Tough Love


Justin hid under the sheets, determined to sleep until the apocalyptic hangover passed. He slipped in and out of consciousness and any hint of sunlight felt like God himself staring him down, making his whole body burn.

When his bedroom door opened, he sat straight up, the covers still hanging on his head like a ghost.

“Justin, you fucker.”

He pulled the blankets off to put the voice and face together. The Boss. Can’t be fucking good. He was alone. What the hell? He held a chrome-plated 9mm pointed at Justin.

“I’m sorry Justin, you’ve fucked up,” he said. There was a barely contained rage behind his voice, utterly alien from a man that never lost his cool. “You think I wouldn’t find out about what you tried last night? Did you think Karl’s not a loyal soldier, he wouldn’t tell me what you were up to?”

Justin tried to resurrect the evening, an alcohol-haze standing between him and memory. He went out drinking with Karl at “The Spot”, the nightclub everyone from the crew liked to hang at. They drank hard, shots disappearing quick, along with any recollection of what he could’ve said or done. When it came to The Boss, Karl was the one always talking shit. Maybe somebody got them confused. Fuck.

“I’m gonna teach you one lesson, and I better not have to teach it to you again, because there won’t be a next time.”

“But, I didn’t…”

“Shut the fuck up!” His voice was failing, his anger unmasked. “You think you can slip my daughter a mickey and ‘m not gonna find out?”

Jenna? Was she there? Justin knew something wasn’t right. He’d never tried to roofie up any girl, especially not The Boss’s daughter, that’d be suicidal. “I didn’t…I’d never…” he tried to protest.

“I said shut the fuck up. Roll over…on your knees.”

Justin complied, only for lack of not knowing what else to do. He didn’t want to get taken out, execution-style, not for some shit he knew he didn’t do. He kept a .38 snub in his nightstand drawer, but couldn’t figure out how he could possibly get to it before getting plugged. He laced his fingers behind his head. Each moment felt like an hour, but yet time slipped away so quickly.

The Boss shoved Justin face first into his pillow. Where Justin expected to hear a bullet being chambered, he heard instead a zipper, and a belt being undone. Oh my god, what the hell was getting ready to happen?

“Sorry, Justin,call it tough love.”

And then the gunshot. Justin’s heart skipped a beat, but it didn’t stop. He waited for death, or for pain that never came. Instead, he felt the weight of the body fall onto him, felt something wet all over him. When he opened his eyes, he saw the sheets turning red, soaking up The Boss’s blood.

Stifling a scream, he slipped from beneath the corpse and rolled onto the floor. First thing he saw was The Boss’s lifeless eyes, and just above, the exit wound. Next, he looked over and saw Karl standing in the doorway, his own 9mm held out in front of him.

Their eyes met and Karl smiled.

“I made the mistake of making a pass at one of his ladies years ago. I couldn’t sit down without pillow for a week,” Karl said. “There’s only one kind of dirt The Boss does alone.”

“Holy shit,” Justin stammered. “Do you think…can you get away with this?”

“I slipped both you and Jenna the mickey, and then swept in and took her home to Daddy. Pretty sweet, huh.”

Karl then turned the gun on Justin.

“I couldn’t decide whether or not to let you live. But really, if I’m gonna move up, I can’t really let what you know be hanging over me.”

This time Justin heard the hammer cock back, but he never heard the shot.

~ fin ~

Allen Griffin is a writer and Musician living in Indianapolis. His work has appeared in several cool places including the Surreal Worlds anthology from Bizarro Pulp Press and the Ominous Realities and Splatterlands anthologies from Grey Matter Press. He has also published two chapbooks with Dunhams Manor Press, "No Such Heaven" and "The Noxious Winds of Karmageddon". He reviews books and music in various places around the web.