Monday, April 27, 2009

March's Contest Runner-Up - Mark Joseph Kiewlak

HER FIRST AND HER LAST - MARK JOSEPH KIEWLAK

The car screeched to a halt in front of me and she was there, naked, at the wheel.

"Get in," she said. "Hurry."

I looked behind for another car. There was none.

"I'm dying," she said. "The bastard killed me."

I got in the car.

She was still beautiful. Still irresistible. There was blood between her legs.

"Where is he?" she said. "Tell me where the hell he is."

"I don't know."

She floored the gas and my head bounced back off the headrest.

"Liar. Bullshit liar."

"Olivia," I said. "What happened to you?"

"Fuck what happened to me. Where is he?"

We rounded the corner onto Main Street. There wasn't much traffic yet, this early in the morning.

"I should've killed him years ago," she said. "Should've blown his prick head off."

"He came after you again?" I said. "He did this to you?"

"No."

"Then what the fuck --"

The lights weren't changing fast enough for her. She was running them all. Behind us horns formed a chorus.

"I need to know something," she said.

"What?"

"I need to know real bad."

"Tell me what it is," I said.

"Why didn't you stay with me?"

The one question I had no answer to.

It wasn't light yet. Not yet. There was still moonlight, a trace of it, gleaming off her breasts.

"I wish I had an answer," I said.

"Oh, fuck you and your wishes. Wish shit. What, I wasn't pretty enough?"

"You're the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen."

"Or was it because I hit thirty? Lots of younger rookies for you to choose from...."

"Olivia, stop it. You're talking about him, not me. You know that."

"Where is he?" she said. "You have to tell me where he is."

"So you can kill him?"

"Yes."

She turned hard at the Square and hard again to take us back in the other direction. "I have to keep moving," she said. "If I don't I'll lose my mind."

"Where are your clothes?"

For a second it was like she didn't understand the question.

"They took my clothes," she said. "They took everything."

"Who?"

"Salazar's men."

She was slowing down a bit now. Both her and the car. She wasn't gripping the wheel as tight.
"They came for me," she said. "They knew I was the one who shot Salazar's son."

I saw where this was going.

"There were only three of us there," I said.

She laughed. A harsh sound.

"Three rookie ass punks," she said. "Who covered up a shooting."

"He was raping that girl," I said. "Each of us was ready to pull the trigger."

"But I was the one who did it," she said.

The pool of blood between her legs was deepening. She was growing pale.

"I never told anyone," I said.

She showed in profile just the trace of a smile. "I know you didn't."

"What about the girl he was raping?"

"She slit her wrists," Olivia said, "two years ago."

We were getting near the parking garage. I had a decision to make.

"So it had to be Mickey," I said.

She didn't say anything. We swerved to miss a newspaper truck in the intersection. The daylight was coming now. No one could stop it.

"They burned all of my clothes," she said. "Took all of my personal belongings." She took a deep breath. "They killed three of my neighbors just for being there."

My voice was quieter now. "How did you get hurt?" I said.

"When I opened the apartment door they were waiting. Five or six of them. I never got a count. They were clean and quiet. Gagged me. Stripped me. Threw me on the bed. They had destroyed the entire apartment. Just because they could."

I felt something tear loose inside me and I knew the decision had been made.

"It was just a game," she said. "That's how Salazar told them to play it. They would let go of me and then knock me back. Three of them held me and one cut me -- down there -- with his knife. They didn't care if I lived. They didn't care if I ran. Salazar was sending them out of the country, back home, within the hour. It was all just a game."

We had slowed to a normal speed and rode in silence for another block.

"He called me," she said.

"Mickey?"

"Just before they got there. He called me. Said two words: 'I'm sorry.' Then he hung up."

I thought about the three of us back then, how we stomped through the world and threw ourselves headfirst at every obstacle.

"He's in the parking garage," I said. "Top floor."

She swallowed hard and wouldn't look at me. "I know there was a meeting tonight," she said. "I know you see him at meetings. I know he talks about things there that he doesn't talk about anywhere else."

