The Deadly Spring
I read somewhere once that odours are actually inhaled molecules of matter. They are in you forever, particles absorbed into your very flesh. I suppose our pasts are similar, rife with matter and matters we’re destined to carry with us forever. These things may give us cancer or cause us to remember. I know things. I know some terrible things. Sometimes I don’t know anything at all. Lately I’ve been taking a break from this great dirty world, a sabbatical, a hiatus from killing, maybe a lacuna if you went to Harvard or McGill and paid attention to your English prof.
The name is Danger, Geoff Danger. I’m just a man with a chip on his shoulder and a gun on his hip. I wish things didn’t have to be this way. But here I am, Oxford comma and all, and there you are.
Spring has come to the city. But it’s knocking at the door, afraid to come in and be the life of the party. Ann Fatale, my gorgeous and bosomy blonde moll, has been digging in our garden dirt. I’ve been helping, such rich black loam beneath my fingernails. It’s passing strange to bury something that will live and grow - as opposed to planting a stiff rotten meat smorg four feet down for the earthworms. A trowel tops a spade. Such is life.
I should’ve known our idyll couldn’t last. We sipped mint juleps on the front porch as the afternoon waned, the front door open, Charlie Parker on the hi-fi. I wished I could have heard him blow saxophone in a club on 52nd Street. I drank in the profile of my girl, smiling and smoking. Maybe I felt this happy when I was baptized, too long ago to remember though. Anyway, I’d yet to grow up and be slain by Ann Fatale.
Our neighbour is an eccentric fellow who doesn’t talk much sense. In some mystical way he has come to terms with the cosmos and his place in it: ‘So much to do and so little time. Why bother?’ I envy him that. He is also aged and infirm, and as such employs a snow removal and yard service. When the blowers started up I couldn’t hear Bird and Miles toot their way through ‘Ornithology.’ And didn’t last fall’s leaves tumble and skitter beneath the fence into Ann’s freshly turned garden, onto our swept walkway and newly raked lawn. Ann looked dismayed. Something had to be done.
I stood up abruptly and excused myself. Downstairs in the workroom I selected a three-foot crowbar, a nicely balanced and versatile lethal piece of steel. I returned to the porch. ‘Where you going with that crowbar, baby?’ Ann breathed in that husky whiskey tone I adore.
‘Best you go inside for a few minutes,’ I grunted, sizing up the yard man next door absorbed in making a mess on our property. He was wearing ear protection, he wouldn’t hear me coming, wouldn’t know what hit him.
‘Baby? Before you do that, would you mind freshening my drink?’
‘I can do that.’
‘Yeah, doll, what is it?’
She thrust her empty glass toward me. ‘Are we broke? Do we have money problems?’
‘Not at all,’ I replied.
‘Then don’t chintz on the bourbon.’
I put the crowbar down and followed Ann’s orders. When I came back out with her mint julep the yard man was furiously cleaning up debris on our side of the property line. He kept staring at Ann with puppy dog eyes, his tongue lolling. ‘What did you do?’ I grunted.
She fluttered her baby blues at me. ‘I know how to talk to boys, darling.’
‘You sure do, doll.’ That much was true.
‘And anyway,’ she sighed, ‘if you’d beaten him to death, how could he get any work done?’