Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Twist Of Noir 112 - Lee Hughes

THE BENNY FACTOR - LEE HUGHES

Melissa waved to her daddy before driving off. He waved back with a solemn look and yawned. Neither noticed the car that pulled away from the kerb which began to follow her.

Melissa was singing along to her music and looking forward to buying everything in the new summer collection from her favourite designer, Antoine Gars.

She glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw a car practically up her arse. The car indicated. So she slowed to help make the overtaking manoeuvre easier for the busted-up Ford. The Ford sped up. Then slowed when it got to the side of her car. Melissa looked at the driver and her mouth fell open. The driver was wearing a maximum restraint mask. It hid the majority of his face. The Ford's passenger leant forward, so he too could be seen. He was wearing the same gruesome facial apparel. The driver, without preamble, slammed his rust-bucket into the side of her soft-top Mini. Melissa swerved and parked her pride and joy into the thick bole of a roadside tree.

The brakes from the Ford were jammed on to full screech. Masked men rushed the Mini. One dragged open the door whilst the other dragged Melissa out. She kicked. She screamed. She got hit hard enough in the face to make her hush down. The passenger. He jabbed her in the arm with a needle and gave her a healthy dose of night-night. Melissa went as limp as three-day old lettuce.

Melissa came 'round. It took a few seconds for her to focus. She was in a garage. The place smelt like armpit. Her tongue felt heavy and dead. The rag that had been stuffed into her mouth kept soaking up the moisture. She struggled. She could see the two men. Her abductors had changed attire. Gone were the boiler-suits and the Lector masks. Now they wore suits like the men that fixed the cars in Formula One that her Daddy loved so much. Their faces were hiding behind flame retardant balaclavas.

Melissa tried to speak. It all just came out in the air as a clumsy muffled noise. The taller of her captors raised a finger to his covered lips.

"Shush," He lowered the finger. "We know all that we need to know, so there's fuck-all we want to hear from you."

The captor turned to his cohort.

"Bill. Watch her whilst I go make the call."

Melissa freaked. She began to struggle as if she was fitting. Bill, the one that had been silent, he watched her. His eyes enjoyed her terror.

"Won't be long," said Steve, followed by, "And, Bill, don't lay a finger on her."

Steve headed over to a privacy divider, like the ones they have for people who end up in shared wards because they don't know the meaning of the word BUPA. Melissa still struggled to get free. She could see the silhouette of Steve as he changed out of the racing overalls. A door slammed and the silhouette was gone.

Bill walked back and forth in front of Melissa. Every couple of passes, he would pause and feign hitting her. Melissa fell for it each and every time. There was a look in his eyes, Melissa could see it. The man, Bill, really wanted to follow through and land his hand hard. She struggled some more.

Melissa wept. Her mother had passed away a year ago. The loss had crippled her father. Melissa had not been allowed at her mother's deathbed in the moments before her passing. Her mother wanted some private time to share some words with her husband.

After the funeral, her father had then thrown himself into his work. It became everything. Making money was something that took a hold over him stronger than it ever had. It reflected on his generosity towards his only child. Before the death all of her demands had been met without argument. Then after afterwards getting enough cash for a weekend break to somewhere nice became like pulling teeth. Even the soft-top Mini that was now wrapped around a tree was a slap in the face. She'd wanted a Beemer for her twenty-first. And that pokey, little thing was what she'd gotten. Simply, something had to be done.

Tears streamed down her face. Not today. Why did this have to happen today?

Her crying ceased momentarily as Bill came at her with his hand up again. Melissa had more to worry about than this fuckwit's silly games. She didn't bother flinching. Shame, really, because Bill wasn't feigning. Melissa's head snapped back. Bill hooted with delight.

*

Time went by. Melissa was unsure how much as the smack from Bill had knocked her halfway to the moon. It had appeased the twisted fucker by the looks of it. He was sat down, busily amusing himself with a newspaper. Melissa could see it in her mind. Tomorrow's newspaper, her face plastered all over it.

A fresh breeze brought Melissa's attention back. With the breeze came the silhouette as Steve changed once more into his disguise.

Steve noticed that one of Melissa's cheeks was larger than the other.

