Contest to Win a Film Lover’s Short Story Anthology

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Being that I’m quite the movie nerd and book lover, not to mention published author of several mystery novels and other fiction, it seems only fitting that I should do a book giveaway on this blog!

As you may know, I’ve released an ebook version of all the film noir reviews I’ve posted here. What you may not know is that my love for the cinema is written all over my anthology of short stories FIVE UNEASY PIECES. Especially in the bonus sixth story “The Woman Who Knew Too Little”, a nourish parody/homage to Hitchcock.

So, if you’ll simply share or RT this post on Twitter from Jan. 14 to the end of the day on Jan. 15, with the hashtag #5UneasyPieces, you’ll qualify for a free copy of that ebook collection.

I’ll check on the tweets and RTs over the weekend and choose a winner randomly. That means, in order to enter, you only have to tweet or RT this with the hashtag once! And if you RT a RT, be sure to add @FilmWoman to the message, so that I can see it! I do have my limitations! 🙂

And just to show you a bit of what I mean, check out the beginning of the first short story, “Deadly Detour”. Please note the movie references!

DEADLY DETOUR

Late July is no time to be sitting in a car, in a parking lot, in Ocean City, Maryland. It was stinking hot, and moist air pressed in through the open windows and enveloped me like a blanket. I glanced at my watch and cursed Mendez for her lateness.

I’m too old for this, I thought. Women pushing forty should be working in offices, not in the field. Sure, work in an office. Answer phones, attend meetings, push paper—sounded like slow death by boredom. Of course, how exciting was waiting for someone outside a seedy hotel, an unringing cell phone in my lap. Intelligence work is so glamorous, providing the chance to visit so many exotic locales, such as this one. Such as the many I had visited during my 15-year stint with the agency.

“Doomed,” I said, aloud, to no one. I wasn’t sure if I was talking about myself or the Bayside Villas.

A set of low, rectangular white stucco boxes, the Bayside Villas looked strangely like white frosted cakes in the moonlight, their windows trimmed in “food coloring” blue. The sound of a yapping dog and a TV set blaring somewhere did little to lift the status of the place.

“What a dump!” I said, imitating Elizabeth Taylor’s imitation of Bette Davis in the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

I stared at the door to Unit 8, as if that would make Mendez appear sooner. So far, it wasn’t working. In the window to Unit 7, the curtain moved for the second time. I smiled.

“Nervous?” I said. Probably afraid I was casing the joint. As if any sane burglar would waste his time here.

A jazz piano tune floated from the dashboard radio. I closed my eyes, opened them a second later. Not good to keep your eyes closed too long at this job. The distant neon circles of a double-decker Ferris wheel bobbed with numbing regularity over the flat rooftops. The bay waters swooshed at intervals against a nearby bulkhead.

Another twenty minutes ticked by. A breeze fragile as a kitten’s breath eased through the car, carrying with it the scent of creosote-treated wood. Sweat tickled my neck. Wearily, I wiped it away. The Ferris wheel went through countless cycles.

The Unit 7 curtain moved again, was held longer this time, then dropped.

So what was that all about? Surreptitious interest? Paranoia? Maybe my paranoia. Maybe it had nothing to do with me. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to leave for a while. Nothing was up here. And, unless she was in some sort of huge trouble, Mendez should eventually return the message I’d left on her cell phone, let me know she got in okay.

As I turned the ignition key, the door to Unit 7 flew open. A young woman shot out and ran toward my car. Her face was pale, her hair long and dark. She wore a baggy dress, several sizes too large, out of which her skinny arms and legs stuck ridiculously. A large plastic purse on her arm slapped her side as she ran.

I realized that the immense dress was accommodating an immensely-pregnant belly. She moved with amazing speed for one so far along in her maternity. She ran up to my window and leaned in, gasping. She was just a kid, complete with button nose and freckles.

“Help,” she screamed.

A tall and thin, but muscular, man in a tank top and olive green pants appeared in the open doorway. The light from the room revealed something tucked in his waistband—a gun.

“Get in,” I said. As she ran to the passenger’s side, I leaned over to unlock the door. Meanwhile, the man had bolted from the room and was racing toward my car. He had the gun in his hand now.

“Hurry,” I yelled. She opened the door and flung herself inside. I took off, tires squealing. I made a mental note of the man’s white-blonde hair, dark complexion, and the deep scar on his left cheek, in case I ever had to pick him out of a line-up. A line-up was the kind of place I would have expected to see such a face. He did me the kindness of not shooting holes in my car as we sped off.

