Friday, July 17, 2015

Stephanie Parke's entry for the Noir writing contest.

Chef Russell Jackson - The inspiration for this writing contest
Jace Deacon sat back in his chair and smiled. He put both hands behind his head and leaned back enjoying the silence. If you could call the honking horns and random chatter of San Fransisco at 3 am silence. He liked his office here on the waterfront right up from Lafitte his favorite restaurant. He Just couldn’t get enough of Chef Jackson’s Candied Bacon.  His was a quiet life and business but it kept him eating so it was a living, it was his kind of quiet. No one was beating down his door, no one was shooting at him. His life as a private eye often got him shot at and the pay was bad but the excitement and the dames were good.

He’d just finished an ugly case, wife was cheating, husband suspected and sent me to tag and bag her, well photographically anyway. The husband was some former gangster turned business type and the wife was a former valley girl who caught the golden goose. Too bad she decided she didn’t like it enough to stay faithful.  I snapped a couple of pictures and gave them to the husband and he blew his top. I was lucky to get out of there with my paycheck. I wondered if I should tell the wife to be careful, but I figured she could handle herself, given that the man she was married to was one of Bugsy Siegel’s boys.

Jace sighed again and lifted the bundle of money he’d gotten from the bank earlier. Well at least now he could pay the rent and keep the lights on another month. God help him if spouses in San Fransisco ever decided to start being faithful. He raked his hand back through his blonde hair and caught his own golden gaze across the room, he wasn’t the one who had done wrong. He straightened his collar and wondered why he felt guilty. His eyes caught on the picture of the wife and he knew why. She looked as innocent as anything and he knew she wasn’t. She’d been with that other man, had let him kiss her. He knew when guilty was guilty, but something about her still screamed innocence, even after all he knew.

He studied her green eyes and auburn hair and wondered why he couldn’t get her out of his head. He studied her picture again and traced the outline of her full lips and her finger waived hair. For the first time in his career he wished this one had been faith full. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it, breathing deeply, he knew it was bad for him, but he couldn’t seem to stop, kind of like dames he thought to himself, he always seemed to pick the ones that were trouble. He smiled as he coughed and began turning out the lights. The smoke drifted up and made a haze in the dimly lit room as he reached for his jacket. He grabbed his trench coat and reached for the last light. His hand was on the switch when the knock sounded.

Jace strode to the door and opened it stepping back at the sight in front of him. It was the wife and she looked bad, her hair was down and tangled and her dress, once a beautiful green to match her eyes was torn and so dirty it was almost black. Her nails were broken and clogged with dirt and she was barefoot. Jace jerked back at the rush of cold that came into the room with her from the late night air. She stepped toward him and he stepped back automatically. The wife looked like she’d been roughed up and now she was pissed.

She stopped in front of his desk, hand on hip and pushed her long hair back with the other one.  Somehow, dirty and wrecked she still looked amazing. Man, Jace wondered to himself, when did I get it so bad?

“Are you just going to stare at me or are you goanna help me?” The question came out of nowhere and Jace was startled at the sound of her voice, low and sexy as hell . He hadn’t heard her speak but one time and that had been from a distance but the force of her voice on him had been startling. His whole body came to life and he wondered not for the first time what it would be like to kiss her himself. He adjusted his pants and sat  down heavily, his ancient rolling desk chair creaking loudly.

“Sit down looks like your feet could use a rest.”

She sat primly on the edge of the chair, hovering as if she wanted to hit the bricks any minute. “ Wow” she said sarcastically raising one dark eyebrow “what a gentleman.”

“I don’t really have time to play around with dames who cheat on their old men,” Jace said leaning back further in his ancient chair, “ even if they look like you, there is nothing on earth you can say to make me want to help you.”

She sat forward and eyed him, her eyes clear and furious under that fall of brown hair. “How about if I told you that I’m a ghost?”

Jace felt a sucker punch to his solarplexis. He hated when dames got crazy and desperate. He would guess that she was a little of both. Too bad, he thought as he leaned forward and looked her straight in the eyes, what a waste.

“You are crazy as a loon, go sell that to someone else.” He chuckled to himself as he looked down stacking papers on the desk. He hated it when he had to turn good looking dames away but this one was obviously crazy. “You know where the door is, get going”

He felt her before he looked up, the air in the room changed from chilly to icy in a second as he turned his head and met her gaze. She was now inches form his face kneeling beside his chair. He could see up close that her green eyes were blackened and her chin had a line of bruises marching up to her hairline where a massive cut hid under her auburn curls. This close he could see the pallor of her skin, could see that she was clearly not right.  He sat back and she leaned in closer not allowing him any room.

“Touch me if you don’t believe me. Go on do it, I won’t bite.”

Jace shrank back in his chair not wanting this to be real. He‘d wanted the easy paycheck, not for her to be killed, and from the way she looked it looked it has been a hard way to go.

“get back, you’re crazy!” he said trying to scoot back in the chair, but strangely enough it wouldn’t move.

“no, you’re just afraid.”

Jace gulped and gritted his teeth, hating the challenge in her voice, but knew she was right. He had never backed down from a challenge though and he wasn’t about to start now. He looked right at her and reached his hand out to her. His fingers skimmed her face and he waited for what he was sure would be the silk of her skin. His hand met air instead and sank into her cheek. The air around his fingers tingled like he’d stuck his hand in an ice bucket. She smiled sadly and he jerked his hand back. His chair slid back in the process and he stood behind it reeling.

“What the hell happened to you?”  Jace rubbed his hand still feeling the cold around his fingers.

“That’s what I need you to help me find out. I “woke up” this morning in a ditch with no idea how I got there.  I remember trying to sneak out last night, because I knew Sal had found out about Donny kissing me, but then it all goes black. I didn’t even know I was dead until a car drove right through me. Imagine my surprise. “Her sarcastic tone caught Jace’s ear and he couldn’t help thinking that she was feisty, and god help him he liked feisty.

He sat down and tried not to give away the shiver that slid up his cotton covered spine. His dress shirt stuck to him in his nervousness. He pulled his suspenders down and popped a piece of Chef Jackson’s candied bacon in his mouth stalling for time. He stared at her wondering what the hell to do next. Jace shook his head and sighed, he’d known this dame was going to be trouble.


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