Friday, July 16, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 509 - Jason Duke


Previously published at Pulp Pusher

I’m on a flight from São Paulo to Los Angeles. I sit in an aisle seat. Next to me sit two Russian fags. One has spiked hair, the other has a crew cut, both wear plaid board shorts and white tees.

A flight attendant tromps up and down the aisle smacking her fat ass into me. The attendants make their first round with the serving cart and the Russians say they want Pepsi, no ice. I pretend to sleep.

My arms are folded across my chest and I’m holding the vial of Thallium sulfate cupped in my hand. The Russians, they’re dead and they don’t know it. They killed themselves the moment they skipped Phoenix without settling a half a million dollar debt. I think about giving them a pass. Problem is, I’ve seen nothing in this world worth saving.

I crack open my left eye and see the Russians sleeping. The shades are drawn. Everything’s dark.

I unscrew the top of the vial. The Russians share the middle tray and both their drinks are on the tray, so I reach over and tap the Thallium sulfate into their drinks. It dissolves in the Pepsi. They don’t smell it. They don’t taste it.

The next morning, they wake up and feel like complete shit, like they got the flu. It takes a few days. They vomit; they shit themselves. The pain in their arms and legs paralyze them, until they slip into a coma and die.


I rent a room at the Marriott outside LAX. Catch a shuttle over to the Marriott and inside the shuttle is this guy who starts talking to me real nice and friendly and I think here’s a man who’s wasted a lot of time perfecting his bullshit.

“I was in the Army from ’75 to ’77,” he says.

He looks forty.

“Oh yeah?” I say, “What’d you do in the Army?”

He tells me he read secret documents for a Colonel.

I ask him if he’s been to ’Nam and he says yes.

I ask him what unit’s he with and he tells me he’s stationed in Germany before they send him to ’Nam, then later he tells me how he’s stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, and he’s a mine specialist.

I tell him he’s full of shit and he says: “What?”

“You said you read secret documents,” I say. “Now you’re saying you’re a mine specialist, so I say you’re full of shit... you never even served in ’Nam... probably never been in the Army.”

He looks at me for a second; thinks of something to say, a way to cover his tracks.

“Man, fuck you.” He throws up his arms at me for effect.

I jump up in his face and say: “No, fuck you!”

He moves his head to the side and leans away, realizing maybe he’s pissed off the wrong guy.

I say, that’s right, motherfucker, you pissed off the wrong guy, but he still has some spunk left in him and tells me: “Man, you better...” so I shove my face up to his, smack the side of his head with my forehead and shout: “Fucking do something about it!”

“It’s cool, man... sorry,” he says.

I step back away from him.

Not that I give a shit about him.

Fuck him.

I’m just tired and want to sleep.


I lay on the bed, propped up against the pillows.

I flip through the channels on the T.V., pissed off about the prick in the shuttle, but more pissed off about the cost of the room.

George Carlin’s on the free HBO channel ranting, ‘It’s all bullshit and it’s bad for ya.’

The room costs $199 plus tax and service fees and all the other bullshit charges they tack on.

I try to get the chick at the lobby desk to cut me a break, but it’s probably that time of the month for the bitch, or maybe she hates people as much as I do, because, behind her phony smile, she’s telling me to fuck off, she’s not going to do shit for me.

I flip it to the porn channels. I’m about to buy a movie when my cell phone buzzes and it’s my client on the other end.

“You know who this is?” he says, in a heavy Spanish accent.

I say, yes, Mr. Simental, tell him he’s not supposed to call me, so why is he calling me.

He calls me a pendejo, and he says: “You don’t tell me anything. Don’t get fucking cute with me, gringo. I’m paying good money for you, so I want to be kept well-informed.”

I tell him to go fuck himself, and he laughs and says: “You got some big huevos, gringo. I like that, but don’t get carried away and let them talk for you, comprende?”

I say fair enough and he asks if I’ve finished my contract on the Russians.

I tell him it’s a done deal.

