Impulse Control by Mar Preston

One minute before closing time his truck roars up, just as Frank’s swinging the gate closed at the Transfer Site. All the other maintenance guys have gone for the day. Here’s Craig Jones again bringing in a truckload of trash in cardboard boxes from the grocery story.

A cocky smile on Jones’ face. He slid out of the truck and stood there in a wide-legged stance as if he were a real working man. His Daddy had made life easy for him–until now, Frank heard. Junior here was working in the business and apparently hated it. Too bad. Job’s a job nowadays.

Craig’s wearing the gnat hats that are new this summer. The veil covers his face and folds down around his neck onto his chest. They’re too pussy for Frank.

“It’s closing time.”

“Well, see my Rolex here, says I got two minutes left.”

Frank watched while he clambered up into the bed of the pickup like an old lady and started heaving boxes out. Craig Jones didn’t know what it was like to live on minimum wage in a drafty old Airstream where Frank hopped around inside a mummy bag tied just under his shoulders and wore four sweaters to keep warm. The boxes piled up in a slithery heap in front of the bailer.

“Hey, that one’s full of rotten vegetables,” Frank said. “Empty that in the compactor.”

“Your job, not mine,” Jones grinned, sauntering back to the truck, whistling.

Frank grabbed him by the shoulder. He knew he shouldn’t touch the little pussy. He’d always had trouble with impulses–lighting the match under the pipe, taking the beer from the out-stretched hand, pilfering a pill or two from a medicine cabinet while he was on a job.

“Get off of me,” Jones complained, his voice going high.

Now he’d probably left a bruise on Jones’ shoulder and he’d run to the Sheriffs. Frank couldn’t afford that. He couldn’t risk his job either, by leaving  all this trash for the guy who came in the next day.

The only thing around was a plane flying high, high in the sky above the clouds from China Lake Naval Base.  Next to the compactor bin was a solid steel bar for poking items down. Frank yanked it out of the slot and brought it down hard on the back of Jones’ head.  Took pleasure hitting him again and again until he was good and dead. He pulled the keys from the man’s pocket along with the cash in his wallet. He threw the gnat hat that stank of Jones over his own head.

Two black plastic bin bags over the torso, another couple over the feet and a length of twine to make a nice bleed-proof package. Frank sacrificed an old length of carpet he’d intended to use to block drafts in his Airstream and bundled Jones into a neat roll. The guy didn’t weigh more than the trash barrels Frank heaved around all day.

He threw the steel lever into the control panel to start the compactor. The carpet crunched as it compressed into the huge steel container that would be picked up tomorrow. Did the guys at the County Transfer site check what was dumped at the landfill? Not any more than he did.

Maybe somebody would remember later they saw Jones driving away from the dump like usual wearing a gnat hat. Not likely anybody would see Frank take a turn in his truck and head out past the last houses in the town. A steep road led up the mountain to a 600 foot drop. Lots of things got pushed off there. Just like the dump. The snows would come soon and see the last of the pestering flies. By spring the truck would be covered with trash.

Frank did the short walk back to town in fifteen minutes, taking the network of paths that led down the mountain so that he came out on the far side of the Transfer Site and close to home. With any luck his AA sponsor would still be waiting for him.

They had good cookies at the Friday night meeting. Those AA women really knew how to bake.


30 thoughts on “Impulse Control by Mar Preston”

  1. Nice job and congratulations Mar and Shotgun Honey. Yes, Noir is timeless, and I love that the editors over here saw the story was good and snapped it up. Nothing else mattered. Good on everybody, all the way around.
    Elaine Ash

      1. Tech glitch there, Louise. This is Mar Preston again replying to Louise. The trick of flash fiction is to convey a whole world in 700 words. 

  2. A real stunner.  I”m hooked.  Keep up the good work!

                          Bill  Mims

  3. I would like to read more, if he got away with it, survived the winter in his drafty Airstream……………… Finish the story, I liked it.

    1. I agree Barbara. As I said in the post I found myself in this story and would definitely like to know more, more about Frank, more about what happened, more about his life ans why impulse control is only the tip of the of tale.

      Wow1 This drew me right in and knocked me in the head! The whole scene came alive in a flash as if I were standing there at that transfer site just around the large bin where Frank nor Jones could see me. Left me speechless, in somewhat of a quandary. I should be horrified, am horrified, but there’s more I shouldn’t feel. Like maybe it was about time.
      Excellent tale. Thank you. 

  4. I’m waiting for more of the story, did he get away with it, get caught? freeze in the drafty Airstream he lived in?

    My attention is still there.

    Loved it.

  5. Oh boy. This is the good stuff! I love how you create a mix emotion, reality, and insanity, and juxtapose bloody murder with women and cookies. Your style is crisp, moving the reader forward quickly to match the pace of action, and richly filled with details of life, politics, humanity. And the subtle humor of it is a true delight. Please, please, keep it coming!

  6. Evocative and scary.  If Alfred Hitchcock was around to do his half hour show, this would be his pick.  Frank is the consummate sociopath.. with a sweet tooth.
    Susan in LA

  7. I loved the punchiness.  No wasted words. Certainly recognition of character traits.
    Question though, what happened to the Rolex?
    And, what about some recipes from the AA ladies? 

  8. Liked it a lot, left me wondering what’s going to happen next. Leaves lot of room for more action. Frank should be in an  anger mangement program.

  9. Whew, boy. Thanks everybody for your reactions. This story is pared down from a much longer work. I’m glad to see that there is still some heft and substance in what remains. I really believe there are a lot of Franks with impulse control problems walking around among us. 

  10. The horror is amped up by taking place in such a pedestrian, everyday setting and by Frank’s matter-of-fact behavior. Frank’s problems probably never last very long–he’s on them tout de suite! Thanks for a delightful read!

  11. Good thinking, Frank!  That’s what you get when you make a habit of pushing your luck too far with practical people. 

    I enjoyed this story’s energy; tightly written with great imagery. A while back, I read Mar Preston’s novel No Dice, which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend.

    Seems she can write shorts just as well!

  12. I was right there with Frank the whole time.  Craig got what was coming to him.  I will assume Frank got away with it!  I liked this story, it pulled me in from the first sentence.  I’d like to see more from this author.

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