“Up in MIchigan” by D.S. Levy
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, join us as we travel to a cabin in the Great Lakes State with D.S. Levy. Next week, Drifting author Katia D. Ulysse will bring us along on a “Rendezvous.”
He sold the Ludington townhouse at a loss, bought the cabin east of Manistee for a steal. Bankruptcy. Someone’s loss, his gain. He was a wheeler-dealer. Also a ladies’ man. When women discovered he was single, they pouted their lips, batted their eyes.
Even though the road was bumpy, the woman beside him was trying to adjust her lipstick in the pull-down mirror and having a hell of a time. She gave up finally; stared out the window.
He pulled the Land Rover up to the cabin, punched the electric window down, and cut the engine. Smell of pine, sound of silence. Smack dab in the Udell Hills, with federal land on three sides. No one would know where to find him. No one would know they were out there. He owned all twenty acres of jack pine, birch and scrub.
Immobile, she was applying color to her bottom lip. “Uh-huh.” She dropped the lipstick back in her purse. “Lovely cabin. Remote.”
She zipped her purse, a jagged sound.
“Let’s go,” he said, and they walked to the porch, up to the front door. He slid the key in the lock.
Inside: cedar walls and oak flooring, plenty of windows, a wall of red brick. In the corner, a fieldstone fireplace.
She stood in the empty bedroom. “No bed?”
“Well, that’s roughing it.”
He told her he was going for the bags.
Outside, with the trunk up, he fiddled with his duffel bag, until his fingertips touched metal.
Bumping along the dirt road, they came to the Caberfae Highway and drove east to the ski resort. In summer it was home to a nine-hole golf course. He didn’t golf, but he liked golf courses. Liked their silence.
They pulled up to the lodge, went in Beatie’s Bar & Grill.
They ordered: she, a Bloody Mary on the rocks; he, a scotch and soda.
She nursed her drink. “We could stay here.”
She meant the Mackenzie Lodge, which had nice rooms, and this bar. She liked bars; he’d met her in one, and he knew she’d likely been left in one, or two.
He said, “Cheers.”
She drank up.
Back on the Caberfae Highway, he stopped at a shack for some smokes. Before he got out of the car, he asked her if she wanted anything. She told him a gun, and his left eye flinched.
“I’m joking,” she said, licking her lips.
Back in the car, he lit up.
“You don’t mind?”
“What if I did?”
He rolled the window down an inch.
They got back on the highway, the sun behind the trees, shadows engulfing the woods.
Back at the cabin, he went around turning on lights. Soft shadows caressed the wood grain. The master bedroom had plush white carpeting, which would definitely be a problem.
Her bags and his duffel sat in the bedroom in a corner under a single light bulb.
“Now what?” she asked.
He crouched over his duffel and unzipped it. Then he stood up. Turning around, he saw that she was fussing with her purse, unzipping it again, and this time instead of pulling out her tube of lipstick, she took out a 9mm Smith & Wesson. Two-tone, white and black. Boxy, sleek. Very attractive.
“Ah, silence,” she said, pointing the gun at him.
He should have known better. His fingers twitched.
“This place, it’s lovely,” she said. “If you’re looking for a nice, remote getaway.”
“I only said I was taking you up north.”
“You had a hit on Frankie Payton.”
“Frankie’s my ex.”
“We were still together. Occasionally.”
He wondered how he could distract her. His own gun was, as they say, so close and yet so far.
“That makes no sense,” he said.
“Oh sure it does. Frankie was my dealer.” She lifted the gun, aimed like a hunter—head-heart-lungs—and tossed her purse. “Open it,” she said.
Inside: her lipstick and a plastic bag. She told him to remove the bag, which was a tarp, neatly folded and squeezed into her purse.
“Now, spread it out . . . Over there,” she said. “On the white rug.” She used the gun’s nose to point.
He bent over, spread the tarp. His duffel, so close.
“Stand up,” she said, and when he did, his old bum knee creaked. And that’s when he felt the punch, even before he heard the blast. Her gain, his loss.
D.S. LEVY lives in northern Indiana, where she spends most of her days writing and reading. Sometimes she ventures up to Michigan, which is tied with the Hoosier state as her “favorite state ever.” She attending the Bennington Writing Seminars, which is in Vermont (a beautiful place). Her fiction and essays have been published in many small literary journals, and she has a blog, C-Dog & Company.
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: Apr 21, 2014
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