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Originally posted at Live Journal: A mash-up between HT100 Flash Fic Challenge #16: Speaking in Tongues and HT100 Flash Fiction Challenge #14: It was a Marlowe kind of fic.
Click Your Heels, Senorita!
"It was a cold, dark November night, one of those nights when everything can happen, everything you could think of, all you could NEVER come up with, not in a million years. The world had shrunk into a nutshell, a nutshell called Em City, one of those barely legal joints in this barely legal dirty town --"
"Okay, okay, enough with the poetry, Beecher. Just stick to the facts."
Two cops and the only witness left to tell the tale after the worst shooting this Godforsaken town had survived long enough to know, this doomed town of despair and heartlessness, this pit of --
"Sorry, I got lost in my own thoughts for a second."
"Yeah, you seem to do that a lot. Just tell us what happened."
"What were you doing in Em City?"
Tobias Beecher takes a long, ragged breath and clasps his hands on the table. This man in his 30's, already worn out and broken, separated from his nice suburban family, lost in the shithole that's Oz - the City of the damned, the "abandon hope all ye who enter" mouth of Hell, the...
"Sorry." Another long breath of air. "I got...lost, you know? I'm new in the City and...well, the life I knew before coming here came nowhere close to this one. Even the fucking streets of this town don't make sense to me, took the wrong turn. Ended up on the wrong side of town and...I was lost, you know? I just stopped to ask for directions."
"In a bar?!"
"Had a nice, shiny look. Clean glass walls and everything. Looked like a classy joint. Little did I know at the time the type of...scum the place was infested with."
"Yeah, the type of scum that saved your life, Mister Beecher."
"She...she saved my life."
"Yeah. The most...not beautiful, the chick was not beautiful, no --"
"Mister Beecher, concentrate. I don't wanna spend all day in here with you, okay?"
"-- too...*manly* to be beautiful, nothing like my sweet, innocent, *dead* Genevieve, God bless her heart. No, this woman had the right moves, knew how to act, a natural born actress, you know? Could've ended up in Hollywood, if God - that fucking tumor - had actually had a heart and --"
"Beecher, for Christ's sake! What happened?"
"Sorry. So, I entered the bar to --"
"Ask for directions, we know. Who was there, what was going on?"
"People. Drinking, smoking, chatting. What would you expect? It's a bar, there's not a lot of things happening in a bar, you know. Usual things people usually do."
"Are you jerking us around, Mister Beecher? *Usual things people usually do?* That bar with the *shiny look* is one of the most depraved joints in town, the scum of the Earth hangs out there."
"And you're telling us nothing out of the ordinary was going on when you arrived there?"
"Nothing, I swear. Except..."
Except for the fact that - for starters - the white folks were mixed with the Negroes and the spics, men and women and Muslims(?) sharing the same breath of air; the same smoke coming out of that Irish' wicked mouth and going into the lungs of that huge Negro buffalo of a wife of his, the one carrying around the soup pot like an infant, spitting through her teeth. Oh, and let's not forget about...
"Oh, don't you just miss the good ol' days when a nigger like that would be swinging in the wind like some strange fruit or something? Haven't these two nutcases ever heard of that 'separate but equal' bullshit? 'Miscegenation' - that's what it's called. *M-i-s-c-e-g-e-n-a-t-i-o-n*."
With Beecher turning towards the older man sitting on a chair, one (wooden) arm leaning on the bar table, and marveling at his spelling skills. And...(what the fuck does 'miscegenation' MEAN anyway?)
"Ain't I right, Chrissie?"
From behind the bar table (well, actually from *under* the bar table) appears - 'Oh, my God! Who. Are. You?...' - a tall, tall chick, woman - goddess! - dressed in the skimpiest outfit Beecher's ever seen, showing off her (too) broad shoulders - 'The tattoo, you have to tell me about that tattoo sometime.' - her nice (very NICE) ass and... Oh, yeah, the nipples, man, the *nipples*...
