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Cleaning Up After the Narc-Fiction by Walter Giersbach
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In Your White Cadillac-Poem by Richard M. Prazych
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a bite better-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
hot afternoon-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
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Under Moonlight-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
2020 (The Heart and the Thorn)-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

78_ym_cleaningafternarc_thompson.jpg
Art by John Thompson 2020

Cleaning Up After the Narc

 

Walter Giersbach

 

It had been almost three years since I’d seen old Americans, fat ones, ones on crutches.  Or roundeye women.  I’d been away dodging bad guys in Vietnam.  Four weeks back in Manhattan and it was a shock when I ran into Starla Markowski on Second Avenue.

“Jackie Boy, are you a sight!” she shouted.  “Where the hell you been?”

“Avoiding getting shot in ‘Nam.  Christ, is it really you, Starla?”

“In the flesh,” and she shook her breasts.

Her nose was too large.  Her eyelids and eyebrows hung down at the corners, like the laws of gravity were battling the forces of inner enlightenment. Her even white teeth had a distracting gap in front.  A dragon tattoo on her ankle.  But in spite of her grab-bag mix of features, the entire package bubbled over with excitement and energy.  Not tall, not beautiful, but Starla had a personality like a soda bottle ready to pop its cap.

 “So, tell me what’s happening,” she said.

“I’m getting used to what’s changed since I left.”  I already knew everything was upside down.  The long-hair kids were wearing flowers and smoking dope in Tomkins Square.  Fourteen-year-old chicks were hustling change from guys on the street.  New York’s cops were talking about a strike.

“Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you what’s shaking.  I’m waiting tables at a place on 14th Street, a hash house but the food’s good.  Owner’s a guy was hitting on me at a party, so I told him to come across with a job.  Me and him are pals now.  He probably would’ve gave me the key to the joint, but I ain’t easy.  And I got a pad on 12th Street with two roommates.”  She leered.  “Both women.”

Starla was tough as they come.  We’d gone to high school together in Jersey, then I left for two years at Penn State before the Army collared me.  I could write a simple declarative sentence, so when I got back stateside, I found work as a cub reporter on a neighborhood newspaper.   Eighty-five bucks a week paid for my crash pad with the bathtub in the kitchen.

It felt good to have Starla on my arm again.  I guided her to a bar a block from my place on Bowery.  Monaghan’s was an Irish joint filled with geezers, but it had a jukebox stocked with classic swing.

Coming out of Monaghan’s we were knocked backwards as a kid ran past.   He was 10 steps ahead of two uniformed cops closing the distance.  One cop whacked the kid in the head with his nightstick, the other ran up and kicked him in the ribs as he lay there.

“Motherfucker, you halt when I say halt,” one cop shouted.

“Tough town,” Starla said. “Wonder if the kid understood English.”

A tough town, but I was rewarded finding old friends and new.  Weekends were filled with peace and love.  That beat poet Allen Ginsberg showed up regularly at the rallies and peace marches, clanging his little finger cymbals and chanting Hare Krishna.  To me and Starla, this was free entertainment before we went up to her rooftop to drink wine and toke up. 

Me and Starla were over at the park when she said, “Watch out for that guy in the cheap suit.”  She dug an elbow into my ribs and pointed to a middle-aged joker wandering near the crowd.  “He’s a plain clothes narc.”

“What?” I asked.

“Narcotics squad.  Name’s Riorden.  I seen him bust kids for smoking weed.  Literally.  Take ‘em down like dead meat, cuff ‘em and call for a car to haul them off.”

“They can’t do that!”

She smiled.  “Welcome to the Big Apple.  It’s okay if you’re the law.”

It was bad if you’re not the law.  Two weeks later we were back at the park.  Starla said she was going to get some egg creams at Gem’s Spa and for me to wait by the dog walk.  I sat back on a bench and lit a cigarette, happy to be home again.  Then I saw Starla coming back on Avenue A with the drinks.  A cop car pulled up to her, the guy she tagged as a narc jumped out and hit her in the head.  Riorden.  As she dropped her drinks and began to fall, he grabbed her and swung her limp body into the car.

