Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Apr 10, 2011.
  1. Bay K. - Sue Baby!

    2 vote(s)
  2. Patrick94 - A shot in the dark

    0 vote(s)
  3. nzric - Twilight of Lascaux

    2 vote(s)
  4. Buggy - A Shot In The Dark

    0 vote(s)
  5. abelsaywell - Orange Fire

    0 vote(s)
  6. AngelOfHarlem - No More Lonely Nights

    1 vote(s)
  7. leadINmyPencil - Innocent Mistake

    0 vote(s)
  8. Sidewinder - Do The Honors

    6 vote(s)
  9. nastyjman - family Business

    2 vote(s)
  10. Tessie - The Arrow

    7 vote(s)
  11. Louis Farizee - Shot in the dark

    0 vote(s)
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest 89: A Shot In The Dark

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Mar 28, 2011.

    Voting Short Story Contest (89) Theme: A Shot In The Dark

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned. No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 10th April 2011 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Bay k. - Sue Baby!

    Oh my God! It can't be! But it is. She's seen me and is smiling –that mesmerizing beam, waving at me with those eyes. Sue baby! Oh baby, here we go again; the devil is back for me. Has anyone seen the French film 'The Last Mistress'? Well, I'm feeling Ryno's (sweet) pain right about now.

    In my heart I'm not a tardy person and like to think of myself as adequately professional. But if I came in late again –valid excuse not withstanding-- Ms. Spencer would suspend me –for the rest of the semester! This is not conjecture. She explicitly told me so two days ago. Her chiding words cut through my disciplined soul.
    “--- You can't keep shortchanging your students, Corey. It's not right. You're supposed to be there thirty minutes before they come in, not after. ---” I know! I know! I know! I kept thinking, standing rigidly, while I melted inside. I really hated being called out like that. From the last evaluation report, I was, arguably, the best –most knowledgeable and liked-- Math Workshop instructor in the department.
    Ms. Spencer fired on.
    “I let you get away with it last semester, but no more this time. It really doesn't look good on the department, Corey. Come in late again and you'll forfeit your class. Your students will be transferred to Bello's class.” Bello?! Bello?! Uh, no comment!

    My working life went into the frying pan six months ago when my house mates, Abraham, then Leling, temporarily (to indefinitely) moved in their 'boos'. Abraham's girl had a cute four year old daughter, Nadia, whom she brought in with her. And, I swear, Leling's honey used the amenities more than we, legal tenants, did.

    We were all purportedly working or going to school (even little Nana was in pre-K), but I never saw Victor, Leling's heart-throb, away from the house for more than two hours at a time. He must be on some kind of 'on call' job, or something. And in the half year they'd been with us, neither he nor Nana's mama had paid any rent, or chipped in more than $ 250 –between them (for six months!)-- for household supplies, which consisted mostly of booze, cigarettes and pizza.

    Anyway, the worst were the mad rushes for the bathroom in the morning. I won't complain about the pee, cigarette butts and other unmentionables left unflushed in the toilet bowl many a time, but I refuse to –will not-- get up before 5:00am to get ready for a job that begins at nine! Ahhhh! I won't do it!

    'Not' Abraham's baby mama's alarm unfailingly blasts off at 4:55 every morning –powerful enough to wake the whole street up-- and she's in the bathroom before the rest of us have adjusted to the shock. For the next one and a half hours –at least-- she (and little darling Nana) suck up the fresh hot water supply of the period, leaving the rest of us to scramble for the autumny feel of the liquid proceeding from the red marked 'hot water' faucet.

    At approximately 6:30, Nana's ma cracks the bathroom door open just enough to beckon and permit her sweetheart to join them, leaving the rest of us glaring and seething in impatience on the hallway floor –towels hung or wrapped around our frames. Victor has since taken to brushing his teeth at the kitchen sink, a habit I don't like, but can't blame him for. I still don't know what job that boy does.

    So --- what does all this have to do with Suzie –my appetite's nemesis-- and a shot in the dark? Ok, pipe down; I'll tell you now.

    It's not for nothing that my moniker is 'Conyi'. I downed Cognac bottles like they were Poland Springs. Before my disciplined soul and professional virtues took form, I was a lousy alcoholic and dope fiend. Divine Suzie was the catalyst –my anti-Virgil-- leading me down the cataclysm of my life's inferno.

    We met in high school and she introduced me to liquor, Mary J, heron, crack and an orgasm. She didn't look or seem to fit the bad girl profile. She was gorgeous, smart, always composed and disarmingly charming. But, those who knew Suz the sleez knew she knew her business and handled it well.

    Ten years ago, when I was in the tenth grade (Sue was in the ninth), she came into my room one night my folks were out. I hadn't invited her, but had dreamed of it. I didn't know she was aware we lived on the same planet. I had been in glee just being an acquaintance.

    My siblings –younger and older-- stared at her as though she were a goddess. She smiled at them, waving 'hi' in that curt, sexy chic way and strolled into my quarters. Furtively glancing at me, she threw her things on my dilapidated single sofa. She kicked her shoes off, pulled out the bottle and glasses she had brought, turned off my Tupac jam, cut the lights and strode to where I lay on the bed. Her scent was intoxicating.

    Then, Sue gave me a shot in the dark –my first shot of Cognac. She shot me up with other things as well, and then allowed me to shoot myself at her. Cloud 9 –euphoria! From there, it was downhill.

    It took me six tumultuous years to get over and away from Sue. And just when I think I've been exorcised off her, here she is –at my bus stop! The bus runs on thirty-minute intervals. If I miss it, I lose my job --but retain my sanity. If I get on, I get to keep on teaching, but ---. Her eyes have latched on. Stuck in their grip, the struggle is on!

    As you can see, the scar hasn't healed –from that shot in the dark.
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Patrick94 - A shot in the dark

    We came out of the cinema holding hands, Amy and I, as we invariably do. Bruce Willis had once again inevitably saved the day, in Die Hard III.
    'Where to know?' Amy asked. Her amenable statement lecherously pervaded my concious.
    'Depends,' I mused. 'We could either go to the museum and read up on palaeontological influences of the twenty first century, or walk to the car.' Amy giggled. She was tipsy on love.
    'Even someone like you could figure out the answer to that,' she grinned, hitting my well muscled arm playfully.
    I sighed theatrically. 'Museum of Natural History it is, then,' I said.

    On the way home (surprisingly enough, we gave the museum a skip), Amy picked up her mobile. 'Pizza?' she questioned.
    I smiled. 'Sure,' I said, keeping my eyes on the road. It was dark now. An irascible teenager with his hood up darted across the road. The car screeched to a stop as I quickly applied the brakes. The young man didn't spare me a second glance as I stared after him. Amy had grabbed my arm tightly, in an automatic reaction to our sudden deceleration.
    'Teenagers,' I muttered grimly as I resumed our journey.
    'Jesus,' whispered Amy.
    'Yes?' I quipped.
    'Stop that!' she groaned playfully, but I knew she was grateful for my dismissal of the tension. She dialled the number for Pizza Plus, and ordered a medium pepperoni with fries to go. Mmmm. My mouth salivated in anticipation.
    I pulled in our drive. McClane, the loyal stray, who normally waited patiently for food while we were gone (what else to dogs do?) was growling menacingly as I approached the door with Amy. 'Woah, boy,' Amy said soothingly, reaching down to pet him, but he bolted.
    'Why do you always have that effect on everyone?' I asked exasperatedly. She punched me in response. Oww!
    I threw my coat on the banister. Amy did the same with her cardigan. I entered the living room as Amy went to the bathroom. I suddenly realised how tired I was as I sort of half died onto the leather sofa. Aaaaah. I closed my eyes for a few seconds.
    I picked up a copy of FourFourTwo. I was so tired. I found myself reading the same sentence over and over. I found myself reading the same sentence over and over. I found myself reading the same sentence over and over. Amy came into the room, surprisingly fast. I turned and smiled warmly at her. My heart plummeted. There was a look of sheer terror in her eyes. I began to open my mouth, but she shook her head slowly. Suddenly the glass behind me exploded, and the renegade teenager from earlier leaped in, with a gun. 'RUN!' I screamed at Amy, not far behind her. I heard the teenager scream incoherently, trailing us. Amy ran upstairs. I sprinted into the kitchen trying to draw the attention of the teen, but he was following Amy.
    I swore and followed him, taking the stairs four at a time. How was this happening? Adrenaline charged through my body like electricity. I roared a challenge at the teenager. He turned on me. I could see, to my horror, that half his face was decapitated, leaving a shockingly ugly scar. He growled at me, incapable of speech, and levelled the gun at me. Knowing what was coming, I dived to the left as an explosion ripped the night apart behind me. My heart pounded like a drum. Where the hell was Amy? I understood the teenager had a vested interest in her, as he left me where I was as he entered another room. I knew she wasn't in there, though. He had entered the bathroom. In order to have gone in there, Amy would of had to opened the door, as we always leave it closed. The only other room was our bedroom. Quietly, quietly I went in, joining her under the bed.
    'Are you alright?' I asked fearfully. She was biting her hand to stop her from groaning in horror. 'It's going to be ok,' I lied. 'Who is he?'
    I don't think she trusted herself to speak. I heard a gunshot from the hall and felt Amy jump, terrified, next to me. I gripped her hand. The room was dark. I could hear the teenager approach us. He was gurgling excitedly, extracting a demented joy from this. He slowly bent down until he was face to face with us. He half smiled evilly, blood dripping from where his cheek should have been.
    Amy screamed.
    I was rooted to the spot. There was absolutely nothing I could do. There was nothing in the vicinity that could possibly aid an escape attempt. I felt could sweat roll down my side from my armpits.
    We were dead.
    I felt a strange sense of impending doom as I distantly heard Amy screaming. Time seemed to stop as the teen drew up his hand, pointing the gun at us. I couldn't decipher anything from the predicament. I stared into half a face, wondering where the other half was. Had it run away, perhaps? I was dizzy, blood rushing around my head. Time began again as suddenly I heard an eardrum popping explosion that rent my world in half, much like the teenager's face.

