Film Noir Persona runs to save Lilly’s life and reveals the identity of the Beige Boiler driver in this chilling alterview!
Film Noir Persona, welcome back to The Sewers! We welcome and congratulate you here and now!
How can one receive these greetings at a time like this? Rabid dogs and Sleek Cats going rampant in the streets, like stink flies at the smell of rotten meat. I hear the sirens and the gunshots, the gunshots and the sirens, I hear them like an itch, like mosquitoes in my ears. they come from afar, they come from right here, but you can never put your fist on it, and make it disappear.
Is this some kind of song of spring, Noir style?
Spring. Hah! Haven’t heard that word since I was a child. It’s a word for wide-eyed dreamers, for those dumb, shoeless believers, for fools, for idiots, for poets.
Like you? You just rhymed your intro, that’s a first in The Sewers. We congratulate you!
Who cares? Lemme tell ya something, toots, if words meant something they’d be worn around the neck by rich broads, and men living on the nut like yours truly would be allowed only two a day.
That’s why I always say to Lilly: “listen, Lills, can ya hear that?” and she says: “hear what?” and I tell her, “shh, quiet. can you hear that? That’s the sound of you shutting the goddamned hole in your face. And that’s a sound a man appreciates.”
Yeah, Lills, she’s not cut out for undercover stake outs. Keeps yapping and yapping till your head goes dry.
That’s Lilly, your teenage neighbor.
A wacky little chick, lemme tell ya. She aims a gun like a racoon holds scissors.
What?! You let her – you know what, the less we know, the better. You said she’d help you solve the Beige Boiler mystery. You said it’ll take two months.
Well I was wrong.
Obviously. You really messed up last time.
It took one month.
Yeah, toots. You have very little faith, don’t you? I appreciate that. Faith’s for fools, for showered busboys, for young men growing a mustache. It ain’t a business for the rough of heart.
Right. So tell us about the Beige Boiler.
Well, I told you about that late afternoon when I saw that chump and his broad, Rita, oh, Rita, arguing in the boiler –
Yes, he pointed a pistol at you!
Yeah, and I walked away, I ain’t playing by their rules. And the Beige Boiler disappeared. For a whole week, no sign of it. Days grew cold, it was November. Nights grew even colder, like jewelry in a coffin. Lills, she stood in her window every evening, eyeing the street. No sign of it. One day I told her: “Lills, I’m gonna do something about it.” And I went down the old, goddamned station where I was a john back then, and met with Jim. The man’s got a map as big as a moon, a beezer like a potato –
I told him: “Jimmo, I’d ask you how’s the wife and kids but I ain’t got time. I’ve got a piranha on my hook and it’s pulling like crazy –”
What’s happening with your language today?
I’m trying new things, baby. Anyway, I asked Jim to run the Beige Boiler’s plate number on the computer –
You what –
And he –
You… you could have done that all this time? Just run the number? I can’t believe this!
You’re so awful, you’re a sham! This is bullshit!
Hey, little miss –
Don’t call me little miss, you’re such a sham! No wonder they kicked you out, you’re the worst, most boring, misogynist detective in New York!
Well it’s obviously that time of the month for you, sweetheart –
So I’m gonna let that one slide. If you really wanna know about the Beige Boiler, you’d shut your yap and listen. do you wanna hear it?
Just spill the beans already.
That’s the spirit.
Well, Jim ran the number, and right then, at the exact same moment, the whole system shut down.
There was a blackout, half the city went off power for forty minutes. And as we sat there in the pale, hospital-horror-movie-like backup power lights, I told Jim about the Beige Boiler. He seemed uninterested –
Because you’re boring.
– at first. “insurance fraud” he said when I told him about Lady S, but the more I talked, the more his eyes grew big and watery, like a fountain someone urinated in late at night. He said this whole thing suddenly sounds familiar. He started looking through his files. Then he called Steve, from the archive. The man is a hundred, flies are drawn to him, lemme tell ya. Anyway, we run down the archive, there was no light there, just our flash lights, and Jim is flickering his fingers through old dusty files. It smelled like your dead grandmother’s first wedding dress she kept in her closet. Suddenly my phone rings, it’s Lills. “can’t talk now, kiddo,” I say to her. And she says nothing. That ain’t like Lills. I hear her cry out my name, then silence. “Lills?!” I yell into the phone. and I hear a voice, a voice of a man, a goon, a bastard. “I have your girl,” he says, “and if you wanna see that eye candy again, you better come here right now”.
