Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » May 2017 » “Mr. Jimmy” by John Jeremiah

“Mr. Jimmy” by John Jeremiah

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, John Jeremiah conjures up a musical scene in the metropolis.  

Mr. Jimmy
by John Jeremiah
New York, NY

It’s not there anymore. It was only a short walk from the Chelsea Hotel to Eleventh Avenue. I loved that old saloon. On the black and white tiled floors, tall potted ferns adorned the room. The walls were dark green. The ceilings were glass, softly lit from above and reverse painted to look like marble. The bar was a massive pagan altar of black walnut. The men’s room urinals were seven-foot tall marble slabs, like upturned coffins. Round oak tables were circled by bentwood chairs. A grand piano with a competent player graced the middle of the room. It was completely original, like stepping into the 1890s. Everything about the past suited me fine.

A documentary film maker, a friend of Warhol’s, invited me. He once was my professor in college. I brought Bill and Jimmy. They had been at school with me, too. Jimmy brought his girlfriend, Jane. She and I had a little contest to see who got hit on the most. There was an extra point if the hitter was the same sex. Jane was beautiful, but the same-sex bonus rule had me a few points up on her. Bill consumed quantities of cheap gin while lecturing about the Nick Adams Stories to stoned gamines who had no idea who Hemingway was. Jimmy was indulging in his silent hipster pose, occasionally slipping off with spooky-looking guys with drugs to share. We had to pry Jimmy away. Without the aid of drugs, the thrill of the moment faded for us. We left the party on the third floor of the Chelsea Hotel around midnight.

The stifling summer heat became a pleasant evening breeze. We enjoyed our walk to the saloon. The bar was a standing-only affair. We had been upright for hours, so we settled at a table. Jane was getting sleepy and Billy was getting loopy. He had a few “quality” Martinis to make up for the cheap gin he had to settle for at the party. Soon he was sitting on the grand piano and singing “Falling in Love Again” in German and English. I don’t know how he got the piano player to allow this, but he seemed somewhat amused. Bill draped himself languidly, channeling Marlene Dietrich, and hoisted his pant leg to show off his fat, hairy leg. He earned some applause but I couldn’t tell if it was for performing or for stopping.

Jimmy, who had been quietly sedated for much of the evening, suddenly became loquacious after a visit to the men’s room. Jane wilted, so we put her in a cab for home. The three of us decided to go to Little Italy to eat. We wandered into Umberto’s around two a.m. It took a while to adjust to the harsh fluorescent lighting. Jimmy was going on interminably about the underground literary and mobster scene in Brooklyn. He knew figures in both worlds. It was embarrassing. There was no auditory privacy. As we ate our calamari, he latched on to one of his favorite subjects.

“This was Crazy Joey Gallo’s table the night he got hit.”

Bill and I tried to laugh it off and quiet him down. People were listening, even if they weren’t looking.

“He told me one night, ‘You know what makes me so crazy? It’s these little red pills!’”

“OK, Jimmy, let’s head home,” Bill said as I paid our check.

“I know who did the hit,” he said as we hauled him out of his chair, “it was G—. He came in this door and shot Joey twice.”

Now we had him in the doorway.

“He made it this far and then he fell there. You know what his last words were?”

“Shut up Jimmy,” I said.

“You son of a bitch,” that’s exactly what he said.

We got to Jimmy’s apartment in Park Slope around five a.m. He was still wound up and wanted to bring the stereo to the roof. Bill and I were ready for sleep but we went along. Jimmy put on “Rhapsody in Blue.” From the hill, our flat roof looked across a sea of flat roofs towards the rising sun. The overlapping squares looked like a modern painting. The sky blazed reds and purples. A clarinet screamed into the air. I was so moved by the experience I didn’t hear them arrive.

There were three of them.

“Him!” said one of them. The other two picked him up like a rag doll and tossed Jimmy off the roof.


JOHN JEREMIAH is an alum of the 2014 and 2015 Yale Writers’ Conference. He is a retired gallery owner and former magazine editor. His work has appeared in Akashic Books’ Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, Gravel, Transcendence, and others.


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: May 22, 2017

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