Steve Weddle has thrown a flash fiction challenge at us. The rules are simple: the story must reference Ava Gardner and Neil Young…and I tossed in a papal reference for lagniappe. The prize is a signed copy of "The Damage Done" by Hilary Davidson.
Ms. Davidson will be signing her novel at Murder by the Book this Saturday. If you’re in the Greater Houston area, I urge you to attend. There’s no telling what she’ll do if you don’t.
©2010 Ray Adam Latiolais
“Eddy! You got a job, baby.”
Ma led a woman into the office. Except for the scar, she looked like that chick who used to date Marilyn Manson. She regarded me…I’ll go with coolly.
“Damn it, Ma, we have business hours, you know.”
“Edward Everett Emerson! I raised you better! You rise when a lady enters!”
“When a lady enters, I will. Don’t you have bingo tonight?”
Ma sniffed, but got the hint and huffed to the back of the house.
That cool look got cold.
“I ain’t a lady?”
Her voice was pure trailer park.
“7th Heaven in Tulsa. You and a redhead did a girl-on-girl act. Are you Dakota or Cheyenne?”
“Cheyenne. Dancers cain’t be ladies?”
“Strippers in mobbed-up places like 7th Heaven probably aren’t. Also, you were a bitch to my partner. Called him a wetback.”
“Yeah, well…you talk a lot of shit for someone lives with their mom.”
“Ma lives with me. A subtle yet important distinction. It makes me a dutiful son rather than a loser. I also run a business out of my home, so why don’t we get to it?”
She look confused.
“What. Do. You. Want?”
“Uh…I got somethin’ for you.”
She reached into her purse, pulled out a snappy little automatic, and pointed it at me. My piece had already cleared the holster and I drew a bead on her cleavage. My finger was just tightening on the trigger when the blast from Ma’s shotgun caught Cheyenne center mass and blew her into the foyer.
“Goddamnit, Ma! The ‘bingo’ code means you get in the safe room and call Mike! It doesn’t mean get a shotgun and call Mike! You did call Mike?”
“She called me, Trip…¡CHINGA!”
Mike must have come in during the shooting. I can’t fault him for his lapse. He recognized the girl and knew what we’d have to do. I kept my gun on the body and moved toward it.
“Mike, disarm Ma.”
“Yeah. Miz Emerson?”
Ma grumbled but turned the shotgun over. Mike dropped the spent shells and started breaking it down for cleaning.
Cheyenne had definitely gone to the Happy Hunting Ground. I holstered and knelt down to get the purse. No car keys, just an extra clip and lip gloss. I looked out the front door and saw nothing at the curb.
“Ma, did she take a cab or was she dropped off?”
“Shit, Eddy, I don’t know. Why don’t you check the camera.”
Ma jerked a thumb at the computer. Mike grinned. I sucked it up.
Cheyenne had wiggled out of the back seat of a conspicuously nondescript sedan. The resolution of our cam was good enough ID Joey Benedictine in the front passenger seat.
“That rat. We don’t need the cops in this, Trip. Think anyone saw her come in?”
“Dunno…but they can see her leave.”
“We need to get Ma and Tommy out of town. Ma’s got a dummy she uses to drive the HOV lane. If she uses it on the way out, it’ll look like two people are in the car. She can get Tommy and they can go to Lake Charles and gamble for a couple of weeks.”
“Or we can go to New Orleans, gamble, shop, and watch cute boys for a couple of weeks. I’ll get packed.”
Ma went to her room.
“Use the orange junk to clean your hands before you touch anything, Ma!”
Mike shook his head.
“Shit, Trip, they’re gonna bankrupt us. Let me call Tommy.”
I got the big cleaning kit out of its hidey-hole, spread the tarp, and started laying out the saws. Mike finished soothing Tommy, gave him the plan, and hung up.
“Mike, change the message on the voicemail and we’ll get started.”
Mike cleared his throat and warmed into his professional voice.
“Thank you for calling Galvez and Emerson Confidential Services. Our offices are closed while we complete our current assignment, but your call is very important to us…”
I got to work while Mike gave the potential callers our website, email, and Twitter info. Then he joined me and we planned the last trip to Tulsa together.
Click, click, boom!