Monday, November 17, 2008

A Twist Of Noir 005 - Eric Beetner

DETAILS - ERIC BEETNER

I’ll tell you one thing from experience, blood does not wash out easy. And in a weird way, other people’s blood is harder to get out than your own. Probably because, if it’s your own blood, you tend to notice because that means you’re bleeding, which means you’re injured, which means you’re in pain.

I won’t tell you exactly how I know this because the details aren’t important. All that matters is that I got this predicament and you’re here so I’m telling you in hopes that maybe you could help me out.

Okay, I see in your eyes that you want, if not details, then broad strokes. I agree that this is fair enough. I’m a bag man. I pick up, I deliver. It’s not the U.S. Mail but you get the drift. I seen plenty and been paid not to see nothing. This is my racket and I do okay at it. Other guys maybe did better, I seen them get promoted ahead of me. Other guys did worse, too. I seen them tied up to a tree and beat with branches and then given a Chinese necktie. You heard of a Chinese necktie, ain’t you? Where they cut your throat kinda on the up and down and then pull your tongue out through the hole in your neck so it hangs there like a necktie? I heard it called a Dago necktie, too, but we don’t like to use derogatory terms towards our own. The chinks can’t get mad ‘cause they can’t understand me anyhow. Plus, I don’t even know any chinks. Either way.

But always my job is to hold the bag. So I hold the bag, no big deal, right? Where does the blood come in, I hear you ask, even though you ain’t said a freakin’ word since I sat down. Which I appreciate. A man in my position is on the lookout for someone with discretion. You have proven yourself amply. That’s a kind of way of giving you permission to utter a fucking verb or something like that. No? Fine. We continue then, like a confessional with a mute priest.

Last week, I get the call, blah blah blah and the usual routine. Pick up here, what time, take it there, front or back. I can do it in my sleep. So I show up and what do you know but the item, shall we say, is too big to fit in a bag - unless you got a big fucking bag. It’s a person. A girl. A young girl. I don’t know from nothing so it’s back to the list: where to? What time? Front or back?

Into the backseat she goes. Into the front seat I goes. We’re on our way like a Sunday drive to Grandma’s house. Oh, I forgot to say, her hands was tied up. With like a thick rope, the kind that’s all frayed and stuff. Leaving little strands of it in my backseat. The kind that detectives like to pick up with tweezers and put into plastic bags. But whatever, like I say, I seen a whole lot of nothing doing what I do.

About halfway there, and I won’t tell you where to protect not only the person getting the package but you as well because the less you know the better. Shit, I’m already too much in the details. But you gotta know what’s what so you can help me, right? So okay. She opens the door. Right on Broadway, right in the middle of an intersection, right when I’m stepping on the gas because the light just turned yellow. She opens the door. Did I think to lock it? No. Why would I lock it? Did I know she was gonna jump out of a moving car? No. Why would I? Would you? Y’know what? Doesn’t matter. You weren’t there.

So, bottom line – she jumps out. I hear the door open thinking I got a faulty latch or something. I turn around and see her skinny ass on its way out the door and then she hits the pavement. Holy shit, it was a mess. She rolled out forward, you understand? And her hands were all tied so she didn’t have anything to protect herself with. She hit that intersection face first, I’m telling you. She skidded like a dog when you hit it, you know how it kinda bounces off the bumper and skids along for a little while? That was her. I think she was knocked out cold the first second her head hit the cement. Better for her if she was.

Jesus, I hit the brakes. Nearly took out a newspaper truck making rounds. Oh, it’s about five-thirty in the morning. Did I mention that? Well it is, which is good ‘cause there’s hardly any people around. I get out and go back to pick her up off the ground, right? This is where the blood comes in. A lot of it. Like a prizefight in an operating room. What can I do? I got to get her to the destination, right? That’s my job, right? I already got it all over me the second I pick her up so I can’t worry about it too much. My car, that’s another story. My car is my bread and butter. I can’t have no blood-soaked car. I get routine chats from all manner of cops and private dicks. They know my racket. I don’t hurt nobody and, very occasionally, I let go with a few rumors overheard just to secure my place in good standing. No rat type stuff but just rumors. Y’know, stuff you hear. Ah, why do I got to defend myself to you? Shut up and listen. A joke. Anything? No, huh? Somebody hold a mirror under his nose, see if he’s breathing.

Anyway, too many details but, shit, I’m in it now. Don’t want to leave you hanging. So I’m thinking, trunk? Do I put her in the trunk? She’s still alive, mind you. Just out cold and bleedin’ to death. Such a pretty face, too. Damn shame to give it a facial on the asphalt. I mean, why’d she do such a thing? What makes a person? A whole lot of I don’t know, is what. A whole lot of I don’t particularly want to know. So what’s her business is her business. My problem is how to make my delivery without giving my car a soaking in blood.

Trunk seems to be a better solution than the backseat. You got a better idea? I didn’t think so. So I go for the trunk, only I forgot – I got my brother’s new TV in there that I was supposed to drop off at the repair shop. That son-of-a-bitch brother of mine is always making me do his dirty work because I got a car and he don’t. Bastard has a TV, which I don’t have one of them. Sure, he’s got the bucks for one of those but can he scrape together a few bucks for a used car? No.

Wait a second. Did I call him a son-of-a-bitch? What the hell does that make me then? Ha-ha! Look what I did! I insulted myself at the same damn time.

Seriously though, someone check his pulse. Whoa, you blinked. Call off the hearse.

