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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flash Fiction Never, Ever Bring This Up Again

Never, Ever Bring This Up Again

I always knew someday I would kill somebody. I knew it like I knew I wouldn’t like peas or broccoli before I ever tasted them. I’m not a bad person, just felt I had it in me.
So, like a dumb ass, I let it slip to my buddy, Bob, one night when we were drunk. Well, maybe drunk isn’t a strong enough word. We were wasted off our asses. At least I was. I didn’t even remember telling him ‘till he brought it up a few days later.
We were just sitting in The Bar (The Bar not requiring a name since it was the only one in town). We were sitting at what may as well have been our table since we were here so frequently. And he just throws it out there. I’m talking about getting ready for football to start and he just blurts it out.
So, when you gonna kill somebody?” he asked.
What? What the hell are you talking about?”
You told me you were sure someday you’d kill somebody.”
When did I say that?”
When we were drinking the other night.”
I laughed. “What night? We’re here every night.”
Saturday. Don’t you remember?”
As a matter of fact I don’t remember. I do remember wishing I was dead for the first half of Sunday though.”
Well, you said it.”
A few flashes of that night came back but I wanted to stop this now. “Whatever man,” I said and went to get another round.
But he wouldn’t let it go. He bought it up at least once every time we were drinking. He just kept asking me when I was gonna do it. Finally, one night, I’d had enough.
Why can’t you let this go? I was drunk. I don’t even remember saying it.”
He glanced around the bar without moving his head. “Do you really think you could do it? Kill someone, I mean?”
I don’t know?” But I knew. “Why?”
We’ve been friends a long time, right?”
Right,” I said, wondering where this was going.
There’s someone I want killed.”
There’s this guy. He’s sleeping with my wife. I want you to kill him.”
Is this your idea of a joke?”
I’m serious man.”
I took a long drink of my beer. Then I leaned close and looked him right in the eye. “You listen to me and you listen good. I am not a killer,” I emphasized each word with a poke to his chest, “I know we’ve been friends a long time but enough is enough.” I threw a twenty on the table and gave him my best tough guy look, “Never, ever bring this up again.”
The truth is, I was tempted. That’s why I had to end this right now. Cold blooded murder just isn’t the way I thought it would go. It had to be someone who deserved it. And no one could ever find out it was me.
But he just wouldn’t let it go. I guess my best tough guy was more John Denver than John Wayne. And it got worse.
Okay,” he said one night, “it’s not just some guy sleeping with my wife.”
What’s not?” I was distracted by the half naked woman playing pool at the far end of the bar.
The guy I want you to kill.”
I reluctantly looked at Bob. “Oh my God! I told you-“
He leaned in, “I know what you told me,” he whispered, “but this is serious.” Again he looked around the bar, “I didn’t want to give you the real reason cause I thought you wanted to do it, but since you won’t I gotta tell you the truth.”
Does this truth have anything to do with why you’re acting like this?”
“Acting like what?”
Your leg is bouncing like it’s on hot coals and every time someone walks in here you jump.”
Never mind,” I leaned back and shrugged like I didn’t care, “So, what’s the truth?”
They’re plotting to kill me.”
My wife and Tommy.”
What makes you think that?”
I don’t know. I just feel it,” he said.
You’re being ridiculous.”
No man. They really are.”
Then get a divorce,” I said.
That’ll just speed them up. They want me gone and they want the insurance money.”
Then cancel your insurance. Now quit asking me before I kill you instead.” I returned to watching the pool game.
He sat back resigned. For the night anyway. I have to admit my curiosity was piqued. I knew the guy he was talking about. Tommy Hinks, kind of a low life, new in town, and seriously lacking in personal hygiene. I couldn’t picture Bob’s wife sleeping with him. Sue was beautiful, in a small town kind of way. Blond, blue eyed, soft in all the right places, but a little naïve and self absorbed. In a big city she would be pretty, but in this small town well, let’s just say, if she wanted to cheat, there was a line of men a lot better than Tommy that would jump at the chance.
So no, I didn’t believe Bob’s story. But just to be sure, I followed Tommy for about a week. I figured people having an affair would meet at least once a week. Bob thought I was avoiding him. Following Tommy was pretty easy since worked the same hours as me. Plus, Tommy’s not the brightest bulb on the tree. Bob was excited when I finally met him at the bar, but for the wrong reason.
So you’ve thought about it and-” he started.
I held up my hands, cutting him off. “Let’s just cut the bullshit, Okay. I followed your friend Tommy all week. He never got near your wife.”
Why’d ya follow him?”
Uh, because you’re a lying piece of shit,” I laughed. “Just tell me what the hell is going on.”
All right,” he took a big swig of beer, “he’s blackmailing me.”
Blackmailing you?” I replied. “With what? What did you do?”
I don’t want to talk about it.”
