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Thread: Played

  1. #1
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
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    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA


    A police officer and a murder suspect face-off, barrel to barrel. When the smoke settles, one is dead, and the other must pay the piper.

    The dimly lighted street leading to Abe’s Imports, a warehouse on the lower east side of town, was flanked by seedy, graffiti-covered buildings, trash bins, and debris. Police officer Billy Nelson parked near the loading dock of a tall, dilapidated structure with a high-intensity security lamp casting a harsh, bluish light on its frontage.

    Billy had arranged to meet at Abe’s, where Kyle Morgan worked as the night watchman, to see if he knew where to find George Winston. George was the prime suspect in the murder of his wife, Marsha. Kyle had served a tour with Billy in Afghanistan, and the two of them occasionally crossed paths. Kyle had done two tours with George, and often, they could be seen swapping war stories over a beer or two at the VFW, so Billy’s hopes were high.

    The moon was brightly shining when Billy got out of his patrol car. He paused and listened for any activity, but it was quiet—almost too quiet. After a quick scan of the area, he hesitated for a few moments more. If Kyle wasn’t so paranoid, Billy would’ve brought back up, but now on his own, he walked to the side door of Abe’s and went inside.

    Before Billy let the door close behind him, he quickly glanced around. Ahead was a half-court-sized staging area. To his left were shutter doors leading to the loading dock. To his right was a forklift, and scattered about were ropes, boxes, and debris. Above were security lamps—their downward-focused light caused deep shadows between the high rows of neatly stacked pallets of goods and supplies.

    Billy let the door close, and he stepped toward the staging area. It was muggy, and odors from mold, the old building, supplies, and equipment hung heavy in the air.

    “Ky-Kyle.” Billy’s voice croaked like a frog. He hacked and spat on the floor. “Kyle,” he yelled. “It’s Billy. Billy Nelson.”

    Only the buzz of the overhead lights broke the silence.

    He checked his watch. Kyle wasn’t the most punctual person, and of late, the word was he couldn’t control his drinking, so Billy hoped this adventure wouldn’t turn out to be a wild goose chase. He started across the staging area toward the back office.

    “I’m gonna kick some serious a**, Kyle, if you’re--”

    He stopped dead in his tracks when the light illuminated the bearded, balding, six-foot-six hulk of a man who moved sideways to avoid scraping his shoulders on the rows of stacked boxes. The man wiped the sweat off his brow with his left hand while his right hung by his side, loosely gripping a gun.

    “Kyle said you’d be comin’. You alone?”

    Billy nodded and put his hand on his weapon. “Winston?” He stepped backward. “George Winston?”

    George tipped his head. “Yeah, that’s me, all right.”

    “Where--” Billy swallowed. “Where’s Kyle?”

    George flipped his left thumb over his shoulder while he gave Billy a once-over. “In the back.”

    Billy took a step toward George.

    George’s mouth turned up in a smile, and he chuckled. “He’s drunk as a skunk... As usual.” Then George’s face muscles tightened. “Whatcha want with me anyhow?”

    “Got some bad news, George.”

    George took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Already know.”

    Billy took another step toward George. “You don’t seem all that put out.”

    George shrugged his shoulders. “Why you wanna see me?”

    “Some questions.” Billy pointed toward the door. “Down at the station.”

    George backed toward the shadows. “No way, man.”

    Billy used his left fingers curled in the shape of a gun and pointed to his belly. “She was shot. Close range.”

    George shook his head. “Won’t go.”

    Billy motioned with his palm pointing toward the floor. “Put the gun down, George. On the floor.”

    George spun on his heel and hit the side of his head with his left fist. “It’s always in here, don’t let you have no peace.”

    “Come with me, George. Just drop the gun first.”

    “Rico, Tony, Joey, Sal, Carlos. They’re all gone.” George staggered backward. “Dead, every one of ‘em. But their faces, their voices.” He pounded his head with his left fist. “Still up here.”

    “We can get you help.”

    George waved off Billy’s offer. “Tried that. Didn’t work none.”

    “Put.” Billy took another step toward George. “Put the gun on the floor and come with me.”

    Sweat ran down Billy’s temples and his neck. Patches of moisture darkened his uniform’s collar, armpits, the small of his back, and its front, over his pecs. While he watched George’s every move, he clenched his jaw and closed his fingers around the grip of his weapon.

    “Marsha kept hounding me. Night and day. Wouldn’t never stop. ‘Get help,’ she kept yelling. But there ain’t no help for what’s in my head. It don’t never stop messing with me, man. It never stops.”

