The sun is blinding and my shades are just beyond my reach. A breeze kicks up and cools my damp skin. It feels good. The tree limbs sway and groan and through their leaves I can see some birds circling. Carrion birds maybe. They smell death. Just waiting me out.
I shift on the dusty ground and let out a yelp. Moving my hand I give the hole in my gut another look. Nausea washes over me, but I hold my breakfast down. Eggs and bacon with a side of white toast. I don’t even like breakfast. Thinking about eggs being my last meal makes me more angry than the trigger happy son of a bitch that punched the hole in me.
Sam lays in the dirt over to my left. His eyes are glassy and wide and if you just glance at him you’d think he had just walked into his own surprise party. Except for the fact that part of his head is missing.
The drop was supposed to be easy. We bring the drugs. They bring the money. A shake of hands and a “Sayonara” and away we go.
We parked in the clearing next to Brian’s black Buick. A mechanical hum starts and his tinted window rolls down, a plume of smoke billowing out. Mr. Subtlety. His right hand man, Danny , sits in the passenger seat next to him trying to look intimidating. It was working.
“We’ve been waiting. You got the shit?” Brian asks.
Sam holds up the duffel bag like an excited trick or treater.
“Let’s do this then.”
After checking each other’s bags and being satisfied that no one was screwing anyone over, hands were shook and the aforementioned “Sayonaras” were being exchanged when two dipshits with automatics stepped out from a copse of trees like a couple of murderous Keebler elves.
Brian looked at me, his eyes boiling with rage and accusations of treachery.
My mouth gaped open to plead my innocence when Brian’s revolver slipped from his holster and pointed my way. Everything was in slow motion. Then the automatics started barking like two angry German Shepherds, ripping through the silence and Brian’s hoodie. The windows of the Buick shattered and Brian went down, his body poked with more holes than a golf course. Danny had the glove compartment open, but his body convulsed as it was struck again and again with gun fire.
I realized I was screaming, high pitched and shrill, my hands instinctively over my head as the world exploded around me. I dropped behind my car. The bags were both shot to shit, ripped bills and plumes of cocaine raining down on my head. Then it stopped. The quiet unnerved me more than the booming gunshots. Looking from under the car, I saw the two sets of feet moving closer, the spent magazines dropping to the dirt. Sam burst from the car, the hinges creaking as he fired his glock. One body hit the ground. I circled out from the car, reaching for the pistol stuffed in my pants. My glasses were askew and I tossed them off, the hammer of my gun caught on my belt. Sam got a shot off at the lone gunman, hitting him center mass and sending him twirling like a top. The gunman started firing, bullets jabbing trees and then Sam’s head and then finally my stomach, all three of us dropping like a game of London Bridges.
We all fall down.
Somehow the sun finds its way through the trees and lands squarely on my fucking head. I keep my hand on my wound and drag myself into the shade.
I feel the breeze. The trees speak in a language only they can understand. The birds continue to circle. Probably waiting to pay me back for their cousin’s eggs I ate earlier. Exhaustion wraps me in it’s arms like a mother swaddling a newborn. I see my gun just out of reach. The end of my suffering just a few feet away. But those few feet might as well be a few thousand miles.
John Teel lives and writes just outside of Philadelphia with his wife Jamie, their four kids and the ugliest rescue dog you’ve ever laid eyes on.