Longcroft on Lockdown by Darren Sant

TFTL

Longcroft on Lockdown

 

The Longcroft Housing Estate, Yorkshire,  England.

These were scary times. A global pandemic has changed the world as we know it albeit temporarily. As the world held its collective breath unprecedented events were unfolding on the Longcroft estate.

  1. Briefing.

North Longcroft Estate – Police Control Room

An assortment of coppers of varying ages, ranks and sexes shuffled restlessly on their seats waiting for the Sarge to get his papers in order and begin the late shift briefing. All were sat the government dictated two metres apart. This, of course, led to the usual childish behaviour you’d expect from any group under stress. Giggling and the throwing of notes to one another. The Sarge conscious of the restlessness of his captive audience launched into his briefing.

“Thanks for your attention ladies and gentlemen.” he coughed, then laughed.

“It’s alright I haven’t got this fucking virus. Damn tree pollen is playing havoc with my tubes.”

There was a half-hearted laugh. The Sarge was to comedy what Piers Morgan was to diplomacy.

Sensing he hadn’t engaged his troops he ploughed on regardless.

“Okay, there’s something big going down on the estate. It’s been quiet generally until now. All of the usual scrotes are playing nice on lock down or breaking into garages, cars and sheds. But they’re scared of the virus same as the rest of us so the low level scum bags are not currently a worry. Oh, and if any of them say they’ve got the virus and threaten to spit on you then you have my personal permission to ram your baton up their arse.”

This time there were genuine laughs. Nothing united a force more than twatting the enemy.

“An informant has let us know that all the top level scum bags in the area are meeting up. They’re planning something and it’s BIG. We have no idea where the meeting is or what the hell they are discussing but keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t take any unnecessary risks but find out what you can.”

He was losing them, they were muttering and speculating amongst themselves. Time to conclude.

“Okay, stay safe out there and go get ’em. Dismissed.”

  1. The Shed

“Oi! Soft lad, get your fucking arse over here!” yelled Davey in a loud whisper.

Rich looked up from the patio door handle he was yanking on.

“This shed is unlocked” stage whispered Davey.

Rich gave up, low crouched then ran over to Davey at the shed. He cursed as he caught his leg on a terracotta potted plant. Hopping for a moment on one foot.

“Ouch, fuck!”

“Quiet you twat. You’ll wake people up.”

Rich winced in pain, “Sorry! It’s so dark” he whispered.

“People tend to see if you try robbing them in the daytime you muppet.”

They were in the garden of a house on the very edge of the estate, where the houses were bigger, and it was just that little bit more affluent. Richer pickings in other words.

“This door is unlocked, let’s see what’s in here.” said Davey.

They crept carefully over the threshold, neither of them could see a thing. Davey reached into his pocket and took out his LED torch.

“Pull the door closed, just in case the light carries.” Said Davey

Rich did as he was asked and with a creak the little remaining light from outside was slowly extinguished. It was pitch black.

Davey clicked on his torch and swept it across the shed. He quickly clicked it off again.

“What the…” he said.

“Did I just…” said Rich.

Davey clicked on his torch again to see if what he’d seen was still there. This time he did a slow sweep. Rows and rows of shelves of creepy china dolls stared at them. They were exquisitely painted with rosy cheeks but their eyes were dark pools of evilness and they stared down at them with malevolence unknown to man.

However, the back wall of the shed is what made them both gasp in fear. A long row of brutal looking dildos. In order of size. Some with spikes. Some wrapped in barbed wire. Some as large as golf clubs.

“Oh-my-fucking-God” was Rich’s eloquent response.

“Dude, I don’t think god has anything to do with the contents of this shed, look.” replied Davey.

He swept the torch over a corner and saw several secure hooks containing sturdy looking studded bondage gear and several leather gimp masks.

There was a loud bang from the nearby house. They looked at each other and ran for their

lives.

  1. The Meeting

Somewhere on the east side of the Longcroft Estate in a small closed down community centre and tonight there was a flurry of nervous activity.  The estate is roughly split up into several powerful gangs, centres of power. All of whom would be present at this most unusual meeting.

The first to enter was the dreadlocked figure of Drexel. Originally from West Indian but his parents had moved to the estate when he was just two years old. Drexel was six foot three of pure muscle and aggression. His dreadlocks cultivated over years hung three quarters of the way down his back. His well muscled arms bulged free in his bodybuilders vest top. Drexel was your man for drugs on the estate. If you needed a high you came to one of his network of dealers. Going anywhere else for your high on the estate was worse for health than the drugs themselves. Drexel took his seat at the table on a tiny plastic chair designed only for an old ladies bottom.