“Bueno... bueno,” he says. “I have a small favor to ask, mi amigo. I need you to come back to Phoenix and make a stop in Indio along the way to pick up a shipment of guns for me. Deliver these guns to Roy Mercer at a gun shop called the Cross Hairs. I am sending a mule, Jesus Delgado, to retrieve the guns. There is a very special gun that I want you to make sure he gets back to me. Do this for me, and I pay you $10,000 plus the $25,000 for the Russians. You agree this is more than fair compensation for such a simple task, sí?”

I ask him when and he says he wants the guns delivered by tomorrow night.

I tell him he has a deal and hang up.

I think about the Russians and I wonder if I’m making the same mistake.

Simental is gearing up to finish his war with the Arellano cartel and take over the Mexican drug trade.

He hires the Russians to smuggle an arsenal across the border, but they get busted trying to cross, and when they make bail, they skip town.


The next day, I score the guns in Indio no problem.

I drive a 2007 Dodge Caravan I rent from Hertz, with the guns stashed in back under a blue tarp.

The guns consist of two crates of AK-47s, and one sexy looking 24 karat gold-plated Desert Eagle XIX .50AE cal.

I got the Caravan maxed at 80 MPH and make it to Phoenix in record time.

I pull up to Cross Hairs in an out of the way strip mall wedged between a Korean BBQ and a Beauty Salon.

I tuck the Desert Eagle in my waistline.

The windows and door are barred, it’s dark inside, and the place looks locked up tight.

I go up to the door, there’s a closed sign hanging in the door, so I peer inside and I see this bearded middle-aged slob with a sagging beer gut waddle up to the door.

He unlocks and opens the door; asks if I’m the guy.

“Yeah,” I say. “You Mercer?”

He says: “Yeah, I’m Mercer. Pull the car around back.”

I notice another prick inside, but I don’t get a good look at him, and figure it’s Simental’s mule, Jesus Delgado.

Out back, Mercer is waiting with a young Mexican kid.

The kid has black peach fuzz penciled in along his upper lip and looks sixteen.

I show the goods; hand over the keys.

Mercer checks over everything, while the kid, he tells me about his oldest brother and sister-in-law – how he’s getting paid $400 bucks for this job and how he’s going to help his family with the money.

That’s when I hear the police chopper closing in.

The back door of the gun shop flies open and an undercover cop bursts through the door. The kid bolts. Everything goes to slow motion.

The cop yells for the kid to stop and pivots toward the kid for a kill shot.

I draw the Desert Eagle and pump two in the cop’s chest; run up on him and peel back his dome for good measure; take off after the kid as Mercer drives off in the opposite direction in the Caravan.

The kid jumps a wall and I jump after him.

I see a bunch of cop cars barricade the street, hear Mercer skid to a halt, then a staccato of gunfire.

I tackle the kid and tell him to wait a second, just hold on a goddamn second.

I give him the Desert Eagle and say: “Here, take it.”

The police chopper hovers above, shining its spotlight down on us.

“Why did you save me?” he says.

I shove him and tell him to run, get the fuck out of here.

He takes off running, the spotlight goes to him then comes back to me, and I watch him make his escape.

BIO: Jason Duke is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army and served 15 months in Iraq as part of OIF 07-09. He was borderline before going to Iraq, but now he's totally fucked in the head. He mostly misses killing shit and blowing shit up. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Thuglit, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler Magazine, Pulp Pusher, Flash Fiction Offensive, Darkest Before the Dawn, A Twist of Noir, 3AM Magazine, Suspect Thoughts, Shred of Evidence, Outsider Ink, The Hiss Quarterly, Dungeon Magazine, The Murder Hole, A Cruel World. He’s also branched out into horror with his story “Route Cobra” which can be found at House of Horror.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tough kid gets to live another day because of the good bad guy hero. Got kind of a lump in my throat at the end. The fancy Desert Eagle was a nice touch. Great story Jason. Pro caliber all the way.