Thursday, June 15, 2017

Noir Story

Chapter One

"Hand over the footage, Smitty."

"Excuse me?"

"Give me the film!"

Detective Weiss was losing his patience. He'd
grilled his suspect 'til he was toast. He was
getting nowhere fast. Smith was a yegg that
was beginning to crack. 

"There's been a disturbance in the force."

"Whaaa..?? What are you talking about?"

"The film will show you nothing. From that,
you'll have to draw your own conclusions."

Smith took off a shoe and pulled a disc out
of its heel.

"This is what you want, although, you're not
going to like it."

"Fair enough. So, why did you take so long 
to cough it up?"

"It wasn't long...it was just enough time."

"What were you holding me back for?"

"For reality to catch up."

None of it made any sense. But at least, Weiss
had the disc...the information he hoped would
be on it. Smith would be held as a material 
witness. Weiss would have steak tonight...Smith
a happy meal from McDonalds. 

Chapter Two

Weiss was eating a cramburger at the 
local Hatchery when a guy he knew
approached him looking rather nervous.
Weiss nodded and gestured towards the
empty seat next to him. 

"Weiss, they're looking for you...watch out...
that's all I had to tell you."

"Hey, when Magellan first circumambulated 
the globe, do you think he was worried?"

"Maybe." 

The man scuttled out of the diner. Weiss
thought he looked thinner than when he
had last seen him. 

He wasn't in a hurry...the dominos should 
start falling any now time. He drained his 
stein of Clear Perception malt liquor, 
and headed to the men's room. As he was 
voting for President, he contemplated his 
plans.  As he tripped the handle on the 
ballot bowl, he felt a measure of pride
that he had participated in Democracy.

Chapter Three

Weiss was a Buddhist, but he didn't
advertise it. He'd killed a few men, but
he felt they were better off dead. 

He wanted this case to last a while so 
he could get material for a book he 
was writing. The case had everything;
a beautiful heiress, greedy relatives, 
connections to organized crime. In fact,
the case seemed like a cliche of all the
noir movies he'd seen. Who killed Frank?
Where were the diamonds? Had the 
thieves really taken a submarine to 
Argentina?

The only thing he could be sure of was
that he found himself in the middle of a 
grand tamasha...a magillha of high
strangeness. 

He took out the pint of Southern Comfort 
from his desk drawer and lit a joint. This
was going to take some good old 
contemplation. He knew there was a 
pattern he had yet to see...there always 
was. Usually it turned out to be pedestrian. 
Criminals were motivated by the same things
as everyone else and most were just as
uninteresting as the office salaryman. Dillinger
was shot outside of a movie theatre. 

He would use the Colleney brothers on this one...
good investigative journalists that liked to play
detective. Give them a shot at a story and they
went feral. They tended to sensationalize, but
Weiss knew the shock effect of some of their 
stories could beat the bushes and flush out his 
game. A lie, or, "exaggeration" could be as
effective as the truth in making the players 
nervous. When they're nervous, they make 
mistakes...it's as simple as that. It had worked
so many times before. He'd studied Sun Tzu.
Deception, misdirection, prevarication were all
tools he was adept with.

He'd planted a story on page three of the 
Times. He knew his target was scanning the 
papers for any clues that his plot had been
discovered. Reading the article was sure to 
stir him up.

Chapter Four

Weiss was driving down Santa Monica, his 
radio tuned to an Oldies station, top down,
high as a kite, feeling pleased with himself. 
The machine was in motion and the clock
was ticking.

He turned the corner onto Benito Boulevard.
A Mercedes came out of nowhere and cut him
off. He knew what was coming, so, he jumped
out of his Dodge Dart and ran as fast as he 
could to the nearest door that looked open.
Bullets whizzed by him as he ran into an 
apartment building. The Mercedes took off.
When he got back to his Dart, a tire had been
shot out. He called Triple A, and his friend, 
Johnson, answered. 

"What's it this time, Weiss, somebody run you
into a ditch again?"

"Maybe. Bring the tow truck."

Weiss got off the phone, left his car, and walked 
down to a coffee shop. He ordered chicken fried
steak and black coffee. The adrenaline coursing
through his veins added nicely to the drugs 
already there. That was a close one, but it meant 
that his plan was already having an effect. He
couldn't go back to his office or apartment now.
He'd have to stay in his safe house. Luckily, it had
already been prepared. He took a taxi there.

