Sunday, July 28, 2013

Black Friday by David Goodis (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard 1954)

Mattone reached into his jacket pocket and took out a revolver. He grinned at Hart and then he walked toward the vacant chair. The grin widened as he saw the bright green coat hanging over the back of the chair. Then he looked at Hart and he looked at the chocolate-brown flannel suit and he came over and rubbed a finger on the fine quality flannel. He walked back to the other chair and put a hand against the bright green Lapama fleece. He looked at Hart again and he said, “It doesn’t figure.”

“Every man has his ups and downs,” Hart said.

Mattone raised the front of the coat and had a look inside the label. He looked at Hart and he said, “You mean to tell me you went into that place and bought a coat?”

“I went into that place and stole a coat,” Hart said.

“Oh.” Mattone took the cigarette out of his mouth, held it delicately as he sat down at the table across from Hart. “You stole the coat. What else did you steal?”


“Nothing from that place. How about other places?”


“You see?” Mattone said. “We’re starting all wrong. You stole the wallet, didn’t you?”

“No,” Hart said. “I didn’t steal the wallet. He told me to take it.”

Mattone leaned forward. “Take a good look at me.”

Hart took the look. He said, “No, you don’t look like a moron. And I’m not talking to you as if you were a moron. That’s what happened. He told me to take the wallet.”

“Why would he want you to have the wallet?”

“Ask him.”

Mattone turned and crossed one leg over the other and put cigarette ashes on the floor. He grinned at the ashes. He said, “You’re going to be a pleasure. A real pleasure. I’ve been away from the ring a long time. You know how it is. I get so I want to put my fists on a face. How much do you weigh?”

“One forty.”

Mattone let out a brief laugh. He looked at the revolver in his hand. He said, “I guess I won’t need this.”

He put the revolver in his jacket pocket.

“Do you use rouge?” Hart said.

“What’s the matter, are you in a hurry for it?”

“The eyebrows,” Hart said. “Do you pluck them every day?”

“Three times a.week,” Mattone said. “You’re going to get it now. You can’t take it back.”

“Oh, come on,” Hart said. “You’re not that angry. You’re not angry at all. You just want some fun. But remember what Charley said.”

“Now that’s funny,” Mattone said as he stood up. “I can’t remember. That’s my big weakness. My memory.”

“You’re a scream,” Hart said.

Mattone’s eyes were bright with joy. “This is wonderful. He’s begging for it.”

“Can’t live without it.”

“All right, stand up and get it.”

Hart stood up and sat down quickly to get away from a straight right aimed at the mouth. Mattone leaned over to try the right again and Hart brought up a shoe and kicked Mattone a few inches below the kneecap. Mattone hopped back and lowered a hand toward the knee and Hart stood up and leaned on the right side and then brought up a right hand uppercut and missed. Mattone went hopping back and started to dance. Hart started to go forward, then stepped back quickly, reached down and grabbed a chair leg. As Mattone came in to break up the chair project, Hart already had the chair in both hands and he threw it at Mattone’s face. Mattone stopped the chair with his arms, stumbled over it as he rushed at Hart, and Hart’s face was all twisted with effort, body and arms working fast, fists hitting Mattone in the nose, in the lips, on the chin. Mattone was bleeding and he wasn’t liking it. He hit Hart in the chest, hit him again in the ribs, had him against the wall, showed him a right hand and hit him with the right hand three times on the jaw. Hart started to go down and his head was hanging low and he saw Mattone dropping the right hand and getting it ready for the uppercut. Hart let his head go down still further until it was down against Mattone’s stomach. Then Hart brought his head up as fast as he could and the top of his skull caught Mattone under the chin.

“Oh,” Mattone said, and then he was unconscious. Hart grabbed him under the armpits as he started to go down. Then Hart lowered him slowly and when he was on the floor Hart bent over him and reached for the shoulder holster.

“No,” Charley said. “Don’t do that.”

Charley was in the doorway and he had his revolver with him.

No comments: