Friday, July 13, 2012

A Twist Of Noir 699 - Christopher Grant


WAITING FOR KEITH - CHRISTOPHER GRANT
 
I light up another cigarette and look in the mirror on my side of the car. Waiting for Keith.
 
Keith, the wannabe, the hanger-on. He might have a lot of backers, a lot of people that think he’s got the chops for this job. Unlike his backers, I’ve actually been on a job with Keith. He’s got a high opinion of himself and his skills. He’s hit or miss.
 
He ought to come with a warning label that reads, “Sometimes, you get what you paid for. Other times, you pay for what you get.”
 
Finally, after a half-hour, he comes walking around the corner of the building, his arm around a girl that looks like she’s barely out of high school.
 
Keith opens the passenger door and folds the seat forward. The girl climbs through, into the back seat.
 
“What the fuck is this?” I say, tossing my cigarette onto the street.
 
“This is Michelle,” Keith says. “Say hello, Michelle.”
 
Michelle says hello.
 
“You know what the fuck I mean,” I say, as Keith drops his ass in the passenger seat.
 
Keith just smiles through his goatee. “Just put it in gear and let’s get this over with, brother.”
 
I really hate it when assholes like Keith tell me what to do. Makes me feel like whipping out my piece and putting another hole in his fucking head. The brother is a cherry on the top of this pile of shit.
 
I slide the gear shift into drive, pull out into traffic and drive away from Keith’s apartment complex.
 
*
 
This is precisely the reason that you don’t bring an outsider along with you on a job:
 
The hit is a jewelry store. As soon as we pull into the lot, Michelle wants to come in and look around, thinking Keith’s bringing her here so that he can put a ring on her finger or get her something equally nice.
 
So when he tells her to stay in the car, she gets pissed off and throws a fit, drawing a bunch of attention our way. As if there isn’t going to be enough once we place the ski masks over our heads. This just adds to it.
 
I want to scrap the entire thing.
 
“Let’s just get back into the car and get the fuck out of here,” I say.
 
“Relax, brother,” Keith says. This is the second time he’s called me brother within thirty minutes. I want to punch him, break his fucking nose or something. Get my point across as violently as I can. But I don’t do it because if I do, I’m walking into the jewelry store myself. I might even have the asshole shoot me in the back and then I’m really fucked.
 
“Then calm her the fuck down,” I say.
 
Keith turns around and tells Michelle that he wants it to be a surprise what he gets her.
 
Yeah, I think, if we fuck it up, congratulations, honey. I got you three to five as an accessory.
 
And here I am again, waiting for Keith.
 
*
 
Part two of why you should never bring an outsider along on a job rears its ugly head when we make it to the car.
 
Michelle sees us and screams like she’s the one that’s been shot.
 
My right leg is dragging behind me and I’m barely keeping Keith upright. He’s turning a different shade of pale.
 
“Get out of the back seat,” I say to Michelle, my gun still in my hand, waving back and forth. “Now!”
 
The hero guard comes barreling out into the lot, finds me and Keith and the screaming girl. He probably thinks we’re car-jacking her.
 
He fires another couple of shots at Keith and me and scores again, this time hitting me in the back. I fall onto the hood and then slide down next to the front tire. My gun goes sliding off the hood in the other direction and skitters away across the pavement.
 
I look over to my right, my head moving like a snail.
 
I look at Keith and realize that he’s going to make it and I’m not.
 
I promise you this, though:
 
I’ll be waiting for Keith.

5 comments:

Richard Godwin said...

One of the best stories in the challenge, nothing like one from the editor. The central character here is brilliantly portrayed, just the kind of man who always backs the wrong horse and suffers from the delusion of thinking he's smart.

ajhayes2 said...

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold"
Yup, Little Johnny Keats is cheering for this one. Mr. Grant spins out a yarn that is soaked with the certainty of doom from the beginning, but somehow keeps us thinking, "Maybe, just maybe . . . and then, "Aw shit!" Ruthless funny and still draws that "Aw Shit!" when the guy buys it. Great story telling, Christopher. Cool.

Al Tucher said...

Aww, what's wrong with a little togetherness?

A lot, obviously. Good tough job, Christopher.

Cindy Rosmus said...

The title itself assured me this wouldn't work out well. Great balance to this story. Wanted to smack the shit out of Michelle on sight. And THIS Keith reminds me of one that was MY Keith way back. Great sory, & great closing line.

Naomi Johnson said...

This reminded me of a junior high school friend. I hadn't thought of Joanna in years but Keith has a lot in common with her. Lucky for me, I never got shot. Great work, Christopher.