Ace's Housecall.

Ace got the call a little after one in the morning. Joy's choked sobs were hard to understand. Her words were frantic and slurred. Ace's heart clenched with her every plea. Cleveland was a haul this late at night, but he didn't have a choice in the matter. He cranked down the highway in his sedan, white-knuckled and bordering on frenzy. He knew he was headed for a bad introduction to Joy's new boy and Ace had a beat-down boner the size of a pike.

What was it about the dame that pulled her towards the gutter trash of the planet? He knew about her past and it was nothing he could figure. They had called it quits years ago, but every now and again Joy would get in over her head and there would be a call. She knew Ace didn't have money or drugs [two of her favorite things] but what he did have was a talent for making men disappear. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, esspecially if she has a man like Ace in her black book.

The exit ramp pulled at Ace's guts and soon he was trolling the streets. Joy's neighborhood was on the edge of the wrong side of town. At four AM those borders became malleable and Ace thanked his lucky stars his car was a beater that no respectable hood would be seen stealing. He parked a few blocks away from Joy's building and hit the street. The air was dirty-electric ozone and excrement. Passing by "The Buzzing Bee" Ace took in the sweet smell of jazz-fan reefer filling the air. It was Joy's club, a trashy little flophouse turned music bordello.

Ace didn't have a piece, but he never left home without a blade. He didn't think he'd have to use it to get his opinion on the table, but if the goon was cranked sometimes seeing some of his red on the carpet made him negotiable. The only other metal on Ace was his hip flask which, rounding the corner to "The Amsterdam", he pulled off with passion. Not enough to get him twisted, but enough to stop the shakes and numb him up. Taking a look at the boxes on the building he spotted Joy's flop and wasted no time making his way up the stairs. The halls were dark green andsmelled of stale fry-cooking. A Dominican lady looked out her chained door to see what boots were stoically pounding their way to the third. Her glassy eyes met Aces and then she was gone.

In front of Joy's door Ace took a few deep breaths and knocked firmly. There was the brief sound of confused words. An excited male voice raised in anger and then the thumping of bare feet to the door. The door swung open wide and Ace already knew he'd won. The mook standing in front of him was a big one. Shaved head and tight clipped mustache showing off a weak chin and yellow fangs pulled back to a snarl. The man's tight white shirt showed he was built, but a slob, stains of yellow under his arms and at the waistline the smattering of blood.

The sight of the blood made an audible clicking noise inside Aces skull. A look into the room and Ace's eyes met Joy's. At least the one eye that wasn't closed shut with a crazy mean shiner. Her lower lip was swollen and black. The one eye that looked at Ace had tears standing in it. That angry sea blue eye told the entire sad story. In it was a plea, an apology, and a prayer.

"Who the fuck are you?" asked the mook.

Ace let his fists do the talking. The first punch was a straight right that exploded from the hips. Ace plunged it into and through the mooks startled face. The snap of his head blew him off his feet and onto the hard wood, his body making a solid boom Ace relished briefly. There was a time for a gentleman's brawl and then there was the time for a lesson and this situation was the latter. Ace laid his size ten into the punks groin like a football star punting from the ten and there was a strangled gasp of confusion and pain.

"Hey Joy. Be right back." said Ace and grabbed the pained man below him and manhandled him into the hall.

There was a back stairwell and Ace pulled the man into it. As Ace laid him up against the wall the mook tried his best at a punch. It glanced off of Aces right cheek like razor burn and Ace responded with one, two, three headbutts, each bone-rattling crack connecting with teeth and jaw. He released the man to the floor as he began retching up blood and teeth. A quick frisk later and the man was relinquished of his wallet. Ace opened the billfold and pulled out a license.

"Well Jason. This is going to be the most important one-sided conversation of your miserable fucking life, so I'd pay real close attention."

Ace squatted and popped a Lucky into his mouth. He studied the license as he Ronsonedthe sumbitch and inhaled deep.

"You roughed up the wrong dame Jason. A woman with a past. Every woman's got a past Jason, but not every woman has me in it. I'm the guy who was stupid enough to love her before she gutted me. But as much as her leaving hurt, what hurts the most is when young main-lining gutter-leavings like you think that hurting her makes you a tough guy."

Ace pulled out the blade and in the dim red light of the hall its black blade looked like midnight murder. Jason Messur's eyes widened and a small pool of used water collected with his blood and chiclets.

"Now here's the deal kid. I've got your name and address, which is all I need to find out where your mother plays bridge. Later on you might think it's a good idea, once you've gotten some dentures in your head and some junk in your rope, to come looking for me, or give the bill to Joy. I'm here to tell you that's a bad idea. What you want to do is get out of town Jason. But if you don't leave town, you sure as hell never be seen around Joy again. A phone call later and I'm coming for you Jason, not to kill you, but to make sure you go through the rest of your pathetic life without your manhood. Maybe your ability to walk if I'm feeling salty. I hear anything happens to Joy, and I'm going to assume it's you Jason. We have an understanding kid?"

There was a strange noise as the punk shook his head up and down like a jackhammer, streamers of blood and tears flying from his ruined face. Ace stood and flicked his butt at the kid before getting out of the acrid stairwell and back to Joy's apartment. He found her in the bathroom, curled up as small as she could get. There were no words. Just the sting of iced towels and warm whiskey. Strong arms holding bruised flesh as the gentle hitching of gut-cramping sobs tumbled into deep sleep. Ace held her till the dawn and then sleeplessly made his way back to the city.

Comments

Noamis said…
Fancy stuff. You're good at writing in this voice. Is this part of something bigger? Have you been watching too much Sin City?
Quaddle said…
It is another addition to a world I have created. I like Sin City, but I like noir in general.
Duke said…
Beat down boner…I wanna say “nice,” but am not overly comfortable with it. Solid piece though.

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