Friday, November 4, 2011

NOVEMBER goes NOIR ~ AT THE BIJOU presents ~ DETECTING MALICIOUS MURDER and ALL A BROAD ~ The Harry Charters Stories ~ A Graham Smith Debut

Detecting Malicious Murder - The Harry Charters story 

This is how it started.

Ignoring the knock on my door, I reached for the bottle of rye instead. I’d already had too much but the headache making my eyeballs throb wouldn’t treat itself.

‘Either let yourself in or beat it.’ I yelled.

The door creaked its way open to reveal a broad I knew from way back. In fact I’d known her when she was merely narrow. Now she was the broadest broad in the whole damn neighbourhood. She’d kept the pretty face she’d been blessed with although the years were smoothed away by the extra pounds. Five kids in four years had smashed the hourglass figure which had once entranced every man she met.

‘Your ghosts can still find you when you’re inside a bottle.’

‘When I put the bottle inside me I can’t find them. Now why are you here?’

‘I want you to find out if my Bert has been alleycatting it.’

This is what my life had become. Trailing errant husbands and frightening bad debtors. For some years I’d been one of the top private dicks in town. Then a case had ended badly for all concerned. Now I kept company with Jim Beam and Jack Daniels while feeding the habit with the kind of moronic jobs I used to pass to my underlings.

‘Who’s he been walking alongside?’

‘I’m not sure but I think it may be the girl from the garage.’
Here’s what happened.

I followed Bert for a week. He went nowhere special, often. He didn’t know me so I frequented the former speakeasy he drank in. It was a typical dive, the kind of place where the ceiling was hidden behind a fog of cigarette smoke. Hell maybe there was no ceiling The patrons were all men who drank in silence. You could hear a slurp, the odd rustling as someone slipped unconscious from their stool to the floor, you could hear your hair grow but you’d never hear a conversation. Men came here to drink to forget. I’d have to remember this place. It suited me.

The door opened with a squeak, three heads turned from a room of twenty odd. It was the dame from the garage. She stood and gazed round before disappearing into the fug at the far end. I necked my sour mash mouthwash and moved to the bar which allowed my blurred vision a closer view. The barkeeps carried a drunk out. The breeze from the door wafted the nicotine mist away long enough for me to see the dame and the mark engaged in amorous gazes.

She was a looker, I’d give her that, but ten years ago Bert would have climbed over her to get to the broad he married.

I’d registered enough. His hand on her thigh spoke more than a thousand words. No more work for me today. I supped ‘til I slurred and headed back to the room I called home.

Next day I told the broad what I’d seen. She paid my fee and I set off to drink it.

A week later I saw the broad with a wiseguy from Chicago. He was trouble. Meaner than a rattlesnake with toothache and supposedly connected. He’d squared against me once. I knew his reputation so I backed down after a period. He couldn’t intimidate me easily and I let him know. It’s hard to take threats seriously from a man with a lisp but I let him have his moment. Rumour says he’d kill for money. Rumour was the kinda gal a man should neither trust nor believe. She’d show her stocking tops for any wiseass with the price of a drink in his pocket.
This is how it ended.

Red and blue lights turned the rain purple as the cops hustled around Bert’s lifeless body. He’d been pulled from the harbour with a knife in his back. Dank water staining his suit where the blood had missed. The cops were blaming the wiseguy with the broad as an accessory. They knew what went down around here.

I knew it wasn’t him though. Unlike whoever killed Bert, I’d weighted his body down properly.

Nobody walks into my office and calls me a schimpleton!

© 2011  ~ Author Graham Smith

All a Broad
Featuring Harry Charters

She walked into my office banging the door behind her. The sudden noise jerked me awake. Tenderly I lifted my head off the typewriter. The indentions of a dozen keys pockmarked my face; however it was the orchestra playing in my head which troubled me most. It sounded as if every instrument was out of tune and being played badly. By beginners!

Focusing my bloodshot eyes I appraised the dame. Five four, brunette, early twenties and prettier than any picture ever painted. She was no stranger, yet I cannot profess to know her well. Looks like hers stopped traffic with the regularity of traffic lights.

