“Resolutions” by Robert Pope
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, Robert Pope drives into the countryside with two strangers near Akron, Ohio.
by Robert Pope
She brushed her hair, watching her hazel eyes, her wide lips, and her creamy dark complexion. The card lay on the vanity: John P. Fletcher. She put on the white dress she had laid out on her bed. She opened her purse, slid in the compact Ruger, silver with a black handgrip, and walked slowly to the corner to watch the snow that seemed to rise and fall at the same time in the glow of a street lamp. She’d allowed this luxury since January first, her resolution to do exactly as she wished, no hesitation, become the woman she wished to become.
After the New Year’s party she went home with a beautiful man. She told him her name was Mira once he cornered her in the hallway, where she saw pink and yellow splotches around him, stars and planets, snow. So gorgeous—thick hair, dark green eyes, fluttery eyelashes, pretty as a girl. Two beautiful people meant to be together one night in the twenty-first century.
Since then, the man from Main Street Bar, the boy who claimed to be Irish on St. Paddy’s Day, that fellow from the coffee shop. She laughed to remember how awkward she felt going to his apartment in the afternoon after nothing more than coffee: dizzy, swollen, not in a bad way.
The cold didn’t matter, of no consequence when she felt like this. If he didn’t materialize, she would go home, take a long, warm bath. She could feel it now, standing in the cold, when the dark blue BMW pulled to the curb and a door opened outward. She slid in toward the unfamiliar face, the brown gloves and coat, which she pulled open a bit, and, yes, the brown suit. He waited until they turned onto the freeway to take a thin, hand-made cigarette from inside his coat and lit it with a silver lighter, inhaling deeply before passing it to her.
She took it at the middle, sucked at it a few times before giving it back to him. She felt it rising to her head and lay back, her eyes closed. When the joint returned, she held it and looked in his dark eyes as they went from hers to the road, those eyelashes appearing and disappearing. She set it in the ashtray, where it went out slowly. “Get off the expressway,” she said.
He kept his eyes on the road as they drove past suburban houses into the trees, turning onto a smaller road with no street lights, and then he pulled over, the engine running. Snow rose and fell outside. In the moonlight through the windshield his mouth looked fine, his teeth strong.
“Your name is not John P. Fletcher.”
He raised his eyebrows and nodded. “And your name is not Mira.”
She touched her gloved finger to his lips.
“Will you do anything I want you to do—no words.”
When he nodded, she said, “Open your window.”
He shifted to push the button and cold air rushed in. Snow came inside on his shoulder, in his hair. When he started to speak, she pressed his lips harder with her finger.
He closed his eyes and nodded his head.
“Turn to face me, John P. Fletcher. Lean your head back, out the window.”
He hesitated, then set his back to the door, leaning his head back, out the window.
“Close your eyes and feel the sparkle on your eyelids.”
She took the Ruger from her purse, moved it toward him gently, until the tip of the barrel touched his throat. The part of John P. Fletcher she supposed he thought of as himself flew out the window. She reached around him, opening the door, then took off her shoes and pushed with bare feet. She shut the door, rolled up the window, turned on the overhead to make sure nothing spattered the interior, then turned it off.
She loved driving a fine car. This one purred like a cat. She loved the countryside, the occasional houses, and the suburban landscape. She parked in a lot behind St. Steven’s and walked to her apartment in the dark, snow sparkling around her.
She liked to think of him out there, in the country, in the silence of snow, as she reclined in a warm bath, sipping a glass of dark red wine.
ROBERT POPE has published a novel, Jack’s Universe, and a collection of stories, Private Acts, as well as many stories and personal essays in periodicals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, The Kenyon Review, and The Conium Review. He teaches at The University of Akron.
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: Dec 12, 2016