Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Corvette King by Bruce Harris

“I’m sorry, Mike.” She looked up at the slowly twirling ceiling fans. “I’m really sorry.”
Mike Korvus plucked an anchovy stuffed olive from his third vodka and jammed it into his mouth. It tasted briny, fishy. He stared down at the five black and white photographs of his wife. He couldn’t take his eyes off the first picture with her spread-eagled legs and the back of her lover’s head buried in the end zone. It wasn’t Mike’s head. He raised the glass, tilted it at such an angle as to allow another olive to slide into his mouth while blocking a couple of half-melted ice cubes. The four other photos were no better than first, but for some reason Sharon’s facial contortion on that photo, a sort of “Fuck you, Michael” expression really pissed him off.  The result, he reasoned, of an imperfect seven-year marriage based on secrets and neglect. But for the life of him he had no idea Sharon was doing this behind his back. “Who’s the guy, Fran?”
Fran Schmidt tried to get the attention of the waitress, but the server had just taken an order from a tattoo-covered couple in a nearby booth and was headed straight into the kitchen. Fran wore her hair short, had toned and tanned muscular arms and legs, and the greenest eyes, putting green eyes, to go along with a killer smile. She could also hit a golf ball straight and consistently 280 yards. There was something about a woman who could drive the little white sphere that far and look that good. Korvus was hot. Normally, three vodkas paired with Fran’s rack made him hot, but after viewing the pictures of his wife, he was hot in a not so hot way. She ignored his question.
“Who’s the guy with my wife?” Mike asked again, glaring at the photos. He stared a little longer. There was something, other than the obvious, disturbing about the pictures but Mike couldn’t put his finger on it.
“What’s the difference? You have the proof in front of you, right? Forget her. Move on with your life.”
Life? Korvus thought about that for a second. Professionally, things were going great. The Korvus Chevrolet dealership was number three in overall sales in North America, and the number one Corvette dealer. Michael Korvus, known as the Corvette King, had achieved this high level of success through efficiency and superior customer service. PICTURE YOURSELF IN A KORVUS CORVETTE was Mike’s mega successful marketing slogan. Mike personally drove his own Corvette to the homes of all new Corvette buyers and hand delivered an expensive bottle of champagne and a dozen roses as a way of saying thank you for the business. Fran Schmidt was Mike’s office manager, having begun working at the dealership from its startup over a decade ago. She was more than a business associate, Fran and Mike and Sharon saw each other socially on occasion as well. Business was great, but there was a direct negative correlation between the time he put into making his business a success and the amount of quality time he spent with Sharon. It was a tough balancing act, and long ago Mike Korvus dropped the balance pole and was slipping off the thin rope and into an abyss he discovered was impossible to avoid.
“I want a fucking name and a fucking address!” Korvus sucked the remains of the vodka and now he was craning his neck, looking for the waitress. He’d never spoken that way to Fran and he surprised himself.
“Chuck Vega’s his name. Okay? Are you happy now? He used to be a cop, Mike. He has a gun. He still has a lot of cop friends. Stay away from him, please. Just, stay away. I don’t know where the guy lives. If you want him so badly, go find him yourself!” With that, Fran Schmidt got up and left Mike with an empty glass and five pornographic photographs featuring his wife in the starring role.
Locating Vega wasn’t going to be easy. Cops and ex-cops had unlisted numbers, and although Korvus had friends who were on the force, none were likely to give out those kind of details. But, Mike Korvus knew who to ask for the information. Korvus gathered up the photos, dropped a fifty on the table and headed for Korvus Chevrolet.
Korvus Chevrolet occupied two square blocks about 15 miles north of New York City. It was a sparkling clean and shiny mini glass city. A staff of just over 50 persons supported Korvus, including a dozen sales people. One of them, Stuart Saxton was showing off a pearl white Corvette convertible to a 20-something with a shaved head wearing a suit that didn’t come off any rack. Korvus sized up the customer in less than a second. The kid hadn’t earned a penny of his big bucks himself, Korvus thought. Everything baldy had in life, and it was plenty, was gifted to him from his old man. Stuart had an easy sale on his hands. “Hi Stuart, how goes it?”
