Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 385 - Robert Caporale


Bring the phone, it’s mine.

Are you sure?

I know my own phone.

She won’t have a phone.

She’ll have to get her own. Now help me with this steamer trunk.

Is this a B&E?


I thought this was Carla’s trunk.

My Grandmother gave it to me. She had it with her when she came over from the old country.

Shouldn’t you end that sentence with, Your Honor?

You’re an asshole.

Level with me, this is a B&E, isn’t it?

It’s not a B&E.

Wow, this trunk is heavy.

It’s full.

Of what?


What kind of stuff?

All kinds.



What country?

What country what?

Did you Grandmother come from?

What difference does it make?

It doesn’t, except the trunk is stamped, Rome.


Carla’s Italian; you’re not.

Maybe Granny stole it, I don’t know.

I don’t think we should be in here.


Carla’s not home and technically you don’t live here anymore.

It’s moving day.

It’s B&E day.

You can’t B&E your own stuff. Now grab hold of the trunk and let’s go.

There’s a bunch of CDs in here.

They’re mine.

All of ’em?


Even the Nick Drakes?

All of ’em.

This is a B&E.

It’s not.

I know a B&E when I see one.

Shut up with the B&E crap and help me, or go and sit in the damn car.

OK, OK, it’s just that these breakups can get pretty complicated.

You got it ass-backwards. The beginning is complicated. The end is simple. It’s over. Now hand me that photograph.

When you and Carla moved in together it was I don’t know, like a TV show.


No. Nice. It was Christmas time, remember? You had a tree with blue lights. I would stop by and watch the Celtics, drink your beer, Carla would make those great sandwiches with the hot peppers, heat ’em up in the toaster oven, remember?

We were playing out a fantasy back then, playing house, it lasted a couple of months before I caught on.

Caught on?

I being was set up.

For what?

The tall white cake.


Oh, yeah. Starts off pretty as you please with a fluttering of pouty eyes and the crying during sex and the please don’t go stay the night blues. Then before you know it, boom, you’re moving in, lock, stock and steamer trunk. And then, just like that they got you by the short hairs. Now hand me that photograph.

But it’s Carla’s mother and father.

It’s my frame and it’s sterling silver. Look at Carla’s mother. Before long she’s going to look just like that, with the little mustache and the fat ass.

Carla doesn’t look like her mother at all. She’s got a great ass; always has/always will with the way she works out. And forget about facial hair, she’s got beautiful skin and she’s way too feminine for a mustache.

Check her out close-up for yourself next time. Now help me with the TV in the bedroom.

That’s a big mistake.


A TV in the bedroom.

Thanks for the tip. Grab my fencing gear out of that closet; it’s in a black case.

Ahh, the red dress, Slicer holds up a sleek red dress. Carla looks outstanding in this dress.

That dress is fantastic, even you’d look good in that dress.

I don’t think so.

Sure you would.

I don’t think so.

Try it on.

Not a chance.

Come on.

Not gonna happen. No way; no how.

You got some kind of a problem with your macho?

I don’t have any problems with my macho.

Prove it. Slip on the red dress like Roxanne. Do it. Or maybe you don’t have what it takes.

You’re not going to dare me into putting on a dress. You wear the damn red dress if you’re so hot on it.

I’ve worn it.


Butchy The Midget takes Carla’s order at the pizza parlor down the block. He’s standing on a milk crate so he can reach the take-out window. He lays his usual moves on Carla. Points out his new car parked across the street. It’s a Oldsmobile Regency Brougham, he tells her. A nice ride, he says, like driving your living room. We’ll go for a spin someday, just you and me. No Slicer.

Sure, Carla says, I’d like that.

Butchy slides the salad out the window. Check out the back seat. It’s huge.

Carla crosses the street, peeks in the Oldsmobile; finds a metropolitan area phone book on the front seat and wooden blocks duck-taped to the pedals. She chuckles, nods and gives Butchy the high sign putting a smile on his big flat face making him look like some freak out carnival poster.

You look great.

It doesn’t fit.

It sorta fits.

Help me zip it up.

Turn around.

Slicer and Paulie are standing in front of a full-length mirror. The bedroom is filling up with that late afternoon copper colored city sunlight that’s angling into the room through a rusty fire escape. The shadows from the steel bars on the fire escape dissect the room into a jail cell.

