Conflict Resolution


Red pulled out of the lot a few minutes early and parked on a side street facing the exit gate, turned off the lights, and waited. Traffic was light for a Friday night. Red felt the heater blowing on his cold hands and clicked over to the country station.

After several minutes, he saw the green Volkswagen Jetta pull through the exit gate and take a right turn down McLoughlin. That was the car. Red waited for a beat, then peeled left through a red light, following the Jetta from several yards away, switching his lights back on.

Red followed the Jetta onto 17th, then up Powell and down 39th. He’d never tried to tail somebody like this; he’d only seen it on T.V., figuring he just had to keep a safe distance and try not to get noticed.

The Jetta took a right up a residential side street. Red slowed down, waited until the Jetta was up the block, then switched his lights back off and followed. Three blocks up he saw the Jetta back into the driveway of a small house.

Red parked on the street a block away and watched the man get out of the car, grab his lunch pail, jacket, keys, and go into the house. Red just sat there, quietly listening to Waylon Jennings on the radio, trying to figure out exactly what he was going to do.

It was a little after ten. Two hours had gone by of him sitting there. The lights were off in the house, there was no traffic, and nobody was out on the street. He put on some rubber gloves, put on his hoodie and wool-knit cap, and pulled out some cutting shears from the trunk of his car, being careful to make as little noise as possible.

He crawled under the Jetta, staring at its underside, searching with the small penlight. He laid there, confused, looking for the brake line. Should have googled it first, he thought. Should have googled “Volkswagen Jetta brake line.” He could see the oil plug, the catalytic converter, the control arms. Those were the parts that he knew. He couldn’t find any kind of line that would be a brake line.

Frustrated, he scooted out from under the car and quietly went back to his car. He thought, don’t get mad, get even. It was something he’d heard before but wasn’t sure where. Probably on T.V, or maybe from one of his brothers.

He went to his trunk again and grabbed a small pry-bar that he’d used on some construction jobs. He walked, faster now, over to the Jetta, and tried to pry the gas cap open. He figured it would just take a shirt soaked in gasoline to blow the damn thing up.

Red was starting to sweat, frantically trying to pop the gas cap.

He saw the porch light go on and the front door swung open.

“Who’s there?” said a man’s voice.

The man walked over to the driveway and looked at his car. As he came around the other side, Red came up behind him and hit him in the head with the pry-bar. The man fell and a pool of blood began to puddle around his head. Red kicked him a few times, afraid he might wake up and make noise.

“Oh jeez,” said Red. He put his finger under the man’s nose and felt air. Red sighed in relief.

It took some maneuvering for Red to back his car up to where the man was lying and to get him into the trunk.

When the man came to he was tied up in Red’s basement with his mouth taped shut.

“You shouldn’t have yelled at me, Gary,” said Red. He put some beans and water out and said, “You scream, I’m gonna wail on you,” and watched Gary eat.

Back at work, the boss asked the boys, “Where’s Gary?”

Nobody knew.

“Maybe he’s in anger management,” said Red. Some of the guys laughed.

One said, “He’s been pissing everyone off lately.”

“Sure has,” said another. Back in Red’s basement, Gary had fallen asleep. He wouldn’t wake back up.

~ fin ~


Duncan Ros lives in the Pacific Northwest where he works as a welder. His fiction has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Juked, Sanitarium, Fleas on the Dog, and The Dark City.