Authors: Nicholas Kaufman
Tags: #thriller, #suspense, #fiction, #short fiction
Luckily, I came prepared with about two grand in cash.
"Sold!" I said.
I paid the man and turned to leave.
"What are you hunting?" asked the man.
"Rodents," I said. "Filthy, disgusting, rodents."
The man closed his eyes and nodded.
I headed back to the motel and picked up Kendall. We had to drive around for a little while before she could remember where exactly the party took place, but eventually we found the street, Coral Crossing Avenue.
"That's the street!" she said. "I remember it now, it's the third or fourth house on the right, the pink one."
It was the third house. A typical salmon-pink Florida home. The kind that makes the neighbors cringe every morning and offer to personally pay to have it repainted.
"What are you gonna do?" she asked.
"Say hello," I said. I parked two houses down and got out of the car. "Drive back to the motel," I told her.
"How will you get back"? Kendall asked.
"I'll take a cab," I said.
I popped the trunk, discretely pulled out the gun, and stuck it in the back of my pants under my shirt. Kendall crawled across to the driver seat in the car. She rolled down the window.
"Be careful. These guys aren't really known for being great listeners," she said.
I smiled at her. "It'll be cool," I said. "Just need to hash some shit out.
She nodded, cranked up the engine, and drove away.
I walked toward the house.
My heart beat accelerated with every step I took. I breathed slowly to try and control it. There was only one car in the driveway. I stepped off of the sidewalk and walked between the houses.
I peeped in through the windows, until I saw a man lying on the couch in his boxers. He had one hand down the front of his boxers, and the other on a soda can. I waited for a moment to see if anybody else was there, but it didn't look like it.
I recognized the man. He wasn't Seb, but he was definitely one of the other two gangsters.
I walked around the back of the house and took out my knife. The man looked unprepared, so I figured I might as well try and do this quietly. To my surprise, the back door was locked. But the windows were not. I slid the kitchen window open and crept inside one foot at a time.
I could see now that the man was watching a spanish-language show. He spoke to the TV as he watched. He was very distracted.
I still didn't see or hear anybody else, so I decided to just go for it. I gripped the knife and rushed toward him, but I didn't see the puddle of dog piss on the floor.
I slipped and landed flat on my back. The man popped up off the couch.
"The fuck?" he said before grabbing a fire poker. I walked into the one house in Florida with a fucking fireplace.
The man charged me as I stumbled to my feet. He jabbed at me with the stick, and I dodged, grabbing his hands. We wrestled over the stick. This was not how I'd pictured things.
Together we plowed into the wooden kitchen table. He got a hold of the poker and swung it at my head. I barely managed to move, and the stick stuck right into the wood of the table.
I grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him in, bashing the top of my head into his face, twice. He bled all over the floor and fell into a chair. As hard as I could, I kicked him in the kneecap, inverting and breaking his leg.
He moaned in agony and fell out of the chair. He crawled in desperation.
"Well that's a fucking annoying way to start the day, huh?" I said.
I grabbed my knife from the floor which fell during the struggle. The man was still flailing around on the floor, but he didn't make much noise. He was mostly just wheezing.
I put my foot on his chest and held my knife to his throat.
"Where's Seb, and who's the other asshole who shot my wife and I?" I asked. I remained calm to let on that I meant business.
The man hocked a loogie of blood in my face and laughed. "Go to hell," he said.
I didn't really like that all too much, so I grabbed his hand and sliced off his thumb. There was way more blood than I expected. He screamed.
"Next is your dick if you don't tell me where Seb is," I said. "You have ten seconds."
The man whined, and his voice began to give out. For a gangster he was quite the pussy.
"The hut," he said in a dull whisper. "On the beach."
"Where?" I asked.
I could tell he was losing consciousness from the pain, so I smacked him a few times. My victim came to.
"Speak," I said.
"Crescent Beach, by the rocks," he said. "Don't kill me, please."
I leaned in and whispered into his ear. "Of course I'm going to kill you."
