Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 624 - Des Nnochiri


He worked for a select clientèle. But what he did for them was very, very good. So he worked, a lot.

And when he wasn’t working, he thought about his - “job” didn’t quite describe it. Vocation. Religion.

Ways of perfecting his - he guessed, “art”.

Theory. Practice. Hardware. Software.

If he’d published an e-book, or five? He would have done pretty well. Of course, he’d also be in jail. Or dead.

And his employers would let it happen. He was replaceable; good, but not indispensable.

What he did was a necessary evil.

But, this was the day he didn’t. Work. Make his art. Ply his trade. Practice his religion.

Wasn’t the same, each week. Couldn’t be, with a “schedule” as flexible as his.

His clients understood. Most went out of their way to indulge him. To ask him which day. Before.

One 24-hour period out of every seven. His own. Exclusively. To relax. Unwind. Watch the world go by.

But stay aloof.

He loved crowds, though.

Bustling humanity. All shapes, sizes, social levels.

Private lives. Public lives. Secret lives. They fueled his imagination.

Public spaces were a problem. Not big, but still.

You had to pick your spot.

And, in the CCTV era, it was--

There, now. That wasn’t right.

Shades, greasy pony-tail. Sweat slipping down the jail-house tattoo beneath the right ear.

In a blind spot, between the CCTV cameras.

Working his way through the masses spilling in and out of the mini-mall.

Variations of the same stunt, as they approached the doors.

And here he was, about to do a number on the pretty blonde with the pink barrette in her hair. Standing in front of the kid - little boy, eight, nine years old - in the Coke bottle spectacles.

He sensed - knew - what Pony-Tail was going to do, even before he did it.

A shove, and the kid went flying into the blonde. Who stumbled to the ground, flail of arms and legs. Seven or so shoppers in front of her collapsing, like a stack of dominoes. Cries, curses, and dropped cellphones, as they all went. Pratfalling to earth.

In the confusion, Pony-Tail zipped forward, expertly lifting a purse here, an iPod there. Quick hands. Even made a show of helping one or two of the suckers back onto their feet.

That just wasn’t right.

That crowd? Someone could have been hurt.

And, in the days before plastic lenses, that kid would have been out one pair of no doubt very expensive eye-glasses. The boy was only bruised and bawling, but still.

It wasn’t right.

On a proper working day, he’d--

He glanced down at the cigarette packet in his hand, and grinned ruefully.

Seemed his working instincts had kicked in, of their own accord. Must have thumbed the switch on reflex, the moment Pony-Tail made his move.

Well. Sayonara, my light-fingered friend.

He flipped the switch again, and the spycam in his own extremely expensive mirrored shades powered down.

On the viewscreen at the back of the pack, now. Reviewing the footage.

He’d been thorough. Even zoomed in on that tattoo. Guy would be very easy to identify.

Crisp, clear video, too.

His customers demanded top-notch surveillance, and that’s what he gave them.

He’d have to dirty up the video a little, before posting it on the Web.

Cover his tracks.

He’d use one of his aliases. Orb624? No. News24-6. He’d something of a reputation as a crusader, that one.

Worse case scenario, Pony-Tail becomes an unwilling media star. Best case, he’d bring down some serious heat. Possibly, more jail time.

So, he’d post the vid. Might even sneak a copy to law enforcement. Let them do what they were paid to do. For once.

After all, this wasn’t a working day.

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.


R.S. Bohn said...

Hi, Des! Great voice here, and you just drew me all the way through to the end, without me guessing what exactly was gonna happen next. Niiice.

Alan Griffiths said...

Very nicely done Des - I enjoyed that.

Kind regards.

AJ Hayes said...

Expert navigation though what could have been but wasn't. How many invisibles are there? Lots I'll bet. Great hint of sinister coupled with a bit of nice. But then it was his day off, right? Nifty tale told quick. Top shelf stuff.

Nigel Bird said...

I really enjoyed this one as well. My it's a series and a half this one. It's the staccato feel to it that got me, the beat it has. It's also a very interesting idea - I loved the concept that he wouldn't work on his day off, but just couldn't help a little involvement.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Liked the writing style and it kept me guessing until the end. Really cool concept, that to me could be expanded on at a longer length.

Joyce said...

Really enjoyed this; the whole idea behind it. Wasn't sure where it was going, but especially liked the ending. I got the impression he normally dealt with bigger fish, but I guess whatever your profession, you're never really off duty, are you...

Michael Solender said...

Very different take and telling. An unusual approach that works very well as the tension built throughout. Love the still unresolved but nefarious end. Grand work here.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Expertly told. Love all the short, punchy sentences. Really cool idea, too.

Rob Kitchin said...

Great cadence. Liked the style.

M. C. Funk said...

A quiet weapon gun-smithed together from crisp, hard, little pieces.