Alejandro’s knuckles sprayed backdoor glass across kitchen tile. His fingers twisted red on the doorknob and deadbolt. He maneuvered through the kitchen and down a dark hallway of family framed walls. Stepped into a bedroom where a silhouette sat up from a bed, suffocated his breath like a large-quilt smothering a fire.
A voice yawned “You’re home early.”
Alejandro pointed the 9mm. Pulled the trigger once. Twice. Shadows fragmented upon the bedroom walls. The silhouette thudded onto the carpet.
Footsteps drummed like soldiers marching down the hallway behind Alejandro. He turned with gun raised. Met the small outline that screamed, “Mom!” Warmed the child’s insides. Silenced the screams.
Amphetamine hunger pained through Alejandro’s brain as he rifled through the dresser drawers. Socks. Bras. Panties. Nothing of worth. In the closet he found a Beretta .380, stuffed it down the back of his chinos. On a chair in the corner he found a purse. Pulled out a wallet. Found a wad of bills. Pay dirt.
He exited the bedroom to the hallway. Cleared the child whose lungs heaved and Alejandro diminished like a dream.
* * *
Detective Mitchell’s charred hair matched the bags beneath his vision of flesh gift-wrapping bone. His black tie hung loose from the open neck of the white button up. The bottle of Knob Creek met his lips. Eroded his guilt.
Should’ve stayed home that night. He’d been cat fishing in the late hours of morning when Sgt. Moon’s words hollowed his being with the news.
Wife. Son. Shot by a burglar. DOA.
Even in a small town Mitchell’d seen a lot in fifteen years of service. Bodies floating in Blue River. Domestic disputes where beer breathed men gave purple abrasions, cracked marrow and lipstick red whelps with their fist to a woman’s flesh. Car’s wrapped around trees where bodies were removed with no pulse.
But seeing his son laid out like meat hanging in walk-in freezer, cold innocence removed of character, it changed him. Then his wife. Identical to the son. Separated by age.
Mitchell shook his head taking in the hallway. Two bullets opened the drywall where his son discovered his end. Dried innards smeared from wall to floor. Mitchell knew State Police Forensics collected a mess of blood evidence. Ballistics would take a few weeks.
Entering the bedroom, Mitchell swigged the bottle of bourbon, saw the clothes hanging from dresser drawers. Looked where his wife had dropped from the bed, soiled the carpet. Forensics’d never find who done this.
Glancing in the open closet he noticed the empty shelf and it came as quick as losing his family, his back-up gun was missing.
* * *
Alejandro was on all fours mistaking carpet lint for crystal. Around him men slept in sleeping bags on the body-soured carpet and matching couch like lifeless shapes in a county morgue.
Scuffmarks decorated the walls of the shack as if second grade graffiti.
Alejandro placed a piece of lint over the pin-needle holes on top of the aluminum can he held between middle finger and thumb. His other hand flicked a flame. While his mouth huffed on the opening. But got nothing.
His hair was the shade of creosol, melding to his potholed face. He’d chewed the skin from his lips till they bled. Fingernails had dug at his arms that’d become like his lips. Sleeping was twitching. Sweat bathed his body instead of a shower.
He’d been holed up for a week with a new crop of illegals in the one bedroom shack. Tried sleeping in the day. Smoked his Meth while others slept at night. Now the Meth was gone. Same as the money from the last robbery. He needed a fix.
On the couch Alejandro’s hands patted through a man’s pockets in search of money. The man woke up horrified. Covered Alejandro’s left eye with five knuckles. Falling backwards on the carpet Alejandro pulled the 9mm from his waist. Pointed it at the man whose eyes sparked white. Two shots opened his chest.
The gunfire pulled everyone’s eyes open. Alejandro didn’t quit pulling the trigger till the gun was empty.
* * *
It was a long shot but Mitchell tossed the piece of paper on the counter of Joe’s Pawn Shop.
