Black Sails, Disco Inferno: New Excerpt

Black Sails Disco Inferno by Andrez Bergen is the 70s noir-style retelling of the classic medieval romance of Tristan and Isolde (Available June 30, 2016).

An unnamed city, in which crime families flourish and the police pinch pennies from those with most power…Black Sails, Disco Inferno is a retelling of the classic medieval romance of Tristan and Isolde, turning things on their head by reversing the sex of the chief protagonists and placing them in a '70's pulp/noir world. Andrez Bergen's latest novel exposes layers of the bullet-riddled pulp/noir world of Trista and Issy amidst a sensual, disco-infused narrative overflowing with shady schemes, double dealings, cruel brutality and spellbinding mystery.

TRISTA

[CORNER OF STRENGLEIKAR & GERBERT]

Midnight.

The city feeling like a blast furnace, two blocks down from the Disco Inferno.

From this position on the sidewalk, outside a closed delicatessen called Sam’s, she could hear beatsfrom the club, an electronic-affected voice asking something about being taken to Funky Town.

Whatever.

Police were arriving in droves, and their wailing sirens began to drown out cheesy disco. Luckily, O’Dar was officerin charge, handling things here. He was one of Marcella’s.

Think a short, stubby man with overly thick neck, aged in early fifties, who liked to parade in dress-uniform on the city streets.

Divorced once, and then wed a woman half his age. Girl exhibited expensive taste, judging by what Trista had heard. Plus, O’Dar carried a boy from the first marriage who had to be supported through college – hence additional wages, under the cuff, courtesy of the Cornwall family.

From previous meetings conducted during daylight hours, Trista knew Captain O’Dar had a ruddy, unhealthy complexion. There were folds of skin in that fat neck, tricky areas to shave, where clumps of silver whiskers poked out.

“Hey, Trista,” he said as he approached, tipping the hat a fraction. “Sorry to have to drag you down this time of night, this side of the river.”

The girl produced a smile she felt sufficient. “No problem. Can’t sleep in this heat, anyway.”

“There is that.”

“How’s the family, Harv?”

O’Dar’s eyes shifted uneasily. “Swell. They’re swell.”

“I hear your son’s doing big things.”

“So he is. About to graduate, actually.”

“Studying criminology.”

“That’s right.”

“Must run in the family.” Trista deliberately injected warmth into the comment, wanted the man to feel at ease. Having reminded him who paid the bills, she needed O’Dar on the ball.

Still, she thought: Taylor, what were you doing over here, on Holt turf?

Without further need for pleasantries, the captaintook Trista past a narrow corner, under a signpost reading ‘Gerbert Street’,and down an alley not so well lit by surrounding fluorescent advertisingin this area. The police, however, had set up a tripod with a bright lantern dangling beneath. A uniform was placing yellow tape across the other end of the lane, where a small crowd had gathered.

O’Dar looked seriously unhappy about that.

He waved over two other subordinates. “Lode, Tusk –get those people back! This isn’t some goddamn public spectacle!”

Placing hands in her pockets, Trista waited for the police to get themselves organized. A minute later, O’Dar returnedto takeher closer to the tripod and its well of light –which showcased a corpse.

“Here he is in all his glory: Taylor Daniels. Laid out before us in a forgotten back-way I don’t even know the name of.”

“It’s Strengleikar Lane, sir,” said a nearby flatfoot, the one O’Dar had called Tusk, a lanky individual Trista hadn’t met before. She made mental note of the name.

“Thank you, sergeant.” O’Dar was put out, and his exhalation made him sound like he’d deflated a pound. “Anyhoo – Daniels has been shot three times, from what we can tell. Hard to. Tell, I mean. We have a medical examiner en route.”

“Witnesses?” Trista asked,while crouching to get a closer look at the body.

“Nope,”said Tusk.

“Apparently not,” agreed O’Dar, eyeing his colleague.

Trista didn’t care.

This was a bald,obese man before her, larger in girth than O’Dar, lying flat on his back on cobblestones. His mouth ajar, tongue peeking out, a trio of gaping holes inthechest, and most of his innards lying up round the head.

Taylor was old school, a gentleman; one of Marcella’s few cronies Trista actually had time for. It was awful seeing him in this state.

“Didn’t know the guy,” O’Dar went on, shuffling feet. “Only by reputation. Yet it’s a fucked way to end your days.”

“Mmm.”

“Queenie ain’t doing a spot of spring-cleaning I ought to know about – is she?”

Trista glanced up. “That isn’t your business, Harvey. But, no.” Her eyes dropped to the level of the man’s crotch. “Looks to me like you’ve got your pocket full already.”

O’Dar performed another odd shuffle, twisting slightly away. “Just asking. Got to follow up all possibilities.”

“I get that. Still, I’d be more focused on Isidor Holt. Or do you Irish drink out of the same bottle, despite loyalties?”

The copper scowled, said under his breath, “He’s about as Irish as a pineapple,” but Trista heard the remark. It made her frown.

“This is his backyard,” she said.

“Yeah, about that.” Leaning closer, again with the lowered voice, O’Dar seemed nervous. “What would a man like Daniels be doing on the wrong side of the Muir Èireann? He’s bound to have enemies here.”

“Mm-hmm.” Distracted, Trista returned attention to the scenario at her feet.

A beaver-like toupée rested three or four feet distant. Shenever realized Taylorwore a hairpiece– but, then again, he went everywhere in a homburg. What remained of the man’s polyester cardigan, much too warm for this temperature,was still zipped. This inferred he hadn’t been reaching for another piece, or was caught unawares.

“Guy was packing,” O’Dar confirmed, apparently catching Trista’s train of thought.

“Taylor always carried two.”

“That’s how many we found.”

“Recently fired?”

“Nada.”

“Huh. For someone as cautious as Taylor to be caught napping is… odd,” Trista said.

“More odd,” interrupted Tusk again, “is that over there.”

The woman stood and looked in the direction this officer indicated with a flashlight. On the redbrick wall were scrawledtwo large words. Whoever did it was no artist –but the paint hadn’t yet dried.

Beside her, O’Dar also studied the sloppy missive. “So. ‘One Down’. Think it means anything?”

“Doubtful.” Pushing bangs out of her eyes, Trista frowned. “Then again, this might be supposed to throw us off the scent of the murders the other night, you know, of Thomas and Béroul.”

“Reckon they’re related?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea.” That was the point Trista noticed something extra – or, rather, somethingamiss. “Huh. Any idea where his hat is?”

 

Copyright © 2016 Andrez Bergen.

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Andrez Bergen is an expat Australian writer, journalist, DJ, artist and ad hoc saké connoisseur who's been entrenched in Tokyo, Japan for the past 15 years. He makes music as Little Nobody and Funk Gadget, and ran groundbreaking Melbourne record label IF? for over a decade from 1995. Bergen has also written articles for papers and magazines such as Mixmag, The Age, Anime Insider, Australian Style, Impact, Remix, Beat, Yomiuri Shinbun, and Geek Magazine. He published noir/sci-fi novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat in 2011, the surreal fantasy One Hundred Years of Vicissitude through Perfect Edge Books in 2012, comicbook/noir/pulp tome Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? (2013), a collection of short stories and archival articles called The Condimental Op (2013), a surreal coming-of-age tale with crime/noir undertones titled Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth (2014), and the horror/noir comedy Small Change (2015).

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