So, as my tidbits normally go, they are often inspired by something (normally a song or a scene from a movie), and I write the tidbit based on that inspiration. This first tidbit (as you saw) is titled Black As Night, and was inspired by the song, “Your Heart Is As Black As Night,” by Melody Gardot. The tidbit takes place roughly in the 1930s in a bar in America, soon after Prohibition had ended.
The Green Bar was pleasantly vacant in the later hours of the night, or the earlier hours of the morning. The only people present were Danny, my bartender, a new intern being trained by Danny, Philip, my escort, and the small band playing soft jazz in the background. But they told me she would be here, and I would wait all night if I had to. I quickly pulled out the small picture I had of her to, for the fourteenth time, engrain her image into my mind. The photo depicted a young woman, maybe late twenties or early thirties, in a tight black dress with cold, dark eyes and long flowing black hair. Deftly sitting in one of the seats at this bar, the woman’s dress sported off smooth, but deceptively powerful legs crossed underneath it, and no one would suspect that the hand that held a pink martini could just as easily hold a Beretta Model 1934. Make no mistake; she was beautiful, as beautiful as a black panther, and just as deadly. Trust me, I knew.
It was a while ago, one of my first assignments, when I was tasked of protecting a certain someone. As I was going up to his hotel room, I had the nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. That something was my client lying face-down in his bedroom with three shots in his chest. And there she was, half of her body already out the widow. I was halfway towards grabbing my gun when she turned and looked at me, her dark eyes and almost toying smile drilling itself into my memory. She blew a kiss, and then was gone. When I got to the window, the rope was swinging lifelessly, and there wasn’t a soul on the street on that late night.
I silently placed the picture back in my breast pocket, my hand making sure that the safety was off the Colt 1911 safely tucked away under my jacket, strapped to my side. I straightened my black tie, my matching jacket and pants contrasting my white shirt. If looks could kill, I silently mused to myself with a chuckle. The weathered door of the bar creaked open, and as I looked over my shoulder, I saw a burly man walk through the door. I shook my head, not recognizing the figure, and attributing the man to just another wanderer looking for a decent drink (and in all honesty the Green wasn’t a bad place to find one). I pulled out a Longfellow cigarette, opening my Zippo lighter to light the thing that was most likely going to kill me later on.
“You know you shouldn’t be doing that,” Danny commented with a small grin as he wiped off a glass. I chuckled and replied, “In my line of work, this is the least likely thing to kill me.” Danny chuckled and said, “You don’t need to tell me.”
I nodded as I took another drag from the cigarette, eventually saying, “You know, you’re really bad company.”
The door creaked open again as Danny said, “Well lucky you, looks like you might find some better company.”
I casually looked over my shoulder, and nearly dropped my cigarette. Approaching the bar was the woman: same black dress, same flowing hair, and same piercing eyes. I put out my cigarette in the ashtray as the woman took a seat beside me, her eyes drilling into me as she said, “Looking for someone?”
“I think I found them,” came my quick reply, a small smile darting across my face. The woman gave a similar smirk as she said, “Oh really? And what might this stranger want?”
I gave another smile as I said to Danny, “Some Marshfield on the rocks, and a pink martini for the lady.”
The woman looked at the intern and said, “Make his drink for him right, and I’ll tip you extra.” The young man nodded, and started to work on my drink as Danny worked on hers. I looked at the woman as both of the bartender’s backs were toward us, saying smoothly, “What might I call the goddess before me?”
The woman gave a sly smirk as she said, “Jasmine… and what about you, smooth talker?”
I chuckled as the intern set my drink in front of me, saying, “David’s fine.” I took my drink and put it to my lips, faking to take a drink as Jasmine did the same. I could already tell we knew each other’s games – I suspected that the intern slipped some cyanide into my drink just as I knew Danny slipped some into hers. Looks like we both knew men behind the counter.
I set my drink down and wiped my lips with a napkin, asking, “It’s a late night – why are you out and about?”
“I was looking for a bit of trouble,” said Jasmine seductively, doing the same with her drink.
I smiled and said, “Trouble can be dangerous.”
“Seulement pour les faibles,” said Jasmine with the same sly smile. I chuckled. Only for the weak. I gave a small nod and asked, “So she speaks… but can she dance?” Jasmine smiled and stood up, leaving a tip for the intern as she said, “Only one way to find out.”
I got up with her and silently took her hand as we headed out to the scuffed up wood floor. The band was playing a personal favorite of mine, a cool, slow song about a heart as black as night. I smiled as I pressed Jasmine against me, her form keeping pace with mine in the slow dance. My hand slid down her back and onto her thigh as she asked, “Satisfied?” her dark eyes a few inches from mine. Her dress, split along the side (and quite revealing of a woman in this age), allowed her bare leg to glide under my hand as I pulled the small knife strapped to her thigh. “Partially,” I muttered, still looking at her as I tossed the blade into a nearby booth.
Jasmine dipped, her hand slipping into my jacket and heading toward my pistol. I quickly pulled her up and spun her around, slightly twisting her hand to drop the weapon on the floor. Jasmine kicked the weapon across the floor, the pistol sliding to the far side of the room. Danny and my escort looked at me, worried, Philip reaching for his weapon. I slightly shook my head as Jasmine said, “You play a dangerous game, chérie.”
“Seulement pour les faibles,” I muttered back as we swayed to the music.
I heard the soft sound of a knife being pulled from its sheath as the music picked up. I spun Jasmine around, my left hand grabbing hers as my right held her right, the knife to her own throat, her back pressed against my chest. Our backs were to the bar and our escorts, and I muttered, “It would be a shame to end the dance now.”
