RECKONER - TOM LEINS
A hot, languid stink settles over the afternoon. The man in the bone-coloured suit smoothes down the bald streak of scalp where his hair used to be. Most Feds are bland men with empty smiles. Mr Clean is a very dangerous man. Seventeen years ago, when Queenan joined the agency, he heard a story about Mr Clean burning down a Sin Clinic in the Deep South, run by an ex-cop known as Father Julio. When the charred corpses were dragged out of the ash, the limbs had all been hacked off and it took the pathologist eleven days to match up the body parts.
He offers Queenan a pure-looking Marlboro, but Queenan declines. Mr Clean shrugs. “American cigarettes are overrated.” The distant sun throbs in the hot afternoon sky. With his ulcer pills and ironic drawl, Mr Clean could be a middle manager in any Midwestern town. He’s not, though. He’s a man with a briefcase containing $72,000 handcuffed to his wrist, and he wants to cut a deal with Queenan. Queenan knows men like Mr Clean all too well – tight assholes all bent out of shape. He lets the ice melt in his drink, before slipping a handful of currency under the ashtray.
Queenan leads Mr Clean down a side-street littered with crumbling concrete and rusty spools of razor wire. A backwater hoodlum steps out of the shadows with a tyre-iron. The elderly Fed gropes for his concealed weapon, but before he can palm the piece, Queenan lunges forward and plunges a cheap switchblade into one of his blackened lungs. Blood-streaked drool oozes out of Mr Clean’s mouth and ruins his bone-coloured suit. Queenan slips off his sports jacket as Velasquez passes him a hacksaw.
BIO: Tom Leins is from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published online at 3am Magazine, Dogmatika, Beat The Dust, Straight From The Fridge, Savage Manners and Muzzle Flash Fiction. He is currently working on his first novel: Thirsty & Miserable. Get your pound of flesh at www.myspace.com/tomleins.