As I said before, I am going to be posting last year’s Nano on here, one chapter at a time, to groom myself for this year’s Nano. (However, I don’t think I’ll be doing it, but that’s another entry.)
I dedicate this story to those I promised a part in a book years ago.
It was a dark and stormy night.
The gutters, already laden with the day’s debris, overfilled with the night’s and sent their cargo onto the already littered ground. The heavy rivers of rainwater cut swaths through the streets, meandered towards the flooded gutters, and pooled heavily while having them filled by the downpour. The neon street signs appeared to blur in the thick mists that the storm delivered.
Meanwhile, someone was quickly walking down the street.
He was dressed in a fawn-brown trench coat, a large, black umbrella taking the lion’s share of the weather. He ran across the road, looking like a furtive rat trying to find a mouse hole. All of a sudden, he swerved and headed towards a covered patio, the blue and green neon sign shaped into a smoking caterpillar on a toadstool flashing near the entrance.
He opened the watered glass door, and a thick wall of sax hit him with the grace of a heavyweight boxer. He entered cautiously, his eyes looking for any sort of violence, but it appeared that it was the usual crowd tonight.
A gentle touch on his shoulder, and he turned around to find Aundre, the doorman, standing next to the closing door, looking slightly mollified.
“I see you are having a bad night, Mister Horne,” he said, eying the revolver that somehow appeared in the man’s hand. “But if you can be so kind as to put it down?”
The man nodded and put the gun away. “It has been a long night,” he said as a means of apology, “and it looks like it will be an even longer morning.”
Aundre nodded in understanding. “If I may?” he asked, motioning towards the coat.
The said article was expertly removed, showing a sea blue pinstripe suit. Aundre reached up and removed the umbrella, revealing a matching fedora. He lightly brushed the man’s shoulders with a whisk broom.
“Your usual, sir?”
The man nodded. “That would be fine,” he said, heading to the bar.
A few moments later, he sipped appreciatively at the martini that was mixed for him. The sax soon melded into spicy trumpets and drums. He leaned back at the bar and looked at the patrons, some dancing, all dressed in the modes of latest fashion.
A cigarette case opened next to him, and a dark brown voice said, “Cigars, cigarettes?”
He turned to an extravagantly dressed woman, all red velvet, mink, and jasmine flowers. She tilted her head and motioned to the box again. “Anything that you like to sample, sir?” She turned slightly, the fabric clinging to her front like a lover.
He shook his head. “Not tonight, Miss Lola. I am just enjoying the music.”
Her sharply stenciled lips quirked into a grin, and she leaned closer. “I hear the Brass Boys are cutting the rugs tonight.”
His eyebrows rose upward. “Really now? I heard they are out of town.”
She motioned with the case to a room in the back. “You should take a listen,” she said. “It is a private session tonight.”
“I think I will. Thanks for the suggestion.” She smiled again and walked off.
He drained the last of the drink and walked off, zigzagging among the tables and dodging the dancers, until he was at the back. He nodded to a man in sunglasses and a dusty black suit, looking like a gangster goon from a ‘20s. He was standing next to a plain white door.
“I heard the Brass Boys are cutting the rugs,” the man said.
The goon nodded. “I heard they are out of town,” he said, and opened the door.
He walked through the door, and he briskly walked down the hallway, ignoring the other rooms. Soon, he was at a room with a giant cube lit from within. The light pulsated a moment when he walked in.
“Are you ready?”
He looked around to find the source of the guttural voice, and saw someone cloaked in shadows on the other side of the room. “Oh, it’s you.”
“Are you ready?” it repeated.
He shrugged. What did he have to lose? “Sure.”