Before the man could say another word I spiked him in the throat with my knife. Blood sprayed into my face. I don't know how the nervous system responds to death, but I have to believe that he felt the cold of my blade as he struggled to take one last breath.
I rose to my feet, feeling great. I didn't particularly like being covered in blood, piss, and mucus, but it was worth it.
I washed off in the bathroom, and even found a white button down and some jeans in the man's closet which were very similar to what I'd worn there. I changed and slicked my hair back. Good as new.
I tossed my dirty clothes in the laundry room. I didn't really care about leaving evidence behind. When you kill a gangster, usually police just think it's gang related anyways. On the off chance that they decided to look further into it, I doubted they'd be able to track me from a pair of dirty blue jeans.
I arrived back to the hotel with a bottle of champagne, and knocked on Kendall's door. She answered wearing only a shower robe.
"Oh sorry, I can come back later," I said.
"It's okay, come on in," she said. "I was just about to shower."
She took the champagne from me. "Let me get us some cups," she said.
Kendall went into the bathroom and came back with two styrofoam cups.
"I guess things worked out over there?" she asked.
"What makes you think that?" I said.
"The champange, silly," Kendall said. She came out in a tight white dress and sat on the bed with her legs crossed. "I guess things worked out?"
"As a matter of fact, they did. I found out where I can find Seb. All I need now is to go and talk to him," I said.
I handed her a cup. "Hopefully he'll be open to settling things," I said.
She sipped her drink and laughed. "I didn't realize gangsters were so civil."
"Well I'm not a gangster," I said. "Just a stubborn man with nothing to lose."
Kendall looked at me up and down.
"Were you wearing that earlier?" she asked.
"Yes," I said. She squinted at me and tilted her head. "Well, yes and no," I said.
'Yes and no?" she asked.
I hesitated to speak, thinking of a suitable response.
"I spilled some coffee on myself on the way back, and decided to just buy some new clothes," I said.
Kendall didn't look convinced. She stood up and stepped toward me.
"Then what the fuck is this?" she asked, as she touched my ear, and showed me the blood on her fingers.
She looked at it with her eyes wide. "Is that blood?"
I didn't say a word, just waited to see her reaction.
"What the fuck?" she said, before gliding toward the door.
I grabbed her and tossed her on the bed. "It's not what you think," I said.
"What, you didn't hurt someone?" she asked.
"Well, I did," I said.
Kendall tried to run again, but I just threw her back on the bed and pinned her down. She was surprisingly easy detain.
"I didn't want to have to tell you this, but here we go," I said.
"Get the fuck off me!" she said.
I put my hand over her mouth so she couldn't scream.
"Listen to what I have to say, then if you still want to, you can go," I said.
She squirmed as I spoke.
"A few weeks ago, three members of the Fifth Street Dogs shot my wife and myself. The cops didn't do anything, so now I'm handling it," I said. "Today I killed one of those three men, and I'm going to kill the rest."
Tears leaked from Kendall's eyes as she listened. I didn't know how she would react, but I slowly took my hand off of her mouth. She didn't scream.
She sat up and scooted back on the bed. She wiped the tears from her eyes.
"How do I know you're not lying again?" Kendall asked.
"I didn't lie. I said they took something from me. That was true," I said.
Kendall stared at me wearing what I believe teenagers call a resting bitch face.
"We have to go to the police, Dennis," she said. "You can't do this vigilante shit anymore. This is not a movie."
I shook my head. "That may sound like the right thing to do, but really think about it," I said. "You showed me where his house was, you rode there with me. You're my accomplice."
Kenda scowled at me and jittered.
"You know that's not how it happened," she said. "I didn't know what the fuck you were going to do."
I raised my brow at her and inched closer to her, as she backed away. "I know that. But the police don't," I said, "and they will never believe you."
Kendall's eyes grew wide and she began to tear up. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
I got up and poured myself more champagne. I chugged it. I liked to celebrate wins. I didn't enjoy having to manipulate Kendall, but it was my only move. I refused to feel bad any longer about things that were necessary.