Grinning a shit-eating grin, wiping that wicked, wicked mouth of hers and putting her paws, sorry - hands on the older man's shoulders:
"Whatever you say, Sugar Daddy."
"Oh, you're quite a gal, prag."-- tugging at her cheek: "You've missed a spot, *Chris-ti-na*." And turning towards his new found interest, Beecher: "Lotta niggers, huh?"
"Umm, I think the correct term is 'Negroes'."
Christina slithering between them, practically sprawling on the table, full-length, grinning again:
"Vern Daddy-O over here don't care that much for P.C." -- one paw/hand slipping slowwwly over Beecher's tie and chest, making him gasp: "Handsome stranger...you."
Grinning again, even bigger this time:
"See? We haven't been introduced...properly." -- the other hand freed from under her dress and prompted swiftly right in front of Beecher's face: "Christina Keller."
This city, the mess it makes out of people's minds and hearts, erasing all that's good and decent and clean, pouring instead only filth and anger and --
"Beecher, hey Beecher!" -- one hand slapping hard on the table: "Names, man. We want names."
"Names? How the fuck would I know their names?! I told you, I was just passing by, I --"
"Well, you got that broad's name right. What was her pimp called?"
"Pimp? He wasn't her *pimp*."
"Okay, her Daddy, whatever. What was his name?"
"Vern. Vern Schillinger."
Both police officers exchange meaningful looks:
"Vernon Schillinger. Convicted October 21, 1992. Aggravated assault in the first degree. Sentence: eight years. Up for parole in --"
"What the fuck? 1992?! Are you jerking *my* chain, officer? It's 1938!"
"Oh, yeah...sorry about that." -- grabs his partner's arm and rushes out of the room: "That stupid fucking secretary fucked up the files again."
"Hey, man. Chill."-- leaning in close, eyes scanning around for possible unwanted eavesdropping: "Don't you think this whole thing is a bit...screwed up? I mean, look at his shoes. Ruby fucking shoes, man. Like a little girl's."
"The man likes ruby shoes. So? Maybe he's some perv or something. Maybe that's what guys outside the city wear, who knows? I've never been outside, how would I know? Have...you?"
Lowering his voice:
"Been...you know, outside?"
"No. I tried once... They --"
"Didn't let you, I know. This is so fucked up, man."
"Like..."(--'we're stuck here. Locked up.')
Back inside the interrogation room where Beecher's been ruminating on his oh-so-hot and oh-so-VERY-weird encounter with Chris...Chrissie...Christina.
Keller. Christina Keller.
"Well To-by, what brings you around the shady side of town?"-- both hands on Beecher's tie: "Looking for...someone?"
Beecher gulps *hard*, but before he has the chance to say anything, Vern Daddy-O intervenes:
"Woman, can't you keep those fucking paws of yours off *anything*? Fucking slut."-- pushing her away and leaning in way too close into Beecher's breathing space: "So...why are you here?"
"That's no manner to treat a lady," Beecher replies visibly distressed, trying to lean as further away as possible from the blonde man who keeps cramming into him. Behind them, Christina watches carefully both men, staring almost psychotically at Beecher's exposed nape.
"Lady?!" Schillinger snorts, raising his non-existent eyebrows. "That's no lady, kiddo. That's *anything* but a lady." Grabbing Keller's neck: "Besides, if she were to be a lady, she would be MY lady. Mine, get it?" Sharp-edged features melting into a mellow, benign disinterest: "But...I can borrow her. If you're interested, that is. Beecher."
From the back of the bar, hidden behind a cloud of smoke:
"Hey, Schillinger! Pimp your whore somewhere else, okay? Or at least don't make such a big production out of it, I don't want any trouble, Nazi-boy."
"Sure thing, O'Reily." -- to himself: "Irish jizzball." To Beecher: "So? What do you say, Tobias?"
