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News & Features » November 2018 » “The Merry Wink” by Kurt McGill

“The Merry Wink” by Kurt McGill

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, a hitman lies in wait for a poker player in debt in the Biggest Little City in the World.

The Merry Wink
by Kurt McGill
Reno, Nevada

“Vultures.” On the roof again today. That peroxided divorcee who blew her alimony on the craps table hasn’t been out much . . . that red Hyundai’s still sitting in front of her room.

“Motherfuckin’ hot.” Thirty-nine buck shithole . . . death-rattle A/C. They let ‘em ripen up around here for a couple of days . . . minimum . . . down on the linoleum floor . . . all fuchsia and turquoise . . . while her Chihuahua mistakes her toes for Doggie Bon Bons.

Two days is forever for a dog. Six broke-dick cable channels at the Thunderbird Inn had reduced me to reading the obituaries in the local paper: pancreatic cancer—complications of fifteen-to-one dry Martinis . . . Velveeta-induced frontotemporal lobar degeneration . . . diabetic asymmetric neuropathy—Twinkies-triggered . . . Lucky Strike epistrophy . . . black lung disease . . . 

“Is this place radioactive or just floating on a sea of shit?” 

And when you weren’t sick, but you were tired, and you’d had it up to here with The Biggest Little City in the World—the blackjack, roulette, slots, sluts, free drinks, crappy all-you-can-eat casino breakfast that was cooked by a recent arrival from Fukien Province—and the Ancient Age and the OxyContin from the pill mill were running low, a warm .44 Magnum slug inserted just above the temple promised instantaneous stress relief . . . almost as good as a free Jacuzzi . . . 

“Could I please speak with Mr. or Mrs. Harry Vinson?”

“Who’s calling?” And who the fuck is Harry Vinson?

“This is Amanda from UNICEF, and if I could just take a minute of your . . .”

“Of my fucking time?”

“So sorry…don’t want to disturb…we’ll call back at a more convenient . . .” Click.

At least I had something to look forward to now. I’d landed in this jiphead paradise on a fool’s errand for Jack Woo, a pai gow poker game banker in LA Chinatown. Skip-tracing one hundred and thirty-two pounds of excess baggage on Crash Airways from Los Angeles to San Francisco, to Stateline, to Reno. Two hundred and thirty-two pounds of fat Cantonese rabbit who owed Jack an eight ball, and who was going to be plucked, dressed, and served up whole with aromatic vegetables in black bean sauce as soon as I found him.

The buzzards circled. The meat wagon came . . . went . . . took away the remains of the revelers at the Thunderbird Inn. This kind of job always involves some waiting—time is money, a thief, or it doesn’t exist—waiting for a call from Lum Yu Ping, a blackjack dealer at the Silver Nugget Casino and Jack Woo’s finger man in Reno.

“That you Sammy?” Lum queried on the other end of the line.

“It’s been me for the last two fucking days . . . where is that puk gai?”

“Merry Wink Trailer Park and Bungalows . . . cabin 113 . . . 6820 Stardust . . . off 80 . . . right across from Mountain View Cemetery.”

“Be right over. . .”

The evening sky was that strange mix of purple and orange streaked with yellow as the last rays of the sunset refracted through the smog-screen floating over Stardust Drive. Wendy’s . . . Chick-fil-A . . . Waffle House . . . Exotic Exhale Hookah Lounge . . . now I saw the big red arrowhead pointing to the woman with a winking neon eye who beckoned travelers to spend the night, or at least the next twenty minutes, between hot sheets.

The hollow-core door of 113 was like paper: “Here tonight . . . on sea and shore . . . America is celebrating Havana vacations now . . . Diving For Dollars! . . . ladies and gentlemen . . . here’s the star of the show . . . Chip Czonka . . . Such a fun night to be here . . . Rhonda’s in place . . . you can win . . . just by snorkeling your way . . . let’s do a spin . . . this is worth . . . plus an all-expense-paid trip to . . .

The door flew off the hinges with one well-placed kick. The reclining rabbit opened his eyes slowly, hesitating, like his lids had been glued shut. A faint sweetish smell of Kung Pao chicken and acrid sweat filled the stale air. His fingers moved away from his foreskin.

“Do many of these jobs?” he asked me.

“Do you have Jack Woo’s eight hundred clams, plus the vig?” But we both knew this was way beyond clams and vig. He closed his eyes again. One twitched a little.

The suppressor was cool and round and hard—no hurry—when I screwed it onto the barrel. He tried to say something, but the words stuck in his throat. His right hand came up. He held it out in front of him, as if to say: “Stop.”     

Sharp twisting drills of pain invaded a spot just below his twitching eye. A harsh sound came out of his throat when his head hit the back of the bedstead.

When I saw Reno again, fading away in my rearview mirror, it was vaguely nauseating. 


A graduate of UC Berkeley (MA in Fine Arts) KURT McGILL is a flash fiction writer, poet, provincial journalist—correspondent at The St. Augustine Record—visual artist, and author of two atmospheric noir novels: Ode to Blackwell Wren and The Late Afternoon of a Chinatown Detective. His flash is published by Akashic Books and The Bangalore Review, and his poetry by Poet Plant Press. His artwork is included in the Museum of Modern Art Archives. Longtime resident of Tribeca, Kurt splits his time now between Montevideo, Uruguay, and Florida. He can be found at kurtmcgill.blogspot.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: Nov 19, 2018

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