You know what I wish?
I wish that I was a detective in one of those film noir flicks I love so much
I’d wear a fedora the shade of midnight and have a last name like Dark or Pitt
I’d walk the streets of the city at night, only at night, with a bent cigarette sticking out the corner of my mouth
I wouldn’t have a car because I would have lost it in the high-speed chase a few weeks ago when Nigel the Narc and his gang of no-good shysters tried to run me off the road, “Sending a message” they called it
The city would be smeared in neon, choking on concrete and bleeding dark puddles of piss along the cracks in the street
Maybe it’s raining ice cold daggers like God trying to slice me open to see what He’d made me out of
Or maybe it’s as cold as a cop’s heart
Or maybe the moon is packed full of bright, hovering there like a celestial spotlight
I go into a bar, Johnny’s or Jimmy’s, something with a J where they only play jazz music and serve hard liquor.
I sit at the bar, a near tangible cloud of cigarette smoke obscuring the hookers in the laps of married men, fingers gripping and tongues slipping inside lying mouths
I nod at the bartender, my face hard and deadpan, and order two fingers of bourbon, all with my fedora still on, my hard-boiled features wrapped in shadow and intrigue
The band starts to play an old jazz tune
Something like “Darn that Dream” or “You made me leave my…happy home”
The music takes hold of me, locks my muscles tight with languid fervor, holds my mind hostage while pointing a gun of lazy riffs, crescendos and arpeggios at my bass-thwacked temple
I sip my drink, the rich liquid coursing down my throat like a scorching ray of sunshine
Aahh, that hit the spot
I look over, and there she is
The dame, the broad, the femme fatale to end all femme fatales
She sits alone, sipping something just as dainty and delicate as she is with a snap of something fruity
She smokes her slim cigarette with careless elegance, her movements motored by that ol’ skool charm
She’s painted in light blue by the flashing sign above her head
She looks at me, she is Helen
I am a ship
I’m launched into the sea of ecstasy
She has cocoa butter skin and I think I can smell it from where I sit and stare
Her scent slices like the kindest cut through the alcohol, smoke and sweat
Blood rushes through my body like a shattered dam
And damn, is she ever beautiful
Smooth brown skin, kinky afro arranged in a velvet mound atop her regal head
She puts all those pretty little white girls to shame
Her lips are painted with rubies
Eyes darker than my heart, but hers are soft, mesmerizing…
And pleading.
I slide off the stool, muscles slack and slippery, and walk over
She doesn’t look at me
At least not with her eyes
But I know she knows I’m there
Can feel it like electric fingertips running down the back of my neck
I drop my hand before I touch her
“Mind if I sit here?” I ask her
She answers with a 10-carat smile, a pull of lips that explodes against the insides of my eyeballs
I’m seein’ stars
I sit next to her, easily as if the very air around her is fragile, something to be treasured and nurtured
“Come here often?” The slug of bourbon calms my suddenly quivering hand
She turns, a holy flexing of perfect muscle and looks at me, drowning me in her gaze
“Only when you’re here.”
My heart trip-hammers like a machine gun
This simile reminds me of the time I traded bullets and blood with Tommy the Thrasher at the Harlequin back in ’03
Good times
But I was a different man back then
A gritty anti-hero with a tragic flaw
Something writers and poets spend days and years wringing their souls out to write about
But that’s not me
And he’s not me
I’m just me
A regular Joe trying to stay alive in a world infested with well-groomed gangsters and politicians with undisputed reputations that make me think of “smiling faces tell lies”
Screen fades to black