"Bill, did you hit her?" He looked from her face to Bill, who was still reading the daily rag in the corner. Bill looked up from the pages.

"Just the once, to keep her in check."

"Once is too many. Keep your hands to yourself." Steve walked over to Melissa and dragged free her gag. "Any reason your dad wouldn't answer the phone? I mean, he's a business man, he should always be available. Wouldn't you think?"

Melissa worked her jaw. She tried to bring spit up into her mouth. None came, she tried words instead.

"He's at home," she whispered.

"Tried ringing there, too."

"He's unconscious," she admitted.

Bill put down his paper. Steve's eyes narrowed. He got a little closer to her. "How do you know this? We saw him waving to you."

"I spiked him," she started to cry.

Steve tried not to show how puzzled he really was, "Why would you do that?"

"Because I want him dead. That's why!" Her eyes were wild. A split-second switch from feeling sorry for herself to being the spoilt bitch that expected the world.

"How?" demanded Steve. With her father dead, there would be no one to collect from.

"I drugged him and a friend is going to make it look like suicide." She was starting to snivel. If it was an attempt to elicit some form of sympathy from him, Steve reckoned there was fuck-all chance of it working.

Melissa cleared her throat, "If he dies, I'll inherit the money. I can pay you then!"

"What, in six months to a year? Screw that." Steve tried the number again. He no longer cared about the triangulation of his position. He let it ring, still nothing.

"Oh sweet..." Steve didn't finish. He was already at a run towards the door.

Bill didn't know where to look. He resembled something from a slapstick comedy. One where an unseen hand slaps the buffoon's cheek. The buffoon looks in that direction and gets another slap from the other side.

*

Steve got out of the disguise as he ran towards his Astra. Every swear word that he knew got an airing as he broke the speed limit in a bid to get to Melissa's house as fast as he could.

Steve gunned it all the way. He left the engine running as he banged on the door. He tried it.

Unlocked.

Steve opened the door.

"Mr. Jackson?" he called.

No answer came. He ventured inside.

The interior was just how he had imagined it would be. Years of there being no issue with cost when it came to the décor had made the place a sight to behold.

The ground floor was empty. He worked his way up the stairs. He kept shouting Jackson's name out. And for each call, he garnered silence. The landing was empty. The bedrooms were the same. It was in the bathroom that he found Mr. Jackson.

Mr. Jackson was no more. The water in the tub was crimson. Melissa's accomplice had opened his wrists for him. Steve lowered the seat on the toilet and sat down. This had turned to shit.
There was no money. The only heir was tied up back at the lock-up. It would be months until she inherited. And besides, he thought, what's to say she'll even cough up then? He supposed they did have the death of her father to hang over her head in exchange for the money. Steve figured that was basically their only option of salvaging something.

He got up and walked from the bathroom. He wasn't expecting the bat to the head.

*

Benny stood over the intruder, his anger burned. He wondered why she hadn't trusted him. Why she'd sent the goon? Melissa had talked him into helping off her old man in exchange for some pussy. And, boy, had he wanted that pussy since the beginning of high school. Then last week, as he'd been working the drive-thru at Maccies, she'd actually talked to him. Something she had refused to do during their high school career. What with her being one of the popular kids and him being the bipolar spotty kid that had tried to burn the school down twice. After his shift had finished, they'd gone for a drink. She'd driven him home. Stopping somewhere quiet on the way, they'd fooled around. She'd given him half a wank and then told him if he really wanted her then he had to do something for her. Something secret.

And now what? Now she'd gone and gotten a second boyfriend? As that was how he saw himself, they were practically a couple. It had been less than a week and she'd been cheating on him. He dragged the bastard outside. The Astra had to be his. Benny had a hard time with the dead weight of his rival. Benny opened the boot and struggled to put Steve in it. But what he lacked in upper body strength he made up for by being a mental case and accomplished it in the end. Benny pulled out a knife and without ceremony removed his love-rival from the equation, permanently.

Benny drove the Astra away.

