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News & Features » November 2016 » “China Pearl” by Adam Rosen

“China Pearl” by Adam Rosen

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, Adam Rosen tries to use a fake ID.

China PearlChinapearl-photo
by Adam Rosen
Upper Park Heights, Baltimore, Maryland

Yuri pulled his Nissan Maxima into the shopping center and waited.

He futzed around with the CD player and took in the surroundings. The center’s chipper 1950s name, Colonial Cottages, seemed to make a mockery of its current offerings, a group of retail survivors that included a SAVMOR grocery and a few other low-cost or grammatically challenged shops.

At last, he detected the trademark mating call of Steve Eisenberg: top-40 rap hits filtered through a brain-smashing subwoofer. Yuri got out of the Maxima just as Nelly’s “E.I.” was reaching peak bass.

What up, said Yuri. He slid into the passenger seat and was assaulted by a potpourri of mid-grade pot smoke and Fresh Forest–scented air freshener.

Don’t you have lacrosse practice?

Yeah, said Yuri, offering no further explanation.

Steve shook his head dramatically. Shame on you.

Not wishing to subject himself to Steve’s charms a minute longer than necessary, Yuri opened his wallet and presented three twenty-dollar bills.


A set of dented Christmas bells announced Yuri’s arrival. As he stepped into the store, he noticed a group of men talking near the lottery machine. They must be from Pimlico, he thought. The famous racetrack was half a mile away. Yuri had visited a few months ago, on his 18th birthday. He hadn’t been expecting much, but he thought there’d at least be a trace of glamour. Instead he saw a bunch of elderly alcoholics.

Yuri tried to stay focused. He’d never been in China Pearl before, but he had a plan: walk quickly to the front, thereby signaling the kind of confidence possessed by those of legal drinking age.

I’ll take a bottle of the SoCo, said Yuri.

SoCo, the clerk replied.

Southern Comfort. It’s like whiskey.

The clerk turned around without further comment. He located a bottle and placed it next to the register.


Yuri had it out on the counter before the inquiry even finished. The clerk picked it up and turned it sideways, his face contorting as he held it under a light.

What’s your birthday?

July 22, 1978.

You sure?


Ry-an Doug-l-as, the clerk said, loudly enunciating the All-American name in his hands. He looked at the ID, then back at Yuri, then back at the ID. After a long pause, he declared it would be 12.58.

As Yuri got his wallet, one of the refugees from Pimlico walked up to the counter.

You Ryan Douglas?

It took Yuri a few seconds to process the proper response. Yeah, he said.

I want my $200 dollars.

What’s that?

You owe me $200 dollars. Play-Doh said some high school bitch named Ryan Douglas had my money. Detroit lost. I called that in.

I’m not in high school, said Yuri. And I don’t know anyone named Plato. You got the wrong Ryan Douglas.

The Pimlico guy was getting closer and closer. Yuri could see a bulge in his pants; given the circumstances, he wished he were staring down an erection.

I need that money.

Yuri turned toward the clerk for backup. The clerk stood motionless with his arms crossed.

Fuck me, Yuri thought. His parents would kill him if he got arrested for a fake ID. Then again, this dude might actually kill him.

He wasn’t going to get himself shot over a bottle of SoCo. He’d have to wait for the next party to get to second base with Jill Epstein.

Listen man, he started, pulling out his real driver’s license. I’m not Ryan Douglas.

The fuck are you talking about? You just said you were him.

I was lying. This isn’t me, he said, pointing to the fake.

Are you fucking with me?

I’m not fucking with you. I was just trying to get some alcohol.

You don’t even know what kind of week I had.

I’m sorry about your week, said Yuri, as he inched his way toward the door. I’m just gonna go to my lacrosse practice.

I can’t take this shit anymore. I needed that money.

The bells sounded. Yuri looked over; it was Steve. As Steve moved toward him, he darted his eyes left and right, the international signal for Steve to shut the fuck up. The message died in transmission.

What up Ryan? said Steve.

The Pimlico guy nodded to himself. And then he took out his gun.



Adam Rosen is a freelance writer and editor based in Asheville, North Carolina. His story “Death at a Farmer’s Market” was published in Mondays are Murder in 2013. He grew up just outside Baltimore.


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: Nov 3, 2016

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