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One Night at Clancy's

by Chris Wheatley

About the Author: Chris Wheatley is a freelance journalist, writer, and musician from Oxford. Chris has an enduring love for the works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, and Cornell Woolrich. He has just completed his first full-length crime novel and is forever indebted to the advice and encouragement of his wife, his son, and his mother, without whom he would never have come so far.


When the city wasn’t trying to broil you, it was trying to wash you into the sewer. All month long it had been this way. Incessant heat punctuated by biblical downfalls. Joe ‘The Hawk’ Larrone didn’t mind this at all. To him it felt like the town was being worked over by a pro, and if ever a place needed some pounding out, it was this one.

Joe stood beneath a street-lamp, the last one working on Pine Boulevard, as the inky-black sky disgorged sheets of rain from the high, hidden clouds. It pounded the top of his big sports-umbrella, making a river of the gurgling gutter and spattering from the neon sign on the building opposite, which was the subject of Joe’s attention.

This building was Clancy’s Bar. To either side of its sign, electric-coloured pineapples, coconuts and other fruits flashed on and off. Through the barred and shuttered windows, yellow light leaked out onto the pavement.

Joe took the list from the breast pocket of his suit and flicked it open. There were seven names written on it. Five of them had been crossed out. He put the paper back into his pocket and stepped from the sidewalk into the deserted road.

Inside the diner, Harry ‘Razor’ Ruddock, lounging on one of the tall seats by the bar, cast a grim eye round the interior, curled up his lip and flicked a shining quarter in the direction of Ragamuffin, in the corner.

The girl caught it smartly in one grubby hand and looked enquiringly at her boss.

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