Beach Bum provided the starter sentence (in bold) for Friday Flash Fiction. The rest is me.
(DAWNING OF A) NEW ERA
"The old camera had been in a box for decades, the pictures never developed, and now with the prints in his hand his blood ran cold from looking at the images that came from it."
“Sit down Pork Pie,” said Valentine. “You’ve gone a funny colour.”
Pork Pie, ferocious South London, criminal kingpin, was seldom short of words. The sepia images had rendered him speechless and he had almost bitten through the cigar butt in his mouth.
Valentine went over to the drinks cabinet and poured malt whiskey.
“Drink that squire.” Valentine sat down on a leather chesterfield couch. The walls of Pork Pie’s study were covered in prints and pictures celebrating Ska music. Shelves held books, records, CD’s and memorabilia.
The two drank in silence until Pork Pie spat, in a low gravel voice, “From the beginning.”
Valentine stopped watching the blonde gyrate around a shiny pole on the stage and turned on his barstool; she was late twenties, mixed race with smooth coffee coloured skin and brown eyes. She smiled and took his breath away.
The cat finally let go of his tongue. “Just Valentine. Ms....?”
“Agnes Ryan.” She sat down next to him. “I prefer Agie.”
The punters roared approval as the blonde smoothly unclipped her sparkly bikini top and tossed it across the stage.
Valentine drained his glass. “Let’s find somewhere a little quieter Agie.”
On the way out he admired her curvy figure. Her backside, he decided, could crack walnuts. A glimpse of a sexy Celtic cross tattoo on her lower back had his stomach turning nine point nine somersaults.
The coffee shop, Pascucci, was towards the better end of Clapham Junction. Valentine ordered and they moved towards the back. Settled in comfy armchairs she began to tell her story.
Agie wanted him to find her parents. Not the two people who had brought her up in East Anglia. She learnt at an early age that she had been adopted.
“It’s been an annoying itch that just won’t go away,” she said.
Pork Pie picked up the bottle of 12 year old malt. “She’s definitely my daughter?”
“I wouldn’t be here unless I was sure.” Valentine sipped his malt. “You recognize the lady in the photo?”
“Her name was Lola”. Pork Pie poured more whisky. “She was a showgirl.”
Valentine resisted the urge to break into song. “You had a relationship with her?”
Pork Pie nodded, “She couldn’t take the gangster lifestyle.”
“She was pregnant with your child.”
“I had no idea.” There was raw emotion in Pork Pie’s voice and he quickly swallowed whisky.
“What happened to Lola?”
“Drugs.” Valentine hesitated then continued. “She died eleven years ago in a hospice.”
The crystal tumbler in Pork Pie’s hand shattered. Glass splintered and expensive whisky soaked into the thick Persian rug. “Where’s the girl?” Blood trickled through his fingers like spilt claret wine.
“She’s waiting outside in my Saab.”
Pork Pie wrapped a handkerchief around his fingers. He snapped a Zippo and put the end of a fresh cigar into the flame. “Go and get her,” he said between plumes of blue smoke. “Then piss off.”
The study door clicked open. Agie’s face was wet from tears. Her braided, pony tailed hair was a sophisticated mess. Her right hand held a small silver pistol. She pointed it at Pork Pie and clicked off the safety.
“You killed her.” Her tone was almost a whisper.
“Agie no!” Valentine stepped forward.
Pork Pie looked her in the eye. “She was the only woman I ever loved.”
“My mother ended her days as a penniless junky.” She sniffed back tears. “You drove her too it.”
“I found something else out,” said Valentine, urgency in his voice. “Pull that trigger and you’ll regret it.”
Pork Pie pulled the snub nosed .45 from under his suit jacket with one slick movement.
“Put it down Pork Pie.” Valentine stayed in the centre as the three began to slowly circle the room in a Mexican standoff.
“Out of the way private eye or I’ll plug you as well.” Pork Pie had regained his swagger. “Let the lady have a shot at the title.”
Valentine raised his palms. “Put the guns down!”
Agie put her left hand over her right and steadied her hold on the pistol. “Valentine, you’re job's done.”
“No! Not yet.” Valentine turned to Pork Pie. “Let me tell you the rest.”
“Spit it out gumshoe.” Pork Pie looked at him along the barrel of the .45. “While you still can.”
“Agie’s not your only child.” Valentine spun round. “You have a brother”.
One, two, three beats passed before Valentine turned slowly towards Pork Pie. “Dad. This is the dawning of a new era.”
This time Pork Pie bit clean through the fat Cuban.
© 2009 Alan Griffiths
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