Category Archives: Noir

Vegas: Something Familiar

Him:
He left the motel feeling a little lighter if only for the fact that his luggage was being held at the front desk. He checked out a bit early for a 5 pm flight but he was going to call the airlines to see if he could bump up his flight time.

Last nights dream showed him some mercy but he wasn’t going to risk it.

Walking down Fremont he let the sights and sounds soak into him. The falling of chips, the spinning of one-armed bandits, the barely occasional ring of the payoff. It became an orchestra and was on it’s way to being a soundtrack. Yet, something else had become familiar to him and he couldn’t quite place it.

He now found himself standing before the entrance of The Beat, his favorite record store/coffee shop. To be honest, the only record store/coffee shop he had ever known. It was here that he had an epiphany as to why familiarity had crept into his walk along Fremont.

He entered and parked his butt at his favorite table and along with his order he submitted a question to the waitress.
“Tell me, what was here before the coffee shop?

“Good question, I’ll ask Maggie the owner and get you some coffee.

“Ok, Thank you,” he replied.

Her:

She rose with the sun, some habits are hard to break and decided to walk the distance to breakfast. She had worked up quite an appetite by the time she had arrived at The Beat. Walking in the front door something grabbed her attention.

A familiar voice talking to the waitress perhaps?  She sat down at her preferred table and tuned in the direction of that voice.

“Oh my,” she thought.

The waitress had brought him his coffee and an answer.
‘Maggie says before The Beat it was a pawn shop.”

“You don’t say. That’s interesting,” he said and thanked her for the coffee.

He took a sip of his java and was about to read one of the free Vegas rags laying around when an attractive woman stepped up to his table and in a melodious voice said, “I’m sorry to interrupt but I feel like I know you from somewhere.”

He looked up into a pair of the prettiest eyes he had seen in, well, forever, and thought that perhaps he was being a little too hasty in his decision to leave Vegas.

Vegas: Beat the Day.

Him:
The gambler left the tables when he hit break-even point.
Sounds simple enough but that had taken most of the day.
He was in a fairly deep hole. When he finally could stand on level -ground he and the day were both exhausted. He had beaten the day. Or, he wondered. Had the day beat him?

He avoided all delays to dream time that night, hitting the mattress after only removing his shoes. He didn’t take off his pants. He didn’t take off his flowered shirt. He didn’t even check under the bed to see the briefcase he knew nothing about.

He had no trouble falling asleep. It wasn’t long before he was visiting his less-than-favorite pawn shop.

He found himself sitting in his usual chair tucked in safely by a copious amount of duct tape. This time something was missing, Gone was the feeling of impending doom but the gentle reminder of the duct tape was an indicator that he was not here by choice.

The curtains to his right soon parted and the pawn shop owner appeared. Gone was his five o’clock shadow. Oh gee, he thought. He shaved for the occasion.

“I am very happy,” said the proprietor. “Can you guess why?” he asked.

“You discovered disposable razors,” said the gambler while waiting for the beating that did not occur.

“Very funny, I won’t even beat you because you finally started to play ball,” replied the clean-shaven man.

“Is this about the company softball team because I already told you I have a trick knee .”

”Ha-ha funny man. No, of course not, it’s about you turning that briefcase into cold hard cash.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.  Was it cold? I tried to keep it warm,” replied the gambler.

He had no idea what clean-shaven man was babbling about but it was his dream so a little babbling was part of the package.

“Haha. Yes, it took you some time but you did well.”

“Oh, great, I’m happy you’re happy but why the duct tape,” he asked.

“Sorry, forgive me, old habits,” said the clean-shaven man as he cut him out of the chair.

The gambler awoke not much longer afterward. If there was anything more to the dream he could not recall. He only knew he felt great and decided to hit his favorite coffee shop/used record store for breakfast. Taking stock of himself he decided he should take a shower first.

Her:
Her day was like the previous work days. This time, however, she returned a “lost” item, relocating it to under the bed where she found it.

At the end of her day, she was beat.

She barely changed for bed that night before remembering the next day was Saturday. She set her alarm clock for her Saturday wake up time so she could have breakfast at her favorite place.”

Note: The words are coming fast and furious so you may have missed the previous installment. Catch it here.

