NOIR, Chapter 4

Extroverted
It was a typical morning. I defied the alarm clock several times, before slowly removing my body from the twin bed in my bedroom to the couch in my living room. There, on the couch, I sprawled out and slept for a few more hours.

A knock at the door.

Great.

I open the door and there’s my little sister, Mercedes. She stands in the hall with a look of sarcasm, as usual, and in uniform. Yeah, she’s fuzz. A copper. A pain.

“Typical,” she says as she waltzes in and takes her hat off, “Would it kill you to get a job? And attempt to do something with your life?”

“I could say the same of you,” I reply, “You think because you gotta badge and uniform that means you’re a success?”

“Tough love,” she starts, “So, what have you been up to, Johnny?”

She takes a seat on the couch, placing her hat on the coffee table.

“Nothing worth mentioning.”

“Staying out of trouble?”

“Define trouble.”

“I shouldn’t have to,” she explains.

“Wanna drink?” I ask, “All I have is bourbon.”

“Maybe a water,” she says, “What are you up to?”

“The water’s a little rusty. It’s bourbon or bourbon,” I start, “And what I do is none of your business. You just keep doing your own thing and I’ll keep doing mine.”

I grab the bourbon bottle from the refrigerator for myself; I’m gonna need it. I go ahead and let her have it… right between the eyes. Is there anything worse than getting pushed around by your younger sibling?

“Besides, Mercedes, do you honestly think Bruno is ever gonna promote a woman to detective? You’re fighting a losing battle, ace. Nobody wants a woman working a homicide. Not yet, anyway. Chill out, get married, make babies and wait for the revolution to come at some other time. You’re trying to take a bus to a town that doesn’t exist yet. Give it a couple hundred years.”

After an awkward amount of silence, broken occasionally by a swig of bourbon and her shuffling on the couch, she picks up her hat, stands and speaks, “Look, Johnny, I just came by to check on you, because I care. I don’t know why you feel as if I have wronged you, but I hate to see you fall to pieces. Take some advice and clean up. Get a job, make some dough and think about what you wanna do with yourself. Think about what should be expected of your talents.”

“I gotta job helping a prissy dame and I don’t owe the world anything.”

She walks to the door and opens it. She turns, places her hat on and takes one final blow, “Do me a favor and think twice before making any rash decisions. Catch ya on the flipside, Johnny.”

And with that she goes out the door and I hear her footfalls take her down the stairs. After a moment of pondering her words, I take a few more swigs of bourbon and decide I’m hungry.

As I’m leaving my apartment building, I stop at the bottom of the stairs to check my mail. Behind me I hear the doors open and light footfalls from a female.

“Johnny, this is it,” says a feminine voice.

I turn around and see Holly.

“This is what?”

“Maxim has had a tail on me all day. He’s armed and he aims to kill me. Here,” and with that she pulls the Walther PPk from her purse along with the silencer. She begins to screw the silencer on, “You gotta take care of him or it’s over for me.”

“Now, hold on, Kid,” I start, “Are you sure this guy means you harm?”

“What am I five? Of course, I’m sure.”

She shoves the gun in my hands.

“Wait, wait,” I start stalling and trying to think of excuses, “I’m not just gonna walk out into the street and shoot some random guy I’ve never met before.”

“He’s across the street,” she grabs me and pulls me to the window, “Do you see him leaning against the phone booth?”

Sure enough, there was a large man in a brown overcoat and fedora leaning against the phone booth. His hands in the pockets of his overcoat, looking left and right, but occasionally looking across the street at my apartment building. He was suspicious and a little obvious, but that didn’t make him a killer in my book.

“You gotta take him out, Johnny.”

“Shut up, stay here and let me take care of this,” I place the gun in my overcoat (I figure it’s safer there) and start to walk out the door to confront The Stranger.

“Johnny,” she quietly gasps my name and grabs me. She spins me around and plants a kiss on my lips, “I’ll never forget this.”

In her eyes, I see something. Something I’d never seen in her face until now. I see innocence, love and compassion. I see beauty beyond the facade. For the first time, I can look at Holly as more than just a pretty face with a dirty mind. Maybe she is human after all.

I care.

I step out the doors and stand on the sidewalk for a moment, contemplating the next few moments of my life while trying not to stare at The Stranger across the street. I make up my mind and step into the street. As I cross the street, I watch The Stranger closely. He sees me and casually steps into the booth and places a call. Maybe I was right. Maybe she’s just paranoid.

I walk up to the phone booth and stand outside; waiting for him to hang up and step out. I can hear him speaking, though it is muffled and I cannot make out a word of it. More and more I realize, Holly has lost it. This guy doesn’t even know her. He’s just an innocent bystander.

I turn around and look to Holly who is watching from the window, I shrug my shoulders indicating that there’s probably nothing to worry about. The muffled words from the phone booth stop, I see her eyes open wide and she points frantically. I hear the booth door slide, I turn around just in time to see the fist planted in my face. I start to fall over backwards, but he grabs me by my overcoat and flings me against the wall of a nearby building and I stumble, falling away from him towards the alley. He grabs me before I fall flat on my face and gives me a good toss into the alley. This time I do fall on my face.

