Friday, May 14, 2010

Breaking Radio Silence

From the preface to The First Forty-nine:

In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with.  But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.

-Ernest Hemingway

I've not been attending bullfights nor have I been serving as an ambulance driver.  Rather I've spent time with family, and reacquainted myself with seldom seen friends, and explored the riches offered by our great cities.  I don't know if any of it will be sufficient fodder for future stories, but are at the very least the stuff that makes our short time in this world more enjoyable.  Time to rest and then re-sharpen my writing instrument.

I remain, as always, your obedient servant.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sweet Dreams: Cool Blue

About a month ago, Patti Abbott issued another Flash Fiction Challenge. I've done this a few times before (in fact, my story for "Shifting Gears" is probably one of my favorites of what I've written) and it's always a lot of fun.  When you're finished here, drop me a line and head over to Patti's site and read the rest of the stories.

Cool Blue

"Dave."

"Richie."  Dave sat on the stool next to Richie and rested his heavy forearms on the wooden bar top.  The bartender delivered a River Horse Hop Hazard without being asked and left without saying a word.  "You said got something for me?"

Richie's left hand tapped an inconsistent beat on the counter and he took a swig of his Sam Adams.  "You sure we should be meeting out in the open like this?"

Dave looked around the bar.  Four o'clock in the afternoon and the joint was empty.  "It was either here or in the park.  Less of a chance someone sees us in here, don't you think?"

Richie absentmindedly nodded his head.  "It's just with everything going down, it might not be a good idea if someone saw us together."

The kitchen door to their left swung open; the sounds of “Sweet Dreams” wafting out before it swung shut again.  Richie said, “That's why you should never eat here.  Who plays The Eurythmics anyway?  You wanna eat at a place where the kitchen is full of Mexicans.  Those guys know how to cook.  Good music, too.  All them horns and shit?  You can't be depressed listening to Mexican music.”

“Thanks for the advice.  I'll send it along to Zagat's.”  Dave's beer sat untouched in front of him.

The front door opened and in walked five feet nine inches of perfection poured into an electric blue dress.  Her wavy red hair fell neatly onto white shoulders.  The dress ended just above the knee and showed off her amazing calves.  Richie's eyes followed the swaying of her hips as she took a booth along the far wall.

"That's what I call a woman," he said and took another sip of his beer.  “Did I ever tell you about my ex-wife?  My sweet, darling Marie.  Smoking redhead like that one.  When we were in a room together it was like the rest of the world didn't even exist.  I'd come home from a job and we'd just stay in bed all weekend, if you know what I mean.  Divorced me when I did my time upstate, though.  Couldn't stand being without me, but couldn't stand being alone either.”

"Boo-frickin-hoo.  Quit dickin' me around, Richie.  You got something or not?"

Richie sighed.  "I'm trying to be cautious."

Dave twisted his glass on the coaster, still not taking a sip. "Everyone's saying the grand jury thing's got everyone buttoned down pretty tight.  The report I read yesterday said the crime rate's down sixty percent just because the hard guys are worried about it.  I said we should run a grand jury every three weeks.  You guys would have to start shining shoes or pimping or collecting unemployment. Makes my job a hell of a lot easier."

Richie took another sip of his beer.  His glass was now over half gone.  "I don't know what this means.  Could be something big going down or it could mean that they suspect something."

"What is it?"

Richie looked around and leaned in closer.  "You and I know the bosses aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, but they're smart enough not to do anything with indictments hanging over their heads.  Everybody's busy planning shit instead of doing shit.  No reason to let you guys catch them with their hand in the cookie jar.  Thing is, I haven't heard a peep out of anybody."

"So?"

"So?  You know how connected I am.  How could I be the only one out of the loop?  Unless they suspect I'm the guy putting the finger on them.  Then there are the phone calls.  I keep getting calls for guys like Eddie Fingers or Johnny Sack."

Dave furrowed his brow.  "Those guys haven't been around for years."

"Exactly," Richie said.  "They were 'disappeared' a long time ago."

"All right."  Dave stood up and reached into his pocket.  "We were trying to wait a little bit longer, but we should probably get you into WitSec right away."

Dave threw some crumpled bills next to his untouched beer and looked up into the mirror.  Standing behind him was the redhead who entered the bar a few minutes earlier.  She shot him in the back of the head.

"Christ!" said Richie.  "Did you have to do that right here?"

"What did you want me to do?" said the redhead.  "He was getting up to leave."

Richie reached over the bar and grabbed some wet napkins.  He tore one open and rubbed it on his cheek and neck, trying to clean up the blood spatter.  “And right next to my head.  I'll probably go deaf now.”

"I could just as easily put a bullet in your head if that'll stop your whining."

Richie chuckled.  "When did you become such a hardass, Marie?"

Marie smiled.  "I learned from the best."

Richie opened another napkin and wiped the blood from the sleeve of his leather jacket.  "So does this clear things between me and Fucilli?"

"It's a start.  Just don't let anyone else see you talking to the cops."

Marie dropped the gun into her purse and snapped it shut.  She turned and Richie watched her ass as she walked toward the door.  She stopped and looked back over her shoulder, "Don't forget the alimony is due on Thursday."