COME AROUND - MATTHEW C. FUNK
I’m always looking over my shoulder. Even alone. Even in a shithole poboy joint like Clouet Market here.
Even asleep. Always.
The rule to what I do is what goes around, comes around.
I’m picking through the rack of Fritos that expired two years before The Storm, looking for the jalapeno kind my partner Hakk insists on, when the sob story shows up: Kensie.
“Detective Jurgis?” Kensie says to me.
“Kensie. How are you keeping these days?”
One look gets the answer: A rag, stained too much to clean and washed until fading - that’s Kensie Washington.
“I wanted a moment, private.”
“Is this about Deo?” Kensie’s one in a long line of beaten spouses whose husbands I put in permanent traction. It’s more than my off-time from the force. It’s my calling.
I got broken by men once. Never again. What goes around, comes around.
“Yeah.” Kensie wads up the paper bag she’s got in both hands.
“Don’t have to thank me.”
Kensie lifts the bag at me. The revolver in it clicks.
“Something like that. You won’t be needing those sandwiches, bitch.”
Sometimes, what comes around, doesn’t come from over your shoulder. It comes right at your face.
Kensie takes me to a playground in the demolished Desire Projects. Swing set is barnacled with rust. Its chains are off.
“You going to get yours now, meddling bitch,” Kensie says as she chains me.
“What you done to Deo.”
“What about what he did to you?”
She locks me in the circle of the tire swing.
“Deo done nothing but love me from his soul.” Kensie is all tears and creases. I give her a look of disbelief that could slap a bulldog smooth, but she keeps angry.
“A broken arm is nothing? Those knife cuts on your thighs, nothing?”
Kensie taps a carving on the wooden playset.
“This was what mattered - this here.” Kensie traces an initialed heart carving: KW and DO. Kensie and Deo. “We were lovers forever. We were Romeo and Juliet of Desire Projects, bitch.”
“Lovers who killed each other. About right.”
“What his rage done, don’t matter.” Kensie opens my kit bag. My tools. “Rage didn’t stay. He did.”
“He stayed because you were his willing victim.”
“I was his. I am his.” Kensie pulls out my pliers. They still have pieces of Deo’s sinew. “Now he’s nothing but a cripple.”
“He was always broken.”
“You don’t know what true love is-what true sacrifice is.” Kensie pulls out my wirecutters. My wire. My hammer. “You going to know pain, though.”
“Is that what love is to you? Pain?”
“More than pain.”
Kensie walks around me, laughing.
“Love is what makes the pain not matter.”
Kensie puts the pliers on my ring finger.
The pliers bite.
They keep biting even when I hear the wet sound of Kensie’s skull sucking a rifle butt.
Kensie goes down; twitches.
I don’t turn to see who did it.
I don’t hear who’s behind me.
I don’t even hear the playground gravel.
His huge hands pull off the tire.
“You need to read your Bible,” Hakk says, unchaining me.
“I need to find out how you keep tracing me.”
“Sermon on the Mount.” Hakk lifts me up. “Don’t put pearls before swine.”
“Or they turn and tear you to pieces.” Hakk steps on Kensie. I step on her to reach his mouth with mine. He gets a full 33 seconds - the degree of a curve, an endless circle.
Hakk’s smiling. I’m not.
Hakk looks at me. I look at Kensie.
I grab my cuffs. Hakk steps to pin her.
“Here’s hoping we break the cycle,” I say, planting the tools I broke Deo with, now covered with Kensie’s prints, on her cuffed body.
BIO: Matthew C. Funk is a professional marketing copywriter and social media consultant, a writing mentor and the author of several manuscripts that illuminate the beauty of human extremes. A graduate of the Professional Writing MFA at USC, his 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.