Champagne Punch: Ch 1 A Pre-war Bloodstain

 

funtionalwithalcoholChampagne Punch: Chapter 1 A Pre-war Bloodstain

I said, “Jesus, Lou.”And then Lou said, “Sorry, Clark. I’m sorry. Jeez. Does it really smart?”

It did.
My face.

Or more specifically my nose having been more or less busted open against a cold, oak table (was it oak? I was never good at wood). The inner contents of said nose had pooled on said oak (?) into an unusual pattern inked out in a vibrant crimson color with flecks of gray and a mournful violet. The sharp line, the organic nature of the composition, the sense of movement and stasis, predicted decades of post-war American art. Lou was an action painter, I his brush and pallet, and the table his canvas. Lou- an artist before his time. But that evening, in the hot and damp interrogation room that smelled vaguely of sauerkraut (or maybe that was Lou), we had merely a typical example of a pre-war bloodstain. Except, of course, who the hell knew this was pre-war? Or, I guess, it’s kind of always pre-war, isn’t it?

“Nothing three more martinis wouldn’t fix,” I said as I pinched out little red clumps from my damn stylish pencil-thin mustache.

I wanted a peppermint candy I’d been saving but couldn’t quite get to my pocket with my wrists in shackles. So I had to do a kind of shimmy to wriggle the candy onto the floor where I could dip down and retrieve it.

The twitchy dance steps made the giant cop chuckle and shake his head. Good old Clark. I grinned, squinted and then sneezed out a bubble of red goo. Lou handed me a used hanky. Good old Lou.

“Nothing three more martinis wouldn’t fix,” I said as I pinched out little red clumps from my damn stylish pencil-thin mustache.

“Do you know where they’re holding my wife?”
“Nobody tells me nuthin’, Clark. You know that. But, Jeez, I’m sure Mrs. Runyon is safe.”

I shrugged. I couldn’t recall the last half hour or so of the party and consequently hadn’t the foggiest what state my wife was in when they took her away. I did remember ordering the sixth gin martini for each of us, so I had a guess. Either she was a bubbly delight or a thunderous disaster. Judging from the state of my nose and the dreary condition of my confinement, I reckoned it was the thunder.

“Well,” said I, “if she’s in a cell I hope it’s a padded one.”
“I probably should hit you again, Clark. Or I ain’t really doing my job.”
“Sure, Lou. Sure. Not the nose again, OK?”

Bam. Pop. Clunk.

Good night.

 


I came to a little while later.

A woman was standing opposite the table that was maybe made of oak (table and woman). She wore a distressed evening gown and a violent look. Her hair was wet and matted. The big red splotch on her green silk gown was beginning to dry. A dead fox hung lazily off her shoulders, his glassy eyes were a warning to future victims. “Look out,” he seemed to say, “this one’s a killer.”

I gave the old gal a friendly wink and a shackled wave.

“How are you, Doris? You look well.”
“You smell like the bottom of a lake,” she said.
“Then I’ve smelled worse.”
“Worse, huh?”

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