Kendall wiped her tears again and headed for the bathroom. I heard the shower start.
I wasn't sure that she was sold. She could've easily convinced the police that it was all my fault, and that couldn't happen. It wasn't then end for me. I'd gotten too far. I pulled out my thirty-eight, and quitely entered the bathroom. The door squeaked a bit as it opened, but she didn't hear it.
The shower curtain was almost transparent, and I could see the curves of her body through it as she washed herself. I raised my gun and aimed for her chest. I pulled the hammer of the gat back, and having heard the sound, Kendall drew the curtain open and looked at me. She had the same expression on her face that Ellie wore when she was shot. Fear.
Water ran down her body and over the tub, onto the floor. We stood staring at each other for at least a minute.
"This isn't you," Kendall said. "You're not all bad."
My hand shook. I didn't want to harm her.
"Nobody is all bad," I said.
I pumped two bullets right between her breasts. She dropped in the tub. Blood spatter caked the shower curtain and flowed down the drain.
I heard screams coming from another room. Frightened guests I guessed. I shoved the gat in my pants, grabbed my bag and the bottle of champagne, and left.
I didn't feel good about what I did, but I couldn't trust her. I had work to do and nobody was going to stop me.
Kendall's death was all over the papers the following morning, along with my name. I didn't think about the fact that the motel had my credit card information. I acted on instinct alone. I guess survival wasn't in my nature anymore. The gang banger's death made page four, and hadn't yet been linked to Kendall's death.
Now that the hunter was being hunted, I decided to lay low for a few days before hitting the hut. I died my hair black and styled it differently, slicking it straight back. It was a departure from my usual messy-brown hair. I picked up some cheap round gas station sunglasses to complete my disguise. Simple but effective.
I avoided public places, camping out in the woods only a ten minute frive from Crescent Beach. This gave me a chance to start planning my attack in peace. I'd picked up some smoke bombs as well as six thirty-two ounce glass bottles of water. I kept four for drinking, and dumped two out.
I syphoned a little gasoline from my car with a hose, filling up the bottles about half way. I added some vaseline to be sure that when my molotov cocktails shattered, the fire would stick to the hut, and hopefully some of the bastards inside.
I ate some canned black beans and diced tomatoes while listening to news reports about the police hunting for me. They described what I looked like as well as my car, which pissed me off because I'd only just gotten that car four months prior to all that shit. So I added taking a cab to my plan.
Realizing that the manhunt for me was not going to let up anytime soon, I threw everything into my little brown duffle bag, and called a cab from a payphone.
The cab arrived to the beach in about eight minutes. Not bad. I hopped in.
"Crescent Beach," I said.
"Very well," said the red-headed cabbie before pulling a U-turn and speeding down the road. "Hot day isn't it?"
"Yes," I said.
"Feels like we're finally getting the good ole Florida heat back," he said.
"Indeed," I said.
"You from around here?" asked the cabbie.
I sighed. "Not really," I said.
"You're not much of a talker, are you?" he asked.
"I've got a lot on my mind," I said.
The driver giggled to himself. "Ease up bud. We're in paradise. Enjoy it."
The cabbie glanced at me in the review mirror with a friendly smile, which soon vanished. He looked again.
"I recognize you." he asked.
"Maybe you've driven for me before," I said.
"No, that's not it. I remember every face that gets in this cab," he said. "It's something else."
Not really interested in waiting for him to figure it out on his own, and stuck my gun to the back of his head. "Well, now this is happening," I said.
"Oh fuck you're that guy the police are talking about!" he said. "Don't kill me!"
I rolled my eyes.
"Everybody says the same shit," I said. "If you could shut the fuck up for five minutes maybe you wouldn't be in this position."
He was sweating down his forehead and accidentally accelerating.
"Slow the fuck down," I said.
Sirens squealed behind the cab. He was being pulled over. He let out a deep breath, like he was relieved or something.
"What, you think you're saved or something?" I asked. "You say one fucking word and I'll blow both of your god damn heads clean off."