The Hideout


This hotel room was where they would wait, the ex-cop and the gangster’s moll.
She’s out of patience, and he’s out of ice.
The clock on the wall reads 3 am. Cabs and bums howl below.
She won’t let down her hair. He won’t loosen his tie.
There’s a revolver in his shoulder holster. In her bag, a small pistol.
A bellboy keeps checking in. Maybe he works for the Feds. Perhaps he does hits for the syndicate. Could be he wants another look at the dame. Maybe he’s wildly good at his job.
The moll wants to chat, and the cop wants to brood.
Ten more hours to go.


The Gunfighter

art by Champagne Punch

The lonely gunfighter stands at the center of the road, rifle at the ready.
He has nothing left but his code, guns and the memory of her.
He looks out to where his posse rode away.
They said they’d be back in an hour.

If only there could be someone coming, maybe coming to kill him, that would be something. He could slip off the road, maybe hide behind that boulder there, and get the jump on the bastards as they ride past.

In his left boot, a pebble squeezed itself beneath his flat arch. Anyone with flat arches knows that even a jagged stone correctly positioned can provide relief.

A coyote strides on down the road, taking no notice of the dusty, old gunfighter.

Even the coyote has somewhere to go.

The Detective


The Detective hasn’t been sleeping well.
Too much late night snacking effed with his sleep cycle and did little to quiet the shame and fear that are so often his bedfellows.
He would take some Ativan if not for the glass of whiskey he drank after supper.
Those two don’t mix well.
So instead he makes a grilled cheese sandwich, like ma used to do back in Iowa, ketchup and a kosher spear on the side.
He plays a Chinese Checkers game with a long-dead French poet and loses.
He thinks on how he might collect a bill or two while he pays a bill or two.
Then he figures, no Ativan, might as well have another glass of whiskey.
Then there’s a knock on the back door. He knows who it is. Who else could it be?
The shot tore through a window, and he could feel the heat sear his shirt sleeve as it whizzed past. Bullets are hot. They don’t tell you that.
“Stop shooting!” the detective yelled, feeling immediately stupid for having done so.
No sound returned, and the detective felt queer about the situation, mostly because of the melted cheese coagulating is his gut.
“Danny?” he shouted, but again there was no reply.
The courage was summoned to take a peek outside. There was Danny Brewer, vice president of killing for the mob. From the looks of it, he’d opted for early retirement, no pension. There was a three-inch shard of glass digging a half inch tunnel into his voice box, blood turning the concrete into modern art.
“Shit, Danny, you missed,” said the detective, though he felt like a heel saying it.
The neighbor lady was out on her balcony, smoking a cigarette in a lavender nightgown. One or two times in the past the detective had caught her looking into living room with a nifty spyglass.
“Well, you like playing rough, don’t you,” she decided to say.
The full creepiness of this statement sent the detective back into the house. He sat down on the breakfast nook to call the cops, but he fell asleep dialing.