THE RATTLESNAKE DADDY - TOM LEINS
No one knew his real name, but we called him the Rattlesnake Daddy. I remember the first time I met him: our mutual friends were trading poisons in the back-room, and we killed time swapping prison stories outside. I was sitting on a plastic lawn-chair, sweating like a sun-dog as the stale night air started to congeal. Despite the all-consuming heat Rattlesnake looked cold. Later that night, he introduced me to his girlfriend, Olivia. He claimed that she was the only seven-fingered prostitute for four States. After he had retired to bed, I stayed up with Olivia, drinking rum and cokes. Sometime before dawn she kissed me so hard that she almost dislocated my jaw. As she undressed, obscene thoughts rattled around my head like loose teeth. We fucked in the dirt, and afterwards I licked up her tears.
When I emerged from the guest bedroom a few hours later the Rattlesnake Daddy was kneeling on the threadbare carpet, piecing together an Elvis Presley jigsaw puzzle. Vague daylight crept into the trailer. He was sweating and shaking.
“What’s up? Are you sick?”
“Not sick, just blank.”
After breakfast he offered me a job. A low-level heist, taking down a Mexican seafood factory. His contact was an ex-wrestler known as Gringo Starr. He fought in Mexico for his whole career before getting forcibly retired when some punk with a Tijuana switchblade put his eye out in a parking lot brawl. Now he worked as a rent-a-cop at the factory for minimum wage and all the seafood he could eat. He said that the guy who ran the factory was too cheap to use an armoured car, and relied on a posse of backwater hoodlums to bank his takings for him. Easy money, he said. Like anything in this life is easy. Rattlesnake was gonna be the wheelman; me and a guy named Tiny Tony were the muscle. Yeah, the name was ironic: motherfucker weighed at least 400lbs.
In the employee parking lot the air felt dry and dangerous. The dusty black van rolled out of the depot and into the midday glare. Rattlesnake tapped the gas and nudged in front of it as it approached the perimeter gate. I levelled my shotgun through the open window and blasted the windshield indiscriminately, splintering it on impact. From where I was sitting it looked like at least one of them was leaking blood. We slipped out of the car. In Tiny Tony’s fat hands the firearm looked like a fucking squirt gun. We approached the back of the van, blistering sunshine making my face sweat inside the balaclava. The door creaked open and a guy with slicked back hair and a little moustache poked his head out, thin grin etched across his scarred face.
I remember hitting the deck as the semi-automatic weapon sprayed across the forecourt, peppering the employee’s cars. Riddled with bullets, Tiny Tony collapsed like a blood-filled lung. Fuck. Rattlesnake stepped out of the car, tooled up. He aimed across the hood and splattered the shooter’s skull meat across the van. As I picked myself off the ground I saw a thick spurt of salsa-coloured blood spray out of Rattlesnake’s chest. The driver spat something at me in Spanglish, and levelled his weapon at my face. I fired at him blindly and heard the dull impact of bullet on bone, before dragging the Rattlesnake Daddy across to the car, leaving a thick red smear on the gravel. I mashed the accelerator and swerved out of the parking lot, glancing across at the Rattlesnake Daddy, bloody words forming on his blue lips.
“We sure taught those punks a lesson, huh, kid?”
He bled out within an hour.
BIO: Tom Leins is from Paignton, UK. His short stories have appeared online at Beat The Dust, Hit & Run Magazine, Disenthralled, Flash Fiction Offensive, Powder Burn Flash and A Twist Of Noir. He also writes a weekly DVD column, entitled Sex, Leins & Videotape.
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