Neon Noir

Neon Valet Parking
Neon Valet Parking from Flickr Tadson Bussey

The days of the week lined up like buckets, ready to catch whatever fell in. Most weeks it was nothing much. This week it looked like it could be something else.

My morning started out fairly busy for a Monday – lost dogs, a wandering grandma, husband philanderer….still, nothing out of the ordinary. But by lunch time I figured I needed more sleep, I needed a cold beer, and I needed to hire a secretary. What I had were stiletto heels, crimson red lipstick, and a hat with a stinking cute little black veil. I put them all on and headed for the door. On the way out I grabbed Jerry’s gun.

The new client wanted to meet in the park. Ok by me. He said he’d be on the bench by the duck pond.

I hate ducks. But – probably I could avoid the little bastards. The client wanted to talk romance. Just what I needed on a Monday morning. I wondered why I had only downed one cuppa java as I wandered through the park avoiding ducks and looking for the client. Sure enough he was sitting at the Duck Pond. Or at least someone was.

I wandered over and threw some corn in the water. The little misbegotten freaks converged on it immediately and swallowed half the pond whole in order to consume it all. The guy on the bench laughed.

“You want to sit?” he asked.

I sidled over and sat at the far end of the bench. “You wanted to meet?” I muttered.

“I have a job – for someone who thinks romance stinks,” he said.

“That would be me,” I responded and emptied the bag of corn at my feet.

Big mistake. Dozen of the little bastard ducklings swarmed around me – some of them even stepped on me with their hideous nugatory webbed feet. I kept shuddering and pretending I wasn’t.

“I need someone to do a job. Tonight,” my contact breathed.

“What kind of job?”

“My brother….a dare – you want the job I give you the details.”

I thought about it for a minute. “Yeah, sure,” I said.

“Let’s walk,” he said.

* * * * *

After our conversation I felt relieved. Almost guilty even. This would be too easy. Still, it was what the client wanted to pay for and who am I to judge? I thought the guy was as nuts as a pair of yodeling monkeys but I liked him.

I rolled into the Oxley Hotel lobby at exactly 7:08 as planned. Punched the elevator button for the 5th floor and settled in for the slow rise. At room 503 I knocked briefly and wasn’t surprised when the door drifted open underneath my knuckles. The client and his brother sat stiffly on the sofa. There was blood on the floor in front of them.

I came in gun drawn and a hideous snarl making a mockery of my face. “Who the hell are you two,” I demanded and knocked the brother’s chin with the business end of my gun.

He responded appropriately and I winked at my client. Seemed we were headed down the right path.

“I’m looking for Jon Jacob Joseph Jones,” I declared and dared them to snicker under the ferocity of my eyes. “You know where I could find him?”

“NO,” my client said and motioned towards the door. His glance back to the blood-stained carpet told me something had gone wrong.

“What do you want him for?” the brother asked.

“Murder?” I hazarded a guess. “His.”

The two brothers exchanged a glance. I walked farther into the darkened room and took up a position by the window. The room was lighted only by the incremental flashes of neon from a sign hanging just outside the hotel window. Red, white, green…red, white, green….the lights flashed their message.

“Listen you guys,” I started. “I know why you brought me here. Someone has to take the fall. Because there must have been something deep inside you from the very start that let you do this thing, but there’s always been something deep inside me that would never let me do it, – and would never let me be a party to it.”

The brother turned to my client, “Do you have any idea what she is talking about?” he asked.

“Not a clue.”

The neon flashed. We all turned to look out the window. I decided to try again.

“Tell me about it,” I snarled.

The brother broke first.

“We never planned it!” his voice was as shaky as a glass of gin on a teetotaler’s tray. “The guy shows up and says he’s in love with my girl. Wants to marry her! Tells me to bow out of the picture.”

My client interrupted with a cough. “The guy shows up half an hour early and brings a gun with him,” he says. He gives me a look.

“What do you mean early?” the brother asked. I cut him off.

“So what did you tell the swell? You bow out on your girl?”

