Thursday, 2 April 2009

Philip Marlowe in Basque showdown

On the dusky silent street two amourous cats were flirting with one another as the church bells announced midnight. The smell of newly budding leaves carried as the light breeze drifted around the corners of the moonlit Basque buildings carrying with it the moisture of the preceding day. Romance was afoot for these feline friends. From the darkest end of the street car lights raced, exploding the silence in a gutteral choking of leadened engine. Screeching down the pedestrian street the cats fled. The car swerved between lamposts, just avoiding the newly dug maintenance trenches but hitting one of the felines. The way ahead was too narrow. Screeching joined the cacophony as the brakes were desperately sought. All too late. The car rammed into a side pillar and crumpled into the wall. Smoke billowed from the distraught engine. All was silent once more in the street. A newly lovelorn cat watched on from the safety of a nearby doorway. He knew that a dead man weighed more than a broken heart but felt none the better for this knowledge.

From above an apartment light flickered. A man leaned over his balcony craning hard into the gloom to ascertain the situation. He disappeared back indoors. Momentarily he reappeared at street level and approached the vehicle, unaware of what had caused the accident and concerned for any injured parties that may be in the car. The smoke billowed up into the starry silence. He was standing alone on the darkened street with only the cat to bear witness. He reached for the open door.

"Stop. Stop or I'll shoot!" roared an enormous bear of a man as he pounded down the street in army boots. He carried a semi-automatic pistol and had three others strapped to his vest. His huge arms stretched towards the man, sights fixed on his head. The man held his arms aloft conscious that if he was not careful twenty bullets would penetrate his skull in the next five seconds. "I live here, I came to check no-one was hurt." A car screeched around the corner to join the massive man who dropped his aim after assessing the situation. He strode across to the car, it was empty. "Did you see where they guy went" snarled the bear in a voice that would have been at home in deep underground caverns. His colleague joined him, adorned with a medley of machine guns and pistols. The man remained tense aware that he was caught in the middle of something significant. Six more cars each carrying three heavily armed men arrived. Three minutes had passed since the lovestruck cats had been playing happily together. The cat that had been hit gave an innocent bounce then remained still.

The bear barked orders to his men who ran off in difference directions. Reaching for the car he told the man to stand back before opening the trunk. No explosion. Inside were a dozen large boxes that had been securely but unprofessionally sealed with tape. The man was chaparoned away before he could determine their contents. He returned to his apartment and watched from his terrace. The men who had departed returned to the scene in time. The bear lit a cigarette and stood tall. His colleagues gathered around him. A mobile phone rang. Searching their combat fatigues none of the special branch officers could source the sound. The bear turned, it was coming from inside the car. He reached inside with a massive arm, when it reappeared a flashing phone vibrated in his paw. The men smiled at one another and slapped each other casually in a celebratory manner. The smoke from the car engine began to lessen. The heartbroken cat slunk off into the darkness. It was a cool clear night and the bear looked into the sky, he could see a long way, but not as far as the criminal had run, at least not at the moment.

This all happened last night. I still don't know what is in the boxes. [Please excuse any Chandlerisms]