“SHARD” by Arthur Nersesian
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, Arthur Nersesian (Mesopotamia, East Village Tetralogy, The Fuck-Up) sets his revenge drama within New York’s East Village. Next week, Staten Island Noir contributor Eddie Joyce brings racial tensions to a dark end.
by Arthur Nersesian
East Village, NY
One of greatest tests of self-control is the ability to keep your eyes closed even after you wake up. When I came to I knew he was watching and listening to me, checking to see if I had awoken yet. The gag taped in my mouth forced me to breathe through my nose, which I did steadily. When he started making little sounds, I peeked out: My abductor, a geeky kid in his late teens, was wearing a poncho, a shower cap, and surgical gloves, prepped for my kill. He was so thorough about not leaving any traces he didn’t perceive me as a threat. The chloroform he had gagged me with still lingered on my face. Only when I delicately pulled on my right wrist did I find I was shackled to the metal frame of my bed. I figured it was with my own handcuffs. My other wrist was flexcuffed to the other side of the bed, but he hadn’t snapped it tightly enough. With persistent turning—as he was preoccupied with something—I was slowly able to twist the plastic guard around the loose skin of my upper wrist. When I faintly opened my eyes, I realized he was reading the directions for smelling salt—he was just about to revive me.
I knew what would quickly follow: the slow and glorious evisceration of all my tender parts.
As motionless as death, I waited until he finally leaned in with the capsule of smelling salt. Then I grabbed him by his throat with my free hand and yanked him forward, slamming the top of my skull against his thin teenage forehead. He fell backward, out cold. On the end table were his cell and a glass. I dialed 911, tore off the gag, and explained: “I’m a cop! I got knocked out in my own apartment and this guy is about to slice me up!” I gave the operator my address.
Almost upon hanging up I heard the sirens. With my left hand still cuffed to the fucking mattress frame, I reviewed the facts: He had jumped me in my own apartment, clamping that chloroform-soaked rag over my mouth. Then he made the sophomore mistake every TV villain makes and instead of just offing me, he tried to exact some intricate revenge.
Then what? Sanchez, the head of homicide, would ask me in an hour.
On the end table, I saw his half-empty water glass. I reached over and gulped the water down. I would tell him I had slammed this glass against his jaw and though it had cut up my hand, one slim shard had unfortunately darted into his jugular.
Suddenly I heard the kid groaning, slowly coming to. Making a one-in-a-million accident effective was like having a single chance to thread a needle. I pulled the pillowcase off the pillow below me, slipped the glass inside and shattered it carefully on the edge of the table then searched through the shards for the longest, sharpest piece. I grabbed it carefully, and rolled forward as the kid started fumbling around. Using the bedsheet to protect my fingers, I sunk that jagged sliver straight into his lean muscular neck, neatly severing the jugular barely visible under his satiny skin. As blood started pulsing out, he grabbed his neck, jumped away from me, groaning and clumsily dancing stupidly around the room as though deflating.
Focused, I carefully fit the pillowcase back on my pillow, and ground my right hand into the remaining shards of glass, cutting my fingers. Trying to salvage his kill, the kid grabbed his knife. But he was already dizzy and though he managed to slice my left leg, which would strengthen my self-defense alibi, I kicked him away. When the cops finally banged on the door, the kid was down, but still conscious. “Hold on!” I called out, playing for time.
In a moment they were busting down the door.
“He . . . He . . . killed . . . my . . .” the kid fuzzed out.
“HE TRIED TO KILL ME!” I kept screaming over his dying words.
Although they worked on him, he was finished. With his dying breath, the kid had tried to explain that I had raped and slowly killed his sister. But her body would never be found, nor would any of the others. I admired the fact that pimple face had managed to figure out what a team of detectives could not. Too bad he didn’t know anything else.
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ARTHUR NERSESIAN is the author of nine novels, including The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx, The Swing Voter of Staten Island, Suicide Casanova, Manhattan Loverboy, East Village Tetrology, the cult-classic The Fuck-Up, dogrun, and Mesopotamia. His newest book, Gladyss of the Hunt,
will be available this fall from Verse Chorus Press. He lives in New York City.
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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 to [email protected] Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Mar 4, 2013