Magi Noir (Tentative Title)

Posted: May 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

It was three in the morning when Alex finally finished cleaning up the bar and stepped out the door, flipping the “open” sign to “closed”; he was always making sure that any poor sonofabitch roaming the streets at 3 AM would have a place to stumble into until he headed home. I flicked the cherry of my cigarette to the street where my foot found it trodden in my stride as I walked across the way to catch Alex before he left my sight.
His shoulders were hunched, his demeanor defeated. A black cap pulled down hard over his face, he sure as hell didn’t want to be bothered. For a moment I hesitated. Maybe tonight was a bad night. I could see the burden heavy in his eyes and drooping back, and I knew that talking to me would hurt him. But maybe it would relieve some of that tension running rampant cross his body.
“Alex!” I called, jogging slightly on the street to catch up with him. He ignored me, increasing his shuffle speed down into an alley devoid of any streetlights.
“Alex,” I called again, letting the exasperation show in my voice, “you know that I hate this as much as you do. But you can’t run from it.”
No answer from him. I couldn’t see down the alley, dark as it was. Muttering under my breath, I advanced slowly, keeping a hand inside my jacket. Squinting down into that yawning blackness, it worried me that I couldn’t see the lights of the street opposite it.
“Alex? Don’t give me any shit.” There was a slight crackle, like a foot impacting a dry leaf. My hand crawled slowly into my jacket pocket
“I’m just here to talk.”
From within the dark of the alley I saw the barest flash of blue and instinctively ducked, just barely missing the blue crackle of electricity arcing over my head. From my jacket I ripped out a small illuminator and smashed it against the wall to my left, grabbing my pistol from my shoulder holster as the alleyway was suddenly bathed in fiery light.
Spotting Alex crouched uselessly behind an overturned trash can, hands outstretched, I yelled out “Silver in this gun, Alex! Put your hands down!”
We locked eyes for a moment, neither of us moving, both holding our weapons trained on each other. Slowly, ever so slowly, Alex lowered his hands, standing up and scowling at me.
“You’re a persistent bastard, you know that?” Alex hissed at me as I approached him slowly. “I just wanna go home.”
“People who just wanna go home don’t throw lightning spells at people who just want to talk, Alex,” I smirked at him. “Thank God I dodged that one. I hate it when my hair gets frizzy.”
“Jerry’s the one with the natural family talent,” Alex said grudgingly as I shoved my gun back in its holster, “I got just enough to keep the lights on when we can’t pay rent.”
“That’s who I’m here to talk about, Alex,” I said, walking towards the old bartender. “A girl named Hannah Grayson was found dead last night. Want to hazard a guess at how it happened?”
Alex pursed his lips.
“She was strangled. Electrical burns found on her neck.”
Alex swallowed. My eyes narrowed.
“I know you don’t have the stomach for that, Alex,” I stared at him, “But I’m wondering if you know who does.”
“My son isn’t a killer,” he spat at me, sudden fury rising up in his eyes. The hairs on my arms started to prickle and I resisted the urge to pull the silver from my jacket again.
“Settle, Alex. I never said that. You did.” I placed a hand on his shoulder. “Is there a reason for that?”
I could see the doubt pooling in his eyes like blood on a coroner’s floor. His upper lip lost its curl, his shoulders drooped. He looked down to the ground.
“Jerry ran off about a week ago,” Alex muttered, “He’d joined some gang that hangs around Coney Island about a month before that. We got in an argument about registration. He broke a window, called me a Merlin and stormed out.”
“You didn’t report him missing?”
“He came to see Katie two days after he left, at her school. She told me he was all right. But…” He inhaled deeply, like the alley was tightening around him and squeezing the air from his lungs. “This norm that owns another bar in Brighton Beach, friend of mine named Dimitri, said he saw Jerry at that registration riot night before last.”
I crossed my arms. “Hannah Grayson was found in the aftermath of that one.”
“Shit,” Alex dropped his head into his hands. “And…you think…”
“I’ve never seen such a strong lightning spell cast this side of Brooklyn before I tested your son, Alex,” I nodded reluctantly. “He’s a suspect at the very least.”
He slumped against the wall of the alley, looking at me, scared. He shook his head. “I don’t believe it.”
I shrugged. “Thanks for your time, Alex. I’ll be coming in to talk to Katie in the morning. You two go to church?”
“Yeah,” he mumbled, “ten o’clock service.”
“You gotta get more sleep, Alex. No wonder you can’t throw lightning worth a damn.”
He tried to smile halfheartedly.
“I’ll stop by at eight to talk to your daughter. Thanks for cooperating, Alex.”
“No, uh…no problem.”
I started to walk off, then turned back to look at the old man, still crumpled against the wall.
“That norm friend of yours. How late does he stay open?”
Alex shrugged. “If you hurry, you might catch him. His place is just before the boardwalk.”
I headed back towards my car, tossing back “By the way, you owe me another illuminator. Those little bastards ain’t cheap.”
He didn’t say anything.
I drew my pack from my pocket and snapped the fingers of my left hand, holding the tiny cone of flame jetting out of my fingertip up to my new cigarette. Inhaling deep and pushing the smoke out in a strong breath to extinguish my fire, I opened the car door and settled in, cigarette clamped tight between my lips. I stuck my finger into the ashtray in the door, starting the car to the sound of the tight sizzle. To Brighton Beach.

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Comments
  1. madre says:

    Just the right amount ot magic, mystery and wisecracks to make me want more. Is calling comeone a Merlin like an insult??

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