Guilty of Something by R J Spears

“Go easy on him, Frank,” Stephen said, a little bit of a whine edging into his voice.

But Frank wasn’t hearing it. His blood was up — as they say.

The kid, barely out of his teens, had both of his hands up in a defensive gesture, but Frank’s fists, as big as a catcher’s mitt, battered through them and struck home. A left caught the kid in the side of the head, jarring him, but the right hit him square on, knocking him off his feet. He fell back, striking the corner of the aging brick building, and ended up face-first in the dirt, gravel, and broken glass littering the alley.

“You think you can steal on my beat?” Frank hissed out. He moved in over the kid, fists up, poised like a boxer, his weight balanced evenly on both of his feet, his shadow enveloping the kid like a blanket. The kid looked up, a pathetic look on his face as blood oozed from his shattered nose.

“You gotta back off!” Stephen shouted as he grabbed Frank by the shoulders and tried to wrench him away. Frank shot out a tree trunk-sized arm and caught Stephen in the chest, knocking Stephen aside like he was made of balsa wood.

“Go easy on him, Frank,” Stephen said, a little bit of a whine edging into his voice.

But Frank wasn’t hearing it. His blood was up — as they say.

The kid, barely out of his teens, had both of his hands up in a defensive gesture, but Frank’s fists, as big as a catcher’s mitt, battered through them and struck home. A left caught the kid in the side of the head, jarring him, but the right hit him square on, knocking him off his feet. He fell back, striking the corner of the aging brick building, and ended up face-first in the dirt, gravel, and broken glass littering the alley.

“You think you can steal on my beat?” Frank hissed out. He moved in over the kid, fists up, poised like a boxer, his weight balanced evenly on both of his feet, his shadow enveloping the kid like a blanket. The kid looked up, a pathetic look on his face as blood oozed from his shattered nose.

“You gotta back off!”   Stephen shouted as he grabbed Frank by the shoulders and tried to wrench him away. Frank shot out a tree trunk-sized arm and caught Stephen in the chest, knocking Stephen aside like he was made of balsa wood.

“You little fuckers. You come down here and think you’re hot shit,” Frank said, sending hard sole shoe into the kid’s side.   The kid grunted and rolled away.

“Frank, you need to back off,” Stephen yelled. “If you don’t, I’m going to have to report you to the Captain.”

Frank whirled around and shot Stephen a molten hot stare. “You’d do that. You little pussy piece of shit. What are you? My third partner in two years? I don’t need you and I don’t need the fucking Captain.”

“What are you going to tell your wife when you’re fired?”

“I don’t have a wife,” Frank spat out. “Not any more. She left me two months after you started riding with me.”

“Is that why you’re always pissed off?”

“Don’t try your psycho-babble bullshit on me.”

The kid got to his feet and wailed, “I didn’t take no car stereo. I was at a concert.”

“Don’t feed me that bullshit,” Frank said wheeling around on him, his voice a low growl. “Why did you run when you saw us?”

“I don’t know,” the kid said, bringing a hand up to his ruined nose. “You’re the cops. I…”

“You’re a fucking thief,” Frank interrupted. “A thief on my turf.”

“You’re not hitting me no more,” the kid said as one his hands disappeared in his pants pocket. In the next instant he had a knife out in flash of hard silver. He made a quick jab at Frank, but Frank dodged easily as he pulled his night stick. In a fluid and vicious movement, he brought the night stick down on the kid’s wrist, breaking it like a popsicle stick. The kid howled in pain, dropping the knife, but Frank wasn’t done. His night stick arced down, but circled back up over his head, then fell again.

Stephen never spoke of it. Ever. The sound of it hitting the kid’s skull was like a five-pound sledge slamming into a watermelon made out of marble — hollow, but substantial. The light went out of the kid’s eyes in that next instant and he dropped into a lifeless heap.

Stephen lost the next several minutes, the world blurring, not fully comprehending what had happened. Frank stalked the scene, panting like a bull.

Stephen finally pulled himself together, knelt over the kid and checked for any vital signs, but found none. He did find a concert ticket that had spilled on out of the kid’s pocket when he pulled the knife. Stephen picked it up and held it out to Frank.

Frank reluctantly took it, looked at it for a couple seconds, then wadded it up, and tossed it at the kid’s feet.

“That don’t mean shit,” Frank said through heavy breaths. “Maybe he didn’t take stereo, but he sure as shit was guilty of something. They all are.”

The Waiting Game by R. J. Spears

“Willard, when are you coming to bed?” Grace’s voice echoed in his head waking him from a deep sleep.

He sat in his recliner, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, his Remington .310 laying placidly across the chair’s arms just like it did every night.  The TV filled the family room with a pale gray glow but the sound was turned down.  Despite his seventy five years on the planet, he could still hear pretty good, but since there was nothing but crap on he saw no reason to ever turn the volume up.

“Soon,” he said quietly.  He started to repeat himself, but a crashing noise in the front of the house stopped him.

“Did you hear that?” He asked shouting deep into the house, but Grace didn’t respond.  He started to ask her again, but he heard a scrabbling noise at one of the front windows.