    A shot in the dark.
  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    nzric - Twilight of Lascaux

    I scratched at the Chosen wall part with a birch stone and smoothed at the bottom wall with the clay stone. Last time Gne-Runan had brought heat-light he first made me hide in the bedding chamber. Then when he beckoned he held the smallest heat-light dancing hot on a small birch. He showed me the new outline on the Chosen wall part. He said there was a head with horns. A huge body. Next he will shape the men outlines with spears but before that I should scrape in the Chosen wall part and fill it with the shade of darkness. He gave me a new hot birch stone and said he would return.

    I felt the Chosen part wall outline then crushed the dancing birch light. Even the small heat-light hurt my eyes. And heat-light is not welcome in my place of sleep-and-awake-joined until the start of the Spring cycle. I scrape the birch stone in the Chosen wall part, my hands see that the outline stops before the rising mound and curves just below the running crack where water sometimes goes.

    Gne-Runan said the next Spring cycle would be when he sees the One God through the seeing stone when the standing stone remains in shadow. He is a great sorcerer. He has shown me what shadows are but to me they dance with the birch stone and birch branch heat-light. Gne-Runan says when he walks in his world the shadows stop their dance and move nearly not at all. He says the One God is a great heat-light that looks small but gives shadow to the whole world at once. It moves nearly not at all but goes across the whole of the world in one day. He speaks in riddles. He says he would show me when I come of age but my place now is in this world of sleep-and-awake-joined, to sleep dream the hunt into life.

    Sometimes he would enter my world and yell, the stone of my world yelling back to him in laughing. When he yells he would either hit me or give me meat. When the hunt is good he yells and gives me meat hot from the birch stone. Once he gave me a hide, wet with the salt-taste and hairy like bedding. He said it was a horned hide, and he said that its colour was dark and brown like the clay stone. I could not understand – the clay stone is not soft like bedding and the smell of the clay stone is of earth not meat so what is the colour? But when I question him like that he beats my head so I do not ask.

    But his promise of the largest heat-light is an omen to me. The omen to him was the heavy tree falling nearby and the omen to our people was the death of a newly walking child from bad hunger and grass eating. He told our people he had to wait for the new Spring cycle to bring the largest birch heat-light to my world to read the meaning of the omen. They were not happy but he is a powerful sorcerer so they listened and waited.

    When the new cycle was two of his sleeps away he brought the small heat-light onto the floor of the main chamber. It hurt my eyes and I hid in the bedding cave but he beat my head until I came near the heat-light on the birch stones. He told me to look at it and keep it with birch stones, or else the largest birch heat-light would hurt my eyes so much I would die. I was afraid so I did as he ordered. I could see the Chosen wall parts with animal and man shapes but they were wrong with the heat-light. They became fixed on the stone, not held suspended in half-sleep darkness like they should be. But I scraped the birch stone on the new Chosen wall part to make the shape closer to the shade of darkness.

    Gne-Runan was not pleased when he came with the largest birch heat-light. When he is pleased and there is meat from the hunt he brings me a woman tasting of smoke ash. I take the woman and the stones yell along with our yelling until she thanks the stones and returns to the world of sleeping-and-waking-apart to bear child. But this time at the start of the new Spring cycle he says the omens are still bad and orders me into the storeroom chamber to hide. He brings the Big Men with their staffs and cloaks and they talk of the hunt, of the omens and of the Chosen wall parts.

    It is all wrong. The heat-light fixes the pictures on the stone, the Big Men should not enter, they should not cleave the sleeping-and-awake-joined apart. I moan to my world in the storeroom chamber, slapping my hands on the cold stone in sympathy. The Big Men are frightened at the noise, they say this world is cursed, that if they stay here when there is no heat-light they will be trapped in the world where sleep and awake are joined.

    “I am the stone alive!” I yell, “Do not bring your heat-light or I will tear your throats and drink your blood.”

    The Big Men are afraid of me the stone and run from my world taking their heat-light away, but Gne-Runan remains. He tells me I have broken the omen and he beats my body until I can hardly breathe. He leaves me and I know it is for a long time because I am so thirsty I stop passing water, and my stomach growls with hunger.

    When Gne-Runan returns his head is broken. He coughs and spits, and lies on the floor sometimes sleeping while not moving and sometimes awake sleeping. The Big Men were angry at the omens and scared of my shouts from the world of sleep-and-awake-joined. They beat Gne-Runan’s head and he escaped, but he said they will come with many largest heat-lights to burn the omens away. I tell him I will tear their throats if they come and instead of cursing and beating my head he only coughs.

    They came when it is the time of Gne-Runan’s sleeps. His head was hot and wet with salt-taste and he groaned but didn’t move when I warned him I smelled birch smoke. I picked him up and carried him through the thickening passage to the deeper chamber, putting him on the farthest sitting furs. Shouts came from the main chamber and as I ran back up the thickening chamber I smelled heavy smoke and saw shadows dancing out of the stone. There was one Big Man and three other men, all with largest heat-lights giving smoke through the main chamber. I moaned at the smoke as it fixes then burns the Chosen wall part pictures, but I cover my mouth with my hands to make no noise. Some of the men held spears, some with armfuls of wet clay – the Big Man shouted at the Chosen wall parts and the men would throw the clay at the pictures, then smooth the dark clay over the pictures and return them into darkness.

    I ran quickly to the birch stones. The men do not see me – Gne-runan has told me many times the men are tied to their heat-lights and the darkness makes them blind and tired-afraid. I felt past the warm birch stones to find the stones I sometimes use to warm my bedding. I filled my arms with the hand-sized stones but the clatter makes one man turn and he shouts with surprise. I hear a spear dancing off the stone near my head but they are too afraid to follow me into the thickening passage. Their shouts get more urgent and I hear the moist splatter of clay on the walls as they rush their work.

    I turned back to the main chamber with a warm stone in each hand. There was one man standing with a spear and looking straight at me, but I could see his eyes were tied to the heat-light and blind to me. I drew my arm back like the Chosen wall pictures of the men with spears, then threw the stone with as much force as I could. I have seen the Chosen wall pictures but have never thrown so the stone easily missed all the men, but it makes them stop their yelling and turn to the loud noise.

    I ran from the thickening passage, straight past the man with the spear. He is not my enemy. The heat-light is my enemy and I tear one of the birch branches from the Big Man, throwing it against the wall so it splinters and dies. This I do with the next heat-light, and the final one. The third burns me as I take it from one of the men and dash it against my chest where it splinters and dies. I scream in the darkness and the stone screams back to me with anger. The men are blind and afraid and stumble against each other, stumble into the wall stones. They are not my enemies. They are my prey. I hold the stone in my hand and beat their heads, one at a time. The last one tries to stay silent but he breathes and shuffles and I pull him into awake, throwing his head against the Chosen wall part so that the stone drips with wetness like during the raining seasons.

    Silence except for the dripping of the stone, the last high breaths of the birch branch smoke. I go back to Gne-Runan but he is silent and heavy. I put my hands on his mouth and nose and he does not move them away – he has gone from this sleep-awake world joined, he has moved to the world of always sleeping death.

