Chapman steps to the corner of 10th Street and Ocean Drive. South Beach, wind in the palmettos, and the tide surging for dunes. It is the smoking metro twilight. Chapman smells shrimp and pasta from a sidewalk café.

Lindell walks up.

Chapman says, “We get inside. When I say, ‘God bless the internet,’ you pull your piece, we take what we find, and split the scene sideways.”

Lindell folds a stick of gum into his mouth. “That easy?”

“That easy bro. It’s a chick. Sounded young on the phone. Lives by herself. God bless the internet.”

Bob Chapman leads the way, in golden Nikes, across the flagstone courtyard, amid leaning plants. The apartment is on the second floor. In the stairwell, Lindell takes a pistol from his jacket pocket, racks the slide, and slips it back in.


They hear the TV inside.

Chapman knocks on the door.

Footsteps sound across the apartment.

Lindell snaps his gum.

A girl‘s voice: “Who is it?”

“Jason. We’re here to look at the guitar.”

“Who’s we?”

Chapman looks at Lindell.

“Me and my friend. Mark.”

“Okay. Just a minute.”

The door opens to a petite girl with big brown eyes. She looks eighteen, sundress, flip-flops, glowing brown skin. “Come in.”

A large-bladed ceiling fan. Huge colorful pillows on black-leather couches. Big-screen TV on the wall. Chapman glances at Lindell. Lindell works his gum and rubs his jaw.

The brown girl twirls on the white carpet. “So, like the ad said, it’s a Fender. Acoustic-electric.” Her brown eyes are big as Broward County. “The price is three hundred.”

Bob Chapman stands by the French doors, opening onto the balcony. “Sounds good.” He nods. “God bless the…” He stops, notices one of the small windows on a French door is busted out.

A closet door kicks open; a long flash of black flies out and sticks a gun to Lindell’s head. The girl brings a pistol into play. Chapman’s throat goes dry. They all four move a step to the right. A sliding of eyeballs. They move a step to the left. Chapman looks at the guy, tall and thin, wispy and arty, dressed in black.

Chapman says,

“What‘s going on here?”

The wispy guy says, “Give up the cash.”

“We’re just here to look at a guitar.”

“Isn‘t the internet a wonderful thing?”

The wispy guy asks who has the money. Lindell says he does. The wispy guy throws down. His limbs point in all directions, as do his teeth. He says give it up. Lindell slides his right hand in his jacket pocket.

He’s out with the gun and sticks it under the wispy guy’s chin. The girl shrieks. Chapman slaps her gun and retrieves it. He points it at the wispy guy. The girl pulls a derringer from her sundress and presses it to Chapman’s temple.

A sliding of eyeballs. They all four turn on the carpet.

Beyond the balcony, the South Beach tide creeps in the night.

The girl yells, “Give up the money!”

Chapman yells, “We got no money !”

“What do you mean you got no money!”

“We came to jack you. Little girl…” Chapman turns the gun on the girl. “Time for you to go home to mommy.”

A key turns in the front door.

The door opens and a Cuban in a brown-leather bomber jacket steps in.

“What you doing in my place?”

The large-bladed ceiling fan turns its tide in the night.

The Cuban guy pulls a pistol.

The girl screams.

The Cuban fires.

An art-deco lamp explodes.

The wispy guy fires ducking under a table. The bullet chings around the steel kitchen. Lindell diving behind the couch rakes the pillows with bullets. Goose-down feathers fly up; they are sucked in and spat out of the ceiling fan .

The girl fires the derringer, a snap in the chaos.

The Cuban pops several rounds.

The huge TV explodes on the wall.

Bob Chapman swats through goose down and electronic dust, firing backwards, and busts through the French doors. Bullets rip the doorjamb.

Chapman jumps over the railing, lands on golden Nikes, and books down an alley.

~ fin ~

Thomas McGauley lives in Ponce Inlet, Florida, and would like to thank his niece, Sophie, age five, without whose help this story would have been finished much earlier.