‘I need your help.’

Four words, thirteen characters. No more no less. Her poise indicated they’d cost her more than the second it had taken to say them. She was proud. I used to be until I fell into the wrong company. My own.

She pulled her sunglasses off to reveal a pair of shiners. On closer inspection I could see one was older than the other. Purple tinges against raw scarlet, tender swelling versus puffy bags. The full effect was akin to a moustache on the Mona Lisa. My anger stirred. When confronted with such evidence I became judge and jury, my infamous temper got the better of me. I was no angel, hell I was a long way from it. But I’d never shown a woman the hairy side of my hand.

‘Who?’ She wasn’t the only one who could be monosyllabic.

She told me the name of a man she’d stepped out with. I didn’t know him and looking at her face I sure didn’t approve. I asked for more details, got them.

Untangling my fedora from the Remington on the desk, I escorted the battered beauty from my office and went looking. Murder was in my mind and ice flowed through my veins. Well iced bourbon if the truth be told.

I spent the day making inquiries at various diners and hangouts around town. He hadn’t been seen. Tired and dispirited, I visited the dame. She’d heard nothing either. I insisted she move in with her mother, until I’d seen him. Once I’d seen him, she’d have nothing to worry about.

I retreated to the solace of Jimmy’s, the former speakeasy which had fell silent. I was a regular now after discovering the place lately. It suited me and my mindset perfectly. You could drink and smoke to your heart’s content, conversation was frowned upon, as each man drank with his thoughts and memories. Libraries were noisier. After a day with a bad orchestra and a growing rage burdening my thoughts I needed some alone time with Mr Daniels. Jack was a good friend of mine; he listened without commenting, was always there when I needed him and never let me down.

Two days later after searching fruitlessly, I finally had word of him. The dame had been cornered by him outside the bank where she worked. Thinking fast she’d arranged to meet him later at her place which gave me a location and a time where he’d be.

Shaken to the core by his sudden appearance that day she’d pleaded with me to make sure that he never bothered her again. I took her keys and waited with another old friend, Mr Colt.

He arrived promptly. Seven on the dot. Smart suit and new trilby. He had the kind of face that tricked women into bed. Seeing me answer the door he turned on the charm, asking for the dame. I disliked him on sight. All flash and no pan.

I showed him through and as soon as his back was turned, I cold cocked him using the butt of my gun. Working quickly before he awoke, I tied his hands and gagged him. My car was parked downstairs and I had him in the trunk before he’d regained consciousness.

I fervently hoped I hadn’t killed him. I didn’t want him to die without knowing why.

Parking the car and opening the trunk my fears were quelled. He was awake and spitting invectives at me through the gag. Hauling him out and standing him up, I marched him into the tunnel. Gun in one hand and flashlight in the other halfway along I shot him in the back of his right knee causing him to collapse in a moaning heap.

‘Do you know who I am Buster?’

He shook his head, so I shot his other knee out before telling him who I was.

Fear swamped his eyes causing my heart to lift. I’m not gonna lie about it, seeing the terror in him buzzed me.

I arranged him just how I wanted him, loosened the gag and whispered in his ear, ‘do you want a chance to live Buster?’

‘Yes, please God yes.’ He wasn’t so tough now.

‘All you have to do is move within half an hour.’ By the light of my flashlight I could see his neck and his shattered knees resting on the train tracks. Standing by his head, I let my demons have some fun and put my four remaining bullets into his crotch.

I went back to the office, drank some whiskey and then I visited my daughter and told her she was safe.


© 2011  ~ Author Graham Smith
Double Feature Debut AT THE BIJOU

Goes   NOIR


The  bloke running The Mill Forge near Gretna Green, Scotland tells me this is his FIRST ATTEMPT at NOIR! Yeah right, I counter, tryin' to beat the Bub at his own bluster. He's a ringer, I tell ya. He ain't gonna play me . . . 'specially when he's playin' AT THE BIJOU. I'm kinda protective 'bout this joint, ya know?