Well, Gen's been dead for about a year and (Nazi-boy?) he's been chaste and grieving and didn't really feel like (Nazi-boy?!) fucking someone else, truth be told, but...
Oh, Christina, Christina - what is IT about you that drives me (horny) crazy? Could it be your dark blue eyes, or that charming, seductive (vulgar) smile of yours or...(--oh, come on, say it!) That oh-so-fuckable ass, more fine than any ass I've ever seen - male, female, donkey.
Oh, oh, OH Christina... I'm already fantasizing about us having *spectacular* sex and then later cuddling between those strong, pumped arms of yours while staring at your (awkwardly) tit-free chest...
Oh, Christina, Christina, those legs, that ass...
"Mister Beecher. You said O'Reily?"
"Yeah, Ryan O'Reily - the owner of the bar. He rules the fucking place. Or *ruled*, to be more accurate." -- a smirk: "Don't tell me you have a file on him too. What is it this time, 1997?"
"Funny. Well, as a matter of fact, we do have a file on Ryan O'Reily, a medical file to be more *accurate*. He's not dead, he's in the hospital and he's gonna be fine."
"Wow!... I guess Simona was right after all. The rats never die."
Oh, what a SIGHT Simona Adebisi-O'Reily was! Tall, bulky, man-like woman who smelled like soup and rat-poison and testosterone - only God knows what had brought up together the Negro woman and the Irishman. Or how their kids would've turned up!
(Maybe Nazi-boy was right... Nazi-boy? We're still...in the merry land of *USofA*, right? Oh Tobias, get a grip here!)
"Hey boss, we've got rats!" Throaty voice, weird accent Beecher can't quite identify, and a smile that would make the sun shine even in Oz. O'Reily - the *boss* - doesn't seem too impressed though.
"Jesus fuck! Again?"
"Just saw a big one chewing on a cupcake in the kitchen."
The word reverberates like some secret formula among the customers. Some instantly cringe, some look down in embarrassment; one guy starts running around in circles mumbling about his tomato-loving dead father.
Cupcake...cupcake, Beecher thinks, and for some strange reason the word seems awfully...familiar. Cupcake...
"Mmm...I love cupcakes," chuckles softly Schillinger. Near him, Chris just looks down at his fingernails, yawning.
Cupcake...Tobias just can't put his finger on it. What?...
"Oh, and there's a dead guy near the fridge," Simona adds, chewing on a toothpick.
"What?" A voice raises almost pathetically from near the bar.
Through the thick smoke, Beecher can distinguish the figure of a policeman - only that it doesn't look like a policeman, not quite. More like a sobbing drunk. And he knows all about sobbing drunks, for...
"She left me, she left me for fucking *England*. Me, ME - the guy that treated her like shit... and ADMITED to doing so! Fucking Commonwealth Imperialistic bastards..."
"Oh, don't worry, it happens," says a small, old woman, smoking on a water pipe. "God wanted it to happen, He told me so."
"It is the hand of God," solemnly points out a black man wearing a white knitted cap.
The smoke wraps around them and blurs out the obvious question idly spinning through Beecher's mind: 'Which God?'
Suddenly out of nowhere, a tall, well built man/woman/donkey stomps her boots behind the policeman and grins widely:
"Don't worry, Tim, you're *dreamy*. Any girl would want you."
"Away where?" -- one meaty hand on his shoulder, the other down his pants: "How about this Romanian restaurant?" Leaning in close, whispering into his ear: "Mancam ceva si dupa aia ma futi. Sau te fut eu, depinde. Fac eu cinste. Ce zici?"
"England, fucking England!..." And then another sob and a limp dick.
He/she/donkey leaves to find another - willingly or UNwillingly - dreamy fella, shouting:
Beecher feels the grip of a hand squeezing on his shoulder and turns around to find Ryan O'Reily munching on an apple:
"Hmmm...that was interesting." To his (un)lawfully wedded wife: "Hey, stop fucking around with that fork, Simona. We've got some dead fucking corpse in our kitchen, the *authorities* are gonna be all over our asses, now." Turning towards the others: "Didn't I fuckin' tell you fuckwads not to shank anyone in my goddamn joint without TELLIN' me first, huh?! Ungrateful motherfuckers."
