“The Late, Late Show” by John Hegenberger
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, John Hegenberger tries to be a good citizen.
I looked out my apartment window through the Venetian blinds down at a street full of shadows.
In the dim light of the lamppost, I could just make out two young hoodlums breaking into a car that had been left there overnight.
I thought about going down and kicking their butts, but that would mean I’d have to get up onto my crutches. To hell with it. I went over to the phone and dialed the police.
While I waited for the cops to pick up, I crushed out my Dutch Master and turned down the sound on the TV.
Down in the street, I heard the sound of shattering glass. A car alarm began to whoop.
I hung up and went back to the window. The kids were gone.
But there was a man dressed in black next to the car below me. He wore a long coat or hooded cape and he carried a baseball bat. The passenger window had been smashed and he was rummaging inside.
I went back to the phone and rotary dialed the cops again.
This time, they came on the line. “911. What’s your emergency?”
“There’s a man on the 800 block of Mulberry Street dressed in black. He’s got a bat and has broken into a parked car.”
The voice on the phone said, “Hello? Sir? Did you just say you saw Batman on the street?”
My stomach began to boil and I tasted bile. Stupid cops are never there when you need them. Hadn’t been there in ’98 when I’d caught a slug in the leg during an insurance investigation.
“Never mind.” I hung up the phone and went back to the window, raising the blinds.
The man in black was still down there. The car was still whooping. The man acted nervous, and now I saw he had a gun.
If someone didn’t do something, someone would get shot.
I cursed and opened the window all the way.
The man looked up at me, but I couldn’t see his face in the darkness.
His gun moved toward me.
That’s when I shot him.
He dropped like a sack of ball-peen hammers.
Twenty minutes later, the cops knocked at my apartment door. They’d traced my 911 call and wanted to know why I’d fired on the car’s owner. Said he was defending his vehicle from a break-in.
I pretended I had Alzheimer’s, but I don’t think that they bought it.
I honestly don’t recall for sure because The Late Show was coming on the TV, and I love that old Art Carney movie.
JOHN HEGENBERGER is the author of several series: Stan Wade LAPI in 1959, Eliot Cross Columbus-based PI in 1988, Ace Hart, western gambler in Arizona in 1873, and Tripleye, the first PI agency on Mars. www.johnhegenberger.com
Posted: Dec 14, 2015
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