Anyway, so long story short, I can’t fit her in the trunk. I got to put her in the backseat which makes me mad because she even bloodier now than when we started this whole song and dance.
She’s startin’ to come to, so I sit her down on the curb so I can get a blanket or something down on the seat and maybe she won’t ruin my seats entirely. I figure I got another twelve to thirteen minutes of driving left. I am very accurate at estimations. I told you, this is my job.

So I’m up to my waist in the trunk, trying to dig around under this giant fucking Zenith and find a blanket or a sheet or a newspaper or some thing. I got nothing. But a-ha! Newspaper sounds like a good idea. The guy in the truck just dropped out about fifty morning editions on the curb over there. So I go over to get a few. I carry a pocketknife on me all the time so I can cut the rope easy. You carry a knife? My grandfather gave it to me. Used to go fishing with him. It’s got real Mother of Pearl on the handle. You don’t carry one? You carry a hearing aid? This thing on? Testing one-two-three?

Anyway, I grab up about fifteen papers and I’m headed back through the intersection and she’s getting’ up! She staggers like a drunk on New Year’s Eve. Her hands are still tied, there’s blood in her eyes. She’s a mess, is what I’m driving at. No condition to be navigating an intersection, even at five-thirty in the morning. I can see it coming a clear as the headlines on the morning Chronicle – Boom. Car takes her out. She goes up on the hood, feet over her head, cracks the windshield, shoes in the air, skirt twirling like she’s under the big top at the circus. The jag-off in the Chevy? Doesn’t even slow down. Drunk as a skunk, I’m sure. Tags this ex-beautiful dame right on Broadway and Eighth and can’t even find the brake pedal.

Now, what do I have on my hands? More blood, if that’s possible. I’m thinkin’…do I get more newspapers? Do I just leave her here? Do I strap her to the roof? What do I do?

Get on with the job, that’s what. I ain’t being paid to deal with nothing but deliver a package. Sometimes, things shift in shipping, ain’t that what is says on all the boxes?

I get her out of the street, she’s back out cold, as you’d expect. Now, her leg is going two directions at once. I’m almost gettin’ sick just lookin’ at it. Like, all of a sudden, I’m in medical school or something. I lay down the newspapers good and thick. Good and thick. Four across over the whole backseat, with the headlines staring up at me in fifty-point type:

Millionaire Heiress Kidnapped!

I’m readin’ it, but I ain’t seein’ it, if you get my meaning.

I get her in there. She’s a tiny gal but, out cold like that, she’s like trying to wrangle a sack of old potatoes covered in molasses. The blood is the molasses, see? Aw, you’re deaf, dumb and blind, for all I know. Just lemme finish.

So I get her in there and I go around to the other side to pull her up and in. So I get her where I think she’s all the way, right? Then I slam the door. Well, her damn half-attached leg goes flopping out at the last second and I shut the door right on it. What do you know? Her foot comes right off. Right off! Must have barely been hangin’ on to begin with because I ain’t that strong.

I run back across the street and get one more morning edition and wrap up the foot in it. The shoe is long gone off in the gutter somewhere. Not my problem. So now she’s in and I got twelve minutes to go. I gun it and I make it in eleven. Adrenaline, you know?

I get to the place. Big house. I made a few deliveries here before so I recognize it. I don’t know who lives there so don’t ask me. I keep to myself and that’s the way they like it. I knock on the door and two big guys are there. First thing they see is the blood. So cat’s out of the bag on that one. No one panics. No one chastises. Status quo. So I lead them to the car. I hand the big guy on the right the foot and the big guy on the left and I grab her.

They make me take her to the garage. We lay her down next to a really nice-looking Cadillac. Really nice. Cream-colored convertible. Man, I would love a convertible someday. But anyway, somehow these guys don’t get a drop of blood on them. Don’t ask me how.

We step out and one guy hits the garage door opener and it comes down, only this jackass, and I would never say that to his face or anything, but this jackass didn’t put her in far enough so the garage door comes down right on her neck. It grinds and makes some kind of horrible noise like a tractor giving birth to a hay baler. First time I see these two frazzled. The guy with the remote is pressing buttons. The garage door is going up and then down, up and then down, trying to shut but her neck and head are in the way. I mean, at this point, it’s like putting hamburger through a meat grinder again, y’know?

They get it sorted out but not before the man of the house can come outside, in his silk robe, mind you, to see what the fuss is. Don’t ask me who, I ain’t sayin’. Now I go into my schpiel. See, I got the plates of the drunk who smashed her in the intersection. I got the numbers. I’m off the hook. Free and easy. Now the worst I got is blood in my backseat.

Mr. Silk Pajamas is thankful. Doesn’t seem upset by it at all. Shakes my hand and I’m off. He sends his two guys in to shoot her like a lame horse or something. I hear the shot but all I’m worried about is now it’s six in the morning and I got fifteen editions of the Chronicle soaked through with blood and that brings me to you, my silent and attentive friend. I need your expertise. I need your magic touch. I need you to help me out of this spot I find myself.

What’s the best way to get blood off car upholstery?

BIO: Eric Beetner is an Editor, Producer, Director and Screenwriter in Los Angeles. He has sold several scripts but none have made it to the screen, like most writers in Hollywood. He wrote and directed his own film 'Taking Your Life', which played well on the festival circuit and can be found on Indieflix.com. Some of his music videos and short films can be found at ericbeetner.com.

Currently, Eric is shopping two crime novels. One is a solo effort and one is written with Noir author JB Kohl.

1 comment:

J F said...

Oh my goodness. This one is TOO much. It's insane, but you have to feel sorry for the guy, right? Talk about having a bad day...

This one, as dark as it is, is hilarious. Well done. Joyce