Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dash and flash

(Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Photo by
your humble blogkeeper)
One of the few pieces of fiction I've written is a flash-fiction tribute to Dashiell Hammett three years ago. It's still Hammett's birthday on the West Coast, so here's the story again. Happy birthday, Dash.

Down the Shore

by Peter Rozovsky
Sally took the Lavender Room and left the Leather ‘n’ Spice Suite for me. I thanked her for that much; a guy’s got a reputation to keep.

Sally was all right. Sure, she’d cooed over the scented candles and chintz-covered throw pillows. But she drew the line at the teddy bears – five on the parlor settee, seven on a second-floor notions table, and one that scared the hell out of her when it fell on her head from the top of an ivory-inlaid cabinet in the breakfast nook.
That’s why I suspected her when I found a bear with its guts ripped out the next morning. She just looked at me funny as we headed out for an iced coffee before hitting the beach.
Two more teddy bears disappeared that evening, though one turned up under the porch swing soaking in a puddle of spilled mint tea. The glass pitcher that had held the tea lay on its side, next to a knocked-over white rattan table.

Diane shook her head as she mopped up the mess, muttering that some guests lack the simple good manners to come forward when they have an accident. But no one can stay grumpy for long and still run a successful bed and breakfast. “I’m no escapee or anything,” she said, laughing. She slapped the puddle with her mop. “I won’t rip their heads off.”
“Let me do your neck,” Sally said.
I winced as we sat in the Mexican coffee shop reading our newspapers the next morning. “Did you see— Damn!” I threw the paper down and rubbed my left forearm hard. “Itching. We stayed out too long yesterday. Pass the Gold Bond, will you?”

A skinny guy with a faded green baseball cap and a laughing gull tattooed on his left temple stared at the little white clouds as I slapped the powder over my arms.
I recognized the tattoo when I saw it again late that night. Its owner lay face down on the bed and breakfast’s porch, his hands cuffed behind him and a police sergeant kneeling none too gently on his back.

“It was the bears,” the sergeant’s boss said. “This guy’s been a small-time heister for years. He heard a load of heroin was coming down the Shore in one of them teddies, and somehow he got it into his head that this was the town.” He nudged the perp thoughtfully in the ribs with his boot. “It gets pretty shitty for a guy like him in the winters here, and this was his chance to get away. I don’t know what we can charge him with; B&E and cruelty to animals, maybe.” He bent down and hauled the skinny perp up by the arm pits. “Come on, Grizzly Adams. We don’t have much of a downtown, but we’re taking you there.”
If the dope was in Cape Friendly, the skinny guy never found it. Maybe he’d be no worse off than he was before. But maybe whoever had paid for the heroin would make an example of him. Either way, I didn’t envy the skinny guy with the laughing-gull tattoo.

They’d taken him away when Sally came down the stairs. Her mouth made a silent O. “What happened? What is all—” She waved her arm out over the guts of a dozen toy bears.

"It’s nothing, baby, just the stuffing that dreams are made of. Now, let’s go to bed. Your suite or mine?”
© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Peter, I keep wishing that you'd write more fiction. Come on, man, indulge me. You're good at it.

May 29, 2014  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

What a treat! That was just delightful. Yes, you really should write more fiction.

May 29, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I thank you both for your kind words. I suppose I probably could turn out more than four hundred words every two or three years if I set my mind to it. I do enjoy those four hundred words mightily.

The New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America is bringing a bunch of writers to Philadelphia to conduct an all-day workshop next month. I was thinking of signing up. Trouble is, one of the sessions is called "After the idea." I could use a session on "Having the idea."

May 29, 2014  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Do you keep a commonplace book, Peter? It's basically a journal filled with bits and bobs of anything you find interesting. I fill one with stuff I think might help give me story ideas.

May 30, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, i never knew of that term, yet I have kept such notebooks for years. Thanks.

May 30, 2014  

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