Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » June 2016 » “A Job Down in Danville” by Sean Hooks

“A Job Down in Danville” by Sean Hooks

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, Sean Hooks takes us to Danville, Virginia, where money talks.

Sean Hooks photoA Job Down in Danville
by Sean Hooks
Danville, Virginia

There’s someone dying on the side of the highway tonight because my daddy taught me how to walk quiet and how to use a peacemaker. I learned real good that a man needs to tighten up inside, preserve appearances, and don’t say anything unless you’re asked a direct question. Never, ever talk first. Also—be good at one thing, not many things. Be good at one thing and keep getting better at it.

For me, that was taking things apart and putting them back together. As a boy, I started with alarm clocks. As a teenager, it was carpentry. When others went to college, I was an electrician’s apprentice. Now I mostly make my living fixing cars, vehicles. As a hobby I deconstruct and reconstruct peacemakers of all sorts, the very new and the very old, the very large and the very small, the very powerful and the barely ornamental.

I use some of them. I never let a peacemaker use me. I get paid to use them on people—paid in money, not promises. Never promises, never pussy, never credit, never cocaine, never favors. One guy offered to pay me in work. By work, he meant tattoos. I punched his face until he realized he’d better pay me in money. I did not use my peacemaker. I did not even so much as furnish it, much less wield it or wave it or point it. To threaten someone with a weapon is a mistake. One of the lessons my daddy repeated the most. That’s something black people do, he said. He didn’t call them black people.

I do. I don’t even call them coons. I went to enough school not to be no racist. Chester Thompson was in my school. He’s black. He was good at football and algebra and everybody loved his smile. Those were all areas where I was deficient.

Chester’s not the one dying beside the highway. His brother is. I didn’t know that when I pulled out my peacemaker. I know it now. He was the older brother. He pissed off the wrong people in Danville. They paid me in money, most I’ve ever got.

Chester and me, there’s one thing we’re both good at: hunting. He’s bagged deer in quantities never before seen in these parts. And there’s a lot of deer hunting in these parts. I’m better at ducks and skeet and targets, but that fellow has a second nature for living flesh, the moving animal. He does it from far away, like a sniper. By tomorrow he’ll know about his brother. And he went to enough school to figure who done him. Chester’s out there tonight in them woods, so I’m headed the opposite direction. I’m headed for cities, for asphalt, for crowded public places. My only advantages are a head start and the color of my skin.


SEAN HOOKS holds a BA from Drew University, an MFA in fiction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an MA in English from Loyola Marymount University. He is originally from New Jersey and currently lives, writes, and teaches in Los Angeles.


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 20, 2016

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