A NOIR NIGHTMARE - PHIL BELOIN, JR.
I don’t drink. Makes me crazy. And rash. So I strolled into this liquor store, the fella behind the register not bothering to look up from his thrilling read of a Boone’s Farm bottle. I perused the aisles, didn’t see any AA dropouts, and peeled out my piece. When I returned to the register, the fella was gone and in his stead, sweet serendipity. Hair the color of gold. Burnished blue orbs. Legs so long you could climb’em, and plenty to grab onto during the ascent.
Beauty or not, I demanded the drawer. Her hands shook over the register.
“Hurry up!” I said.
The fella hustled from wherever he was sucking down the cheapo wine, a double-barreled behemoth on me. He had upped the ante, but folded by not turning me into bits.
“Get outta here, punk.” His barrels were so damn long they were tickling my nose hairs.
The woman broke the standoff.
“I’ll give him what’s in the register, George,” she said.
“No, you won’t, Danielle,” George said.
“I’m gonna put the cash in a bag,” she said to me.
The register opened, springing George’s glare onto Danielle. I kept my fix on him.
Danielle cocked a gun.
“I keep that one under the register,” George grinned.
Here comes my cell, my eight by ten metal coffin.
“Call the cops, Danny,” George said.
“I’m outta here,” she said and moved away from the counter with the day’s take and her employer’s revolver.
George’s conundrum had him turning the barrels on her. I’d bet I fired first but Danielle’s trigger finger wasn’t slacking. George crumpled back into a shelf of half-pints.
Neither of us moved for a second, watching George and the bottles leak.
“We better hit it,” I said.
“I’d say so, princess.”
Her feet backed towards the door. I followed her out, grabbing a bottle of rye. Thought she might need it.
Since I had been hoofing by the liquor store, I jumped in her car.
“That idiot would have shot you,” she said. “And I didn’t want to get hit in the fray.”
“You’re too pretty to shoot,” I said.
She looked at me then, heat popping from her eyes. “You got somewhere to go?”
“Nope, Danielle. My social calendar is free.”
She drove me to a filthy motel, but the TV played stuff that was even filthier.
“One-oh-three,” Danielle said after counting the green.
“We’re loaded, babe.”
“We need to parlay that into something bigger.”
I knew what I wanted to parlay. The kill, the one-oh-three, had her soft and drippy. After parlaying, she started babbling. The gist: working part time at that liquor store...casing the bank nearby...armored car...
“We’ve been looking for someone like you.”
“Who’s we?” I said.
“My brother and I,” she said. “You can meet him tomorrow.”
Morning shining in and Danielle and the moolah were AWOL. The purloined rye remained, unopened.
Ah, hell, you always paid for the sweets. I was checking my pants, hoping my fellow teetotaler hadn’t skedaddled with my wallet, too, when the door opened, a figure silhouetted by the sunrise.
“What’s up, pal?” he said.
I ripped my .22 free, aiming it at his head.
“See? I told you he was good.”
Danielle stepped around him, shutting out the light, and holding up breakfast foods.
The man offered his hand. “I’m Eden.”
He took the only chair while Danielle handed me java. She glowed hotter today than yesterday, wearing a getup that stuck to every cranny.
Eden gave a stellar spiel, but we would attack at dawn tomorrow, which left the rest of the day to kill. He sat around, ogling the tube shenanigans while I tried to get rid of him so Danielle and I could get our own shenanigans in. Nothing worked and Danielle didn’t seem to mind having him around.
It wasn’t till after midnight when Eden went into his adjoining room. Then my beautiful femme wrapped those long legs around me and dug her nails deep into my backside, drawing oodles of blood.
My honey musta thought she had screwed and bled me into sleepy land, but I heard her sneak outta bed and inch open our connecting door. Eden’s door was cracked and light flickered from his TV.
Danielle locked me out, but I got up, put my ear to the wall. I didn’t hear no talking, but what I did glean was shocking enough.
The rye burned all the way down my gut, then my brain went ablaze, too. I gulped fermentation until I was woozy. Then I kung fu-ed the barrier between us and found my partners sans decency.
“You sick bastards,” I said.
“Wait, wait!” Danielle cried out from the bed. “Eden’s my husband!”
At least that’s what I thought she said as I emptied my .22 at them.
BIO: Phil Beloin Jr. is the author of “Bad Choices” on A Twist of Noir. His first novel, “The Big Bad”, published by Hilliard and Harris, is available on Amazon.com.
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