The detective flings a few bucks
at a cabbie, and heads for The Gut
Bucket. The joint's closed, but the jazz
singer had swiped him a key. He shuffles
past the upturned chairs, and as he nears
the house piano with its chipped corners
and coffee stained top, he sees it as an old
man with soft eyes and stories to spill,
a man he could share a pint with.
He creaks up the staircase
to the jazz singer's pad, and thinks
about her waiting in bed. He'll snuggle
up and press his breath against the back
of her neck, his nose tickled by her black
curls. Later, the piano player will drip
out tunes for the mugs who wander in
for a sip in the late afternoon, and music
will rise through the floorboards like steam
off pavement after a summer rain. Shamus
and songbird will tumble out of their sheets,
stumble down the steps, and over steak
and onions, he'll watch her sweat sex
and sorrow into a microphone. He twists
the doorknob after reaching the top stair,
and she's on the other side of the door
wearing a satin negligee. The left strap
hangs off her shoulder. Mascara streaks
down her cheek. She's bound to a chair
with rope, and a lamp cord's wrapped
around her feet. A man built like a Cadillac
looms over her. He has rusty bolts
for teeth and bullet holes for eyes.
The man raises a Colt .45 to her damp
temple. She tries to scream, a gag
keeps her mum. He clicks back
the hammer with a greasy thumb.
All rights reserved.
Published in the new issue of Ping Pong. It is part of my Film Noir Series.
To find out what happens next you'll have to read the book (when it sees the light of day).