Vegas: Waking from a Vision

The rays of 2018 fell down upon the Vegas desert without much fanfare and with a few less souls around to witness the event. Fortunately for the purpose of this story, we don’t know those souls. The ones we are familiar with are still following their dreams.

Him:
After playing “what can I see in the clouds” with the water stained ceiling for twenty minutes,  he concluded this session of “lets put off my day”.  He also thought that losing himself in the cards would take his mind off of his troubles.

He thought about that for a moment.

What have I got to worry about? My troubles aren’t anchored to reality. They are attached to something fleeting and nebulous. They’re just dreams. They’re very vivid and painful dreams but they’re just dreams. Maybe “vision” is a more appropriate word.

With that one thought his malaise melted away and he let the hot shower wash any remnants down the drain.

Her:
The light crept into her window and announced its presence by alighting on Nadine’s forehead. She became vertical like a shot. She had no time to waste today.  A man’s life may be at stake. It was just a dream but this one, as well as the man,  stood out from any other in her life. She was worried it may be an actual vision, one that she needed to prevent from becoming reality.

She looked under the bed. Unfortunately, the briefcase was still there. She was hoping it had been swallowed up by her dream. No such luck but she knew what to do.
The hotel’s lost and found was destined to have a new briefcase.

“Nadine putting that in the lost and found will not salve you conscious,” counseled Gladys.

Nadine had not told Gladys about her vision. She didn’t need her boss questioning her sanity. She just told her that the story she shared scared her. She figured that much was true. Whether she had a dream or a vision, there was one thing she knew for sure. The story was certainly the cause of it and it scared the hell out of her.

“You know what you have to do.”

“Yes Gladys, I need to give it back to the owner. Can I just put it back where I found it?”

“Yes, I think that should do it.”

All Your Dreams, In One Tidy Briefcase.

Her:

Nadine suddenly had the urge for a cigarette. This would be understandable if she had just quit smoking. But it had been 5 years since she quit cold turkey. She looked around at the strange surroundings. Oh great, my dreams now come with nicotine fits. She noticed the dingy smoke stained room she found herself in had a cheesy curtain for a door. The kind that separates the first class passengers from the riffraff in movie-set airplanes.

The sounds from the other side of the curtain were a far cry from those of pampered passengers using lemon soaked facial towels.

Venturing a peek behind the curtain revealed an attractive man duct-taped to a chair and being questioned by a stocky man, who Nadine had noticed hadn’t shaved in a while. She also noticed the sweat pouring from the unshaven man. Beating a confession out of someone tends to do that. Through the yelling, she managed to catch the words, “My steel briefcase.”

“My god, that poor man is going to die because of me,” she thought.

Him:

He recognized where he was immediately upon entering dreamland. The Eau de Pall-Mall was unmistakable. They didn’t even send a car to pick him up. He just showed up here like a good little victim. Why did he make it so easy for these guys?

He had a lot of material to cover with his therapist when he got back from Vegas.

“I’m asking you nicely,” stated the unshaven pawn shop owner.
What is it with these pawn shop guys and their five o’clock shadows, he thought.  Is it part of the union dress code?

Thwack! A smack upside his head broke him out of his musing.

“Where is my briefcase? More importantly, where is it’s contents?”

“What briefcase? Maybe you could describe it to me. They all look alike to me,” he replied with a slight grin.
Thwack!

Wow, I’ve never heard a thwack before, he thought before surrendering to the pain.

“Stop joking funnyman.”

“Ok, yes that was stupid but in all honesty, I do not know what you’re talking about.”

“This is your final warning,’ uttered sweaty man as he cut the duct-tape to let him go.

“I would kill you right now but I would be out my money and product and then I would be on a very painful hook. You have 24 hours to come up with my briefcase and the product or the briefcase and the profit from the product. While I like the briefcase, returning it by itself will get you killed. You capisce?

“Yes.”  Why in the hell do I even know what that means? Have I been consuming that much terrible pop culture? Wait, is that redundant? Thwack!

A smack upside the head interrupted his thoughts.

“You were inner dialoguing again weren’t you?”

“Uh, yea sorry”

“Not as sorry as you’re going to be if I don’t get my money .”

“Or the product?”

“Yes, you’re starting to get it smart guy.”

And like that the dream had ended.
He awoke with a feeling that there was more to it but try as he might he could not fall asleep again.

