#FridayFlash – The Patient Man

Tonight he was going to kill a man. He drew a last hard breath on his cigarette and flicked it, casually, to the sidewalk. The night air was cool on his face. It coiled around him in a slow breeze. Above the tall buildings clouds darker than the night sky were gathering, muttering ominously, looked a lot like rain was coming. He didn’t mind, the only thing better than the cool wind blowing through the city was a good hard rain to wash the streets clean.

   He stood, leaning towards a red brick wall, just outside of the yellow spotlight from the street lights, watching the building across the street. Lights were lit on the second floor and in a dark night like this a lit window was just as entertaining as the films they showed at the drive-in. He had seen this particular movie before. Over the past weeks he had spent many moments standing right where he was standing right now. Watching and learning. Gangsters were men of habit, and the one he was watching right now was no different.

   The hooligan would scream at his girl for an hour or so, actually until he was red in the face and his throat was soar. At this point she would break down in tears and lock herself inside the bedroom. Sometimes she would sit at the window, sobbing, looking at the dark city streets with longing eyes. She was a beautiful girl. Tonight he couldn’t see her. He assumed that the nights she didn’t spend at the window were spent in bed.

   The gangster was combing his hair in the lime tile bathroom. He could see the hoodlum’s reflection in the mirror. The goon had his best suit on. It certainly was his favorite, he wore it a lot. It was a dark pinstripe suit. Soon he would be done combing every stand of greasy hair to perfection and jam a ghastly white hat on his head, which probably made him think he looked like Al Capone, but only made him look like a man that wanted to look like Al Capone.

   Lost in the moment of watching the scenes unfold in the lit apartment he hadn’t noticed the rain. Big drops of cleansing water landed on the street in great splashes. He pulled up his coat collar and walked away, following the ant trail of street lights that shone up his righteous path in the lonesome night. He knew where the gangster was going. No need to stand around on the street in the rain. It would look suspicious. Besides, gunning the lawbreaker down in the street wasn’t what he wanted. He needed to make a point. It had to be public. He had to show the low men in pinstripe suits that they weren’t safe anywhere. Not even if the cops and city officials had been bought of proper. He would get them a belly full of lead. It was the western way, the way of his forefathers who had come here looking for opportunity, but found that it had turned to corruption. So he walked through the city with determined steps.

   The bar was a bleak affair. Grey walls caked over with cheap burgundy wallpaper and a dirty floor hidden under second rate carpets. The yellow lights had been dimmed down to hide the cracks, but it gave the patrons a sickly look. Their teeth looked yellow and beads of sweat clung to their skin like flies. No one cared as long as the booze flowed freely. He hated places like this. It was sickness.

   He pushed his way through the rowdy crowd to the far end of the bar and sat down with the door to the bathroom right behind him. From here he could see the small basement door that served as an entrance to this horrible hole in the ground. The other advantage was that the bathroom was right behind him, and the bathroom was the key to getting out alive. In one of the stalls there was a narrow window that led into the dark, unlit alley outside. He had visited the day before to make sure that he would fit through. He did, barely.

   Sipping greasy coffee from a greasy cup he watched the crowd. There were a lot of big hitters here. Men he’d seen in papers, their mug shots displayed mockingly as justice failed to be served. He didn’t care about any of them, not tonight. The goon he hunted tonight was a rabid dog, a violent and savage beast, barely a man. And when it had gone this far there was only one course of action left to take. A dog sick like that had to be put down.

   As he waited he slipped his hand into his pocket and ran the tips of his fingers over the cold steel surface of his police badge and felt that it didn’t mean much anymore. The comforting bulge under his arm that was his heavy revolver meant so much more in this day and age. When the law went silent, the gun spoke.

   Time dragged on and he felt his nerves tangle into a right good bunch. He waited until he was sure something was wrong, the hoodlum wouldn’t show tonight. Right at that moment the small basement door swung open, he could hear the creak of the hinges rip right through the crowd, could almost taste it. The man who wanted to look like Al Capone walked down the narrow stairs, slowly.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

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No Longer Alive – Part 1

The Last Dad-Day.

The blue light from the TV lit up the room in a series of soft and silent explosions. Jack had muted the movie when Amy had fallen asleep. She lay curled into a small and fragile ball of young teenage heartache at the end of the couch. She was fifteen years old and had been unaware of the dangers of love. A lesson she had learned today, and painfully, as her boyfriend had dumped her for one of Amy’s classmates. In Amy’s mind that boy had been the one. The first serious love, as she called it, and the only one. How could she ever love again? She had cried into her father’s ear earlier today as he had comforted. Jack had smiled and hugged his daughter, replying that of course she would, in time.

   They had promptly had a dad-day, which was what Jack called those deeply mysterious days that out-of-the-blue Amy wanted to spend doing everything with her dad. He usually never understood what brought these days on but today he did. And he was glad to spend it with his daughter. Seeing her coping with her first heartache reminded him of his. A young girl named Sarah. Jack didn’t remember her much anymore, just her long dark hair smelling softly of spring flowers. Funny the things that linger in our precarious memory banks, usually the brain is such a neat and effective machine, but with memories it seems so random. It’s like a wind blowing through your mind and only bits and pieces manage to hold on and stay behind. Most of Jacks old girlfriends had faded away with that wind when he had met Amy’s mother. Since her death four years ago he hadn’t even entertained the thought of finding another. The memory of her stood strong, her memory unvarnished by the savage storm that is time. His love for her still grew.

   Amy had so much of her mother in her and it made Jack glad. People said that Amy was so much like her father, but it was in the details that Jack found Amy’s mother, and in the quirky manners. They spoke in the same way, moved in the same way. He was both glad and saddened over the pangs of pain that came over him as he watched his daughter grow up and wishing that her mom could have been here to see Amy become a fine young woman, intelligent and beautiful. There was going to be lots of boys in Amy’s life if she wanted it to. She was going to be alright.

   Meanwhile the silent movie still sent out soft blue pulses into the living room trying to shake Jack from his thoughts and draw him into the story. They had been watching some corny comedy about love, Amy had insisted despite Jacks best efforts to persuade her to go for an action movie in the name of forgetting about love for a moment, and the images on the TV didn’t make any sense without the audio. Still jack sat there watching with his daughter sleeping beside him on the couch. He really didn’t want the dad-day to end. But it would, like all of them do. She would be alright thou. Time heals.

   Jack didn’t know then, but this was the last dad-day in a good long while. He did right in treasuring this silent blue moment, for as he sat there watching the ending of a corny love comedy the dead woke sluggishly from their shallow slumber. And they were inevitable. Like a dark and consuming plague they rose. But right at that moment Jack didn’t know. Life was still good.

To be continued.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l