Neighbourhood Watch This!
My buxom moll Ann Fatale and I were sitting out enjoying an unseasonably warm fall evening, contemplating the lack of life on our modest street. Some windows were lit by that blue, hypnotic television glow. We lit each other’s cigarettes and passed a bottle, liberally refreshing the other’s tumbler of Scotch as required. The front door was wide open; Dave Brubeck’s ‘Time Out’ was turned up, spinning on the hi-fi in the living room. It doesn’t get any more blissfully domestic.
A passing neighbour, a school teacher, a fellow whom I don’t dislike too intensely, paused his evening jog to wander up our driveway. He said his car had been rifled the other night. A crime of opportunity, he said, mouth breathing and stretching out his lower limbs. He’d left his car by the curb overnight and had obviously forgotten to lock it. Lesson learned. Nothing of any real value had been taken, but still, the inconvenience and the invasion… He added that the Neighbourhood Watch had noted a rash of such break-ins in the area lately.
‘Neighbourhood Watch?’ I grunted.
‘Don’t you get the community league e-mails?’ he asked me.
‘E-mails?’ I grunted.
‘Erm, nice chatting with you, Mr. Danger.’ He nodded to Ann. ‘Ann.’
Danger, that’s me, Geoff Danger. I keep a razor in my shoe and another one in the hatband of my fedora. If you ever have to know a man like me, you’re in serious trouble one way or another. Best if we’re on the same side. I’m no hero, just a lethal ally adrift in the stinking and naked midnight city.
‘So what do you think, Big Man?’ Ann breathed huskily through a sexy cloud of smoke and whisky.
‘Hmm,’ I grunted. ‘I think there’s an individual or small gang operating silently and swiftly long after dark. They probably ride bicycles; pack the loot in knapsacks. While there’s no likely obvious pattern, I’ll bet they make the common mistake of revisiting easy pickings.’
‘What are you going to do about it? You’ve been at loose ends since we got back from
I’d almost say you’ve been cranky, darling.’ Ottawa
I grunted, ‘Me, cranky?’
‘You, babes,’ Ann confirmed it with her pretty little pout, lipstick and lips.
I made a noise in the back of my throat. I swirled the amber delight around in my glass. I took a long heated drink, enjoying the peaty aroma. The bottle was almost empty but it had legs. Ann lit my cigarette. She had gorgeous gams too. Brubeck’s quartet was playing ‘Take Five.’ Finally I grunted, ‘Do you remember where I stored the Benzedrine?’
She chuckled throatily. ‘It’s downstairs in the lock-up with the plastique and the automatic weapons.’
‘All right, sugar,’ I grunted, ‘if we’re going to do this, we’ll need bait. I want you to park your nifty little sports coupe out front underneath the birch tree. Top up, doors unlocked, a side window cracked just a slit, and leave one of your Prada bags on the passenger seat. We’ve got a few hours yet, but I’ll go get myself ready.’
‘Oh, baby,’ sighed Ann Fatale, ‘I love it when you’re in action.’
‘Action,’ I grunted, ‘should’ve been my middle name.’
‘What is your middle name anyway, lover?’
I grinned: ‘Trouble.’
A few hours later I was in position, a dark shadow in the birch, still and alert about ten feet above Ann’s motor and the sidewalk. A cyclist rode down our street, slowed in front of our house but kept going. He u-turned at the end of the block and then cruised back standing on his pedals, scanning, checking, needing to be alone and unseen. The doomed bastard dismounted his bike and leaned its frame up against the trunk of my birch. He slid his knapsack off his shoulders as he opened the door of Ann’s pride and joy. Her bag went into his and then he spent a few extra seconds investigating the glove compartment.
I got the drop on him and it was heavy. His head hit the pavement hard. His helmet saved his life but not his nose. The irony of criminals adhering to bylaws flashed through the red rage in my mind. As I systematically broke each of his eight fingers I whispered in his ear, ‘That’s the trouble with light fingers, they can be so fragile.’ I picked him up by his chinstrap and drove my knee into his groin. I let him fold into the gutter to gasp and vomit. I crouched down beside him. I chucked him beneath his chin in his little King Tut scraggle of billy goat scruff hair. I slapped him hard across his face and smelt the coppery bloody snot spray as it rode the wee wee hours chill of the cool autumn breeze. ‘If you want to live,’ I grunted, ‘you better be able to get back on that bicycle.’ I dangled his knapsack from my index finger. ‘But first, you and I are going to put everything back where you found it.’
Ann was up at dawn grinding our morning coffee. I was still wet from a long, cold shower. ‘Everything a-ok and copasetic, Big Man?’ she breathed as her robe fell open to reveal two of my favourite earthly delights.
‘Yeah,’ I grunted. ‘Some of these bad guys, these inelegant low-rent thieves, I don’t know, they’re all thumbs.’