    I know I cannot stay. The omens have torn the sleep-awake-joined from this world, it is now part of the world of always sleeping death. If I stay my hunger will grow until I always sleep, so I must leave to the awake-and-sleeping-separated world, the world of the small One God with the largest heat-light, larger even than the huge birch branches held by the Big Men. Gne-Runan said if I looked at the largest heat-light it would hurt so much I would die, but I have torn one from the man and struck it on my chest and I did not die. I could bring the omens to the One God and ask him to spare me until I can find another world of sleeping-and-awake-joined. I take some birch stones and the largest clay stone – I can find another Chosen wall parts to sleep dream the hunt and good fortune for me.

    The sleeping awake separating passage is longer than I thought. It is marked with hand prints against the dark of the stone, and I follow them out. The passage opens up and I see many shadows on the ground, above me, wider and wider. They are black on dark but I know they are the birch trees Gne-Runan has told me about, and I run my hand over a standing birch stone that rises from the ground, wider than my arms and rough like a dry stone. There is wind but not like I am used to, it makes no sound and it is always from one direction. I walk towards the wind and the ground slopes upwards. Higher and higher I walk, the birch trees are all around me and the ground is thick with bedding branches and sticks that hurt my feet, but I walk on.

    And suddenly the trees stop and the ground stops and I look down and wide and out and the trees are as far as the world until they go into welcome darkness. I see the trees below me, they look small but I know they are large and I would need to walk far to reach them. But I am scared of the height so I do not approach the edge. I look upwards and see the One God. He is curved and bright but I look at him and I do not die. Around Him, all above me are specks like that flies from a birch branch heat-light, but they are not hot, they are still and far away and the world is broad and wide and I yell in joy.

    “One God thank you for letting me enter your world,” I shout. “Thank you for letting me beat the heads and drink the blood of the men.” The One God does not answer but I know He is pleased.

    I show Him the birch stones and the large clay stone and say I will shape him good omens if he shows me to where I can find meat, where I can find another world of sleeping-and-awake-joined. I am patient, I wait and after a long time I look again and see He has moved from where He was. He is now in the direction where the wind blows and I ask “how can I climb down from this edge to follow you?” but he doesn’t answer. I sit for longer. My own sleeping is coming but I am scared of the wide and open and I want to return to the main chamber, but it is now belonging to death sleeping only.

    I look around. There is a difference. The trees are shadow but now I can see more, further. Above me is not just black, it is lighter but with no heat. I wait for longer. I hear birds but they do not bother me, Gne-Runan has brought them into my world before where they sing and flap and dance. I listen to the birds, so many and so distant. The light-and-no-heat is larger but it still does not hurt my eyes so I stay.

    There is more light, filling the world. I look to the One God but He is growing darker. Is he giving the light from Him to the world? But Gne-Runan said He should always be hot-light, always too bright to look at. The world above, that which is the sky, changes and I begin to see when the darkness leaves. Gne-Runan is right, the sky is turning the same shade as the clay stone, the shade of the berries he crushes to fill the shape of the men of the Chosen wall parts. I yell and cry out in thanks and I think I hear the world yell in reply far away.

    And in the direction of the wind the sky becomes lighter still. It is so bright but if there is heat it is far away. And suddenly I see a splinter, brighter than the largest heat-light but far beyond the trees. It hurts my eyes and I turn away but I have to look. The splinter becomes a line, becomes a curve, rising and throwing light across the world. And that fading above is not the One God, THIS is the One God! It is the largest light but far and small and as I watch it rises into a great circle and I feel the heat-light. It warms my face as I drop to my knees and shelter my eyes because I know to look straight at this One God would truly kill me.

    Gne-Runan, you were right! You were a great sorcerer and I see the shadows of the trees and my shadow are fixed in the awake by the One God, not dancing shadows but part of this world and fixed like the Chosen wall parts in a great heat-light.

    The tears stream down my face as I thank the One God and show the One God the clay stone and the birch stone for omen shaping from my world of awake-and-sleep-joined. And I start down the long climb towards where the wind comes and towards from where the One God comes so that I can please Him and He can show me the way back to my world.
  5. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Buggy - A Shot In The Dark

    Mom was folding laundry at the other end of the living room. “Get a job,” she said. I nodded from the recliner without looking up from my book.
    A few days later, I was walking into a local bank. I shifted uncomfortably in my button-down shirt – the most formal looking thing in my closet – and hoped my skirt wasn’t too short. Looking around the room for some sort of blinking neon “Apply Here” sign, a teller caught my eye and motioned me towards him.
    “Hi,” I said. He scratched his nose and stared expectantly from over his glasses. “Oh, I’m not making, umm, a transaction… Can I get an application or something? I saw an ad…”
    He pushed away from the counter on a comfortable looking rolly-chair and whispered something to the teller next to him. She was wearing a smart looking jacket and her skirt was much longer than mine. Her eyes flickered in my direction and the man put his hand up to whisper another short comment followed by a giggle. The woman walked off toward the back and the man rolled back to his station. Without looking up he told me she was bringing someone.
    “Good afternoon,” the woman from the inner recesses of the bank said warmly. The female teller hadn’t returned.
    “Hi,” I said for the second time. I couldn’t parrot her without sounding stupid and none of the other greetings I knew seemed right. I wondered if saying “Hola” would have formed the impression that I actually knew a second language, and then I explained about the ad.
    “We do have applications available online, but since you’re here, and it’s rather slow, why don’t we go ahead and have an interview!” She smiled that female-professional smile, the one that causes the mouth to split the face in two, and the eyelids to devour the poor eyeballs. If her eyes were still buried in there somewhere, I sensed they would be giving me a sneaky up-and-down. Maybe that’s why they do it – as a cover for evaluating the enemy.
    “Have a seat,” she said when we got into her office. She had a nameplate, but it didn’t seem to go with the other corporate-provided décor. I sat in the seat and did my best to get comfortable but not too comfortable. Crossed and uncrossed my legs, carefully. She watched. I hoped she would begin before I was lost to a swarm of fidgeting.
    Finally, “Have you worked in a bank before?”
    Her smile had faded and she was resting her hands on her desk. She looked like a big, aged school kid.
    “No, but I’ve always wanted to!” I said, trying a little too hard to sound cheery. She nodded but her face remained blank.
    “And do you have experience as an administrative assistant?”
    “You mean a secretary?” I forced a few laughs before hating myself. “Yes. Well, not really, but I’ve done all the things you would probably require of me. I mean, I help my mom a lot with her business, she’s an entrepreneur…” I trailed off before I came across as any more of an infant.
    “Ever been convicted of a crime?”
    “What makes you think you’d be a good fit for First American Bank?” Here, she picked up a pen. She didn’t uncap it, so she probably wasn’t going to write my response down or anything, but you never can tell. Perhaps she was the fastest draw in the west. I searched her face for clues. What kind of answer was she expecting? I had already made one lame joke, and it hadn’t done anything to lighten the atmosphere, and now, with my motives in question, it was all very serious. In truth, I didn’t think I would be a good fit here. Sure, I could do the work. I knew all the programs, I was an excellent typist, maybe my phone personality could use a little work, but the bulk of the problem was the coworkers. These men and women had been working in this bank for my entire life. If they had opportunities for advancement, they hadn’t taken them. Working for this bank was like taking a volunteer dip into a hot tub full of amber, and I had made a point of avoiding the eyes of these people. They were normal. Happy maybe. Dreamless. Zombies. Terrifying.
    I took a deep breath. “Well I live so close, I would have no problem getting to work on time. Not that I’m usually late! I’m never late. I’ve always had an account here, since my birthday checks got bigger than ten dollars. I’m very professional. I’m trained in excellent customer service, and I think this place is just fab-ulous.”
    Fudge. I had promised myself I would banish that stupid pun from my mind, but I guess it just made me fixate.
    “Bwaha! Ha! How clever!” My interrogator was genuinely laughing. Her pen had been set down, and she was rubbing her hands together. Seven centuries at the same silly bank and no one ever pointed out the acronym?
    A few days later the caller ID on my mother’s landline read “First Am Bank”. Moments later a bright red “1” was blinking on the machine.
  6. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    abelsaywell - Orange Fire

    His front felt wet and cold. Why, he had no idea. His attention was diverted to the fact that the entire world was on an elevator going up while he stood still and watched. Jon blinked and saw that there was an bright orange plume emblazoned on the the inside of his eyelids that remained superimposed as his eyes flicked open. The jarring of his knees impacting into the concrete floor corrected his misunderstanding that the world was going up. So this was what going into shock felt like. The lips of the men in front of him moved rapidly and ejected spittle but he could hear nothing except for a background hiss and whine that might be coming from somewhere inside of him. Blackness finally saturated even that bright orange muzzle flash.