Next to enter was Chuck “Knuckles” Van Cleef. He was the Longcroft’s gangster. Protection rackets, girls, clubs they were his thing. No one knew how he’d gotten his peculiarly American name but every one was sure they didn’t want to be on the other end of his knuckles.  He stood at just under five foot six but was almost as wide as he was tall. His hands were like hams, huge and menacing and his knuckles stood out even amongst the meaty flesh of his hands. Hence his nickname.

There was only one Biker gang on the estate that for reasons known only to themselves were called The Found.  Their fifteen members all wore a uniform of denim jackets and green bandanas with The Found in fancy scroll on the back. Since they were almost all male they cultivated ZZ Top style beards, with varying degrees of success.  Except Rosy their only female member, but you’d have to look twice to establish that. They were not a criminal gang per se but if you crossed one of them vengence was sure to be swift and merciless. Their leader Ted O’Malley was a skinny guy but if you crossed him you’d see just what a skinny elbow could do to your face.

All of these leaders were sat glaring at each other, trash talking and nervously waiting for the real power in the estate to arrive. Outside their various hard men were all in separate groups waiting for it to kick off so they could have a good scrap.

Finally, ten minutes later than the agreed meeting time the door creaked open and the ominous shuffle and tap tap of several canes and zimmer frames were heard.  The most powerful group on the estate had arrived. The Longcroft East Bingo Club. There was a scrape of chairs as all of the estates hardest men rushed to stand and show their respect. These ladies controlled the estate by fear and information. If you crossed them they didn’t forgive and they didn’t forget.  They had access to a source of information and gossip more powerful than any internet server. The weekly bingo meetings.

If you dared to cross them the information was shared among the network. Your card (like a bingo card) was marked for good. The first time you slipped up they’d have you. Any one of dozens of pairs of curtain twitching eyes was watching your every move. A phone call would be made. It could be the taxman. It could the DWP. It could be a rival drug dealer. Underestimate them at your peril.

Vera, their natural leader and most vicious with an elbow, quickest with a dabber and most merciless with a cutting remark was the first to speak.

“Good evening gentleman.”

She made no apology for being late and settled heavily down on the seat at the head of the table. She was flanked by her two closest cronies, mad Margo and dotty Dotty.

“Before we begin,” said Margo, “I’d just like to inform Mr O’Malley that one of his bikers nearly ran over my nephew last week.  Sort it out quickly or we’ll be forced to give Mr Van Cleef the photographs of one of your lads and his wife.”

Chuck leapt to his feet in anger and glared at O’Malley who looked bewildered and terrified all at the same time. Before things could get out of hand. Vera shook her grey haired head.

“Not now gentlemen. We have business to deal with.”

And with her true demonstration of power over they began their meeting.

So it was decided with some raising of voices, threats, anger and some chess grandmaster moves by Vera that the meanest, toughest, nastiest tribes on the Longcroft Estate would use their networks to ensure that no one went too hungry, everyone had toilet rolls and that everyone would get their medication. They would look after the vulnerable and the needy until lock down was over. They would help each other in a way they never had before for the mutual good and no knee caps needed to be broken for a while.

The moment it was lifted…the gloves would be off and it’d be back to settling old scores and making money. For now peace and co-operation would be the order of the day, signed and sealed by Vera.

Epilogue

The Sarge kicked off his boots and went into the living room to kiss his wife.

“Hi love. How was your day?” She enquired.

“Not too bad. There is something big going down but the streets are quiet for now. It’s eerie really.”

“How are your officers coping?”

“They’re as clueless as ever.” He chuckled.

“Oh well, at least they have you to guide them.”

He smiled at her lovingly and patted the little pug that was sat on her lap.

“They do indeed. Listen it’s been a long day. I need to unwind. I’m going to spend some time in the shed.”

She smiled and nodded, “You do that I’ll catch up with the soaps. You’ll have to show me what you do in that shed one of these days you’re so secretive.”

He smiled, “Oh I will. Don’t worry about that.”

 

Darren Sant was born in 1970 and raised in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire which is in the United Kingdom. He moved to Hull in East Yorkshire in 2001.

Darren’s stories have appeared in various online publications such as The Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal, Thrillers Killers N Chillers, The Killing Pandemic, Flash Jab Fiction and Shotgun Honey. 

Darren’s creation The Longcroft Estate is the setting for a number of his stories. A collection of the first three of these tales is was published by Close To The Bone in February 2012.

 

 

I Guess You’ll Do … By Mick Rose

i guess you'll do.

