Playing Possum


“This had better be damn good!” My eyes felt like burning coals in my skull. It was due to the case of Fireball I had sucked down last night. Possum had always been the dramatic type, and now he was going on and on about some plane that had crashed up on the mountain near one of his shine stills. He had been hiding up on Springs Mountain after robbing Shelia’s Market for fifty bucks and a carton of Pall Malls. Did I mention he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box, and that he was the biggest thief in the county? He’d steal the pants off your shadow if you weren’t paying attention.

 “You wanna be rich, Mr. Harlan Morse, or not?” Possum said, like he was selling Publisher’s Clearing House subscriptions.

“What’s the run?”

“No run. I just want to cut you in on my good fortune.”

“There is always a run to your dumb bullshit.”

 “That hurts, ol’ buddy.”

Run was slang for the first runoff when making “shine.” It’s purpose was to strip the water, yeast, and sediment, before you got to the good part.”

“What sort of plane?”

“The kind  filled with money.”

“Sounds like a whole lot of trouble.”

“This is the type of score we always dreamed of!” His eyes were sweating greed.

“And the pilot?”

“Broken neck.“Gee-us, you gonna roof houses until your eighty and your dick falls off?”

I sighed and started shaking my head. “Okay, but I just gotta go inside and grab a jacket. It gets cold on that mountain this time of year.”

The drive up the mountain was quiet. We reached the remote spot on the mountain in about an hour, and there it was just like he had said; a tiny single-engine plane laying on it’s side with it’s aluminum belly ripped open and green guts spilled  out over dead pine needles.

Possum cracked open the door of the plane. There was also several bags of blue powder along with stacks of shrink wrapped bills. The pilot’s head was hung forward on the dash of the plane.

Possum did more drinking than bagging money, and after he tossed his empty bottle into the bramble, he pulled out a snub nosed .38 in and stuck it in my face.

“Really, asshole?” I said.

The pilot stepped out of the broken plane holding up his own gun.

“Nothing personal, Harlan, but if I had told you that me and my new friend Rico had crashed a plane of stolen cartel money and drugs, you’d probably not of agreed to come.

“I should have known better than trust you.”

“Probably, but ain’t nothing personal, ol’ buddy. Who’s dumb, now?”

 I pulled the pistol that I had tucked in my waistband, but I was too slow on the draw, and that’s

 when I felt a punch in my side like a sledgehammer. It was followed by the sick crunch of bone and  pain that sent me to the ground, like I had a boat anchor tied to my neck.

“I didn’t want it to come to this!” Possum said, the smoke rising from his barrel. “Get in the goddamn truck,” he said to the grinning pilot, before putting two more slugs into my chest.

I laid there with my eyes closed, until he turned and opened the truck door, and that’s when I jumped up and shoved Possum down. This gave me enough time to pick up my pistol and shoot him twice in the stomach.

He tried to speak, as his guts cooked.

I pulled up my shirt and showed him the bullet proof vest. “I kept this from our hold-up days.

A crooked smile flashed across his pained face, just before his soul fluttered off toward the tops of the pines.

Rico started to run, but I stopped him cold with two in the back.

It didn’t take long to drag both of the bodies to a  nearby sink hole and drop them in, and as I was driving down the mountain with enough cash to retire, I thought about that that crooked smile, and how it was me that played possum this time.

~ fin ~


Craig E. Sawyer is an American writer known for horror, western, and crime. He has been published by Quill & Crow Publishing House, Timber Ghost Press, Shotgun Honey, Weirdbook (Wildside Press), Crystal Lake Press, Monkeys Fighting Robots Magazine, and Levy-Gardner-Laven Productions. He is the creator of the horror/adventure comic The Forbidden Museum. His debut novel Clay Boy is currently available by Brigids Gate Press.