“Hey!” I shouted, running up the street. When I got to the avenue the car — with Starla in it — had zipped through a red light.  Two ladies standing there stared at me like I was the crazy one.

The New York Post hit me with the news next afternoon.  “Girl Drowns in East River.”  Story ID’d her as an anonymous suicide.  I knew it was Starla when the paper described her ankle tattoo.  A photo of the Manhattan Bridge was illustrated with a dotted line showing the arc Starla’s body took going over the edge.

That night I started drinking and thinking about Starla.  She wasn’t an uptown la-de-da queen, not a Wall Street hotshot, not a friend of the mayor.  Just a sweet dumb kid.  And now she was dead for no reason at all.  Because of Riorden.

With Starla gone my place felt eerily quiet, the way Manhattan goes silent when a car alarm in the street finally stops.  The whole world had gone empty because Starla was dead.  And all the training America had given me to deliver justice in Vietnam rushed back.  It was time to do some house cleaning. 

A couple of calls to the Police Department got me Riorden’s office phone number.  “There’s a drug delivery at midnight tomorrow night,” I told his answering machine.  “Two kilos that a Mexican kid is delivering.  They’ll be at the  park along the East River at Eighth Street.  I’m just an anonymous concerned citizen.”

I took the next day off work at the paper — Monday.  A bad summer cold, I told my boss.  Then I called a guy name of Little Jeffrey who sold Starla a nickel bag of weed every now and then.  Told him he could find the narc who killed Starla at midnight.  He might even invite his dealer friends to join him in a Waste Riorden party.

That night was cool and foggy as I lay in the riverside park’s shrubbery.  And waited.  For Riorden.  For the dealers.  For whoever wanted to rumble.  I brought my Dad’s old Army revolver just in case.  If the dealers didn’t waste Riorden, I’d have to.  But I hadn’t reconnoitered the park and was surprised to see construction there.  Piles of rock and timbers, a boom for hauling stuff, tangles of rope and wire.  A real mess.

Half an hour later three guys in hoodies strolled by.  Suddenly Riorden jumped out screaming “Police!”  The three dealers, who were just long-hair hippies, scattered.  Then I heard a gunshot from one of the hippies.  Wild West, I thought, lying there in the grass.  Riorden skipped toward the river bank for cover, jumping over the piles of construction shit. 

“Police,” he screamed again, this time in a falsetto.  Bastard knew he was outnumbered, but he’d wanted to make the collar on his own.

Another wild shot, but this one clanged off a metal girder.  Must have hit a lock because something started dropping from the scaffolding.  Riorden realized what was happening as a rope snapped around his ankle.  The bucket hanging from the boom started down and Riorden began a swift rise up.  His arms grabbed the rope around his leg, but he couldn’t get untangled before his head hit the boom.  Then the bucket of rock and stuff smashed, spilling over the sidewalk.  Riorden — being heavier — dropped 30 feet.

It wasn’t pretty.  Riorden was laid out flat.  The dopers walked away into the darkness.  I crossed back over the East River Drive to the Bowery and my empty pad. 

Next day’s Daily News couldn’t explain what a police detective was doing hanging round dead at midnight by the East River. 

Soon’s work ended, I headed for the Dom on St. Marks Place.  I found a couple pals at the bar and said, “Riorden the narc won’t hassle the neighborhood anymore.”  My glass was never empty that night as we toasted Starla.

#  #  #

Walt bounces between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance, with a little historical nonfiction thrown in, for good measure. His work has appeared in print and online in over two dozen publications. including Yellow Mama. He’s also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and to a couple of Asian countries. He now lives in New Jersey, a nice place to visit, but he doesn’t want to die there.

John L. Thompson currently lives in New Mexico with his wife of twenty-five years. 
When he is not searching for lost remnants of the old west, he can be found working on several writing projects. Thompson is known to have worked as a truck driver, heavy line diesel mechanic, armored truck guard, corrections, body guard, and a host of other professions.
His true passion is writing, collecting vintage books and is the current cover artist for the Casca the Eternal Mercenary series.  His novel 'Truck Stop' is due out 2017-18 by Dusty Desert Press.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020