Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jefferson Street (Friday Flash Fiction #18)

Another entry into the Friday Flash Fiction world.

Jefferson Street

As the sixth shot of whiskey burnt its way down, I suddenly remembered what I left the house for. I put down the glass, paid my tab, and left. I was going to kill Geraldo Sanchez.

Jefferson Street was a part of the city nobody in their right mind would go to. Which was exactly the way they wanted it. Any kind of sin, vice, or depravity that helped you get your rocks off could be found here if you knew the right place and the right price. I turned up my collar and headed off into the lion's den.

It was raining again tonight. Hard. Like it always did this time of year. Sometimes I wished it would rain so hard it would wipe this whole rotten district off the map, but I knew I wasn't that lucky.

"Hey, baby. You looking for a good time?"

The whore was still dolled up with her short leather skirt, leopard print top, and feather boa. She seemed oblivious to the splattering rain which made her makeup smear like some awful modern painting. A quick glance at the bags under her eyes told me this one was way past her expiration date. I put my head down and kept walking. It's better not to be sucked into the dead abyss of the eyes of a woman who spent so much of her life on her back she didn't know how else to make a living.

I had worked vice for 15 years before I booted for "excessive force", so I knew Jefferson was set up in concentric city blocks - each one worse than the last. If you didn't know the intellectual capacity of the crime lords in the city, you'd think it was a tribute to Dante's Inferno. The first block had the bars, pool halls, and gambling joints. The second block was a seedier version of the first. The third was the whores and smut parlors.

"Woah, man. You gotta try some of this stuff. It's real California grass, man."

I pushed past the stoner into the haze of the fourth block. Weed, blow, and some opiates. The harder stuff could be found in the fifth block. No cop I knew had ever been this far into Jefferson.

Sanchez had a club in the heart of the district. I figured that was a good a place to start as any. By the door was a gorilla in a flashy tux. "Can't let you in, ex-cop."

"Why not? Like you said, I'm not a cop any more, so it's not like I can do shit. I'm just an average citizen out for a fun night."

"Average my ass, ex-cop. Why don't you beat it?"

"Is Sanchez in tonight?" I said. "I want a word with him."

"Maybe he don't want to have a word with you, ex-cop," he said.

I flashed a smile and punched him in the throat. He was gagging and clutching his windpipe, so he didn't fight back as I dragged him into the alley. "Tell me where Sanchez is."

He shook his head and I kicked him twice in the ribs. "Where is Sanchez?"

"He'll kill me if I tell you."

I took out my snub-nose and put it to his temple. "I'll kill you now if you don't tell me."

"Dalmas Hotel. Two blocks east. Room 302."

I smashed the revolver into his head, knocking him unconscious. Then I rolled him over so he wouldn't drown in the gutter. He can't say I never did anything for him.

In the corner of the Dalmas Hotel's lobby was an old man at a desk set in a cage of steel bars. As I walked past, the old man said, "Where do you think you're going? I can't let you just waltz in here."

"That's right, you can't," I said as I peeled a couple twenties off my roll. "And you didn't."

A threadbare runner of carpet sprawled down the center of the hall. Like the rest of the place, it had seen better days. I found room 302 at the end of the hallway on the left. I kicked the door in just like they trained me to do.

The young girl riding Sanchez shrieked and tried to cover herself with the sheet when she saw my gun. I motioned with it and said, "Grab your clothes and get out."

Sanchez just stayed in bed looking every bit the cool customer his reputation said he was. He had a tanned hairless chest and a perfect complexion. A hand slicked back his jet black hair and he flashed a white smile at me.

I said, "What's so amusing?"

He grinned back, "I'm looking at a dead man."

"That makes two of us."

The grin disappeared and he said, "What do you want?"

"Does the name Bobby Mercer mean anything to you?"

Sanchez rubbed his chin and feigned thinking. "He's that singer, right? Oh wait, that's Johnny Mercer. Bobby was that crooked cop who killed himself last week. My abuela used to say, 'you lie down with dogs, who knows what you wake up with?'."

"Bullshit. Bobby wasn't dirty."

"You really believe that?" Sanchez said. "All those years you two tracked me and you never got close. Why do you think that is? Because your partner used to tip me off. He was so hooked on H that he would to anything for his next fix."

"I don't believe you," I said. "You planted those drugs on Bobby and injected him with enough stuff to make him OD."

"The coroner ruled it a suicide, didn't he?"

"Yeah, and because of you his widow and son aren't going to collect his pension."

Sanchez said, "And you came here for a little restitution? I see how it is. You see that black bag over there? It's got ten grand in it. Take it. Buy yourself a good time or give it to the widow. It don't make a difference to me. I got plenty more where that came from."

My eyes flicked over to the bag on the chair momentarily, but Sanchez saw it. "You're considering it aren't you? How about I ask you a question now? Does the name Miles Sedgewick mean anything to you?"

The question hit like a punch to the solar plexus. My hand reached out to the dingy hotel wall to steady myself. Sedgewick was an asset we placed inside Sanchez's operation. He went dark two months before they took my badge. The only people inside the department who knew his real name were me and Bobby.

"How would I know that name? That proves it, right? Even if you could convince anybody that I did kill your partner, they'll know he was dirty and his family still won't be able to collect his benefits. You're fucked either way, amigo."

I said, "Then I guess the only thing left for me to do is what I came here in the first place to do."

I fired five shots center mass, walked over, and placed my sixth in Sanchez's forehead. I dropped the gun, grabbed the money, and walked out the door.


Cormac Brown said...

"Does the name Bobby Mercer mean anything to you?"

Yeah, another great 70's Giants player that was traded for some magic beans and Ford Pinto. You told a wonderful hard-boiled tale, that unfortunately brings up another bad baseball memory.

Alan Griffiths said...

Great tale WellesFan!

As Cormac commented, this was hardboiled stuff and a cracking read. I look forward to more of your writing. Very well done.


Lewis said...

True grit thoroughly enjoyed.

Randal Graves said...

Once again, more proof that hell is far more entertaining than heaven.

Ɯbermilf said...

So, he killed the sleazeball AND he got to keep the money?

Talk about a happy ending!

David Barber said...

Another top tale Welles. Tough, gritty stuff. Looking forward to your next write.

Regards mate, David.

WellesFan said...

Cormac - would you believe that was unintentional? I was just looking for a good name to go with "Mercer". :)

Alan - welcome to the fray. Glad you enjoyed it.

Uber - a happy ending in a hard-boiled tale? Oops.

Lewis, Randal, David - thanks, boys.

Doc said...

"He can't say I never did anything for him."

This is perhaps some of the grittiest stuff I've read for FFF and you are to be congratulated. Top notch.