HITCH-HIKER - LIAM SWEENY
Smitty and D-John walked out the bodega, a little shit-hole, windows barred and filled with cigarette and lottery signs, neon beer glows. They had two forties in crumpled paper bags, not even waiting to leave the store before pounding them. They walked over to the corner, past the view of the store, a new block in a new neighborhood for the same business. Smitty had the bundle, and D-John was there to enforce. Too many crazy junkies stompin' the grounds. But they were always for roughing up a junkie, or robbing a nice watch, or any opportunity that came up. Like a stranger in a shiny, classic black Mercedes SUV. The guy that hopped out was a little wiry fuck with coke-bottle glasses. He parked in back of the lot; no cameras, no one watching out. Perfect.
“Yo, let’s boost that,” D-John said. “The engine’s runnin’!”
“Crazy... Dude’ll report that stolen quick-fast; we won’t get far...”
“Joey’s chop is two blocks down,” D-John pleaded. “We don’t have to get that far.”
They walked up to the SUV. It was purring. They didn’t think; thinking wasn’t what kept them on the block, or in a cell-block, their whole lives. They hopped into the heavy smell of air freshener, masking a much nastier smell. D-John put it in gear and eased it back out. Joey could slice out the smell. They’d still get a couple large for the car. They sped off, Smitty catching the guy in his rear-view. Fucked up thing was, the guy just waved good-bye.
They got to the chop-shop and D-John rapped on the garage door; two, by three, by one, by four. The door slid up, and Joey walked out, bear-hugging D-John. They went to P.S. 13 together; they were tight. He motioned Smitty to drive it in.
“It stinks, Joey,” D-John said. “But everything’s good.”
“I can smell it from here, dog...” Joey grabbed a flashlight and poked his head in the front-door, unlatching the back door and unlocking the trunk. The smell became unbearable. Joey lifted a blanket off the back seat; no sooner than he did it that he turned around and puked. Then the voice came on through the stereo.
“Enter deactivation code, Mr. Barrow.”
Joey screamed at D-John. "There’s fucking body parts in this car! Did you even bother to check the back seat!?”
“I-I Just thought...”
“You don’t think, D-John!” Joey screamed. “You never think about shit!” Joey rubbed his temples. “Where the fuck you get this?”
“Over at the bodega, Joey... I’ll just drive it back.”
“Oh yeah.” Joey was furious. “Leave your prints, my prints, and my crew’s prints all over it by the time the dude you stole it from has five-o there about gettin’ his car stolen!”
“He got bodies in this piece! You think he’s callin’ cops, Joey!?”
One of his other mechanics looked in the trunk. He puked, too. “Trunk’s full of ’em!” He said between hurls.
“And it’s got an alarm! Fuck is wrong with you?” Joey said. He went to the workbench and grabbed a pair of pliers before reaching hesitantly into the center console to clip the wires on the alarm. Then his eyes bulged when he saw what the alarm was wired to.
They both felt the earth shake as the explosion rocked the neighborhood.
“What in the hell was that?” asked the bodega owner.
“Sounded like a propane tank blew up.”
“You want me to call your cops about the car?”
“Oh no, that wasn’t my car,” the wiry man replied, pushing his coke-bottles up the bridge of his nose. “It was just a couple of strangers that dropped me off here. They picked me up on Route 43; I had to hitch-hike.”
“Gotta be careful ’bout hitch-hiking ’round here...” the bodega owner said. “You never know who’s gonna pick you up.”
The wiry man turned to him as he dialed 411 on his cell for a cab. “I guess I was lucky. Thank you, sir.”
The bodega owner went back inside. The wiry man dialed 3 on his phone.
“Hey,” he said. “It’s Barrow. It’s all taken care of.”
“What do I owe you?” said the voice on the phone.
Mr. Barrow could hear the whoops of the fire engines and the screams of cop cars.
“A new Mercedes,” he said. “I’m heading you’re way.”
“How are you getting here, John? Plane? Bus?”
“I’ll get there, don’t worry...” Barrow said, feeling the weight of his heat in the shoulder holster. He laughed. “…might just hitch-hike.”
BIO: Liam Sweeny is a novelist and short fiction writer from upstate New York. He has published two novels, and a short works compilation. In his free-time he volunteers in disaster relief work and is a struggling...everything.
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