Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Twist Of Noir 190 - Michael Kechula


Originally published in Powder Burn Flash, July 28, 2008

My thoughts of murdering Holly Spencer were interrupted by rowdy Skinheads, who plowed through Manhattan’s rush-hour crowds. One of them elbowed me in the ribs. He grinned when he saw me doubled up in pain. Enraged, I reached inside my gym bag to grab the silenced pistol. He slipped into the crowd before I could blow his brains out.

Rubbing my aching ribs, I headed up 42nd Street toward the movie theater where Holly worked. I paid a private detective plenty to find her. He said she sold tickets in one of those outdoor ticket booths, and took lunch at 11:30.

I figured I’d shoot her in the face, right through the ticket window. But there were too many people around. So, I decided to follow her at lunchtime and shoot her as she pushed food through her lying, thieving lips. Maybe I’d wound her in the stomach, so she’d suffer every day for the rest of her life. What a great way to get satisfying, never-ending revenge. It’d be like a royalty arrangement—do a piece of work once, and cash in on it for years.

I ducked behind a store window that gave a clear view of the ticket booth. My trigger finger twitched when I glimpsed Holly’s profile. The bitch stole $50,000 from me. Money I skimmed dealing blackjack for an illegal gambling operation. Being my fiancée, she knew where I stashed the money. The day before our wedding, she dug it up and disappeared.

Somebody arrived to relieve Holly for lunch. She left the booth and headed in my direction. Suddenly my plans collapsed. Thieving Holly was sharp enough to bilk me out of fifty grand, but not swift enough to avoid pregnancy. Dammit! I never figured on shooting a pregnant woman.

She waddled by in a puffy, sunflower covered, electric-blue dress that stuck out a mile. My gut urged me to forget her and go back to Dallas. Instead, I decided to confront her.

She entered an eatery, with me not far behind. It was a noisy, greasy dump, filled with down-and-outers. The electric dress was at a small table, way in the back. My stomach was in knots when I reached her table.

“Oh My God! Ed!” Her eyes bulged, her hands shook.

“Take it easy. I just wanna talk.”

She grabbed her stomach and yelled, “Ow! My baby!”

People looked our way. A waitress rushed over. “Are you all right, lady?”

“It hurts so bad. I feel like I’m gonna heave!”

“I’ll help you to the ladies room,” the waitress said.

Holly groaned loudly, as the waitress led her away.

Sonovabitch! How slick to pull that stunt. I wondered what she was telling the waitress. Maybe she’d lie and say I was threatening her. They might call the cops.

I rushed out, headed for the subway, and barely squeezed through the doors of a departing train.

As it sped through dark catacombs, I wondered what to do next. My plan had failed miserably. Holly was alive. She hadn’t even apologized, or asked forgiveness. I imagined her laughing her ass off and calling me a freakin’ loser.

I swore I’d get revenge, one way or another. Maybe I could dream up some dirty tricks to sting her, undermine her sense of security, erode her sanity.

I started to plan something rotten to pull on her. I didn’t get far—my intense, focused thoughts gave way to disconnected fantasies, as the repetitive clacking of the train’s wheels lulled my brain.

“Coney Island—last stop,” somebody said, jolting me awake.

“How do I get back to Manhattan?” I asked.

“Stay on this train.”

New passengers boarded. One was a mangy Skinhead with a swastika tattooed on his forehead. Sonovabitch! My grandpa died during World War Two, ridding the world of Nazis.

Homicidal rage slammed my gut.

The Skinhead tried to panhandle a woman. She shooed him away. So did others. Then he asked me if I could spare a buck. I snickered when I realized fate had sent me a booby prize.

“I don’t give money away. But, if you’re hungry, I’m good for a burger and fries.”

“Yeah, I’m hungry. I ain’t et all day.”

“Where’s the nearest burger place?”

“Next stop.”

As the train sped toward our exit, I scribbled a few words in my little notebook, tore out the page, and stuck it in my pocket.

“This country’s turning into a third world shithouse,” Skinhead said, his mouth full of greasy fries. “Only the Master Race can save it. This is who should be running this country.” He tapped a photo of Adolf Hitler in his wallet. “He’d seal the borders, fire up the ovens, and get rid of all the mongrel vermin.”

I couldn’t stand much more of his looniness. I wanted to get him alone somewhere.

“I got some good desert,” I said. “Columbian Gold.”

“Yeah? Let’s go out back and smoke it.”

As he puffed away behind a dumpster, he asked if I wanted to join the Nazi Vengeance Brotherhood.

I answered him by firing one round into his chest and another into his head. Then I removed the slip of paper from my pocket, and stuffed it in his wallet behind Hitler’s picture.

I combed the morning papers for news about Skinhead, but found nothing. Maybe the cops killed the story. I wondered if they hit the panic button after reading the note I’d planted in Skinhead’s wallet.

A bit of disinformation can go a long way in New York these days, if the right words are used:


“Welcome to the world of dirty tricks, Holly,” I whispered.

BIO: Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in 8 contests and placed in 7 others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards 4 times. His stories have been published by 116 magazines and 32 anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, India, Scotland, and US. He’s authored two books of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales” and “The Area 51 Option and 70 More Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook versions available at and Paperback available at

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