    By the time he was at all aware of his surroundings he knew that he was heavily drugged. He knew that there was a routine occurring around him and that he had been hearing many of the sounds he now heard for some time. How long exactly he could not say. As the light became predominantly artificial in the ward, he knew he had seen this process play across the ceiling tiles before. He recognised many rhythms around him but could not say when he had first heard them. Some were wholly mechanical such as the wheels on hospital equipment and the double bounce of a door as it closed against a magnetic security latch. Some were artificial yet possessed a human ambient quality. Something sounded like a pump running at what he instinctively knew to be a respiratory beat. He often heard voices around him though his concentration was not consistent enough to make sense of sentences. His brain would get lost in the concept of a single word. He tried to talk but found he could not move his tongue. He briefly panicked before the blackness took over again.

    A bright light and the feeling of fingers on his scalp and a thumb rolling his eyelid back jolted him into coherence. The doctor, in heavily accented English, told him, “You are in hospital Mr. Ryder. Please do not try to talk or move too much. You currently have a tube in place to help you to breathe. Squeeze my fingers if you understand me.”
    Jon felt two of the doctor's fingers make their way into his semi curled hand. He squeezed once.

    Jon noted that he was in no pain. He had seen casualties before and he had an idea of what he had to look forward to as the pain relief and sedation was dialled back if they thought it was time he was conscious. He didn't remember the doctor having said anything else and presumed he had blacked out again as he was being spoken to.

    Over the next few hours Jon found it difficult to discern between dreams and reality. He dredged his memory for what had happened before he had woken up in hospital. He knew he wasn't in the army any more. He had been out for a little over a year and had been working as a private security contractor. He remembered going to the Middle East and escorting engineers and businessmen around a number of the new and unstable republics that had recently formed out there. Subsequently, he also remembered that he had come back from that particular job. Then he remembered the orange plume. After doing so he could not quite decide if he could see it again or if the harsh hospital lighting was playing tricks upon his opiated senses.

    He woke in pain and panic. He remembered the agency having assigned him the bodyguard detail. He remembered that his client twitched constantly as he was escorted to the buy. He remembered that he had then relaxed when they had met the men that they were to hand the case to. He knew one thing from having seen those men: they were professionals as much as he was. He was surprised that they had allowed him to live.

    He knew he would never make it out of the hospital. He stared at the ceiling and was never quite sure if that orange plume were part of his senses, a visual artefact tattooed on his retinas, or only imagined and purely a symptom of trauma.

    He expected that they would come in the night when there were less people in the hospital. He wondered if he would see them coming and if the last thing he would sense would be another muzzle flash to twin the one he already saw.
  7. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    AngelOfHarlem - No More Lonely Nights

    It was more of a desperate attempt at attention than anything else.

    I had been Doing Bad for along while now. It had gotten to the point where I was just wishing for it all to end. I was no longer eating, I was no longer sleeping--in fact, I couldn't sleep--and I was no longer speaking to people. I was once a talkative person, very social, very entertaining, very uplifting to those that were around me. I had to be like that. My job had essentially required it.

    I had been a news anchor at WWG Network in Chicago for the past twelve years. Twelve whole years. Holy ****, was that a long time. And what a waste of time it was for me. I'd get to the studio about three or four in the afternoon and I'd sit there till eleven or sometimes midnight, staring at the teleprompter, reading my lines, trying to play it off like I was interested in what I was doing at all.

    My favorite stories were the ones that involved a celebrity or other high profile person that I had previously met. Cause those were always fun to hear. Especially when I ad-libbed a quick joke or insult their way. Then, the next day, my boss would come into my office and yell at me for pissing off LeBron James or Charlie Sheen or Vanessa Hudgens or whoever the hell it was that screwed up.

    And I'd usually just laugh in my boss's face.

    My co-anchor, Julia, was always flirting with me. She knew I was married but she still would not stop pressing me to get in the sack with her. One night I gave in. We were working late, later than 2am, and when my wife called I told her I'd probably just be staying at the station overnight because I would be too tired to make it all the way back to the apartment. I also made the mistake of telling her I was there alone. She believed me.

    Julia seduced me and we made love several times. Once in her office, once in mine, even once on the very news desk that we reported from every single day. And that was the mistake.

    Because it was at that moment, mid-thrust, that my wife decided to surprise me by coming to the station to stay with me that night. She walked into the station, planning to head towards my office, when she heard Julia moaning. My wife entered the recording room and saw two naked, sweaty, and writhing bodies going at it on the news desk.

    She yelled a quick, "Screw you, Dave" and walked off. I jumped off Julia and chased after my wife, who was surprisingly agile. She made it outside the studio and I followed. We stood on the street. She was yelling at me, "How could you do this to me?", "What does she have that I don't?", "What's wrong with you?". That kind of ****.

    And I was just kind of standing there on the street--naked, mind you--shivering and taking it all. She waved for a cab and the vehicle stopped in front of her and she clambered in and it drove off. The driver was snickering.

    I never saw my wife again.

    But that wasn't the worst part. Julia loved me, I could have just married her. Not even worried about my wife. The worst part was that a group of college students saw a naked man standing on the street at 2:45 in the morning, so of course they came over to make fun of me. When they approached, I didn't notice them at first because I was in shock over what had just occurred. But they soon noticed that it was me, Dave Evans, anchorman at WWG Network in Chicago.

    Pictures were taken on cell phones and cameras of my naked, forty-three year old body. And of course, in this goddamn digital age, those pictures were immediately uploaded onto that goddamn Internet.

    The news spread. The next morning, our boss entered the studio and fired both of us. The Network had many backup anchors. They didn't need two adulterers putting a stain on their face. Julia, so upset with me over running out after my wife in the buff, blamed the entire ordeal solely on me. And she moved to San Francisco and straight away got a new job.

    I didn't do so well. I spiraled out of control. Pissed away all my money on worthless things like: flatscreen TV's, whores, alcohol, a new car (who the hell buys a car when they live in downtown Chicago!?), and more whores.

    Soon, I found that I was broke. I was kicked out of my apartment and I was living in my car. The only possessions I had were my car, the clothes I was wearing at that moment and at the studio the night Julia and I had sex. My wife had just stolen everything from me. Right out of my own apartment.

    I also had an iPod and an old pistol that my dad had left for me right before he passed away.

    I plugged the iPod into the car's stereo and turned the music up. The first song that played was "No More Lonely Nights" by Paul McCartney. It spoke to me. You ever had that feeling? That one song that hits you right where it counts and you just know that it's speaking to you?

    That's what this song was. Except, I probably didn't hear it the way Sir McCartney intended. Because I thought that it was telling me to just end it all. End my life. End it, so I could finally have "no more lonely nights".

    And I did just that.

    Right as the song closed and drifted off, I put the pistol to my left temple, just in front of my ear.

    And I pulled the trigger.

    It didn't help. Not one bit.

    Because now, I just get to sit up here, wherever 'here' is, and stare down at all the people going about their precious little lives. I get to watch the ones that are successful, that are doing good, that are in love and I am proud of them. I also get to watch the ones that are in the dirt, that are tired, that are sad, that just want to end it all.

    And I beg them not to do it.

    But of course, they can't hear me. Because I'm long gone now. Long gone.

    So now I get to sit up here, replaying my final moments.

    Replaying that final lonely night.

    That final shot in the dark.
  8. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    leadINmyPencil - Innocent Mistake

    Billy spits on the sidewalk before he puts the flask to his lips. After a satisfying sip he tucks it away in his black trench coat and pulls out a detective badge. Showing it to the officer standing next to the police tape he ducks underneath and pushes his way through the crowd. Tilting his cowboy hat to hide his face he walks through the mob of people to the crime scene.

    “Bought time you showed up.” A voice echoed.

    “Yeah, I thought you were going to wait for rigor mortise to set in.” Another replies with laughter.

    “All right go to work men.” A short bald guy steps out of the crowd.

    “Sorry captain.” A couple replied.

    Billy drops his duffle bag on the floor of the alley and takes a look at the victim. The body was slumped over the back steps of a small deli. His left arm looked as it was reaching out ward. A single entry wound was found in his back. Billy asks for assistance to roll the body over so he can examine the front. His heart skipped a beat as a lifeless gaze of the murdered victim met his own.

    “I know this kid.” He whispers to himself.

    “What was that Billy? You got something?” Devin asked thinking that Billy was talking to him.