Just for the heck of it, he looked under the bed.  Nothing.
No briefcase here, he thought.
The next dream could kill me.

Vegas: Next Stop Dreamland

The lights of the Vegas strip made for a lovely Christmas backdrop. He had been putting off dreamland since midnight and sunrise  was due to arrive on the strip in less than 5 hours.

He hadn’t been this afraid to sleep since he was a kid and that was for an entirely different reason.

He had been a bed wetter as a child. Back then, he was really more afraid of what he would find upon waking up. Now he wasn’t so much afraid of the destination as he was of the journey along the way.

His idea of dreamland did not consist of a visit to the neighborhood pawnshop. His eyes and head had been doing the two-step nod for the last twenty minutes and he could no longer put off the departure of the Sandman special. Falling asleep in the chair would cause real physical pain.

The pawn shop had only consisted of psychological pain up to this point.. He moved to the bed and surrendered to the inevitable.

Across town, another nighttime drama was beginning to unfold. Nadine had gotten home and rather than open up the briefcase, she stashed it under her bed. She had told herself she was too tired to deal with the consequences involved.

The real truth was that the story Gladys had spun had gotten to her.

Nadine decided that any decision made at this point would be better made in the light of day and with a clear head. The suitcase would still be there when she woke and Christmas morning was the traditional time for opening presents. She lay down and waited for the dreamland express with visions of money signs dancing in her head.

Vegas Dreams: The Briefcase.

Gladys Johnson was a prisoner of her own accord. At the moment she was doing her time as cleaning service manager at the Painted Dunes Motor Lodge.

It had taken her 30 years to work her way into management but still, her take-home pay barely paid her bills let alone have any left over for her retirement fund. Fortunately and most convenient for her retirement fund, Gladys had a flexible code of morals.

Gladys was presently holding court in the corner of a dark dingy basement that was her office.

It was the end of shift for the day crew and her charges were filing in for the assessing of the shwag.

Gladys’s definition of shwag was anything valuable left behind by a guest that could be turned into cash. She had a few “no questions asked” arrangements with some of the local pawn shops. They didn’t ask any questions about the items she took in for cash and they received a small percentage of the take. Her nest egg was currently growing at a rate that would ensure she would not have to work into her 80’s. She may even retire before her 70th.

The day’s take was fairly modest and all but one of her employees had checked in. She wasn’t worried. The last to arrive was always Nadine but she more than made up for it in thoroughness in both the cleaning up and cleaning out departments. Gladys was not sure why Nadine’s swag was always the best.

Nadine had assured her that she never stole anything and that for some reason her rooms were always occupied by absent-minded guests. That was enough for Gladys.

At precisely 4:15 the sounds of a woman humming the tune to Chuck Berry’s Nadine strolled around the corner and into Gladys’s office.

“Nice of you to grace us with your presence Nadine,” pronounced Gladys.

“Oh, hush, you know I’m your best worker. Besides I’ve got something special today.” With a flourish, Nadine pulled out a metal briefcase from under her cart and presented it to Gladys. Gladys took one look at it and like the sands of an hourglass the color drained out of her face and settled in her shoes.

“You take that back where you found it Nadine,”

“If you don’t want it then I’ll keep it,” replied Nadine.

In a tone so low that Nadine could barely hear her Gladys whispered, “I have only seen one case like that Nadine. Long ago, one of the other girls, Thelma, found it and decided to keep it to herself.  The next day she didn’t show up to work. People searched for her for over a year. One day some hikers came out of the desert saying that they had found some remains. Along with the remains was a necklace. I had never seen a necklace like that except on Thelma.”

“Nice campfire story Gladys but I’m going to have to call shenanigans on that one.”

“Suit yourself Nadine. Don’t expect me to come looking for you in the desert.”

“Ha, don’t you worry you won’t need to. These are the kind of briefcases that have a ton of money in them so you can come looking for me on a beach somewhere. I just need to crack the lock on this and I’ll show you.”

“You take that home and open it. I want nothin to do with it.”

“Fine with me. If I’m not here tomorrow, I’ll be on a beach somewhere,” replied Nadine.

“If that briefcase is what I think it is you’ll be under the sand not on it.”

Nadine laughed, shook her head and left with the briefcase.

