Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Twist Of Noir 125 - Libby Cudmore


I can’t drink enough. A fifth of bourbon, a snoutful of coke, a pack of cigarettes, nothing helps. Nothing on the evening news. Nothing puts me to sleep.

A routine call. They stuck me with the new kid, Christian. I’m the detective, he’s the rookie, fresh off the test and relieved of guard duty. He could learn a thing or two from a hero like me. He’d be better off with Archer Finn, someone who could take his sissy ass and make him a man. I hate patrolmen. I’m sure he’s a rat and the captain just put him on to make sure I’m not buying drugs on company time.

Shoplifter. Some girl caught snagging lace panties from some overpriced uptown department store, probably a Mimi gang kid doing her initiation stunt. Owner wants us to teach her a lesson, Captain wants me to baby-sit. I’ve got better things to do than spank some brat, but I take her to the car anyways. She pulls a gun. I’m not used to little girls pulling pieces on me; I can finally say I’ve seen everything. She fires and I catch the bullet in the shoulder. Now she’s in trouble. I fumble for my flask and drain it. Christian can’t rat me for this, not when I’m bleeding all over the sidewalk. Adrenaline and bourbon is my favorite cocktail and I’m lit hot like a brothel on Friday night. I pick up the chase and follow her down the street.

She scrambles through the boarded-up door of a theater that hasn’t seen showgirls since my granddad knocked up their kick-line leader. I punt down the door and follow, firing random shots up the stairs. She stumbles. Blood. She keeps climbing and Christian screams my name. I don’t respond, I can’t stop.

She crawls through another door and I bust through. It’s an old dressing room, filled floor to ceiling with costumes and props and dust and junk. She’s crouched behind an ottoman that looks like it belongs in an Arabian harem. She stares at me with terror in her eyes. My rod feels heavy in my hand. “I’ve got you now,” I growl, relishing the capture.

She looks away and puts her own gun to her head. Christian arrives just in time for the finale. “No!” he shrieks. He runs to the body and I sink into a leather chair. The room spins now.

Blackness. Somewhere in the oblivion, Christian bawls. “She’s just a kid, Frankie!” he sobs. “She’s just a kid!”

I wake up in the hospital, arm bandaged, on my own. Cab takes me home. Painkillers, coke, bourbon, smokes. No sleep. I watch the news and wait for the call from the captain putting me out of job. The phone never rings. No one comes to visit and when I go back to work, I’m on desk duty until my arm heals. Christian’s reassigned to Archer and won’t look at me. It’s days before I sleep again.

BIO: Libby Cudmore is a MFA candidate at the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast Pop Fiction program and a regular contributor to Hardboiled and Pop Matters. Additionally, her work has appeared in Pulp Pusher, Crime and Suspense, Inertia, the Southern Women's Review, Shaking Like a Mountain, and upcoming issues of Thrilling Detective, Battered Suitcase and the anthology Quantum Genre on the Planet of the Arts (with Matthew Quinn Martin).


Al Tucher said...

A good burnout tale. Welcome.

Libby said...

Thanks Al!

Mike Wilkerson said...

Fast and hard- IMO, the way a short story should be. You're on the right track.

Paul Brazill said...

Oooh, a great SLAP, BANG WALLOP!Nice to see you here, Libby!

Libby said...

Mike and Paul, you're just wonderful--thanks for reading!

Jimmy Callaway said...

Each sentence is like a short jab to the face. They do damage but let you stay on your feet. Fine work.