Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » June 2018 » “Triple Threat” by David Strickler

“Triple Threat” by David Strickler

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, a pill-popping housewife’s husband thinks he recognizes her in a police sketch.

Triple Threat
by David Strickler
Lafayette, Indiana

A bar of sunlight woke me up this morning and I told my husband that I wanted to watch one of those twenty-four-hour news channels. Then I changed my mind and said I would rather have the local news on, because they didn’t get too involved in the big political stories of the day. Bernie sighed dramatically and changed the channel.

Bernie looked tired. Of all the times I had spent clinging to him for comfort, this past night was the night he felt most uncomfortable. He said I seemed possessed. He said it with some irritability. I recalled watching him unable to move, stiff as a board, and felt he was right.

Around dinner time, Janus and I planned to go shopping. Or at least we were going to meet at the mall to browse, and I called a mutual coworker, Judy, to join us. We promised to make up after what had happened. Still, I was leery. I couldn’t bring myself to go anywhere near Janus, not after what happened, not after last night, unless a third party was around to help me keep an eye on her.

The memory of yesterday’s incident was too hazy, and I was happy she was no longer in my home. Last night—it felt like it had gone on for years, no doubt the result of twice my usual prescription. I really didn’t believe it was too much, no matter what the kids said. They argued the time had come for me to lay off the sleeping pills and to apply for a front row seat in the next NA meeting.

I moved around the room, trying to get a grip on my shakiness. 

The newscaster transitioned to a hit and run story, coolly impersonal, nothing at all like my friends or family. The culprit still might get away with it, but there were witnesses in the vicinity. One bystander showed how the car hit the old victim with a few sweeping gestures of his hands, explaining how tangled knots of flesh went for half a block. No sooner had the guy finished when a police sketch flashed up on the screen.

Bernie’s police scanner cycled through a band of red lights and stopped on a squelch.

He wanted more time to study the sketch, something much more preferable than having to talk directly to me. A time and a place where Bernie’s personal life overlapped with his work. 

“That sketch, Elaine. It looked like you.”

“It wasn’t me. You know I was here the whole time.”

 “Yeah, maybe. I, uh . . . you seemed pretty frantic,” he said with a gulp of his beer.

“You know it wasn’t me. But I have a pretty good idea who it was.”

I spent the next five minutes in the garage jingling my car keys between my fingers, beside the backup floor refrigerator where we had all of our frozen meat, failing to remember the last time I drove, and worrying about the gas in the car. I opened the garage door and paced the ten feet of blue cement unfocused, smacking the light bulb cord at random, checking the hood and the trunk and the tires without knowing what I’d seen. I was already in the driver’s seat. When I finally emerged from my stupor, I had forgotten the one thing that mattered most.

Yes, we were planning to go shopping and all for what? To make up for last night’s fight?

“Elaine?” It was Bernie again. Standing in the doorway.

“It does—” He swallowed. “Look like you.”

The screen appeared blurry around the edges.

“I’ll be right back.”

A fog on the streets. I feel the solar system align itself around me. Even as I drive, I glance around the town, at the oncoming traffic and the upcoming tracks, the storefronts.

I’m stopped at a railroad crossing. The arms come down. A train passes me by.

Behind sheets of blue glass, I see nothing but faces, all with white cottony hair and glasses and wrinkled skin and brown sun spots. Their eyes are bold, staring. I can feel something growing inside of them, unstoppable, all focused on a black mouth that opens in the sky.

At least four officers jump onto the street. A necessary gathering of peace keepers. Red and blue lights rush up and down through my car. Whatever is happening is none of their concern.

 *

I surface from a nightmare of distant thunder, rumbling and deep, and I wither away . . .

***

DAVID C. STRICKLER is a writer who lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia. At the behest of his small town writers’ group, he finally has gotten up the gumption to shop around his short stories and YA novel. The scripts cowritten with his friend, Tisha Garcia, have garnered Screenplays of the Month from Trigger Street Labs. Since they don’t involve superheroes, he expects them to be thoroughly ignored by Hollywood in the not-too-distant future. He also holds a B.S. in Psychology from Purdue University and considers Indiana to be his second home.

***

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: Jun 29, 2018

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



Featured: Black Interest