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Sneak Peek: Blind Man’s Bluff

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Thought I would post a sneak peek at a new work-in-progress.  It is still rough around the edges and I’m experimenting with writing from the first person point of view.  Feel free to leave a comment!

Sneak PeekThe low-slung motorcycles sprawled across the parking lot of the squat brick building. Their sleek paint gleamed beneath the harsh arc-sodium streetlights. The litter of broken beer bottles, cigarette butts and fast food wrappers were a good hint at what I could expect inside. I really shouldn’t have worn my brand new Berluti loafers.

I adjusted the knot of my tie and pulled the cuffs of my shirt straight. I took another look at the motorcycles, and my gold watch went from my wrist to my pocket. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be greeted by a local boy scout troop. I sucked in a nervous breath, thrust out my chest and strode forward to push open the door.

I paused inside, letting my eyes adjust. A busty blonde, wearing a t-shirt that was ripped in some interesting places and a little piece of flotsam that may have been a thong, strutted across the small stage at the far end of the room. A group of appreciative patrons banged beer bottles on their stage-side tables and hooted. The room smelled of old cigarettes and stale beer. I wrinkled my nose. You’d think that even a low-class biker joint could steam clean the carpet once in a while.

Bob Seger wailed from the stereo system and a few leather-clad bikers lounged against the bar laughing. One paused, glanced in my direction then leaned close to the bandanna wearing behemoth beside him saying something as he cocked a thumb in my direction. Hey, I always like to make new friends wherever I go, so I decided to wander over and see if they had read this month’s ‘Cat Fancy’. They looked like they might be cat people.

As I stepped forward, a hand the size of a dinner plate appeared and pressed against my chest. I followed the heavily muscled forearm to its owner. He was about six foot five and weighed in at two-fifty. His skin was inky black and his shaved head glistened in the heat of the bar. His muscle shirt was stained and said “Ask me about our blow jobs for drinks program”. I didn’t want to ask and didn’t feel particularly parched at the moment.

“I tink you is in the wrong place, mon piti zanmi.” His voice was deep and rich, with a Creole patois. He smiled broadly, which revealed a gold front tooth. He grabbed my shoulder and turned me to the wall in one smooth motion and expertly patted me down. Satisfied that I wasn’t packing a bazooka or some other weapon that may make a dent in one of the bikers, he turned me to face him. He was still smiling, but the smile never reached his eyes. “What you want, zanmi?” I felt a small ball of ice form in the pit of my stomach and gave him my ‘I’m your bestest friend’ smile. “I only want to ask the bartender a few questions,” I said, flashing a twenty dollar bill. “It’ll only take a moment.”

The twenty disappeared into the bouncer’s big hand and he shrugged. “Is your funeral, mon zanmi. Don’t be pissing anyone off. “He nodded at my shirt. “I don’t want to dirty up your bel chemiz by having to be tossing you out on your piti ass.” He turned and resumed his vigil by the door.

I sauntered to the bar and nodded a greeting to the assortment of bikers, who glared their greeting back at me. “How’s it hanging fellas?” I asked with a wide grin. They turned and moved off to another table, tossing an occasional glare over their shoulders at me and whispering words like ‘narc’ and ‘cop’. “Hey, was it something I said?” I called after them.

The big guy with the bandanna paused and gave me a huge yellow-toothed grin, then spit on one of my loafers. I’ve always been the type who can bring out the best in the others around him. What can I say? It’s a gift.

There was a guy behind the bar whose hair was almost unkempt enough to be considered trendy. His prodigious gut hung over his jeans and was being held in check by a Harley-Davidson t-shirt and a leather vest. “What the hell do you want?”

“Maybe a nice Chardonnay?” I said, tossing a fifty onto the bar. “And a few questions?”

“You a cop?” He planted both hands on the bar, revealing a set of cheap silver rings on each hand. Most were skulls, some were philosophical statements on life such as ‘Fuck The World’. He was obviously a people person too.

“Nope. Name is Xander. I’m a detective.” I pointed at the fifty on the counter. “Any chance of getting a Chardonnay? Doesn’t have to be imported, California is fine.”

“We’re low on Chardonnay, asshole. How about a Bud Light?” He banged a warm bottle of beer down in front of me. It foamed over onto the bar. “You got three minutes.”

I picked up the bottle and saluted him. “See? I knew we’d be pals.” I took a sip of the warm beer, winced, and put it back on the counter. “You ever heard of Sataro Miyazaki?”

Fat boy laughed and I wondered what Buddha would look like in a Harley t-shirt. “Does it look like we serve sushi here? We don’t get chinks in here. You might want to try the Yakuza level.” He grabbed the fifty off the counter and tucked it into his pocket. “That it?”

“Not quite. I have a friend who needs to find Mr. Miyazaki and it was suggested I may find information here that may be pertinent to his–,” I faltered for a second while I tried to think of the appropriate phrase. I snapped my fingers. “Distribution partners. Yes. I believe part of the distribution chain for Mr. Miyazaki’s product may be handled by some of your customers.” I picked up the beer and pointed with the neck of my bottle at the bikers who were huddled at the table, watching us intently.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Fat boy’s eyes narrowed and he leaned closer, lowering his voice. “You need to leave. Now. I ain’t answering anything else.”

“I think you know what I’m talking about. There’s some new amp out there and it’s bad shit. I’ve been hired to find out where it’s coming from so people don’t get hurt.”

“I don’t know nothing about any amp.” He licked his lips and flicked his eyes from me to the bikers.

“Sure you do. I’m not here to bust anybody, couldn’t even if I wanted to. I just want to know where it’s coming from. If I can buy some and get it analyzed, it could be traced by the packet signatures. I really don’t give a damn about your–,” I was abruptly cut off by fat boy reaching under the counter and pointing a sawed off shotgun at me.

It had already been a long day. My head hurt and I knew I couldn’t stay much longer, but getting killed would put a serious crimp in my investigation. I hoped that maybe another fifty and a hasty retreat would be the better part of valor. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding–”

The gun shot was deafening.

I was hurled across the room and thudded into the wall next to the bouncer. My guts were on fire and my legs refused to work. I could smell something like sulfur and cooked meat.

Big black hands lifted me and carried me towards the door. The bouncer clucked his tongue at me as if chastising a small child. “See, I told you.” He shook his head. “Your bel chemiz is ruined.” With that he heaved me out the door. I hit the lamp post and slid to the pavement. It didn’t hurt anymore. I looked down at my midsection and realized that Bobo the bouncer was wrong. Both my shirt and pants were going to be ruined.

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