I made an arbitrary right into the great traffic riptide of Ocean Highway in mid-season.

“Where to?” I said, keeping my eyes on the road and looking out for the occasional idiot tourist that might choose to do a jack rabbit run across my path.

“Make a U-turn. Now.”

She spoke with incongruous authority. I glanced at her long enough to see that she had a gun trained on me.

“Firearms,” I said, affecting an air of unconcern. “Must we?” I was a bit surprised. Not because she was a kid with a gun. In my line of work, I’ve seen kids younger than her running around with guns that would make an NRA member weep with envy. And I’ve been on the wrong end of a gun barrel before. It’s just that she really didn’t look like that kind of kid. There was nothing street-wise about the face, the attitude, or the way her gun hand shook.

“I said do it!” Her voice spiked into a nervous falsetto on the word “do.”

“Why don’t you put that away?”

“Why should I?”

“Well, at the risk of offending you, you’re not exactly convincing me that you’ll actually shoot.”

She just stared at me. We were heading into the heart of old-town Ocean City. Traffic had slowed to a crawl, because the Route 50 drawbridge was up. In the distance, I could hear the clatter of the roller coaster and the screams of people on it. The streets were crammed with hordes of college students, young couples, and bikers.

“You’re really going to shoot me?” I said. “Right here, in the middle of traffic?”

Reluctantly, she lowered the gun into her lap.

“Better,” I said. A cross-street was coming up, so I slowly nosed my way to the left on the one-way road. I managed to get all the way over before the intersection, so I made the turn, went one block over, and turned left again to go back the way I’d come.

She seemed to relax a little, although she didn’t let go of the gun. She had that peculiar combination of worldliness and innocence that you see in a kid that’s grown up too fast.

“I take it there’s somewhere you’d like to go?” I said.

She looked at me sideways. “I wasn’t sure if you’d take me there.”

“You could always ask.”

“Delaware?”

Delaware wasn’t far; it wasn’t around the corner, either. Ocean City, Maryland is on a thin finger of real estate sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Isle of Wight Bay. From the southern-most end of town, where we were, it might take twenty minutes to reach the Delaware line, if traffic was good.

“Where in Delaware?” I asked. She could have been talking about a beach town; she could be talking about Wilmington, on the other side of the state.

“Between Fenwick and Bethany Beach? It’s not far.” She was starting to sound hopeful.

“Well …” I wondered where Mendez might be. She might have arrived while all this was going on. The last time I’d tried to reach her, there was no answer. The silence was filled briefly with a bizarre duet courtesy of Miles Davis and a city bus.

The girl reached for her purse and put the gun in it, pulling out a pack of cigarettes and a pink Zippo lighter. She eyed me with curiosity as she lit up, still waiting for an answer.

“Bad for the baby, isn’t it?” I said.

“So what are you now, my mother?” Suddenly, she sounded as if she were speaking through clenched vocal chords. She took an aggressive drag on the cigarette, then tapped it extraneously on the sill. “I don’t need a lecture on my health, okay?”

“What is this, maybe your eighth month? Ninth?”

She sighed. “Can we skip the maternal chit-chat, mom?”

“And can we skip the sarcasm? I mean, who’s doing whom a favor here? Understand this—I’m not your mom. I’m only asking because you look like you could drop that load any second. And I don’t make deliveries. So, you start going into labor, I don’t care where you say you want to go—we’re heading for the nearest hospital. Clear?”

“Okay, whatever.” She plucked at her dress, as if to remove lint, and did another tap or two with her cigarette. I supposed this was her notion of acting cool and collected. She looked about as cool as a dental patient waiting for a root canal.

“Don’t be a hard ass, okay?” she said. “Anyway, don’t worry about all that. Everything will be just fine.” Her voice trailed off, as if she didn’t quite believe that last point.

As we cruised past the steadily-climbing, numbered side streets, I wondered just what the hell I was doing. My line of work does not encourage voluntary heroics. There’s no percentage in it. But when I looked at the waif-like girl, something made me want to help her. Maybe in certain respects, she reminded me of myself. If I thought real hard, I might remember what it was like to be that age and to think you know everything.

The cell phone in my lap chose that moment to ring.

I snatched it up. “Where are you?” I said.

“Stuck on a focking runway.” When Mendez was mad, her accent was usually strong. Tonight, it was positively robust, even over the phone’s static. “Someone stole my focking cell phone. I had to borrow this nice gentleman’s.”

