Monday, January 30, 2012

The Aucilla Sinks

Neither said a word on the drive to the Aucilla Sinks. Marvin drove so fast down the highway, the wind didn’t whirl so much as buzz like static on a 4AM channel. He made sharp turns down dirt roads and stomped the brakes more often than was necessary.

Marvin knew he liked Abbey. Cute. Funny. Quiet.

Two nights ago, she went with him and the boss’ bodyguard, Russell, to meet Juan. The boss gave her one instruction. Pull the trigger when he’s not looking.

     Of course she flinched. Juan pulled from his jacket a gun. He shot Russell in the nose and then the throat. Marvin was halfway over a fence when the body hit the ground. He and Abbey still managed to make it to the pick-up point, though.

That night, the boss gave Marvin three instructions. Go to the woods. Don’t use guns. Toss her in a sinkhole.

Now the dead leaves crackled and crunched under their feet. Wind rattled the bare tree limbs. They spoke very little at first. He asked if she had ever been out this way. She replied with a small no and then returned his question politely.

“When I was little,” he started, “I used to come out here with my dad and hunt squirrel. I always wanted to be a big game hunter, though. Like Hemingway.”

“He did more deep sea fishing,” she replied. “A lot of people make that mistake.”

A sharp nagging smacked the back of his head when she said that.

They walked down the rest of the narrow trail in silence and finally came to the sink of the river, the serene surface a prefect mirror of the sloping embankment. A limestone wall stretched around the water, cupping it like a coarse, jagged hand.

Marvin stood a short distance behind her. Abbey’s voice was small as she spoke. She knew exactly what was going to happen.

“Did you read a lot of Hemingway?” she asked. Her face stayed at the same, steady angle. She dug her hands into her coat pocket, hugging the fabric to her body.

“I read a good bit of him when I was younger,” he replied.

“I always liked the idea that his work was like a river. Calm on the surface, but just beneath it, if you could look hard enough, there was all this activity that left you breathless.”

“I thought his work was like an iceberg,” he started. “You know, th—“

“A lot of people make that mistake.”

Aggravation gripped the back of his neck now and he pulled the garrote from his pocket quietly. He stretched the iron collar tight and raised it in the air as he stepped towards Abbey. She turned and as she looked him in the eye, he felt a sharp pain in his stomach. His breath began leaving his body. She pressed the knife in deeper and then pulled up.

Abbey had her own set of rules. Use a knife. Hunting season had ended the day before. Stab the diaphragm. The sternum was always stubborn. Do it from the front. He’ll never see it coming.

Marvin’s eyes widened. His words were whispered gasps with maybe a letter or two at the end.

“I. Thought.”

“What did you think, Marvin? I was some dumb cooze for your boss to fuck? That I was gonna get passed around? That I would wind up here no matter what I did?

“A lot of people make that mistake.”

He went limp against her. She stepped back and let his body smack against the water. It sank quickly. When the ripples waved themselves out, Abbey heard a small splash just to her right. She saw nothing at first. And when she finally did see them, she had to strain. The school of speckled trout. This seemed like a nice place to fish. She would have to come back as soon as she could, though that might not be for a while. With Marvin and Russell dead, she had easy access to the boss now. And she had a lot of work to do.