Stuart Saxton straightened up and tightened his tie. “Fine, fine, Mr. Korvus. Just fine. I’m showing Mr. Justice here this beautiful convertible.”
Korvus slowed his pace. “That’s a beautiful automobile, Mr. Justice. It just arrived yesterday. If I’m not mistaken, we are the only dealer on the east coast with this new model. Stuart will take good care of you. If he doesn’t, come see me.” The salesman and customer chuckled. Before walking completely away, Korvus added, “Mr. Justice, I have a chilled bottle of champagne with your name on it which I look forward to delivering to your home. Go ahead and take it for a test drive, and do me one small favor Mr. Justice.” He paused. “Picture yourself in a Korvus Corvette! And please, let me know if I can be of any assistance.” With that, Korvus excused himself and entered a corner office without knocking.
“Chuck Vega. Do you know him?” Korvus was speaking to Victor Slaughter, 6-foot four, 240 pounds, ex-Marine, ex-cop and current head of security at the car dealership.
Slaughter was caught by surprise. He unconsciously jiggled a set of keys dangling from his belt. “I know of him, Mike. Why?”
“None of your goddamned business. Where does he live? What’s his deal? Married? Family? What?”
Slaughter continued fingering the keys. “He was on the force when I was a cop a hundred years ago. He was let go. Too many incidents, you know, too many shootings, too many rumors. The guy was a loose cannon with a gun and a badge and he was kicked off the force.”
“What kind of rumors?”
“The usual bullshit, you know, dirty.”
“What else?”
“One of the female cops accused him of rape. Please, Mike, don’t ask me about it. Like I said, it was a long fucking time ago and…”
“And what?”
Slaughter licked his lips. He knew one day this would come out. He grabbed hold of his keys. “The accuser was Sharon! The entire thing was a fucking mess. They both left the force. Please, that’s all I know. Honestly.”
“Sharon? She was a cop?”
“For a short while. Sharon and Vega were partners for a couple of months. Sharon took a lot of crap from the other cops. You know how young cops can be. They acted like asshole juveniles toward her. She was always the professional, but I’m sure she wasn’t happy in that hostile environment. How could she be?” Slaughter paused, but Korvus said nothing, so he continued. “Anyway, they were out on some drug stakeout and she accused Vega of raping her. The medical examiner found traces of Vega’s semen on and in Sharon, but of course the scumbag denied raping her. He said it was consensual; that Sharon instigated the shit by what he called suggestive talk, about his nightstick and that kind of shit. I trust that crazy fucker about as far as I can throw him. Sharon insisted it wasn’t consensual, that the animal forced himself on her. It didn’t end well.”
Korvus was stoned face. “Why didn’t I hear anything about it?”
“It was kept within the force. No one wanted this to get out. It was poison. The newspapers never got wind of it. That’s about the only thing good about it. Sharon quit after that. Who the hell could blame her? The brass kicked Vegas’ ass out. His record was hardly stellar. How a guy like that ever got on the force in the first place is beyond me.”
Korvus was at his wit’s end. “Where does the little shit live?”
“Last I heard he was shacked up with some bimbo and her kid in some apartment near the stadium.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yup. He’s a bouncer at one of the strip clubs on Main and he hooked up with a dancer. I hear the asshole is trying to straighten himself out, that is, get control over his anger management deal that fucked him up and start his life over again with this stripper chick. But he’s still fucking crazy. One of my buddies on the force mentioned that to me the other night. That’s messed up. I don’t hear anything about the guy for years, and now all of a sudden, he’s the hottest topic of conversation. Anything I can help with, boss?”
It didn’t make sense. It didn’t make one bit of goddamned sense. “No, nothing.”
“Sure thing. I can probably find out the exact apartment if you want me to.”
“No, screw it.”
