Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Rack Archives


Alison Moore   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: May 11, 2013

Herc had given me an address, a brownstone in a part of Brooklyn where no tree grew. The house was empty but it was the only lead I had - that and a cheap looking desk. On it was a maroon leather photograph album. A snake slithered in my gut as I flipped through the first few pages. And then the snake froze and I suddenly found it difficult to breathe. Bo Chi Song stared out at me from one of the pictures. Standing next to him was Sheri Lamour.

She looked good, her long, raven air sweeping down to her shoulders, her breast pushing against her dress like a held-in tsunami. Her lips glistened and I wanted to kiss them and then ask her what she was doing and why she was looking so goddamn happy...and why she wasn't dead?

At that moment I hated Bo Chi Song ; hated him so hard it tore at my guts; and I wished it all on him - the hurt and the pain, the knowledge that before very long he'd be dead, and it would be my hands gripping his dog-eating throat.It was then I noticed a small patch of red. It was on the floor, half hidden in shadow and curtains that hung like skin on a corpse I walked across, and recognised the colour. I'd just seen it glistening from Sheri Lamour's lips. Somehow she'd left me a message:
Alison Moore   ...more

Matthew Hall   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: May 04, 2013

Cathryn Grant had said we create our lives inside our heads. I thought about that - Bo Chi Song, the dame with the dress, and the guy who'd rather be wearing it, all of them circling like flies disturbed from a corpse - in this case Big Jake and the leg they were so goddamned eager to find. I'd seen the Maltese Falcon once and didn't understand a word. But a leg, a goddamned wooden leg. Cathryn might have been right, but just then my mind wasn't feeling too creative. I felt my eyes droop,  the Lucky slip from my fingers, knew it would burn another hole on a rug that resembled the surface of Mars. One more hole wouldn't matter that much.

The phone shrilled, cutting through a pleasant dream I was having about Sheri Lamour. I reached out, my voice trying to catch up. "Hello."

It was Herc, and he was yelling at me, and my hands felt wet like they'd been gutting chickens. I was catching one word in two and it involved Sheri Lamour.

"Cut to the chase, Herc. Where is she? What's happened?"

He said one word: "Bo Chi Song." And I know that's three, but I wasn't in the mood to care. I was thinking of Sheri, and what that fiend might be doing to her.

"Get over here, Clay." His voice was terse. "My apartment and make it as fast as you can."

"I can't do that, Herc, not yet. Sheri arranged an interview for me. I can't let her down."

"What the heck?"

"No, 'who the heck,' it's Matthew Hall. He's some kind of crime writer, might give us some kind of angle on this."

Cathryn Grant   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: April 27, 2013

Sheri was curled up by the fire. She'd been crying. Her face was a mess.

"Hey, kid."I threw my coat on the desk and pulled her to her feet. Sheri was all woman but without the antics that came with it. Something bad had happened. Something to do with a Korean warlord called Bo Chi Song, him or one ofhis veiled assassins. Whatever it was had shaken the woman I loved...turned her into a woman who cried. I squeezed her gently, enjoying her warmth, her head nestling into to my cheek.

"There was a knock on the door," she said.

"And you thought it was Bo Chi Song."

She drew back. "No. It was a cop. He said you were in some kind of was the way he said it."

Sheri had the soul of a Great White, an efficient, remorseless killing machine. Only with me it was different. With me she was woman, warm and curvacious, vulnerable.

"We have a guest." I said it as gently as I could.

She bit her lip, nodded her head bravely. "I know.  Cathryn Grant. Just give me a moment to freshen up."

Joanne Anderton   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: April 20, 2013

Nightingale Song
, yeah I know, sounds like a ladyboy - only Nightingale Song was less classy. It was a club you'd be wise to avoid, one on its own, turning low-life into specimens for the rich to shiver at as they sipped their overpriced drinks. You know the deal. Bring in a few 'characters': those without teeth or missing an eye, the broads with clothes too tight for bodies you didn't want to see. Atmosphere, they call it. I call it a not very nice smell. But it appeals to people who want to live 'dangerously' and hold down a 9 to 5 job.

Sheri spotted her first and led me across a room full of shadows that shuffled, shadows without faces. I wondered whether they'd ever had them or whether it was something they handed in along with their hats, along with their souls. I was getting a bad feeling about this place, wondering whether it was such a good idea meeting up with Joanne Anderton here.

"It's better than the Rack," Sheri whispered, reading my mind like it was spread out before her.

"The Rack is clean." I said.

Simon Strantzas   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: April 13, 2013

We'd been sitting there for sometime, saying nothing, getting on fine. We'd been buddies once, buddies in uniform facing an enemy that couldn't spell the word. Outside it was raining and the bar was peaceful and warm. "You got something to say to me, Sam? I think you have something to say to me."

He looked up, defeat scrawled on his face. There are six letters in 'defeat' and they don't look good on men with small faces.

