From Short Story in progress

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I like this story but it needs some editing.  It’s too long for one thing.  Needs a bit of tightening up.  Overall, it is worth keeping and I will get it there soon.  

Plot is a happening young writer who fancies himself a Hemmingway, goes out to some crummy neighborhood bars as “research” for his book.  It doesn’t go as planned.

 

He walked on and decided that he would not drink at the next place, only eat.  He didn’t think he could stand more alcohol now.  It was dark and the streetlights were dim causing him to stumble more than once over broken pavement.  Red’s Corner was ahead at a distance, it’s ancient neon sign sputtering on and off.  The footsteps sounded behind him and even though on the edge of panic, he glanced back.

A skinny black man with shining teeth was catching up to him.  He spoke “That’s right, a black man following you.”  He laughed but Jonathan found nothing funny.

Jonathan stopped and turned.  He figured that the other man was a twig and barring a knife or firearm, would be no problem for him to take care of himself should it come to that.  “Help you?”  He asked.

“Don’t get the wrong idea now, brother.”  The man laughed and kept walking.  “I’m a peace loving soul.”

The man caught up to Jonathan and kept his hands in plain view.

“Now them clowns back there?” The man continued “If Jerry hadn’t been there you might be in the back of an ambulance now.  Those boys back there”  The man pointed behind them “they’s trifling.”

Jonathan decided that the man was most likely harmless.  “Thank Jerry for me.”  He said.

“What you out walking for?”  The man asked. “Car break down?”  Only he said car as “cah”.

Jonathan shrugged in reply.

“Oh no.  I know what it is.”  The man laughed “Had a fight with the old lady now you walking.”  He thought it was hilarious. “I know how it is.  Them women can be rough.”

Jonathan shrugged again and walked on.  The man kept pace with him.

In his novel, this scene was an entire chapter of banter about women meant to show the contrast and commonalities in male and female relationships across the black and white spectrum.

“Going to a friend’s place on Troy Avenue.  Crashing for the night.”  Jonathan offered.

“That’s it.”  The man agreed. “Give her some cool down time.  Don’t you give in and call her now.  Let her go on wondering where you are.”

Jonathan chuckled.  “Thought I would hit some of the bars along the way.”

“I see.  Uh huh.  They’s a good liquor store up here before Red’s Place.  Other side of the street.”  The man said.

“No.  The bars.  I might go in Red’s, if it isn’t like the last place, that is.”  Jonathan said.

“Red’s Place ain’t nothing like T. J.’s.” The man explained. “T.J.’s, you seen what it was.  I don’t like going in there.  Too many trifling fools.  Not Red’s it’s a regular place.  They don’t mess around.”

“OK.”

The man looked at him out of the corner of his eye. “And they’s white in there, much as black.  Ebony and Ivory.”

“OK.”

“Red’s used to be the bar for the brass works what went out of business.  My daddy used to sit in there with his friends from work.”  He explained. “Brass works been gone twenty-five years at least.”

“I remember the brass works.”  Jonathan said, although he had no idea what the man was talking about.

 

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From my newest short fiction

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New story still in the works.  I originally wanted it to be around 1500 words but think it will end up about 2200 after all.  This is a piece from the end.

 

Red was gone when Chris arrived.  He showed his city credentials and talked with Police officers.  There was little to be done.  He ventured into the apartment and looked around.  It was essentially the same. 

“Friend of yours?”  He heard a man’s voice behind him.

“Yeah.  And I am a city inspector.  Landlord?”  Chris turned around.

“Uh huh.  Gary Pace, Pace Enterprises.”  The man was a slumlord and looked the part and now he was wary of Chris.

“This place is a real shit hole, you know?”  Chris said.

“Yeah.  I’m having it taken down.  I wasn’t hardly charging the guy anything, he watched the place for me.  He begged me to stay while I was figuring out what to do with the building.  He could have got all of this junk out of here.”

“So could you.  Could have fixed the gas before it killed someone.”  Chris turned back to the room.

“You don’t need to break my balls, pal.  Don’t no one know what happened here.  I’m letting my lawyer handle it.”  The man said. 

“You should.”  Chris gestured to the bookshelves.  “What about his stuff?  You have a family contact for him?”

“Nah man.  He didn’t sign anything.  I got his name and cash for the rent.  He drops it at my office every month.  I pay utilities.”

“Taking it down?  When?”  Chris asked.

“Soon, brother, soon.”  The man said.

Chris turned back to the room, put his hands on hips, and sighed.  “I’ll come back with my truck and load what I can.  The junk stays.  You want any of this?”

“Maybe a painting.  I like his paintings.  He gave me one once.”  The landlord said.  “Look, I’m sorry about your friend.  I liked the guy.  I was doing him a favor letting him stay here for almost nothing, he was living in his truck.”

Chris thought a moment, then spotted La Bohème on the shelves and picked it up.  “Bohemian.”  He chuckled to himself.

“What’s that?”  The landlord asked.

“Bohemian.  It’s what he called himself when I saw him last.” Chris started making his way through the refuse of the narrow passageway and back to his car.

“Sure.”  The man answered behind him.

Chris tossed La Bohème on the next seat, then drove home to get his pickup truck.