Hot Damn Kate you make me a happy man from many a mile away.

Thank you very much for your glowing appraisal. It means a helluva lot to me to read your kind words.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE, trying to get to the bottom of this guy's ruse or talents. It's talents. There are many. He brought 'em out AT THE BIJOU and gave us a real Noir show, didn't he? Graham Man (I either call him that or 'Gunner' - depends on how the mood shoots out) -- You wanta tell our mighty fine audience in the red velvet seats, your background then, in author terms? G'head, shoot, Gunner.

GRAHAM SMITH: Been an avid reader of crime fiction since discovering the Famous Five at the age of eight.
Been reviewing books for the last two years for the well respected review site and have also interviewed well known authors including, Jeffrey Deaver, Jeff Lindsay, Mark Billingham, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, David Baldacci, Peter James, Matt Hilton and Dennis Lehane
I have only recently turned my hand to writing.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE: But Graham, these stories, this Harry Charters character are tone on, pitch perfect. How'd you plot this out, Dick Tracy?

GRAHAM SMITH: Well Kate, I credit you for urging me to name my detective.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE: Yes Gunner, I mean Graham. You shot me over your first piece, Detecting Malicious Murder, and baby, I was floored. Hell, you even drink like a Noir star, but your slick dick had no name. And I saw this guy and his stories coming from somewhere . . . headed to a lot of somewhere elses.

GRAHAM SMITH: I loved the fact that you thought there could be a prequel and sequels. I quite liked having a faceless and nameless protagonist. Mystery and history combine. My nameless and faceless character had lots of angles to explore and if the readers demanded then there could be something there.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE: Uh Graham? From my detection skills, without pilfering any clues from Professor Plum in the Ballroom while being bonked over the noggin with a lead pipe or candlestick . . . I'd say unequivocally ~ There's something there.

GRAHAM SMITH: Guess it's true what they say about you believing in believers, Kate. I got the detective's name. I got the spark flickering for a sequel which I wrote right up.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE: Good scribing sir, I'd say your flicker flamed. So, how'd a Noir novice pull a pair of stunners, ace high, out of his fedora like that?

GRAHAM SMITH: The story took its own shape once started. Pieces gleaned from readings over the years and inspiration from the wood which is holly. Noir really isn't my bag so to swing with the cats I had to write what I can only describe as a voiceover for the Bogey man.

Katie, tell Graham
 I heard that.

 Bogey said he heard that.

You're some
 wise guy, Kid. 

ABSOLUTELY*KATE: I learn from the best, Tough Guy. And if you ain't in all the rackets, you know 'em. Me? I know talent like sure bets on the ante when the cards are marked, and this Graham Smith, who I bumped into repeatedly, over at nifty Nick Triplow's Status Stories -- he's the real deal. I thinks he learns stuff too, and it becomes all the more the heart and part of him.
GRAHAM SMITH: Kate, give your uncle, who certainly must be that Chandler fellow, my absent regards as I have yet to peruse his wares. Big influences were Craig Russell and Tom MacDonald. Russell for the noir feel, plus the lischp (which IDIOT decided lisp should be spelled with an S in?) and MacDonald for the workings of a drinkers bar. I did stop short though of stealing his magnificent line. "It was the kind of place you could hear a pin drop but never a dime")
ABSOLUTELY*KATE: That was a great line and you're a superb author Graham. No such thing as a coincidence - perhaps our paths were meant to cross as you garnished your Noirish side.
GRAHAM SMITH: I'm overwhelmed with gratitude just to be included. To be feted is beyond wildest expectation. Again nervous inadequacy surfaces only to be quelled by ambition. I'd love to get into a position where I can develop a series and the novel I'm currently working on is designed to be the opener in a series although it could also work as a standalone. I just want to get noticed for my writing and start selling books or contributing to short story anthologies.

Katie, tell him - 
aw hell - Graham - You got noticed.

GRAHAM: You cannot possibly know how happy your response has made me.