“I see.”

“We’ve been here for focking hours. I can’t smoke…can’t…take a goddamn leak.” Her voice began to break up.

“I see.” Mendez looks like Rita Moreno in her heyday, but swears like a sailor. I wondered what the nice gentleman might be thinking as he overheard this particular conversation.

“Hello? I can’t…goddamn thing. I’ll… reach…can’t…” The phone took a turn for the worse and her words became incomprehensible sound blurbs.

“Hello? Hello?” I said.

“Are you there?” With a blast of static, communication returned. “Jesus, I need a focking cigarette—ay!”

“Call me when you land,” I said.

“I can’t focking hear you. Our…friend will meet us in the morning. That place…you know.”

“Call me!” I yelled, but she was talking at the same time, in semi-decipherable Spanish. Suddenly, we were disconnected. I sighed and dropped the phone in my lap.

The girl eyed me suspiciously. “Who was that?”

“Just an old college pal,” I said. I didn’t even see her reach for the phone. Next thing I knew, it was in her hand.

“Hey!” I said.

Then she launched it out the window.

“What the hell?” I said. “Lucky for you that’s a company phone, or I’d…”

“You’d what?”

I shook my head, as if it would make everything clearer. “What the hell did you do that for?”

“In case.”

“In case of what?”

“Forget it. Just drive.”

“Hey…hey!” I pointed my finger at her. “I’m inclined to kick your ass out of this car right now.”

There was a moment of silence. “I’m sorry.” Her voice was subdued.

“Sorry! That’s great. I’ll probably get docked for the cost of a new phone. Ohh…” At the nearest intersection, I swerved over two lanes, drawing honks from a few critics, and turned onto the side street. I parked the car and pulled a few bucks from my fanny pack.

“Get out. Here’s some money. Take the bus. Or not. I don’t care. Just take a hike.”

I handed over the bills. As she took them, I could see her hand shaking.

“Oh, what is this…” I started to say something, but she had begun crying now and I didn’t think she was acting. Soundlessly, at first, tears streamed down her cheeks. Then, with a great inhale of breath, she began sobbing, her shoulders shaking and her arms clutched around her belly.

“I freaked out,” she said, in a high, quavering voice. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. Please don’t leave me here. I’m sorry. Damn it.” She wiped the tears away fiercely with the back of her hand.

“What is it with you?” I tried to hide my irritation, with little success.

“I thought maybe you’d call the cops. I thought… I don’t know. I don’t know what I thought. I just freaked, that’s all.”

“Okay, okay. We’ve established that. Christ.” I leaned against the seat and waited for the storm to pass. But the tears kept coming.

“Someone was supposed to pick me up…back there,” she said, between sobs. “But he never showed. And all I could think… I just had to get out. That man back there. He would have killed me.”

I thought of the blond with the scar. “Yeah, he didn’t look all that pleasant.”

“I didn’t know what to do.” With her fingers, she raked her hair out of her face, now mottled from crying. “I figured I’d head for our usual place. I figured, maybe my friend got held up or something. Maybe he’s there.”

“Okay,” I said. “Okay, fine.”

Mendez was held up on a runway, swearing at her smokeless lot in life. She’d said something about meeting our contact tomorrow morning. What was I going to do until then? Go back to an empty motel room and watch HBO until I fell asleep, probably. The girl was making futile attempts to stem the flow of liquid snot from her nose. Hell, I was halfway to the state line already.

“All right. I’ll take you to Delaware. But no more funny stuff, right? I mean it. No guns, no throwing things.”

She nodded. “Everything’s all fucked up. I don’t know what’s going on. I hope he’s there.”

“Right.” I hoped like hell he was there, too.

Up Ocean Highway we went, past the towering condos at the north end of town, across the state line, and into Fenwick Island, Delaware. After Fenwick, development became sparse, then dwindled to nothing as we drove past the state park. At sixty miles an hour, the wet ocean breeze blasted through the car, taking the edge off the heat. Sand dunes undulated to our right, providing occasional glimpses of a golden full moon against a velvety black sky.

She had turned pensive now, and it had been a quiet ride. I tried to coax some information, like a name or a home town or something, out of her. But she wasn’t talking. I had no idea what I would do if the friend wasn’t there. I figured we could cross that bridge when we got to it.

Eventually, she had me turn onto a road leading through a section of tall cattails toward the beach. We crawled up to the foot of a terraced, wooden house on stilts, gray with age and exposure to the elements. Waves pounded on the surf in a soothing, if incessant, roar.

