Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 348 - Des Nnochiri


“The female of the species is the spice of life.”

Wilson swept his arm, expansively. He raised the highball to his mouth and slurped. Ignoring the dribble from his mustache, and the splotches on his shirt and tie.

Not surprising, really. He’d been drinking steadily for the past half hour; a dangerous mix of liquors that read like a Top 40 of classic cocktails. Knocking them back as if he were a freshman student at his first bar. Or a potential suicide.

And spewing pseudo-philosophical claptrap, with every shot.

“I mean,” he drawled, signaling for another, “look at this place, for example. Have you ever seen so many...”

I was. Looking at the place. And the clock on the wall, opposite.

I’d come into The Masked Bandit about an hour ago. Scanned the club carefully, for what I needed. Found it: a corner booth, nearby exit, good view of the floor. Sat down, pack of smokes on the table, beside me. Ordered a draft beer from one of the thirty or so hostesses doing the rounds. Wondering if the rumors I’d heard were true.

And waited.

About five minutes later, Wilson breezed in. Off-the-rack suit and tie, harried expression. Another mid-level, middle-aging executive on the inevitable downward spiral of life.

He’d zeroed in on my table with the unerring instincts of the terminally boring. Ordered the first of many, from our knockout hostess. And begun to expound.

“...So many, so many jewels of, no... pearls, pearls of great price?”

At exactly 8:30, it started. Happy Hour. And the girls (pearls?) on the floor went into action.

There must have been an armory behind the bar. Because the hostesses at the Bandit all wore sequined G-strings, jeweled masks, and nothing else. The silenced Derringers (that’s what they looked like, anyway) must be house issue.

To the sounds of breaking glass and ripping upholstery, the girls made their pitch at every table. Restocking the shelves and furniture repair must be costing the place a fortune. I guess they could afford it.

And the ladies were crack shots; there was no bloodshed. Didn’t have to be. I mean, what were the customers going to say, “Gee, hon, I'm sorry. I went to a topless bar, and they took me for everything I had?”

As I put my wallet, rental car keys and mobile phone on the table, Wilson finally twigged that I wasn’t listening to him. At all. He looked round.

Our charming hostess was approaching, gun in hand.

Very, very slowly, I lifted the cigarette packet off the table.

“Mind if I keep these?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Your funeral.”

I slid the pack (and the digital camera it had been concealing) into my pants pocket. My editor was going to love this.

“Wilson, old buddy,” I said. “Unless I miss my guess, things are about to get pretty spicy.”

BIO: Desmond (Des) Nnochiri spent his early years traveling with his parents, and was educated in England, the USA, and the Republic of Ireland (Eire). He writes freelance now, and has taken his first steps into the world of screenwriting. He has contributed stories to A Twist of Noir, The Flash Fiction Offensive, and Powder Burn Flash. He blogs at Des Nnochiri’s Write to Speak.

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