Tag Archives: noir

An Rogaire Dubh

I walked into the pub some 15 minutes later. The light from the street lamps that seeped in through the window was swallowed up by the black-brown wood that furnished the bar, reclaimed from some abandoned church in Tír Chonaill. Even with the candles set around the pub, it managed to be darker inside than out. Still, there was something comforting about the smell of body odor, beer, and musty old wood. Far Derrick sat atop a stool at the far end of the bar, and judging by his volume, he’d been there for a while. I wondered if he climbed up on the stool all by himself or if he had someone to help him. Adam was behind the bar like he always was. We used to go to hardcore shows together at the Cambridge VFW. Technically Grey Ellen was the owner of the bar, but Adam was the only one who ever seemed to work there. He had a Kennedy brother tattooed on the back of either fist so no one liked to bothered him with too many questions. I reached across the bar and shook his hand and said, “Give me a Tully, neat, and a shot of Chartreuse for the small fella down there,” nodding my head towards the end of the bar.

“It’s a little early for a ‘Treusing, don’t you think?” Adam said hesitantly. Chartreuse shots were usually reserved for folks who’d already got too drunk, a parting gift before they got thrown out, at which point they’d usually boot the ‘treuse back on the street. But it was also a holy spirit made by monks, and the Good People weren’t so good at holding that kind of liquor.

He handed me a collins glass with a three-finger pour and I said, “Either way, I’m cutting him off.”

I stood back and watched as Adam brought the shot to Derrick. Adam looked over at me and pointed but Far Derrick clearly didn’t care who’d bought him the drink. He tossed the shot straight back and as soon as the sweet green syrup hit his tongue he spit it right back out and started coughing violently. Smoke poured from his skin and he gasped for air between the chokes. Fortunately An Rogaire Dubh was one of those bars where no one seemed to care about the other customers. He slammed the rest of his beer back to wash away the taste. “Awright, who the fuck was that?” he said as he wiped the back of his arm across his mouth. He turned his head to the left to identify the mysterious benefactor that he’d previously chosen to disregard. I brought the whiskey the lips as I raised my other hand, waggling my fingers in  a mocking wave.

Far Derrick let out a deep heavy sigh and turned back to face the bar. He knew that he’d been caught. He coughed again, then motioned to the bartender and said, “Bud Heavy and a shot of Jack. And fuck the both of yous.”

The Good People

“They took my kid and they replaced him with a fuckin’ stick!”

“A stick.”

“A fuckin’ stick!”

“Who did?”

“The Good People.”

“The Good People kidnapped your son and replaced him with a stick.”

“That’s what I’m sayin’!”

“Okay.” Mike Fionn rubbed his left hand through the ashen fuzz of his head, following the curve of the back of his skull and and brought his fingers around to feel the gauge on his ear. He’d been trying to ease himself off coffee for the last six weeks, and the motion helped to ease the headaches. Still Margie’s nasal voice only amplified the pain as it echoed through his head. He needed whiskey. But he knew he shouldn’t drink before 10am so he poured himself a finger’s worth of Tully anyway. He could feel the eyes of his receptionist Ari boring through him from the other side of the office window, but he figured if he didn’t turn around to face her then they couldn’t hurt him too much.

“Well? Ahe ya gunna help?” Margie intoned as Mike drew the glass to his lips. He wished for once he’d get a normal case but then of course he’d never work. Most PIs these days made their bank from security work or internet snooping, and he’d  already hired The Creep to handle that side of the business. A job like this at least meant that he’d get out into the field. Over the last year or so, Mike had managed to make himself the go-to for these kinds of gigs. Sometimes he’d get a trophy wife from Chestnut Hill saying that her husband Senator McIrishfuck was sleeping with a siryn, but mostly it was folks like Margie from the old hood whose kids got turned into sticks or replaced with sticks or whatever the fuck she was talking about.

On The Case

Mike took a sip from his third glass of Tully as he rubbed and refocused his weary eyes. The whiskey soothed the headache that grew from staring through the binocular lenses for so long. He also found that it served as an adequate measure of the passing of time, although he often had difficulty converting said measurement into standard units of time. He had felt a certain rush of excitement when this assignment came up — it wasn’t so often anymore that he got to do any real field work. Like most private investigators these days, he got most of his information from a computer, and even then, he kept someone on staff to handle all his technical needs. Sure, OT had a tendency to make most people uncomfortable — Mike included — but the kid knew how his way around a computer, so Mike kept him around.

But as much as he welcomed the opportunity to get his hands dirty again, this wasn’t what he had in mind. Spying on a man from a hotel across the street for the sake of his jealous wife was hardly the most exciting way to spend the night. “Wanna play cards?” he asked to the empty room. He waited for a response but heard nothing. “No…of course you don’t,” he answered himself, as a soft blue light appeared behind him by the window. Mike grabbed his binoculars and focused them back towards the room across the street.

