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News & Features » January 2019 » “Our Dirty Little Secrets” by Geoffrey Philp

“Our Dirty Little Secrets” by Geoffrey Philp

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, a man reflects on the past to make a decision in the present.

Our Dirty Little Secrets
by Geoffrey Philp
North Miami Beach, Florida

It must have been a gunshot. I’d know the sound of a .45 anywhere. And it came from upstairs. But I wasn’t going to let my curiosity get the better of me, like my captain in Afghanistan used to warn me.

Besides, the last time I poked my nose into Manny’s business, he threatened to call the cops. Manny is the president of our condo, and he’s always boasting about how he got his buddies in the police department, where he works as a dispatcher, to patrol the parking lot on Sundays. But they weren’t here now. It was Friday afternoon and Manny had blown his paycheck last night at the titty bar where I work as a bouncer.

Manny and Carla have been fighting over money for years. Carla, the real breadwinner, works graveyard shifts as a nurse in our local hospital.

During their last fight, I heard a dull thud like a body hitting the floor.  I thought the ceiling was going to fall on me. When I rushed upstairs, Manny opened the door. He had a .45 in his waist. Carla was standing behind him. She’d covered her face. Blood was streaming down her arms.

“Is everything okay?”

“Mind your own fucking business,” Manny said and patted his gun. Manny loves to taunt me, but I kept my cool. But if you keep pushing someone like me, one day we’re gonna explode.

“And if you come back, I’ll tell the cops about the gan-ja you’ve been smoking,” he said imitating a Jamaican accent.

From then on, I minded my own business. I didn’t need cops harassing me over herb. It’s the only thing that controls my PTSD and I’ve had a hard time holding down a job. This has been the best job that I’ve had in a long time and I didn’t want to blow it.

But I hated the thought that Manny was beating Carla. She reminded me of my mother, who for years endured beatings from my father. My mother didn’t have anyone to defend her and I wasn’t big enough, so we had to run away from Jamaica.

Somehow my mother got visas and plane tickets and we came to Miami. Because we were illegals, my mother, who worked as a secretary in Jamaica, had to work as private nurse for an old lady up in Boca. She would work weekends, holidays—any time they would call, she would answer. Her son paid her under the table and it wasn’t much.

I joined the army so we could have a little money and we wouldn’t have to worry about ICE for the rest of our lives. I did two tours of Afghanistan until I barged in on my captain forcing himself on a female MP. I broke his jaw and he got me dishonorably discharged for smoking herb.

When I came home, my mother was disappointed, but she understood. Luckily, I came home in time to spend time with her before she died from liver cancer. That’s when she told me about the things that the woman’s son forced her to do so we could keep a roof over our heads. He died before I could strangle him to death.

We went through desperate times like just before I joined the army. I didn’t have any money, so I decided to break into the card dispenser for the laundry machines in the condo.

Carla was making the rounds for Manny, visiting an old lady, who was always complaining about an alligator in the lake behind her apartment that no one has ever seen, when she caught me. But she never said anything.

If I’d been arrested, I wouldn’t have been able to join the army. From then on, we had an unspoken agreement. She’d have her secrets and I’d have mine.

After I finished smoking, I put on my uniform and listened carefully if there were any other noises from upstairs. There weren’t, so I figured everything was okay. Still things were quiet. Too quiet.

I let my curiosity get the better of me and I went upstairs. I was going to kick Manny’s ass if he tried anything. I knocked on the door and it swung open. Carla was wrapping Manny’s body in their carpet. I looked at her and she looked back at me. I didn’t ask any questions. I closed the door and walked away. Her secret was safe. Besides, I never really liked that guy.

 

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Born in Jamaica, GEOFFREY PHILP is the author of the novel, Garvey’s Ghost. His work is represented in nearly every major anthology of Caribbean literature (including Iron Balloons, published by Akashic Books!) and he is one of the few writers whose work has been published in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. Philip lives in Miami, Florida and is currently working on a graphic novel, My Name is Marcus Garvey.

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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 info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jan 14, 2019

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



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