“The Long Shadow of Sing Sing” by Michael Boatman
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, Michael Boatman goes for a drive in Ossining.
Ossining sits thirty-nine miles north of New York City. A fifty-minute drive up NY Route 9 will take you along the Hudson River and up into Westchester County, past sweet little river towns like Ardsley and Tarrytown, where respectable people live. Once, I lived in Tarrytown, in a six-bedroom Tudor set high in the hills. My living room windows looked out across the Hudson to the green expanse of Rockland County on its far side. This was back when I was married; before Floyd Flake bit off my left ear and won the World Heavyweight title by a “knockout.” It was Sonny Troubadour’s last professional defeat, but it birthed a million harder losses.
Ossining was once home to the famous alcoholic writer John Cheever. Currently, it’s home to Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison, although you’d never know it if you asked the town’s more upscale inhabitants.
At two a.m. on what’s already the hottest July 4th in recent memory, I’m baking inside my ten-year-old Ford Fiesta, waiting for the red light at the intersection of Main Street and Highland Avenue: there’s a 9mm handgun waiting in my top left desk drawer back at Troubadour Investigations. I’ve never used it, but you’d be amazed by how much chasing cheating spouses and picking through trashcans will drain the spirit.
Green light. I take my foot off the brake pedal and something rams my car from behind. I brake. Looking up into the rearview mirror, I see an Asian woman with short black hair, her large eyeglasses reflecting the green light. She’s waving at me with both hands. I throw my car into park and get out, and the Asian woman jumps out of her SUV, moving fast.
A man steps out of the front passenger seat of the SUV, followed by a second, younger man. They look like Arabs. As the older man approaches, he shoves something down the back of his pants. The younger man, a preppy type in John Lennon eyeglasses, pink Polo shirt, shorts and flip-flops, looks worried.
“You okay?” the older man says. He’s about six-feet tall, shorter than me, but solid through the middle. In the ninety-degree night air I can see sweat glistening on his big, hairy forearms. “We’re ok,” he grins. “You ok?”
The woman grabs my right hand as if to shake it, and whispers, “Please… my family…”
She’s small, plump—someone’s grandmother, maybe.
“You okay, my brother?” the older man says.
The young preppy is looking back and forth between the older man, the Asian lady, and me like he’s watching a ping-pong match gone sideways. He starts to speak but the older man makes a slicing motion with his right fist.
“Everybody’s good in our car,” the first guy says. “Nobody’s hurt.”
The older man’s voice is friendly. His body tells me a different story.
“Please,” the Asian lady whispers. “My family…Korea…”
“Let me make sure,” I say, eying my rear bumper: there’s a ding there alright—not that you’d notice—but I take my time. I take out my phone.
“Not bad, brother,” the older man says. “No need to call insurance. I’ve got cash.”
He growls something in Arabic. The Asian lady shakes her head and squeezes my hand even tighter.
“Felt somethin’ pop,” I say. “My neck. Probably should call the cops to make a report.”
That’s when the older man pulls his revolver. Dawn is three hours away and the intersection is deserted. He strides between the two cars and points his gun at my face.
“Get in your car, motherfucker,” he says. “Fuck off!”
I raise my hands and back away. When the older man leans in to grab the lady, I sidestep, grab his right wrist with my left hand, pull him in and hit him with a right jab. His nose breaks. The gun drops. He goes down.
The preppy flip-flops between the cars, rushing to his father’s side. I clock him with a left hook and send him to the family reunion.
The Asian lady is thanking me.
“Police?” I say, thinking of Dave Jackson, my friend on the O.P.D. I’m also thinking about trashcans… and the gun waiting in my desk drawer.
The Asian lady takes my right hand and kisses it. “Yes. Police!”
But now I’m thinking about a family… people I don’t even know, somewhere in Korea. Waiting for news. For her.
And so… we go.
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: Nov 21, 2016