“Tiburon, CA” by George Masters
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, George Masters swims with the sharks in Tiburon, California. Next week, Darryl Graff takes us to Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, a community with its very own superhero.
Tedesco was dead, frozen and wrapped in a tarp in the back of the Chevy Suburban when Berlin stopped for coffee in Tiburon. It was still dark, and Sweet Things was the only store with its lights on. In front of the bakery sat a Tiburon police black-and-white. Berlin parked next to it. In the bakery window two uniformed officers faced each other drinking coffee.
I looked at Berlin. He said, “What?” Stretching his neck to see past the cops, his attention on the woman behind the counter, he said, “Alison brews my coffee here, and I’ll tell you what, that’s one nice lady.”
I said, “Are you nuts?”
I said, “San Quentin’s not far, Berlin. What, six, seven miles? Why don’t we just walk over and turn ourselves in?”
“I promised you coffee, and coffee you shall have.” The old man gave me a fatherly pat on the knee. “Come on, relax, I’ll introduce you.”
The two cops checked us out. One waved.
“Joe, Pete,” said Berlin to the officers. In front of a glassed array of pastries, Berlin beamed and opened his arms. “God, I love the smell of a real bakery.”
Berlin introduced me to Alison, the owner, who said to him, “You’re up early.”
Berlin said, “Going fishing, my dear.”
Alison said, “Women love him, fish fear him.”
The cops chuckled. Berlin ordered coffee, scones, and sandwiches to go. In the bathroom I scrubbed the grease off my hands and took care of business. In the mirror I got a look at my mug.
Tiburon is Spanish for shark. Making our way through town, the smell of food and coffee battled my imagination. I said, “Am I getting the first whiff of Tedesco?”
Berlin said, “Probably the bait.”
The Corinthian Yacht Club was asleep, and Berlin parked us close to the water. Making certain we were alone, we hustled the body, the head, and six bags of chum down the dock to a thirty-seven-foot twin engine Boston Whaler.
Beginning to defrost, Tedesco the package was becoming slightly bendable and took up most of the small cabin below. Berlin got the outboards started; I handled the lines. Soon we were westbound on the bay, approaching the Golden Gate Bridge.
Once we cleared the Marin headlands, the wind strengthened. By the time we reached the shark-infested waters of the Farallon Islands, the rising sun turned the sea a gunmetal blue.
Berlin shifted the engines to idle. Drifting, we emptied the bags of chum over the side. It didn’t take long for the big ones to arrive. Smelling and tasting blood, the sharks began to flash beneath the boat like unguided torpedoes. The chum driving them crazy, they’d break the surface, their scarred fins cutting the water like table saws. Dumping Tedesco and his head to an appreciative audience, we moved about five few miles east and began to fish.
With a line in the water, I stood sideways to the sun and cast a lean shadow. Not much of me there, I thought. Our backs to one another, neither Berlin nor I spoke. In the shallow swells I flashed back to my dream of Tedesco ripping apart the kitchen cabinets looking for his head.
Tired of the recent killings, discouraged by their aftermath, I’d become weary of the weight. An obscure somberness had developed during the last several weeks, leaving an unexplainable stiffness that started at the back of my neck and shoulders and traveled down into my hands.
I remembered boyhood and how it had been to fish with my father and brother and wanted nothing more than to return to that and be done with the business of violence.
Not wanting to think about Tedesco, I did anyway. Seeing the head hit the water and immediately gulped like an aspirin, I hoped this would be the end of it. Had we been closer to land and with no sharks about, I considered diving off the boat and swimming ashore, never to see or hear from Berlin again.
Feet braced against the roll of the boat, the sun now came straight down and I cast no shadow. Swallowing the fantasy of escape I stayed aboard, ate a ham and cheese sandwich, and fished. The fishing was good, the catching more than fine, and we stayed out till midafternoon.
Raised in Lima, Peru, GEORGE MASTERS went to high school in New Jersey and served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam. After the war, he attended Georgetown University where he began to write. His work has appeared in the DC Gazette, Harvard’s Charles River Review, the Boston Globe, Portland Magazine, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has also been published in several anthologies and online literary journals, most recently in Akashic Books’s noir series Mondays Are Murder. Master’s latest crime novel, Concerto for Harp, is on the hunt for a literary agent and publisher.
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: Sep 15, 2014
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