"Okay,"  he said. "Just two words." He got up, threw down a greenback and a jingle of change and made his way to the door.

"Just two words," I shouted.

He turned. "Oh yeah,
Simon Strantzas."

I leapt to my feet, excitement writ large on my own pug-ugly features. Sheri was watching from across the bar, and tutted tutted. She didn't need writing to read a man's face.

"You heard of this guy?" I mouthed.

She nodded. "Simon Strantzas. He frightens people."

Brett Savory   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: April 06, 2013

Sputz had been as good as his word. He had got a lead all right. One that led to another dead end. Brett Savory might have been many things, but he was no killer. I stared down at him, Sheri standing alongside...No killer, I thought. I glanced at Sheri. She looked doubtful. Sheri always looked doubtful. It did interesting things with her lips.

"What do you think, kid?"

She sighed. "He's a writer, Clay. Guy knows nothing about Big Jake's leg."

"You think. So why the talk about psychos and killers?"

"I don't know, Clay. Some people are just made that way." Sheri leant over him, her hair brushing his cheek. I wondered what was going on in his mind. If it was me, I'd have been scared. 'Some people are just made that way.' Sheri knew all about that....more

Helen Marshall   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: March 30, 2013

The phone was ringing when I opened the door. I put the gun on the desk and and grabbed the receiver. It was Hercules S. Sputz, Captain in Charge of Homicide. I preferred to do my talking that way. Over the phone. Herc was no beauty pageant. The years had taken their toll, as had the divorces, the rye and the foul, black cheroots he smoked between breaths.

His voice rumbled from what was left of his lungs. "We have a lead on Jake," he said. "Thought you ought to know."

"Jake's dead," I snarled. "It's the leg we're after - or have you forgotten that?"

He put down the phone, but I was grateful. Alkaline Flats had proved a dead end and I'd proved ungracious. I reached back for the phone when Sheri opened the door.

"She's waiting, Clay."

"Who's waiting?"

"Helen Marshall of course."

'Of course.' Some dames say it with sarcasm like your brain's on vacation and they don't expect it back anytime soon. Sheri said like she was planning on joining me. Her 'Of course' was breathy, kind of sultry and delivered with the skill of a chanteuse....more

Jason Fischer   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: March 23, 2013

"You look rough, Clay."

"Nothing a beer won't fix."

"And Jake, what about him?"

I hated to say it but the trail had gone cold. Just one question remained. Why had they stolen the leg, and why would a two-bit punk like Mephistopheles of Milan be taking an interest in me, and who was the broad in a dress you didn't want to take off? Okay, more than one question, but just now they were buzzing around my goddamned head like bees flying Zeros.

We finished the beer when two punks began leering at Sheri. I leered back then punched each one hard in the kisser. Their eyes began spinning and they fell from their stools like a couple of rag dolls. One of them croaked "Jason Fischer."

"My hero." Sheri squeezed my arm like she meant it.

"Yeah, I know." I looked down at the guy who'd been trying to say something. It may have been a lead. It may have been anything. It was neither of those things.

"Jason is our guest, Clay. He's waiting for us."

I stared down at the punks, lying arm in arm, kicked a hair into place. "This one's for Jake," I snarled. "Now where the hell is Jason Fischer? ...more

Cat Sparks   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: March 16, 2013

The guy designed dresses, one dress in particular, and a dame inside it who'd turned my brains to cream. I'd tracked him down, Mephistopheles of Milan, and just now he was trying to smile at me like he was
measuring me up for a frock.

I raised my hand, smashed it across his nose. The bone shattered and blood splattered my coat and shirt. The guy had been a lady-killer. When I was done with him he'd be joining them in the morgue. Now he was lying flat out on the floor, eyes rolling like a cow in an abbatoir.

A dame at the bar was smiling, like this was the funniest thing she'd ever seen. It wasn't funny.  My shirt was a mess and I was late for another appointment: Cat Sparks. Sheri spoke highly of her, which told me everything I needed to know....more

Brendan D Carson.   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: March 09, 2013

She wored a dress tighter than skin, a dress designed by Beelzebub, Mephistopheles of Milan. She smiled and turned my brains to icecream and I knew I was trouble with a capital T and then more. She had a line on Big Jake's leg, one that had upped and walked on its own.

"What can I do for you, kid?"

"It's what I can do for you, Clay." Her gaze flitted over my shoulder and my brains really did turn to cream. I saw a shadow, smelled onion and garlic, and turned just a little too late. The cosh hit me hard and a thousand lights told me this was the end.

I woke up sometime later, Sheri leaning over me, looking kind of anxious. "There's someone waiting for you, Clay. Someone important."

Jeez. I was important, wasn't I?  I felt like death, and they don't come more important than that.

"I could cancel, she said, Australia's not that far away."

"Australia? Who are we talking about here?"

Brendan D Carson.

Australians like their men tough and on the bone and I wasn't a guy who liked to disappoint. Sheri was smiling again, like she knew something I didn't. ...more

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