I Guess You’ll Do …

By Mick Rose

Armed with a 500 mm lens, a black bandanna draped across my face, I stalked my prey across the beach at isolated Coltons Point.

Corona virus woes aside, not a bad April evening on the Maryland coast. Fifty-nine degrees. Scattered scuttling clouds. Tide rolling in. Sunset in thirty minutes. And suddenly to my right—

A lone beach bunny.

“Hey,” she shouted, her tinny high-pitched voice as welcome, warm, and grating as a shitty drive-thru speaker. “What are you shooting?”

Silicone boobs billowed from an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini. Judging by her fake tan? She probably bought the scraps for spring break down in Florida. “At this moment? Nothing. You just scared the birds away.” At least she didn’t have a dog.

“Ooops, sorry,” she said, oozing insincerity.

She parked her pert ass on a boulder. Shit. Forget about stalking shore birds. The mixed flock had regathered a hundred yards south and the sun was slipping fast.

“I walk this beach every evening. You’re the first guy I’ve seen in months.”

I detached my long lens, capped the camera; packed the glass away. “I live over in Delaware, but the beaches there are closed courtesy of the governor.”

Pink lips sneered. “My boyfriend’s a doctor. Wants to be a hero. Volunteered to work in NYC when this damn virus hit. Hasn’t been home since.”

I nodded without sympathy. “I was in New York mid-March covering the Big East basketball tourney before they cancelled play. Got the hell out of Dodge and back to Delaware. But not fast enough. I tested positive for Corona two days later,” I lied. “Felt sick about five days, spent two weeks in quarantine. Eventually got cleared by the health department.”

Her plucked eyebrows instantly arched. “I have asthma,” she whined. “So I’ve had to isolate.” She tapped her glittered nails. “Why wear a bandanna if you’ve already had the virus?”

“A lot of people are freaked out. Seems the sensitive thing to do when I’m out in public.”

“How old are you? Like thirty-eight or something?”

Intent once again on getting the hell out of Dodge, I shrugged and stowed the camera. Reading my body language she untied her top.

“I don’t have daddy issues. And you’re not my type. But I guess you’ll do.”

Without inhibition she peeled her polka-dot bottom. “Take me from behind,” she ordered. “No need to take your clothes off. But feel free to pull my hair.”

Dropping to my knees, I delved a backpack pocket. Not into pulling hair, I snagged a pair of rubbers. Slipped them on my hands—

Wrapped a shiny, barbed garrote deftly round her neck, relishing the feel of highly-lacquered cherry hardwood handles.

Ninety days without a kill and a night of necrophilia? Yeah, I guess she’d do.

 

Crime author Mick Rose pens haiku and prose while wandering the United States in a Quest for the Perfect Pizza. Though his crime fiction can loom dark, and not for the faint-of-heart, he typically tells tall tales involving sexual humor (which sometimes prove explicit).

His stories have kindly found good homes in half a dozen online magazines, including Yellow Mama Webzine, England’s Close To The Bone, and Horror Sleaze Trash.

Care to say, “Hello?” You can visit Mick below:

https://www.facebook.com/mick.rose.56808

https://amazonauthormickrose.weebly.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18458942.Mick_Rose

 

Flash Fiction Offensive’s 11th year anniversary.

FFO

‘Greetings all you Gutterites. Ezine years are even longer than dog years. And we’ve reserved November to celebrate Flash Fiction Offensive‘s 11th year anniversary. Readers. Writers. Editors. That’s a lotta love and energy. The chocolate frosting we offer on today’s cake is surely bittersweet. Yet we’re pleased to present the tale “Loaded Guns” — penned by Sandra Seamans — and first published at FFO back in December of 2008. We hope y’all will take a few minutes to partake.’

 

 

The Bayou Boobie Blues By Jesse “Heels” Rawlins


gator

An hour after sunrise. And I didn’t smell my finest. I tugged the jangling door to Cajun Queen Cafe—and a blast of sharp AC jammed the stink thru my nose—square into my brain. But hey, not my fault. I’d spent the dim wee hours tossing Ezekiel Daniel Boone (in hearty twelve-inch-chunks) to a brood of orphan gators down at Funkman’s swamp.

I strolled past the empty tables. Plunked my weary ass on a red-padded stool, eagerly propped my elbows on the solitary counter. Alerted by the tinkling bell … or maybe my rank smell, BJ popped her head from the walk-in freezer. Deftly slammed the door.

“Well, well. If it ain’t Mr. Taylor. Finally back from Funkman’s to grace us with his stench. Only a gal born on the bayou wouldn’t hurl her cookies at the likes a you. My mama warned me back in middle school you were a rotten boy.” 

