Thursday, March 21, 2013

Short Stop

It's that fucking tremor. Hereditary. You look at the gun in your hand, the shaking; you wish your hand was steady, but it doesn't fucking matter. All he sees is the black hole at the end of the barrel. He doesn't hear the words you are saying. He is past that. He has embraced the infancy of fear. A puddle collects, soaking his sneakers. He's trying to talk, but they aren't words. His snot-flecked gibberish doesn't matter. The same way the tremor doesn't matter. Nothing is going to matter in about thirty seconds.

You're not mad. Not in the least. The boss fingered the fuck; you're just doing your job. It is his fault. He knows it. You know it. It makes the dribbling spit all the more pathetic. This isn't fucking murder. This is business. Raul borrowed money and never repaid it. He had his three chances. He never came up with shit. You don't borrow twenty-five grand from the boss unless you're going to pay it back. Raul knew that. This is the penalty for defaulting on a loan.

It's hot as shit in the back room. Sweat pours off Raul's face, and you can feel it...a sheen covering your skin. The pistol grip is slick in your hand. But here, no one will hear shit. Here, you can torch the fucking building and you don't need to clean up any blood. No one will ever look into the fire. An old abandoned building. No one gives a shit.

You tell Raul to just shut the fuck up for a second and, somehow, he manages it. You sit down and light a cigarette. The first drag makes you cough. Fucking bronchitis. After the first drag, it's easier.

So, you're sitting on a crate, smoking. Raul is dissolving. The boss is waiting for your call. You smoke the cigarette slowly and grind it out with precision on the sawdust floor.

"You don't have to do it, Jimmy..."

"The fuck I don't."

"Jimmy...Jimmy, c'mon man. We came up together. We've known each other since we were six."

"Don't mean shit."


"Alright, I'll humor you for a second. What did you think was gonna happen, buddy? What options do we have?"


"That's right. You knew exactly what was going to happen. You knew the risk. You took it. If you thought I was going to protect you because we used to play baseball, you're a fucking idiot."

You stand in front of him. He is still squirming, wet with sweat and fear. He opens and closes his mouth like a fish. His brain is scrambling. You point the gun and a sound escapes the sweaty lips. It is not a human sound. It is like metal on metal. You think about what you should say, but there's nothing to say.

The building is already engulfed in flames when you start the car. You pull out your cell and press one button. A gravel voice. You say three words before you hang up. The car fishtails and the sand and dust join the black smoke spiraling upward. You are not sad about Raul, but your mind wanders as you drive back into the city. He was a hell of a short stop in his day, you have to admit that.


  1. I was mad at first that you gave the main character a hereditary tremor...just like mine! But, it did set the terrifying scene right from the start, so you are forgiven.

    You go to the darkest places, Dan, yet, even with the terror, this is so, so well written. Having the killer consider an aspect of the victim's life(his short stop skill) makes it all the more gruesome.


    1. Thanks Jo. And I do have a tremor, too. I don't shoot people though.


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