Yep, you guessed it. Another Terribleminds flash fiction. I was resolved this year, to concentrate on my own thing, not allowing myself to be side tracked. But, this one grabbed my attention, and then wouldn’t leave me be.
So, here’s the link.
And here (see below) is the story
Any Town But Chinatown
Andy sat alone, the deep rouge lighting combating the dimness of the restaurant. He scanned the room, most tables were occupied, good he thought. Andy gazed at the once white tablecloth, speckled with what he assumed was plum or soy sauce.
‘Excuse me, sir’
Andy looked up, the waiter was surprisingly Caucasian.
‘Can I take your order?’
‘Erm’ Andy looked around the restaurant
‘I’m actually waiting for someone’
‘Uh-huh’ said the waiter, who began jotting on his pad ‘and do you want spring rolls with that?’
Andy frowned, he stared at the waiter
‘I, uh’ his eye brows darted for his hairline ‘you?’ he asked.
The waiter sat down at the table.
‘It’s hard to make a living as a sleuth jack’
‘No the terms jack, jack’
‘Ah’ responded Andy.
‘So, what can I get you?’
‘Well, it’s my flat mate, he – ’
‘Kung-pow, sezchuan, peeking, what’ll it be?’
‘I’m not hungry’ said Andy
‘Gotta eat, or you gotta leave jack, those be the rules’
If he hadn’t been turned down by every other P.I, he would’ve got up and left. But he had questions, and he needed them answered. The waiter checked his watch.
‘Clocks ticking, jack’
Andy reluctantly found his appetite
‘Erm, I’ll have’ his eyes scrolled down the laminated menu, finally settling on number seventy six ‘Singapore noodles’
the waiter nodded while jotting on his pad
he took the menu from Andy and stalked toward the kitchen. Three minutes later a plate of steaming hot Singapore noodles sat on the stained table cloth before him.
Andy looked down wondering how his search for answers had bought him to a plate of questionably edible fried food. He picked up his fork, he’d never cared to learn how to use chopsticks, he took a mouthful, his taste buds rippled with intrigue, before collapsing under the strain of bland, greasy noodles. The waiter took his seat again, his white shirt was unbuttoned at the collar, and his demure had changed.
‘So’ he said, drumming his fingers on the table cloth ‘what can I do ya for?’
Andy swallowed the half masticated noodles, he decided not to question the surrealistic scenario he had found himself in, opting to focus on the meetings intention
‘My flat mate – ’
‘Yeah’ said Andy slightly surprised
‘That’s just it, I don’t know’
‘I’m positive of that, but – ’
‘The police say otherwise’
Andy frowned ‘well, yeah’ despite the noodles, and his apprehension, despite the fact that this man had been the reason for both, Andy felt better, this was the man he came to see.
‘Mack Mitchell’ said the waiter extending his hand across the table, turns out you do get a second chance at a first impression.
They left the red dragon together, and walked up Gerrard Street.
‘You undercover or something?’ Andy inquired.
‘Nope’ his eyes gazed all around him like everyone had a motive to kill him.
‘Oh’ Andy replied. ‘So – ’
‘So why do I work in a restaurant?’
feeling as though his thoughts had been violated Andy replied
‘Bills jack, this other gig’s few and far between’
Andy nodded, this was nothing like a Raymond Chandler novel, comforting himself with the notion that he would at least be alive to see the outcome. Mack interrupted his thoughts
‘Your flat mate’ he said
‘You two lovers?’
Andy stopped dead, the Saturday evening bustle of Soho grumbled at his abruptness, forcing it to shuffle round him like a rock in a stream
‘What!?’ he exclaimed ‘no!’
Mack stopped too, raising his hands in defence ‘hey, don’t care either way jack, just need to know the details’
Andy heard two passersby utter insults as they walked round him.
‘So, why do you care so much about his death?’
Andy screwed up his face in confusion ‘he was my flat mate’
‘No, not really’
‘No!’ Andy’s raised voice attracted attention, noticing the gaze of strangers he started to walk again, his voice was lower but somewhat frustrated when he said
‘What is your obsession with that?’
‘I meant did he have any lovers’
‘Oh’ said Andy, feeling his cheeks begin to warm in the cold evening air ‘not that I know of’ Mack nodded his head as he scanned the crowd
‘So, how do you think he died?’
Andy frowned to himself, looking for the answer to a question he’d been pondering for the past week.
‘I don’t know’ he said
‘So what makes you suspect foul play?’
‘Well, what I did know about him, was enough to know he wouldn’t take his own life’
Mack made a noise of acknowledgement, but kept his eyes on the crowd
‘Oh, and the kind of people he hung around with’ Andy made a face like he’d just had another mouthful of Singapore noodles, but Mack was interested in everyone else
‘Shady?’ he asked
‘To put it politely’
‘Where’d he die?’
‘I found him in our bathroom’
‘Then that’s where we’re going’ said Mack.
‘Hang on a minute’ he said ‘how do you know I haven’t got a wife and kids, you can’t just make a decision like that without consulting me’
‘You have no wedding ring, your voice lacks the tone of a parent, and you’ve come to me about your dead flat mate’
Andy had no choice but to remain quiet, Mack had summed up his life in a sentence.
‘Fine’ he said ‘follow me’
they continued in silence toward Andy’s flat.
He unlocked the door, switching the lights on as he entered. Mack followed him, scanning the place like he did the street. Andy showed Mack into the living room, and went to the kitchen, switching on the kettle.
He came back to find Mack by the window, pulling back the curtain enough to peep through.
‘Tea, coffee?’ asked Andy.
Mack shook his head, and then came away from the window. He gestured Andy to sit down on the sofa, then sat across from him on the armchair.
‘Tell me why jack’
‘Why what?’ he replied
‘Why you’re spending your time and money to settle a hunch about the death of a guy you barely knew, and didn’t even like’
Andy spoke through his frown ‘I never said I disliked him’
‘Didn’t have to, the guilt of disliking someone who’s died explains a lot’ said Mack ‘but not enough to put in this much effort’
Andy gave up the frown, he sighed, then slouched back against the sofa.
‘Okay, so I never did like Paul’ he said ‘but that doesn’t make me a bad person’
Mack’s eyes studied him, like they did everything.
Andy sat forward, and continued.
‘But it was when I attended his funeral’ he shook his head with the memory ‘I was the only one there, it just seemed so sad and lonely’
‘Death is sad and lonely’ said Mack ‘that’s why it comes for us all, hoping to find company in its misery’
a moment of silence sat between them before Andy spoke
‘So, will you help me Mr Mitchell?’
Mack stared at him for a moment before he responded
‘I can think of a million reasons why your hunch is not enough to make me take this case’
Andy slouched back again, his disappointment pinning him to the sofa.
‘But’ said Mack ‘there’s two large reasons sitting in a black BMW outside that mean you could be right’