Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » June 2015 » “The Blackout” by Brandon Dutton

“The Blackout” by Brandon Dutton

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, party in Santa Barbara, California, with Brandon Dutton.

Brandon DuttonThe Blackout
by Brandon Dutton
Isla Vista, Santa Barbara, California

Where the fuck am I?

My eyes snapped open and scanned the inside of a run-down apartment. Brown stains covered the couch like leprosy, and the living room looked like it had been robbed.

Within seconds the nausea set in. My equilibrium shifted, and I damn near fell off the couch. A sick warmth swept over my face. My stomach tasted like acid; a guttural burp made me cringe. What did I do last night?

Before I could put much thought to it, I raced to the bathroom and threw up. Couldn’t manage to get it all in the toilet. Reddish-brown projectile vomit pressure washed the inside of the bowl. I could taste it in my nose.

My fists were purple and hurt like fuck. The warm water stung as I scrubbed the dried blood from my knuckles. There weren’t any cuts.

Holy shit, I have class. Might’ve had a midterm but wasn’t sure. Couldn’t find my phone but luckily found a wall clock. And if it was right, that meant I was late.

Nobody was in the house as I made it to the front door. When I stepped outside, the blackout made sense. Del Playa Drive. Four blocks of kegs and bad decisions. Looks like my night had gone downhill quick.

I found a bike and got out of there. On the way to campus I could see the ocean peeking through the cliffside houses on Del Playa. The sun burned away last night’s marine layer in an orange glory. Palm trees zipped past as I pedaled the squeaky beach cruiser. I was in paradise but felt like hell.

My plan was to sweat it out, but I felt worse by the time I parked the bike. When I entered the auditorium, almost every head turned my way before quickly glancing back to the professor.

I navigated the aisles for a seat and finally found one next to a cute hipster girl. Seemed to sweat more once I sat down. Probably stunk like a fucking brewery.

“Could I borrow a piece of paper?” I never bring that shit to class. “And a pen?”

She rolled her eyes as she dug through her bag. When she turned around, her face dropped. I felt more eyes on me as the lecture continued. Then they pointed. And pulled out their phones. I saw a TA run up to the professor, which halted the lecture. They whispered something to one another, then the professor continued her talk. I continued to doodle pictures.

Within minutes, a campus police officer tapped me on the shoulder and signaled me to come with him. This was followed by handcuffs and a short walk to the campus police station.

“SBPD is on the way,” said the campus officer, who couldn’t have been much older than myself.

“What seems to be the problem?”

The question seemed to spark something. His eyes grew a fire out of nowhere. “I’ll tell you what!” He tossed his phone in front of me. After about five seconds of footage I didn’t need to watch anything else.

The party on Del Playa seemed so vivid now. I remembered that Belvedere bottle I smashed that asshole with. Whacked him real good—right in the forehead. Hit him a second, then a third, then a fourth time while he was on his back. I remembered how it broke, shattered all over his stupid fucking face.

I don’t remember being pulled away, but that’s exactly what happened right after I slipped some shots on him. His head flung around as I unloaded on it, neck gone completely limp.

The officer turned it off; he’d had enough. Personally, I wanted to keep watching. See the end this time.

He crossed his arms. “If he survives—and that’s an if—he’ll be lucky if he remembers his name.” He turned his back to me and shook his head. “I don’t understand how you can live with yourself.”

To be honest, I was barely able to live with myself right then. My stomach throbbed, my brain twisted in a knot. Another warm, slow burp, and I almost retched. All I could think of was this hangover. This was real pain.

Wonder if the party was worth it.


BRANDON DUTTON was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He received his BA from UC Santa Barbara. Currently, he works in the film industry trying to elbow his way past all the other writers in LA.


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: Jun 29, 2015

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