“And more rotten by the year, dear. How ’bout an oyster Po-Boy? And some alligator nuggets.”

Lithe as a bobcat, BJ sprang on the counter—

Sauntered on all fours. “Still only servin’ breakfast, mister hungry man. How ’bout you try my Eye Opener instead? Authentic Cajun spice along with everything nice.”

She offered her pink wet tongue. How could this po-boy resist?  

I’d fled this bayou outta high school … a dozen years back. But a recent letter from Aunt Sadie sayin’ she was dyin’ sent me scurryin’ south to this coastal haunt. Bobby Jo had welcomed me. With open arms—and open legs. Only thirteen when I left. A cute bombastic Tomboy: rather like two raisins on a  shiny new wash board.

Everyone called her BJ then. Now they’d rightly crowned her Queen of Blue Bayou. And I couldn’t get my fill of this blazin’ Cajun muffin. Cravin’ her sweet icing, I slipped an agile paw beneath her loose black skirt—

But halted when I spotted Ezekiel’s barefoot niece … wearing nothing but some strings (that multiplied by fifty didn’t equal a bikini) … yet wrestling to wedge a bulging hot-pink gym bag past the kitchen’s back screen door. 

Like struggling Jesus with his cross, she stumbled to the dining room, and soundly clunked her burden on the red-n-white tiled counter. Corralling her butt on a stool two seats down from me—long, pale legs splayed like a victory sign—she absently scratched her crotch.

“Hot damn, Corey. Boy, you smell more yummy than my dear ol’ grammy’s kitchen.”

BJ rolled her eyes—practically out her head. Slid her hot muffin bottom sleekly off the tiles, landed on the kitchen side.

“I took that trip to Alabama, just like you tol’ me, Corey. Did me some shopping, too. And knowin’ you’d kill my uncle Zeke—makin’ me rich, rich, rich—I bought me some new boobies.”

“So I see, Jolene. Did they let you keep the old ones?”

“Shit, Corey. Now that you mention it … I didn’t ask the doctor for ’em. You think he’s still got ’em?”

“Wont know unless you ask, Jolene,” Bobbie Jo chimed in.

“Guess you’re right about that ….

“But damn I sure hope so. I’d hand ’em down to my daughter when she gets old enough. Give her a good head start on all them other girls—” 

“You got the rest of Corey’s money?” BJ interrupted.

“Sure, do! Right inside that gym bag, sittin’ on my sundress.”

“Should be fifty-K, Bobby Jo, if you’ll kindly count.”

“While BJ’s busy countin’ wanna feel my new boobs, Corey?”

BJ’s baby browns blinked bigger than a Saw-whet owl’s.

“That’s a mighty gracious offer, Jolene. But—”

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!

Smirking BJ brandished a cast iron skillet … like Serena Williams wields her Wilson tennis racket.

I knelt on the floor, checked Jolene for a pulse. “That wasn’t the plan, Bobby Jo. Though you’re sure as hell efficient. Her lights were pretty dim. But sure as shit, girl, they ain’t coming on again.”

“I wandered off the reservation when I looked inside that gym bag—

“And found a million bucks give-or-take, tucked beneath a Batman towel. All crisp Benjamins, banded in stacks of twenty-five. Speakin’ of which—

She tossed my $50K. Set the skillet in the sink, cranked the cold water faucet. Snagged a box of Saran, and pertly vacuum-wrapped Jolene’s misshapen head. “That’ll keep this new-boobed-ninny from bleedin’ on my floor. Drag her toward you, Corey, away from this here puddle.

“Good. Now your turn,” she instructed, waving the Saran: “Start at her ankles and stop at the knees. Then we’ll stand her up—and I’ll slip that sundress on. I’m gonna stash this lovely gym bag in granddaddy’s root cellar.”

I wound and bound Jolene; returning BJ mopped the floor … using a fresh dish towel and a bottle of Clorox bleach. “I didn’t see Jolene’s car, Corey … she must’ve caught a ride. One less task to deal with. Damn these boobs are hard,” she gasped, tugging on the orange dress.

“Ta-da. Sling her over your shoulder like a fireman’s carry, baby. We’ll truss her in the freezer. Wanna keep her nice-n-straight before rigor settles in.”

BJ dried her skillet. We scoured our hands and arms. Sighed in giddy relief while BJ poured us lemonade.

“All that money’s makin’ me horny, Corey.”

“Me, too, Bobby Jo.”

We both hopped on the counter, BJ rabidly unbuttoning her lacy ivory blouse. I stripped off her bra. She whipped off my belt—

The bell out front jangled. Fuck off, I mumbled, BJ’s nipple in my mouth.

