Why doesn’t that dirtbag shut up? All I want is a quiet ride. Is that too much to ask? Instead I have to listen to him yelling, “Do it! Do it, baby!” He just sits there staring at his phone and giggling. He must be watching porn, and he’s definitely high on something. I don’t know why they let these guys on the subway.
Now he’s holding his phone up and showing it to the woman sitting across the aisle. “Look at this,” he says. “Look!”
She keeps her eyes on her magazine and tucks her purse under her arm. The purse looks expensive.
“Hey, look at this,” the guy says, waving his phone around. “Do you do this? Huh? Do you do this?”
“No,” she says without looking up from her magazine. She’s a pretty lady with a really nice haircut.
“Aw, c’mon,” he says, like he’s being really sweet. He pushes his phone closer to her face.
From behind me a man’s voice rings out. “Hey!” A big guy comes down the aisle to the front of the car where the one with the phone and the woman are sitting. He’s not only big, he’s built, and he’s got that clean-cut look—buzz-cut, clothes pressed, shined shoes. Maybe ex-military. Maybe he’s an athlete. He’s wearing a big, heavy ring on one hand, like a championship ring.
The big guy stands there staring at the phone guy. “Did you touch her?”
“Who the hell are you?”
“Did you touch her?”
The big guy glances at the woman, “Did he touch you?”
She shakes her head.
The train slows down. We’re coming into a station. There’s no one on the platform, which isn’t unusual at this time of night.
The big guy loses his balance and grabs the bar. The phone guy jumps forward. Big guy grabs phone guy’s hand. They lean in, close to each other. They’re pulling each other back and forth.
The woman tries to scream but sounds strangled. She jumps up and runs toward me. With her coming down the aisle, I can’t see what the guys are doing.
The train stops and she runs through the door behind me. The rest of the people in the car run out the back door.
I look up front and see the big guy is still hanging onto the bar while his legs are buckling. There’s blood on his shirt.
Phone guy pushes past him, and goes out the front door. Once on the platform, he puts his hands in his coat pockets and tilts his head down, doing that walk that makes him look like he doesn’t want anybody to look at him.
The doors close, and the train moves on.
Big guy is lying on the floor. There’s blood all over.
I look out the back door of the car. No one in the next car seems to notice what happened. The same goes for the car in front.
I walk forward to see how the big guy is doing. He’s lying on his side. His eyes are open but they aren’t moving. There’s a knife on the floor.
The way he fell, one of his arms reaches out toward me. There’s that ring. It’s got a big red stone in the middle and initials on either side. It looks like there are diamonds around it. Of course it could be a knock off. But it’s bound to be worth something.
I check the car behind and the car in front. Nobody’s watching. I go down on one knee and pull on the ring to get it off his finger. It’s stuck. I lean down, spit on the ring, and twist it around a few times. It slides off his finger. Easy-peasy.
The ring in my pocket, I stand near the door, waiting for the next station, only a minute or two away. An old woman is looking at me through the door to the next car like I’m a dirtbag and I wonder what her problem is. It's not like I killed anybody, right?
About the author:
Rick Homan lives in San Francisco. Along with performing as a guitarist and leading tours at the Maritime National Historical Park, he writes mystery and suspense.
It’s a warm night in February, the songbirds singing and the box elders crawling up from their nests.
I follow May to the Concord, an old dinner theater in downtown Blackwater. The whole administration is here: Jim Bradley, Dusty Rose, Herald Convoy. And May’s new lover, Mayor Jackson Miles.
I find a spot in the overflow lot, reverse in so I can see the exit, and cut off my lights. When they leave the show, he holds her under the streetlamp, his fingers sprawled around her waist like a spider closing in on a fly. He whispers in her ear and starts kissing her neck, his hands moving south. She laughs and latches onto his shoulders.
Jackson opens the door for her, watches her legs as she swivels into the passenger seat, then closes her in and circles around to the driver’s seat. He backs out of his parking spot and takes off down Route 32, kicking up dirt and gravel as he leaves. I turn my lights back on and follow behind them.
He turns left onto the river road, snakes around every bend going sixty. I’ll confess he’s hard to keep up with. Good thing I already know where they’re going.
I cut off my lights as I turn down his driveway, a quarter-mile stretch of river stone surrounded by evergreens and paddock fencing. I stop near the end and park between two pine trees. He pulls around the driveway and stops in front of the house, a three-story monstrosity built of stone with white pillars and brick stairs at the entryway. I guess my place wasn’t good enough for her.
He guides her out of the car and they stand in the shadow of the house, admiring the starlit evening. Her dress blows gently in the wind as she leans her head on his shoulder. He places a hand at the small of her back and walks her up the stairs and through the double oak doors.
I take a drink of whiskey and watch them through the window, two silhouettes dancing and drinking from tall skinny glasses. He leads her to the master bedroom, their garments piling at their feet on their way up the stairs. Their sounds echo through the night. Each scream of pleasure is like a knife through my chest. Letting them finish is the least I can do.
The hounds, unleashed, race around the streets of Blackwater, sniffing at everything in town trying to pick up their scent. There are uniformed officers at every intersection, directing traffic and searching vehicles as they pass. They called in reinforcements from Tucker County, who pitched in an extra thirty-some officers and fifteen patrol cars to help with the search.
As I stroll along the Black Fork River, I see a police boat pushing slowly along the water. A diver surfaces, empty-handed, and strips off his scuba mask.
I see the mayor’s dock up ahead, a pair of jet skis bobbing gently in the current. A crew of officers is swabbing them for prints and checking all the compartments for evidence.
The mayor’s backyard is a stretch of brown and yellow grass surrounded by woods. A group of officers gather under the covered patio, chatting and making notes as I walk up.
“Find anything out there?” One of them asks.
“Nothing,” I reply.
“They better finish searching the river soon. They’re calling for snow next week.”
“Get home to your wife, Carter. We got it from here.”
I circle around to the front yard and find my patrol car where I left it the night before. I pop the trunk and confirm their bodies are still there, cold and lifeless, staring blankly into each other’s eyes. They don’t yet know it isn’t only the mayor who’s missing. Figure I’ll wait for the crew to finish their search, then I’ll dump them in the Black Fork, let the fish pick away at their flesh. I’ll leave the mayor with his gun. I don’t need it anymore.
I climb in the driver’s seat and coast along the river road. As I look out over the Black Fork, I roll down the windows and let the wind break over my palm, enjoying another unseasonably warm February day.
About the author:
Anthony Barton is a tax accountant with a passion for writing fiction. He lives and writes in Front Royal, Virginia with his wife, Tracey, and a cat named Hazel.
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