OW! Paulie yells. You pinched me.

Don’t be a baby. I can’t zip it all the way. So what do you think? Slicer asks. Am I right, or am I right about the dress?

Paulie stares boldly into the mirror. He adjusts one of the spaghetti straps over a knife scar on his shoulder. Not bad, he says. He turns sideways, puts his hand on his hip. Strikes a pose. There are black Chinese letters tattooed down his arm. The splash of black accents the red nicely, he says.

Slicer falls on the bed and props himself up with pillows. Put on that string of pearls. He points to Carla’s dresser.

You’re out of your mind.

Just to get the full effect. Carla always wears the pearls with that dress.

I’m not Carla.

You’re getting there.

A hard green olive rolls silently though the shadows across the floor and comes to rest on Paulie’s foot.

Shit, Paulie says without looking up.

Carla fumbles with the salad. A couple clumps of feta cheese and another olive hit the floor. What in God’s name?

He said all this stuff was his, Carla. I swear, that’s what he told me, the trunk Nick Drake the phone.

Why are you wearing my dress, Paulie?

He made me.

Carla glares at Slicer. Are you guys just plain sexually deranged or I should call the cops and report a breaking and entering in progress?

Paulie’s not stealing the dress. He’s just trying it on.

I’m calling 911.

It’s an experiment, Slicer winks. We’re just trying to prove that anybody would look great in that dress.

Carla turns back to Paulie, eyes him up top to bottom.

Paulie looks away, shifts his weight, strangely enjoying the attention.

What about the pearls?

I told him, Slicer says. I told him about the pearls.

And the shoes, Carla says. He has to squeeze into the black leather pumps. If you’re going to do this, do it right.

Slicer jumps up. Lipstick, he yells. Don’t forget the big red lips.

Carla steps over to the closet, pulls out a black and red leather purse, loops it over Paulie’s bony shoulder.

Let’s do him, Slicer says. Let’s do him up right.

Carla bends down, shoves aside the fencing gear and fumbles around in the back of the closet before pulling out a pair of shiny high heel shoes.

Paulie checks out her ass while she’s down there, her stretch pants pulling at the seams.

Slicer gives Paulie a wide-eyed I-told-you-so nod.

Carla drops the shoes, twists open a tube of lipstick and starts painting Paulie’s lips.

Slicer goes to snap the string of pearls around Paulie’s neck. Move your hair, he tells him.

Paulie lifts up strands of his long blond hair.

Press your lips together tight, and roll them, Carla says.


Like this. Carla presses her lips and rolls them like a hungry fish.

What’s that do?

Spreads the lipstick.

Show me again.

Carla runs a bead of red lipstick across her bottom lip, presses and rolls.

Paulie leans in real close, inspecting under Carla’s nose.

Why so close, Paulie? Carla jerks her head away. What are you doing? She covers her mouth with her hand.

He’s looking for facial hair, Slicer says.

Oh, is he? Carla says and unzips the fencing gear, pulls out the face mask, slips it over her head, slides the canvas straightjacket on with the red heart emblem on the chest, picks up the foil, assumes the on-guard position. She nods once and lunges at Paulie, pokes him in the chest. Get back, she says.

Paulie jumps back.

Carla turns to Slicer. Waves the foil at him. And now it’s your turn.

For what?

Pick out a dress, she whips the foil like Zorro.

Be careful with that, Slicer says, it’s sharp.

You heard me. You boys want to play games, we’ll play. Now pick out a dress.

You can’t be serious?

Carla lunges at Slicer. I’m more than serious.

Slicer steps back. OK. OK. Relax, he tells Carla and pulls a black cocktail dress off a hanger. I’ll take this one.

Good choice, Carla says.

BIO: Robert Caporale’s most recent publications can be seen in Wildcat, The Café Irreal, Zuzu’s Petals Quarterly, The Lummox Journal, Confrontation, and The Avatar Review. He is finishing up a short story collection and thinking about a novel. He takes MFA workshops at the University of Massachusetts.

1 comment:

Joyce said...

It's so hard to pull off a story done with primarily dialogue, but you've done it beautifully. These are wacky characters and you gotta love 'em. Great story.