Dressed in a hole worn Drive-by Truckers t-shirt Joe blinked his razor thin eyes. Mitchell’s bourbon breath irritated Joe’s face. Reminded him of paint thinner fumes as he picked up the paper.
“For a .380-”
With an un-groomed Collie beard hiding his cheeks. Shaggy braids went from chin to chest. Joe shook his opal skull inked with rebel flags above ears. A big middle finger inked in the center. Joe cut Mitchell off, “Beretta. Polymer grip. Matte Black. Seven rounds plus one in the chamber. I got the fiddle. You got the banjo. We can stomp down some sweet tunes.”
It was no longer a long shot. Mitchell’s seriousness drove a 185 grain hallow point into Joe’s skull.
“Who pawned the son of a bitch?”
“Don’t member his name.”
Mitchell laid his detective’s badge on the counter.
“White? Black? Asian-”
“Mexican guy with a tweaker. Mexican was clean cut. Runs that authentic restaurant up the hill. Usually there from daylight to dark. Got a kick ass lunch special. Dollar beers and Margaritas on Thursday nights. Never seen the tweaker before."
“Where’s the gun?”
Joe turned away. Unlocked a metal cabinet behind him.
“Shit fire, should’ve said you’s a cop, I got it right here.”
“What about footage?”
“No smut tapes here officer.”
Mitchell wanted a make on the Mexican. Pointed up in the corner behind the counter.
“Surveillance footage of the guy who sold the gun.”
Laying the gun on the counter Joe answered in a confused voice, “Yeah, sure. But I done told you it was the Mexican guy from on the hill.”
“I need a positive ID.”
Mitchell picked up the gun. Matched the serial numbers.
“I’m taking the gun. Now, show me the footage of the Mexican. I’ll need it and today’s footage to take with me.”
“Take with you?”
“Yeah, I was never here so we never had this conversation. These last few minutes have been one big fuckin’ blur, got it?”
* * *
Alejandro pulled into the small town’s pay by the week flop, slop and drop motel. He stepped from the idling Buick. His complexion was greasy dishwater with eyes floating in fire. His head twitched. Shoulders jerked. His fist met a door dotted by body fluids.
A chain rattled. A lock clicked. The door cracked open with the television bouncing light and conversation. The smell of hot ammonia wafted behind a single brown eye spiked with blood. The other eye was missing.
“How much crystal you need?”
The white chalked-up corners of Alejandro’s broken English said, “Another hundred dollar worth.”
The door closed. Alejandro’s hands balled into his sweatshirt pockets. He glanced down the concrete walk. Darkness hummed. Window curtains of connecting rooms parted in the corners. Eyes and noses smudged glass. Making Alejandro’s palms damp.
The door opened back up, a bit wider than before. One hand held a small brown paper sack. The other hand reached out, open palm, wiggling four fingers minus a thumb.
Alejandro slid his right foot between jamb and door. Pulled the 9mm from his sweatshirt pocket. Pointed it at the single brown eye. The first shot added more decorations to the door. The body dropped. Alejandro stepped on it. Entered the flop-drop-Meth factory. A shadow fought movement from the bed. The second and third shot let the shadow stay in bed.
Alejandro flipped the light switch on the wall. Sandwich baggies full of ice crystal weighted a metal table next to the bed. His heart raced like a chemo patient trying to run, slid the 9mm into his waist. Removed his hooded sweatshirt and piled the baggies into the chest of the sweatshirt. Picked the pockets of the bodies he’d paid with bullets. Threw their crumpled bills in with the baggies. Tied the sweatshirt into a ball. Picked it up. Ran out to the Buick. Already imagining the chemical ricocheting behind his eyes as the car turned out onto highway 62.
* * *
Headlights flared off the glass windows. A car door slammed in the parking lot. The brass bell rang above the entrance door that Gaspar’d forgotten to lock. He looked up from counting out the restaurant’s register when a gloved hand introduced his forehead to the butt of a .45 Caliber Sig Sauer. His knees went liquid. His mind fogged.
