UNSPOOLED - TOM FAUCETT
“Time of death, 8:38 P.M.”
(Twelve Minutes Earlier)
Paramedics slammed the gurney through double doors; the Israeli ER doctor sprinted alongside.
“White male, 56 years old. Multiple stab wounds to the chest.”
(Seventeen Minutes Earlier)
“Where’s the money?”
“Don’t fuck with me. The money you stole.”
“I don’t have— ” The streetlight caught the glint of the hunting knife as the serrated blade found ribs and flesh.
(Two Minutes Earlier)
Carrying the day’s worth of trash in a Hefty bag, he stumbled out the back door. As he raised the lid of the can, a man appeared out of the darkness.
(Thirty-Two Minutes Earlier)
“Is this Feck?”
“Yes. Who’s this?”
“Yes. Who is...”
The line went dead.
(Five Minutes Earlier)
Feck, slumped in his blue leather La-Z-Boy, drained his fourth Jack and Coke. He chewed on a Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza as he watched the Braves’ game. Ever since the death of his wife, he only shopped in the frozen food section. A drunk driver had plowed across the median, smashing head on into his wife’s Explorer. She and their daughter were on their way to a cake tasting for Jessica’s upcoming wedding. Sweet Jessica. He’d planned on walking her down the aisle in a wedding dress, not a casket.
(Two Years Earlier)
Leavenworth Prison, Kansas
His final appeal had been denied. Scrawling a quick note to his brother and only living relative, he fashioned a sheet into a noose, stepped up on the metal bed frame, tossed the sheet around an overhead pipe, secured it tightly and stepped off.
(One Month Earlier)
“Damn, Helms, that’s a hell of a story,” Andre Bibbs muttered, shaking his bald head. “That Feck sounds like a sadistic fucker.”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
The two sat in the big yard at Leavenworth. Bibbs was in the homestretch of a seven-year sentence for raping a Venezuelan girl in the parking lot of Cheap Seats, a sports bar in Pensacola.
“A lot of fishes come through here claiming to be innocent, but damned if you ain’t the first I actually believe,” Andre said.
(Two Years Earlier)
Camp Gannon, Marine Corps Base, Iraq
“Captain Helms. Thank you for coming.”
“I came as soon as you summoned, Colonel.”
“I’m afraid we have a situation on our hands. Hoping you can shed some light.”
“I’ll do my best, sir.”
“I’ll be blunt, Captain. The money’s been counted. We’re $400,000 short.”
“But that’s simply not possible, sir.”
“Take him to the brig,” Feck barked.
(Nineteen Hours Earlier)
Helms, in the jump seat of a sand colored Humvee barreling across Iraq, tried to catch some shuteye. The suffocating 120-degree heat, knotted road and constant fear of an ambush didn’t help. A duffle bag jammed full of 600 grand resting at his feet didn’t either.
(Three Weeks Earlier)
“I read your proposal, Captain Helms. It’s very ambitious.”
“We’re here to help, Colonel. The villagers desperately need this.”
“You realize it won’t be easy. You’ll have to trek across Iraq to the Jordanian border to procure the money from the depot and bring it back. Cash. I doubt very much the construction workers and contractors you’ll need to hire will take a personal check.”
“That thought did cross my mind, sir.”
“Very well. I’ll speak to my superiors for approval. I’ll be in touch.”
(Ten Days Earlier)
Colonel Feck, in his early 50s, looked ten years younger. He credited good genes and an intense exercise regimen. As he lay down on the bench to begin his reps, a shadowy figure entered the weight room and dropped a thin stack of 8x10 photos on Feck’s chest.
“What the-?” Feck said, sitting up. He grabbed the glossy pictures, and after quickly scanning them, stared up at the man in abject horror.
“I believe the correct term is ‘Conduct unbecoming an officer,’ sir.”
Feck flushed with rage, “What the hell do you want?”
“I think money is customary in these sorts of situations,” he stated plainly. “85 grand.”
“You blackmailing little shit. I haven’t got that kind of cash. I’ll see you court-martialed.” Feck sputtered.
Smiling, the soldier leaned forward, tapped the photos with his meaty index finger and said, “You first.”
(Five Years Earlier)
“Stop fidgeting, you’ll mess up your hair.”
“I just want them to like me.”
“Don’t worry. Mom’s a flirt and Dad’s an old softy.”
Her parents were already waiting in the restaurant foyer when they arrived.
“Mom, Dad, this is Jack.”
“So happy to meet you, Jack. Jessica talks about you all the time. Please, call me Evelyn. And this is my husband, Quinton.”
Jack Helms put out his hand to shake. “Major Feck, it’s a pleasure.”
BIO: Tom Faucett is a copywriter for advertising and design. He lives in Winston-Salem, NC with his wife, two sons, a crazy yellow dog and a hermit crab named Bill. You can find him on Twitter @tfaucett.