“One A.M., Grace Tuxedo Park” by Jim Naremore
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, Jim Naremore plans a getaway from Indianapolis.
One A.M., Grace Tuxedo Park
by Jim Naremore
Grace Tuxedo Park, Indianapolis, Indiana
The Del Coronado is a stupid name for a bar in Indianapolis. Especially in Grace Tuxedo Park. Especially in March. There’s nothing Del Coronado about Tuxedo Park even at the best of times, let alone when it’s thirty degrees outside and we haven’t strung three days of sunshine together since October. But given the neighborhood is called Grace Tuxedo Park, I guess it fits. There’s nothing Grace, Tuxedo, or Park about the neighborhood either. Hooray, denial.
Hard luck is equal opportunity in Tuxedo; black, white, Mexican, it doesn’t really matter. Hell, we even have the odd house full of Chinese, most of whom spoke zero English, conscripted into working slave labor in strip-mall dive Chinese restaurants, or, if you were unlucky enough to be female, maybe in one of the “oriental health spa” massage parlors doing God knows what to ugly humps of male refuse.
Anyway, I was behind the bar looking out the window at the rain and snow and a tower of soggy stuffed animals and plastic flowers lashed to a telephone poll—the memorial for the cop that had gotten shot right out in front of the place last summer. Indy 500 race banners rotted off facades. When they totally disappeared, it would be time to put up new ones. It was late and slow, just a couple of withered grey rag dolls hunched over Canadian Clubs. But then Stevie Sinclair came in.
She dragged a train of cold air in behind her, shrugged out of a red leather jacket, and tucked into the bar. My favorite customer. Big green eyes, tiger-blonde hair, and a smile that could suck every bad idea out of you into the open. Hard life was starting to show around her edges, but it was Tuxedo Park: you got what you got. She was funny and smart and she flirted like an angry hornet. More than once I’d talked my way into a high-octane kiss.
I leaned in behind the Greyhound I slid in front of her.
“Hey,” she kept flashing between that smile and a worried scowl like a broken light fixture. “What time is it?”
“It’s real good to see you, Kerry.” She gulped down her drink.
“Yeah, I missed you. Haven’t seen you around for a while. What’s been happening?”
“You know.” Something flickered over her face. “Too much of the same shit, right?” She slipped into a second Greyhound. “It’s tough to breathe around here. Claustrophobic.”
“Yeah, it can get like that. You seem a little edgy tonight.”
“I’ve just had it with this damn place.”
About six emotions tried to push their way out, but she held on. “Naw. I’m just ready for a change.” Then she hit me with her battering-ram smile. “So, if you wanted to get some place you could breathe, where would you go?”
“I dunno,” I said, looking out the window. “Out west? Maybe Mexico.”
“I always wanted to go there!”
“Yeah, Mexico is nice. Oaxaca. The Yucatan. I could go back there, then just keep going, you know? Costa Rica. Ecuador. Peru.”
“I’ve never been farther than Ft. Wayne. Never even been to Chicago.”
“Yeah, you told me that once.”
She smiled up at me again. “But I want to get away. South America sounds great. We should go.”
“You and me.” She gripped my forearm with both hands and pulled up against the rail. She leaned in close and tried to set me on fire with her eyes. “Screw everyone else. Let’s just go. I’ve wanted you since I first came in here. You gotta know that, right? And now I’ve got the money.”
“What do you mean, you’ve got the money?” Whatever she was doing, it was working. I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t care anymore.
“Forty thousand. Cash. I got it now. And I want to go. We can go tomorrow.” She was whispering and growling and pleading and preaching all at the same time. I wasn’t breathing anymore. “Please?”
I woke up every morning in Tuxedo alone, even when there was someone else in the bed. What was I supposed to say to that? “You’re serious?”
She beamed into me like an arc light and gripped my arm tighter. “Yeah. Let’s do this. One thing, though . . .”
I saw candy lights out front and looked over her shoulder.
“I’ve been here. With you. Since about eight. Okay?”
Two cops walked in through the front door.
JIM NAREMORE is part of the wave of new emerging authors and poets in Indianapolis. His first novel, The Arts Of Legerdemain As Taught By Ghosts, will be published later this year by Belle Lutte Press. Most recently, Jim has had short fiction published in Chicago Literati, Emrys Journal, and Elohi Gadugi Journal. Ever since its unveiling in downtown Indianapolis, Jim has had the slightly disconcerting feeling a thirty-foot Kurt Vonnegut mural has been watching him. And possibly smirking. But that’s probably his imagination. The smirking, he means.
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 [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Apr 18, 2016
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