What the hell was Fran’s game sending him to Vega? Had he barged in on him and accused the guy of screwing Sharon, the crazy ex-cop would have flipped out. Mike figured that’s what Fran had wanted. Why?
Korvus sat in his office, removed the photos of Sharon from an envelope and spread them across his glass desktop. Other than Sharon and the bed, everything else in the pictures was out of focus. They had all been taken in the same bed in the same room and basically at around the same time. He noticed that fact when Fran first brought them to his attention. Something was not right, though. What was off? He examined each photo again. Fucking Sharon. She and her lover were in different positions in each lurid scene, but there was a peculiarity. It was Vega! Rather, it was the other person. While Sharon was clearly visible in all of the photos, Vega (or whoever the hell it was) was not. Mike saw only the back of a head or outlines of two hands wrapped around his wife’s waist or a body shape under the covers. He wrapped his fist against the thick glass desktop. He did a double take at the photos. Despite the out of focus and blurry backgrounds, he spotted something on the wall behind the bed. It was the shape that caught his attention. A fuzzy, ghostly looking Corvette-shaped framed object was visible. Korvus glanced back over his shoulder at the Corvette-shaped award hanging behind his desk. He was presented the award for selling more Corvettes than any other dealer in North America. He liked the idea of the unique frame so much, that he began an Employee of the Year award and had specially made Corvette-shaped frames for that honor. He’d given out only one, to Fran.
The Corvette King grabbed a set of keys to a brand new cherry red Corvette, a gun from his office safe, a bottle of champagne and a dozen roses. He drove to Fran’s apartment complex and took the stairs three at a time up to the sixth floor. He didn’t ring the bell. Korvus kicked in the door and went directly to her bedroom. There, in shock, were Fran and Sharon, under the covers. The two dykes were getting it on. “Get the fuck up, now! Both of you! Get the fuck up!”
The naked women got out of the bed, Fran standing directly in front of Sharon, covering herself with the bed sheet. “Mike, please, stop. Listen to me. We…”
Mike was in no mood to listen. “Drop the sheet, Fran. I’ve always wanted to see that hard body of yours anyway. Drop the goddamned sheet!”
“What are you doing here, you jerk?” It was Sharon, tilting her head out from behind Fran. “I never wanted this, Michael. It’s just that you spent so much time with your cars and…”
“Shut up, both of you. I told you to drop the bed sheet.” Fran complied. Sharon had good taste. Fran was the proverbial hairless brick shithouse. “It’s you and Sharon in the photos, isn’t it? Tell me, where was the camera staged? Here? Am I warm, because that’s the spot where I’m going to shoot you both.” Korvus took a few short steps to his right. “It’s a funny thing Fran, I’ve always wanted to plug you, and it looks like I’m finally going to get my wish.” He raised the gun. Before either Fran or Sharon spoke again, he fired directly into Fran’s neck. Her face flushed as a 4-inch slit opened on her neck. The skin appeared to have been rapidly unzipped. The bullet sliced cleanly through her flesh and lodged a few inches above Sharon’s Adams apple. The two dropped in a communal pool of blood. One bullet. Two deaths. Efficiency. Korvus liked that. He especially liked the fact that there was no damage to Fran’s Employee of the Year award. He gently adjusted the award on the wall to straighten it out, then dragged the bodies, one by one, and placed them into the trunk of the new car. Before heading out to drop the two stiffs and the gun into the Hudson River, he left the bottle of champagne and the dozen roses at Fran’s front door. He’d have the trunk cleaned out by his maintenance crew. They wouldn’t ask questions. His only regret was that the new cherry red Corvette had extra miles on it and would have to be sold as a demo, at a reduced price. He was too honest to turn back the odometer. He shrugged. “The cost of doing business,” he said to himself.
BIO: Bruce Harris is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: ABout Type ( His fiction has appeared (or will appear) in A Twist of Noir, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Out of the Gutter, Shotgun Honey, Pine Tree Mysteries, All Due Respect, and Over My Dead Body! He enjoys relaxing with a Marxman.