Tag Archives: flash fiction

You’d Better Learn

 

“You’d Better Learn”

by Thadd Presley

 

“This isn’t how it has to be,” John told the man who held the bolt cutters. “I’m tryin’ my best t’ hold everythin’ together.” He looked toward his wife. “And just look!!” Sobbing, he slowly lifted his hand and pointed. “Look at what I come home to.”

Blood was dripping from his hand and running in streams down his forearm. When he focused on the blood, he felt a wave of dizziness flow from his head to his mid-section. “She’s here sucking up the profits while I’m out working.”

“So, that’s where your money’s goin’. Big Daddy wanted me to find out what’s going on with you.”
The black man, held the mouth of the bolt cutters out, waiting for another finger. John’s ring finger was next in line. He focused his attention on the woman huddled in the corner crying. “That true? You stealin’ Big Daddy’s dope?” He patiently waited for a response. “Hey, you hear me. Look here! You smokin’ up your man’s money and making him late on his payments?”

She started to say something, but her voice failed.

“Tell me somethin’, John, seriously,” the the black man asked, “what you gonna do? You want me to take another of your fingers or do I take one of hers? Big Daddy wants two fingers.”

“Just tell him to give me more time. I’ll have his money.”

“I’m telling you. Time’s up. He’s using you to send a message to everyone else. He wants you to know that he’s finished with you.”

These words meant more to John than losing his pinky finger. He couldn’t survive without Big Daddy’s help. “Come on, man. Just take the other finger, but don’t cut me off.”

When the executioner cut the ring finger from the hand, the bone popped loudly as it broke. John screamed and his wife joined him. Lying on the blood covered ground was John’s two fingers. The newest one twitched, as if trying to crawl away. John’s wedding ring was still on the finger.

“My job’s done here, John. Be sure to have the money by Friday. I don’t want to…”

John looked up quickly, his voice barely a squeak. “You mean, I still have to pay?”

The black man sighed. “Don’t tell me you haven’t learned your lesson. You owe Big Daddy. Now, don’t you think it’s in your best interest to pay him?”

“But my fingers? God!”

“God?” The black man asked.

John lowered his head.

“I’ll not have you takin’ my Lord’s name in vain.”

“But, I really have to pay Big Daddy all the money?”

“If you don’t, I’ll have to shoot your wife in the face.” He looked over at her. “She’s the problem anyway, right?”

John stared at the floor, not wanting to look at his fingers. But, for some reason he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. Is this really happening, he thought.

“Am I really…”

The executioner slapped John in the face. “Yes, you really are. Now, wake up.”

John didn’t know what the man had said, but he answered, “Yeah, right.” A shutter went through his body. “You’re right.”

“Now, get him to a hospital.” He told the wife.

“What do I say to them?” John whispered.

“Tell them you got your fingers cut off because you owe for drugs.”

“Really?” John was light headed. The world was growing black around the edges.

“Woman!” The the executioner said, standing up. “Get your man to the hospital.”

She looked up, eyes yellow and dull. “What do I tell them?”

“Tell them you brought him to the hospital because if you didn’t a big black man said he was going to kill you.”

Her eyes flickered, showing the smallest recognition of life. “Really?” She asked.

“Yeah, really.”

Slowly she stood up and started toward her husband. He wasn’t looking at the ground anymore. He was limp. His head flopped back, eyes glaring at the ceiling. “Do you think he’s dead?”

“He will be very soon.”

Grief came over her, but then the executioner also saw relief. “I’m going to miss him so much,” she said. “He was my high school love.”

The moment was lost when the executioner spoke. “Big Daddy wants his money. He doesn’t care who pays it. Don’t let your husband’s sacrifice be for nothing. I’ll be back on Friday.”

“What! Wait! I can’t—”

“You’ve almost a week. You can.”

“I’ll don’t know how to come up with twenty thousand—”

“Well, you’d better learn.”

She sat in silence as the big man walked out of the small apartment.

Easter, Bloody Easter

Easter, Bloody Easter

by Thadd Presley

“That’s exactly what she told me,” Anita said as she handed the sheriff her ID. “I don’t know what else to do. She said she would kill me if I so much as came down here. And we both know she will. You have to help me.”
“She told you not to come and you came anyway?” The sheriff was surprised.
Anita shook her head and then, realizing that she was saying no, she nodded. “Yes, I had to. She has my brother in the basement.”
“But, she said she would kill you.”
“I know. Please help me.”
“OK, OK. Just sit right there. I have to make a phone call and get this straightened out.” The sheriff rose from the chair and walked towards her from behind his desk. “Just to be sure. You’re mother has your brother locked in the basement and she is going to kill you because you came down here and told the police?”
“God, yes. What is wrong with you?” Anita was starting to get frustrated. She had already spent thirty minutes explaining to the police that her mother had gone crazy and was torturing her brother.
“Nothing is wrong with me, Anita. I have to get the facts straight. Don’t you see that it’s hard for me to believe a story like this. You’re mother is one of our town leaders and my boss’ wife.”
“Yes, call my dad. Please! I know he’s out of town, but he will tell you that she has been acting funny lately.”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing.”
The sheriff was almost out of the door when Anita screamed.
He turned around and saw blood pouring from her eye. “Dear God,” he exclaimed and ran to her. “What did you do?”
Anita couldn’t answer him, although she tried. Her mouth just wouldn’t say the words.
“Sheriff Coffee,” a deputy called, then he saw the blood. “What’s happening to her?”
“God only knows, Stephen. Get in here and hold her head.”
Stephen couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The young girl was sitting in the expensive leather chair with her head lolling from left to right. A thin spurt of blood shot from the side of her eyeball with every heart beat.
“What is she trying to say,” the sheriff asked. It was obvious to both men that her mouth was moving and words were slowly being formed.
“Here.” Stephen pushed a blank piece of paper on the sheriff’s desk.
“Try to write on this, Anita.”
There was no time to think. The sheriff barely had his hand out of the way when Anita’s bloody finger began to draw words onto the paper. It moved back and forth and up and down, lubricated by the blood on her hand.
“What is that?” the Sheriff asked. “Good Lord. It’s not one of those pentagram things is it?”
Stephen looked at the dark red scribble and put his hand on the desk, trying to settled his spinning head. But it did no good. He was suddenly overwhelmed by dizziness and puke rushed up his throat and sprayed out of his mouth and nose. The sheriff didn’t have time to flinch before the hot, grey, half digested oatmeal landed on his shirt and fell, stinking, on his trousers.
“Damn it, Stephen, pay attention.” But it was too late. The deputy had passed out and was sliding slowly across the desk, into the floor.
“Anita, please, look at me.” The Sheriff straightened her up as he said it, wanting to get the situation under control. But as Anita continued to draw on the paper with her own blood, the sheriff realized that she had drawn a stick figure. What was she trying to tell him. He was running out of time. “Someone get in here.”
“If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you,” a voice said.
He whirled around in search of the woman who spoke,but there was no one there. The sound was in his head. Suddenly, a pain shot through his temple and his right hand instinctively went to his head.   “Who’s there?”
“No mom,” Anita said. “He won’t tell.”
“Who’s doing this?” The sheriff demanded.
“If you tell, I’ll kill you.” The voice was louder. “I have you all right here with me.”
The pain in the sheriff’s temple grew and warmth flowed from his nose. He reached for his gun and saw that his shirt sleeve was red. He realized then that his nose wasn’t running. It was bleeding. As he lost consciousness, he suddenly realized what it was she was trying to draw. He almost laughed. What could he have done to help her anyway. The police are no match for a voodoo doll.