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News & Features » May 2015 » “Taking the Cyclone” by Howard Gimple

“Taking the Cyclone” by Howard Gimple

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, Howard Gimple takes Coney Island by storm.

Howard GimpleTaking the Cyclone
by Howard Gimple
Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Kelleher ran towards Nathan’s, Coney Island’s legendary wiener wonderland. The Ukrainian’s final fetid breath was still stinging his nostrils.

He glanced over his shoulder. The cops were still chasing him, and the Russians were nowhere to be seen, which spooked him a hell of a lot more than the police.

Nathan’s was mobbed, even at three a.m. Kelleher got in line behind one of the few jokers who looked grungier than he did. He wore a greasy blue cap and a gray windbreaker that smelled like fish.

“I’ll trade you my jacket for yours, even up.”

The guy backed off. “Get lost.”

Kelleher pulled five twenties out of his wallet. “Your jacket, right now, for mine, plus a hundred bucks. You got five seconds.”

He shrugged, took off his jacket, and handed it to Kelleher.

About a block away Kelleher glanced back to see four policemen, guns drawn, surrounding the guy, who was doing everything he could not to wet his pants.

After a few blocks he came to the Cyclone, the granddaddy of American roller coasters. It was there, more than forty years earlier, that Kelleher proved himself worthy of joining the Brooklyn Lords, the toughest gang in Flatbush. His task was to spray-paint its name on the Cyclone sign, eighty feet above the Coney Island surf.

“It’s just like climbing the monkey bars,” his pal Frankie told him. “My friend’s uncle works there. He told me there’s a little stand up there. Guys go up to change the lights and stuff.”

Fifteen-year-old Jimmy Kelleher climbed up, found the platform, spray-painted the name and scrambled down.

Kelleher was roused from his reverie by the sound of policemen’s leather shoes running on the boardwalk’s wooden slats. Two from Nathan’s, two more from the other direction. The only place that wasn’t covered was the ocean.

Kelleher jumped over the small fence and ran to the front of the line. He pulled out his gun.

“This is a hijack.”

“You gotta be kiddin’,” the operator said. “It don’t go nowhere but here.”

Kelleher shoved the barrel of the gun under the kid’s chin. “How about I make you go to the freakin’ cemetery.”

“It’s all yours.”

“Okay, everybody get in. This ride’s on me.”

The people scrambled nervously into the seats. There were three cars, each with four rows of double seats. Kelleher got into the third seat of the first car next to a middle-aged Asian man.

“I want you to pause it for a couple of seconds at the top of the first rise. Got it?”

“No problem. It stops there anyways.”

“Make sure it does.”

There was a slight metallic groan and the eighty-year-old roller coaster started up the wooden tracks. As the red and yellow cars struggled slowly up the eighty-five-foot incline, Kelleher could see the cops converge on the entrance. The operator pointed frantically up at him. Then he indicated where the ride would end. The policemen ran to the finishing point.

At the top of the first rise, the car creaked to a complete stop. Kelleher gave a silent prayer that the platform that he stood on more than forty years before would still be there. It was.

A teenager sitting in the second group of cars shouted, “Hey man, hope you make it,” as the cars plunged down their first harrowing dive.

Kelleher climbed down and was back on the street before the ride ended. He wished he could see the look on the cops’ faces when the Cyclone stopped and he wasn’t on it. He still had to evade the Russian mobsters, but they didn’t seem to be as pissed off at the murder of their boss as they should have been.

With the coast clear, Kelleher doubled back to Nathan’s. Still the best hot dogs in the world, especially at four in the morning. And he built up a hell of an appetite.


HOWARD GIMPLE has been a pen-slinger for most of his adult life. He was a copywriter and creative director for several ad agencies, has written English dialogue for the American releases of Japanese anime cartoons, and has reviewed movies for a pay-per-view television network. Howard recently left his position as senior writer and sports editor for the Stony Brook University Office of External Relations, where he also taught courses in the political implications of rock ‘n’ roll and the dramatic use of sexual puns in the plays of William Shakespeare. He recently began a new venture as a cofounder, chief creative officer, and head writer for TajMania Entertainment. The mission of the new company is to create entertaining children’s programming with socially relevant themes. Born in Flatbush, the heart of Brooklyn, Howard now lives on the north shore of Long Island with his wife Chris and his dog Brinkley.


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 to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: May 18, 2015

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