CERTAIN SAINTS - MATTHEW C. FUNK
Mister Saturday’s people didn’t have to use the duct tape on Dell. The old man met them with just a nod. He wrote a note on a sandwich wrapper in felt tip pen and left his shotgun house’s door unlocked.
In the RAV4, on the way to Mister Saturday’s canal-side shack, Benny and Anton watched anything but Dell. Dell watched Florida District’s rowhouses - the neat and peeling crowd tight as a funeral procession.
“Been making you and Anton sandwiches since before you both were tall enough to see over the deli counter,” Dell said. “No sense in being ungracious now.”
“Yeah.” Benny spun the rabbit foot on his keychain. “We real sorry ’bout this, though.”
“That makes three of us, then.”
“Who would’ve thought the Saints would go from winning the Superbowl to losing at Arizona.” Benny snorted. “Arizona! Still, they lost, and you were told what’d happen if you lost another, as deep in to Mister Saturday as you are.”
“We don’t need to talk it over,” Dell said.
“No.” Anton quit grinding his teeth for a moment. “We don’t.”
They turned down Law Street in silence. Houses gave way to ruins, ruins to desolated lots gone mad with high, green growth.
“Still,” Benny said, “being a good sport for a man about to die.”
Inside the shack, Benny showed Dell the killing chair. Anton roamed the rust-showered room, getting the cleaning tools.
“Set on down, Dell,” Benny said. “Won’t be a moment.”
“Not yet, dog.” Anton shot Benny a look. “You know that.”
Dell waited. His phone rang in his pocket. Benny saw Dell’s hands begin to shake.
“You can get that,” Benny said.
“My affairs are settled.”
“Tight,” Benny muttered, nodded, waiting until Anton unrolled the tarp. He lifted the chair and Anton slid the plastic under.
“Now you can sit.” Benny resisted taking Dell’s shaking hand and guiding him. “Sorry ’bout before.”
“You can stop saying that,” Dell said.
“Sit on down.” Anton placed Dell in the chair by his shoulder. Benny’s phone rang. He checked the number. He looked at Dell.
“It’s Denisha.” Benny waggled the phone. “Want me to tell her?”
“We’ll let you talk to your daughter, Dell.”
Benny cancelled the call. Anton drew the Beretta. He ran his thumb over the filed-down serial numbers. It smoothed his breathing.
“Don’t know how in God’s green Earth it happened.” Benny sighed. “Saints losing to Arizona.”
“You can stop saying that, too,” Dell said, hands clasped, quaking.
“But laying 50 large on them when you a deli man already twenty-five in the hole?” Benny choked, cancelling another incoming call. “Why, Dell? Fucking nothing certain in the world.”
“Except that Mister Saturday gets his due.” Anton leveled the gun barrel at Dell’s head. He aimed just above the fringe of grey. He waited, eyelids in frenzy.
“Except that.” Benny shut his mouth tight. Dell shut his eyes and opened his nose deep to take in the smell of the river and the Projects, sauced together in summer heat. Anton could not breathe.
Anton pulled the trigger.
Dell’s body took a long time following his brains to the ground. It curled there like something burnt.
“Shit, dog,” Anton whined. “I just killed Dell.”
“Had to be.” Benny coughed through a sob. His phone rang - Denisha, again. He turned away to look out the window at herons picking through trash.
“Don’t!” Denisha bawled. “It wasn’t him!”
“I laid the bet!”
“To get Daddy out from Saturday’s debt! To finally get him free!”
Benny looked back down at Dell, and thought that if one thing was certain, it was that nothing in life was free.
BIO: Matthew C. Funk is a social media consultant, professional marketing copywriter and writing mentor. He is the editor of the Genre section of the critically acclaimed zine, FictionDaily, and a staff writer for FangirlTastic and Spinetingler Magazine. A graduate of the Professional Writing MFA at USC, Funk’s online work is featured at sites such as A Twist of Noir; Thrillers, Killers and Chillers; Flash Fiction Offensive; ThugLit; Powder Burn Flash; Pulp Metal Magazine and his Web domain.