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crimson.jpg
Art by Janne Karlsson 2015

Crimson

 

By BAM

 

Gangsters owned Brooklyn, New York in 1939. Lister Blunt, the largest money launderer in town, was one of them. He had a soft spot for his seventeen-year-old, Matilda.

Lister Blunt loved his daughter too much, freakishly. She ran. He had paid off a pair of fuzz detectives, Clyde and Dick, to find her. “Bring her back.”

The two wound up at a well-known brothel called “Crimson.” It was supposed to be an easy job.

          “I hate prostitutes—bats, the lot of ’em,” Clyde said.

They marched toward the door. “Your mother one?” Dick cackled.

          “Yeah. Ma loved dope. Some pimp overdosed her. That’s why I joined the fuzz.”

          “I didn’t know, Clyde. Sorry. Some are earners. I met a few who was gonna be nurses.”

          “Lines they told you to get yer dough. Soulless broads. They’ll murder ya over two dollars.”

          “But not Audrey. Madame here.”

            “She’s Madame Larue now. How’d you two meet anyway?”       

“When she started turning.”

          “One of her regulars, were ya?”

          “No. I pistol-whipped her pimp good for leaning on her too hard. She never thanked me. Still we got history, us two. Audrey’s the marrying type. Trust me.” 

          Clyde banged on the door. “Keep dreaming, pally. I’d better do the talking.”

          A man twice the size of both detectives glanced down at them. “Got an appointment?”

          Clyde flashed his badge. Dick stepped up front. “We need to ask Audrey about a missing girl we heard was here.”

          “Audrey? Madame Larue, you mean.”

          Dick slicked his greasy bangs. “We go way back.”

          They heard a raspy yet gentle voice through a speaker, “Officer Dick Binghymer? Long time.”

“Detective now.”

“Let them in, Hector.”

          The doorman stepped aside. Mahogany stairwells spiraled around the walls. Both led to the center of the second floor where there were red rooms galore. The men were led up to meet Madame.

          “I take it there’s tricks in all them bedrooms with a bunch of cheap bats.” Clyde tightened his tie.

          “Bats?” Audrey squinted her fiery auburn eyes. Her vermilion dress glistened when she rose from her seat. “We have demitasses here. They are all syphilis-free and happy. That’s how I keep the lights on. I pay the bills with happiness.”

          A man moaned loudly from one of the rooms.

“See?”

          “We only care about one of your bats. Matilda Blunt. You know? The minor you got working for ya.” Clyde stared Audrey down.

          Madame shook her head at her doorman, approaching. “No need, Hector. Back. Little Miss Maddie happens to be eighteen. I’d never hire a minor. She’s here of her own volition. The girl did live under my protection while she was seventeen.”

          “Lies!” Clyde gripped her arm. “Tell us which room she’s in. Her daddy needs her.”

          “I’ll prove her age.” Audrey yanked her arm away and pulled Matilda’s identification out of a drawer from her desk. “Here you go.”

          Dick confirmed what Madame said. “Well, if she’s doing this willingly, and is legal, there’s nothing we can do. Sorry to have disturbed you, Audrey.”

Clyde grabbed her thin elbows and shook her. “Tell me where Matilda Blunt is, whore! I’ll search every room if I have to.”

          Hector rushed, then froze when Dick grabbed Clyde and spun him around.

Clyde punched Dick in the eye and went for his gun.

Dick chopped the pistol from Clyde’s hand, which fell near Madame. He grabbed his firearm.

Clyde sprinted forward.

Dick shot his partner dead. “Clyde! What have I done? Mr. Blunt’s gonna kill me.” He bent to his knees and covered his welling eyes.

Audrey lifted Clyde’s revolver and pulled the trigger.

Dick took a slug to the back, and fell to his stomach.

“We can’t have a bunch of unwelcomed fuzz coming and going. Return their bodies to that vile child molester, Mr. Blunt, as a warning.” She held her wounded wrist.

Hector nodded.

Dick reached up for Madame. “Audrey, I saved your life. How could you?”

“What you did was leave me on the streets penniless after you scared my pimp off. And the name’s Madame Larue. Bye now, Dick.” She shot him in the forehead. “Thank God we have crimson carpeting. Clean that up.”


BAM graduated with a degree in English with honors. He's an alumnus of Sigma Tau Delta, and co-founded Writers’ ReVision: a workshop that helped authors edit and find publication. He was a journalist for two years, a communist three, and a finalist in the WLT Manuscript Competition in the suspense/thriller category in 2014. Publications are found in: Bartleby Snopes (voted story of the month and re-published in their biannual hardcover issue), StoryShelter's forthcoming anthology novel I Am Here, Writer's Ezine (received the Exceptional Short Story Award), and more. Website: www.bamwrites.com.

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