I Meet the Noir Editor
Brad Rose
I hang-up the phone, and based on our terse conversation, try to picture him. His face must look like crossed knives, his unshaven complexion, grainy as a noir photo of a drunken Bogart, smoke rising from the white stick-stub of an unfiltered Camel.  

Surely he’s been up all night, every night this week, editing hard-boiled stories about impossible love and murderous molls who are smoother than the first-sipped slither of Tanqueray.  A brilliant autodidact, I imagine that while he was in prison, he’s read all of Tolstoy, Joyce, and Proust, then mastered the styles of Hammett, West, and Chandler.  He’s probably even scribbled his own brilliant stories--- later published in the New Yorker-- in battered spiral notebooks, which were clandestinely smuggled out of prison during visits by his beautiful, raven-haired girlfriend, who waited faithfully for five years for his release.   

The next day, when we meet to sign my contract, at Mac’s Coffee shop, I mistake him for someone’s lost child; he’s shorter than my baby sister, and so plain and epicene, his pudgy face suggests vanilla play dough and the indeterminate sexuality of a box of Kleenex. His freshly pressed khaki’s and blue button-down shirt, are starched props from a prep school musical. He’s drinking Chai tea.   

When I approach him and haltingly inquire if he’s the editor from Slash and Burn, Baby magazine, he demurs, like the Mona Lisa, and peeps, “Weekends.”  I ask him if he’s come here to sign my contract, he nods ‘yes’ and sheepishly asks me if he can borrow my pen.    

“My mechanical pencil,” he confesses, “just ran out of lead.”   

I must have appeared incredulous, because he immediately offered, “Or, I could just run outside and borrow one from my mom. She’s parked right outside, in the Dodge mini-van.”  

 

Brad Rose

was born and raised in southern California, and lives in Boston. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The Baltimore Review; San Pedro River Review; Off the Coast; Third Wednesday; The Potomac;Santa Fe Literary Review; Boston Literary Magazine; Right Hand Pointing; Sleetmagazine; Monkeybicycle; Camroc Press Review; and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at: http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/ His chapbook of miniature fiction, Coyotes Circle the Party Store, can be read at: https://sites.google.com/site/bradroserhpchapbook/ Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/bradrose1


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