*

Bill kept looking at her. Melissa had tried not to make eye-contact with the lunatic in case it made him want to strike her again. She began to cry once more. Each tear that fell was one of self-pity. It would have been so perfect if these pair of pricks hadn't ruined it. She stopped there. They hadn't ruined it as yet. The one called Steve had dashed off to be a hero. But he'd be too late. That freak Benny would have done the deed by now. And, by now, he'd be sat at home waiting to do some other deed. It had been bad enough tugging him off a little. But the thought of his scrawny mass between her legs made her shudder. But she would have done it. She changed the way she thought. It might still work out all right. She looked to Bill and smiled. Tried to make it look open and friendly.

Through the oval of the balaclava, his eyes went wide. "What you smiling at?"

"You." Her legs were bound at her ankles but she was able to open up her thighs a little. That was not missed on Bill. He was no longer looking at her face. His eyes were set lower. Bill was a beast and couldn't help himself. It wasn't enough to just look. He walked over. Melissa's smile letting him know it was alright to do so. So he did.

*

Melissa stamped a half dozen times. She didn't stop until Bill's thoughts were spread on the floor. Her hands were still tied but Bill had needed to undo the rope at her ankles to get her jeans and knickers off. His hands were just about to reach the honey-pot when she'd lashed out and kneed him in the balls. Bill went down. Both eyes crossed as he mouthed the word bitch. That was when she started to stamp. When there was nothing left of his knackers, she had stamped on his head until the skull opened. Melissa used a saw that was hanging on the wall to cut through the bindings on her wrist. She got dressed before going through the dead man's clothes for a phone.

*

Benny wasn't looking forward to the long walk back to town after dumping the car up at the quarry. His phone rang. He looked at the name and number and smiled. It was Bunny. Melissa didn't know it yet but he'd already made up a pet name for her.

"Hey, babe." He tried to sound cool; he came across as a twat.

"Where are you?" asked Melissa.

"Out having a stroll after killing lover-boy."

"Who?" Her voice sounded puzzled.

"The prick you sent to make sure the job was done."

"You killed him?"

"I'm not into all that manage a tois stuff, unless it's two chicks."

"Good."

"It's the way I play." he said, smiling.

"No. Good that you killed him."

"I'm a man of many talents, baby. As you'll soon find out." He was strutting along but it looked more like he was walking with a stone in his shoe.

"Sounds wonderful. Now I need you to come get me. You know the industrial estate? The one with the B & Q?"

"Yeah."

"Meet me there."

"We're gonna be rich!" he shouted into the phone.

"Something like that." And she hung up the phone.

*

It barely made the news. A convicted armed robber and sex-offender found beaten to death in a lock-up. Another convicted armed robber found dead in the boot of his own car. The police wrote them up as underworld killings.

A twenty-one year old was found dead on waste ground at the rear of an industrial estate with his pants down. No one really cared about that one when they saw the name in the article. Benny Jenkins, known arsonist and local freak.

Melissa wept. The tears were real and so was the grief.

The lawyer didn't really know what to say. Mr. Jackson had changed his will after his wife had passed away and it was all to go to the charities that he had listed.

It felt as though someone had reached into her chest and wrenched free her heart. The contents of the will disclosed what had been said on her mother's death-bed. Her mother had confessed that Melissa was not Frank's child. That Melissa was the result of an affair that had lasted a couple of years. Frank had then gone and had tests done that proved two things. He was a jaffa and, Melissa, she wasn't his daughter. That explained so much, yet left her with so little. She was entitled to nothing.

The information that wasn't available in the will was the anonymous hiring of thugs to kidnap Melissa by Frank Jackson. And that Frank had no intention of paying to get the bitch back. Each day, seeing her in his home was like a kick in the balls and it had lasted for an entire year. Her spoilt, greedy bitch face. So much like her mother's.

BIO: Lee Hughes lives and works on the Isle of Man with his wife and two fish. He is currently putting the finishing touches to his first novel. His short fiction is to appear in the upcoming Cern Zoo: Nemonymous 9 by Megazanthus Press, regular spots on Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers and, of course, here at A Twist Of Noir.

1 comment:

Col Bury said...

Good plot, Lee. There was quite a bit going on there for a short. I wondered where you were going with it, but you tied up all the loose ends with a nice twist ending.
Keep up the good work, fella.