It was a small place, one window looking onto
an alley. It was in the middle of the tenderloin
district. Weiss followed the wisdom of Burroughs
and Poe: if you want to hide something, place it
in plain view. He even had developed a persona
for himself as the person living there: different
clothes, different name, and he knew his neighbors.
He was a different person entirely when he was 
there...he played a role. If he stayed there too long,
the role would tend to take over and he would begin
to forget who Weiss was, so, he had to be careful.
It was perfect camouflage, but it was tricky. He had
a few contacts that only knew him by this persona:
Bill Smith. Weiss kept it that way. What he had to
do now was get them to investigate what was
happening to Weiss, not Bill Smith, so he could
have impartial observers. It was always important
to have eyes that were not involved so they couldn't
be swayed in one direction or another...bribed,
coerced, ect.. People's only loyalty seemed to be
money.

Chapter Five

He met Thorn at Mom's restaurant. Thornvold
Arnquist was a forensics professor at NYU.
He knew his friend, Bill Smith, as a rather
eccentric character, often away, intelligent
and amusing with a sometimes strange curiosity
about odd things. They shared an interest in
the Decadents, primarily DeQuincy  and 
Baudelaire. Thorn was almost his Watson, 
except he was mostly unaware of his purpose
in their relationship. Weiss wasn't a sociopath,
and he considered Thorn to be a good friend.

"What is it, Bill? You seem a little agitated today."

"Sorry, I'm feeling not quite myself...more 
Cagneyish...Bogyesque."

"Too many of those movies?"

"Maybe....you know I fancy myself as somebody
that can figure out puzzles."

Bill took out a handkerchief from his pocket and
opened it.

"Can you find out what make and model gun
shot this? And where such guns are commonly 
sold would also be helpful "

"Where did you find it?"

"Funny....there was some shooting last night, 
and when I walked out this morning I noticed 
it on the sidewalk."

"Strange. Sure, I can find out something. Did
you see any of the Finals?"

"Yeah. It was some great basketball. They're
still arguing about whose dick is bigger. I guess
that's all you have left to worry about if you have
a ka-jillion dollars. Come over tonight and I'll do 
a souffle."

"You don't have to siffle twice."

He left Thorn and went back to his keep. When
he opened the door, there was a a manila
envelope that had been slid into the entrance. 

Chapter Six

It started to rain. Bill/Weiss looked out the one
window of his den. He always liked the rain.
It seemed to quiet things...dampen the 
enthusiasm. 

The envelope sat on the desk in front of him.
No marks on it. It could be very bad if whatever 
inside shows him they know he's Weiss and not
Bill. He prepared himself for an interesting 
moment by pouring himself a stiff glass of port
and filling his pipe. He found he could usually
see patterns more clearly when he was a bit 
to the left of himself. He agreed with Stevens
that the "eccentric was the basis of design."

He opened it. Inside he found a lipstick, a photo
that had been folded and was at least a few
decades old, and the Book of Revelations. The 
latter surprised him. Everyone's talking about
revelations these days, but no one seems to be
doing anything about them. This could just be a
new ruse of the Jehovah's Witnesses, but the lip
gloss put that in doubt.

He examined the material more closely. The 
lipstick was called "Tropical Mango". The book
from the Bible had been torn from a King James
version. The photo showed two people, and a 
third standing behind them, but you couldn't see 
that face. It was an old color photo and the 
colors had faded to a sepia. The photo was 
taken in a square, and the vague buildings 
could have been in any  city of Europe, 
Montreal, San Paulo. There was
only a number on back: 1953.

This was no good. He didn't know what he was 
looking at...he didn't know who sent it, and he 
couldn't be sure it wasn't sent by his enemies. 
But, why would his enemies have sent it? If 
they knew this place was his, it's likely he 
would be dead already. But that didn't 
explain the  serendipity. He slept on it.

Chapter Seven

Weiss listened to "You're Lost Little Girl'
by The Doors as he sipped his matte.
Someone had sent the envelope and was
trying to help him, he believed, but why
couldn't whomever just be straightforward
and tell him what's what? Why the mystery?
Wasn't life itself incomprehensible enough?
Like that line in "Magnificent Seven" when
Eli Wallach says: "When you have to shoot,
don't talk, shoot!" Revelations, a lipstick, and
a photo. Great. Maybe whomever sent it 
thought Weiss was smarter than he was. 
He put the envelope at the back of a drawer
in his filing cabinet. 

He went out, got on his Vespa, and scooted
off. He had an idea. He went to the Super and
got some bananas, chocolate, and a pint of
Ancient Age. He went to the park and brown 
bagged the liquor while his mind drifted. The 
envelope had jacked up his confusion. When
that happened, he knew that soon he was in
for a brain storm. Then, it came to him! The
book of Revelation had been a one-off, a joke!
The lipstick was important because it related 
to the woman in the photo!. He zipped back to 
his lair and got on his computer. He researched
the lipstick. He found out that this brand got it's
popularity from Betty Grable in the late forties.
He knew then he had to fly down to Rio to follow
the trail. He ordered out for momos. He still had 
some of Hector's "Face of the Sun", Tibetan hot
sauce. "Hector's Revenge" was long gone.

