Friday, 29 November 2013


NOIR CANADIANA

 
Capital Crimes

 
Maybe it was just that time of year. A barren and grey November, autumn petrifying into winter. Maybe it was just because we were in Ottawa. The city felt occupied. The Mounties were sniffing around the Hill and everywhere else. The jumpy spooks on Heron Road were wiretapping their own shadows. The capital had dragged us down into its filth and sewage.

 
Ann Fatale, my buxom and vivacious partner in crime, swished her martini around in its glass. She stared out the double glaze window, down at the sluggish Rideau Canal. She lit a cigarette and sighed one of those sighs that tempts me to get my trench coat and fedora dry cleaned, straighten up real legit and find a property with a white picket fence in a quiet neighbourhood. But that’s not her. That’s not me.

 
The name’s Danger, Geoff Danger. I’m a fixer. I used to have ideals. I can’t tell you what drives me anymore. I wish I knew. My tired soul is a dark place and I don’t like to examine it too frequently or too closely. The anger I was born with frightens me sometimes.

 
We’d been summoned east from Edmonton to help finalize some plans for Nigel, Mike and Pamela. The locks by the Chateau Laurier had been drained by Parks Canada so that wasn’t a viable option but the problems clearly had to go away. Yesterday in the arrivals area I patted old Sir John A. on his bronze shoulder as I always do. Everything went sideways from there. Even before Ann’s Louis Vuitton suitcases and my Joint Task Force 2–issue canvas duffle bag hit the carousel I noticed a couple of cultural attachees from a foreign embassy with their eyes on us. The Senate would have to solve itself. I wondered if that initial call had been a ruse.

 
Ann sighed again. I’d never seen exasperated smoke before. I lit one of my own and poured five fingers of Irish. Our host shrugged his shoulders apologetically. Naturally his government would’ve preferred some other way, alas. His three armed goons examined the pattern in the Persian rug. I wished it was a magic one, but at least I had my trusty straight razor secreted in one of my blue suede shoes. Ann wore stilettos.

 
Hard bop piano jazz was playing on the hi-fi, vibrant and alive from a Harlem nightclub sometime back in 1962. There was 40-grand in dead prime ministers on the dining room table. Little stacks of used, non-sequential bills in plastic freezer bags. Small change, but a sight to admire nonetheless and a lovely centrepiece with the holiday season nearly upon us. On the floor around the room, tenting the baseboards, were works of art of dubious merit and provenance. Even a pisspot tin god dictator has cultural pursuits.

 
Ann crushed out her cigarette. She fished another one from her Hermes handbag. Her solid gold and diamond encrusted lighter wouldn’t spark. She sighed a third time. Our signal. I moved toward her. Flame erupted from her lighter. I threw my whisky through it into the face of one of the goons. I dropped, spun and gutted the second goon with a waist-high slash and twist. His blood spray and tumbling entrails made me think of a spaghetti food fight. Ann pirouetted and danced a molten, sexy jig. The heel of her right Christian Louboutin shoe quivered in the left eye socket of the third goon. He dropped like Blackberry’s stock price. Our host was still protesting when I cut him a second smile from ear to ear.

 
‘A girl needs to kick her shoes off once in a while, baby,’ Ann said.

 
‘Shame to waste perfectly good whisky,’ I replied, not sparing a thought for the poor bastard with the melted face. ‘Anyway, I’m a fool for a well turned ankle.’

 
Ann blushed. ‘What now?’ she breathed.

 
‘I’m thinking a stiff drink and another cigarette,’ I replied. I glanced at the four dead men and their blood spatters. ‘Then a shower and change of clothes. We’ll pack the money. We should get out of town pretty quick. Leave this mess for housekeeping.’

 
‘I wonder who they were, baby?’

 
I looked hard into Ann's lovely and limpid blue eyes. ‘Who cares. They’re dead. They don’t matter anymore.’

 
‘What about the paintings?’

 
‘Modern art,’ I said. ‘I can’t tell what’s blood or what’s paint.’

 
‘Oh, Geoff, you’re so witty.’

 
‘Not really,’ I replied. ‘Being around you just makes me cheerful. That’s all.’

 She giggled and began to strip off her blood-soaked gown. The music stopped and the silence filled with dread. I wiped my bloody fingers on the lapels of my jacket and loosened my tie. Outside the night came down like spilled paint. I lit a cigarette and poured myself another drink. There were lights along both sides of the canal. Soon it would be time for Winterlude and beavertails. There would be no wreaths for the dead.

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