Thursday, 19 May 2016


This Town Is My Town

My flirty buxom moll Ann Fatale tightened the blindfold over my eyes. Her fingertips and day spa nails traced the angular lines of my square jaw. ‘Sketches of Spain’ was spinning on the hi-fi. She giggled huskily, ‘Go, big man.’ My gnarled fingers (I’ve busted a few jaws in my time) scrabbled for my Walther P-38 on the table between the ashtray and my four finger tumbler of single malt. I took the weapon apart, cleaned and oiled it, and reassembled it. Ann removed the sleek and sultry strip of Chinese silk and sighed through a cloud of cigarette smoke that curled like her eyelashes, ‘You’ve still got it, baby.’ I grunted my agreement.

My name’s Danger, Geoff Danger. I’m a fixer, the shadowy figure on the outskirts of your mundane and regimented little life. I don’t know how much humanity is left in my black heart, enough for my sinful angel Ann Fatale, and maybe you if you have the misfortune to require the services of a tarnished knight errant like me.

It was high noon. Our front porch was now beyond the reach of the overhead sun. Ann and I moved our private party outside. I left the front door wide open so we could still listen to Miles. I lit a cigarette and stood for a moment, searching the sky for any hint of rain. Edmonton, all of Alberta, needs four or five days of soft, steady rain. A torrent would just run off the dry and cracked landscape. And I need to be bathed by water from heaven; Ivory and Dove and a pumice stone cannot wash the metallic smell of blood from my hands. Killing clings to me like nicotine stains to a smoker; I know this. Know these truths all too well.

Ann whispered, ‘Are you okay, darling?’

‘Yeah,’ I grunted.

‘Can I freshen your drink?’

I grunted, ‘Yeah, thanks, babe.’

I adjusted the jaunty tilt of my fedora and gazed at our street in the heart of our town. Across the road and two doors down somebody like Hitler was building a luxury bunker, a cement cube. If I was a writer and if I wrote for Architectural Digest I would describe the design as Prairie-Brutalist, a jackbooted square peg amid lots of round holes. Every lawn except ours was measled and mumped with dandelions. The City will not spray its boulevards and parks because one unvaccinated vegan schoolchild with a peanut allergy may have a reaction. The R. Buckminster Fuller geodesic spores have won the flora lottery; that is until I take my butane barbeque lighter to them. Dandelions make everything look shabby.

Weeds. Last night I shot a dirty ace in the head. He had it coming and I wanted him to see it coming. Doesn’t matter how powerful you are or how expensive your clothes are, everybody looks the same lying in their own blood and urine. As I pulled away from the deserted social club in the city’s rundown and neglected north end I wondered if any of it mattered. Two more like him would spring up in his place. And the dirt bags might even be legit, selling payday loans or boosting the price of a $5 pill to $500. Weeds. Ugly weeds in the green, green grass of home.

Before heading home to Ann and to ensure I wasn’t tailed I stopped at a liquor store and bought a fifth of Irish. I opened it in the parking lot and gazed around at the commercial wasteland: vacant stores, LEASING OPPORTUNITY signs, dandelions in asphalt cracks, Coca-Cola litter beside trash bins, cigarette butts on the ground beside ashtrays. The reek of smoke from distant fires in the hazy, halogen streetlight air. Nobody gives a damn but they want to shop local even as they buy from their computers. This was my town now, the capital of despair.

‘Here’s your drinkie-poo,’ Ann sing-songed. ‘Hey, why are you staring off into space like that? Are you okay, big man?’

I shrugged. ‘The older I get, the more I know, the less I understand.’

She giggled like a champagne showgirl because she is one. ‘Are you having an existential crisis in Edmonton?’

‘I wouldn’t be the first,’ I grunted.

‘I’m digging these hep sounds. Is that the way you jazz cats talk?’ Ann graced me with a full throated smoke and whiskey laugh; I began to feel better. ‘Seriously,’ she added, ‘I love this record and I’ve never been to Spain.’

‘The ladies are insane there,’ I said, ‘but not as crazy gorgeous as you.’

‘I’d like to go back to England,’ she mused. I admitted I kind of liked the Beatles. ‘Maybe we should think about a holiday cure for you, big fella.’ Ann paused to light cigarettes for the two of us. ‘This morning drinking,’ she continued, ‘after your night wet work…’

I said, ‘Sorry. Duty called.’

‘It’s not that I’m drowsy,’ Ann winked, ‘but I could sure use a nap if you know what I mean.’

I grunted my assent and stubbed out my cigarette.

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