Monday, August 15, 2016

"You're cornered, Jimmy!"

"You're cornered, Jimmy!"

He stood in the shadows twitching. I could smell the Bulleit on his breath even at this distance. I could also smell the thick perfume of fear underneath that stench, mingled with several doses of meth. The rail-thin perp clawed at his face, trying to block the high-beams from my cruiser. Blind fingers nearly dared to gouge out his eyes to relieve the pain.

"Ji-Ji-Jimmy's not here," he rasped.

"I know you're in there, Jim," I countered. "I know you've been trying to drown your demons. They feed on that. Fear, too. I'm here to help."

The clawing paused as a rheumy laugh cackled in his voice box. The deliver boy-turned-junkie garbled out, "Funny you speak of fear, Investigator. You're the one behind that circle."

I didn't glance at the black line I had scrawled before chasing Jim down this alleyway. "That's not for me. It'd be best you come with me and leave Jim alone."

The shadows around Jim deepened as a voice like a baffled coal furnace sputtered, "On what authority do you dare collar me?"

I shot back in my deadpan manner, "The Highest."

Another burst of laughter bubbled up from this deeper source. "You're a fool if you think you can take a Prince of Poverty on your own."

I struck my lighter and lit a cigar. I took a puff as I dropped the igniter onto the dark line in front of me. The flame kindled a golden light which converted the black sigils into living emblems. They came to life both in the air and on the ground. The golden coil slithered across the alley and traced itself around Jim and the shadows.

The delivery boy's eyes bulged. He went into a frenzy as though trying to pat invisible flames off his clothes. The shadows danced and the diabolical voice boomed in rage, "What sorcery is this, Investigator?!"

I flicked the burning coal off the end of my cigar, collected my lighter, and answered, "No sorcery at all, Tenebrae. You should remember that. Then again, you did just get back from your last visit to the Courts. Your parole's been suspended."

Three things happened all at once. A shriek. A flash. A vanishing act.

Jimmy stood in the alley, staring all around him at the decaying urban landscape. He wondered how he hadn't OD'd and where the stranger and the terrible voices went. He didn't wonder why his pants were soaked. He'd seen to that.

It didn't take him long to run home to tell his estranged mother he had been wrong and that he loved her. Guess you can chalk that up to a win-win case. Too bad they aren't all as rosy.

Art Source: "Noir Detective- Video Process" by Hideyoshi
Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship


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