Friday, April 30, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 439 - J.E. Seymour


An entry in Jason Duke’s RED HOT Writing Contest

Monday morning, Kevin was sitting at the kitchen table, loading a new magazine for the Colt. Pushing the shiny cartridges in one at a time, studying the way they fit, making sure this off-brand was going to work for his weapon.

He lifted his head at the sound of the driveway alarm.

Way too early for Michael to be home from school, and Cindy was at her therapist. He loaded the magazine into the gun, racked the slide, kicked out the mag, loaded another bullet, all the while watching the driveway.

The car that was rolling towards the house didn’t look familiar. It was an old Firebird, matte black, like it had been stripped and primed but never painted. Kevin tucked the 1911 into the small of his back, backwards, so he could grab it left-handed.

The kid that got out of the car matched the description Michael had given him of the guy looking for Andy. He was about Andy’s age, maybe twenty years old, easily as tall as Kevin, with massive arms and a long ponytail. He swaggered onto the porch and pounded on the door hard enough to rattle the glass. Kevin moved the curtain aside and shouted through the closed door.

“Help you?”

“Andy sent me.” He was clenching and unclenching his fists, making the sleeves of his zippered sweatshirt bulge. Poster child for steroids.

“Oh yeah? What do you want?”

The guy bent over and looked through the glass. “Why don’t you let me in and we can talk about it?”

Kevin wasn’t about to let this creep into the house. “Hang on.” He pulled on his denim barn coat, unlocked the door and stepped through it before the big guy had a chance to do the same. Pulled it shut behind him. “How about if we talk out here?”

“Fine.” He stuck out a massive hand. “I’m Ray.”

“Hi, Ray. I’m Kevin.” He didn’t offer his hand, just waved the cast at the guy with a slight grin. “Now that we have that out of the way, why don’t you tell me why you’re here.”

Ray cocked his head to the side. “You Andy’s old man?”

Old man didn’t sit well with Kevin. “That’s right.”

“I thought you were in prison.”

“I was.”

Ray wrinkled his nose as though he was stuck for words. He turned and stared out at the driveway.

Kevin followed his gaze. “What’s with the paint on your car?”

“Huh? Oh. Dull paint like that lets you evade radar.”

Kevin raised his eyebrows and snorted. “Really.”

“That’s what I heard.”

“So you ran right out and stripped your car.”

“That’s right.”

“So what is it you want, Ray?”

“Andy fucking owes me money, man. I’ve come to get it.”

“Andy doesn’t have any money. The cops took it when they arrested him.”

Ray made a sudden move with his right hand that caused Kevin’s pulse to jump, but the big guy just brought the hand up to his chin and rubbed at his goatee. “He wouldn’t have left it out where the motherfuckers could find it.”

“How do you know?” Kevin was getting tired of standing nose to nose with this guy. He backed up and found an Adirondack chair without turning his back on Ray.

Ray didn’t sit. “I worked with Andy for a couple of years. I know he’s got some cash hidden here somewhere. He’s a smart motherfucker.”

“Right. That’s why he got arrested.”

Ray blinked as though he didn’t get the sarcasm. He reached up and unzipped his sweatshirt as if he was hot.

Kevin wasn’t hot, and he didn’t think Ray was either. He waited though, letting Ray make the first move. Letting Ray reach behind his back.

Kevin had to clench his fists to keep from drawing his weapon. It would be better if Ray didn’t know he had it. He wasn’t going to shoot this creep right here on the porch.

Ray took out a cannon of a revolver. Kevin had no idea how the guy could walk around with that stuck in his jeans, much less drive a car. “Look, old man, I didn’t want to have to do this, but you’re not giving me a choice. I need you to show me where the fucking money is.”

Kevin had to force himself to breathe. Looking down the barrel of what had to be a .45, he fought to keep his pulse at something resembling a normal rate. The ringing was starting in his ears, and he knew the tunnel vision would come next. He didn’t want to go down that road, not right now, so he fought it off. Stay cool. At least the idiot didn’t have his finger on the trigger. Kevin stood up, moving slow and careful, hands away from his body. “It’s cool. I’ll show you.”

Ray grinned. “Damn right.”

Kevin lifted his right hand to show Ray the cast. “Trouble is, it’s buried. I can’t dig it up with this on my hand.”

Ray looked confused. “Buried? What the fuck?” He turned and studied the yard. “Isn’t the ground frozen?”

“No, not really. Besides, he buried it under the manure pile.”

“The what?”

Kevin decided to use language he knew the idiot would understand. “Horse shit. He buried it under a pile of horse shit.”

“No fucking way.”

“We can grab a shovel out of the barn. You don’t mind digging it up, right?” Kevin headed for the barn, trying to keep his body turned far enough to keep Ray in sight.

Ray followed, scratching at his crotch with the barrel of the gun.

Kevin’s brain was running a mile a minute. If he handed over the money to this creep and let him walk away, he’d be back soon looking for more.

He knew there was nobody around, at least nobody close enough to hear anything. A gunshot at this time of year would be written off as hunters anyway. He had to pause to think. “So,” he said as they walked. “You have any other friends in on this with you and Andy?”

