Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candy Says Kill

I've gotten around halfway through writing a new story that is as dark as it gets. It's a classic Noir tale that uses mistaken identity, sexual attraction, murder, deceit and general underhandedness... with a tricky femme fatale at the centre...

It's a long short story, for want of a better description, and here's a taster for those of you who have taken the time to visit my wee blog...

Candy Says Kill
A short story by
T.S. O'Rourke
She gave me two days. I didn't ask for more, yet I knew I needed it.
It started with a beer and some loud music in a bar in the middle of nowhere, Alabama. She was twenty something and already showing signs of being tired – at least in the emotional sense. Physically she was firm and strong. She waited the tables and worked the bar.
I was on Highway 59, making my way back to New York City. I'd been down south taking care of some unfinished business for some friends in low places. The work was dirty, but the pay was good.
I was tired. The lights on the road had begun to form a long streaked blur across my consciousness and sleep was defeating my attempts to keep it at bay. I tried rolling the windows down and turning the radio up, but even cold night air and Jesus-freaks couldn't keep me awake. I pulled into the first motel and bar I saw, and it was hers.
Her hair was as black as the night. She was pretty, she was sassy. She wore tight jeans and a knotted check shirt, revealing a pierced belly-button and the mysterious line of a tattoo that only just crept over her waistband. Just enough eyeliner, and some off-purple lipstick, cemented her beauty for me.
The bar was full. It was a Sunday night and it seemed that no one had to get up for work the next morning. Live music filled the warm, smoky air.
Once I'd booked a room at the motel reception I went back outside and crossed to the bar, which was located in a separate building. I took a seat. I planned to have a few beers and crash out for the night before recommencing my journey north eastwards in the morning.
She was behind the bar, moving effortlessly back and forth between orders, occasionally braving the crowd to collect glasses, or empty food baskets and napkins. I tried to catch her attention and she studiously ignored my efforts. Only as I stood up to leave did she acknowledge my presence. She threw me a smile that made me sit back in my seat with an air of hope and impending charity.
“What imported beers have you got?” I asked as she approached, hoping to be spared the usual Bud or Miller taps.
“We've got Heineken,” she replied distractedly.
“Anything local?”
“ Old Towne,” she replied. “They do a nice ale, if you like that sort of thing.”
“I'll take one, and a shot of Irish whiskey,” I replied, thinking that an ale in Alabama deserved some sort of company from across the big pond to add a touch of authenticity.
“Jamesons or Black Bush?” she asked. She raised an eyebrow, as if she expected me to say something.
“Black Bush,” I said.
She seemed strangely dissatisfied with my reply – it felt like I was expected to say something else entirely, that I was playing some sort of game.
“Where are you coming from?” she asked, almost casually.
“I've come up from Louisiana. This is just a quick stopover,” I said.
She smiled, looked me in the eyes and then headed back about her business.
The drinks were duly delivered. I started with the Black Bush. It went down smoothly, sweetly. The ale was good, too. As I lifted the glass to my lips I saw her watching me from across the bar. Something in our exchange had sparked her interest. Perhaps it was just the fact that I wasn't a local. Who knows what she thought, but when she realized I had seen her looking she did not look away. She simply raised that eyebrow again and sort of smiled as though she hadn't quite decided what to do with me.
The drinks disappeared and she returned, wiping the counter in front of me.
“You want more?” she asked.
“Always,” I replied.
“Anything specific?” she returned, expecting a crass remark that would ruin everything.
“I'll let you decide,” I said, hoping that she had already understood that this game was going to go her way. I had no intention of diverting the undercurrent of our conversation. It was heavy and dripping with promise, and just one word could rip asunder the potential for more.
“You'll need to eat something,” she replied. “Wings?”
“That will be fine.”
“And another beer?” she said, fixing me with her gaze.
She wasn't allowing me a second whiskey, it seemed. Things were looking up.
“Thanks – that would be great.”
Off she went, carelessly wiping her hands on her rear as she strode the length of the bar. She shouted through the serving hatch to the cook and then disappeared again out on the floor, collecting empties and food baskets.
I felt her squeeze in beside me as she put empties on the bar, her breasts soft, her hips hard, her stomach flat. She seemed to linger briefly and smell me, as if this was her second test. I wondered how many more there might be. She seemed to push herself forwards slightly, emphasizing the contact she had already made, as if to elicit a reaction. I waited for her next move, to see if she would be irritated by my inaction or attracted by it.
“You wings will be ready soon,” she said, almost smiling. “I'll go get your beer.”
I stared deeply into her eyes hoping for the reaction we were both waiting for. She smiled and patted me on the hand, and said “I've been waiting for you”. She turned and disappeared again, leaving a brief essence of fresh sweat and perfume hanging in the air. It was sweet and yet somehow tainted with spice.
The wings and beer were delivered without comment or eye contact, but her touch lingered when I passed the twenty-dollar bill to her. Her hands were soft and cold. I imagined them doing things to me, of releasing my inner demons and opening my consciousness to the possibilities of her firm body.
The music continued, but it was clear that the band was nearing the end of its set. People had started to finish their drinks and leave. It was getting late.
My phone vibrated irritatingly in my jacket pocket and I reached for it, removing my motel room key and placing it on the bar as I did. It was one of the gang back in New York, asking for a progress report. “It's done,” I said and hung up. I was too tired to listen to more and I could always use the excuse of poor coverage, being, as I was, in the middle of nowhere.
I put the phone back in my jacket and looked up. She was standing there right in front of me with my beer.
“You staying here tonight?” she asked, seeing my key on the bar.
“Yes – I'm here for the night,” I replied.
“Room 20. I'll remember that,” she said.
I was unsure if she was joking, or if she was serious. There seemed to be room for both interpretations.

© T.S. O'Rourke, 2010
I hope to have this published early next year...

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