    Billy stands up with a groan and said. “What we have here is a murdered eighteen year old. Shot in the back with a small caliber gun didn’t find an exit wound. The victim was probably running away and caught one in the back. Any shell casing yet? How about witnesses?”

    “Nope, forensic hasn’t found anything yet. No witnesses either but, we do have the person who made the 911 call.”

    “All right where is he?”

    “It was a woman that made the call.” Devin quickly answered. “The step that the victim was found belongs to her. She owns the deli along with her husband.”

    They walk to the front of the alley to a crowd of uniformed officers. Billy plows a path through the crowd to find the cause. Nestled in the middle was woman sitting on a milk crate. He stands in front of her and breaks up cloud of cops that had her surrounded.

    After it quieted down Devin said politely.”Excuse me ma’am.”

    She slowly brushes her hair out of her tearful eyes and look up and the detective. Hands shaking as she lights up another cigarette with the one she just finished. Billy takes a look around and takes a hit from the silver flask. He hands her a napkin to wipe her tears but she refused the offer. Trying to blink away the tears she replies. “Yes.”

    All right ma’am what did you see?” Billy asks trying to be as friendly as he knows how. “I am detective Hughes and I will be investigating tonight’s case.”

    She slowly bows her head between her lap and starts crying again. “My name is Alicia.” She managed to get out before the crying got worst.

    “Alicia I know it is tough to witness a murder but, ma’am you are going to have to pull yourself together. I can’t help if you don’t help me.” Billy takes a seat next to hear and ask again. “What happened here tonight, lady?”

    The sobbing got louder as she spoke. “I was in side cleaning up like I do every night at nine thirty. I opened the door in the alley to empty the trash.” She pauses and starts to cry harder. “that’s when I heard a gunshot. I dropped the trash and ran inside to call 911.”

    Devin tugs on Billy coat and signals him to follow. They walk in the deli and they were greeted by half of the station helping themselves to chips and soda. The officers that where sitting on the tables saw Billy and they jumped up and stood at attention.

    “If you guys are done keeping the store safe I would like some time to think!” Billy said trying to control his temper.

    “Sorry Bill you know how it is.” An officer said as he walks out the door.

    Laughing he looks at Billy and said. “Now that the criminals are gone what do you think?”

    “I don’t know. It always smells at first. She is awfully broken up for just hearing a gunshot and calling us. I want to take another look at the victim.
    Let’s take a walk through.”

    Billy and his assistant walks to each trash can and continues their inspection behind the counter. Tracing Alicia’s footsteps they continue down the hall. The bathroom was the first door they came to. The bathroom was painted green and barely big enough to fit the toilet and sink in. Following the hall to the storage room Devin leans over and picks up a ring.

    “Looks like a high school ring. Let me see that.” Billy demanded.

    Putting on his glasses Billy starts reading the ring. “Three Rivers High School Class of …”

    “Ain’t that the school by you?”

    “Yes, I bet I know the owner of this.” Billy throws the ring in his pocket and pulls out the flask. Wiping off his lips he looks at Devin and said let’s talk to Mrs. Henderson again.”

    They walk outside and over to interrogate Alicia again. Still sitting on the crate Alicia’s husband is on his knees holding his wife’s trembling hands. Her husband talks to her quietly.

    “Excuse me sir I have to talk to her alone.” Billy gruffly said.

    The husband whispered something in her ear as he stroked her hair. Giving her a kiss on her head he walks away. Cigarette butts littered the ground where Alicia sat emotionless. Her beautiful blue eyes seemed empty now. Sitting on the milk crate with an unlit cigarette in her hand Billy waves a ring in front of her.

    “I found this ring in the back of the deli. Have you seen it before?”

    Alicia stands up and storms in the deli. Billy follows her inside and closes the front door. He walks over to her and motions her to take a seat. He walks over and pours a cup of coffee and asks. “Sugar or cream?”

    “A little cream, thank you.”

    “That person in the alley was my neighbor for nineteen years.” Billy said as he handed over the coffee.

    “I never wanted it to come to this.”She cried out. “My husband opens the deli in the morning while I sleep and I close it when he is a sleep. We did that so we didn’t have to hire anyone.”

    “Yeah trying to find good help is tough.” Billy interrupts.

    “In thirty years he never came to the deli to help late at night. Tonight of all nights he couldn’t sleep and came over to help clean up.”

    “So where does Louis come in on this?”

    Alicia was now sitting on the floor hugging the chair. She struggles to find the words. “I can’t remember the last time I felt a man in me. He was a handsome smooth talking kid that has been stopping by for a couple years and ordered a roast beef sub every night.”

    “How does a roast beef sandwich turn into a bullet in the back?”

    “Tonight Louis and I were sitting at this table talking. I didn’t realize it but we where holding hands. That was it just holding hands.” She pauses.

    “Please continue.”

    Her statement was tough to hear through the crying. “Fred walked in and seen us holding hands. He starts yelling and grabs the hand gun under the counter. Louis runs outside and chased after him. That is when I heard the shot in the dark.”
  9. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Sidewinder - Do The Honors

    It was a dark and stormy night and Detective Peters couldn't sleep. He knew this was exactly the kind of night when the Cliché killer would be on the prowl, ready to strike again.

    The phone rang and it was Stevens

    "There's been another shot in the dark, Detective!"
    "Dammit! Doesn't this guy ever poison or stab anyone? I'll be right over."

    Peters rolled out of bed and realized he was on the wrong side. He grabbed his flask of whiskey off of the bedside table and took a swig. His wife sat up in bed and whispered,

    "Again, honey?"
    "I just don't get it. Why does history keep repeating itself?"
    "Don't worry, hon. Justice is blind. What goes around comes around. He can't stay two steps ahead of you forever. All you've gotta do is go out there and give a hundred and ten per cent."

    Peters jumped across the room and closed the blinds.

    "Sh! Careful, baby. He could still be out there!"


    It was still coming down in buckets as Peter pulled up to the old Godford mansion. Always an old mansion with this joker, he thought. He got out of the car and headed inside to the crime scene.

    Stevens greeted him at the door to the study.

    "Keep your fingers crossed, Detective. I've gathered up all the clues I could find and put them on that desk over there."
    "Great. I suppose you might as well tamper with the evidence. It's not like we have a chance in hell of finding this guy."

    On the desk, Peters saw what was becoming standard fare at this killer's crime scenes: a smudged diary with a missing page, a pile of cigarette ash, a stopped clock, a bloody glove and a jar of pickled herrings.

    "Pickled herrings? Now he's just rubbing it in. Where's the skeleton in the closet?" said Peters.
    "He didn't leave one this time. Instead we found some bats in the belfry."
    "There's a belfry here?"

    Peters walked over to examine the murder victim. The eccentric millionaire sat in a smoking jacket in his armchair. Blood trickled down his temple. Christ, this guy was practically asking for it. He was even wearing a monocle, although there was every chance the killer had put that on him afterward.

    "Get him out of here. I've seen enough," Peters turned away.
    "But Detective -- aren't you going to look for more clues?"
    "I'm sick of looking for clues. I've had enough of this --" but Peters had spoken too soon. On the table beside the victim, he noticed a book. He read the cover aloud, "The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart. Why wasn't this in the pile of clues?"
    "Oh that? That's just a book the victim was reading. How is that a clue?"
    "Stevens, at least you're predictable if nothing else. How many times has the victim been found reading a Mary Roberts Rinehart novel?"
    "Well now that you mention it sir, every time. I still don't see how that's relevant."
    "Of course it's relevant, you melon-head! The butler did it! Quick -- we're heading to the Central Butler Agency!"


    Peters pulled up the car to another old mansion. It was still raining cats and dogs. This had to be the place -- he spent hours at the Central Butler Agency going through the files, and Frank Redrum was the kindest, most civilized and baby-faced butler out there. He donated to the local orphanage every year, and had once saved an old woman from getting mugged. This had to be the guy.

    He rang the doorbell and waited. Finally, Redrum answered.

    "Ah, Detective. I am surprised it took you so long. Please come in."

    Peters felt suspicious. What was going on here? How did Redrum know who he was? As he stepped in out of the rain, the killer continued to speak, "I was beginning to wonder how many Mary Roberts Rinehart novels I would have to buy before you got the idea."
    "You knew I would find you?" Peters was suddenly frightened. "What is this? Some kind of trap? You're coming with me, Redrum. You're under arrest. All those clichéd characters you felt the need to take down a peg. They couldn't see it coming. Who do you think you are?"
    "I'm more than happy to accompany you downtown as it were, Detective, if you'll only oblige one simple request. Do come over here."

