“Out Like A Lion” by Mimi Brooks is the third winner of our Hard Boiled-Down Noir Fiction Contest. Mimi lives and writes in Indianapolis, and her poetry has appeared in Punchnel’s.

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Did it come in like a lion and go out like a lion this year?  She thought it did, though she couldn’t remember the start of it.  There were the ides and beware, then the sun shone, birdies sang, until a big storm blew it all away to bring the snow again.  Somewhere in the air, after the ides, was the end of the affair.  “Affair” – a strange word for it, conveying a complicity of social arrangements along with festivity and, vaguely, commerce – or perhaps the sense of a marketplace….bartering what’s dearly bought and cheaply sold.  Maybe that noir edge of espionage, too – hadn’t they  been “spies in the house of love”?  At least that’s how it seemed now – when before it was skin and breath and the hot rush of blood. He’d called her his cowardly lion.

Fuck him all over again. It takes courage to kill what you love.

Patience is an almost atavistic virtue in the hyperlink-point-and-click culture, but revenge has to be chilled, like champagne. Gritty’s fine, but it’s best if you do a slow grind to get it.  People who like to pretend they’re nice prefer nice words in polite sentences until you’re in bed with them. They make you beat around the bush for a while and pretend with them.  Then you can talk dirty all you want – it turns them on.  You can say and do all kinds of twisted, messy shit in the dark.  They love it when it’s unexpected, then they love expecting it. Sure, it’s a cliche:  the no-tell motel, the whispered perversions, the scorned lover.  Is it an old, tired tale?  Nothing’s new under the sun or the moon. When it’s raining, you wear a raincoat – it doesn’t mean you think you’re the Continental Op. You don’t have to be original, just patient and methodical.  She didn’t even have to be all that patient.  Yeah,  he had his foot on the accelerator – but her hands were on the steering wheel.  Where the hell else was it going to go?  He just took it there faster.

Damn, late for yoga class.  Namaste, you bastard.