FREE LIKE SHERRY - DANA C. KABEL
Schiff got the gun and I got the knife, cause that was what they threw in the center of the ring and the knife was the quickest thing I could grab onto.
Course, a gun ain’t nothing but a club when there’s no bullets in it, and old Schiff found that out the hard way when it made that empty clicking sound in his hand. Just steel on steel and the dog fart dry gasp that came out of his mouth when he realized he grabbed the shitty end of the stick.
Mr. Mason started laughing hard in the gallery up above us. I knew that it was him because he has a loud bark...what some people might call a guffaw...and he laughs at a lot of things that most people wouldn’t find so funny.
Even in the life and death situation I was in, I could picture Mr. Mason in his Sam’s Club suit chomping on a fat cigar and grabbing his trophy girlfriend’s pretty little ass while he watched us go about killing each other.
“Kill that pussy sonofabitch!” An angry voice shouted. “Stab him in the neck!”
I looked at Schiff and truly felt guilty about the scared look in his eyes because that was exactly what I was thinking about doing. He started backpedaling as I charged forward with the long blade held high above my head, ready to stab him.
Schiff backed himself against the wall as I closed in and squinted his eyes as he clenched up, cause he thought he was done for. But thinking about putting a knife in someone and actually doing it are two different things entirely, so I guess when it came down to the moment of truth I closed my own eyes up pretty good, too.
Our bodies smacked together and a sharp pain rang up my arm and I heard the knife clang to the floor. That was because I stabbed the block wall behind Schiff and the blade just bounced off.
We opened our eyes at the same time and Schiff pushed me off and came at me with the gun in his hand like the little club it had become. Something snapped in me then and the fear went right out of me.
I guess I was mad that I had missed my chance and now old Schiff was gonna get his turn at me because of it. It didn’t help none that Mr. Mason was shouting all sorts of obscenities at me, calling me a worthless piece of shit and what not.
And it wasn’t just the words he was throwing at me. Mr. Mason had called me lots worse lots of other times. But the fact he was putting me down like that in front of that little gal...
Well, tell the truth that little gal was the prettiest damned girl I’d ever seen in my life and it gulled me from the start to see her under Mr. Mason’s thumb the way she was.
Her name was Sherry, and she was too pretty and young to be with a fat old ugly man like Mr. Mason. Sherry should have been some place nice and clean with someone nice and good who would treat her right.
It...it was an abomination that he was in her life the way he was.
I probably shouldn’t have been thinking about all that when there was a man trying to bludgeon me to death with the butt end of an eight inch .44 magnum. If you never held one of those before, I can tell you it’s a heavy piece of iron.
I snapped out of my own head almost a second too late and dodged just enough so that the butt of that pistol just glanced off my thick skull. Even so, that was enough of a slap to bring my mind back to Earth all the way.
After I staggered back in line, I saw Schiff coming in with another swing and I come up under his chin with my hard elbow and knocked him on his ass.
The wind went right outta him when he hit the ground, but old Schiff held right onto that Smith. That was until I healed back and kicked it away from him like Charlie Brown connecting with Lucy’s football for the first time.
There was a loud crack as Schiff’s wrist broke and the gun went skittering across the floor.
Schiff howled like a gut shot coon hound and old Mr. Mason started his disgusting pig-donkey laugh again.
Schiff got to his feet again, cause giving up ain’t an option in the game we were playing. Mr. Mason makes it clear to anyone going in the ring that one way or another only one man comes out alive. Even if one fella just gives out or gives up, Mr. Mason’s men make sure they don’t crawl out of the pit.
The fella that comes out of that pit alive gets one hundred thousand dollars, which ain’t peanuts from Mr. Mason takes in from all the wagers. But it’s enough for a guy like me to steal away a pretty little thing like Sherry and dust out of town.
If I could have afforded to feel bad for old Schiff I would have. I did give him some room though, while he pulled his sorry self up to his feet with his broke wrist cradled to his body like a lame wing.
“Let’s make it interesting,” Mr. Mason shouted. Then one of his men threw a handful of bullets out onto the floor.
Schiff dove for those bullets like he was trying to cover ‘em all up with his body. I went for the gun.
He was scrambling them all together with his one good arm when I walked up to him with the Smith in my hand. Schiff grinned as he showed me the handful of bullets he had gathered up before he dropped them into his pocket.
Then I showed him the one bullet I had snatched up on my way to getting the gun and his grin went away.
Schiff fell back and closed his eyes and started breathing quick and shallow. Mr. Mason brayed like a damned fool as I held the bullet high above my head for the cheering crowd to see.
I snapped the Smith open and put that lone bullet in the cylinder and snapped it shut again.
“Say your prayers, Schiff,” I said.
He started weeping. I cocked the gun and pointed it at his head.
Then I looked up at Mr. Mason with his fat cigar sticking out of his fat headed grin. He had a drink in one hand and his other dirty hand all over that sweet looking Sherry, who was looking away from it all.
That pig owned that poor girl the same as he owned me and Schiff. Only, Sherry was like his fancy car or boat or plane and me and Schiff was like his dogs.
Mason gave the girl that big shot look of his and I pictured him doing a thousand filthy things to her in my mind and knew that it just wasn’t right. When she turned her head up to look back at him, Sherry gave that pig the darndest little grin and nuzzled tight to him under his fat arm. I knew right then that pretty gal would never go off with me cause that bastard ruint her.
Then he put his drink down and raised his thumb up like a emperor in the Coliseum.
The crowd roared. They all had money put on it one way or the other.
Mason turned his thumb over and pointed it down and the crowd went bat shit crazy with blood lust. Like he was pulling the trigger his own self.
And just like that, I swung the Smith up and fired.
That sweet young girl’s head snapped back and blood sprayed outta the back of her skull. There was one great gasp from the crowd and everything went so quiet I could hear the death fart go outta Sherry’s body. I knew that at that moment the stink of her dead body shitting itself was filling Mason’s nostrils.
He recoiled away from her just as the crowd snapped out of their shock and started mobbing for the exits.
I sat down on the ground next to old Schiff and closed my eyes and waited for Mason’s goon squad. In another minute me and Schiff would be free like Sherry.
BIO: Dana C. Kabel’s stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir, Black Heart Magazine, Darkest Before The Dawn, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Muzzleflash, Mysterical-E, Out of the Gutter, Powder Flash Burn, and Yellow Mama. He blogs at www.thenonstopbullet.blogspot.com
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
5 hours ago