    The killer was standing next to a full-length mirror. Peters knew better, but his curiosity got the better of him. He approached hesitantly. When he was standing in front of the mirror, Redrum spoke, "Please take a good look at yourself, Detective."

    Peters saw himself in the mirror, a nondescript face underneath a tan fedora, body draped in a matching tan trenchcoat. He knew that image all to well.

    "You see," Redrum continued, "you yourself are a cliché, detective. You run around chasing crooks and don't even know why. You're embittered at the world but you don't have any real motivation. You're an alcoholic and nobody will believe you once you've got a lead. Hell, I'll bet you even have an eccentric hobby."

    Peters pulled his Rubik’s cube out of his pocket and stared pathetically at it. "My God -- you're right."

    Redrum walked across the hallway and retrieved a pistol from a drawer. He turned off the lights and came back to Peters, who was still standing there, dazed. Extending the pistol, handle first, he asked, "Shall you do the honors or shall I?"

    So this is how he does it, Peters thought. He took the pistol from the Redrum and pressed it against his own temple.
  10. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    nastyjman - Family Business

    There it was: in the middle of Frankie's forehead was a bullet wound, the size of a dime. The wound was sealed by the burnt brain matter, cauterized by the gunpowder. Frankie stared at it from the mirror inside the bathroom. The lights were off, but it was already bright. The moon was in full radiance. He wanted to turn on the lights, but something told him that it was a bad idea.

    The bullet must have been a dud. Frankie reckoned that it had a scant amount of gunpowder: it had enough force to pierce through his skull without breaking it, but not enough to create a fatal exit wound on the back of his skull. His brain was very well intact. The bullet swam between his left hemisphere and right hemisphere.

    He turned the "C" knob on the sink which spewed ice-cold rusting water. He reached out and cupped his hands but didn't feel the chilling sensation he expected. He didn't feel anything. His lips were drooping on one side, and he didn't feel the spit which hung from his lip. Nevertheless, he splashed water on his face which disappointed him – he didn't feel the jolt he had hoped for.

    He couldn't remember who pulled the trigger, he couldn't recall what he ate that evening, he didn't know how he got to his office – only thing he remembered was a shot in the dark. The idea of revenge swam inside his skull. He suspected his rival, Tony Marzigliano. There were territory issues in the past and some needless killings between the families. But a truce was in effect. Cops were everywhere like rats, looking for anything, anything that they could chew with their rotten teeth. The city needed money, and the crime families had most of it. If the two families were at war, the city would benefit, the rats would have their feast, the politicians would have their dicks polished, and they -- the crime families -- would be disposed.

    It couldn't be Tony. It had to be someone else, someone close. Their face swam inside Frankie's skull.

    Frankie shuffled out of the bathroom and in to his office. The room blurred then focused back to normal. His brain was messing with him. He felt like a tower, standing 5-foot-5. He looked down at the carpeted floor and felt his stomach churn and grumble. His legs began to shake, ready to give in. The floor beneath him stretched in and stretched out. His lunch (three glasses of whiskey) was ready to jump out. Frankie fell on his knees and started to crawl. He worked his way towards his desk which looked like a 20-story building shaped like a hospital. He needed to go there now, but not right now.

    Frankie reached for his chair and pulled himself up. He fell on the back-rest with his head dangling from the edge. He turned himself around slowly to face his desk. His vision started to play with him again: the room expanded to a coliseum, then back to a 300-square-foot office.

    Frankie reached for the phone. Normal people would dial 9-1-1. Frankie wasn't normal – not because of the bullet in his head. He pressed some numbers starting with "1". They were clear except for the letters below them; they looked like squiggles and children's hand-writing. The phone rang on the other line.

    "Boss?" said the hoarse voice on the other line.

    "Drew," said Frankie, drool was dripping from his lip, "get your ass here now."

    "Right away boss." And he hung up. No questions asked. The ideal thug.

    Frankie dialed his second suspect.

    "Kevin," said Frankie, "get your ass here."

    "Why?" asked Kevin, "what's wrong pops?"

    That was one thing Frankie disliked about his son: too many questions. He considered giving the seat to his son, but Frankie discovered time and time again that Kevin wasn't an ideal candidate. But he was his only son bearing the Plazzo name.

    Frankie was hard on him all his life -- poor thing. When Kevin was five, Frankie threw him in the backyard swimming pool. Kevin kicked, struggled, screamed, yelled, cried while Frankie stood there with his arms crossed. If Kevin wanted to make it in this world, he had better work for it hard and fight for it. Frankie had to administer CPR afterwards.

    "Don't be askin' any questions son."

    "Sure," said Kevin, "on my way pops."

    Kevin did show some tough in him. As a kid, he was small and thin -- an easy prey for the bigger kids. One day Kevin came with a bruise on his arm. Frankie asked what had happened. Kevin told him that someone called him names, so Kevin beat the crap out of the kid. It was so intense that the kid did **** his pants. The bruise on Kevin's arm didn't come from the other kid; it came from the nun who broke up the fight. Frankie disciplined his son, but he was proud of him.

    But he had too many questions.

    The desk was barren except for the phone. Frankie usually had his bottle of whiskey and rum on the right-side edge of his desk. A cup of pens, a name plate, some picture frames and some paperwork were usually situated by the middle. Those were all gone now, littered on the other side of the desk. Frankie didn't know how they got there. They must have been knocked off from an altercation which he tried to remember but couldn't. He reached over to his desk drawer and pulled out his spare bottle of whiskey. It was half-empty. There were no glasses available, so he took a swig from the bottle.

    Minutes have passed, and Frankie was nearly done with the whiskey. Five, maybe six, gulps would do it. It eased his vertigo and brought warmth to his insides. The alcohol swam inside his skull, along with the bullet, along with the hunger for revenge. Frankie was weaving a plan, and it was near completion. The plan excited him yet made him sick. He took another hit of the bottle, leaving four gulps.

    The silence was disturbed: two taps on the door went like thunders to Frankie.


    Frankie struggled to respond while the echoes inside his skull rumbled.

    "Come in."

    Drew stepped in; he was tall and lean. His skin was opalescent – reminiscent of the dead bodies he melts with acid. He was pale as the moon which served as their light. And he blended in nicely. They called him Drew; they never called him anything fancy like "death", "grim reaper", or "executioner". But his name did strike fear among his foes – as well as his peers.

    Frankie looked at him, studied him. Drew's face remained the same – dead. Frankie knew this man, which he considers his brother the day they started their empire. Frankie was the brains; Drew, the knuckles. He was also the gun, the arson, the face, the hands. It had been 23 years since they've known each other; not once did Frankie see Drew smile, frown, fume or sulk. It always remained the same.

    "Whaddya need boss?" said Drew with a chilling voice.

    "Come close Drew," said Frankie, "I wanna show ya something."

    Drew walked towards Frankie's desk, kicking the stuff littered on the floor. Drew still didn't see it. Frankie gestured him to come closer. Drew leaned forward three inches away from Frankie's face.

    "Jeez boss," said Drew, "who did this to ya?"

    Drew stared at the wound; the wound, back at Drew.

    "I don't know brother. Did you?"

    Drew didn't notice the gun pointed at him until it made a click. Frankie waved the gun at him, suggesting that he had done something wrong, something sinful. Drew took a step backwards and pulled his hands up. His face didn't move.

    "Wasn't me boss.”

    Frankie's face skewed as if he was frowning – but he was far from frowning. The bullet inside had scraped part of his brain that controlled his facial muscles. The left part of his face began to sag and droop even more. Drool was dripping from his lip, forming a pool on his desk. He was mad and was fuming inside.

    "I know you Drew. I was there when you offed my bitch of a wife," Frankie began, "She was family. I loved her, but she had it coming.”

    Frankie reached over to his bottle and took a drink.

    "And I saw your eyes when you pulled that trigger. There was nothing, nothing in there," continued Frankie, "You have nothing to lose brother. You don't have anything. You don't have a soul."

    No reaction from Drew. He stood there motionless like a mannequin with the latest monochrome fashion on display.

    "So," said Frankie, "for twenty years as my hand, you finally want out. And the only way to get out is me being dead. Isn't that the plan?"

    Frankie stared at his eyes, waiting for something. He waited for a glimmer of his soul. Drew's eyes thinned, then shook his head. Frankie wasn't sure what that meant. It was hard to read a killer as cold as December nights in New York.

    "Remember boss," said Drew, "this business, this thing we started is our child."

    Frankie remembered. Down by the harbor after the birth of Kevin, Frankie assured Drew that business came first. It was their family – their real family.