And Sheriff Towne waddled in.

“Hey, why don’t you two buy a room? Or is the Cajun Queen now servin’ legs-n-eggs? If yeah, I want me some.”

“Just grabbin’ ourselves a bite of afternoon delight, sheriff. Why don’t you wash your hands, while I fetch your usual,” BJ practically sang.

Still gawking at BJ’s boobs, Towne managed a sneak-peek at his Apple Watch. No easy task by any means. Especially with his right eye buried under a mound of gauze and black electric tape. “A bit early ain’t it? Only seven in the mornin’ if this stupid thing ain’t broke. This smart watch ain’t too bright. I shoulda bought another Timex.

“Anyway, I didn’t drop by for breakfast. Y’all seen Jolene around? She come by my house last night. Drunker than a skunk and a hunert times more horny than a mare in heat … wantin’ to show me her new boobies.”

Almost as if on cue, BJ buttoned her shirt; slid once more off the counter. Towne’s lone eye dulled with disappointment. “I swear her redneck doctor musta used concrete. Them things is hard as rocks. Nearly poked my damn eye out—

“While I was givin’ myself first aid, Jolene took ta jabberin … sompthin’ ’bout a hit man killin’ her uncle Zeke. I barely slept all night, between the pain an’ her yammerin.’ But when I woke this mornin’? Her Kia’s sittin’ in my driveway, but that crazy gal was gone. So was my cruiser.  Had to drive my Ford. Anyhow, I called them folks at OnStar. They say the cruiser’s round here somewhere … but it ain’t on this here lot.”

“Damn,” I finally added. “That’s some flaky stuff, sheriff. You need some help looking? I’m happy to lend a hand. But I outta take a look at that eye of yours first.”

“That’s mighty kinda you, Mr. Taylor—”

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!

“I warned ya, Corey-baby: that hussy had loose lips along with those loose hips.”

“And a bunch of loose screws, too. But Christ, Bobby Jo. You just whacked the sheriff.”

“Don’t whine, Corey Taylor. Whining ain’t sexy.” She tossed me the Saran wrap: “Here, you know the drill. Least we don’t hafta dress him. Toss me his keys, will ya? I gotta quickly haul his Explorer round the back and toss a tarp on top. The breakfast crowd’s about to start. And I’ll stay slammed straight through lunch.”

“How the hell you learn to swing an iron pan like that? And don’t tell me slingin’ hash.”

“Had me eleven cousins. And once I started fillin’ out? All a them turned horny goats. Tried grabbin’ a piece a me everywhere I went … kept sneakin’ in my room.

“I took ta keepin’ this skillet with me. And learned to stay alert. Every single one earned his self a big stay-cation at the county hospital’s dazzling trauma center. But some were slow to learn. Two are now in comas. Uriah—you knew him. He’s buried at St. Laurent’s. With a ceramic pig for a headstone.

“But I bat nearly a thousand now.”

We’d barely trussed the pork chop Towne securely in the freezer when again the front door jangled. And wouldn’t you bloody know: in strolled none other than Deputy Moreaux. “Y’all seen Sheriff Towne?” he barked without preamble.

Bobby Jo nodded. “Sheriff’s parked out back talkin’ ta Jolene Boone. The two of ’em had a spat last night. She nearly tore his right eye out. They was screamin’ like cats-n-dawgs. But they settled down since. Here. You can cut through the kitchen. But ya better be careful, deputy—

“Them lovebirds is likely doin’ the nasty in the sheriff’s SUV.” Bobby Jo winked. “Ain’t nothin’ near as hot as make-up sex, deputy.”

“Jolene and the sheriff? Who the hell woulda thought?” He paused in the doorway, right hand twitching atop his holstered gun  … and peeked around the corner.

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! 

“Aw, fuck, Bobbie Jo. This bayou’s fulla boobs. But for the love of God, girl, you can’t keep killing all of them.”

“Don’t be a rube, Corey Taylor. You been gone fifteen years. Off to see the world. Looks like you done forgot how folks in the Bayou act

“Since you boned her back in high school, Jolene spent her wasted life jonesin’ after you. Never left this Bayou even for a single minute, hopin’ you’d come back—afraid she’d miss you if she did. Why you think that gal bought herself new boobs? Why you think she stumbled in here, wavin’ tits and pussy? Her dress was in that bag. She coulda worn the stupid thing. Why the hell you think she asked ya ta kill her uncle Zeke?