“Hell, no! I told him to get lost, that I loved her and if anybody was marrying her it wasn’t going to be him!”

I looked at my client and nodded. “So he bought it,” I said.

“Yeah but, then the guy pulled a gun. We didn’t talk about guns so I told him to put it away.” The client wiped a hand over his face which was sweating like a pig on safari.

“So I jumped him,” the brother said. “Tried to get it away from him.”

“Then I jumped both of them – I didn’t plan for anyone to get hurt,” my client said. “The gun went off – damn fool had even loaded it! He went down, dropped dead on that spot,” he said pointing to the bloodstain.

“Where is he now?” I asked

“Closet.”

I opened the closet door and peeked in. He was lying in a fetal position, still clutching the gun with both hands. Dead as a door nail, all right.

I looked back at the brothers. They were arguing in whispers. I guessed the jig was up.

“Either one of you touch the gun?” I asked.

“No – I had him in a stranglehold and genius here tackled both of us.”

“So now what?” my client asked.

“Now we leave.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it. It was an accident – no need to be part of it, that just gets messy.”

I started for the hallway. “Leave separately. Unseen by management – don’t walk out through the lobby. And for Christ’s sake don’t tell anybody about this!”

At the door I paused.

“One more piece of advice, gents. Don’t meddle with romance – it never works out.” I looked at the brother. “And if you really love her – marry the dame.”

The stairwell was right around the corner. The window on the landing looked out over the neon sign. Red, white, green.

I wondered if I would still get paid.

Supplemental Retirement Income

Jep - the white weasel
Jep – the white weasel

He waited for an hour.

Seated on the sidewalk in front of the supply shop he had a good view of everyone approaching long before they arrived. He had found that to be a very good thing in his new line of work. Even if the concrete was hard on old bones.

Passers-by made an effort to walk around him – no one wanted to get too close to an old man in worn clothes slumped against the front of the building. He wore a rumpled hat to ward off the solar reflections and caressed a faded backpack every so often as if to make sure it was still there. Next to him lay a dead weasel.

After an hour a well dressed woman crossed the wayfare, weaving between the hovercraft and only once actually touching the surface. The dead weasel sat up and watched her.

She approached the old man and looked both ways before addressing him.

“Do you have it?” she asked.

“Depends on who’s askin’,” he answered.

She sneered just the slightest bit. “I am,” she said.

“Who’re you?”

“The person you have been waiting for.” Her exasperation escaped in a sigh.

The old man studied her silently then glanced down at the weasel sitting beside him.

“Play dead,” he ordered and the weasel dropped dead with a grin.

“Behind you,” he said to the woman, but she took too long to turn and they got her before she could become invisible.

The leader of the pack bent down to face the old man on his level. “What did she say to you?” he demanded.

“Who?”

“The agent – the humanoid we just killed. What did she want?”

“She asked if I had any spare change,” the old man said.

The android stared at him. “Your weasel is dead,” he said.

There was a disturbance farther along in the marketplace and the droids left him in order to deal with it. The dead weasel sat up and chattered at him.

“I told you, learn English or don’t bother,” the old man said and turned to peer into the window of the shop behind him. It was well-lighted, neatly organized and oddly deserted for the weekend before school started.

A small group of children were gathered around the apothecary counter at the back where the robot in charge was rearranging an assortment of poisons. Two middle-aged men were comparing turret grips and photon pipelets underneath a banner — Sale! Thieves Supplies, 33% Off! — and a mother and son stood in the school supply aisle examining pyro cylinders and pulsar navigators. No one looked like a prospective contact from the Undercover Retirement Mage Association.

When the old man looked back out to the street he noticed the weasel had disappeared. A rustling from the backpack gave away its location.

“Git out of there, Jep. I told you we ain’t got any more food until we sell this thing – Hey! Wait jist a mintue you golderned varmint!”

He yanked the weasel out of the backpack by its tail, only just preventing it from sinking its teeth into the large turnip clutched between its paws.

