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News & Features » March 2020 » “Buddy” by Joanne Godley

“Buddy” by Joanne Godley

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, jealousy leads to a gruesome conclusion . . . 

by Joanne Godley
East Side of Downtown Detroit, Michigan  

“BAM, BAM!” The report from his handgun caused folks to drop to the floor and scurry away like cockroaches seeking cover. Buddy ignored them. He glanced up and saw a reflection from the bar mirror of the gas lamp illuminating the iron-gated entrance. It wasn’t easy to make out the bone fragments and brain tissue splattered against the back wall. Buddy saw the geyser spew up on the same side of Chico’s head into which he had fired the first slug. Bullet #1 helped quell the buzzing in his own head every time he imagined Chico and Nyema touching, kissing, or making love. He recalled the everyday stuff he and Nyema used to do, things Chico now enjoyed: make-up sex after arguments, shopping together at the Eastern market, watching TV together, trips to Belle Isle, seeing Nyema in her favorite headscarf and in those short nighties. He aimed Bullet #2 into Chico’s mid-section causing Chico to twitch like a break-dancing scarecrow. That bullet was for Chico’s dissing Buddy: taking Buddy’s woman and his little boy (Nyema never going anywhere without Junior), and for not backing down even though Buddy had warned him, “Motherfucker, I will KILL you! Yo’ ass better be gone when I get back!” But Chico hadn’t left. He had stayed right at the Standby bar, like he was rooted or something. Buddy didn’t know if Chico had grown bigger balls, was suddenly hard of hearing, or was just plain stupid. Later, much later, when Buddy had nothing but time on his hands, and was sitting in the cell reserved for those in need of some solitary thinking time, he replayed the scene in his head and it dawned on him then that Chico might not have believed Buddy’s stated intent to kill him.

Now, Buddy stood over Chico, just like in them old cowboy movies except his gun did not smoke. He watched with fascination as dark purple sinews oozed out of his rival’s body. Buddy had never shot anyone before. The gun was five years old and had been packed, unpacked, displayed, talked about, and threatened with but until now was a virgin gun. He felt nothing as he gazed down at Chico, a waxen-gray version of his former self.  

Buddy thought about calling Nyema. Or, he should just go to the apartment she and Chico shared so she could get her shit and move back to his place where she belonged. Buddy watched Chico’s essence continue to ooze out onto the floor; there was a lot! He was oblivious to the folks in the bar pressed up against the floor, trying to make themselves as small and as inconspicuous as possible while they frantically texted and IM’d the authorities to “come right away,” “someone’s been kilt,” and texting the address of the bar over and over again:  “the Standby on Gratiot—near Greektown.” That was the night the Standby blew up Facebook and Twitter. Someone, using an HD iPhone, had taped the whole thing. This activity was all lost on Buddy. Buddy, who didn’t know a Facebook from an Assbook and who still owned a flip top cell phone. He leaned up against the bar counter, the buzzing in his head lightening up a bit. He spied an untouched glass of a dark gold liquid that looked like whiskey, ice cubes melting gently, creating a misty dew on the outside of the glass. He gulped it down, squeezing his eyes tightly as the liquid burned the back of his throat.

After the arrest, the yearlong confinement in jail without bail, and the jury trial, the judge announced the murder-one verdict. The judge followed up with a speech that he directed to Buddy, who was sitting next to his court-appointed first-year-out-of-law-school attorney. “You, Mr. Buddy Richland, killed the defendant, Chico Munoz, with premeditation and forethought. You told him you were going to kill him, then, YOU GOT ON THE GRATIOT BUS, RODE HOME AND BACK—30 MINUTES EACH WAY—TO GET YOUR GUN! There was more than enough time, sitting on a bus, to think about the consequences of your action and enough time to have chosen another recourse for your . . . your emotions. That, Mr. Richland, is the precise definition of murder in the first degree. In this state, that gets you life imprisonment!” More than his words, Buddy remembered the sound of the gavel striking the Judge’s wooden bench, one, two, three times:  “BAM, BAM, BAM!”


JOANNE GODLEY is a poet, writer, ethicist, and practicing gastroenterologist. She grew up in Detroit and now lives in Virginia. She has published poetry in a recent anthology, 50/50, and creative nonfiction in the Kenyon Review blog. She completed a memoir set in West Africa, two poetry chapbooks and a novel of historical fiction. She is writing a series of lyric essays about medicine. “Buddy” is her first crime story. Her website is joannegodley.com.


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: Mar 2, 2020

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