She looked around. “I don’t see his car.”

“Maybe he’s not here yet,” I said. Or maybe he’s not coming, I thought. My heart sank.

We got out of the car. I followed her up a flight of steep, rickety steps to a small landing in front of a weather-beaten green door. It was unlocked and we strolled right in.

“Travis!” she called. The room, dimly lit with a bare-bulb ceiling light, featured an old sofa that looked like it was upholstered in burlap and a table with three plain wooden chairs. No one answered. A short, dark hallway led to another room.

“Damn.” She began pacing, chewing on her thumbnail.

I sighed and crossed the room to the shadeless window. “What now?”

She didn’t answer. I glanced outside. From our vantage point, I could see the black waters of the ocean lapping at the beach, thin lines of foam delineating the waves. The moon was higher now, casting a bright irregular stripe onto the water’s surface.

Time for a reality check, I thought.

“I’ll be straight with you. If it weren’t for your condition, I probably wouldn’t even be here,” I said. “But I’m here now. And he’s not. So maybe we should think about other options?”

She said nothing.

“I can give you a lift to the bus station,” I said. “Or, if you live a reasonable distance from here, a ride to that place.”

“I can’t go home,” she said. “I’ve got no home to go to.”

Great, I thought.

“Well, I’ve got work to do,” I said. “I’ll give you a lift back to town.”

“He’ll be here,” she said. She affected a cool look. “Go. I’ll be fine.”

“Are you kidding? In your condition?”

“I wish you’d quit going on about that.”

I would have to talk her into going back to Ocean City, I thought. Some place where she could get help, if she needed it. As I gazed out the window, something caught my eye, in the cattails.

“Hey, I see a car,” I said. “A jeep, I think.”

She made a stifled cry. I turned and got a brief glimpse of a man and a raised gun. Felt the shock of the gun connecting with my head. My knees buckled and, as they say in the old detective movies, everything went black.

*****

Voices and squeaking. And darkness. Eventually, I realized that was because my eyes were closed. Inside my head, a gnome in spike-heeled shoes was rhythmically kicking my skull. I tried to move my arms. They were pinned behind my back. My face was flattened against something. My whole right side, actually. The floor. I was on the floor, and the squeaking came from the floorboards, as people walked about.

“What do we do about her?” A young man’s voice.

“What’s there to do? We leave her.” The girl.

“I don’t know, Kaitlyn. What if she’s with the DEA?”

“Don’t you think she’d have some I.D. on her if she was with the DEA?”

“Not necessarily. Not if she’s working undercover. Maybe she was sitting outside Eddie’s place for a reason.”

“Are you crazy?”

I opened my eyes, just a crack. I’d fallen behind the table and chairs. Through the legs, I had a pretty good view of them both–what I could see in the yellowish light between squinted lids, that is. The boy had a chunky, Junior Varsity build, and buzz cut hair. He walked around the room, making superfluous gestures as he spoke. The girl—Kaitlyn—had one hand on her hip and a look of disbelief on her face.

“You really fucked up, bringing her here,” he said.

“Exactly how long was I supposed to wait for you, Trav?”

“I told you. The jeep’s busted.”

“And I was supposed to—what?—take a bus? If I were you, I’d be more worried about Eddie. By now, I’m sure he’s figured out that I took some of his stuff.”

Travis didn’t seem convinced. “I dunno.”

“Travis,” Kaitlyn said, sounding more than a bit anxious. “Let’s take the car, let’s drive to the airport, and let’s get the hell out of here, before Eddie figures out where we are.”

“Do you know how much hard time you can do these days for drugs? Just for drugs! You can do life. Did you know that? Federal sentencing guidelines, babe. They’re a bitch.”

That seemed to stun her a little. “But they don’t care about people like us. Besides, I don’t think she’s with the feds.”

“So why was she waiting at the motel?”

“I dunno.” She paused. “I never asked. But, for Christ sake, she’s not a cop.”

“So how would you know?”

“Cause she would have arrested me or something by now, stupid.”

“For what, stupid?”

“You tell me. You’re the one who’s so sure she’s a narc.”

While they argued, I was quietly working at the rope around my wrists, using one of my fingernails to loosen the knot. It was a frustrating exercise, trying to work the knot and keep from moving too much. Fortunately, they weren’t paying attention and the furniture blocked their view of me.

Travis bit a thumbnail. “Maybe I should just shut her up for good.”

