“Breathe in,” said Johnson, his arm over his mouth, “and die.”
A gold-toothed barman polished a glass and held it up. He nodded. At the end of the bar, a blonde peered over a glass of absinthe, her lipstick smudged, her mascara streaked. She held up the milky glass and emptied it. I placed my card in front of her. She tapped a long cigarette.
“Losers,” she said, lighting the cigarette.
“I read Goldfrapp’s rant,” she said, blowing out smoke. “I guess he sent you. The Voice of Reason.”
“Goldfrapp doesn’t tell me what to do,” I said.
Dr. Chakra clicked her fingers.
“Un altro,” she said to the barman. “And some water for these fuckwits.”
“Make that two,” I added. “And hold the water.”
The barman poured and Chakra emptied the glass.
“Goldfrapp is trying to bring us all down,” she said.
“Speak for yourself,” I told her, knocking back the absinthe so my head split open.
One shot in the Night and Fog could stymie a heavyweight boxer, no prescription required.
“At the end of the day,” she continued, “we are what we are. He can’t stand that. We go back a long way. Medical students. He grew tired of me. Then he discovered the surgeon’s knife.”
“Bullshit,” said Johnson.
“’Course it is,” she added. “What else would it be? Bullshit on a velvet glove.’”
“Show her the trace on the kid’s money,” I said.
“You take her money,” Johnson said, “and then Linda floats downstream.”
“You want me to weep blood?” she asked, lifting her shaking hands. “Believe me, boys, I’m no slicer. I can’t even light a cigarette.”
“You’re certainly no doctor,” added Johnson.
“I wanted Linda to feel good about herself,” she continued. “Is that such a crime? Keep looking, guys. The murderer is out there. You have to go that extra mile.”
Chakra blew smoke into the empty glass and inhaled.
“Or maybe you don’t have to go that far,” she added, touching the rim of the glass with the tip of her tongue. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
The next day, my mind was strung out like a hangman’s noose when I got a call from Johnson. I arrived at a smoke-filled room above the Night and Fog.
“I found him this way,” Johnson said.
Goldfrapp was handcuffed to a chair. I turned the spotlight onto him and passed a cigarette in front of his blindfold.
“You owe Chakra an apology,” I told him.
He tilted his head back and sniffed.
“You disappoint me, Cartier,” he replied. “I thought you would present some kind of challenge. Of course Linda Mandraballi paid me a visit. Done this before? I asked, circling her chin and dotting her cheeks. She didn’t flinch, like all her sort.”
“Why the blindfold?” I asked.
“I want to see everything,” he replied. “Every last detail.”
“Take it off, Johnson.”
Goldfrapp winced, his eyelids stitched back and flecked with blood, his self-inflicted cuts and raw muscles twitching.
“You see,” he said, “I just couldn’t help myself.”
Born in rain-swept Manchester, in the UK, ID SMITH is a full time un-agented debut author. His short stories “Big Pulp,” “Transmission,” “The Front View,” and others appear in the collection Jack Kerouac Eats Here (Authonomy, 2011). He is the author of two self-published novels — Tony Blair: The Wilderness Years (Createspace, 2003) and Stop the World, I Want to Get On (Authonomy, 2011) — and a third novel, Baking Cakes for Winston Churchill.
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: Dec 22, 2014
Category: Mondays Are Murder | Tags: Mondays Are Murder, Noir Series, England, London, flash fiction, short fiction, United Kingdom, Great Britain, ID Smith, No Prescription Required for Murder, Soho, University College London
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