Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter One – Scene 1

A Chapter from a noir I’m working on… a sort of trial run. More or less trying out openings for the story. Typical plot at the moment of a basic detective in a rural community, could be almost anywhere and I’m trying to leave it unsituated for the skeleton version. Working the old notion of revenge killing in which the detective’s lady is killed by the brother of a woman who the detective killed in a shoot out over a drug heist gone wrong in which a sheriff deputy had been murdered off duty. Jesse Coulter (yes using the old outlaw name unaffiliated ), the detective worked the case and ended up killing the girl and one of the other heist members in a shoot out. Now the brother is seeking not only revenge but to drive Jesse into the ground, make him pay dearly by killing everyone in his life that ever meant something. That’s the basic set up. Now I have to make the cliché interesting.

I’ve another opening that starts with the brutal killing, but for some reason it just doesn’t work for me. I want this to be a love and death noir, with that romance and underpinning of revenge. It’s as if the anti-hero who you’ll see is brutal himself is partially the cause of his own worst nightmares. As in most noir everything seems as if a script built for doom. Yet, I want it to be a opening novel in a series so am going to play the romance off the death plot see where that takes me. Either way all comments welcome as usual.

 Chapter One

I knew it was a bad idea. Most ideas are bad one way or another. But at the moment I’d run out of them and was living on pure hatred and a twisted sense of remorse.

“Jesse, stay with us, I’ll fix you up some ribs and corn…” she said.

“Bethany, you know I got to really go, Hun.” I said almost as if I didn’t believe it either.

My partner, Caleb MacCreary, sat behind his wife making faces like I’d better listen to her or else. I was almost tempted, hadn’t had some good barbecue for a while and had pretty much been fending off the weather with Po Boy’s for a week. But I felt the tug of home in me. So I gave her a big kiss, laughed a little told her not to worry, shook hands with C. who clamped me in a grip like a vice looking at me sternly like a father.

“Jesse, if you don’t stay I’m going to cold cock you now.” he said half in jest. It was the other half I was uncertain of. But in the end I got in my old 86′ Chevy Impala waved like I meant it and got out of there.

Should of listened to my partner and his wife, but as usual I was all smiles even behind the tears and told them thanks, but I’d be going home to rest and get my head cleared out. What a crock that was, and now I’m sitting here at the kitchen table trying to move, and unable to even blink my fucking eyes much less get up. Sure I had a fifth of Blanton’s best that – of all people, Commissioner Hurley, had given me for the Krugen case. Saved his ass and election that year, but wasn’t something intentional by any means. Like most things I’d caught a break, discovered a local scrub, a fencer who’d run some goods that looked a little too much like something he’d seen in one of those TV newscasts. Cost me a wad, that one. But he was on to something. But like anything else that was all history under the bed now. Who really gave a shit, I had the whiskey. Piss on the Commissioner.

I tipped the cap lifted the bottle, debating if I’d tap another shot, and decided not too. I’d had enough of the moping self-pity crap. Time to move. But everywhere I looked she was … absent. So the hell with it I put on my hat, forgot my three-day beard and headed out the door.  

* * *

Funny how the forces of nature seem to mimic us and our moods rather than the other way round. It was one of those bloody days of rain and wind, and I hadn’t bothered to get my wipers fixed since Butch Tomlinson had corkscrewed me a couple weeks back. He was drunk as usual, thought he’d have a little fun at my expense. I’d been parked outside Lobelia’s place, and had run across the street to Henry’s grill for smokes and a bite when I heard a thud and a long scraping noise. Should have known what it was right off, but I was hungry and wanted to finish my cigarette as well.

Went outside and the rain was pouring down frogs, or at least tadpoles the size of my little finger. I saw a couple guys hanging over my vehicle trying to do something with my windshield. By the time I’d gotten there they’d already peeled off and left what appeared to be a note, which was just a card saying, “Fuck you!” Signed of course by Butch. Bastard thought it was funny the next day when I parked out front of his house. He was sitting there on the porch with his pit bull. I guess he figured he was safe. I let him think just that. I walked up smiling. Said, “Well, Butch I guess we got some business, you and I. What you say we just go on down here to the pond behind your house and have a nice talk about it.”

Course he looked at me for a second as if it was a joke. He stood up put a boot on a stool, spit a little Red Man off next to my foot, and said, “Now why the hell would I want to do that fuck face?” That’s when I pulled my rain jacket back pulled out the baseball bat, clipped the dog on the back of the ears, then proceeded to tap a couple clicks onto Butch’s knees. He stumbled back and fell to the wooden planks. Looked up like he’d seen a rabid beast.

I just said: “Thought you might say something like that.”

He said absolutely nothing. Just sat there trying not to cry.

I laughed for a moment, hit him up side the head with my fist then kicked him in the stomach.

“Now why’d you go a do a thing like that?” he said.

“Reason had nothing to do with it, Butch.” Then I just went on back to the car put my equipment away. Turned around for a second, and said, “By the way, you owe me two-hundred for the wipers.”

He looked at me like I was crazy. “What the hell I goin’ pay you two-hundred dollars for a piece a crap like that.”

“It’s not for the wipers, son. It’s so I don’t come back out here and finish the job good next time.” I said a little more pointedly.

He gave me one of those looks like I was a ghost or at least some kind of evil he’d wished he’d never seen. He just sat down and said. “Don’t worry.”

“I’m not, son. I’m not worried at all.”

I got the money two days later, but the hell I’d fixed the wipers. That was the least of it. My lady was gone, dead, and someone killed her. My Lobelia was gone. Hate was in me like a burnt corpse waiting to flame up and burst. I was empty inside, dead. Someone could’ve hit me with a bat, and I’d not feel a fucking thing.

Black rain pelted me for a long time.

* * *

 – Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.  

Read the rest: Flowers for Lobelia – Noir Novel in Progress

8 thoughts on “Flowers for Lobelia: Chapter One – Scene 1

    • I guess I meant compared to my violent version of the same one in which I open with Lobelia being murdered. I’ll not relate details but fairly gruesome, not in the grunge meaning but in typical nourish terms. Yea, the anti-hero element of the detective comes out in his violence with Butch, so in that sense it’s not soft at all.

      Liked by 1 person

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