Blood warmed Gaspar’s blinking eyes. Steel burrowed into the rear of his neck with face pressed sideways into the still-warm surface of the grill in the kitchen. A handgun lay in his side-view. Wrists were plastic-quick tied behind his back.
Mitchell’s gloved hand tightened around the gun. “I’ll ask you one time. You and some tweaker sold the gun you’re looking at to a pawn shop. Where’d you get the gun?”
Gaspar took a deep breath. Pondered the blood relation to the man he’d smuggled to America.
“I’m business man. Come to America to run business.”
“Sure, the American fuckin’ dream.”
Mitchell reached to his left, twisted the knob below the gas burner to HIGH. A blue/orange flame hissed. He slid the Sig down his pants. Clamped both hands into Gaspar’s black wad of grease. Slowly pressed his face toward the hiss.
Like a dog that didn’t wanna lead Gaspar’s head tried to fight from Mitchells’ grip. Begged.
“No! No! Please!”
“The gun. Where’d you get it?”
With no answer the orange hiss heated Mitchell’s hand. Warmed his forearm. Gaspar’s brownie skin curled black like melted plastic. Tears fell and sputtered off the blue glow. Mitchell thought about his wife and son. Pushed Gaspar till he thought his leather gloves would ignite.
“My brother! My brother!”
He pulled and turned Gaspar around. Mucus spread like poison ivy from nose to mouth. Tears met the gooey gum colored boil pushing from the black burn on Gaspar’s cheek. Fear flowed hot down his leg. Puddled onto the floor. Mitchell grabbed the stolen gun.
“This gun you sold, stolen from my house. Your brother, where the fuck is he?”
* * *
In the shack fluorescent lights hugged the loaded needle trespassing in Alejandro’s vein. His thumb pushed the plunger. Endorphins swam and multiplied in his brain. Eyes darted with black pupils hiding the hazel as he pulled the needle from his arm.
“You guys need try. Some good shit.”
He waited for a reply from the bodies that lay scattered and stiff against the four wall room dressed with matching bullet holes.
Some had heads resting on shoulders. Others bent forward. Chin into chest. Mouths trapped in a permanent yawn.
He placed the needle in a glass of water clouded by crystal on the coffee table. Where ziplocks stuffed with jagged chunks of amphetamine lay like homemade Halloween treats. He loaded another fix as the front door opened. Gaspar limped onto the carpet his arms behind his back. Blood and bruises disguised his appearance.
Alejandro barked, “Gaspar!”
Mitchell’s heel stomped the bend behind Gaspar’s knee, “Heal shit bag!”
Enraged, Alejandro jumped up duce eyed. Stormed Mitchell with the loaded needle in hand.
Mitchell raised his .45, cubed meat from Alejandro’s chest.
On a full-blown-Meth-rush Alejandro gritted his stalactite teeth, smothered Mitchell into a wall. Grabbed for the gun with his freehand. Stabbed the needle into Mitchell’s jugular with his other. Mitchell hollered, “Fuck!” Alejandro thumbed the plunger. Liquid roared a surge of strength through Mitchell’s veins. He pushed the .45 toward Alejandro, barrel to the floor. Squeezed the trigger. Separated the toes of Alejandro’s foot. Alejandro fell backwards. Mitchell leveled the .45, removed Alejandro’s face. Pulled the needle from his neck. Turned and lowered the .45 on Gaspar who lay screaming on the floor like the amphetamine twitch behind Mitchell’s dilating eyes.
BIO: Struggling Southern Indiana writer of regional gritty crime stories. Have stories published or fourth coming from Thuglit, Plots With Guns, Pulp Pusher, Beat to a Pulp, Lunch Hour Stories, Hardboiled and Talking River Review. I live with my beautiful wife and two dogs. Check me out at facebook.