Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » October 2017 » “The Hungry Policeman” by Tom Larsen

“The Hungry Policeman” by Tom Larsen

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, Tom Larsen’s Ecuadorian policeman tries to enjoy a meal.

The Hungry Policeman
by: Tom Larsen
Cuenca, Ecuador

Capitán Ernesto Guillén, the chief of detectives for Zone Six of Ecuador’s Policía Nacional, was tired and cranky, but most of all hungry. It was seven a.m. and he should have been home sitting down to a plate of eggs and mote, with fried plantains and a cup of sweet hot coffee with milk. Instead, he’d been called out to leave his warm bed at two a.m. to investigate a murder.The little man sitting in the hard wooden chair on the other side of Guillén’s desk was lying, but that was okay.

If everyone told the truth, I wouldn’t have a job, Guillén was fond of saying.

“Should I have an attorney?” the little man asked.

Guillén swatted the notion aside as if it were a pesky fly. “We’re just talking, you and I,” he said, his prodigious stomach rumbling like far-off thunder. “Tell me again what happened.”

The man’s story was that he’d parked his taxi on the nearly deserted Avenida 12 de Abril and went to relieve himself behind a big eucalyptus tree along the bank of the Tomebamba River. When he saw the police lights and all the cops milling about, he had edged forward to get a closer look. A patrolman saw him lurking there and called to him, but the man had run.

“I’m afraid of cops,” he whined, by way of explanation.

Guillén grunted. “What do you think happened, Señor Neira?” he asked.

Neira tried to look confused. “Someone hit him in the back of the head and killed him; didn’t they?”

“With what?” Guillen spread his hands palm up in front of him and then laced them across his belly.

“How would I know?” Neira asked. “Isn’t that your job?”

“There was no murder weapon found at the scene,” Guillén said, as if the other man hadn’t spoken.

Neira shrugged, raising his own hands palm up, as Guillén had done.

Guillén leaned back, his chair squealing in protest under the big man’s bulk. “Here’s what I think,” he said, placing the tips of his fingers together as if in prayer. “This young man had no money. You gave him a ride in your taxi, and when you stopped, he got out and ran. You chased him down. When he got to the bank of the river, he couldn’t go any farther.”

“I want a lawyer,” Neira said, folding his arms in front of him.

“You got close to him,” Guillén continued undeterred. “But he turned and ran upriver. You’re not a young man, Señor Neira. You couldn’t keep up.”

“I want a lawyer!” Neira repeated, louder now.

“So, you picked up a rock and you hit him in the back of the head!” Guillén leaned forward with his hands on the desk in front of him. “For what, Señor Neira?” He stood up, but maintained his threatening posture. “For a two-dollar fare? Three dollars, maybe?”

“No!” Neira yelled, standing up as well. “That’s not how it happened!”

“Oh? How did it happen?” Guillén sat down again, a smile on his face. Maybe this will be done in time for lunch, after all, he thought.

“I want a lawyer!” Neira sat down as well.

“Stop saying that!” Guillén slammed his hand down on the desk, causing Neira to shrink back involuntarily. An angry Ernesto Guillén was a fearsome sight to behold. His coal-black eyes seemed to glow with fury from beneath his protruding brow, his jowls shook, and his face turned as red as was humanly possible for a brown-skinned man.

“We know who the victim is, of course,” Guillén said, suddenly as calm as a spring day.

Neira’s face registered surprise and then disbelief.

“No,” Guillén said. “We didn’t find his papers. You made sure of that. But, this man is—was—known to us. As a male prostitute. You had sex with him.” Guillén shuddered at the thought. “And he wanted too much money. Or….” He shrugged. “It could have happened in any number of ways, but you killed him. There’s no doubt about that.”

Neira seemed to become even smaller, his shoulders sagged and his eyes welled up with tears.

“I need a lawyer,” he said, almost inaudibly.

“Yes,” Guillén agreed. “And I need a coffee, and some of those chocolate sweetbreads from the panadería across the street.” He signaled to the two patrol officers who stood at attention in one corner of the office. “Let’s see if we can both get what we need.”

***

Tom Larsen was born and raised in New Jersey and has lived in Cuenca, Ecuador since June, 2014. He is the author of five novels in the crime fiction genre—all available as e-books on Amazon.com. Two of his short mysteries set in Cuenca will appear soon in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

***

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: Oct 23, 2017

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



Featured: Black Interest