Murder Me Tenderly
by Gary Clifton
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3, 4
“Uh... sir, you’ll have to climb down from there.” Jonic reached up and tapped the ankle of the fat redneck who had just clambered onto the circular bar of the Purple Rooster Topless Club. “You’re depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.”
Drunk and enamored with the charms of Daisy, the blonde stripper who was prancing back and forth, naked except for the band-aid size garment covering a tiny spot in the vital area, the fires of lust had overcome him. Surprisingly enough, drunks mounting the bar stage were fairly rare.
The fat young man, his baseball cap turned backward, snarled something about Jonic’s mother, unintelligible against the blaring stripper music, and kicked at his face with a size fourteen cowboy boot.
The Sunday evening had gone smoothly enough: no fights and lots of drunks spending their welfare checks. Principal activity most nights meant Jonic stood around, watching the crowd of drunk dimwits sitting around the worn, circular bar, necks bent stiffly upward ogling the usually toked-out, grotesquely tattooed, washed-out segment of society commonly called strippers.
Jonic had seen this customer in the joint several times before, and now the creep was groping at Daisy, one of the few dancers who’d actually had a boob job... sort of. One hung an inch or two lower than the other, and she’d compounded the self-mutilation by having “hot” and “cold” tattooed on either side. The guy who’d just exploded had a firm grip on “hot.” Standing below in the choking smoke and deafening music, Jonic wondered if the guy could read the difference.
Like many losers who crowded around the bar trying to reach second base with the girls, this guy had bought a lot of air and warm beer over the past few weeks. Jonic would have bet his toe this trip atop the bar was as close as he’d ever gotten. Strippers sell other things besides a peek at bare skin, and the fat boy staggering above didn’t have the appearance of a closer.
“Gotta get down, slick, or I’ll have to help you down.”
Two clones of the fat guy on the bar, caps also turned backward, slid drunkenly off nearby barstools. The boys were big, fat, and booze-driven, macho with hillbilly patriotism, and feeling an urge to make a show for the faded ladies of the Rooster. Both advanced a step. Jonic wondered what rednecks ate that made them so fat.
“Who the hell are you?” Clone One slurred.
“Sir, I’m Christian Jonic, Director of Public Relations.” He calculated it would take the pair of hulks two seconds to reach him.
Jonic yanked the boot off the bar. The fat guy came down with it, his head smacking the metal foot rail below the bar, opening a gash above his left eye. His evening was concluded.
Clone One, adorned with an unkempt red beard, lunged and Jonic buried an overhand right dead center in the circle of hair. Nose smashed flat, Clone One fell neatly alongside the first redneck, choking on blood and teeth, down for the count.
Clone Two hesitated that half-second which often proves fatal in urgent situations.
“Not too late to run, partner,” Jonic said.
But Jonic, a journeyman in sorting out stupid characters, knew the drill. The world is fraught with losers. Clone Two was the type of guy who, if Noah offered him a ride on the Ark, would have asked for a rain check.
He lurched toward Jonic, a switchblade in his right hand. Jonic parried the knife and buried a fist in his stomach all the way to the backbone, which Jonic doubted the man had much of. Like a sinking submarine, he slowly folded over double across his two companions.
Daisy, chest drooping unevenly, leaned down from her bar top. “Damn, Jonic, you put them three dudes down in two seconds. I ain’t never seen nothin’ like it.”
Jonic craned his neck upward. “Five seconds, Daisy.” But Daisy couldn’t count to five. She stood back upright. The snake tattoo, winding around her left leg and disappearing upward at the vital junction beside the band-aid as well as her glitter-smeared, skinny figure made her quite a number in the flickering strobe lights.
Jonic wondered: if the three guys who’d just earned an ass-kicking and a toss out the door had seen her in the florescent lights of the dressing room, would they have had second thoughts? In bright light, Daisy would scare a serial killer like Freddy Krueger off the stage.
Mario, the bartender, lumbered around the end of the bar. Six-five, three hundred pounds, with blood pressure that made him sweat when he tried to think, his major function was the club owner’s bodyguard. Jonic had sized him up early and concluded he could take the walrus in less than ten seconds — two, if Daisy was counting.
“Mario, call 9-1-1,” Jonic said.
The club owner, Geno Feet hurried up from his rear office. “No, no, Jonic, we ain’t callin’ none of your cop buddies. Get ’em to their car, and we’ll send them on their way.”
Cop buddies? Jonic stared down at the squat, swarthy man.
* * *
Jonic had played a couple of years college linebacker, flunked out, then managed to get on the Dallas Police Department. He’d made sixteen years, including the last seven in Homicide.
His career had gone south when he shot and killed two teens who were trying to rob a convenience store with a crowbar and a pellet gun. That he’d had enough drinks to be double the legal limit and had five previous shots-fired incidents, did not help.
Although the Dallas Police Department graciously allowed him to “retire,” he was denied a pension. He’d used his paid-in portion of the pension refund to pay for a private investigator’s license.
Currently, along with his young sidekick — female of course — he operated a shoestring PI business out a storefront on Harry Hines Boulevard, using the small storeroom at the rear as living quarters.
Jonic’s assisstant, Susie Wong, had attended Princeton. Her parents owned three major Chinese restaurants in the area and lived in a huge mansion in far north Dallas. Jonic had interviewed her as a witness in a convenience store robbery-murder, and the chemistry had stuck, at least temporarily. Jonic didn’t have much luck with continuing relationships and figured this one’s days were numbered.
Jonic expected that Susie, twenty years his junior, would move on soon enough but, currently, she seemed content to share a fold-out sofa behind a ratty storefront and spend her days watching errant spouses cheat on usually equally errant spouses.
Susie was beautiful, shapely, smart, and just the glue needed to hold a drifting relic like Jonic together. And she genuinely loved the work, throwing into the private eye trade the infectious enthusiasm with which she attacked everything in the world.
Lack of legitimate business had landed Jonic in his current predicament as bouncer in this outpost for human degradation owned by a thug known on the street as Geno Feet, a former Kansas City Mafioso.
Genovese David ‘Geno Feet” Colbacci had moved to Dallas ten years earlier after a major disagreement with some Kansas City mob buddies. That he still lived meant Geno was a survivor. The name Geno Feet apparently was a result of Geno’s habit of dropping enemies into the Missouri River with their feet in a bucket of cement.
* * *
Copyright © 2016 by Gary Clifton