“Rendezvous” by Katia D. Ulysse
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, Drifting author Katia D. Ulysse will bring us along on a “Rendezvous.” Next week, Susan Daitch takes us to Saratoga Springs for some deadly history.
by Katia D. Ulysse
Southeast Baltimore, Maryland
Chloe Zolovská had sworn never to return to Southeast Baltimore’s wasteland of condemned rowhouses, abandoned factories, defunct railroad tracks, pimps, hookers, junkies, and the babies they had by accident—including her—but there she was.
Behind the charred recreation center, in the backseat of an Escalade with tinted windows, Chloe shed her Employee of the Month attire for a hoodie and jeans. She opened the center armrest compartment, removed the revolver and hundred-dollar bill rolled over a wad of play money. She hesitated before leaving her vehicle, certain she had forgotten something—but what? She slipped the gun in one pocket, the money in the other. She was ready.
Trash-strewn Patapsco Avenue was bustling with dope dealers and their loyal customers. Chloe kept her head down, lest someone recognized her. R.I.P. graffiti memorials of stuffed animals and deflated balloons duct-taped to light posts made her itch. Without noticing, she stepped on a broken bottle and nearly fell. She shoved her hand into the pocket with the gun. Two bullets in Dawn’s chest, one in the head, and Chloe would never have to smell Southeast Baltimore again.
In an abandoned house several blocks away, Dawn yearned to push the needle into her good vein; but since Fentanyl-laced heroin was death waiting to happen, she would not deprive Chloe of a single drop.
Back when they were students at Benjamin Franklin High, everyone called them “The Twins”—even though Chloe was an honest-to-goodness second-generation Ukrainian-American and Dawn’s ethnic label was Other.
From freshman through senior years, The Twins worked every day before and after school. They scoffed at friends who settled for a McDonald’s salary when they could have earned twice that amount dealing dope to classmates and their parents.
Dawn dropped out right before graduation; the job kept her busy. And when she was not on the streets, she enjoyed shooting up and breaking into homes where people confused coffee canisters for safety deposit boxes.
Chloe had said, “I want better for myself.”
“Where you gonna get that?” Dawn asked.
“Any place but here.”
Dawn laughed, but she would not see Chloe again for nine years.
When Dawn sent a Facebook friend request nine years later, she was surprised by how quickly Chloe confirmed it. One click of the Enter key, and The Twins were conjoined again.
“How have you been?” Chloe asked.
“Locked up,” Dawn said. “Selling in a school zone is no joke. Bastards called themselves giving me a fair trial. I blinked. Got ten with no goddamn parole. I wouldn’t wish Jessup on nobody.”
“Damn!” Chloe said. She regretted having confirmed Dawn’s friend request. She regretted posting so many pictures of herself, her husband, her kids, their home, the vacations they took, the food they ate, the dog.
“I need a hookup. Being that I just got out and all.”
“Sure.” Chloe chewed the skin inside her mouth angrily.
In the few months since The Twins reconnected, Chloe gave Dawn thousands. Once, when Chloe explained she couldn’t spare another nickel, Dawn went to Chloe’s job with tears popping out of her eyes, waving arms polka-dotted with track-marks.
Chloe unfriended and blocked Dawn from contacting her. Within hours, Dawn was at Chloe’s house.
“Yes?” Chloe’s husband said after opening the front door.
“Chloe home?” Dawn craned her head, hoping to answer her own question.
Before he could answer, Chloe was now between him and Dawn.
“You know her?” Chloe’s husband asked, bewildered.
“Not really.” Chloe shut the door behind her. She’d make up an explanation later.
“The fuck do you want, Dawn?”
“You already know.”
“In your dreams.”
“Not even for old times?” She showed Chloe a dated selfie of them locked in a kiss.
“When and where?” Chloe whispered.
“Tonight. Same place.”
“Go to hell.”
“See you there.”Dawn smirked.
Chloe hesitated before entering Dawn’s place, trying to recall whatever it was she couldn’t.
“Hot damn!” Dawn exclaimed. She shifted toward Chloe, saying: “Where my hug, girl?”
“Come get it,” Chloe whispered.
Dawn wrapped her arms around Chloe’s waist. “You’re my thrill.” She did her best Billie Holiday impression.
Chloe curled her index finger around the trigger and pulled.
Dawn’s eyes widened. Like someone drowning, she clutched Chloe’s neck. When Chloe pulled the trigger a second time, Dawn gripped even tighter. She would not drown alone.
The floorboards were a black hole now, sucking The Twins down. And although her eyelids were like lead, Chloe remembered what she had forgotten: inside the center armrest compartment, a box of ammo. Unopened.
KATIA D. ULYSSE, a native of Haiti, writes in English and Haitian Creole. Her work appears in The Caribbean Writer, Meridians, Peregrine, Smartish Pace, and others. Stories are anthologized in Macomère, Brassage, Butterfly’s Way, Haiti Noir, Mozayïk, and others. Drifting is her first book of fiction.
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: Apr 28, 2014
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