Friday, July 22, 2011

A Twist Of Noir 676 - Phil Beloin Jr.

SHALLOW ENDS - PHIL BELOIN JR.

Previously published in a much longer version in Astonishing Adventures Magazine

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

Her hair was tangled from our romp.

“Mine?”

“I haven’t fucked my husband in months,” she said. “Unless you think I’m a strumpet?”

Through a shared smoke’s mist, she said, “You’ll kill him?”

There it was.

“And then, honey, we’ll be together forever.”

She forgot to add rich, too.

*

Johnston Pettigrew was a fat fortyish and owned a pulp mill. I worked there. Saw Pettigrew everyday. Like every rich guy I came across, Pettigrew oozed arrogance.

Me and his missus spent another week mussing around before she told me her husband dug his nighttime swims. Helped him chill after an arduous day of watching me turn wood into paper.

I crouched in the bushes by the pool behind their estate. Eyed him lapping. Waited till he slogged out. I dragged him back into the shallow end.

*

The mill closed. I didn’t see or hear from the widowed Pettigrew for a week. Every bone, every sinew, even my tendons ached for her. I called.

“I need you, babe.”

“Not now,” she said. “Later.”

She didn’t come later.

Policemen did—three of ’em with gleaming Sigs. They took me downtown.

“You knew Mr. Pettigrew?”

“I worked for the man,” I said.

“What did you think of him?”

“An ass.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Ain’t your boss an ass?”

“What about Mrs. Pettigrew?”

“I seen her before.”

“Where?”

“The mill,” I said. “She liked to bring Johnston fruit pulp for lunch.”

“She’s a real hot broad.”

“I ain’t blind.”

“You ever hit that?”

“Not in my league.”

“Autopsy revealed bruising around Mr. Pettigrew’s throat.”

“What’s that to me?” I said.

“That’s not consistent with a drowning victim.”

“So?”

“There was a rotating security camera on the back of the Pettigrew’s house.”

“Rich folks and their toys,” I said.

“Tape’s dark but it shows a man leaving the pool the night Mr. Pettigrew died.”

“Do I care?”

“Someone held Mr. Pettigrew under the water.”

“You hear if they’re gonna re-open the mill?”

It went on and on, but they had nothing against me.

*

I called again.

“Babe, the police pulled me in.”

“They’re questioning everybody from work.”

“What’s this about a backyard camera?”

“Johnston had just installed it,” she said. “I didn’t even know.”

“I need you bad.”

“I can almost taste you, too,” she said. “But patience.”

Nah, not for me.

I shadowed her. To a mall, the wake, the graveyard.

It was the day after the funeral when she met this other creep. Outside of the fancy threads, he wasn’t so different than me. He got takeout and they shot over to his pad. They were up there for hours.

*

The easy thing would have been to snuff her. But she was growing that thing inside her. Maybe it was mine. I wouldn’t erase my heir to the Pettigrew accounts.

I waited outside her new creep’s love nest. When he was alone, I knocked on his door. .38 Special low. He answered. I backed him inside.

“We know you’ve been stalking Mrs. Pettigrew,” he said. “She feared for her safety, having the camera installed on her grounds for protection.”

“Who are you?”

A cop, he said. I had been under surveillance since I had been brought into the station.

“We watched you follow her to the mall. You were outside the funeral home and cemetery. Mrs. Pettigrew is convinced her stalker drowned her husband so he could then be with her. We pretended she was seeing me, trying to lure you out.”

I lowered the barrel. “We were having an affair,” I said.

“You’re delusional.”

“She’s carrying my child.”

“She fainted last week during an interview. I went to the hospital with her. Neither she nor her doctors mentioned she was pregnant.”

As he said it, I heard feet rushing up the stairs. Sirens roared from the road.

“The apartment is surrounded.”

I went to deadbolt the door. The cop rushed me. My finger squeezed the trigger.

*

There. It’s all down. The truth. Not the infamy of Mrs. Pettigrew.

This—my suicide note.

BIO: Phil, aka philbeloinjr.blogspot.com, loves femme fatales so much, he married one. He has new stories at The Flash Fiction Offensive and Pulp Metal Magazine.

3 comments:

ajhayes2 said...

Perfect noir in the grand tradition of the forties masterpieces. Brilliant dialogue. I almost heard Chet Baker's horn behind the pictures. Dames, man. Dames. They're poison, every time. Cool.

Ron Earl Phillips said...

Damn those conniving bitches. Work you up, motor running and leave you sitting with a loaded gun.

Hope he went out in a blaze of glory.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Never, never, never, never trust a hot woman married to a rich man.