A shot in the dark…
[author’s note: I don’t know why, but most of my life I’ve always thought the worst of innocent things. The other night I had a fearful fantasy blip through my mind, and when talking to a coworker about it she said, “You’ve written this down, right?” Essentially saying that it was a good story. So I took a stab at translating that irreverent anxiety into the form of a short story… Funny how an empty soda bottle rocking in the wind can become the most sinister of sounds…]
“Kinchissssss” The lighter snapped and the tip of the cigarette glowed blue and orange as Desmond drew heavily on it. He leaned back in elated satisfaction before hunching over the smoker’s pit table and looking on at Rodger across from him.
“So you said earlier to tell me to remind you… popsicle?” said Rodger.
“OH YEA! I almost forgot, haha! That’s right.” Desmond spoke, smoke rippling with each syllable. “Couldn’t tell you before on account of Suzannah’s despise for illicit talk.”
The two were coworkers at a warehouse for an internet corporation that merchandised shoes. Both had only been at this major outlet nestled in the back-hills of Kentucky for a few weeks. Working the graveyard shift, they prepared shoes by stuffing and making their appearance good enough for photographers to shoot. Their tedious efforts were in place to make consumers salivate when perusing footwear on their internet browsers. Suzannah, was their shift lead; a kindly older woman who had a repulsion for foul talk men such as themselves had a propensity for. It was only on their lunch breaks that cursing and vulgarity were possible when the two would sit down for a smoke in the pit at the far end of the factory. It was merely a little cement square, chained off by tall but thin black metal fencing and illuminated by buzzing florescent lights. Beyond the aura of quavering phosphorescence, over the fence which rose like gothic pikes, past the pavement around the facility, lay a dismal no-mans-land of black and brush, silent except for the drone of cars on the 61 speedway not a mile down the road. Here they would put away a few energy drinks and a couple smokes and let loose their otherwise unspeakable tales from the past.
“Yea, it happened back in Washington, when I was living there, my band had a show house for concerts. It was situated at this odd intersection, you know, the kind where a two way road splits into a fork with an island in the middle, making two one-way streets,” Desmond recounted. “Any who, the house was up on this knoll just overlooking a gas station at the small of the intersection. We fucking haunted that place. Every day there’d be a series of us punk-ass kids coming in picking up 24 racks of pisswater and cigarettes.’
‘After a while you get to know the folks behind the counter. But there was this one dude there only on Saturdays between 1 and 5 — wee hours sort of shift. He was a chill guy who didn’t chat much; clearly there just for the paycheck. Anyways, one night before my band is about to go on I run over to grab the usual shit. The band before us was fucking lame, I mean just droll shit that made everyone go for a cig’ break, hence my departure. Whatever, so I got time to kill. So as I approach the counter I notice this guys tired looking, puffy half-mast eyes, moving slow, sighs, the lot. So I ask him, ‘Hey man, you good? Looking strung out.”
“Ba-ding,” something aluminum sounded off in the nothingness beyond. Desmond paused at the sound but continued on thinking nothing of it. “He chuckles and says, ‘Nah man I just had a long night.’ I say, ‘Oh yea, getting a little crazy with a lady friend?” Desmond chuckled at his own candor before going on.
“He’s all, ‘Something like that.’ I’m guessing he’s only going to say a few words but then this fucker lets loose this on me:
‘Last night I’m playing my Battlefield game, just poneing some pussy ass bitches, just straight murkin’ them, yo. I love nothin’ more than a good battle to tire down with, but my lady has to have the TV in the bedroom. Bitch can’t go to sleep without it or me, for whatever reason. Thing is, I’m a flight by night sort a man, so I’m trying my damnedest to kill off some fuckers while she’s sleeping. Shit ain’t ideal, if you know what I mean. We got this tiny ass bed too, barely a queen’ — Oh I should mention,” Desmond hesitated, “this fucker is a big guy, not obese but a big guy, ya know? Ok so, he says, ‘My lady is a clinger. No matter where I am on that flimsy hunk of junk she has to be on me, right up in my shit, right? There I am with my ass hanging off the edge just trying to kill these bitches-’ “Ba-dink”…
Just then the pane glass door opened up to the smokers pit. An older woman wearing a neon yellow janitor’s vest wandered out pushing a cart with supplies. Rodger and Desmond shared a glance of begrudged respect as they sipped their cigarettes, knowing it would be ill manors to continue such talk in front of a lady.