“I told you a million times – this here is a enchanted turnip and we ain’t eaten’ it – we are sellin’ it!”

The weasel spit at him then looked just beyond his shoulder, opened its eyes very wide and dropped dead in his hand. The turnip plunked back into the backpack.

The old man turned in time to see the androids approaching again and rose hastily to his feet.

“Guess it’s time to move on,” he muttered. “Where else in this god-infested galaxy do you suppose someone is willing to buy an enchanted turnip?”

Of Daughters and Fishes

Zero to Hero Day Twelve. Write a post that builds on a comment you left on another blog.

Claudette from if you’re looking for answers asked “Question 2 – The Eternal Fish” which prompted a comment from me followed by this post.

The fish in question
The fish in question

Recently I was faced with a moral dilemma. It was presented to me by the inadvertent abandonment of one little Siamese Fighting Fish into my keeping.

Is it immoral to “accidentally” allow said fish to expire somewhat sooner than the date which Fate has in mind for that particular activity for that particular fish?

I live with several cats…..if his fishbowl were left at cat level it could soon become empty and I would never even have to know whodunnit!

Except that a little over 20 years ago my 4-year-old son had a beautiful goldfish named Cleo whom the whole family loved and one night we came home from an outing to find Cleo gasping her last breath in the middle of the hallway floor. Although it truly was an accident – a bedroom door carelessly left ajar can often have unexpected consequences – I felt guilty for days.

I had failed that fish. Failed to protect her pretty little tortoise-colored sides from the ravages of kitty claws, failed to provide enough security to allow her to live long and prosper.

So how could I, even for a moment, consider abandoning this new little piscean guest to the same fate?

Well, I couldn’t, of course. Not really. I mean, I bought that fish to mark the celebration of my youngest daughter’s college graduation. Went thrifting with her in her little college downtown to find the perfect giant vase to turn into a fish bowl. Bought gravel, shells, fake plants, water conditioner, premium fishie food and a net for use when cleaning the bowl once a week.

But, of course, Your Honor, that was it. The motivation, I mean. I suddenly found myself responsible for that reprehensible task. The weekly cleaning of that fishbowl! The disgusting gunk that accumulates at the bottom of a fish bowl…..well, it’s fish poo, really, isn’t it? All mixed up with gooey uneaten fish food in the gravel at the bottom. And probably fish pee too because have you ever smelled that strong ammonia odor when pouring out the old water which probably should have been changed three weeks ago…….

Anyway — I couldn’t do it. Kill the fish that is. Instead I took some pictures of him and sent them off to Youngest Daughter who moved to Los Angeles seven months ago. Packed all her worldly possessions into her other graduation present and drove cross-country to pursue Her Dream. About three hours after she left on that four-day-drive my phone rang. It was Youngest, breathless, bordering on tears.

“I forgot Poseidon!” she gulped. I frowned and looked around the kitchen. “Should I come back for him? Can you mail him to me? What should I do?” she wailed.

“Visit him at Christmas,” I answered firmly and that was how I came to be fish-sitting this particular critter. Who is actually very social…for a fish. And who greets me cheerily every day when I climb up to the top of the bookcase where he resides in order to sprinkle food into his bowl. Sometimes when I talk he swims over to take a look at me. And he’s very smart…..for a fish. So I guess the little guy is safe for a while.

Clearly, I’m hooked.

Posie 3Posie 2

The Liebster Award!

Image

I’ve been away for awhile and out of touch with the blogosphere due to an interruption from Real Life.  While I was gone I was nominated for a Liebster Award by four —- count ’em —- FOUR Fabulous Bloggers! I am so humbly honored, thanks to all four of you!

Click on these links to visit the awesome blogs of my Four Fab Nominators:
Life in Poetry
Maria Brinkley, artist
in the life of sara sandoval
The Odd Things

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers in order to promote their blog and bring together a community of bloggers. The word Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. I especially like that “welcome” part as we send this award around the blogosphere to newcomers. Blogging is about building a community and this is a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about their blogs.

