Wednesday, 19 March 2014


NOIR CANADIANA

 

The Day of the Wind Chimes

 

The windows were cranked open and on the stereo the Oscar Peterson Trio was cranked up: Night Train. My gun was in pieces on the table, the parts lay like a puzzle on an oily rag. My cigarette tasted good and my chilled beer even better. It was nearly noon. Ann Fatale was out being massaged and waxed or whatever it is dames do when they go to the spa.

 

Spring, sort of. The days linger a little longer. That funny old sun shines down from a slightly steeper angle. The air smells a little fresher, like it does when you walk out of a backroom high stakes poker game at dawn with everyone else’s money. Ice patches have become brittle and crack easily. The snow begins to recede, retreating from the bases of trees and bushes to reveal the dusty brown winterkill.

 

Maybe climate change is real. It had been an unusually harsh winter and I’d done my share of killing. The name’s Danger, Geoff Danger. I’m no hero, just a fixer. Maybe the last honest man left in this dirty old town. And everybody’s got to live somewhere, even Ann and me. I can’t boast that we’re good neighbours or upstanding community league members. Our Welcome Wagon has no wheels, but the bar is stocked.

 

I reassembled my heater and rammed a full magazine into its butt. I made sure there was a shell in the firing chamber and then set the safety. Glock locked and loaded. Oscar was playing I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good so I knew I had about 10 minutes to the end of side two. A happy dilemma: maybe another smoke and another beer and some Bud Powell or Horace Silver; or maybe a shave and shower and then another smoke and another beer and some Bud Powell or Horace Silver. It was looking to be a fine, fine day.

 

The fresh breeze wafted a ting, ping, chingle into the kitchen. I glanced outside. The blue jay that hangs around the massive lilac in the backyard beady eyed me with mild alarm, ‘It wasn’t me, man!’ he seemed to say. Wind chimes, I thought. Some sad son of a bitch has hung wind chimes. A no-no. Bud and Horace would have to wait, this had to be dealt with immediately.

 

Wind chimes are a lot like police sirens in that, at least initially, you can’t tell which direction they’re coming from. I stood in the back lane and listened. It took me less than half a cigarette and four sips of beer to pinpoint the source.

 

I went through somebody’s back gate into some sort of magical fairyland. There were LED lights strung in the low hanging branches of the firs, painted plywood cut-outs of animals, a sandbox, a slide and monkey bars. And wind chimes. I knocked on the door. A young fellow answered. He carried a baby in his arms. Two older children clung to his legs. I smiled.

 

He asked, ‘Can I help you?’

 

‘You live here by yourself?’ Aggressive questions make people hesitate, retreat yet speak.

 

‘Uh, no, my wife works and I’m on parental leave.’

 

‘I live across the alley,’ I said, friendly. ‘The name’s Danger, Geoff Danger. What’s your wife do?’ Seemingly curious now.

 

‘Uh, she’s in marketing.’

 

‘Selling manna to the masses, eh?’

 

‘Excuse me?’

 

‘Cookies and soda to fat kids,’ I said.

 

He grinned uncertainly. ‘I guess you could say that.’ He scanned me from hair to feet, yet still managed to keep one eye on his toddlers. ‘What’s the baseball bat for?’

 

‘This,’ I said, ‘is a Louisville Slugger. It weighs 34 ounces. A nice piece of ash,’ I said, momentarily distracted by the image of Ann Fatale nude and perspiring gracefully within the confines of a stone and cedar sauna. ‘It’s a Henry Aaron model, probably the best ballplayer I ever saw.’

 

‘What about Mays or Clemente?’ he inquired.

 

‘The only stat that really matters is total bases.’ This wasn’t going quite right. ‘Look,’ I said, ‘I’m going to use this bat on your windows, your car, your head, your children, I don’t care. Do you have a pet? Or I could just use it on your goddamn wind chimes. Your choice.’

 

‘Look,’ he repeated, ‘my wife put a lot of work into this yard for the kids. I hate the chimes too, but I don’t need the agro. Couldn’t you just disable them instead of destroying them? Leave them hanging? You know how it is, people in familiar surroundings eventually cease to be aware of the sights and sounds. Just take out the dinger thingy or whatever.’

 

Clever boy, I thought. ‘I can do that,’ I said.

 

‘You’d be doing me a favour,’ he said. ‘You’re a seamhead, aren’t you?’

 

I squinted at him. ‘A what?’

 

‘A baseball nut. Why don’t you come in and sit down and talk a little ball? There’s beer in the fridge. I can’t,’ he said nodding at his three children, ‘I’m on duty until 5:30 or so. There’s a pair of pliers somewhere too. You’ll need them. Probably in the junk drawer by the dishwasher. Help yourself.’

 

‘You strike me as a little stir crazy, my son.’

 

‘Pretty much. Pretty much.’

 
I walked into his kitchen and took a seat. The beer was cold and Ann would not be home for a while. ‘I saw Mays and Clemente too,’ I began…

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