Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 459 - John Winn


Leroy brushes the bangs out of his eyes as he tries to block out the young woman’s screams from the trunk. He’s got more than enough problems on his plate, trying to maintain control of a beat-up Cadillac at 60 miles an hour. A bit of pride swells in him as he watches tiny bits of dust kick up in the rear view mirror. Thank God he had the foresight to bring along a bandanna, among other things.

Unlike some he could name. He glances at Bobby beside him, child-like and grinning, as though it’s Christmas. For a hired gun, the kid doesn’t keep his enthusiasm in check. Leroy flashes a sideways glare at him as the latter combs his hand through manes of blond hair. Why they paired up in the first place is anybody’s guess.

Bobby frowns. “What’s wrong, LJ? Constipated or somethin’?”

Leroy grips the steering wheel tightly.

“I’m not constipated. I’m just not as excited as you are.”

“Why do you have to be such a killjoy when we go on jobs now? I can remember a time when you looked forward to blowing people’s heads off.”

“It’s not that I don’t like what I do. I just see things differently, that’s all.”

“Well, just because you have to be a killjoy, doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about killing some mobster’s broad.” Bobby pats the .357 in his pocket.

Leroy opens his mouth to say something, but the kid has a point. This job’s been taking a toll on him for some time. He’s long since forgotten the names and faces of his victims. Not that he doubts the bulk of them had it coming. But that sense of self-righteousness that used to keep him going is now a stone-cold heart going through the motions. And just when he’s sure this is going to be a hit like any other, he has to question why he has to go and put a bullet in some poor whore’s head just because the Head Cheese in Vegas is tired of fucking her.

Having a conscience is a bitch.

The screams get louder and more desperate. Leroy cranks up the radio to drown them out, to no avail. His head throbs. He wants to make everything go away, Bobby, the whore, the Cadillac. The whole bit. Yet, even as he’s aware of his own piece snuggled against his body, he knows that wouldn’t be an option.

“I wish she would die or shut up,” he snaps.

He pulls the car to the side off the road and stares at the desert for several minutes. Everything feels as though it’s in slow motion. He’s no longer aware of Bobby or the girl, just the constant pounding in his head.

“The fuck’s wrong with you, man?”

Leroy watches as he pulls the gun out of his vest and shoots his partner three, four times. The kid slumps over as his head falls toward his chest, seat coated with blood. It all happens in a manner of seconds.

The assailant snaps himself out of his trance long enough to open the trunk and unties the girl. Her mascara is wet with tears. She’s clearly shaken, but he doesn’t dwell too much on it. He dumps Bobby’s corpse in her place instead, to share space with the ropes, spare tires and other ephemera.

“Get in the back and don’t say a word until we get to Reno," Leroy scolds her. "I know someone there who owes me a favor; he can protect you ’til this all blows over.”

“Why do you care?” she asks in a soft voice. “Aren’t you supposed to kill me?”

“Let’s just say I’ve had a change of heart.”

BIO: Born amidst the rough and tumble streets of Greensboro, North Carolina in the 1980s, the writer known as John Winn grew up admiring the criminal known as William Sydney Porter. After a very short life of delinquency, the budding math whiz later used his smarts to write stories than handle money (thank God). When he isn't banging out stories of the depraved and vile, he can be found enjoying a little mundane past time known as watching TV.

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