"It's bad for business," Simona grins widely with an almost cow-like delicacy flutter of her long eyelashes. While Beecher can't help but stare at her mismatched stockings.
"So there was already a dead guy in Em City, right Mr. Beecher?" -- the cop on his left suddenly drops his hand on the table like some "Eureka!" bullshit.
"Apparently, if there's one thing Em City doesn't lack, that's dead corpses," Beecher mutters. "I can't validate that statement, Sir, I didn't see the dead guy. All I saw, all I could see...
...was Christina Keller, slowly swinging her hips on the stage, singing something about her *baby*. And Toby was...mesmerized at the sight of such a seductive siren wooing her pray through barely whispered calls..."Come to me, baby..."
(I won't hurt you, I SWEAR.)
Dark, dangerous, oddly sensual, a strange fascination capturing him in her web, her strong, (un)feminine arms, those blunt fingers, tight, firm thighs, dark hair like the night, a shower curtain of oblivion...Chris, Chrissie, Christina - what a name, what a body, what a...
"Hey, Beecher!" -- fucking O'Reily butting in: "Aren't you supposed to be doing *something* about this mess since you're the main fucking CHARACTER and all in this Noir...whatever?"
"Do what?! You've got your cop, let him handle things."
(Now, get out of my way, you're blocking the view.)
"Oh, we've given up on him doin' shit a long time ago," Ryan replies. Lowering his voice: "Look, I may have some good leads as to who was responsible, you know?
"Really? You haven't even seen *who* died, yet."
(Out of my way, out of my way!)
"Huh? That don't matter. What matters is...who was in the kitchen. Who had the *opportunity*, you know?"
And while listening and not quite listening to O'Reily's shrewd (and pointless) attempt at screwing over that Negro wife of his - "She's crazy, man, she doesn't need no reason to kill. You should see her chase rats, she's a fucking freak of nature, I tell ya." - Beecher's eyes glue onto the mysterious brunette singing (quite badly, truth be told) and slithering her long fingers over her chest, staring RIGHT BACK AT HIM. Long, gorgeous legs, fluttering thick, black eyelashes, that big nose like Cleopatra or something...hooked.
All Beecher wants is to bury his face into her dark hair and feel the rough edges of her body, her strong hands around his wrists, twisting HARD...(oh, *that* didn't come out right, did it?)
Hell! She grins again and Beecher knows he's his...hers, HERS, Goddamn it!
"All I want in return is some cigarettes and Gloria," O'Reily finishes, squeezing his shoulder.
"Cigarettes?!" Beecher asks, choking on the thick smoke coming out of O'Reily's mouth. "Everybody's smoking here, YOU'RE smoking. Why would you ask for cigarettes?"
Ryan looks a bit puzzled for a second and - in this cruel world of low lifers and cheap broads and kufi wearing...kufi? What...oh, whatever. In this doomed world Ryan O'Reily looks like a kid asked to extract the square root of 97904... What a beautiful moment knowing there was still innocence, still a ray of light in this filth...
Ryan O'Reily - Tobias' new found hero.
(Wanna get high?)
"There's never too much cigarettes," Ryan mumbles.
"And who is Gloria?"
"The woman I love," he replies proudly.
Oh, there's still love in a place like this, Beecher thinks (and obviously loses it again). There's still hope. Said was right, this IS the hand of God - brutally slicing up some poor asshole so that the goodness in people could finally be revealed, Said was right, the Qu'ran says... (The Qu'ran?!...)
Ryan's warm hand on his shoulder and his smooth voice sulking into his ear and Chris dangling her rather large feet to the rhythm of the music, cocking her head slightly to the left and smiling...
