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Authors: Jim Nisbet

Tags: #Crime, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Hard-Boiled, #Fiction

Snitch World

BOOK: Snitch World
8.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Few crime writers, living or dead, have the mastery of the English language, the ability to effortlessly set a scene, or pack the same noir punch, as Jim Nisbet.”

Garrett Kenyon,

“Nisbet has long been one of crime fiction’s best kept secrets.” —Woody Haut,
Crime Time

“[A] contemporary noir titan.” —
Publishers Weekly

“[A] rock ’n’ roll of violence, cruelty, humour, absurdity, psychoanalysis, oneirism, and poetry—is the marque of Jim Nisbet.” —

“Jim Nisbet is a cult favorite in Europe and it’s easy to see why. I’ve talked to a few people about this author and comparisons abound; he’s Thomas Pynchon crossed with Raymond Chandler; the lovechild of Patricia Highsmith and Don DeLillo, and on and on it goes. For my money I’d say he reads like Jasper Fforde meets Ken Bruen. One thing for sure, he’s unique and man does he have a vivid imagination.” —

“Jim Nisbet is a poet … [who] resembles no other crime fiction writer. He mixes the irony of Dantesque situations with lyric narration, and achieves a luxuriant cocktail that truly leaves the reader breathless.” —
Drood’s Review of Mysteries

“Jim Nisbet is a lot more than just good … powerful, provocative…. Nisbet’s style has overtones of Walker Percy’s smooth southern satin, but his characters—losers, grifters, con men—hark back to the days of James M. Cain’s twisted images of morality.” —Toronto
Globe and Mail

“Jim Nisbet’s work has been tapping directly into the pulse of America for decades. Like others who have done the same in the past, it’s only later that the rest of us catch up and realize just how right those trailblazers were all along. That time is now, for all of us to not only catch up to this unheralded master but to offer him the respect and regard that he deserves.” —Brian Lindenmuth,

Snitch World

© Jim Nisbet

This edition © PM Press 2013.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be transmitted by any means without permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN: 978–1–60486–681–0

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012913629

Cover art by Gent Sturgeon

Cover layout by John Yates

Interior design by briandesign

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

PM Press

PO Box 23912

Oakland, CA 94623

The Green Arcade

1680 Market Street

San Francisco, CA 94102–5949

Printed in the USA on recycled paper, by the Employee Owners of Thomson-Shore in Dexter, Michigan.

By the same author:


The Gourmet (
The Damned Don’t Die)

Ulysses’ Dog (
The Spider’s Cage)

Lethal Injection

Death Puppet

The Price of the Ticket

Prelude to a Scream

The Syracuse Codex

Dark Companion

The Octopus On My Head

Windward Passage

A Moment of Doubt

Old & Cold


Poems for a Lady

Gnachos for Bishop Berkeley

Morpho (
with Alastair Johnston

Small Apt (
with photos by Shelly Vogel

Across the Tasman Sea


Laminating the Conic Frustum


The Visitor

Baby, just about anywhere you die there’s somebody watching. It doesn’t make any difference whether they’re watching you die in bed or in a chair, somebody is going to be there. It’s strictly a spectator sport.

—Eliott Chaze,
Black Wings Has My Angel

When it’s a man’s time to die
God leads him to the perfect place.

—Frank Herbert,


The Miata jumped the curb and sheared off a light pole. The impact deployed the airbags, but Chainbang was ready. He knifed Klinger’s before it was fully inflated and his own before it could crush the glass pipe in his breast pocket. The six-inch blade went through the nylon like a pit bull through a kindergarten.

Or so he thought. His arms absorbing the shocks transmitted by the rim of the steering wheel, Klinger didn’t mind a nick on his right cheek inflicted by the blade, its vector skewed by the onrushing fabric. And then, shredding his own safety device, Chainbang stabbed himself too, under the chin.

Neither of them noticed.

The light pole crashed headfirst into the middle of the northbound lanes of Webster and sent a shower of sparks onto the sidewalk. The Miata wound up stalled beyond the opposite side of the median and pointed northbound in the middle of the two southbound lanes.

It was three-thirty in the morning. At the moment, there was no traffic.

Klinger keyed the starter. The solenoid merely clicked. He keyed it again. Same result.

“Fucker’s quitting while it’s ahead,” Chainbang observed.

“Yeah, well,” Klinger advocated, “it’s quitting while we’re behind.”

Chainbang beat a tattoo on the lip of the disgorged dash with the blade of his knife. The nearest fire station
is only four blocks away, at Turk and Webster. The nearest copshop is just around the corner from the fire station, at Turk and Fillmore.

As Chainbang stared up the street and paradiddled his knife over the vinyl, a swiveling red light came on over the garage door of the fire station.

“Senseless violence,” Klinger was saying. He turned the key in the switch like he was turning a screw into a cork. “You think you killed that guy?”

Chainbang shrugged. “I hit him hard as I could.”

“Might have done it,” Klinger concluded grimly, and now, though he’d been patient with the nonrespondent starter, the shank of the key wrung off in the switch.

That’s the thing about adrenaline, Klinger thought, as he thumbed the stub of the key in the darkness adjacent the steering column. A man under its influence doesn’t know his own strength.

The preliminary moan of a siren emanated from the rising garage door of San Francisco Fire Station No. 5.