Chapter Eight

"I'm here to see a man about a lipstick."

Weiss had rehearsed this line over and over,
trying to come up with something different. 
But, it was the truth and he had to say it.
The shop in Rio was ancient. The old man 
there seemed a part of the decor. He spoke
plenty of English, which made things easy.

"A lipstick, you say? What lipstick?"

Weiss showed him the tube. The man 
studied it slowly and carefully, as if he
was holding something from another planet.

"Tropical Mango? Why didn't you say so?
Oh, Helen!" he shouted for his wife. 

A woman came out from the back. She looked
much his senior. 

"Look, Helen, Tropical Mango! And it looks like
the same tube as the ones you used to buy!"

Helen looked at the tube. "Yes." Then she left
to the back of the shop. 

"Where did you get this? They don't make this
brand anymore."

"New York City. Ever been there?"

"Yes, my wife and I visited there long ago....
sometime in the fifties. Helen and I were
robbed there....in the park. They took her 
hand bag for one thing. Let me look at the 
lipstick again....Yes! See? It looks like 
someone had been chewing on the tube! 
That's something Helen always did! This
could be hers!"

"Great...well, she can have it back. Does she
have any teeth left?"

"Only the strong ones...but she'll be happy to
be reunited!"

"Fine. So, why is this lipstick so special?"

"I suppose because it was Betty Grable's
favorite. She was an idol among the ladies
back then, you know."

"So, what does this have to do with the Nazis?"

"Really? You weren't aware that Grable was a
sympathizer? Lots of those Hollywood types 
were. It's the same as you see today in 
America; rich spoiled useless actors cozy with 
power. They've always been slaves of the 
highest bidder. They didn't come down to Rio
solely because it was a hedonistic paradise.
They had certain...principles too, if you can call
them that."

"What about this photo?"

Weiss shows him the snapshot. The old man goes
into his puzzled mode. 

"Could be from around here. The architecture is
familiar. I don't know. Wait a moment."

The old man went to a desk and opened a drawer,
pulled out  a file folder. 

"I've seen photos like that before...faded over the
years....like these. I think it was the kind of paper
they used in those days."

The file had quite a few photos of the same era, 
with the same sepia quality. 

"Can I borrow these for a couple of days? I'm 
staying at the Colonnade."

"Alright, young man, but, don't forget."

"Forget what?"

Chapter Nine

Weiss got back to his hotel with the folder.
In his room was a box with a ribbon on it.
In it was a severed middle finger. This gave 
new meaning to the term: "double entendre".
Weiss liked the joke, but the finger made him 
worried. How was he going to find one person
in Rio with a recently severed finger? He was 
sure that the person, if he/she could be found,
and was still in large pieces, would have
information for him. 

He didn't like the vagueness, the faded photo 
here, the odd finger there, the blandness of
cabbage soup, voting machines, "reliable
sources", meaningless verbiage and double
speak. He needed some clarity like a Kansas
farmer needed rain.

Was it the mafia after him? The Nazis? Was
there a difference?

He looked over the photos in the folder. The 
few black and white ones were clearer. They 
showed some people on holiday, and one 
showed soldiers marching. It was harder to 
make out the colored ones. One was of the 
ocean with some ships in the distance. A few
were of a plaza where a large group of people 
were gathered. It was hard to make out symbols.
One shot showed what seemed to be a flag or
banner with eagles on it. The photos didn't 
offer much.

How long should he stay? Was there anything 
he could discover? The finger could have been
sent by anyone, but, how many had a sense of
humor? The old man's hands were unbandaged.
He couldn't have gotten the finger to his room
so quickly without help. And so neatly packaged!

Had he found what he was looking for? Whom-
ever he was in trouble with in the States was an
established organization, around for decades if 
not centuries. All the organized criminal 
enterprises, totalitarian governments, family 
cabals, and religious dictatorships have been 
part of it since organization reached the national 
and super-national levels. His life was one 
marble on a Go board, in their eyes. If he exposed
a little something here, or uncovered a little there,
it meant nothing to them as long as not too many
people paid attention. If he got too itchy, they'd
scratch him. 

Realizing the hopeless uselessness of his situation,
Weiss returned to New York City. He stopped
taking  cases. He made some money growing
hydroponic in his garage. He wrote poetry
for his own amusement.



                                    THE END




















































































































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