BONNIE AND CLYDE GO THROUGH A ROUGH PATCH - PAUL NEWMAN
Nikki heard two sharp pops like firecrackers and Spider ran out of the 7-11. He dove in the passenger’s seat and slammed the door hard.
“Go, Baby! Go! Get the fuck out of here!”
She didn't know it was coming, he was just supposed to buy a pack of smokes. It was too late at night for this shit.
“You gotta be kidding me!”
“Just shut the fuck up and drive. Go!”
She dropped the Tercel into gear and chirped its little tires on the way out. She took a right then headed north to the freeway. Spider reached into a crumpled paper bag between his legs and pulled out a handful of wadded up bills; mostly ones and fives with a few twenties mixed in. He smiled and counted it while Nikki drove. Her hands shook on the wheel but he didn't notice.
“You said you just needed some smokes! What happened? What the fuck did you do?” She was twisted up tight. She talked too fast for the words to come out straight.
Spider stopped counting the cash and turned to look at her. She knew that look. It still made her almost piss herself but she didn’t want him to see the fear-sludge bubbling up inside her. Her hands shook on the wheel but he didn't notice. Spider took a drag on his smoke then he reached down the front of his pants and pulled out a gun and tossed it in the glove box.
“A gun? I’m on parole, Spider! I can’t be around a fucking gun! What did you do? What the fuck did you do?”
Spider looked out the window. He blew a cloud of smoke at the glass and watched it bounce right back in his face.
“You saw how empty that place was. How could I just walk out of there? That stupid son of a bitch should have just opened up the register.”
Nikki felt her gut clench up like somebody was wringing out a dishrag. “You shot somebody! Is he dead?”
“It was me or him babe, he went for something under the counter. He should have just opened up the fucking till.”
Spider reached back into the glove box for the gun and rested it on his lap. Nikki noticed he kept his right hand close nearby.
“Pull over at the next exit. I gotta take a piss.”
She heard something in his voice. She'd heard it before. He sounded hollow, like an echo in a big empty room. Nikki knew what was coming. Spider always started slow; it took a good head start to work into full-blown apeshit, but once he got rolling it was usually too fucking late. She had to buy time. Distract him. Make him believe, at least for just a few minutes.
She lit a Camel out of the pack on the dash and laughed like she didn’t give a fuck. “Next time warn me and I’ll have the engine running.” She reached out with her right hand and stroked the back of his head where it met his neck. She knew he loved it; just like a fucking dog. “You just got out a coupl’a days ago. I didn't think you'd get bored so fast.”
Spider laughed, then he reached up and grabbed her hand and shoved it down between his legs. Nikki knew what he wanted, she knew what she had to do; she unzipped him and grabbed onto him and squeezed. Spider groaned and leaned back into his seat.
Nikki stroked Spider while she drove and tried not to think about the gun just inches away from her hand. Spider always thought with his dick; maybe this time it would catch up with him. She didn’t look at the gun, tried not to even think about it. She knew she’d only get one chance.
She stamped down on the brake and swerved into the emergency lane. At the same time, she twisted Spider's cock in her hand and ripped down on it. He screamed and curled into a ball and grabbed for his wounded prick with both hands. The gun fell off his lap onto the floor.
Nikki dove for it and caught Spider’s knee on the side of her head. The side of her face went numb and hot and swollen but she groped around on the floor for the gun. Something heavy came down on her kidney like a hammer but it didn’t matter. It was too late. She found the grip and twisted around to shoot.
Spider caught her hand and then brought all his weight down on her with an elbow that felt like it speared her to the floorboard. Nikki tried to scream but there wasn’t enough wind, all she could do was gag and heave. She felt his hands close around her neck and squeeze. Her head started to fill with white noise but one sound cut through the static; Spider was laughing. The motherfucker was laughing!
She put the gun against the meaty part of his calf and pulled the trigger. There was a hollow crack then a wet slap like a chunk of raw steak hitting the sidewalk.
Spider shrieked and shoved her away from him. He fell back into his seat and pawed at his calf to try to stop the bleeding.
Nikki’s head started to clear. She straightened up in the driver’s seat and waved at the door with the barrel. “Get the fuck out, asshole! Now!”
Spider winced when he moved his leg but he did what he was told. Nikki saw him look back sideways at her as he opened the door. She knew to watch him close, the bastard wasn't done yet. She eased out her side of the car and kept the gun on him as she limped around. Spider stood with his weight on his good leg. A puddle of blood started to form under his foot.
She didn’t have to pretend anymore. “What the fuck were you thinking, Spider? I already got two strikes! I can’t be messed up with this kind of shit!” She looked at the gun in her hand; ”Aw, fuck me! Now my prints are on this thing too!”
Spider zipped up his pants and sneered at her like he smelled something bad. “What the hell happened to you? You get out a couple months before I do and you think you’re better than me? How’d you turn into such a bitch all of a sudden?””
“People change, Spider! I was trying to change. I’m clean now! You knew that! You said you were gonna change, too!”
Spider shrugged and smiled a toothy, shit-eating grin that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and try to run away. “Looks like you changed enough for both of us.”
Spider lunged at her and missed. Nikki stepped back as he grabbed for the gun. His bad leg couldn’t hold the weight and dumped him face down in the gravel.
“You never knew when to quit.” She fired twice. Both shots dug into the dirt inches from his head and sprayed grit up at his face. She cocked it for one more. Spider brought his arms up to cover his head.
Instead of a shot, Nikki laughed and kicked out with the toe of her boot into his shattered leg. He tried to crawl toward her but it was too much. Spider drew up into a ball and clenched his calf. His screams had broken down to just sobs now; his voice was as raw as his leg.
“Use your belt to tie it off, you pussy. Rush hour starts in a couple of hours. Maybe somebody’ll stop for you.”
She knew she should just put another one in his head and dump him into the bay, but she couldn’t do it. Wouldn’t. That wasn’t Nikki; not anymore. Instead, she pointed the car south and left Spider behind her in the dark.
BIO: Paul Newman lives in Northern California with his wife and daughter. He sleeps with the closet light on and a cricket bat next to the bed… just in case. You can find more of his stories at http://www.logicalvoodoo.com/.