“Travis! Jesus!” She stared at him, eyes crazy with fear. “This woman saved my life. Besides, they may get me for drugs, but I’m not doing time for murder!”

He snorted. “Hell, Kate, you’d probably do less time.”

He took a gun out of his waistband and turned it over in his hands a few times, as if he were trying to figure out how to use it. My armpits suddenly gushed sweat and my guts turned to liquid. I worked harder at the ropes, but it was going to take time. So many guns and so few brains, I thought. Humphrey Bogart. The Maltese Falcon. Stop thinking about old movies, you moron, and start coming up with ways to beg for your life. Because it looked like that’s what I’d be doing in a few seconds.

But Kaitlyn had other ideas.

“No, Travis,” she said. “No way!”

She grabbed for the gun. As they struggled, I kept working at the knot. The gun dropped to the floor. Suddenly, the door flew in, hitting the wall with a bang. The two of them jumped. A man rushed in—the blond man from the motel—and grabbed Kaitlyn, holding her arm behind her back with one hand and a gun to her head with the other. He kicked the door shut behind him.

The man smiled, a baring of teeth that was anything but humorous and that deepened the scar that ran from cheekbone to jaw on the left side of his face. His eyes were light gray. They looked as cold and pitiless as shark eyes.

Gesturing at the gun on the floor, he said, “Kick it here.”

Travis hesitated. The man scowled and pulled back the hammer on his gun. As he jammed the barrel against Kaitlyn’s head, she whimpered involuntarily.

Looking resigned, Travis shoved the gun with his foot toward the blond, who stooped to pick it up. As he rose, he suddenly lunged against Kaitlyn, shoving her, belly-first, into a nearby wall so quickly she had no time to cry out. She hit with a sickening crack that took the air out of my lungs and crumpled to the floor, holding herself protectively.

“Bastard,” Travis muttered.

“Excuse me, what?” the blond said, in a voice both calm and menacing. “You steal my shit and I’m the bastard?”

His restless gaze swept the room and returned to them. “Who’s that?” he asked Travis, gesturing vaguely toward me.

“Some broad.”

“So what’s her part?”

“She’s not involved, Eddie,” Kaitlyn said. “She was just there.”

“Huh. That’s handy. Don’t look all that handy now, does she?” Again, he gestured with the gun. “Turn around. Put your hands to the wall. And don’t fucking move.”

Travis complied. Kaitlyn was still on the floor, frozen in place. Keeping his eyes on Travis, Eddie grabbed Kaitlyn by one ankle. She yelped as he yanked her, on her back, to the middle of the room.

“Hey!” Travis cried.

“Shut up!” Eddie shouted back. Travis glowered. I continued my slow work on the ropes. I was starting to make some headway now.

Eddie got on his knees between Kaitlyn’s legs. Jesus, was he going to rape a pregnant woman? But then, something was odd. Something about that loud crack when she hit the wall, stomach-first.

Eddie threw up Kaitlyn’s dress. Something like a plastic bowl was underneath, held in place with straps. Eddie undid the straps and removed the bowl. It contained a burlap sack. From the sack, Eddie pulled out four plastic bags of a white substance. Heroin, maybe.

As Eddie put the goods back in the sack, he said to Kaitlyn, “All right, you get up by the wall, too. Now.”

Kaitlyn got up slowly and stood beside Travis.

“Face the wall like him,” he ordered. “Then, both of you kneel down.”

“Eddie…don’t,” Travis said.

“You’ve got your stuff,” Kaitlyn said. Her voice shook with fear.

“And that’s it, huh? I take my shit and let bygones be bygones? I think not.”

“Eddie, please!” Kaitlyn started to cry. Travis looked like he was about to. Under his jeans, I could see the muscles in his legs quiver spastically.

“Believe me, it’s so much easier this way,” Eddie said. His voice was matter of fact, like that of a doctor discussing surgical options with a patient. “A bullet in the brain pan is a much easier death than a slug in the stomach. That’s so…painful and takes so long.” He grimaced in mock horror.

I had worked the knot loose and the rope was coming undone. I prayed that the kids could hold out a bit longer.

Eddie wasn’t willing to wait, though. This wasn’t Dr. No or Goldfinger, where he was going to engage his victims in small talk or devise complicated ways to kill them that they could defeat.

“You have five seconds to face the wall and get on your knees,” he said. “Or I kill you where you stand. And, I promise you, it will hurt.”

