Kim Nelson: Fast Food Noir

What a night for a stakeout. I’ve been on this beat too long, just waiting out the days ‘til my retirement. I didn’t want to go out like this, with crime still on the rise in Playland on my watch. But as long as that corrupt fraud of a politician Mayor McCheese is still in office, criminals like the Hamburglar will continue to run amok. I hear footsteps approach. A bulbous figure emerges, a real mess of a guy.

“Nice night for a stakeout, huh, Big Mac,” the shadow says to me, flicking a cigarette butt into the gutter.

“Funny running into you here, Grimace. Nice night to take a walk on the pier in the pissin’ fog?”

“I might have some info to make it worth your while.” He squints in the streetlamp light.

Of course. That lazy turd doesn’t leave his treehouse for nothin’. I shift my weight; my dogs are barking already. I’m getting too old to stand around all night.

“Is that right? How much is it gonna cost me?” I say.

“100 samolians.”

I sigh heavily, “Aw hell Grimace…” But I take out a wad of bills and slide them into his greedy mitts. The sooner this is over, the sooner I can get back home to the wife. Maybe even early enough to tuck the small fries into bed.

Grimace tucks the bill into a wad, smirking. “Word on the street is that Chuck E. Cheese tipped off the Hamburglar about the mole in his circles.”

“Cheese! That dirty rat. I knew he had his beady eyes set on this turf. So what’s that mean with tonight’s drop?”

“The Hamburglar’s giving you the run-around, I’d say.”

“And the mole?”

“Probably sleeping with the fishes at the bottom of McFlurry River.” Damnit! Captain Crook was a good kid.

“Well, I better am-scray,” Grimace says, lighting up another smoke.

“OK Grimace. Thanks for the lowdown. Try to keep your nose clean.”

I watch his bulky silhouette retreat into the shadows. I suddenly feel exhausted. Another criminal goes free, and I’m another day closer to retirement.

I’ve been alone for barely a second when I hear someone else approaching from behind me. This visitor, however, is much easier on the eyes. Stilettos strike against the pavement. I know it’s her before I can see crimson hair spilling down her shoulders. Ah, Wendy–the toughest dame in town, but with a heart of gold that’ll melt faster than a frosty under the fry lamps.

“I thought that was you, handsome.” Her voice is sweet and fragile in the night air.

“What’s a broad like you doing out on a night like tonight?”  I can’t help but grin at the sight of her. However, when her small face slips into the circle of streetlight I can see that she’s all business, her eyebrows drawn in worry.

“I came to warn you, Mac,” she whispers. “The Hamburglar’s planned a drop on the shore tonight.”

“Yeah, I’ve been tracking his operations running Coke from Colombia for months. But it sounds like he’s teamed up with Chuck E. Cheese, and they gave us the run-around tonight.”

“That’s what you heard, huh?” Her voice cracks. Something’s not right. I reach out to her, putting a hand on her shoulder. She feels cold.

“What are you up to, Wendy?”

“Big Mac, you know it’s tough for a girl like me to make it in this world. I’ve been working nights at the Nugget, and I overheard some things.”

“Not you, Wendy. You’re too good a dame to be working this rotten city.”

“I’ve gotta take care of the small fries somehow, Mac. But what I’ve got to tell you, is something about this whole Chuck E. Cheese situation smells like a day-old fish sandwich. I think they’re setting up a trap. A big, smelly, grease trap of a trap.”

“But Captain Crook was working from the inside…“

“Captain Crook is a crooked cop. I saw him in a secret meeting with Cheese at the Nugget. He’s in deep with the Irish Mafia.” The Shamrock Shakes! Then that means…

“Well if it isn’t my old friend Big Mac.” His voice rings from the shadows. My blood runs cold. I see him emerge into the streetlight, his beady eyes glinting from beneath the bandit mask – Hamburglar. Then I see the barrel of the gun he is pointing at me. I reach for my weapon, but a blur of red obstructs my vision and I am shoved to the ground. Shots ring out. I look up; Wendy is crumpled on the street like a rag doll. The red pool growing quickly around her body is no exploded ketchup packet. Tires squeal in the distance. Hamburglar is already gone. I kneel beside Wendy; lifting her cold body in my arms. Her eyelids flutter.

“My number’s up, Mac,” she gasps, “I’m headed toward that gourmet 4-star restaurant in the sky. Hey, make sure my small fries are OK, will ya? Keep ‘em on the straight and narrow, don’t let them grow up crinkle-cut…” Her eyes close and my heart sinks like lead. Another criminal escapes, another innocent person dies. I don’t even realize I am sobbing out loud until I feel Grimace’s giant mitt on my shoulder.

“She’s gone,” I say. “Hamburglar, he–he got away with it.”

“Forget it Mac. It’s Playland.”

– Kim Nelson

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