Even when you love your work you need a break sometimes. I’d been on hiatus, weary of the calculated vengeance I’d so casually inflicted. Death has a smell and it was starting to stink. My name is Danger, Geoff Danger. I can be your staunchest ally or a relentless nemesis; it’s up to you: your morals, your ethics. I’m a knight whose armour is polished with blood and cynicism. The lustre’s dulled.
When my bosomy blonde moll Ann Fatale asked me to go to a suburban mall with her I said okay. Downtown streets after midnight are my usual prowl, but I was bored. So I backed the black winged, chrome bumpered Cadillac out of the driveway and drove her to the marketplace. I’d planned to sit in the car smoking and sipping hootch, listening to hard bop on the eight-track. Ann whispered breathily that maybe I could buy her a Christmas gift this year, just this once. Well, I’d given her my world and everything in it but you can’t argue with a fine looking broad whose gams are longer than ‘War and Peace.’ She said there were two stores that purveyed dainty unmentionables and that I was overly familiar with her intimate measurements anyway. How hard could it be?
I parked near an entrance. Ann and I agreed to split up and rendezvous again in one hour. I went into the lingerie shop and bought what I thought would look good hanging off a bedpost or piled on the floor, which was how I came to be walking through the concourse carrying two pink paper bags with four-inch gussets. A too pretty young man leaned over the counter of a kiosk and tried to slip me a packet of something. It looked like a French tickler. I brushed it aside. ‘Excuse me, sir,’ he said in a faux Continental accent, Suisse with a lisp, ‘what do you use to wash your face?’
‘Irish whisky,’ I grunted. I tried to turn away, intent on getting Ann’s gifts into the trunk of the Cadillac.
Precious reached out and stroked my cheek. ‘Do you exfoliate?’
I put my bags down and grabbed him by the throat. ‘You little piece of Eurotrash,’ I hissed, ‘do you bleed? Do you feel pain?’ I broke his perfect nose, cleanly. His blood flowed Santa Claus suit red. I could smell its coppery scent.
Back in the parking lot I sat behind the wheel smoking and drinking. I soon tired of the company. There was time to kill before meeting Ann Fatale and I knew she’d be late. I decided to go back into the mall and see if I could find a record shop. I did.
The jazz section was pathetically small. I poked through it and stopped to examine a re-mastered version of Horace Silver’s Doin’ the Thing – at the Village Gate on compact disc. A clerk about a third of my age with only half his head shaven and sporting black nail polish asked me if he could help me. I ignored him. ‘That is a remarkable album,’ he said.
‘I have the vinyl,’ I grunted.
‘Well then, sir,’ he said, ‘this won’t be a worthy upgrade. I think some of the rawness is missing. But if you like that raw style…’ He circumspectedly directed me over to the blues. ‘A different idiom, I know, but I think you’d really enjoy this.’ He handed me an album by R.L. Burnside called A Ass Pocket of Whiskey. The cover was a caricature, cartoony.
I studied it. I studied the sales guy. I admire people who are good at what they do no matter what that may be provided it’s legal and above board. I grunted, ‘You’re all right, kid.’ He wished me a Merry Christmas and was there something else I was looking for? I said no and took the disc to the cash.
I was waiting when my doll arrived late in a fluster amid a flurry of bags. More bags than an old folks’ home. ‘I kept you waiting,’ she sighed huskily. ‘I was a bad, bad girl. I did some impulse shopping.’ I grunted. ‘It was the strangest thing,’ Ann went on, ‘there was a pop-up store down one of the concourses manned by such a gorgeous young man.’ Ann glanced at me, ‘But not my type, big man. Anyway, somebody had punched him in the face.’ I grunted and peered down at my shoes, wanting another cigarette. ‘I felt so sorry for him. I dropped two century notes on skincare products.’
‘Oh,’ was all I said.
‘Can you imagine?’
‘No,’ I admitted.
‘Did you get all your shopping done, baby?’
‘I did. I did. I even bought us some new music to listen to, blues.’
‘Oh! Why don’t we get home, pour a drinky-poo and listen to it? And you can watch me exfoliate my Brazilian.’