Written by Pablo D’Stair and Chris Rhatigan — All Due Respect is a great little noir magazine pumping out short fiction, non-fiction and reviews for a year or so now. Recently they decided to delve into slightly longer pieces, publishing novels and novellas, but still with all the darkness you’ve come to expect from them.
The two stories here are just about novella length and are linked thematically – both are about no-good men, not fit for much, but certainly not fit to be criminals. And as this is noir, they nevertheless end up committing crimes. Crimes that end with them being burdened with more money than they’ve ever seen.
First there’s Bleed the Ghost Empty by Pablo D’Stair. It opens in a Hunter S Thompson-esque bleak wasteland. A man is driving through the night, alone, and has been driving for days. There are signs directing him to towns ahead, towns that never appear no matter how long he drives. He’s running from his former life, but the real running doesn’t start until he stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned petrol station with a car parked nearby – a car containing the body of a man, stabbed with a screwdriver, and a duffel bag containing thousands of dollars in cash. His first mistake is taking the money, but he doesn’t stop there. By the time he leaves the car is burning, the money is gone, and he’s running from the real criminals as well as the police.
The second story is Chris Rhatigan’s Pessimist. An eternal pessimist finds himself on a business trip that he doesn’t want to be on, lugging an overnight bag to a dive of a hotel for a conference he doesn’t care about. But when he gets to the hotel and opens the bag, what he finds is not his underwear, socks and spare shirts, but bundles of cash. It’s over $600,000 – more than he’s ever seen in his life. So he decides to leave, take his tiny hire car and drive south until he finds himself somewhere to get set up. The trouble is he’s not a criminal. While the accidental criminal in D’Stair’s story is stuck in a fever dream, struggling to tell what is reality and what is paranoia, the anti-hero of Rhatigan’s piece is a comical failure of a criminal. He’s overweight, unthreatening and desperate. They are both destined to fail.
This pair do noir well. There are no sympathetic characters here, no flawed but ultimately successful investigators or criminals, just a couple of useless failures who won a twisted lottery and don’t know what to do with their winnings. It’s what we’ve come to expect from All Due Respect – short, dark pieces, with not a word wasted. If you want more character development, more in the way of back story, likeable characters who develop as the story continues, then this probably isn’t for you. There’s more coming from this publisher too with works of rural crime and gonzo-esque neon noir due out soon.
All Due Respect Books
CFL Rating: 4 Stars