Jasmine gave a small, slightly pained smile as she tossed the knife away with a flick of her wrist. The knife imbedded itself into one of the wooden posts as Jasmine whispered, “I was thinking the same.”
After a few more slow moments, all of our weapons apparently discarded, Jasmine gave a small sign and asked, “David… what’s your reason for being out here?”
I looked at Jasmine, and after a long moment and another spin replied, “If I tell you the truth will you do the same?”
Jasmine gave a smirk, her dark eyes absorbing the light as she said in a hushed voice as her form pressed against mine, “Only one way to find out.”
I let my eyes gesture to my breast pocket, and as my back was facing the men in the far side of the room (my escort and what I presumed to be hers), she silently tugged at the photo until it caught the light. She looked up at me, her eyes taking a different light as she said softly, “I guess we’re both here to find some trouble.” I nodded silently and spun her around so that her back was pressed into my chest again as I said, “I guess so.” Jasmine lifted her head, her lips nearly pressed into my neck, and I caught the slightest glimpse of a photo of yours truly tucked away in the front of her dress.
“Peeping Tom,” said Jasmine with a smirk into my neck. I gave a small chuckle as I said, “Pardon me, M’lady.” Jasmine smiled, but as the song ended asked, “Where to we go from here?” I paused for a second as we swayed to the music, my right arm around Jasmine’s waist, my left holding her hand by her side. I said in a bare whisper into her ear, “You remember when I first saw you?”
Jasmine smirked, her fingers intertwining with mine as she replied, “Would it surprise you if I said I did?” A new song, this one a little faster about a place beyond the sea started, and I changed my movement to lead Jasmine in the rhythm of the song.
“Why didn’t you take the shot?” I asked, my voice a bare whisper above the music.
“I could ask you the same thing,” replied Jasmine.
I shook my head, asking after a long pause, “Do you believe in fate?”
Jasmine laughed and replied, “I’m Catholic – I’m not supposed to believe in fate.”
“Then tell me this – do you think God would destine someone to love an enemy?”
Jasmine shrugged and said, “I wouldn’t know… I’m probably the furthest from God you can get.” She looked at me out of the corner of her eye and inquired, “Why do you ask?”
I looked down at her and asked, “Why do you do it?”
Jasmine looked up at me, her dark eyes catching mine, and she replied, “Do what?”
“Kill – why do you choose to keep on doing it? I know you have a bank account of nearly a million dollars – you could live on the interest alone.”
Jasmine gave a small shrug and said, “There are always going to be people to kill, and if I won’t do it, someone else will, and I might soon find myself on the other end of the barrel.”
“You already are,” I dangerously whispered, slightly gesturing to the men behind us.
“Then why don’t you call the shot?” whispered Jasmine back, masking her voice with the music.
“Because we’re both looking down the barrel,” I replied in a hushed voice. “They sent you, so that obviously means that someone is gunning for me.”
One of Jasmine’s eyebrows lifted into a small arch and she countered, “Touché, chérie… So what are you going to do next?”
I sighed and said, “I don’t know… But I was planning on a vacation.”
Jasmine gave a small nod as she asked, “Where to?”
I shrugged as I spun her around, saying, “I have a private place near Marseilles… hear it’s pretty nice this time around.”
Jasmine smiled and said, “Sounds lovely…” she looked up at me and asked, “But a little lonely though… would there be room for two?”
I paused for a moment, asking, “What are you proposing?”
Jasmine gave an almost evil smile, her eyes glittering, as she said, “It’s easy to take on a lone wolf, but when they hunt in pairs… the hunter is a little less inclined to follow them.”
I looked down at her and said, “It might be a very long vacation… after all, my company doesn’t like loose ends.”
“And who said mine did?” asked Jasmine almost temptingly.
I stared at Jasmine for a few moments, our song almost over as I said with a sigh, “It’s a shame… I think we could have had something in another life.”
“Who said we’d have to wait for another life?” asked Jasmine as our song ended. She stood ever so close, tantalizingly close, as she said in a whisper, “Make your choice – I’ve made mine. I want to get out of here alive.”
My eyes flicked toward my gun on the floor, a few feet away, and I said, “Marseilles, three weeks, Le Vieux Port?”
Jasmine smiled and said, “Three weeks,” as she bolted to the bar. Her handbag was still on her chair, and I dove for my Colt as she went for her Beretta. Philip pulled out his own Colt just as I reached mine, and Jasmine’s escort aimed a Lugar at Philip. As I swung around, Colt in hand, finger on the trigger, I had a moment to decide what I was going to do: Danny, holding a trench gun, was aiming at Jasmine, and Jasmine aiming at Philip. I gave an inward curse as I pulled the trigger. There was a flash in the bar as four different guns went off and the band scattered. Danny went down, the poor bastard taking it from my gun, his blast missing Jasmine, putting pellets into the wall. Jasmine’s escort took down Philip, his head arcing back before he could pull the trigger, and Jasmine finished off her escort with her Beretta.
Jasmine looked back at me, a glitter in her eyes, and she blew a kiss, saying, “Meet you at Le Vieux Port… Don’t be late.” With that, she quickly put her firearm in her purse and almost calmly walked out the door, casting one look back at me before slipping into the night.
I shook my head and caught my breath, my weapon still armed and ready to fire. I looked around the bar, at the new color on the walls, and sighed. I pulled out my wallet and left a $20 on the bar. It would at least do something for the mess. With another shake of my head, I went out the back entrance into the night, wondering to myself What the hell have I gotten myself into?
I hoped you enjoyed this first original tidbit, and expect more to come.
So, here’s to getting into trouble.