Monday, August 30, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 563 - Nigel Bird


Originally published in the recently released anthology Caught By Darkness (Static Movement, 2010)

“Girl like you’s the kind I roll the red carpet out for.” Her tongue fell from her mouth and rippled from side to side. “If you know what I mean.”

It was a red carpet all right. Furry and stained with wine. Wouldn’t have done a thing for me if it hadn’t been for the silver stud. Way it rattled against her teeth made me tighten my thighs.

“How long you been propping up the bar?” I asked. She certainly carried the weight to support the thing if it ever came loose.

“Who in hell’s counting?”

Been a long time since I went into a place like this. Roger doesn’t like me going out without him.

Fuck Roger. He’s out on the piss every night expecting me to sit the kids.

Enough is enough, I decided. Phoned Arlene. Got her to send Scarlett over to watch them. Twenty bucks to play movies and eat chocolate, I sure wasn’t going to be feeling bad about it.

Scarlett turned up all sweet sixteen and wearing a mini. I might have got it out of my head if it hadn’t been for the perfume and the way her breasts came out and spoke to me. “Just a little stroke,” they said. “Nothing wrong in that.”

That’s when I changed my mind about where I was going. Ended up in ‘Sheena’s Place’ ready for some kind of action.

“Wanna drink?” the lady asked.

“You sure you need one?”

The stool slipped a little as she bent towards me. I put my hands on her arm to steady her. She may have looked tough as walnuts but she felt soft as apple-blossom.

“Hell you getting at?” Her eyes widened for a moment, then closed back up.

“Just that maybe you need hydration.”

The lady called over to the bartender. “Two Tequila Sunrises, heavy on the orange.” Then she turned to me. “Happy?”

“Yeah, I’m happy,” I told her, then called over to the bartender myself.

“With two double T’s on the side.”

I don’t know if it was the salt that got her or the lime. Whatever it was, soon as she got the T down, her neck her cheeks tuned grey and her head fell onto the chrome.

She stood up, steadied herself and gave me a little peck on the cheek. “’Scuse me, darling. I may be requiring the ladies’ room.” She wandered off with a stagger that was all foxtrot. “Keep that seat warm, honey,” she told me.

And I did. For the first hour. After that, I moved on. Check what was happening at ‘Al’s’.

Couldn’t say what time I got back. It was late is all I know.

Scarlett was still there, and I mean all there.

By the looks of things, it hadn’t just been the chocolate she helped herself to.

She was dancing barefoot in the middle of the room, her stockings curled up tight on the sofa alongside a couple of empty beer cans.

“These records are amazing.” She smiled at me like I was her fairy godmother.

“I’m surprised you knew how to put the things on, girl your age.”

She stretched out her arms to beckon me over. The way her hair was swinging I wasn’t about to say no. A dance was just what I needed.

“Dad has a heap of them in the garage. Lets me take ‘em out sometimes.”

“My dad was the same. These are his. Pure fucking originals.”

The girl had taste. “Gene Vincent. ‘Race With The Devil’. 1956, Capitol Records. Flipside, ‘Gonna’ Back Up Baby’.”

“Colour of the label, Marroon.” She already had my body. When she said that, that’s when she took my breath.

I hit that floor like I was seventeen again, which wasn’t so long ago if I think about it.

How I loved to hear the old music.

Roger’s all for selling the stuff. Says he’ll rent us a bigger apartment with a garden.

Stuff the garden. Can’t let loose with a lawn-mower.

Next record she chose was a slowy. Little Anthony and the Cleopatras. You could here the static all the way through as the needle scraped its way around. I didn’t care how shit the sound was, just how good it made me feel.

She came in real close, rubbed her body into mine. I rubbed back. ‘Tears on My Pillow’ we sang.

Last I remember we was kissing and my hands were inside that beautiful summer dress of hers.

When I woke up, it took me a while to remember where I was. Who I was, even.

Didn’t take long to figure out.

Roger was shouting something over me.

I didn’t hear a word. All my ears were picking up was the loop from the record player.

The needle had caught. “Spo-dee-oh-dee,” was all it said, over and over again.

Always loved Sticks McGhee.

Roger was getting redder and redder. Picked up a glass and smashed it into the wall.

I noticed that all I was wearing was my watch. Maybe that’s what got him so riled.

Never minded him breaking things before, but it was different when he went for my nose. It crunched under his fist like he was using a pestle and mortar.

Took a while for the pain to go. I could feel my eyes watering and my cartilage move back to place.

Didn’t look to me like he was finished.

I reached for the neck of the wine bottle and took hold. When he came back for more, I slugged him right across the head.

Fell down like he’d been practising all his life.

I went upstairs, picked up Tim and Anne-Marie and juggled with them as I opened the front door.

The cold air sobered me up a little. Made me think about what I was doing.

I went back into the den, stuffed my bag with as many singles as would fit and headed into the night.

BIO: Nigel Bird is a Support For Learning teacher in a primary school near Edinburgh. Co-Producer of the Rue Bella magazine between 1998 and 2003, he has recently had work published by ‘The Reader’ and ‘Crimespree’ and was interviewed by Spinetingler for their ‘Conversations With The Bookless’ series earlier this year. He recently won the ‘Watery Grave Invitational’ contest over at ‘The Drowning Machine’ and will have work published in Needle and in Dark Valentine Magazine this summer. He hopes to complete a draft of his first novel by the end of 2010.


Charles Gramlich said...

Good stuff. Nice and dark and wicked.

AJ Hayes said...

I read "furry, red carpet" and knew, just knew Nigel was setting me up again. I thought "He's not going to get me again." Yeah, sure. It was a thing of beauty the way he let me relax. Conned me into taking a sip, just a sip of my coffee. Then. "Just a little stroke. they said." Coffee eruption. keyboard's soaked with coffee spit. Pants too. Damn you Nigel Bird! Love crashes on the rocks of roll. Good stuff, man.

R.S. Bohn said...

That was fucking gorgeous.

Had me from word one all the way down.

Paul D Brazill said...

Well, a record collection like that, you have to go back for. The title made me think of Pere Ubu first, though.

Brilliantly razor-sharp- jagged- slice of life. I liked it a lot.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Quite a story, Nigel. Looks like Roger got his. Your dialogue is spot on.
I wasn't familiar with the song, so I looked it up ~ if any other readers want to give it a listen, here's the link for Drinking Wine (Spo-dee-oh-dee) ~ a great tune:

David Cranmer said...

A hard, dark piece, Nigel. Excellent.

Garnett Elliott said...

Black velvet prose. And a refreshing take on who's fooling around with the babysitter.

Nigel Bird said...

with those comments you've all just about made my day (and probably tomorrow).


Chris Rhatigan said...

Love it. Twisted and grungy.

Eric Beetner said...

Love this song (own it on Cd though not vinyl) Won't ever be able to listen to it the same way.

Ian Ayris said...

Great writing, Nigel. Dark and pure and flowing. With some fantastic lines. 'Fell down like he’d been practising all his life.' Love that one. And, yep. the song. Stick McGhee. All those ones you mentioned. Proper music.

Anjoyed this one loads.

A creepy belter. Brilliant.