Game in the Gift: Part One


Here is part one of an Exciting Noir Thriller! I am making up as I go along. Honestly I'm just throwing random plot points and characters everywhere and seeing what happens later. I don't even know what the title means. Why am I doing this? Why not. 

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The bathroom offered some much-needed repose from the club, at least aurally. The muffled but still very audible bass lines that would have been, in any other circumstance, increasingly irritating, were now almost blissful and, despite the smell and the barely-working fluorescent lights, it was definitely a step up. Probably time to go home, too. I hadn’t had a thing to drink in hours, and the members of the party who hadn’t gone home had split up and joined other parties. Now I was alone, with only a single friend around, and wondering what I was doing still here.
   Graffiti wasn’t uncommon in this sort of place. In fact, it would have been strange to see the bathroom walls of this bargain-basement student joint clean. But as I walked to the sink to wash my hands, I noticed, several inches beneath my own eye level, some graffiti that was, decidedly, something queer. For one, it was written in lipstick on the mirror, in large letters. Secondly, the first word of the message was my name.
   Now, I consider myself quite astute and not as green as people would believe, but when someone writes a message to you in lipstick on a mirror in the men’s room, it grabs your attention hard and you tend to listen. Especially when the following part reads:


LUCY TALKED
PLAYED ROULETTE
WITH CARLING
AND LOST


Unless she was having a particularly adverse effect to alcohol, and bet on reds instead of blacks, there was something much worse up. I’d heard of Carling. He was a tough customer to those who knew him, and a shadowy nightmare to those who didn’t. I was in the latter camp, knowing of him through Lucy alone, though what kind of roulette she played and what it had to do with me I couldn’t say. Though suddenly the closed cubicle in the corner was not as innocuous as it had been a second ago. I forced a cough and shuffled around, looking to pretend I was doing something. Silently I took my phone from my pocket and took a picture of the note before taking a paper towel from the dispenser and wiping it if not completely off then enough for it to be unreadable. Whoever was in that cubicle had their sights set on me and were waiting for the tap to come on to make their entrance. And I only had some paper towels and some half empty plastic beakers to defend myself with. I gripped one the cup with the most drink, and pressed the tap on.
   Almost instantaneously the cubicle door burst open and a man dressed down in a stained hoodie, holding a Glock 30 – it’s incredible the details you pick up on in the heat of the moment – opens fire. But I’m quicker: I lunge towards him, throwing the discoloured drink at him. It’s enough to put his aim off and his shot fires miles to my left, cracking the tiles. Before he has time to react, I punch him in the gut and twice in the head and he goes down. He’s out for a few seconds. It appears my own strength surprises me. But he awakes quickly to find my foot on his throat and his gun in my hand. Boy will this look good if anyone were to come in for a quick piss.
   Well, shit, now what do I say?
   “Who are you?” I ask. “You working for Carling?”
   He laughed, but the pressure on his throat makes him choke. He doesn’t say anything. He knows I don’t have control of Jack and I sure as hell ain’t gonna kill him. He’s not afraid of me. He’s probably more afraid of the consequences if he betrays Carling than what I could do to him.
   I took my foot off his throat. He’s smart and didn’t react. He knew if he made a go for me I might knee-jerk and fire one into his skull. I legged it out of there, back into the noise and the fray and I was thankful I was impossible to see, in my dark clothes, in a sea of neon accessories and black light-glowing white shirts. Except the problem was everyone I knew was, too. Screw it. Whatever was going on was far more important. Mac, though, was waiting for me. The first thing he saw was I was wearing iron and he didn’t look too relaxed about it.
   “What is that?” he yelled above the music. I could barely hear him. I tucked the gun away into my belt and dragged him out with me.
   “You know Carling?” I asked, briskly walking down the road towards my apartment. I had no idea where Carling was and this was the only direction I could think of.
   “Not really. Lucy does though. Why?”
   I showed him the photograph.  “Something’s wrong. Someone told me she was in trouble. And then someone tried to kill me.”
   The night was cold and void of stars. I wish I had brought a coat. 



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