Hey Graham. I thoroughly enjoyed Detecting Malicious Murder and All A Broad. You really put together nice, succinct little stories that were vivid in descriptions, had a great, gritty feel, and packed a nice little punch at the end.
November Noir is shaping up to be a great read . . . let the bullets fly and the blood flow.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE: You can sure say that again Mr Michaels. Thanks Graham for honouring AT THE BIJOU, as NOVEMBER goes NOIR with your prelude to further successes.

worth a good repeat.
November Noir is shaping up
 to be a great read . . . 
let the bullets fly
 and the blood flow.

Wise guys, 
you're all wise guys
'round this BIJOU joint.
GRAHAM: Regards
 all three of you, 
and HUGE thanks!

Goes   NOIR

every other day that's NOVEMBER

Be there

or be square Bub.

Talkin to you too, Toots. 


rises on:



BIJOU Sweetheart ~



the Rat-A-Tat-Tat of

yet a new BIJOU Debut ~




making his first official appearance on our stage  ~

a cup of Joe,




"NOIRVEMBER" term coined & minted
 by the trendy Harry B Sanderford 


Harry said...

Harry Charters is one cool character. Great stuff A. Graham!

Graham Smith said...

Thanks Harry. He's great company for me when I'm writing.

Kevin Michaels said...

Two really great stories - the feel, grittiness, and tone work across all levels. Harry Charters has the potential to be the kind of character who has legs - you want to know more about him, see him in other stories, and watch him work.
Great work!

Graham Smith said...

Cheers Kevin

I'm already running ideas around to see which one wins the race for his next outing.

Author said...

Nice work, Graham!

Luca Veste said...

Great stuff Graham!

Nigel Bird said...

'I love this hard-boiled feel. It's something I'm jealous of when I read, because I can't muster that same feel, no matter how many old movies and books I've watched and read. Crazily enough, it's never occured to me that broads are always thin before - great paragraph that one. And the ending is as sharp as the knife in the back. More please.'

Madam Z said...

Hard-boiled and half-pickled, Harry Charters is a formidable opponent to any cheating, beating scumbags out there. Graham, I totally loved these stories! You really captured the era and the atmosphere.

Graham Smith said...

Thank you Julie, Nigel, Luca and Madam Z.

Praise from such company is high priase indeed.


Helen A. Howell said...

I think you have made a great first attempt at noir! Your character is believable and you have created the right atmosphere around him.

Well done Graham!

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

GRAHAM ~ You KNOW I wanta run into Harry Charters in a watering hole on the same side of the tracks. As long as he was keepin' a private eye on me I'd buy him a round. I'm a sucker for a tender tough guy:

"‘Your ghosts can still find you when you’re inside a bottle.’

‘When I put the bottle inside me I can’t find them."

Superb style, tone, swagger and snappy one-liners here, there and half past everywhere. But more, much more than this . . . you did it Your way - You named your slick dick and now he's MEMORABLY, the real deal. You read your fans. They want more.

~ Joyed I am to have watched this whole creation process take place. I hereby request the first inscribed book. Well - maybe the 4th after your lovely wife, Mum and Dad's copy and that sister Madeline wonderin' who the Kate broad was.

All successes to you out of the shadows of Noir.

~ Absolutely*Kate

Unknown said...


Now I've towelled myself down from the dripping Noir that gushed from your stories, I'll comment.

It's truly fantastic to see a man I'm chuffed to call a friend, showcasing his talent here at Kate's glitzy gaff.

You nailed it, bud. Which means, you 'n' Harry can nail it again, and again and... Simple as.



You put a show on the road like no other. Take a bow, lady. x

Graham Smith said...

Thank you very much for having me on stage. I loved every minute of it and i'm chuffed to pieces with all the wonderful comments everyone has left.

Harry Charters has sent me a script which I'm gonna knock into shape for his third outing.
You'll be the first to read it.

Delighted to be called a friend and over the moon with your comments. To get glowing praise from editors as esteemed as yourself means so much.

Graham Smith said...

Thank you Helen.
Another luminary lighting up my debut. WOW!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for inviting me over here Graham so I could take a look.

You certainly have something my friend and I wish you much success as Harry Charters develops..x