“Grace, why don’t come in here?” He asked, but then remembered that she couldn’t and that shook him.  He was forgetting things and even hearing her voice.  Sometimes he even talked to her.

They had come in last year.  Maybe they hadn’t even wanted to hurt her, but they killed her nonetheless.  The police said she must have put up a fight and they pushed her down, her head hitting the stone hearth.  Knocked unconscious, she bled to death, alone.

There was a scraping noise at the front of the house followed by a loud clattering metal-against-metal sound and a few seconds later Willard felt a cool breeze filtering down the long hallway into the family room.  He knew his place like the back of his hand after living in it for fifty years.  The front door was open.

He fingered the Remington expectantly.

Grace would hate that he took out the alarm system.  The system and the bars on the windows went in when the neighborhood went to hell in a handbasket in the late 80’s.  When Willard took it all out late last year his neighbor had said it was like advertising that you wanted robbed.  Willard figured he didn’t need it any more because they had already taken everything that was important to him.

The beam of a flashlight splayed down the hall like probing fingers.  He saw the edges of it dancing along the wall and clicked the safety off the Remington.

They were everywhere in the neighborhood these days.  Crackheads and other addicts squatting in the abandoned houses all around them.  They prowled the neighborhood at night looking for drugs, money, or anything they could steal and fence.

Her voice echoed across the years to him, “Will, you don’t need to do this.

“Yes, I do,” he whispered as he readied the gun.  She’d always been a better person than him and he knew it.

He listened as they tried to open the French doors in the living room, but he had those nailed shut.  They’d come down the hallway because all the other doors were locked, too.  They’d follow the path he had set before them because he left them no other choice.  Willard set the maze so the rats only came to one spot — the doorway into the family room where he waited.

“Grace,” he whispered.  “Grace?”  But she didn’t answer and never would.

They crept down the hall, their footsteps loud and clumsy. Willard brought up his shotgun, his hands quivering from age, not nerves.  When the intruders stepped into the doorway, framed pretty-as-a-picture, Willard pulled the trigger.

What You Don’t Know by R.J. Spears

Frank was being a little rougher than he had to be, but from what he heard, Block had been a marine once so he didn’t want underestimate the man. He even had two guys as back-up out in the car.  He followed up his right cross with a punch to Block’s stomach.  Air left Block’s lungs in full retreat and he went down to his knees while Frank hulked over him.

Marine? Frank asked himself.  If this guy had been a marine then the country was in deep shit because Block is a real pussy — letting a man come in his house and manhandle him this way.

“I know it’s your brother that owes Mr. Galvin, but since your brother’s not around, you need to come up with it.  Five large.”  Frank said

Block gasped for breath and coughed a few times.  He wasn’t that a big of a guy, but at one point in the past, he’d been in a better shape.

“I haven’t seen my brother in months,” Block choked out.

“Don’t matter.  You’re here, he ain’t.”  Frank kicked out at Block, catching him in the chin and knocking him ass over elbows.  Block rolled across the floor toward the fireplace.  Frank followed him, pausing for a moment to look at the family photos arranged on the mantle.  He grabbed one of frames and examined it.

“This your wife and kid?”  He asked, but didn’t wait for an answer.  “Be a shame if something happened to them, right?  So, come up with the money.”  He jerked the frame down, whipping it across the top of Block’s head, shattering the glass and wooden frame.  Again, Block cowered.

“Shit,” Frank said in disgust and turned to leave, but only made it half step before he turned to say, “I’ll be back to…”

Block interrupted him by the slashing of a fire poker across his head, sending Frank sprawling backwards.  Off balance, he tripped over an end table and went down.  Block was on him in a flash, punishing him again and again with the poker.

Frank wondered what the fuck that had just happened as blood streamed from his numerous head wounds and his vision drifted in and out focus.

Block stood over him.  “What you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?” He stopped to wipe blood off his face.  “Yeah, if you believe in fairy tales.  You came in expecting you rough me up and get me to roll over because I had something to lose.  What you don’t know is that I don’t have a family.  My son died last month.  Cancer.  My wife split because she couldn’t take it.  And, for another thing, I couldn’t give a shit about my brother.”  He kicked Frank in the balls.  Hard.

He leaned over and patted Frank down, finding the the gun tucked into Frank’s waistband.  He aimed it at Frank, looked up and out the window at the car parked in front of his house then shot Frank twice in the face.  It only took three seconds, but the doors of the car flew open and two men jumped out, guns drawn.  Block ducked behind the open front door before they could spot him.

The two men rushed into the house and when they came through the door Block shot the first one in the back of the head and he went down.  When the other whirled around to fire, Block shot him in the leg.  The man screamed, dropped his gun, and fell to the floor clutching his thigh, blood coursing between his fingers from the wound.

“Hurts like a bitch, doesn’t it?” Block said moving towards the man.

“What you don’t know can hurt you.  What you don’t know is that you came into a house of a man with a nothing to lose,” Block leveled the gun at the man’s face.  “Now, you tell me where I can find this Mr. Galvin because he needs to know something, too.”