Vegas Dreams In High Def

Street noise permeated his skull and he slowly peeled back his eyelids to reveal a ceiling he recognized. The waters stains and the Pall-Mall potpourri of his cheap Vegas motel were unmistakable.

He cranked up the shower and his shorts hit the bathroom floor before the water had a chance to heat up. Noticing himself in the dingy mirror, he noticed a sea of pink free of black and blue.
He took stock and decided for a middle-aged pink punching bag he didn’t look half bad. He didn’t worry about which half was good.

The perfect, aged adjusted, condition of his body made no sense though after his evening in the pawn shop. He stepped into the shower to let the hot water work its magic on him.

It must have been a dream, he thought. The pawn shop mafia would not be coming for him.

The stress he felt melted away with the steam. What the hell is it with Vegas and dreams. Most dreams got crushed in this town. His seemed to be in high def.

He donned his gambling clothes and checked himself in the mirror before he made for the front door.

It may have been a stretch to call them “gambling” clothes.

His ensemble consisted of just jeans and a black short sleeve shirt but the Panama hat complete with palm trees added a certain Vegas Strip panache to the outfit.

He needed two hundred bucks to break even on this trip and his mindset was a key ingredient for a  successful night at the tables. He wasn’t about to leave anything to chance. Chance was for suckers.

“Lady Luck come my way,” he uttered as he did a little soft shoe and closed the door behind him.

It’s a shame he was feeling too good to notice the steel briefcase under the bed.

Beatdown In Vegas

This is part of a story started here->

After further inspection, he decided the back of his eyelids had not changed since the last time he visited them.

He came to in what he assumed was the back room of his last known location, a Vegas pawn shop. If not, it should be. The essence of nicotine was strong here. So was the pain.

“I told you your lifespan had a limit and there is no aftermarket warranty,” said Ivan.

He didn’t know his name, “Ivan” just fit.

He also had no idea what this man was saying. Oh, he understood the man’s English, it had no problem cutting through the fog that currently enveloped his mind.
He just didn’t know the reason for the beatdown.

“May I trouble you with a question oh kind sir?”

Immediate pain to the back of his head rudely suggested that sarcasm was not the proper tact to take with this individual.”

“I told you to knock it off with the noir crap.”

His original opinion on the man’s English changed. He wanted to give him a dictionary with the word “noir” hi-lighted but two other thoughts convinced him it was not a good idea; 1) He was plumb out of dictionaries, 2) He was averse to continual pain.

“I apologize, I may have misunderstood your use of the word but how did I get here?”

“You walked in here you fool.”

“Yes, but why am I duct-taped to this chair?”

“Really? Is that your only question?”

“Is asking “Who is your decorator?” out of the question?”
Again, pain danced on the back of the head.

“Ok you want to keep the style to yourself I get it.”

“I told you that you had one week to pick up the package and two weeks to turn that into the two hundred big ones for me.”

His first reaction was to come back with a remark about keeping his private life private but decided the ensuing beatdown was not worth it.

“Who am I, David Copperfield?”

Head meet your new friend pain.

“I apologize, I should have gone with someone less dated. Chris Angel perhaps?
Cue the lights….

 

Vegas, Most Dreams Die Here.

Vegas, most dreams died here. His came alive.

Vegas, he anticipated his return. His last visit tantalized the possibilities. It wasn’t so much what had consciously happened, it was what he couldn’t control.

Gravity boots supported by the broken nose union.                             Blood rushing to his head, vivid dreams indeed.

He awoke to a nightstand holding a pawn ticket for something he never owned. He began to revisit the concept of vivid.

A few years passed. He still had the pawn ticket and he found himself back in Vegas. He checked out the address of the pawnshop. It was not far from the hotel. What harm could it do? Well, to be honest, a few broken bones and multiple contusions but that was an afterthought.

It was dark, it was seedy, it was a pawnshop. It met his expectations for what a pawnshop could and would ever be. From a writers perspective it was perfect.

The moment he entered the establishment he knew he made a grave mistake.

The man behind the counter was the proprietor he assumed because in his limited experiences pawnshop proprietors always looked like they could do with an ironing and extra starch.

He also did not look happy to see him.

“Do you have the ticket,” asked the man in a thick accent. He had seen enough bad television shows to recognize an eastern European accent when he heard one.

“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it.”

“Enough with your noir bullshit,” he said.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Then there was pain and darkness.