    "Family first," said Frankie with a smile; Drew saw nothing but a lopsided lip.

    Frankie offered the gun he was holding to Drew. Drew slowly dropped his hands and reached for it. It was a rare 9mm Llama, circa 1950, which was gift from Frankie's son. While Drew studied the craftsmanship of the gun, Frankie studied Drew for any change, any clue, any information. Nothing. Under Frankie's desk was another gun: cocked and ready to go.

    "Family first," said Drew.

    Without notice, Kevin stepped inside the room. Drew hid the gun inside his breast-pocket; Kevin didn't see. It was dark, so Kevin flicked the switch beside him.

    Frankie yelled. The light burned his eyes and fried his brains.

    "Close the damn lights!"

    "What's wrong pops?" Kevin turned the lights off.

    "What's he doin' here pops?" Kevin was referring to Drew.

    Too many questions.

    "Sit down son," said Frankie.

    Kevin and Drew locked eyes. There was no ill-will between the two, only animosity. Kevin learned from the best -- the best which was Drew. During the course of Kevin's training, Drew concluded that Kevin wasn't fit for the family business, wasn't fit for what they had called their “son.” Kevin would easily get riled up and get pumped. He had volatile emotions which could mean the end of their “son.” Drew told him to never get too emotional. Kevin ignored it.

    Kevin was a run-and-gun-bullets-blazing kind of thug. Those cartoons, movies and TV shows he had watched while growing up must have influenced him. And with a mob boss for a father, Kevin had a false sense of invulnerability. He was the prince, the heir. No one can touch him – except Drew. Frankie gave him his blessings, and Drew wasn't afraid to hit the kid.

    Kevin sat on the chair in front of the desk. He kicked the stuff on the floor away from his feet. He slowly turned his gaze away from Drew to his pops.

    "Did you do this to me?" asked Frankie.

    “Do what?” said Kevin.

    Frankie leaned forward. The bullet-hole stepped into the spotlight. Kevin didn't see it. And he was certain that his pops didn't have a gigantic wart on his forehead.

    "Look closer stupid," said Frankie.

    He did. Kevin leaned forward and squinted his eyes for a better focus. The wart turned out to be a wound with blood crusting around the edges. Liquid puss eked out. Kevin realized what it was. He jumped back to his seat.

    "Christ pops! What? What happened?"

    Kevin froze. He then unhinged himself and dug his hand inside his pocket. He fumbled through his keys and his cigarettes, struggling to pull out his phone.

    "We gotta call Doctor Grieves."

    "Drew," said Frankie. He looked at him and raised his eye brows; Drew knew exactly what it meant.

    Kevin pulled out the phone. Before he could unlock his keypad, his sight fell to the floor along with the phone. He felt his cheek and gums swell – and it started to burn. His jaw popped out from the impact. It was quick; Kevin didn't notice it until his lips started to bleed. Kevin looked up to Drew who was crackling his fingers and shaking his fist.

    Kevin yelled and cursed him out. He cursed him out some more while he relocated his jaw. That was one thing Kevin was good at: cursing. He was really creative in that department. One of his good ones was "****-eating cum-dumpster." That was what he called his ex-girlfriend before he killed her for being a cum-dumpster. And when Drew found out what he had done, Drew knocked some sense in the kid.

    "What the f*&$ Drew, what the #$ck's goin' on?"

    "Kevin," said Frankie. The yelling and cursing sounded like bombs going off inside his skull.

    "Why the &$@!* are we in this *#$)!$* place-"

    "Kevin." Questions upon questions pounded Frankie's brain like stale, hard meat.


    "Kevin!" He stopped and turned to his pops.

    "Did you do this to me son?" asked Frankie.

    Kevin felt it – Drew's eyes were closing in on him. He could feel the cold stare, chilling his spine and rendering his legs to jelly. He felt his father's eyes sear through him, burning him inside; he started to sweat. Kevin recalled the time he killed his ex-girlfriend for being a cum-dumpster. His pops was pissed angry at him. It was Frankie's turn to beat him up into a pulp; Kevin didn't retaliate. The boy was trouble -- Frankie didn't need another thug, he needed an heir.

    "DID YOU DO THIS TO ME!?" Frankie's body shook. The anger which erupted from inside made his skin tingle, made his eyes bulge out, and made his left ear ooze out blood.

    Kevin was being examined. His father knew how to read people. Kevin knew this well: every lie he had said was immediately caught. Kevin developed this ability too, but not as quick and refined as his dad's. With Frankie's face melting on one side, it was hard for Kevin to make out what Frankie was thinking. But Kevin felt it: he was going to be executed.

    "Christ," said Kevin, "I'm ya' son pops."

    Frankie drew out the gun under his desk. His vision started to play with him, zooming in and zooming out. He steadied his hand and pulled the trigger as soon as he zoomed in on Kevin. The bullet hit its mark, right on Kevin's right shoulder.

    Kevin yelled and cursed from the pain -- he was crying. He stopped the blood from oozing out with his left hand. The blood spread out, creating a patch of red on his shirt. He had received about four bullets in his career as a thug, all of them coming from their rivals. This one was his fifth, and it came from his father which made it hurt more.

    "It wasn't me pops!" Kevin squealed, "It wasn't me! Please!"

    Kevin had pissed his pants.

    Frankie studied Kevin's face. He was looking for it – a change, a clue, some information. He had seen his son's anger; Kevin would show it when Frankie would catch his lies. Frankie expected that on his face. A subtle hint would spell it out. What Frankie saw, however, was fear – and it was real. Frankie crossed out his son -- he was clean. It was now Drew's turn.

    "Drew," said Frankie, "do it."

    The cold and corspe-like Drew flashed a grin. It came in less than a second. Frankie caught it. Drew pulled out the gun from his breast-pocket and pressed it against Kevin's left temple. Kevin closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. He anticipated the pain from a bullet through his head. Fact: A bullet through the brain is painless.


    Kevin's brains were still in tact. Drew pulled the trigger again. Nothing. Drew took out the magazine from the gun and discovered it empty. Bewildered, Drew stared at Frankie. Three bullets raced across the desk, ripping Drew's right lung, windpipe and biceps. Frankie was aiming for his chest; at least one made it. He fell on his knees and coughed out blood. He attempted to say something, but was denied by the blood which swamped his windpipe. Drew slumped over and succumbed on the floor.

    Frankie would expect anger from a dying traitor – but all he saw was despair. Frankie failed, and he still didn't know who tried to kill him. Pissed, Frankie needed a drink. The spare bottle on his desk was empty.

    "Kevin," said Frankie, "can you grab that bottle of whiskey on the floor?"

    Kevin, still shaken and confused, looked down on the floor. The bottle of whiskey touched Drew's blood which was pooling on the floor. Kevin pulled it up along with a note that stuck to it thanks to Drew's blood. Kevin handed the bottle to his pops and kept the note for himself. It was dark, but there was ample light from outside for him to read it. The note had his father's hand-writing. It said this:

    “Kevin – it wasnt my intention to bring you into this world as a killer. I failed as a father. You are free now. Its up to you if you want to continue down my road or not. Ive wired money in your account.”

    "Drew – Im tired and I cant go any longer. The business that we have fathered together is yours. Take care of our son, and take care of my son. You were a brother, a father and a friend. Im sorry."

    "Goodbye. Good Luck. Frankie."
  11. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Tessie - The Arrow

    Jay leaned out the door and stared into the darkness surrounding Michael's Bridge Diner. It was getting late and no more customers would be allowed in. He reached for the neon 'open' sign and flipped the switch. The red glowing wires went black and he headed back into the diner, closing the door.

    He hated his job, cleaning the counters, mopping up spills, and wrapping leftovers for customers. But there was nothing he could to do about it. Sure, he could give his two weeks notice that minute, and his parents wouldn't make a big fuss about it, but there was something that kept him there. Probably the only thing.

    He returned to the cart piled with cleaning materials and pushed it in the direction of the back room. The tiny wheels squealed and made a funny tread on the aged carpeting. He passed long abandoned booths and smelled the freshly laid cleaner on the tabletops. A handful of customers were chatting at the bar, but even their voices were growing dim with the lateness of the night.

    As he nudged the cart through a swing door, he heard a voice speak behind him. It was his manager, Lori.

    "Jay! Will you clean up this spill?" Her voice had the usual tone of professionalism in it, but Jay knew secretly she couldn't stand him. He wasn't the best employee, maybe somewhat relaxed with his duties, but he couldn't help it. This was his second job his parents had insisted upon, and he hated it. He disliked diner work more than anything else. And it probably showed, because Lori would give him the hairy eye from time to time.