I push myself up with my hands and see the gun slide from my overcoat and fall to the ground, I look back and see him walking towards me. He pulls a switchblade from his overcoat and swings the blade out ever so swiftly. And then I realize this guy knows what he’s doing and he means business.

I hold myself with my left hand and slide my right hand underneath me gripping the pistol’s handle. I continue in a leftward motion and flip over, landing on my back with the pistol now aimed at The Stranger. I cock with my left hand and shoot with my right. The slug finds his right shoulder, he drops the blade. He looks at his shoulder and then back to me. He realizes that I know what I’m doing and I mean business.

I plant another slug in his forehead and he doubles back onto the ground.

After a moment, I hear Holly screaming in the distance.

“Come on, Johnny! Come on, we gotta go!”

I jump to my feet and see that she is running to her car. She opens the door and slides into the driver seat. I step over The Stranger’s body, but stop and turn back. He twitches a little, so I decide I better leave no stone unturned. I put three more bullets in his chest and then walk quickly into the street. I hear a car start to my right and I look. A car at the end of the street comes pulling out of park and peeling towards me. I run to Holly’s car and open the driver’s door, “Get over!”

“What?!” She screams, in confusion.

“Scoot!”

She slides across the seat onto the passenger side. I fall into the driver’s side and start the car with the keys already in the ignition. Just as I put the gear into drive and step on the gas, the car behind me barrels into our bumper. Holly turns and looks out the back window, screaming, “Hey! What are you trying to do?! Look at the road, would ya?!”

I grab Holly by the head and slam her into the floor of the car and began to speed away again. I look behind me and see the car recovering from it’s crashed state.

“What was that for?!” Holly screams at me, positioning her petite body back into the seat.

“You wanna get killed, Kid?!”

She looks back at the car with a startled look on her face, then turns to me, “You mean they… they’re part of them?!”

“What did you think they were doing, playing bumper cars?!” I start, “Now, stay down!”

I make a sharp left turn at a red light, cars from oncoming traffic swerve to miss me and ride up on the sidewalk. The car is still in hot pursuit, making the turn just behind me. I get some momentum at the next intersection when I fly through the red light with ease but the car behind clips a Woody driving parallel. I see my opportunity, so I act upon it. I toss Holly the gun, “Reload, kid!” She frantically scrambles for a clip in her purse and loads it.

“Done!”

“Give it here, kid,” I start, “When the car comes to a stop, I want you to take off down that alley up ahead, got it?”

“Why?”

“Got it?!”

“Yes, I got it.”

“Good… now grab on to something.”

In that moment I hit the breaks while sharply turning the car right then left, bringing the car to a complete horizontal stop in the street.

“Scram, kid!”

She jumps out and bolts for the alley.

I get out of the car with gun in hand, I hear the car go up a gear and its speed gains momentum. I aim the gun and take shots at the driver, walking towards the oncoming car. Two bullets lodge in the driver, one in the shoulder and another in the head. The passenger grabs at the wheel, but it’s too late. I leap to the right, rolling out of the way just in time for the car to whiz by and crash into Holly’s nice, nice car.

I leap to my feet and rush around to the passenger side, open the door and drag the passenger out of the car and into the street. He’s cut up bad; I can see his bone piercing through his arm near the elbow. He’s crying and balling and screaming all manner of vulgarities.

“You got one chance, pal,” I start, “Who sent you?”

He makes his choice and doesn’t answer, but instead continues crying like a baby. I put a bullet in his head and put each of us out of misery.

After pocketing the gun, I run for the alley. I’m turning over trash cans, trying doors, looking in windows but I can’t seem to find Holly anywhere. I come to the end of the alley and step out into an adjacent alley, I look left and see nothing. I turn right and see a car coming straight at me, Holly is in the passenger seat and is obviously yelling her delicate head off. I get a quick glimpse at the driver. He looks high-class. I’m guessing this must be the notorious Maxim. I scramble into the alley, just missing getting turned into road kill. I hear the car screech against the bricks, just missing me. Some of the bricks fly into pieces. I hear the car driving off and I look at myself. I’m lying face down in the waste from a trash can. A gun in my hand, still hot from its action. But, it’s not as pretty as it once was. It’s been scraped from the ground. Scratches are all up and down the barrel.

As I stand up, I pull a banana peel that had attached itself to my coat and drop it. As I walk out into the street looking for any sign of the girlish figure I once knew, I realize she’s gone. Long gone. I stretch a little, feeling the pain now that the adrenaline is gone. I walk to the curb and hail a cab. All the while remembering Mercedes asking me to not make any rash decisions. I hate it when she’s right.

The toughest part of all this… I officially care for the little brat that is Holly. I think I might even be in love with her. She’s all I can think about as I get my ride back to my apartment. I think of her delicate, petite frame and realize it won’t take much to finish her off. Not much at all. If Maxim’s a gentleman, he’ll make it quick and maintain her dignity. But, if I had a guess, Maxim ain’t much for chivalry.

Good luck, kid.

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