Kaitlyn moaned and Travis started muttering something that sounded like a prayer or a mantra. The rope slipped from my wrists. Everyone was too involved in their own personal extremity to notice me as I crept around the furniture. When I got clear of it, I sprang to my feet and lunged for Eddie’s gut. I was on him before he could react. We fell to the floor together. The gun dropped from his hand and slid a few feet from us. I scrambled for it.

Behind me, I heard grunting and scuffling. I grabbed the gun and rolled into a sitting position. Eddie and Travis were struggling with the other gun. It went off with a startling bang. Broken glass tinkled and darkness swallowed the room. I flattened to the floor and started to crawl, trying to get my bearings. I groped with one hand, trying to avoid the shards of glass, and held the gun with the other hand. Slowly, my eyes adjusted. I could see two shadows wrestle, black on black.

A widening crack of gray slashed through the darkness. It was Kaitlyn, slipping out the door, the bag in hand. “Travis!” she called out. “I’ve got the stuff!”

There was another shot. A low moan in the dark. A thud as something heavy hit the floor. And other shot. I scuttled toward Kaitlyn.

“Travis!” she yelled again.

“Just go!” I said. The gun went off again, blowing off a piece of the door. Kaitlyn fled down the steps, with me behind her. She ran toward the sandy road, while I waited at the bottom of the stairs, hidden in the shadows beneath the house. The door opened and Eddie stepped out. As he took aim at Kaitlyn, I whirled around to the foot of the stairs and fired twice. Eddie curled like a leaf and tumbled over the side. I ran over to him. He was dead.

I took his gun and dashed to my car for a flashlight, then up the steps, two at a time, to check on Travis. The flashlight’s beam caught him, crumpled in a corner, half his brains on the wall. An entry wound, like a third eye, was on his forehead, and the expression on his ghostly face was one of mild surprise.

I went back down, calling Kaitlyn’s name. I trudged up the road a short ways, but saw no one and heard nothing except the sound of waves pounding the shore.

As I walked back to the car, keys in hand, I heard a noise behind me, then felt a solid blow to the back of my head. Pain stabbed my already throbbing brain. Everything turned to grainy brown, with white spots, like an old movie. The ocean roar became an unbearable pounding. I struggled to stay conscious. The world spun, and I was on my back looking at the sky. The man in the moon stared back at me, a gawking spectator to my predicament. I could hear the car start. Darkness blotted out the moon’s stare.

When I woke up, it was still dark. The car was gone. I was lying next to a large piece of driftwood. Kaitlyn had left me. I checked my fanny pack and my wallet was still there, money and credit cards still in it. Decent of her. I guess it was the least she could do, after I’d saved her life. Twice.

I walked partway back to Ocean City, hitched the rest. I went to the beach and watched dawn break over the ocean, the sky turning to mother-of-pearl streaked with salmon, where the sun poked up over aqua-blue waters. Finally, I made my way back to the Bayside Villas, Unit 8. Mendez answered my knock. I must have looked a sight. Her mouth dropped open, but I held up my hand to stem the flow of questions.

“It’s a long story,” I said.

“Never mind that,” she snapped. “We got some bad news, girl.”

I came in and closed the door behind me. The bed was untouched and the T.V. set was on, the sound muted. “Your concern touches me. I probably have a concussion or two. But don’t let that worry you. What’s the problem?”

She flounced over to the bed and perched on the end. Her slender legs, encased in purple capri pants, looked poised and ready to spring at a moment’s notice.

“Our connection. We can forget about that big meet we had worked out.”

I stared at her. My head was starting to pound again. It wasn’t the ocean this time. The T.V. set was tuned to the news. She picked up the remote. A reporter was droning about bodies found in Delaware.

Mendez gestured at the screen. “Look at this. Ay. Here we are, only trying to maintain national security and all, and we gotta depend on Eddie, the two-bit drug runner from Philadelphia. What a waste.”

The video showed a familiar beach house.

“Looks like the little shit got into a shooting match with someone.” Mendez lit a cigarette. “Some guy in the house bought it, too. Piece of shit—all of them. Fuck it. You have breakfast yet?”

I didn’t answer right away. I watched the two bodies being carried from the stilted beach house.

THE END

Okay, I’ll admit, I blew the line about guns and brains. That was Humphrey Bogart, but he was playing Marlowe in The Big Sleep. Details, details … 🙂

PhilipMarlow-Manners

 

Anyhow, that’s just the first story. And you can win a copy of all six stories, if you just enter the Twitter contest!

So, what are you waiting for? Retweet away! 🙂

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