Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Twist Of Noir 028 - Cormac Brown


Originally published on Powder BurnFlash and then on Cormac Writes.

The "City of Angels"? They have all the letters right, but their order all wrong. It's the "City of Angles". As in everyone there has an angle, is hiding behind one or they will come at you from a funny angle. Because people down there just don't deal with anyone straight on.

I don't like coming down here; it's way too bright and that's just the light coming off of all of the bleached smiles. Don't get me started on the sun. But I am here on business, on behalf of a fine piece of pleasure.

She's battier than a cave full of guano, which is good for the bedroom and bad for everywhere else. Even when she comes up for the occasional recreational tryst, this gets to be too much. So I know all too well as to just why her husband wants to divorce her, since he has to deal with her every single day.

The problem, as far as she is concerned, is that she is a movie star who has amassed millions over the life of her career, and before they were married he was a boom-mike operator with bad shoulders. When she finally cuts him loose, he won't be able to work for long and though I don't know all of the details, the only thing that both of their lawyers can agree on is that he has a fairly good chance of overturning their prenuptial agreement.

My plan is pretty simple: I've already driven down here and stolen a car. I'll kick it off with a squat-and-stop right in front of her husband's car.

It's six P.M. on an overcast December 15th and it's nice and dark. He turns off of Franklin Boulevard and I follow. I pull ahead of him and I look for witnesses...that's right, I look for witnesses.

If you ask them what happened next, they would tell you that he rear-ended me, even though I was the one that stopped short in front of him. They would tell you that a Mexican gang-banger got out and cursed at him in Spanish for being crazy and for hitting his car.

Then they would tell you that the Mexican shot the husband point-blank in the head...even though I am about as Mexican as Charlton Heston in "A Touch of Evil," and that my clothes and car are authentic, only in the borrowed sense.

I drive off of Whitley Avenue, where I torch the car and the disguise. I get the rental car I drove down here out of the garage and I'm home free, because L.A.'s finest won't be looking for "Joe Tourist" as the World's Best "Accidental" Post-Nuptial Agreement.

Just south of Lompoc, I have to get gas for the car and caffeine for myself, as we are both running on fumes...twenty hours on the road will do that to you. I nod at the cashier, a nice East Indian who will go far, judging by all the books he studies in between transactions. Then, in my sleep-deprived stupor, I make a mistake...I pay for the sale with my credit card. If a detective gets lucky and makes it up to Pacifica, this will put a huge hole in my "all alone at my cabin up in Tahoe" alibi.

I space out until the cashier and a Highway Patrol officer waiting behind me, bring me back. I sign the receipt and thank the kid.

Three miles later and I hear the distinct horn of a police car. I mull pulling over for about thirty seconds, then the car flashes the red and blue lights, and I panic. I get the first shot off, but I should've just shot myself instead, as it's real hard to hit anything with a patrol car spotlight in your face.

I slip in and out...

...I see the Highway Patrol officer who was at the gas station.

...I hear him tell another officer that the station cashier said I forgot my credit card, and that he just wanted to give it back to me. I take it back...that cashier won't go far; he'll make a bad American, because he's too damn honest.

...I just hope they can't connect me to her.

...Yes, I contradicted myself by what I've done, but I'll still talk shit about "The City of Angles". I never said I wasn't a hypocrite and the most comforting fact to me as I depart this world, is that at least I won't die in L.A.

BIO: "Cormac Brown" is a pen name. He's an up-and-slumming writer in the city of Saint Francis, and he is following in the footsteps of Hammett...minus the TB and working for the Pinkerton Agency. A couple of stories that he's stapled and stitched together can be found at Cormac Writes.