Feather in the Tar: Scene of the Crime

          Frank enters the bar. The Marina Lounge is busy for a weeknight. All the stools at the bar are taken with drinkers standing deep to the opposite wall. He takes a position at the end of the opposite bar rail.

           “What’s that smell?” a woman says standing at the end the bar.

           “What,” the man sitting next to her turns his head towards her. He was talking to the woman on his other side. He test smells the air. “Oh shit, what is that?”

           “It smells like burnt silicone like that baking sheet your mom gave me last Christmas.”

           “And wet dog, and old dog poop,” he says and stands up. The all look to Frank who does not stir. “Let’s get out of here,” he says, “I’m hungry.” The two women follow him as he pushes through the crowd. Others look to the back of the bar as well and move closer to the door. Most continue talking and drinking. It is difficult to make out a single voice in the venue. Everyone is talking at their top volume without shouting, and David Bowie’s, Ashes to Ashes, plays on the jukebox.

           {SCAN: cyan}

          Cyan is stowing her gear in the backroom. She sits at the one desk and begins a regime of deep breathing. Centering herself will put her the frame of mind to serve her customers. The better her frame of mind the greater potential for tips.


          Lieutenant Cochran opens her purse and hands Genie a fresh tissue. Genie hands the spent one back to her, and without thinking, holds it up for Sergeant Sampson. He walks over takes it and disposes it in the wastebasket next to the dresser.

          “Don’t contaminate the scene Sarge.” Seven smirks.

          Sampson looks over at him and growls under his breathe, “dick.”


           Cyan opens her eyes and exhales her final intentional deep breath. She stands and reaches for her time sheet on the 4-drawer beige file cabinet. She picks up a pen on the desk and initials the space next to the 9:00 P.M time slot. Five minutes to go, she thinks to herself, and Cyan begins to daydream about the rest of the week. Wednesday, pay bills; Thursday, take Chipper, an 18-month Weimaraner, to the vet. Her ex-boyfriend gave her the dog as a puppy just before he died in her arms, an allergic reaction. I caused it, but he never told me about his allergy to peanuts. Frank was so sweet. He loved to just hang out. He didn’t have to go to dinner, theater, or whatever. Frank was happy to just stay in and watch network television with a bowl of popcorn. She misses his companionship. She has to stops herself from tapping the desk with the pen.

          Cyan was cleared of all wrongdoing. The chocolate sauce recipe was from a friend of a friend’s. I never suspected it would kill him. I loved Frank’s soft lips and tongue caressing my skin. She feels tears welling up in her eyes; they always do if she thinks about him too long. Cyan takes a deep breath and puts the pen down on the desk. “It’s show time,” she says out loud.

          A door opens in the back of the bar, and Frank turns toward it. Cyan steps through, she is smiling.

           {MATCH, MATCH, MATCH}

           {STOP FUNCTION: cyan}

          Frank’s boiler seethes at full temperature. He holds out his arm and steam flows out of the coat’s sleeve. First a steady steam flows out of the hand, then from the stitches as well, and then through the leather itself.


           “Do you think it was the same guy?” Genie asks, her eyes as wide as saucers. “Do you think he remembers me?”

           “I don’t know,” Cochran says. “But we need more information about him.

           “Do you think he’ll come after me?” Genie squeaks.

          “You’ve got to be kidding,” Sampson says. “There was no other guy. You’ve been smoking something too strong.” He walks over to the front of Genie, towering over her.

           “Quit lying to us.” He bends down and she looks up. All the color is out of her face again.

           “YOU needed the MONEY. You are a hustler, and hustlers only care about the M O N E Y.” Sampson says.

           “No,” Genie shakes her head, “no, no, no.” Genie looks at Cochran.

           “She’s not goin’ to help you, you slag.” He grabs her chin, “look at me.”

           “Hey.” Seven rushes to Sampson. “You look at me, PIG.” He works himself between Sergeant Sampson and Genie and Cochran. Sampson straightens up and sticks his chin out.

           “DICK, you are interfering with a police investigation.” Sampson punches his chest against Seven’s, “Just give me a reason.”

          “You think you can handle a man or do you just beat up on defenseless women.” Seven pushes back.

          “COOL IT.” Lieutenant Inspector Cochran says. “Or I’ll put you both in a cage.”

          “We could settle it then,” Seven steps back, but doesn’t take his eyes of Sampson.

          “Yeah, I could wipe my ass with you in private.” Sampson steps toward Seven.

          “I said, COOL IT.”

          “Defenseless hustler, yeah right.” Sampson says under his breath.

          “Take a break Sergeant. Step outside.” Cochran says.

          Sampson removes his coat and lays it on the bed. He turns and walks toward the door. “You coming?”

          “NO.” Cochran says. “Go back to the window Mr. Bardo.”

          “Genie, we need more information.” She raises Genie’s head and turns it towards hers. “Do you kill him honey? Did things get out of control and you just had to defend yourself?”

          “NO.”

          “It’s OK if you were defending yourself. We just need to know.” Cochran soothes her.

          “NO, no, it’s like I said before. I was in the bathroom.”

          “Honey, it doesn’t make sense. Your saying some strange monster, a tin man, came in here and murdered Sal Klement.”

          “Yes.”

          “It doesn’t make any sense.” Cochran is sterner. “You are going to have to do better.”

          “LOOK, EM she said she didn’t do it. She’s not the kind of person that could’ve cut up Sal like that.”

          “I don’t give a DAMN what you think Mr. Bardo. You’re an observer so keep quiet.” Cochran shouts back.

          “NO, I DIDN’T DO IT.” Genie has had about enough. “WHY, why won’t you believe me?”


          “HEY CYAN, I need a Bud Light.” A patron with an upturned Polo collar shouts across the bar.

          She smiles and shakes her head, “yeah, you sound like you need another beer like you need another wife.” Everyone around him laughs. Frank tracks her as she makes her way to the back of the bar. It lifts up to let an employee behind it. She turns and looks directly at Frank.

          Her grin turns upside down, her brows crunch together as she squints in the low light of the lounge. She shakes her head and continues to stare. It can’t be, she thinks to herself. The plasma rail breaks through the leather sleeve creating a thick cloud of smoke. Several customers look towards the stranger.

          “YOU CAN’T SMOKE IN HERE.” Someone shouts.

          Frank takes a step toward Cyan. His hood falls down.

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