Oh, sweet, merciful Allah, that smile...
"Does she love you back?" Beecher finally manages to pull himself back together.
"Love me BACK?! OF COURSE SHE LOVES ME BACK!" -- O'Reily's almost screaming now: "How could she not? I mean, just because I whacked her husband, that don't mean..."
"Oh, never mind. It don't matter 'cause I LOVE her and she's got to love me BACK, right? Right?..."
Tobias was wrong. Ryan wasn't a ray of light, just a pathetic sociopath with mother issues who had learned in time to idolize women and then turn on them when they didn't turn out to be the Angels he saw them as being.
(And yes, I *did* study Freud, thank you very much!)
"You're just trying to get rid of your Negro wife and you don't find the balls to do it by confronting her. You ought to tell her how you feel about the marriage and not force both of you to live a lie." -- leaning in towards him, taking off his glasses: "She deserves to know you love someone else. Be honest, Ryan."
"Oh, fucking forget it." -- storming across the room, bumping into Claire-wanna eat Romanian?-Howell, who follows him closely: I'll go find someone else. Or jerk off. Or stalk Gloria for a little while..."
"Leaving so soon, O'Reily?" Christina growls, and she's just adorable with her white trash, good Catholic girl gone HORRIBLY bad, New York chewing jaws of hers. "Whatcha gonna do about the dead guy?"
"Hey, I didn't touch him," Ryan snaps back. "I never TOUCHED any of the guys, *Christina*. Unlike you, I might add."
"Oh, but I touched' em in a *good* way," Keller snickers nasty, letting her fingers run across Schillinger's arm: "Always in a good way, ain't that right, Daddy?"
Looking straight at Beecher, voice suddenly a tired, saddened moan:
"Too bad some guys are just...untouchable. No matter what."
Time stays still for one small second. Everything freezes. Just once...
"And then it happened," Beecher mutters in the interrogation room.
One small second...
And then it happens. Suddenly, Em City's door opens wide and a small, black kid stumbles barefoot, runs towards Simona and tries to hide underneath her long gypsy skirts:
"Todas las mujeres *es* putas! Todas las mujeres *es* putas!"
"Is that your fuckin' kid, Simona?" -- O'Reily finally finds his balls and lashes out at his double-sized wife: "You been cheatin' on me, huh?"
But before Simona has the time to say anything, all hell breaks loose. A zombie looking woman storms inside the bar with a shotgun in one hand and a pair of shoes in the other. Yelling:
"Would you take my shoes, MOTHERFUCKER?!"
Half-screaming, half-wetting his diapers:
"Puedes tener tus zapatos. Por favooor, no me matas, Senooor!"
BANG! BANG! The kid's dead and the shoe-lady's on a killing spree as she turns over towards the rest of the crowd: BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! And a whole lotta other BANGS...
Beecher feels blood on his hand as a bandana wearing guy holds on to his leg in pain and Toby wants to bang his fists into his head - "Let go, you immigrant, no-good, bandana-wearing KID!" - but sees as in a dream Christina almost *flying* over the bar table and casually dodging bullets until her arms close tight around him...and time stays still for a small second once more.
"I've got you."
And then they fall on the floor, Chris' mouth filling up with blood, tiny drops smearing Beecher's collar. Next to them he notices O'Reily squirming under his wife's bulky figure, hears the bandana kid crying in pain. Keller's eyes are wide open, dark blue slowly fading into gray emptiness. And time moves on again.
"And the woman shot herself," Beecher says softly, looking at his fingernails. "And that's it, that's all."
"All for a pair of shoes?"
"Shit happens. After all, this is Oz, right?"
"And she saved your life?"
Beecher breathes in slowly. Then breathes out:
Both cops nod their heads.
"That's quite a story, Mr. Beecher."
Quite the story...
But not THAT different from so many other stories in the land of Oz.
Click your heels three times now. And wake up.
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