The Olds and the Pendulum


They might as well have done a tap dance routine for all the good it did them.

The sky cracked open like an egg.

Thunder boxed our ears.

Bullets swarmed and buzzed like locusts on a crop of fat golden wheat.

Blood mixed with the rain and turned the world a dirty pink.

I’m covered in the DNA of others, in piss-wet pants in that odd moment between ammo clips knowing what it’s like to win the Powerball.

I had just enough sense left to grab the drop bag from the other crew and run.

Like a fortuneteller, Tacashimi told us it would happen.

I had no idea who he was or how three small timers even registered on his radar.  From the look of him he crawled out of his mother’s womb with a platinum cigar in his mouth, fully dressed in a tailored suit, Italian shoes and Rolex.

I’d fallen for a girl in Chicago and Tacashimi knew every detail down to her cup size.

I didn’t ask what he had on the others but he knew my real name too.

Stripped bare, I shivered.

Unblinking like a shark, he stared.

“Once events begin to unfold do not resist and don’t ask why, just execute the plan.”

“But I want to know…”

He cut me off, “Don’t make demands.  You are simply grist for the right mill, if you run or do not complete the job, death will come for you; it is the one certainty.”

At best I could describe him as resembling the average foreign looking uncle.  I couldn’t tell if he was Russian, Chinese, Japanese or something else but Tacashimi sure as hell wasn’t his name; the unknown was the only known.

His goons weren’t helping and said, “Don’t ask any questions.  It’s not your business.  Just hand the bag over when it’s time.”

When I reach Tacashimi with the bag, he calmly offers me a smoke and clean set of clothes.

I go into orbit around his large black eyes.  I’m shaking like I rode ten times on a crappy carnival ride that spins in circles.

“Fear is the best thing for you now; it will keep you honest.  Miss Sweet Tits will become very unappealing if your lips become ship sinkers.”   He waves a dismissive hand.

I run until my lungs smolder.  I wire money to my beloved, Julie, and tell her to go back to bumblefuck Iowa.

She sobs and shouts about fairness, says being alive isn’t better than being together, but I tell her the needle on that tank has red-lined.

I hang up, catch a 747 and go transient.

I sleep with different women to purge her face, her legs, her ass from memory but her essence has saturated me and holds the corridors of memory hostage.

Bad news follows like a stray dog gone rabid.

I book a flight too late.

Light plays on the buckles of her shoes as she swings from the barn rafter; a feast for crows.

I cut her down and take her home.

The sun is an overripe orange, spilling its fruit across the barren blue sky when Tacashimi finds me in the New Mexico trailer park, washing my liver in tequila.

He gives directions with his fist, then climbs into the passenger seat of my Olds.

I stomp the pedal to the floor and the landscape blurs but the seconds feel like ants tangled in pine sap on a Salvador Dali nipple.

The Olds shudders as I hit seventy-five, then eighty.

Funny how she dressed up for death as if going to a special viewing of the blue ribbon hog.

Tacashimi goes glacier blue-white.

My irrational lead-foot is a square puzzle piece where he expects round.

Before he can level his piece on me, I snap my wrist, veer left hard and swerve off the road and into a fence post.

Glass and metal divorce and scream apart.

The steering wheel embraces me and my heart feels clawed out by a spoon.

I scramble away from the wreck on all fours, spitting teeth onto the dirt.

I pop the trunk and consult my beloved.

In life she was nimble as a hummingbird but in death she is awkward and rather heavy.

The sickly sweet reek of her stings my nostrils as we tango.

Gently, I lay her down and spot Tacashimi propped against a cactus thirty feet away.

I reach into my boot.

Light dances off the honed blade.

My beloved’s shadow perpetually sways across the worn floorboards of my mind.

Her laughter fills my ears.

Steel reflects in his pupils and slices the softness.

And I agree with him, it’s best if he’s afraid.

~ fin ~

Jeffrey Kuczmarski's little black heart beats in Chicago where he carves wood with steel.  Jeffrey's visual stuff has been displayed at the DIY Trunk Show and is available on Etsy under Perpetual Relief.  Jeffrey's stories have appeared in Danger City, Danger City 2, Hardcore Hardboiled and Out of the Gutter.  And there's the tongue in cheek novel, Unnatural Trouble, on Amazon.  Jeffrey thanks everyone at OOTG, Shotgun Honey and Thuglit for the wood chipper, the ice pick and the unmarked bills.