Jack Coggins is skitzing into his thirty-sixth hour without sleep, fried on crank, driving the Escalade he stole in Texarkana, driving hard, driving himself harder. The last twelve hours fit his mind like mismatched pieces of a jigsaw puzzle stomped into place with the heel of a boot.
The buyer was vouched for. The deal was to go down in the parking lot under the golden arches at seven. The price was five-K for his entire inventory, bundled neatly in a Happy Meal bag.
Jack leans on the trunk of his car. He fidgets for a smoke and pats his empty pocket. From around the front of his car two dudes wearing colors and lots of ink approach and confront him. Pushing. Talking shit.
“Whacha got in the bag, Holmes?” asks the skinny bro’ with the shaved head and shaky hands. The pudgy thug grabs for the bag and knocks it to the ground sending contents scattering about the blacktop. Pudgy drops to his knees and starts scooping plastic packets with his thick hands. Jack’s steel-tipped boot connects with his chin.
Shaky’s hands reach for the gun tucked in his pants. As he tries to pull it out it fires. Blood streams from his thigh and he falls. A woman yells and another reaches for her cell. Jack grabs the half-full bag and dashes across the street, dodging traffic, to the mall.
Jack hears the chirp of a car remote and turns to a woman entering a black SUV. He grabs for her keys, and she screams.
“Why did she have to fight?” he asks out loud. He’s been talking to himself for two hours. “That’s what insurance is for.” He remembers driving the butt of his pistol into her temple; her head hitting the ground; him stuffing her body in the back of the Escalade.
“Didn’t mean to kill her.” His lips purse to a frown, and he shakes his head. “Didn’t want to kill her.”
His cranked eyes stare into the dull setting sun at the end of westbound Highway 82. He doesn’t blink until a speed limit sign with the number 55 flies by. His speedometer shows 75. His foot hits the brake as the glow of neon signs and street lights brings him to.
“Don’t need to get stopped,” he mutters. “Can’t get stopped here. Where the hell am I, anyway?”
He looks to his right at a building and sees an old Nocona Boots sign, then a Dairy Queen. He wants food, maybe a dozen burgers with fries. He shakes his head. “No. No. Gotta keep going.”
His fingers tap the wheel, his eyes darting at the rear-view mirror. “Stay cool, Jack. Stay cool.”
Slowing down, forty-five, thirty-five, he makes two green lights, then passes a Sonic drive-in on the left. The road out of town opens, and he gives the Escalade the gas.
Crank makes Jack horny. He grabs his crotch, thinking about pulling it out and giving himself some relief. The horizon has grown dark. Jack’s headlights catch a figure holding a hand up in the classic hitchhiker pose. It’s a woman. He comes to an abrupt stop and hits the unlock button while tucking his 9-mil under his left thigh.
Angel Fuentes opens the door. She’s dressed in a billowy Mexican dress which showcases her puffy breasts and conceals the .38 auto taped to her thigh. She beams Jack a friendly smile. “Going to Wichita?” Nobody but strangers call it Wichita Falls.
“Shit yea, seenyor-rita,” Jack says in a mock Mexican tone. “I’ll take you anywhere.”
Angel smiles, blinks big, and says, “Gracias!”
Jack’s mind races trying to remember the last time he had some Mexican poon.
Angel looks at Jack’s eyes. “You’re cranked up pretty good tonight. Got any more?”
“Yea, but it ain’t free, know what I mean?” His head nods like a bobble head. Angel grins.
“I don’t got no money,” she says with a nasaly Mexican accent. “I got something better.” She puts a hand to her crotch and rubs it, looking at Jack looking at her. “There’s a rest stop ahead. No one stops there.”
Jack’s head starts bopping to an imaginary tune, his lips moving to unheard lyrics. He licks his chapped and cracked lips, smiling at the thought of what is to come.
Jack nearly misses the rest stop sign as Angel hollers, “Right! Here!” He hits the brakes and makes a hard right into the rest stop exit. It’s dark. It’s secluded. It’s perfect.
Jack backs over a curb and parks between two picnic tables. As he opens his door he grabs his 9-mil, sticks it in the back of his pants, and walks around to her door.
Angel feels the weight of the .38 still taped to her leg as she steps out. She watches Jack approach, lowering his zipper, obviously intent on one thing.
“Been a while, yes?” she asks without asking his name.
“One day’s too long for me,” Jack boasts. It’s been over a month.
Angel lifts her skirt. Jack watches the unveiling, intent on seeing what he wants, and doesn’t see her hand on the gun until it’s too late. “Escalades bring top bucks in Wichita,” she tells Jack. “They told me next time, no shit-mobiles. Boost something good or don’t come back.”
From the darkness behind Angel a voice booms, “Now that’s what I call a sweet ride,” as a man with a chrome-plated .45 in hand approaches. “Been waiting two days for something worthwhile.”
Angel spins to the voice and fires blindly. Jack struggles to pull his 9-mil which hangs in the back of his pants.
The .45 cracks in reply. The first round drops Angel like a bag of masa. The second splits Jack’s chest.
The shooter walks in haste to the Escalade. He turns the ignition, and heads out on Highway 82, east toward Texarkana.
From the back of the SUV the woman curled fetal trembles, not daring to make a sound.
Jeff Switt is a retired advertising agency guy who loves writing flash fiction, some days to curb his angst, other days to fuel it. His words have been featured online at Dogzplot, Boston Literary Magazine, Shotgun Honey, 50-Word Stories, 100 Word Story, A Story In 100 Words, 101 Word Stories, Postcard Shorts, and Nailpolish Stories, as well as Every Day Fiction. His latest venture is A Story in Three Paragraphs.
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