“The Revolution Will Not be Televised” by Susan Daitch
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, Susan Daitch takes us to Saratoga Springs for some deadly history. Next week, Madeleine Angevine goes to Seattle to show why you should never exercise alone.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
by Susan Daitch
Saratoga Springs, New York
They were lying about the weight. Flip worked at the New York Racing Association, and he heard: Fredo here, Maximiliano there, five pounds here, even ten there. They were heavier than their declared weights. And if you knew the real numbers the jockeys were weighing in at, you knew the lighter. The honest jockey had a better chance at winning. Better than better. Flip had been watching all summer from opening day up to the Travers, and he’d been right on the money every time.
Tokyo Story, ridden by Caldero, he told me, Caldero’s the size of an underweight third grader. I gave him a bundle for Tokyo Story. What was in my bundle? All I had from the summer working as a bartender at the Grand Union Hotel on Broadway. Tips would be down until next June. I needed what I gave him, but I also needed it to maximize. I had planned to be halfway to East Jesus once the racing season had ended, but now I had nothing except continuing at the bar with diminishing returns, and getting a day shift at the mall.
Labor Day we were dressed as minutemen and -women, and we headed for the reenactment of the Battle of Saratoga. The air was already crisp and the pine forests that lined Route 9 were taking back the landscape from the folks who flocked to town for the ballet, symphony, and the track. Flip was driving his Lexus SUV. He turned down my offer to pick him up in my Ford Taurus from the Bush/Cheney era. Flip was not one to respect anyone’s sad hustle.
The back seat of his Lexus was filled with the gear we used for the reenactment. Our fucked-up Revolutionary-era replica guns—no ammo—just produced a lot of smoke. Cannons were trucked over in a leftover horse van from a storage facility near the Hall of Springs. The Battles of Saratoga marked a change in the colonists’ fortunes. The British were surrounded by the more numerous and adventurous American militias, and that was pretty much it for them.
“What’s with the Annie Oakley getup?” Flip asked as I slid into the car.
“My Betsy Ross suit is at the dry cleaner’s.” The truth was, I couldn’t afford to rent the required costume, and did the best I could under the circumstances.
Flip had eyes the color of a blueberry martini ordered by the descendants of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. He braided his skinny graying ponytail. With the three-cornered hat covering his bald spot, you could tell he thought he looked younger, and he swaggered onto the field. For the battle he was wearing striped socks and buckled shoes, so his feet looked sort of like those of the Wicked Witch, from the scene where only her feet stick out from underneath the tornadoed house.
A few tourists and mostly local families lined the field, holding phones up, though they are asked, for the sake of authenticity, not to take pictures during the battle. Some onlookers were in costume, Nikes worn with britches, ear buds poking out from under wigs. The battle reenactment marked the end of the summer, when the waters receded and tourists would be few and far between for the next eight months. Participants really got into it every year. Sykes from Sykes Sporting looked fierce in British red. He was going to kill some colonists. Ryan, my boss from the hotel, was beside him, ramming a rod down his gun, equally looking out for blood. But then, that was his everyday demeanor. He was always out for blood. They’re lucky the ammo is fake and Revolutionary-era ballistics suck. Neither were speaking to Flip, I noticed.
The head of the NYRA—a big man, bigger even than the mayor, I kid you not—had the honor of giving the signal to start firing. Cannons boomed, and the shooting began. There was a lot of smoke from our armaments, a lot of screaming; some folks lay on the ground, faking death. There was always some actual hand-to-hand combat, and I steered clear of my boss. I didn’t think he would hit me, but he had been known to take role-playing a little too far. After about thirty minutes, the smoke cleared, and all the dead got back to their feet. Except one.
Tokyo Story lost the Travers by a long shot. But, funnily enough, Flip was planning a trip to Florida for the winter.
I didn’t leave any clothes in his car. I’d figured I’d have to get another ride home.
SUSAN DAITCH is the author of three novels and a book of short fiction. She teaches at Hunter College and Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her son.
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 [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: May 5, 2014
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