Monday, September 26, 2011

A Twist Of Noir 684 - Albert Tucher



“I can’t believe you’re going to hire him.”

Tillotson sat across from Diana in her office at Litvinov Associates.

“I think he’s the right man for the job,” she said.

She and Tillotson went back a long way, but he needed to remember that she was the boss.

“I don’t think I can keep working for you if you bring Romero in.”

“That’s your decision. Hiring and firing, that’s my call.”

“Romero’s a thug. He’s also a fat slob.”

“There’s a niche in this business for fat slobs. Right now I don’t have anybody who fills it.”

Some body guarding jobs called for someone who could blend into the scenery. Others needed an intimidating presence. Romero could do intimidating.

“Seems to me you’re forgetting your roots,” Tillotson said. “You know the side business he used to have.”

“Sure. He shook hookers down.”

“Did he ever get you?”

“Once for a couple of hundred, but that was because I let him. I was getting Mary Alice out of a jam. He took a whole day’s pay from her.”

“What happened to solidarity?”

“Well, he’s not doing it anymore, because he’s retired from the police. Like you.”

“Not like me. I did it the right way. He had to go, or Internal Affairs would have gone after him.”

“Ancient history.”

She looked across her desk at Tillotson. He was taking this worse than she had expected.

“Okay,” she said, “maybe this will help. I have a special initiation for him. He’s going to hate his first job.”

She turned the business section of the day’s New York Times around and pointed to a headline below the fold:


According to the story, author Mary Alice Mercier was touring to promote her memoir about life as a prostitute. Threats had come from someone claiming to represent a militant Christian organization.

Mary Alice’s jacket photo accompanied the story. She looked studiously hot.

“So the threats are real?” said Tillotson. “I thought it was publicity.”

“The publisher was concerned enough to hire us.”

Tillotson read the story.

“Okay, just out of curiosity. Did she really write the book?”

“Definitely. I watched her write a lot of it, but I didn’t know what she was doing, scribbling in her spiral notebooks. Turns out that was it.”

“And Romero’s going to have to put up with the Mary Alice treatment?” A grin spread across his face. “Diabolical.”

Two days later Diana sat in a visitor’s chair and looked at her new hire. Under a crisp white hospital sheet Romero’s bulk resembled a natural landform.

“The doc told me an interesting thing,” she said. “If somebody has to get shot with a thirty-eight, it should be you.”


“No, really. The bullets just gave up before they reached anything vital.”

“Because I’m so fucking fat.”

“Well, he did mention some muscle underneath.”

She dropped the smile.

“That was good work. Taking three bullets for the client--that was the job, and you did it. Taking the shooter down was extra.”

“I basically fell on him.”

“Whatever.” She grinned again. “How was it going up to then?”

“Talk about bossy. Do this, do that. I was almost hoping something drastic would happen.”

“You weren’t surprised she gave you a hard time, were you?”

“Every time she read, she made a point of picking the part about me shaking her down. And she kept reminding me that she could out me any time.”

“That’s Mary Alice. She wouldn’t do it. She never ratted on anybody, no matter what.”

Out in the hall Mary Alice’s voice started barking orders. The gist was, the nurses needed to take better care of their patient. Romero groaned.

“Didn’t you tell her to get a few hours sleep?”

“She’s a hooker. We can go days without sleep where there’s money involved.”

Diana gave him her most malicious grin.

“Or love.”

“Get that guy to shoot me again. And do it right this time.”

“I warned you about the Mary Alice treatment, didn’t I?”

“I guess.”

“Well, that wasn’t it before. This is the full Mary Alice.”


pattinase (abbott) said...

Love that last line. Great story, Al.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Great stuff. So good to see Diana back!

Anonymous said...

That reads like a Damon Runyon classic. Yeah, it's that good. I just knew Romero was gonna hate what lay before him. Only Mary Alice could convert a Romero into a Romeo. I did enjoy that. Cool.

Elaine Ash said...

Great dialogue, Al. Good job.
Elaine Ash

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Al- Grat job with the dialogue in this. Really liked this line;

“No, really. The bullets just gave up before they reached anything vital.”

Anonymous said...

More Diana! More! More!

Kevin Michaels said...

Excellent - loved the dialogue and the back and forth, which really propelled the story forward.

Excellent read.

Al Tucher said...

Thanks to all! I enjoyed writing this one, because Mary Alice always takes me in interesting directions.