“No way, man. It was just me and him. The less partners, the more money.”

Kevin nodded, scanning as they walked into the barn. At least nobody else would show up looking for this clown. No opportunity yet. Just wait. He pointed out a shovel to the creep, who tucked the gun back into his jeans and grabbed it. Kevin led him out the back door of the barn, sliding open the wooden rail to let them into the pasture. No sign of the horses anyway, that was good. It was almost lunchtime, and if they spotted the people they’d be up here looking for food. Kevin pointed out the spot on the pile where he thought the money might be.

“Are you fucking sure, man? I don’t want to be digging up the whole fucking pile.”

Kevin shrugged. “I don’t know. This just looks like a likely spot.”

Ray seemed to have no brain at all, or maybe just a reptilian brain that enabled him to keep breathing. He turned his back on Kevin and began to shovel. Kevin watched him for a minute. Ray’s technique involved taking tiny shovelfuls and flinging them all over the place. Kevin had to step back to avoid being hit. He reached for his Colt, sliding his left hand behind his back, and Ray put the shovel down and leaned on it, turning to Kevin.

“This is hard work.”

Kevin nodded, expecting him to take out a colorful bandana and start mopping his brow, but instead he turned back to his work. Kevin took out his Colt, left-handed, raised it, held it to the back of Ray’s head, struggled to get the safety off. He finally had to lower it and use his right thumb to take it off. Ray was bent over, shoveling fast and furious now, shit flying in every direction. Kevin raised the weapon again, aimed at the back of Ray’s head, and pulled the trigger. The noise left him deaf, his ears ringing in protest. He tucked the weapon away and rubbed at his head, trying to clear the buzzing in his skull.

The horses were running around the pasture with their tails flagged, snorting and blowing.

“It’s okay, boys.” Kevin went back into the barn and grabbed some hay for them to calm them down. Walked it out to the middle of the field and dropped the flakes in two piles. Then he went back to the barn, climbed onto the tractor and started it up. Ray was lying in a heap at the side of the manure pile. There was a fair amount of blood and gore. A .22 would have been a better choice for an up-close shoot like this one. As it was, the .45 had blown the front of the creep’s head off on its way out. Kevin had to swallow hard to keep from throwing up.

He used the loader to dig a sizable hole in the bottom of the pile, away from where he thought the money was. Pushed Ray’s body into the hole, and pulled more muck down on top. He didn’t think anybody would miss him. He parked the tractor and walked back around to the porch.

The car was sitting there in the driveway. Shit. He felt a sudden twist of pain in his gut. Suppose the keys were in Ray’s pocket? Why hadn’t he thought to search the guy? Rusty, that was the problem. Too many years away. He crossed the driveway in a hurry. A quick check of the ignition relaxed him. At least the keys were in it.

He walked back and sat on the porch steps for a minute, thinking. The best solution was to drive it into a lake. But there weren’t any suitable lakes within walking distance. He could take it way out in the woods and set it on fire, but that would mean walking home. He really needed a partner for that, and he didn’t have anybody around here he could call for that sort of thing.

“Shit.” He let himself say it out loud. He hadn’t planned this very well. He finally decided he’d have to use Michael to drive him home.

Michael had a cell phone, Kevin could call him and ask him to come and get him. He thought about where to take the car. He had one of those map books, with the detailed pages, and he went into the house and got that, sat down with it and studied the back roads in the area. He needed something that would peter out, end in the woods, out in the middle of nowhere. He could see a few candidates that weren’t that far away. It was getting close to time for Michael to come home, and he didn’t want him to see the car. He got his gloves on first, grabbed a can of gas out of the garage, tossed it into the trunk of the Firebird, went into the house and grabbed a lighter that Cindy kept around for the grill.

Studied the detailed map again and drove for about a half hour. No sense doing this too close to home.

The Firebird didn’t like the dirt road, and Kevin got it stuck a mile or two off the pavement. He hadn’t planned on leaving it in the middle of the cow path, but he didn’t think it would matter much. It didn’t look like there was much traffic out here anyway. It was starting to snow as he poured the gas onto the seats and the dashboard, anything soft enough to absorb the liquid. He used a map from the glove compartment to light the fire, made sure the registration was in the initial flame, and stepped back to watch. It didn’t take as long as he thought it would, and he had to step further back as the gas tank exploded. He turned at that point and hiked back out to the main road. A glance back showed a large column of black smoke.


Somebody was bound to see that. By the time he hit the pavement his leg was throbbing and he had to stop to rest. He pulled out his cell phone. No signal.


He wanted to sit down right there by the side of the road. Hell, he wanted to find a liquor store and buy out their stock of Jack Daniel’s. Monday. He started walking again.

BIO: J.E. Seymour lives in a small town in seacoast NH and has had short stories published in three anthologies of crime fiction by New England writers - “Windchill,” “Deadfall,” and “Quarry,” in Thriller UK Magazine, and in numerous ezines, including Shots, Mouth Full of Bullets, Beat to a Pulp and Shred of Evidence. J.E.’s first novel, “Lead Poisoning” is coming from Mainly Murder Press in November of 2010. Check out J.E. Seymour for more information.