Klinger dropped his hand to the door handle. “It’s time for us to go.” He held out his other hand. “Give me half of whatever comes out of your pocket.”

Chainbang continued to stare through the wind-screen, and continued to drum the flat of the knife on what was left of the dashboard. His eyes refocused on the glass in front of him. Now he noticed the long crack that meandered from the lower-right corner of the wind-screen on the passenger side to the upper-left corner on the driver’s side. It meandered like the Snake River across the befogged reservation of his youth. Befogged is the wrong word. Chainbang’s memory of his youth lay beyond any number of smeared thicknesses of graffitied Lexan, securely obfuscated.

The engine of the ladder truck rolled through the
open garage door of the fire station, lights throbbing, siren probing.

Chainbang thought of spearing the beckoning hand to the lid of the center console before he bolted. But, he reflected, word of this minor treachery would inevitably get back to whatever joint he wound up in after this or some other caper, and, shithead or not, nobody, even a Klinger so uniquely snitched out, was entirely without friends.

In that regard was not even he, Chainbang, one of Klinger’s friends?

The ladder truck, fully extruded like a pipefish from its den now, aimed many of its lights south toward the Miata, siren in full cry.

“Hey! Wake up! Fork it over!”

Chainbang thrust his free hand into the pocket of his windbreaker and fished up a fistful of bills. Though in the dark he had no idea as to their denomination or quantity, he crushed them into Klinger’s waiting palm. “You should invest some of this in driver’s education, you fuck.”

Klinger didn’t waste a moment. His door, being the one that had impacted the light pole, was jammed. So, as they’d been robbing liquor stores with the top down, since they couldn’t figure out how to get it up, he tried to step up and out of the stolen sports car with dignity. But the remnants of the airbag entangled his legs, and he and his dignity spilled headlong into the street.

Going to school on Klinger’s experience, Chainbang took the time to gleefully lacerate his own airbag to ribbons before he opened the door and stepped onto the landscaped median, formerly home to the ruined light pole.

The fire engine was three blocks away now. From somewhere a little farther away came the distinguishable siren of an ambulance. This would be standard San Francisco emergency response: one or two fire trucks and
an ambulance. Not until somebody had determined that a crime had been committed would the cops be called.

East across Webster, beyond the light pole, spread some eight square blocks of housing projects, with which Chainbang was all too familiar. Time was, he might have clambered over one of the entry gates and taken refuge in any of a number of abandoned units, or the various shooting galleries, or a unit known to take in fugitives for a price. In the old days the cops would chase a man to the edge of the projects and stop dead, no matter the hotness of their pursuit, for even the cops were afraid to broach the boundaries of this and other such projects without massive backup, even in broad daylight.

But those days were over. Tonight, Chainbang’s better chance was—he cast his mind over the neighborhood—Alamo Square, two blocks straight up Grove Street. He could spend the night burrowed into a clump of Mexican sage the size of a haystack. As long as the cops didn’t bring out the dogs, he’d be fine.

He rounded the back of the Miata and put his foot on the prostrate Klinger’s chest.

“Hey—what the fuck?”

“Don’t follow me, man,” Chainbang said. He pointed up the hill. “Go your own way.” He pointed toward the projects.

“Don’t worry, motherfucker,” Klinger said, after a short pause for astonishment. “I done followed you enough for one night.”

“You got the gun—right?”

“Gun?” Klinger tried to sit up, but the foot bore down on him. Klinger relaxed. “Last time I saw it, it was on the center console.”

Chainbang glanced at the car. One headlight was still functioning, though its beam angled up into the trees
further north along the median. The inside of the car was a tangle of darkened nylon.

Two blocks down Webster, at McAllister, the ladder truck erupted in honks of outrage as the SUV of a confused motorist, having entered the intersection despite all the noise and lights, stopped directly in front it.

Two blocks further north, the station’s red command vehicle exited the firehouse and turned south, siren blaring and lights flashing.

Lying on his back in the street, Klinger looked up at Chainbang and laughed. “I believe you were the last man to handle the weapon?”

Chainbang scowled and raised the knife.

Klinger threw the fistful of money into Chainbang’s face, twisted the knee above the offending foot, and rolled away.

Chainbang fell backward into the Miata with a curse. Klinger found his feet and ran.

Two-thirds up the block toward Fillmore, Klinger heard the squeal of tires and orders, barked over a bumper-mounted PA speaker. Klinger got a grip on his nerves, slowed to a walk, then turned around.

A hundred yards down the hill a black and white blocked the intersection, and in front of the squad car, flooded by headlights and the driver’s side spotlight, stood Chainbang, blinking and squinting with his hands up.

Beyond him the totaled Mazda lifted steam into the night.

The paper scattered throughout the intersection had once been, no doubt, legal tender, and might be again. At that distance, Klinger couldn’t tell. It might just as well have been calendar pages herded by a breeze through a canyon in a darkened financial district on the last billable day of the year.

Just like most any innocent bystander might do, Klinger stood stock still as the arrest proceeded. He could hear Chainbang’s feeble protestations but, at that distance, he couldn’t understand what was being said. A cop stood in front of Chainbang shining a flashlight in his face. Another stood behind him, warily, one hand on his holstered service weapon. A third was fitting the bracelets.

BOOK: Snitch World
8.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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