Since a couple others have written stories (look for the reblogged posts), it’s probably time I got mine going. Don’t expect perfection, this only had a quick edit, but it should be entertaining. In case you’re just dropping by and happen to see this, this story (and the others) are from a little writing exercise I started this weekend. Feel free to add your own. Just let me know and I’ll reblog it.
They call this place Neon City.
It’s a slick sounding name for a derelict part of town. The bright lights obscure the dark heart and the constant rain can’t wash away the deep taint of sin. If you believe in sin this is the place to come. Indulgence is this burg’s middle name.
They also say Neon City never sleeps. I disagree. I say Neon City never wakes up. It’s forever lost in a halcyon dream of long-forgotten elegance. It dreams of its own heightened importance and the half-hearted excuses we all tell ourselves when we wake up in the morning and see drooping mugs staring back from mirrors. The rotgut was flowing, the dames were willing, that little guy was laughing, and the goat didn’t seem any the worse for wear.
No harm, no foul. Right?
In the warm light of the sun our sins feel real and tangible. They’re painful, hateful things to contemplate. Then the sun goes down and the real lights shine. The blues and greens and purples make our lives seem exciting and purposeful; they hide the blemishes.
I left here after a … misunderstanding. It seems the local powers that be didn’t appreciate me sticking my nose in places that stunk to high heaven of graft and deep perversion. What can I say? I’m curious. It makes me good at what I do.
Most folks around here call this road Lover’s Lane. There’s not a lot of romance on this road but the sneaky euphemism makes the working girls turning tricks in the alleys seem almost wholesome. People from the outside call it Hell’s Highway.
I call those people boring.
I’ve got a date waiting for me just down this road. You can beat my ass down in the street and I’ll let it ride. Sometimes getting your gums massaged with a tire iron is the price for getting the story. Burn my apartment, kill my dog, torch my car? Fine. Shit happens. When the headlines roll off the presses I’m the last one laughing.
But you whack the dame I’m dizzy with and I’m gonna burn powder.
There’s a lump of steel in my pocket. I’ve got all the evidence I need. There won’t be a story written about this one, though. No headlines. No prizes. My final misdeed will miss the news rags entirely and go quietly into the dark night. I’m fine with that; I’ve got nothing left to worry about anymore, anyway.
The Jade Dragon is guarded twenty-four seven by a couple mooks in expensive suits. They’re former button men who took on the cush job of standing around and looking mean. One of them flexes and I get the impression he’s got a small car up his sleeve. He holds out a meaty paw and stabs a sausage into my chest.
“You ain’t supposed to be here, Felix,” he says. He’s got that droning accent all these guys pick up at mobster school.
“Don’t I know it,” I tell him. “I just came to pay my respects to your boss before I skedaddle.”
“She’s busy,” the other mook says. His unibrow furrows as he glares at me. I’m sure I’m supposed to be scared, but he looks like he’s got a couple ditch caterpillars above his eyes.
I nod and try my best act small and weak. “I’m sure she is, boss. I’m sure she is,” I say. “She’s got a city to run into the ground.”
Unibrow glares at me. Meaty fist gives me a little shove. “Show’s over newshawk,” he says. “Time to take it on the heel and toe.”
I put my hands in the pockets of my battered rain coat and shrug. “I’m going, I’m going,” I say. “I don’t suppose you guys could give her a message for me.”
“I could give her some of your teeth,” Unibrow says. “Would that work?”
Both mooks burst out laughing. They’re probably reminiscing about the good old days of taking out a guy’s chompers with a pair of pliers.
I look around, making sure there aren’t any flatties sticking their piggy noses around and say, “That wasn’t the message I had it mind.”
“What’d you have in mind?” Meaty Fist asks.
“This,” I say.
My roscoe barks twice, blowing holes in my coat. You can’t aim a gun well when it’s in your pocket, but at this range it ain’t hard to hit to these two palookas.
They look shocked, amazed that anyone would have the moxie to chill ’em off in broad daylight. Like I said, I ain’t got nothin’ to lose so I can afford to be a bit goofy.
“Think you can remember that?” I ask as they slide to the ground. “Or should I say it again?”
Both took gut shots. Probably not gonna put ’em on ice, but those pills in the tummy hurt like hell. Unibrow tries to struggle to his feet and I kick him in the chompers on the way into the Jade Dragon.
The bar is dark all the time. It’s the best way to make sure no one watches anyone else, but I know the madam has mics on all the tables. That’s how she found out about my best girl.
I stick to the shadows and make my way to the dance floor. There, right in the middle of the dance floor is Lara Jade, owner of the Jade Dragon and all-around scum merchant. She’s propped on a table with a guy’s head between her legs. Her head is back and her eyes are closed.
I put a bullet in the back of the guy’s skull. He’d probably just as soon forget the whole experience, anyway. Lara jumps and peers around the darkened club.
She composes herself quickly. “Do you have any idea how much trouble you’re in?” she asks the darkness.
“I’m up to my neck in trouble, doll face,” I say.
Lara looks completely unconcerned. She pushes the dead guy’s head out of her lap and adjusts her dress. “I don’t know what’s worse; that you’re threatening me or that you killed him before he was done.”
I take careful aim and hope the shakes don’t pick right now to come back. My heater spits lead and her right leg goes out from under her. She screams and collapses in a heap.
“Next time I’ll let you finish before I put a bullet in you,” I say. I step into the lighted dance floor and smile warmly at her.
Recognition crosses her face, but she’s still not scared. Hurt, yeah, but not scared. “You should have stayed gone, Felix,” she hisses through gritted teeth.
“I miss the hot dogs down here,” I tell her.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Lara asks, scooting away from me. “You know you’ll never walk out of here alive.”
“I’ve got three shots,” I tell her. “Two for you, one for me.”
That caught her attention. “I just wanted to say goodbye before I left town for good,” I tell her.
Never cross a man with nothing left to lose.