The crazy mixed up world of Hans Zoff and Bea Ware
by Matt O' Malley
It was a normal evening in the coastal noir lit laundromat, Coin in sense.
Bea Ware was alone and engaged in a detective novel, Coastside Detectives: The Grand View, when something caught her attention on the street. It was a man, a rather dapper looking man wearing a gray fedora and raincoat. He was at the rear of a black Studebaker working on opening the trunk. Bea drank him in and he seemed so thin she imagined the drifting evening fog might tip him over. The man looked up from what he was doing and stared into the shadow filled laundromat. His piercing blue eyes seemed to see right through Bea and when he smiled and hoisted a navy white duffle bag onto his shoulder Bea could not help but blush.
The man entered the laundromat and paid no attention to Bea as his hard-soled leather shoes echoed upon the checkerboard floor. Bea watched his every move.
When the man reached her washer, he stopped and gently placed his hand on the lid. Bea watched as he touched the washer’s smooth white skin, the lid that seemed to pulse to his touch. Bea took a shallow breath.
The man dropped his load to the floor, opened the lid of the washer next to Bea’s and took his soiled underwear and garments from the duffle bag to fill his washer. He was adding soap when Bea’s washing machine stopped. She immediately headed for her machine.
“Excuse me.” Bea said as she accidently bumped into him on purpose.
“Well hello.” The man replied. “My name is Hans, Hans Zoff, and you are?”
Bea’s golden locks fell cinematically off her face as her pouty lips formed the words “Bea Ware.”
Suddenly, Hans’ washer stopped and metal shutters dramatically unfurled from above the windows and entryway of the laundromat: sealing the building from the outside world.
Bea and Hans both ran to the door and started banging on their steal cage with their fists but it was to no avail. They were trapped.
“We’re trapped!” Hans exclaimed as he held Bea by the shoulders. For a moment, their eyes locked and the same fire Bea felt seemed to fill his eyes. Her chest heaved as she took a deep breath then suddenly, cackling laughter filled the air.
They both looked deep into the room: past the washers and dryers and from the shadows commanded a heavily accented voice, “Hands zoff, zee briefs!”
Bea gasped and Hans pulled her to him, his firm hand held her waist. Together they walked, as if joined by the hip back to Hans’ washer where the same voice issued another command, “Zat ist far enough!”
From the shadows emerged a devilishly tall bald man in a Nazi uniform, wearing a monocle and holding a luger.
“So ve meet again!” The man holding the gun exclaimed.
“Yes,” Hans replied, “Indeed we do.”
Bea looked into Hans’ face. She could see he was tense, “Who is he?” she asked.
“It is none other than,” Hans grimaced, “Herr Kalvin de Kline: Nazi sympathizer, and brief marauder.”
“Yes, it is I.” Acknowledge de Kline, “Your briefs, please.”
“You cannot have them.” Hans replied. “Not as long as I have one breath left in my body, not as long as there are free men in this world willing to fight for justice and what is right, not as long as there is even one man on the street, begging for a bit of clothing to keep his nuts warm, the ones that some passerby gave him from the goodness of his heart, will you have these briefs!”
Bea looked into Han’s face, so admirable, so strong, so gallant…but stupid! “Will you take mine and let me go?” Bea stepped away from Hans lifted her dress, pulled off her red satin underwear and tossed them to the Nazi.
“No!” de Kline declined the offer. “Ze briefs!”
Hans smirked and reached into his coat pocket and retrieved some folded pieces of paper, “These?” he asked as he held them into the air.
De Kline nodded yes.
“Then take them.” Hans said as he tossed papers into the air.
“Nooo!” de Kline screamed and dove to grab the documents. In an orchestrated move, Hans lifted the lid on his washer, pulled out a handful of wet clothes and threw them at de Kline. The gun went off, the lights went out, and Bea found herself knocked to the floor, screaming in unison to the sound of a struggle, washers being hit by flailing bodies, then the opening of some sort a door. Her screaming didn’t stop until she felt the warmth of soft lips pressing against hers.
“What happened?” she managed to say between kisses.
“He got away.” Hans said as he retrieved a small flashlight from his pocket to illuminate the room and a trapdoor in the checkerboard floor. They stood up, but Hans was limping and Bea had to swing his arm over her shoulder for support. They smiled at each other and walked to the trapdoor.
Hans found the latch, opened the door to reveal a wooden ladder that disappeared down a shaft and into the darkness. They could smell the ocean and hear waves lapping at the struts of the pier.
Hans shined his flashlight down and illuminated the crown of de Kline’s head. He was in the tower of a mini sub, about to close the hatch. “Until we meet again” Hans shouted.
De Kline, looked up, smiled, saluted with the folded pieces of paper in his hand, closed the hatch of the sub then melted into the ocean.
“He has your briefs?” Bea cried as she looked into Han’s eyes.
“No my dear” Hans said, “No man will get my briefs, for I keep them safe and secure and hidden, in my pants. He just has some folded pieces of blank paper.”
“Oh. Hans!” Bea cried.
“Oh. Bea!” Hans said. He pulled her close and kissed her deeply.
Please go to the earlier post to read all the stories:
The quality of all the stories were incredible!
When I first started this competition I wasn't sure what to expect and I've been surprised by how outstanding and truly thoughtful all of the short stories have been. They have really ranged from humor, to horror, to heart wrenching pathos. Henry Ostang, Stephen Rogers' stories were kind of a stomach punch of emotion. Susan Berkow's had an unmistakable "Crossing Delancey" tone that reminded me of my grandmother. Some got the tone of the period perfect like Dee Turbon's. I certainly won't forget, check out the menace of Jamie Divina Erickson last line.
Thank you guys!
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