The lights were out. But the curtain were still open, meaning it was more than likely that the Senator had left the room, with the intention to return. “Thanks for the heads up,” Mike said as he a grabbed a tan jacket covered in patches from the back of a chair and threw it around himself. He looked back out the window — this time without the binoculars, and saw a white taxi cab with green siding idling near the park outside. The sign atop was lighted up but the driver was alone, indicating that he was waiting a passenger, and Mike immediately know that he’d been had. He scooped his helmet off the bed and ran out the room towards the stairwell, strapping the protective gear to his head as he descended. He barely kept his balance as he barreled down eight flights of stairs, and he tore through the lobby only to find himself delayed by the tedious automated doors at the front of the hotel.

A concierge tried to stop him to check that everything was okay, forcing Mike to push through the slow-moving doors, breaking the gears that controlled them and leaving them paralyzed ajar on the sidewalk. The brisk November night was colder than he’s expected, and just as he reached the curb, he noticed Fat Pat Brennan exit from a private door on the side of the building and climb into the cab.

The Crash

They were fighting when it happened. Nothing, of course, just a little couples’ spat. They were driving home from a wedding in Danvers for one of His old bandmates. Some girl was saying shit about someone in the bridal party, some typical caddy bullshit but just the kind of thing that She could not abide by. So later that night, She made sure to spill a red cocktail on the caddy girl’s dress when they were both out on the dance floor, said it was an accident. Those were the kind of moments that had made Him fall in love with Her so swiftly, those unabashed displays of take-no-bullshit attitude, the moments She reminded you that She wasn’t just some passive pretty plaything.

When it happened, He just stayed back and watched, soaking in the moment and willing himself to sober up for the long ride home; She, of course, kept drinking, because hey, open bar. By the time the reception ended, He felt more than fine to drive, although as He’d later learn, physical sobriety and legal sobriety were two very different things. But She, in Her heightened state, was fairly upset with Him for not having Her back.

Like I said, it was one of those stupid fights. Every couple has them.

They were traveling down Route 1 and by the time they reached Chelsea, the fight had to come to an impasse, with both side asserting stubborn silence. The accident happened shortly thereafter, at the Junction of 16. It was late enough that there weren’t many other cars on the road, save one that they saw coming towards them in the opposite direction that had left its brights on. He flashed the highbeams twice (the universal sign to let the other guy know his brights on), but nothing changed.

The traffic light held green as they approached the intersection, so He kept driving, when the white hearse appeared, heading east on 16, and ran straight through the stop light and careened into the driver’s side of His car, sending it spinning out with enough force to leap the barrier. The trunk of His car collided with the oncoming car in the opposite line, knocked it directly into a telephone pole.

When His car stopped spinning, it was situated back on Route 1, mostly facing North. He peered out the driver’s side window, but it seemed the hearse had already escaped.

He then looked to his right. She was killed on impact.

Haiku Beer Review

5:58pm

Southern Tier IPA (7.3% ABV)
Citrus, floral hop
aroma. Not too bitter,
“but it’s good enough.”

Souther Tier Choklat Stout (11% ABV)
Smells like hot cocoa,
with a strong dark chocolate taste.
Goes great with ice cream!

Weihenstephan Korbinian (7.4% ABV)
Clove flavor comes through
a bitter, malty base. How
do you pronounce this?

Shipyard Old Thumper Double Ale (11.2% ABV)
Two Boar head gargolyes
decorate the tap handle;
I think that’s awesome.

6:30pm

Shipyard Blue Fin Stout (4.7% ABV)
A special new batch;
roasted, with a strong wood-like
taste. Does that make sense?

6:40pm

Ithaca Cold Front Belgian IPA (7.2% ABV)
Clove aroma up
front, with a soft hops balance;
could be more bitter.

6:45pm

B-Nektar Meadery Orange Blossom Meade (13% ABV)
Delicate floral
and citrus notes with honey,
sweet and acidic.

Cisco Grey Lady (4.5% ABV)
Light in color, easy
to drink, with an aftertaste
full of fruit and cloves.

6:57pm

Blackthorne Cider (6% ABV)
Dry, but much too tart.
Poorly carbonated, and
overall just “eh.”

7:02pm

Kennebec River Brewery IPA (??% ABV)
Chewy and pungent;
why does their artwork feature
whitewater rafting?

7:11pm

Dogfish Head Sah’Tea (9% ABV)
“Hoegaarden with a
punch in the face” made up of
chai tea spices. Great!

7:17pm

Ten Penny Ale Dirty Penny Ale (5.2% ABV)
I’m skeptical of
black-and-tan combo beers, but
this one is quite good.

7:22pm

Ithaca alpHalpHa Special Single Barrel (8.5% ABV)
Too much cascade hops,
and not enough honey;
way to let me down.

7:33pm

Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Über Pils (7.25%)
Pirates make beer taste
like beer, only better; they
also have peg legs.

7:44pm

Haverhill Brewing Company Gest-Alt German-Style Brown Ale (5.3% ABV)
The name of this is
too long; they should just call it
“watered-down porter.”

7:57pm

High and Mighty Beer of the Gods (4.5% ABV)
I’m not sure God would
drink this, but it did inspire
me to start rapping.

High and Mighty XPA (5% ABV)
More “India” than
“Extra.” Why don’t they call it
“EPA” instead?

