Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Twist Of Noir 150 - Mike MacLean


Originally published in The3rdegree, April 2003

I find Rachel in a rundown motel near the airport. It’s noon, but the curtains are drawn, allowing only thin slices of light into the room. I sit with my gun and watch her sleep. Her father's straight razor is on the dresser, folded up and out of reach.

A 747 roars overhead, rattling windows. Rachel stirs then rolls over to face me. Her eyes flick open like switchblades.

"I knew you'd show up sooner or later," she says. She's pretending not to see the Ruger Blackhawk in my hand. Even in a dark room, the big revolver is hard to miss.

"Where is it?" I ask.

"Under the bed."

For once, she's not lying. The briefcase is right there. Waiting.

Rachel is in jeans and a flannel shirt, sleeping with her sneakers on in the middle of the day--on the run for three weeks now. But the clothes don't matter. The girl is as beautiful as ever.

"So what now?" she asks. Those lips curve into that smile of hers.

Once upon a time, I loved that smile. It made me think of late nights and perfume and sweaty sheets. Now, the smile makes me think of Sammy. He was on the sofa last time I saw him, a new mouth cut for him across the soft flesh of his throat. A smile without teeth. The work of a straight razor. There were bloody bills on the floor, next to Sammy's shoes. But the rest of the First National take was gone. And so was Rachel.

The motel room suddenly gets hot and tight. "I would've given you everything," I tell her. Then I'm up, leveling the revolver on her lovely face.

"I wanted more than your everything."

The Blackhawk is an inch away from her nose, yet Rachel doesn't flinch. Instead, she rolls out her tongue, touching my gun with its wet tip. She wraps the barrel with slender fingers then takes the cold steel into her mouth. All the while, she's looking up, her eyes calling to me.

"Not this time," I tell her. And I slide the Blackhawk out of her mouth, placing its muzzle gently against her forehead, a cold metallic kiss.

Her eyes never change. Even when I thumb the hammer back. Even when I pull the trigger.
I lug the briefcase out from under the bed and head for the door. Not once do I look back.

BIO: Mike MacLean’s fiction has bloodied the pages of The Best American Mystery Stories, Thuglit: Hardcore Hardboiled, The Deadly Bride, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Recently, Mike was discovered by independent film legend Roger Corman. He now writes screenplays for Corman’s New Horizons Pictures. Visit Mike at Mike and look for his story “Little Gun,” coming soon to Thuglit.


Unknown said...

Since when does ATON let guys from Tempe, AZ and who've appeared in the Year's Best Mystery anthology muddy up the waters with their stories? Well I'm glad that it does. Great story, Mike, and it's very cool to see you over here. I can't wait for the new one in Thuglit.

Paul D Brazill said...

I loved that. Wham, blam and thank you Mike!

Mike MacLean said...

Keith, it's those guys from the boondocks of Arizona you've got to worry about.

Paul, thanks for reading man. I like ‘em short. That way, if it sucks… well at least it’s over quick.