“That ol’ coot had terminal cancer, one foot in the grave. Jolene wanted to bond with you. Wanted you to trust her. Thought if she had Zeke’s money, if she had bigger boobs, maybe then you’d want her—and maybe grow to love her.”

BJ’s words whacked me like that goddam skillet.

“And where do you suppose, Mr. World-Wise, Jolene got that cash? Under uncle’s mattress? I doubt you reckon that. Don’t know where he got that money … but she grabbed the cash from Towne. Dreamin’ the two a you would ride off into this evening’s sun. She trusted you’d killed Zeke, and made her rich, rich, rich. She didn’t need to steal Towne’s cash. Didn’t have to show here. But she risked all for you. I admire that she tried.

“Towne played at bein’ dumb. He wasn’t a rotten fella. But he had to feel desperate loosin’ a million bucks—specially if that cash wasn’t solely his. I sure as hell don’t reckon that much money was. And desperate folks got a way a doin’ truly desperate things. Whatever Towne was up to? Moreaux was sure as shit involved—why else turn up here? No bones about it, Corey: that bastard had a mean streak.

“Now go and grab them gas cans outta yer truck, darlin’—I need ta fire-up them pits out by the sheriff’s SUV. Been a while since I cooked a rollickin’ Cajun barbecue. Folks’ll come from miles around once the word get’s out. Squirrel, possum, coon; gator, goat or boar. Down here in the bayou meat is meat, my dear. You forget why old-time Cajuns love to spice things up?

“Folks here love their gossip, too. Bet your sweet ass, Corey, I’ll add fuel to their hungry fires. That greedy slut Jolene wanted Zeke dead. Was screwin’ the sheriff and Moreaux. Urgin’ both to kill her uncle. A messy love triangle. One of ’em killed her uncle—then the jealous lawmen tried to kill each other. Everyone will hear that Jolene’s car was found at Towne’s place, givin’ credence to the rumors. I’ll sprinkle all three a them’s blood in the sheriff’s driveway for the CSIs to find. Who’s alive and runnin’—or wound up six feet under will be anybody’s guess.”

BJ dropped the window blinds, hung the Closed sign on the door. “When you’re done with the cans, luv, take Moreaux’s cruiser and park that silver baby longside the sheriff’s wheels. For the time bein’ that green tarp should cover ’em both.”

I strolled out to the Ranger. Hauled ass west for Mexico—

Suddenly I’d lost my appetite for Cajun.

***** 

Addicted to tawdry tales that sometimes make her blush, Jesse typically writes crime, mysteries, and humor. You’ll usually find her stories on the wrong side of the tracks, including flash-zine Shotgun Honey and The Rye Whiskey Review. Jesse also pens Bad Ass Book Reviews, and author interviews—fondly known as Ink-Quisitions—for Southern Crime mag Story and Grit. She dazedly accepted  The  Gutter’s online publishing torch for the Flash Fiction Offensive in February 2019 … and her murderous band of writing cohorts keep Jesse on her “heels.”

At the time of this writing, she hasn’t killed anybody yet. Wanna say “Hello” you can vist her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jesse.rawlins.583

Jesse Rawlins

 

Starting Over by Tim Gerstmar

Jay Thompson rubbed his clean-shaven head. He had just finished his last shift at the bakery, and they threw him an impromptu going away party. They wanted to take him out afterwards, but he told them he had an appointment, said his goodbyes, and left. He was off to Marine bootcamp tomorrow, and while he knew he should feel apprehensive, he felt calm and hopeful, which was standard for Jay. He was big, quiet, not the best looking, or the quickest, but built for punishment, of all sorts. He had to see Mick before he left. Nobody at the bakery liked Mick. They felt he was a bad influence, but Jay had to say goodbye.

He approached the basketball courts. There was the hollow jounce of the basketball and the clang of the hoop as Mick jumped for the rebound. When he saw Jay coming, he threw the ball to the other players and ran over.

“Yo, fuck stick!” Mick yelled, slapping Jay on his head.

“Fuck,” blurted Jay.

“Easy, dude. Tomorrow’s the day huh? Getting started early I see.”

“Yeah.”

“You shoulda let them shave your head. Fuckin numbskull.”

Jay shrugged and forced a laugh and a grin.

“Gonna make yourself a target. You’ve gotta pass bootcamp first,” said Mick. “My cousin tried to join but didn’t pass the physical. Knees were fucked. How’s your knees?”

“I passed.”

“OK, but the Marines do some serious shit. I mean, you’re big and all, but you ain’t quick. You need reflexes,” said Mick, hopping back and forth in front of Jay like a boxer, letting loose a volley of short jabs, pulling them inches from Jay’s face.