8:00pm

Clownshoes Clementine Wheat Beer (6% ABV)
Huge disappointment,
much too light and acidic.
Fucking clownshoes, man!

8:07pm

McNeil Brewery Dead Horse IPA (5.7% ABV)
Your brewmaster seemed
sad and lonely. I would, too,
if I made this beer.

8:15pm

Wormtown Brewery Seven Hills Pale Ale (4.5% ABV)
My notes consist of
incoherent ramblings
about dead babies.

8:21pm

Peak Organic “Noir” Black IPA (7.2% ABV)
Not sure what makes this
“noir”; it’s more black in color
than morally grey.

8:27pm

Gardner Ale House XPA
I had a roommate
once from Gardner; she wasn’t
really into beer.

The Last Happy Meal

She lurched into the room on legs like Roman pillars — large, coarse, and grooved, speckled with the dying glimmer of glass caught in sandstone that struggled to remind you of its more majestic time some thousand years back. Even her hair was done up in a style reminiscent of the plume of a gladiator’s helmet, dyed red and wild, erupting out like a volcano at the top. She stopped in the doorway to smooth her dress and check the elevation of her hair before adjusting her position for presentation. Chin up, back straight, hands crossed together and resting on that horrible front-butt that women like her develop around the age of 43. Women like my mother.

I hate my mother.

I kept my head down, focused on the paint-splatter of paperwork that littered my desk. Of course I noticed her; her existence alone was intrusive enough. But I have a strict rule against stopping before I’m done. Even though it was just paperwork — at this particular moment, an invoice for fryalator repairs — I knew it would be impossible for me to re-acclimate myself to this exact line item, whether it was 5 minutes from now, or next week. I had to finish the line, then I could help her. There was no time or space to say something politely dismissive — even, “One moment, please,” would be one moment too much and distract me from ultimately more important things.

But she didn’t have the patience for that. She cleared her throat by coughing into her fist and advanced towards me, one lumbering pillar at a time. With her come a wafting wind of out-of-code baby powder and a long-forgotten flower shop that over-fertilized its ancient products in the hope of salvage. As she approached me, the scent of fries and Big Macs from the meat locker disappeared, completely and utterly consumed and destroyed by her presence. That smell, and all its selfish power, reminded me of my mother.

I fucking hate my mother.

I scrambled in a panic to finish the line item on the invoice sheet, but it was useless; she finally spoke, and my managerial instinct made me inclined to respond. “Excuse me,” she bellowed in a baritone.

My pencil tip snapped on the paper three-quarters of the way through the last zero. Dammit, I thought. So close. I looked up at her and forced a smile — the way you always do with customers — and opened my mouth to respond. I took my first deep breathe, prepared to speak, but found myself choked by the perfume that billowed down my throat. I spit out shrieks and gasps between my efforts to find oxygen somewhere in the air. Meanwhile, she just stood there, awaiting my response, with nothing on her face but selfish apathy and 4 pounds of Mary Kay make-up, the kind my mother always wears.

I really hate my mother.

30 seconds passed, and my fumbling hand finally found the cup of water that I kept at my desk. It was only a Medium, but it would have to suffice. I pulled it to my lips and slammed it back, wishing it were whiskey. No such luck. Still just warm soda fountain water. I swallowed deep into my gut and took a moment to collect myself before I finally addressed her.

“Hi, ma’am. How may I help you?”

She stared me down against the bridge of her nose, sat silent for a moment, and then responded: “I lost my purse.”

Not what I expected. I grabbed my manager’s visor from my desk and placed it on my head. “I’m very sorry to hear that. How long ago did you notice it was missing?”

“Last Thursday. The 17th.”

I hesitated again. Why would she wait so long to ask about it? “I’m sorry ma’am, but nothing’s been turned into us from the restaurant.”

“Then I’d like you to find it.”

“….Excuse me?”

“As a paying customer, my satisfaction should be your priority.” She wasn’t wrong; at least not according to the manager’s training video. She reached her large, tacky, faux-leather purse, pulled out a wad of cash, and threw it on my desk. “But this might serve as some incentive.” She turned her nose up again and awaited my reaction.

I counted the bills: $2,000 in twenties. I could feel the golden arches smiling along with me. With money like that, I could move out of the basement. My mother would be proud of me.

I hate my fucking mother.

Film Noir

You always tasted better when we kissed in black and white,
and your slender cigarillo ash shined softly in the light
of the gas lamp halo overhead that guides you through the night—
yes, you always tasted best in black and white.

You always sounded better singing secrets under ground
beneath the lonely light that lit our love and hummed electric sounds
that harmonized our haggard hearts and beat in leaps and bounds—
yes, you always sang the sweetest under ground.

You always saw me better when you spied me through the haze
of twilight mist, a blanket full of nihilistic greys.
The kind that keeps the cold out, brought us comfort in our days—
yes, you always spied me spotless through the haze.

You always tasted better when we kissed in black and white,
and your slender cigarillo ash shined softly in the night
when the gas lamp halo overhead would guide you towards the light,
but I loved you all the more when you right.