    George wiped the tears from his eyes. “Couldn’t take her no more, so I up and shot her.”

    Billy stepped backward. His eyebrows raised, eyes wide opened. “What?”

    “Get your freaking ears checked,” George shouted. “I shot her. Shot her dead, man.”

    Billy unholstered his weapon and leveled it on George. “Gotta take you in, George.”

    George planted both feet, crouched, and aimed his gun at Billy. “I’ll shoot you before I--”

    “Don’t do this, George. I just wanna talk,” Billy said in a calm tone. “Can we talk? Brother to brother?”

    After a few tense moments, George relaxed his stance and lowered his gun toward the floor. “How’s about you radioing and sending your cop-buddies in the other direction while I go east. Brothers-in-arms have to stick together.”

    Billy waved him off. “Can’t do that, George. I swore to uphold the--”

    “Go f**k yourself, man.” George backed toward the shadows, raised his gun again, and took aim.

    Billy gripped his weapon with both hands. “George! Don’t!”

    George’s brows lowered, eyes glared, lips narrowed, and chin jutted as he squeezed the trigger.

    When Billy saw George’s facial expression, he ducked.


    Billy returned fire.

    POW! BAM!

    Two bullets punctured George’s chest. The impact forced George backward, and he fell, sprawled on the floor, his massive hand still clutching the gun. Blood oozed from his chest wound, soaking his shirt. Underneath, a pool of blood spread on the concrete floor.

    Billy stood over George’s body. “S**t!”

    Kyle--wrinkled shirt and pants, and blurry-eyed--stumbled out of the shadows, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms. “What the hell’s all the racket?”

    Billy glanced toward Kyle and stepped backward. “He almost killed me.”

    Kyle squinted at the gun and then at Billy. “Couldn’t have, Billy.”

    Billy panted and waved his weapon toward George’s body. “Was him or me, Kyle.” He staggered backward. “Him or me.”

    Kyle pried the Pinovk toy pistol from George’s hand. He held it toward Billy and gestured with his thumb over his shoulder. “Got a whole pallet of these in back.” He shoved the toy in his belt. “Kids love ‘em.”

    Billy’s face tensed, and he waved his weapon in protest. “Said he killed his wife.”

    “Marsha? Not ole Georgie. He was so far round the bend he’d confess to offing Jimmy Hoffa if you’d ask him. Besides, Marsha shot herself. Was an accident.”

    The muscles in Billy’s face numbed, his jaw dropped, cheeks drooped, mouth opened.

    “They were fighting again. She got Georgie’s gun. They struggled. You know the rest, Billy.”

    Billy’s face was white as a sheet.

    “George played you like a honky-tonk piano.”

    Billy back-peddled. “No. He killed her. Said so.”

    “Gun’s on my desk, Billy.” Kyle turned toward the back office.

    Billy pivoted and shouted. “Stop.”

    Kyle cocked his head toward Billy.

    “Gotta tie up loose ends, put two and two together,” Billy mumbled and stumbled backward. His feet entangled in a pile of rope.

    “What the hell!” Billy reached for something, anything, and found nothing but thin air. The forklift’s prong cracked the base of his skull when he hit it square on its tip.

    Kyle recoiled at the sound of metal crunching bone. He rushed to check Billy and felt for a pulse--nothing. He stood, turned to look at George, and then at Billy. “Brothers-in-arms gotta stick together.”

    Kyle hurried to the back room and returned with the handgun. He put on a pair of gloves, wiped his prints off, put it in George’s hand, and fired two shots toward Billy. Then, he removed the gloves and hid them.

    Next, Kyle went to an open bin of toy guns and pitched the one from his belt onto the pile. Next, he returned to the staging area, leaned against a pallet of supplies, and slid to the floor.

    He punched 9-1-1 on his phone.

    “What is your emergency?” the voice at the other end asked.

    Kyle screamed into his phone. “Send cops! Two dead!”

    “Calm down, sir. Say again.”

    “Officer Billy Nelson and George Winston had a shootout. Both are dead.”

    “Are you injured?”

    “No, I’m fine.”

    “What’s your exact location?”

    After Kyle finished providing the information, he ended the call. Then, aloud he rehearsed his version of how Billy and George died. In the background, the wail of sirens grew louder by the moment.
    Last edited by DRayVan; 11-18-2021 at 05:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    San Diego Calif.
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    Great dialogue. Noir to bone. But don't hand the evidence to a forensic anthropologist!

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