“Quit it,” said Jay, waving him off.

“See, you ain’t got the reflexes, or the killer instinct.”

“Hey, man, where’s Rich?” Jay asked, his voice trembling.

“Fuck knows. Ain’t seen him in a couple days. Probably baggin that skanky broad a his.”

“Really? I was hopin to see him fore I go.”

“You won’t. Pussy’s more important to that fuck. Come on, man, let’s split.”

Mick grabbed his backpack, and they went up the street to the park, which was deserted at the moment. Usually they went to the mall, but only when Rich came along. Rich always had beer. Once drunk, he and Mick would get Jay to scream at or moon random people. Jay put up with it. At least it was attention. Though one time Mick made him pick up dried dog shit in the parking lot and throw it at some younger kids, which Jay didn’t like, but he was drunk and feeling crazy.

They found a bench and Mick pulled a bottle of Wild Turkey and some paper cups out of the bag. There was something else in there, a dark shape that the bottle of whiskey clanged against. Twenty minutes later they were both feeling good.

“Hey, wanna see somethin? You’ll like this,” said Mick.

He reached into the bag and pulled out a black pistol with a polished wooden grip.

“You know what kinda gun it is?” Mick asked.

“It’s a revolver.”

“Bravo, Einstein. Do you know what kind of revolver?”

Jay shook his head.

“It’s a .38 snub nose. You’ve got a lot to learn, Marine. Can you use it?”

“I think so.”

“Bullshit. Let’s see yuh,” said Mick, holding the weapon out and waving it around.

“Fuck, put it away. Somebody’s gonna come along,” Jay hissed.

“Pussy. Come on, killer, have some fucking balls would you. I snuck it outta my old man’s drawer because I figured we could have some real fun, give you a good send off.”

“I can’t get in any trouble. They’ll cancel my contract.”

“They’re not gonna do that. Everybody in the Marines does dumb shit. Here, I dare you to point it at someone. That guy jogging around the park.”

Mick pointed to a man in running shorts and a tank top rounding a corner in the distance. He gave the gun to Jay. Jay looked dumbly from the .38 to the runner.

“Careful, bro. It’s loaded,” said Mick, chuckling. “You’ll fuckin freak when it goes off.”

“No,” Jay muttered, his cheeks reddening. “I’m done with this.”

“Do it!”

“I can’t.”

“Fucking freak show.”

Jay started to shake.

“Oh, what’s wrong? Little Jay’s scared,” Mick laughed and took a pull of whiskey. “Give it to me, I’ll show you.”

Jay felt hot, fiery tension in the center of his forehead. He stood up.

“Alright! You like talkin shit? Fuckin punk bitch!” he yelled.

He put the .38 to Mick’s head and pulled the trigger. The world erupted in sound. Mick’s body slumped to the side then onto the ground. Brains and bits of skull wet the grass. Jay stared at the pistol, not believing the recoil he just felt, as his mind scrambled to catch up with events. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the runner take off in a different direction.

                                                                                    #

Jay took one of his extended walks along the harbor, which he always did when he needed to think. He felt dirty, like some creep that hangs out in peep show booths stinking of jizz. Tomorrow he was supposed to ship out. He leaned against a railing and looked out over the water at the ships headed for ports unknown. There were police sirens in the distance, somewhere, as there always were in the city. The sun was starting to go down. It still felt like he could be off tomorrow, like the reality of what happened was open for debate. The runner couldn’t possibly know who he was. Was there really anything wrong with showing up at the recruitment office tomorrow? He wanted to believe there wasn’t: that the universe would be kind and let the Corps give him a new life.

“It’ll be OK,” he muttered to himself, as he thought about the pistol lying on the wet ground, Mick’s cold hand around the grip. “With any luck.”              

Bio: Tim Gerstmar is a writer and artist who specializes in noir and speculative fiction. Originally from Massachusetts, Tim has been teaching English in Asia for over a decade in South Korea, Thailand, China, and Malaysia. Tim’s work has appeared in a variety of online and print venues. His short story ‘The Man Who Loved Weegee’ appeared in Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, and you can find his Bangkok crime novel THE GUNFIGHTERS on www.amazon.com.

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Shorts Stories For Sunday: Laure Van Rensburg, Roy, & Paul D. Brazill.

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The Daytripper by Paul D. Brazill

‘The early morning train was cramped and when Jacqui King stretched her long, stocking-clad legs she felt a twinge in her lower spine. She immediately knew for sure that it was sciatica or, if it wasn’t, it was some sort of freak reaction caused by a brain tumour. Or maybe that old standby cancer.

