BEAUTIFUL MARLA - MICHAEL KECHULA
Originally published in Apollo's Lyre Magazine in 2005
My share of the Phoenix bank job came to $262,000. We met in the busy Greyhound terminal at 10:00 PM so nobody’d try anything stupid when we made the split. Willy passed my share in a scruffy gym bag. We shook hands. His clammy palm and psycho stare unnerved me. Something was up.
I mumbled about keeping in touch, then left. My nerves screamed, “Run!” But I fought savagely against panic, and walked. Gallons of adrenalin shot through my brain, and I died a hundred times before reaching the car. I’d be most vulnerable when opening the car door and sliding inside. If somebody is gonna get you, that’s the time to do it. Especially at night.
The crash of a gun butt against my head never came. Yanking my automatic from the glove compartment, I put it on the seat between my legs. Let Willy try something now.
Driving through back streets in a crazy quilt pattern, I hoped to evade potential pursuers. I kept checking the mirror. Didn’t seem as if anybody was following, though it’s harder to tell at night. But, nobody shot at me, or tried to run me off the road. So far, so good.
The Interstate came into view. Pointing the tires East, I set the cruise control to 75.
Willy would never dream of looking for me 2,500 miles away in an old, dilapidated, Pennsylvania coal-mining town. Especially since I’d announced a hundred times how I’d head for Las Vegas soon as I got my split.
Willy knew my fondness for dice, so he probably bought the lie. I wondered how many goons he’d have waiting to intercept me on that lonely hundred-mile stretch of two-lane, desert road between Phoenix and Vegas.
Marla, the beautiful, knew where I was going. She’d join me after I got settled.
Suddenly, I felt uneasy. Willy saw us together only once. Would he remember her and find her? It was worth a call to make sure all was well. At 5:00 AM, I phoned from a truck stop in New Mexico.
She picked up the phone on the fourth ring.
She spoke quickly. “OK. I’m awake. Thank you. You guys do a good job. Would you please wake me fifteen minutes later, tomorrow?”
Before I dropped the phone, I heard her say to somebody,” It’s just my wake up call. Without this wake up service, I’d never get up in time for work.”
I hoped they’d bought the lie. I swore I’d marry Marla, if she survived.
Suddenly, going to Pennsylvania was out. Good thing I never told Marla my backup plan, I thought, heading for Wisconsin.
They busted her up pretty bad. Bastards! When I found out, I went back to Phoenix and killed the four of them. Then I married Marla.
A few more jewelry store heists to pay fancy surgeons, and her face won’t be so hard to look at.
BIO: Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in 8 contests and placed in 7 others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards 4 times. His stories have been published by 116 magazines and 32 anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, India, Scotland, and US. He’s authored two books of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales” and “The Area 51 Option and 70 More Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook versions available at www.BooksForABuck.com and www.fictionwise.com.
Paperback available at www.amazon.com.