The rules of the award are as follows:

The nominated blogger must provide a link back to the person(s) who nominated them and also complete the following requirements:

  • Provide 11 facts about themselves
  • Answer 11 questions from the person(s) who nominated you
  • Choose 11 other bloggers to nominate and ask them 11 questions
  • Inform the new nominees they’ve won and send link!

ELEVEN FACTS ABOUT ME:  

  1. I love to read! Eventually I will be adding a “what I’m reading now” page to my blog. 
  2. I hate scary movies.  If I accidentally end up watching one I put my splayed fingers up in front of my face and peer through the gaps. 
  3. My BMI indicates that I am about a foot too short. 
  4. My favorite online gaming platform is WOW where I am a shaman, a mage, a  druid, a healer and a hunter. 
  5. One day I will own a lovely little cottage on a lake and spend the entire summer there every year. 
  6. I hate housework and I’m a lousy cook.  Somehow my family survived.
  7. I speak both Pig Latin and Parseltongue.  Depending on your age you should recognize one of them. 
  8. Favorite foods include Pizza, Spaghetti, and Lasagna.
  9. I might have been an Italian Princess in a former life….
  10. Currently trying a Paleo (and thus also gluten-free) lifestyle.  Very Sad (see number 8 above.)
  11. I saw a ghost once.  Really.  

And now for the questions from my Fab Four. Because there are so many of them I will be answering two to three questions from each nominator rather than boring you with my 44 amazing answers…….And because I am inherently lazy I will be providing answers only rather than typing out each question.  I leave it to your imagination, dear reader, to figure out what the questions were. 

  1. My least favorite subject in school was Math – any kind of math.  Because the Right hemisphere of my brain always overpowers the Left and Math is definitely buried deep within the obtuse left side. 
  2. A hobby I really enjoy is photography.  I’m saving my pocket change for a Canon EOS Rebel. It’s going to take a lot of change! 
  3. My best birthday memory is a surprise birthday party when I was 10. 
  4. Something which I’ve always owned and still have is a stuffed dog.  I suppose he was my version of a “blankie.”  All of his stuffing was long ago flattened away with hugs and he’s turned yellow with age.  He lives in a box on my closet shelf and I would never dream of getting rid of him.
  5. My favorite flowers are Hydrangeas because they remind me of my Grandmother. 
  6. I was named after my mother’s sister.  My name means “nobly born.”
  7. My favorite television show – Scandal.
  8. My most prized piece of knowledge: “However good or bad a situation is now, it will change.” 
  9.  If a woodchuck could, and would, chuck wood, a woodchuck could chuck a good chunk of wood, should and could a woodchuck go chuck wood – that’s how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood. 
  10. Least liked housework chore is Floors.  Vacuuming, sweeping, scrubbing…..you name it, I hate it! 
  11. Favorite travel destination – London.  I’ve been twice so far and would love to go back and live there for a few months. 

The Eleven Blogs I Am Nominating for a Liebster Award: 

Artfully Aspiring 

If You Are Looking for Answers

Tangent Lass  

A Country Mile 

Someday Means Never

Euphonic Charity

Making it Up As I Go Along, Trying to Think It Through

Love Happy Notes

I Am Creative by Design

Looking Glass Mama

Dragon Droppings

 

Eleven questions from me to my nominees:

  1. How long have you been blogging? 
  2. If you could be a Disney character who would you be and why?
  3. You are moving to a new house in a new town and can only take five things with you – what do you choose? (People and pets and the necessities of life like food and clothes don’t count.)
  4. Title of the last book you read?  Title of the first book you read by yourself?
  5. Favorite television show when you were a child?
  6. Do you believe in ghosts?  Why or why not?
  7. What Inspires you?
  8. Do you have pets?  Why or why not?
  9. Name three people, one living, one dead and one fictional,  whom you would like to invite to a dinner party. 
  10. Of all the days in your life you get to live one over again.  Which one do you pick and what happened on that day?
  11. The world would be a better place if____________________________.