You want me to kill a man but you don’t want to tell me why? Be serious.”
He took another swallow, “I hit someone with my car. I was drunk and Tommy was with me. I hardly even remember it.” He finished off the beer and signaled for another one.
When did this happen?”
About a month ago.”
Tell me everything, exactly how you remember.”
Just tell me.”
Okay. It was about ten and I’d been drinking for a while already. Tommy came in and we were just talking and drinking. Tommy kept ordering shots and,” he shrugged, “well, you know how it goes.”
Why’d you drive?”
I don’t remember. I just have flashes of the car hitting something and Tommy freaking out. Them I’m at home in bed. The next morning Tommy was there on my couch. He told me what happened – he told me I hit some kid and that he moved the body into the woods, but now I owed him.”
I started laughing. Laughing hard.
What the fuck’s so funny?” He’d gone from ashamed to angry in a flash.
Relax, I’m not the one you’re mad at. Anyway, you didn’t hit anyone.”
Whadya mean I didn’t hit anyone? I sure as hell did.”
I paused and took a drink of my beer, drawing out the moment.
He set you up. He’s scamming you.”
Whatdya mean? How do you know?”
I leaned in. “Look, have you read about any hit and run accidents in the paper or heard it on the news?”
He hesitated, “No, but Tommy said he hid the body. The front of my car was damaged.”
Heard any missing person reports?”
In this small town, you think someone goes missing and you don’t hear anything about it?”
He didn’t answer. I tried another approach.
How drunk were you and who was buying the drinks?”
Really drunk and Tommy was buying…” He stopped and turned red. I wasn’t sure if he was mad or embarrassed.
He set you up and you fell, hook, line and sinker.”
I’m gonna kill that son of a bitch myself!” He started to get up.
Wait,” I grabbed his arm, “I’ve got a better idea.”
Bob better get here soon, Tommy thought. He’s already ten minutes late and I’m freezing my ass off.
He saw the headlights coming toward him and was relieved. He didn’t know what he would do if this didn’t work. He really needed the money. Well, he really needed a fix.
Bob parked, but left the car running. He got out and scanned the area behind Tommy. They were at a deserted warehouse about a mile outside of town.
“It’s about time,” Tommy said.
“Sorry, I had trouble getting the car to start. That’s why I gotta leave it running.”
“Whatever. Did you bring it?”
Bob reached into his inside jacket pocket and took out a plain white envelope. He threw it at Tommy’s feet.
Just as Tommy bent down to pick it up, I stepped out of the shadows with a gun.
“Hold it,” I yelled, aiming the gun at Tommy.
Tommy fell back in surprise.
“Get your fucking hands up now,” I said.
Tommy got up slow and raised his hands, his eyes darting back and forth between the two men. I guess my John Wayne was getting better. Or it was the gun. Probably the gun.
“What is this?” Tommy said.
Bob was smiling. He walked over and punched Tommy hard enough to double him over.
“Did you think I wouldn’t find out?” he said as he punched him again.
“All right,” Tommy coughed, holding his stomach and shaking his head, “I’m sorry. I just really needed the money.”
“And ruining my life was the way to do that?”
“I wasn’t trying to ruin your life.”
“What did you think making me believe I killed someone would do?”
“I guess I never really thought about it,” Tommy said, still bent over.
“You never thought about it!” Bob said. He shoved Tommy so hard he fell to the ground. He started kicking him in the back and legs.
“That’s enough Bob,” I said.
“The hell it is,” Bob said raising his leg for the next kick.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him away, “I said that’s enough.”
“Get your hands off me,” he said yanking his arm from my grip. “You don’t get to decide that.”
“I have the gun so yes, I do,” I said.
“What are you going to do, shoot me?” He started laughing. “You said you wouldn’t kill this prick for me but you’ll shoot me?” He laughed even harder.
“C’mon Bob,” I said, “this wasn’t the plan. We were just going to scare him.”
He stopped laughing, “Plans change.”
“No they don’t. I’m not going to let you beat him to death.”
Bob let out a deep breath. “Okay, okay. You’re right. Seeing him just got me so angry. I don’t know what got into me.” Then he lunged for the gun.
We struggled and the gun went off. Bob went down.
“Shit,” I said, “Shit, shit, shit.” I dropped down next to Bob and felt for a pulse. “Oh God,” I gasped. “He’s dead.”
I heard a noise to my right and looked over. “Tommy,” I said, “this is your fault.” I stood up and started walking toward him.
“I can’t let you leave now, you understand.”
“No, no,” he said waving his hands, scurrying back, “I won’t tell. I swear.”
“I can hardly trust you now, can I?”
Tommy kept scooting backwards, “Please, I won’t tell.”
“Sorry Tommy, I can’t take that chance.” I raised the gun. Tommy backed into Bob’s car and relief flooded his face when he realized it was still running. He jumped inside and took off weaving all over the road. I shot a couple of times near the car.
“That was fun,” said a voice behind me. I turned to see Bob standing up, brushing the dirt off his shirt.
I started laughing. “Yeah, he shouldn’t be a problem anymore.”

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