"We all do," I said. "That's what it's for."

"Why the parking garage?"

It was coming up in the next block. We didn't have long.

"He goes there when it's bad," I said. "When he's ready to end it. He stands at the wall and waits for the sun to come up. He said, once, if he can just make it until dawn he can make it another day."

I saw the garage up ahead and saw her start to tremble.

"He beat me for years," she said. "But I never thought... Salazar is a monster. How could Mickey..."

She turned into the parking deck and took the ticket from the machine, letting it fall to the ground. The gate lifted.

"I know we fought all the time," she said. "I gave as good as I got. But how could Mickey..."

"Maybe he was drunk," I said. "Maybe they gave him money. Maybe --"

She lifted her foot off the gas and we drifted to a stop near the outer retaining wall.

"Maybe he didn't want to go on without you," I said.

She let go of all of it then.

She was sobbing and shaking and I couldn't do a damn thing except the one thing I wanted to do more than anything in the world.

"After they cut me," she said, "they all backed away. Like they were just going to watch me bleed. I jumped off the bed and ran for the door. They just let me go. My keys were still hanging there in the lock. I didn't know where my gun was. I just ran. I just ran and I called you. I just ran and I knew Mickey had done it. I knew he'd killed me. Salazar will never stop. He'll never let me live."

I knew what would happen if I touched her. I knew and I did it anyway. I took her hand in mine. I brushed the hair back from her face. I felt her mouth press against mine. She was still bleeding and numb from the pain. Her lips were against my ear.

"I don't care how much it hurts," she said. "I want you inside of me."

She climbed on top of me and I remembered everything. The smell of her skin in the morning. The way she never left the room without turning just once to glance at me over her shoulder.

The way she bled on our first night together.

Now I was back inside her and nothing else mattered. She screamed my name and I screamed hers. When it was over we found ourselves slumped against the passenger side door, our faces pressed hard against the window, our breath fogging the glass.

All at once she moved her arm beneath me and the door opened and I tumbled out. I hit the back of my head on the concrete. I felt her push my legs out of the car and heard the horn honk accidentally as she climbed back behind the wheel. I sat straight up and the garage spun just a little. The car was pulling away.

I reached for the passenger door, which was still open, and missed. I got to my feet and the garage spun a little faster. I ran toward the car, following it up the ramp to the next level. It swerved side to side and I saw Olivia's head lull forward then snap back. The car sideswiped the concrete wall as it turned for the next level. It slowed nearly to a stop and I ran faster. Then it jerked forward again and I lost ground. It scraped all along the inside wall, sending sparks in a long trail behind it. She was too far away now. I headed for the stairs. I opened the door on the fourth level and heard tires squealing above. On the sixth level I just missed her and ran again in pursuit.

On the next turn she struck the wall and smashed out one of the headlights and kept going. I kept going too, though I knew I would never reach her in time. The seventh floor was the roof. She was picking up speed, sitting straighter in the seat now. Her hair was gleaming in the new sunshine.

I saw Mickey at the wall, facing her in the distance. His arms were hanging loosely at his sides. He never even tried to step out of the way.

She was barreling when she struck the wall. The concrete buckled and the front end lifted and she and Mickey and the car all disappeared. I ran out of breath in the center of the deck. I fell to my knees as I heard the gruesome impact below. I stared at the wall where the chunk was missing. The passenger side door had been torn off and was lying there rocking back and forth, gently. The glass was still fogged from our breath.

BIO: In 2008 Mark Joseph Kiewlak's work appeared in more than two dozen magazines, including Hardboiled, Plots With Guns, Pulp Pusher, Thug Lit, Muzzle Flash, Powder Burn Flash, Clean Sheets, and many others. He was privileged to have served as judge of the 2007 Wild Violet Fiction Contest. He has also written for DC Comics (FLASH 80-PAGE GIANT #2).

2 comments:

Julie said...

Totally noir. Great story, really enjoyed it.

Keith Rawson said...

Solid as always. A great way to start my morning!