    "Will you take care of that, please?" Lori repeated, pointing to a puddle of orange soda.

    Jay took one look at it. "Nope. No way," he said, grinning.

    Lori cackled. "Honest to goodness, Jay, what am I going to do with you?"

    "Fire my ass?"

    "No," Lori laughed. "That's just what you want. Take care of the spill." she said as she walked away through a door. Her laugh faded into the kitchen.

    Jay groaned and quickly mopped up the mess a kid customer had left. Then he hurried the cart to the back room, shoving it into a cramped closet. He kicked the door closed with his shoe and then headed for the kitchen.

    "Hey, Tara. Almost done for the night?" a voice said as Jay entered. He peered around the corner and saw who had spoken. It was Bill, another employee. And beside him, washing dishes in the sink, was Tara.

    "I just have to finish these. What about you, Bill?"

    "Ah, I have a few more minutes. Besides, I just saw Emerson stumble in, so I guess it's gonna be longer."

    "Longer?" Tara said and she suddenly looked at Jay as he approached.

    "Damn it!" Jay kicked the side of the metal cabinet. "He does this all the time."

    "Who's Emerson?" Tara asked.

    Bill laughed. "Oh, that's right. You're the new person. Well, you see, he's this old guy who comes in every other day, and Lori always makes a point to help him. That means we stay late." Bill turned to face Jay. "Well, not everyone has to stay. Lori wouldn't miss you if you went home, Jay."

    Jay avoided him by picking up a stack of pots and pans.

    "So we stay late so Lori isn't alone?"

    Bill smiled, laughing again, "Exactly. Hey, you catch on pretty quickly. You're wicked smart."

    Tara grinned and looked down to the suds in the sink. Bill then took a towel to dry dishes beside her.

    Jay saw them smiling and laughing. He felt a twinge of envy. She smiled at anyone, and the girl couldn't do wrong. Since a month ago, when he had first seen her, she had acted like a goody two-shoes. She said the right thing, always did the right thing, and always took the extra effort to impress Lori. He didn't understand her sometimes. She was well on her way to becoming employee of the month for sure.

    A drunken cry rang out. Bill and Tara tried to contained their laughter. Then Jay heard Lori cackling through the open service window, talking to Emerson.

    Tara glanced out into the dining area. "I've never seen anybody that drunk before. Bill, go bring Lori some more coffee for him."

    "Ah, man." Bill threw up his arms and grabbed a cup. "He's so helpless all the time. I swear, he's got some weird crush on Lori, because he's hear like every day." Bill exited the kitchen, holding a full coffee pot and the steaming cup.

    Jay stepped up to the sink. He glancd sideways and noticed the shinning black pony tail that dropped to her waist. He felt tempted to give it a little tug. Tara suddenly looked at him and he glanced away. She handed him a plate and then a pan, and silently he put them in the cabinets.

    She was looking stunning as usual, wearing everyday jeans and a sweatshirt. But she didn't need something flashy anyway. He liked her. Heck, everyone liked her! But something definitely separated them. He didn't know what it was, but he did know that she wasn't your typical girl. She was about his age, maybe a year younger, but that was where the similarities ended.

    Emerson was talking better now. Some of the sentences that flowed through the service window were not as slurred. Bill re-entered the kitchen with a wide grin. "Man, he's so stoned."

    Tara flashed her smile and Jay laughed. Lori was right behind Bill with the empty pot. "All right, you guys can leave now. I'll only be a couple more minutes with Mr. Emerson." she as she winked.

    Tara giggled and said, "No, I'll stay with you. We wouldn't want you to be alone."

    Lori beamed with gratitude. "Thank you, Tara, that would be wonderful." She turned to the others. "Anybody else wanna stay a little longer?"

    "Nah, I'm gone. I've got plans." Bill said. He moved for the back door, smiling. "Catch you guys later."

    "Bye, Bill." Lori said. She turned to Jay, raising her eyebrows. "Are you staying or going?"

    Jay shook his head. "I've got homework. Some Friday this will be."

    "Have a goodnight, then," Lori said and she walked out to rejoin Emerson.

    Jay reach for his jacket, hanging on the back wall, and pulled it on. He paused and found himself staring again. Her hair had been unfurled from the pony tail and now hung about her shoulders. She was busy with her cell phone, texting away. Slowly, he approached her. His shoes moved quietly across the tile floor. Tara glanced up at him. Her dark, consuming eyes met his with a shock.

    "Have a good night." she said, trying to smile, although she visibly squirmed.

    "Uh, thanks, I will." He turned to head for the door, but inwardly he knew he wouldn't get another chance like that. Something had to be done. He turned back and tried to speak. He hesitated and then blurted, "Would you like to go out sometime? Like to the movies or something?" Then a sinking feeling commenced. Gosh, why did this feel like such a shot in the dark? She couldn't like him. She was the perfect good-goody. She didn't like talk to him, if she could avoid it.

    Her eyes were dazed. She lowered her cell phone. Then a million dollar smile curled on her face. "Sure, Jay, that sounds like it would be fun."

    Jay smiled. His arrow had found its perfect mark.
  12. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Louis Farizee - Shot in the dark

    Alleyway! Alleyway, up ahead, duck into, alleyway. Dark. Alleyway is. Dark.

    No lights.

    Can hide. Hide, dark, alleyway.

    Please don’t let there be a dog.

    Please don’t let him catch me. Don’t, don’t, don’t.

    I skid around the corner of the building, trip over a pile of garbage bags, go head first into a big pile of flattened cardboard boxes. I lie there for a second, stunned, and then scurry behind a cluster of garbage cans. I become aware of a horrible sound nearby- hrrrrrrrr! Hrrrrrrr! Hrrrrrrrr!!!- and I almost lose it until I realize it’s just the sound of my own breathing. I grey out for a second, oxygen deprived. I close my eyes and lean against the brick wall, waiting for the dizziness to go away.

    I have a vision of every cockroach in Brooklyn crawling into my shirt and hastily move as far away from the wall as I can while still attempting to keep myself hidden by garbage cans and oh, by the way, not disturbing the random garbage I seem to find myself perching precariously on, while trying to breath a lot quieter and stop the heart from pounding its way out of my chest and it smells really bad.

    Throwing up is the last thing I need right now. No, that is of course an outright lie. Getting sliced open like a fish is the last thing I need right now. Throwing up wouldn’t actually be that bad. Unless it attracts attention. Maybe I can vomit without a sound.

    I try to gasp for breath through my mouth. Someone has apparently been frying diapers in curry and left them to marinate in rotten milk. The stench hangs in the air, and I can nearly imagine it as a green fog, solid enough to punch holes in.

    The cats start to gather round, staring at this interloper who dares invade their kingdom. One hisses at me.

    “Go away, you bastards!”


    “Go away, I said! Shoo!” I make increasingly frantic shooing motions with my hands, which has never worked on any cat in the history of ever. The cats stare. Somewhere, a baby starts crying, a man begins yelling in Russian, bass beats boom from a passing car, and a siren wails. A quiet night. The good citizens of New York have gone to bed, aside from the ones who have stayed up to watch TV, and the bad citizens are just getting the evening started. And one of the latter variety is surely searching for me. But I have found a pretty good hiding place, and if these damned cats would just keep their yaps shut for a few minutes, surely he will find easier prey.

    And that’s when the cats began screaming their freaking heads off.

    Alright. Options. I have in my pockets… some keys, a phone, change, wallet, Zippo, crumpled pack of cigarettes. This alley contains a small mountain of garbage bags piled up, a multitude of incredibly territorial cats, a mound of cardboard, some overflowing garbage bins… and some stairs, leading who knows where, probably a common storage area. That’ll be fine. I’ll just wait this guy out, sneak over to the storage area, which should have an interior access, come through the apartment building, call a cab, and exit through the well lit front door. Nothing to it. Just have to wait…

    “Why you runnin’, bitch? I can see you hidin’ behind them garbage cans, yo.”


    I stand up. “Um… hi?”

    A dark shape appears at the mouth of the alleyway. Light glints, just for a second, off a gold tooth. I hear the scrape of sneakers beginning to climb a pile of trash. “I am going to kick your ass” he says, matter of factly. Ho hum, just another day at the office.

    Oh God, oh God, oh God I am going to get robbed and beaten up and it is going to hurt and is that? Yes.

    On top of the garbage can I have been hiding behind. A hard drive. I pick it up. It weighs, what? Two pounds? I’ve got another twenty seconds before he scales Mount Hefty. One… shot… I can’t see him, but I can hear him. One shot…

    I heave the hard drive into the darkness, turn and flee.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page