Today's first foray into posting some (very) short fiction was an attempt to write in a "hard-boiled" style. Wrote it a few years ago. It began as satire, but ended as something I like.
Oh, and Frank Saxon is a real person. This story is not about him. But he is real. This work appears in a not-yet-publicly-available collection self-published fiction called The Place of Dreaming, and is, in fact, the shortest work in it.
I slouched next to Saxon at the bar. He tried to bum a cigarette. Asked, but I wouldn’t answer. I carry cigarettes, yeah, but Saxon’s no woman, and my smokes are only for the fairer sex. He asked again, and grunted a curse when I wouldn’t respond. Man was frustrated. He had every right to be.
Downed the first drink and Ted slung me another. He had a scar above his right eye, pale white. I always wondered what that scar was all about. Never did find out.
Saxon turned to me, his face red, probably insulted by my silence. He pointed a long finger at me, accusing. Lurched a bit. Bastard was drunk. He slurred out a long stream of profanity and started to get up, looking like he wanted a fight.
So I turned away from him – disrespected him, really - and downed my second gin (no tonic) in a swallow. Man wants to fight, he’ll have to show me he means it.
“Talkin’ to you,” Saxon spit, swaying in a wind that wasn’t there, his shirt stained with lunchtime spaghetti and his left shoe untied. “Day in a fookin’ life, man. Read da news ta day!”
“Sit down, Frank,” I said into my drink. Beatles. It figured. “You and me ain’t got time for this.”
“Wiff a little help from da friends!” The old drunk seemed suddenly happy. Quick mood changes. I always liked that about the guy. Frank, he could go from loving you to hating you in a minute, then right back again. “Tay ... take sad songs an’ make ‘em better. Let ‘er inna yer heart!”
Put my finger in the air and before I could put it back down Ted had another drink in front of me. It was gone before Saxon was able to get his ass back on his stool. I wheeled about. Faced him.
“It’s time, Frank. It’s time.”
Looked at him long and hard. Real hard. He knew what I meant. The booze passed from his eyes, sober arrived, and he straightened himself out as best he could.
“So,” Frank said, “I ... I guess I should say my goodbyes, then?”
“Yeah, say your goodbyes, Frank. This job isn’t going to be an easy one. Your goodbyes? This time, you’re gonna mean them.”