Oh no, no!
Yeah. I make a run for it, but Jim grabs me. I can’t even tell him to let go. My mouth is dry. My head is pounding. Lilly! A delicate flower in the hands of a thug, a predator, a monster!
Easy there, skipper. I push Jim off, and he shoves something in my hand, a file. I don’t even look at it, I run. The city is a mess, the beast of concrete is roaring. There’s light, but you can feel the blackout, you can feel it like a rat that’s lost half its fur. There’s no hack, the subway’s running amok, I run, and I call Lilly’s phone, “if you lay one dirty finger on her!” I shout into the phone, straight into voice mail. It starts to rain, the rain blinds me, thunders, chaos, panic! I leap into the building, and I see a car flashing me on the street, and there it is, the Beige Boiler!
The Beige Boiler!
Should I run up and get my new, beautiful Lucy? A classic Smith and Wesson, all greased and shiny and ready? It crossed my mind. but I was just thinking about Lills, sitting there in the boiler, weeping, in the hands of that beast! I make a run for the car, nearly rip its door open. And she’s sitting there at the driver’s seat, she, Rita, that breathtaking dame who talks like a thug, with her cat-like green eyes and her sarcastic hint of a smile. And only her. Her alone. “now listen to me, you sack of fake ice,” I say to her, “where’s the girl?” she giggles, like a school girl. She throws me off, Rita. Oh, Rita. “she’s at your place,” she says, grabs the file I was still holding and shuts the door. I run up. She drives away. I find Lilly in my joint, her strawberry face redder with tears and fright. “he ran out the window, the bastard!” she cries. I look out the window. electricity is back at once. My refrigerator hums. Disgusting music comes in from the hall. The radio tells the news, but it tells me nothing. “spill it, Lills! What went on here?” but she has very little to say. She saw the Beige Boiler from the window, but before she could call me, that goon was grabbing her phone.
What was she doing in your apartment?
That’s irrelevant. I called Jim. Lilly fixed us a drink. A lightning lit my dark, shady joint like a press conference. “what did you put in my hand, Jim?” I yell into the phone. “it’s the 1989 Beige Stalker case, can’t you read?” he says to me, “no, I can’t!” I yell, “the Beige driver took it out of my hand! What’s in it, Jim?!” and lemme tell ya, Lilly had to fix me two more drinks while I was listening to what he had to say.
We got it all wrong, toots. We kept saying the Beige Boiler’s looking for someone new to follow, remember? If you follow the person being followed by it, it starts following you. But we got it all wrong. It’s not looking for someone to follow. it’s so obvious now. you see, the Beige Boiler isn’t a stalker. What it looks for is a driver.
That’s right. for thirty years, people have complained about being stalked by it. And if you cross the numbers and draw the lines, you see sixty percent of these people –
No, you’re not listening, goddamnit. They became the drivers.
And then what? Where are they? What happens to them?
That’s what I’m trying to find out, now that I drive it. With Rita.
You’re driving it?!
Yes. I’ll get to the bottom of it soon enough, take my word for it.
Wait, who are you following now? How do you choose them? How did you find Rita? Where’s the other guy with the pistol? How did they start driving it –
Hey, slow down, skipper. You’re starting to sound like my old boss, and that ain’t a compliment. Especially not for a woman.
Right back attcha, toots.
Do you trust her? Rita?
No more than I trust my bed bugs, sugar. Probably even less. But I’m too far in now. It’s calling me. Once a mystery, then mundane, like a fly on your wall when you have a fight with your wife, and now, again, a mystery. A mystery I have the keys to. Now it’s just a matter of time till I figure out just what it is they unlock.
When are you coming back?
You’re starting to miss me already, sweetcheek. But don’t hold your breath. And don’t let those tears slat your sweetness more than they should, sugar.
Right. well take care and fucking solve it already.
You got it, toots.