JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT – a prose poem in Noir

I first saw her from my window seat in Jimmy’s Diner.  She came around the corner, legs first, as if she had no particular place to go, and in no hurry to get there.  I was struck by the notion that her name might be Pearl – a fitting appellation for such a silky gem among the bland populace out on the rainy city night.  She paced along the sidewalk, mindful of a few water-laden cracks, moving with a slight sashay and an enticing gait.

She wore a red hat with a large brim, with just the smallest black band around the base of the hat.  The chapeau was covering most of her face, but still letting her blond tresses fall just below her shoulders.  The bottom half of her matching raincoat was buttoned, the top open enough to reveal a low slung white dress, with a necklace dangling around her neck.  The gem on the setting was amethyst, the size of a .38 caliber bullet, and almost in that shape.  I imagined that she wore a perfume (cautiously applied) of some exotic name like “Lion Shade” or ‘Moon Misbegotten” – and alas, the plate-glass kept me from proving that matter.  Her nylon-covered alabaster legs were visible only from below the knee on down, but moved with the style and grace of a jungle cat.  Her feet were enclosed in elegant red shoes, not much of a heel, but enough to give a certain level of appreciative appeal to her calves.

She was aware of her surroundings, looking first here, then there, then up and down.  As she approached, I saw her face, slightly dappled by the late evening mist, but gorgeous all the same.  She was clearly of Scandinavian stock with all the stereotypical features of that ethnic group.  No expression crossed her face, but yet her blue eyes exuded an intelligence not usually seen by those in my line of work.  Just the right shade of lipstick artistically adorned her mouth, adding even more elegance to her stature.

She walked past so much faster than I had sensed.  She glanced in the window, not seeing anything in Jimmy’s diner.  Not the cop at the counter, not the blue plate special that the waitress Daisy was dropping off in front of me, not the cozy couple in the next booth who were planning an elopement – and certainly not my face, frozen in a dopey gaze as she passed. She merely glanced and continued on.

As she turned out of sight around the corner, I remembered her – our only encounter, about 2 years ago.  She had been a client – a victim of extortion of some sort.  I recall that I hadn’t been able at first to tell if she was the victim or the perpetrator of such a charge… and yes, her name came back to me.  I gasped at the sudden charge to my memory.   Indeed, it was Pearl.

Pearl Danger.