Tuesday Night Fiction: Quick Stop

So, I hereby inaugurate this the first ***Tuesday Fiction*** for my site. (I put little stars around it for emphasis.)

If you have any very short stories (between 500-1500 words, must have a beginning, middle, and end) that you would like to share with the online world, please send them my way and I’ll do the thing where I put them online (or suggest minor edits or I will send you disparaging amounts of sad-faced emoticons) and all 3 of the people who read my blog will shower you with love and praise. You will be awarded with the Blessings of Ganesh and the All-Father Odin. You will keep all the rights to your story and can do with it whatever you please. However, be aware that this will be considered published as far as the interwebs go, so you probably aren’t gonna be able to resell it for money, so its publish at your own risk. Also, I will not use your property to make me prosperous in any way other than the increased traffic your masterpiece will obviously bring. Praise the BuddahAllahChrist, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-men.

Since I obviously don’t have anything by anyone else this week, here’s one of mine about a dude that almost kills another dude in a convenience store.

QUICK STOP

 

“Please stop pointing the gun at my head,” said Max.

The barrel shook in the boy’s hand, coming alive under a mix of fear and adrenaline. Aw, he’s a virgin, Max thought. A simple stop at the corner store had become a dangerous situation.

“Make one f-fucking move and you’re d-dead man.” The kid’s eyes were wild but his voice betrayed him.

Max stood, calm and unmoving, soy milk in one hand, a bag of cat food in the other. The kid hadn’t expected Max to be in the store. He’d cased the joint, trying to pick the best time to make a robbery attempt. Max had laid the screws to that scenario. Things had gone, as they say, south.

Max glanced past the kid, next to the counter. He saw Melvin, the store clerk, sprawled unconscious, a pool of blood collecting around his head. Max sighed, heavy and tired. Thanks to Trevor, his beloved (demonic) cat companion, he was now in a situation with the potential to end in a coffin, or a prison cell.

This last trip had taken a little longer than expected. Mistakes had been made, but the target went down. He was a professional after all. Max knew when he got off the red-eye that he needed to grab a special treat for Trevor. If he came home empty-handed, the cat would be moody for days…and possibly homicidal.

“Look, Austin, I think you should calm down a bit,” said Max.

Austin thrust the barrel at Max’s face. “How d-did you know my name?!”

Max half-pointed one of his now skyward pointing hands to the name tag on Austin’s mechanic shirt. It was from one of the local garages, known for its shoddy workmanship. The kid had gone to great lengths to protect his identity — dark glasses, a skullcap, nondescript jacket, pants, and shoes. The oversight was the glaring mark of an amateur.

To the kid’s credit, Max noticed he was staying just out of reach. To his discredit, he hadn’t already pulled the trigger. The kid fidgeted around in a way consistent with his obvious indecision. A professional never lets the unexpected get in the way of finishing the job.

“Austin,” said Max. His tone was steady, reassuring. “At this juncture, in our brief and potentially violent relationship, it’s obvious that I’ve interfered with your attempted armed robbery. I’m happy to let you take whatever you want and leave. I didn’t see anything.” He nodded towards the cash register. “Go ahead. It’s all yours.”

Austin glanced at the open register, a rookie mistake, and that had been what Max wanted. Greed was a vice that left men blind. Always keep your eye on the ball, Max thought.

He moved fast. The kid caught the movement out of his peripheral vision, but by the time he reacted, it was too late. Max caught his wrist as he swung the gun back around and twisted with a violent jerk. The bone snapped like dry tinder. Austin screamed and tried to pull away. Max twisted the kid’s arm the other direction until he heard another satisfying snap. Austin’s arm bent backward at an awkward angle. Max let him go. Austin fell to the ground screaming and tried to scuttle away like a wounded dog.

“You know,” said Max as he bent to the floor and picked up the weapon, a .45 ACP. “I’ve lived in this area a long time.”
He pulled the slide on the gun and checked the chamber before letting it slide back into place. The motion was smooth, like a machine built for the specific purpose of fucking up your day.

“It used to be nice, but people like you are always mucking it up. People always looking for the easy way.” Max examined the gun he held in his hand for a moment and in a movement too hard to follow, the gun barrel was inches away from the kid’s face.

Austin’s lip quivered. Max’s cold, blue eyes instilled a dread in him, like God’s hammer was about to smash in his skull.

“I could put a bullet in you.” The .45 was heavy and Max felt comfortable as the weight settled in his hand. This was his element. “All I have to do is aim and squeeze. How does that sound?”

Max bent down. He pressed hard steel into the kid’s forehead. The smell of the oiled gun made Austin’s nostrils flare and his eyes went wild, but in a way that satisfied the hitman to a great degree. “Explain to me why I shouldn’t just end you here, boy.”

Austin began crying. Through his sobs and phlegmy outbursts, Max couldn’t make out what he was trying to say. He slapped him hard across jaw with the barrel of the gun. The kid’s head snapped to the side and he screamed in pain again, crying for mercy, like an animal facing a deadly predator.

“Give…me…a reason,” said Max.

“I-I did it t-to to buy my daughter clothes for school,” Austin stuttered.

Max looked in his eyes and judged. The kid wasn’t lying. He stood up, brow furrowed, deep in thought. He shook his head, sighed, and reached inside his jacket. He pulled out a wrapped stack of one hundred-dollar bills. They smacked the kid’s chest a second after.

“You’re lucky,” said Max. “I’m feeling generous AND merciful today. Take that money, get the fuck out of here, and take care of your kid. If I ever see you again, I’ll make you extinct.”

Austin clutched the money with his good arm and staggered to his feet. He sprinted as well as he could out the door before Max changed his mind.

Max sighed, put the gun in the inner pocket of his coat, and then checked Melvin’s pulse. Still tick-tick-ticking, he thought.

He went behind the counter to check if the cameras were running. Melvin was a cheap bastard. The system was a fake.

Max slipped a five-dollar bill into the register for the milk. He then called 911 on the store phone and let the receiver dangle. He might be a cheap bastard, but Melvin always stocked the soy milk that Trevor liked. That thought made Max look at his watch.

Trevor was going to be pissed.

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