“Just because you’re a hypochondriac it doesn’t mean life’s not out to get you,” she said aloud.’

Read the rest at the FLASH FICTION OFFENSIVE.

‘Whose Coat Is This Jacket?’ by Roy

The telly is on but no ones watching it. Eggheads. Me Ma shouts the wrong answers from the depths of the back kitchen. We all call it the back kitchen, despite it being situated at the front of the house. My sister, Olivia, occasionally looks up at the telly and blags that she knew the answer. Me arl fella is scanning The Echo, bins perched on the end of his nose. I’m impressed that they remain there, despite the vigorous head shaking he’s doing in accordance with his reading matter. The aroma that floats through the ether can only be described as tea, generic tea. There isn’t a particular smell. Everything just seems to amalgamate into one. Foodstuffs petrified to come out and play incase me Da kicks off.’

Read the rest at URBANISTA MAGAZINE.

Lilith by Laure Van Rensburg

‘She was the warm breath in your ear that told you to speak to the quiet girl at the end of the bar — the dare you followed until my number was stored in your phone.

She was the flame that lit your cigarette, the high that hit you when you took that first drag of the day, the black tar that stayed in your lungs long after you stopped smoking.’

Read the rest at SPELK FICTION. 

Fiction: Carcass by Paul D. Brazill

Ava drove her battered, old Ford Escort to the edge of the forest and parked beneath a pine tree. As she sat and watched the autumn rain batter the windscreen, she listened to the Siouxsie and The Banshees CD that Martin had given her for her birthday. It was a copy of a bootleg LP that his father had owned, apparently.

There were only a few songs on the CD, most of which she could take or leave but there was one that she really liked.  Martin had told her that one of the songs had been banned, for some reason that she couldn’t remember, and that his father had had to go to London’s Kings Road to get a bootleg vinyl version.  Martin talked a lot about old music and ancient bands and while some of it was interesting a lot was a just a dull blur of trivia. When he got together with his friends in the Art College bar it was even worse.

Still, Martin was sweet for the most part and a lot more likeable than most of Ava’s recent boyfriends. They’d had some nice times together, that was for sure. She’d even momentarily considered giving it a real go with him. Having a proper, normal relationship like other girls. It was so tempting but there was, however, as always, the problem of her family and their … ways.

She sighed and turned up the music to drown out the sound of banging that was coming from the car boot.

She was listening to the CD for the third time when she saw two tattooed and scarred behemoths appear out of the forest.  They had long black hair, unkempt beards and carried shotguns. Her father and her brother looked drunk, which was usually the case since her mother had died. Ava heard Ike, her father, howl as he approached the car. Her brother Barry lagged behind, swigging from a bottle of homemade vodka.

Ike banged on the roof of the car.

Ava wound down her window.

‘Fi, fi, fo, fum,’ said Ike.

‘He’s in the boot,’ said Ava.

‘Alive?’ said Barry.

‘Just about,’ said Ava.

She blinked.

Barry grinned and rubbed his stomach. She wound the window back up as they went to the back of the car and opened the boot. Her father howled again and he and Barry hauled Martin from the car. The young man kicked and struggled as Barry hauled him over his shoulders.  Ava turned up the volume again to cover the sound of Martin’s screaming.

Her father waved to her and walked back into the depths of the forest, whistling.  Barry trailed behind.

Ava started up the car and head back to Seatown. As she approached the outskirts of town the rain grew heavier. She noticed a young woman stood by the side of the road, hitchhiking. She was soaked to the skin. Ava felt sorry for her and stopped the car. The young woman got in.

‘Thanks,’ said the woman.

‘No problem,’ said Ava.

She put her backpack in the back seat and sat in the passenger seat.

‘What a night,’ she said, fastening her seat belt. ‘Not fit for man nor beast.’

She took off a baseball cap.

Ava blinked. The woman looked eerily familiar.

‘Hey, I know this music. It’s The Banshees. My brother listens to all this old punk stuff,’ said the woman. ‘He’s a man out of time.’

‘Your brother?’ said Ava, starting up the car.

‘Yeah, my twin brother Martin. I’m going to visit him in Seatown. He’s at art college there.’

Ava blinked quickly.

‘I know a short cut,’ said Ava, making a U-turn and heading back the way she’d come.

She took out her phone and dialled carefully.

‘Dad,’ she said. ‘I think we may have a guest for dinner.’

She switched off her phone as her father howled.

Bio: Paul D. Brazill‘s books include A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Last Year’s Man, and Kill Me Quick. He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.

Carcass was first published at the Flash Fiction Offensive.