She walked with a jagged dip, jerking with every other step as if she had a metal hip. She sauntered over to the trash bin and pulled out a completely empty bag, carried it to her cart and placed it in the waste bin. The two men continued to share silence as they dragged and exhaled their nicotine grandeur. The janitor shook out an oversized plastic bin liner and carefully placed it in the receptacle. Stooping over the bin she tied it diligently, as Rodger stared on with wide sarcastic eyes towards his counterpart, who shared the bulging bug-eyed look as if to say, “I know, right!?” She finished tying the bag and meandered to her cart, pushing it slowly back towards the door with a whirring of wheels on cement. The “beep” of the fob door lock sounded as she held her key card up to it and passed back inside; the door locking loudly behind her.
Inhaling to continue Desmond reared up. “Ba-dink” sounded yet again, and the two looked off into the darkness beyond the fence with incredulous stares, before looking back to echoer and shaking off some unease as well as ash into the tray between them.
“Alright,” Desmond went on, “So, he says, ‘She’s pushing me off the bed, I’ve got no balance to shoot these piss-ants. It gets to the point that I suddenly slip off and land on the floor. I’m done! So what am I suppose to do right. Her ass, though I love it, just knocked me down. And lo and behold, I get capped and lose my game. I’m mad. What the fuck!? I get up, stare at her ass peaking out from the covers. Love that ass but it’s gotta pay. So I go to the freezer, right? I pull out a popsicle and head back to the bedroom, and I shove that thing as deep as I can in her ass!”
The two gasped into a hysterical laughter like children. “WHAT!?” Rodger screeched. “I know! I know!” wheezed Desmond. “I couldn’t believe it, but I swear its true.” Their laughter roared on reverberating off the cinderblock exterior, cigarettes shaking in their hands.
“pop-VVVVVSHHHH!” a sound rang out and Desmond lurched in his seat. His eyes grew wide and terrified. Rodger looked on at him in bewilderment, as his friend raised a hand to his chest only to reveal a bloody stain issuing from his torso. Mouth agape, Desmond let out a puny cry, staring from blood soaked palm to his friend. “Badink-VVVVSH!” Desmond’s face tore slightly, spraying a fine crimson mist over his friend’s own. His jaw cracked and fell as his eye socket drooped and a trickle of black blood poured out his right tearduct and nostril before he collapsed over onto the table. His head cradled by his hand extended to hold his cigarette, which fell in sparking embers onto the table top. Desmond’s hair was matted and caked with red, in which a gaping sinew hole now exposed itself emitting a fine smoke.
Rodger, stark eyed and mad, clambered upwards from the table and stumbled towards the entrance to the factory. As he did another crack and pop came from out in the darkness. He felt an immense burning pressure in his shoulder and fell to the cold concrete. Warmth spilled out of his agony over his pierced shoulder blade. He managed to get up and make a dash for the door. Upon the road beyond the fence came the echoed steps of a pair of heavy boots coming towards the smoker’s pit. As his hand grasped the bar on the door a great burst exploded behind him, and with it the door’s pane of glass sprayed red and shattered before him. Key card in hand, the “beep” went off, pushing on he fell into the threshold, gasping for breath, choked by a metallic taste of blood that came from somewhere within himself. Panting, eyes unfocused and clouded by the litany of stars filling the gaps between darkness and vision, he heaved there, as a dying door stop. In the pit came the squeal of the gate’s lock opening.
Then boots on cement drawing closer… stopping just behind him. His breath crackled with every effort strained… The cocking of a gun, and then a blast that silenced all the poor man’s thoughts.
As a deceased door man, he held the way open, sprawled out upon the cold ground, his skull as shrapnel caked across the floor, hand stretched flaccidly out before him toward the warehouse, as if to beckon the shooter in….