Adventures in the Asphodel Meadows
Liv Grazdani liked to listen to the radio while there was a body bleeding off her table. The flat didn’t seem so shabby with jazz trumpets rocking off the stained windows and piano slides going up and down the wilting blue-print flowers. But she preferred the dramas most nights, smoking up the room with porkpies and clay pipes and who-done-its.
You hear about the mobster shot through the lung? (Sure did. Heard his organization sprang a leak.) Liv had Grave Flowers going that Tuesday when Rum Turner came flopping against her door, bleeding like a river. Word on the street that night was that Rum was dead as an octopus on the bottom of the Atlantic, half his head chewed up and a bed of oysters in his burst belly. Blackie and his gang started thinking about setting up shop in Rum’s old digs. Even barged in to measure the floor so they could buy themselves a nice red rug. Then boom! Two days later, Rum rose up out of the sea like Poseidon on a bad day, brewing up a storm and three names written bold and blue on his trident. Shot three people dead before the gossip could brew up the morning tea and make its social calls.
Yeah. Liv Grazdani did that. Took the bullet out of the muscle tissue and skin and patched Rum Turner up before he drowned in blood and became a very ironic octopus indeed. She made octopus jokes while he spit up gore. I could write a whole novel with the ink coming out of you. At least you were well armed before you got shot. No bones about it. You hear the one about the octopus at the bar? Tried to ask for a drink, but the bar fella couldn’t pour anything on account of being underwater.
Rum hadn’t heard the octopus rumors, so he didn’t think the jokes were funny. But his man sitting in the corner laughed until he near split. A girl’s got to laugh at something when nights she carves up bodies for her bread and butter instead of strutting down Main St. like she’s got a secret cooler than anything your Mama ever told you.
After Rum and his guy were gone, Liv sat out on the step, smoking cigarettes and watching people trot by. A sea breeze whipped up the street. She wondered if a lipsticked dame with smoky eyes and opera tickets in her pocket would think Liv were cool. If Liv told her she knew enough about anatomy to embarrass a circulatory system, would the woman perk up an eyebrow and admit to being impressed? Probably not. Probably think it was gross.
In truth, the smell of blood in her floorboards drove Liv crazy, but white throws become bloody throws and then they had to be chucked in the bay. So she mopped up with lavender oil and scrubbed with almond polish until her pale knuckles went red and the living room smelled like a rich lady’s boudoir.Continue reading