Saturday, January 1, 2011

Not Even a Rat

Happy New Year. Here's the first DSD post of 2011 as we head into the final week of the flash fiction challenge.

Not Even a Rat

By J.E. Seymour


Kevin hadn’t thought about it being the night before Christmas until he pulled his Jaguar into the driveway of the little house in Briarwood. There were two cars already there, a new red Camaro and an old yellow Ford station wagon with faded wood decals. The hint came in the form of a grouping of ugly plastic characters. Looked like Santa, a snowman and two huge candles. It was still daylight, so he couldn’t tell if they would light up at night, but he was assuming they would. He shuddered, stepped out of the car and walked to the door, glancing at the brown lawn. No snow yet, maybe that was why he hadn’t thought about Christmas. As he rang the doorbell he heard voices inside, arguing.

“Yeah?” The guy who opened the door wore an unbuttoned flannel shirt and jeans with holes in the knees. He had on a pair of untied yellow work boots that Kevin doubted had ever seen physical work. He pushed the long hair out of his dark eyes, looked up at Kevin and sniffed as if he had a cold.

“Who is it?” asked the other arguing voice. She was carrying a baby and had another small child clinging to her leg. Her dyed-blond hair spilled just past her shoulders and was feathered in a ten-year old style.

A flash of recognition crossed the guy’s face. “Don’t I know you?” he asked. “You’re Duke, right? You work for my cousin Charles.” He pushed the door open. “Come on in.”

Kevin shook his head. “No. I need you to come with me. We’re going for a ride.”

The face changed. “Well, um, I got a party tonight you know, at the Marconi’s. Sherry and I were just discussing baby-sitting, so I can’t go with you right now. Maybe some other time.” His voice trembled as he backed away from the door.

Kevin set his jaw and moved forward, grabbing the young man’s elbow. “Let’s go, Ronnie.” He could hear some group of celebrities singing about Christmas in the background as the toddler started to cry.

“What’s the big deal?” asked Ronnie. “Where we going?”

“We’re going for a ride, that’s all. We need to talk. You’ll be back in plenty of time for your party.” Kevin patted Ronnie on the back, checking for a gun, as he guided him towards the driveway.

“You can’t do this!” Sherry screamed. “Ronnie is Charles’s cousin. We’re family for God’s sake. We’ve got two little kids! It’s Christmas!”

Kevin was doing his best to put the kids and Christmas out of his mind as he walked Ronnie to the car.

The woman stepped onto the front steps, still screaming. “I know who you are! I know what you are, you piece of shit! You fucking murderer.” She paused for breath. “I’ll call the cops!”

Kevin stopped. “If you don’t want your kids to be orphans, you better get her to shut up.”

“Sherry, it’s okay. Honest. Just be quiet. You’re making a scene.”

She backed into the house and slammed the door.

Kevin motioned to the driver’s side of the little red convertible. “Ever drive one of these?”

“No.”

“This should be a treat then. Consider it a Christmas present.”

Ronnie slid into the seat and started the engine as Kevin climbed in. “What’s going on?”

Kevin didn’t reply. His teeth were clenched as he struggled to get the woman and kids out of his mind. He pulled out a Camel and his Zippo. “Turn left here. Get on the parkway.”

“Where we going?”

“North.”

As Ronnie drove, Kevin fished behind the seat and pulled out a fifth of Jack Daniel’s, pushed the paper bag down a bit and took several swallows. They left the highway, turned onto narrower roads, then dirt roads, the last of which led to a padlocked gate.

“This is good, here.”

“What’d I do?”

“You know what you did, you fucking rat. Now get out of my car.” Kevin took a revolver out of the glove box. “Let’s take a walk. Who else was in on this?”

“I don't know.” Ronnie blubbered. “Please don’t shoot me. Jesus, man, it’s Christmas.”

“These guys tell you about anybody else?”

“No. I just talked to one guy. I gave him names, dates, places and he kept me out of jail. There was nothing real big. I tried to feed them useless information. But I couldn't go to jail, Duke, I got kids.”

Kevin was working hard at blotting the kids out of his mind. “They never mentioned any other squealers, anybody they might have inside?”

“He never talked about stuff like that. I don’t know if there’s anyone else.” Ronnie wiped the sweat off his forehead with his sleeve. “I’m cold, Duke, can’t we go back now?”

“You wear a wire?”

“No. I swear, I never did. They wanted me to. They wanted me to wear one to the party tonight. They told me they needed stuff on tape. But I wouldn't have done it.”

“What'd they have on you?”

“I got caught selling coke about six months ago.”

“Let’s walk off the trail here.” Kevin motioned to the left. They walked into the woods, brown leaves crunching under a thin coating of snow. “Okay.” He pointed at the ground. “Get on your knees.”

Ronnie obeyed. “Come on, you know me, man. I got little kids, Duke. It’s fucking Christmas.”

“Well, Merry fucking Christmas to you.” Kevin grabbed Ronnie’s hand, wrapped it around the gun and forced the short barrel into the kid’s mouth. He pulled back the hammer, squeezed the trigger. The noise made him jump. He waited a few minutes, checked for a pulse and walked away.

Back on the trail, he bent over and threw up. When he stood up he was shaking and weak-kneed. He leaned against a tree for a few minutes, waiting to get his legs back, desperate for a drink, trying to drive Ronnie’s kids out of his head.


***
J.E. Seymour lives in a small town in seacoast NH and has had short stories published in three anthologies of crime fiction by New England writers - ?Windchill,? ?Deadfall,? and ?Quarry;? in Thriller UK Magazine, and in numerous ezines, including Shots, Mouth Full of Bullets, Beat to a Pulp and Shred of Evidence. J.E.?s first novel, ?Lead Poisoning? was released by Mainly Murder Press on November 1st, 2010. J.E. is the markets coordinator for the Short Mystery Fiction Society and a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

10 comments:

Paul D. Brazill said...

I enjoyed that story very, very much and it took the edge off today's hangover.

J.E. Seymour said...

Thanks Paul!

Rae Francoeur said...

I like getting this look at what Kevin used to do. No wonder he suffers so much in Lead Poisoning. Great story, Joy.

Alan Griffiths said...

A great start to 2011 - lovely tight writing, J.E. I enjoyed that a lot.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

That was great! Well written, fast moving, and suspenseful.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Christmas pathos in a killer ending, with the poifect title. (Glad Paul's hangover is edging out too) ... Figuring no happy ending was coming to celebrate, I got caught in the reality detail/dialogue flow, traveling like a red camauro (my first car, still my fave) should.

Brava and Happiest NewYear of all that potentials ahead, Lady Seymour. ~ Absolutely*Kate

Al Tucher said...

Great title, and it doesn't let up.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Jan- Seeing as your local to me, I'll try and make it to your apprearance at Toadstools in Milford, which is my fav indie bookstore.

Joyce said...

Excellent story, with just the right amount of remorse. A job is a job though, and honor is honor, but the little bit of regret makes it just perfect.

J.E. Seymour said...

Thanks Sean! Hope to see you then. Spread the word!