It Should Have Been Easy

This is another piece of flash fiction. This one is part of The Hilary Davidson Flash Fiction Initiative, as launched once again by Mr. Dan O’Shea. Here’s the setup from his blog:

So a little while back, Hilary Davidson let slip she’s had a bit of a health scare — seems some of her skin cells maybe caught a few too many rays and went rogue on her. She had to go in for a biopsy (everything turned out fine, thankfully) but that’s gonna leave a bit of a scar on her bicep. I jokingly suggested that perhaps Hilary’s Scar should be the subject of my next flash fiction challenge. I was kidding, but my subconcious wasn’t. Something nasty bubbled up — something, dare I say it, Davidson-like.So this isn’t a challenge per se, just my modest offering thanking the cancer gods for getting their asses off Hilary’s dance card. Now, if any of you guys want to join in and maybe leave a link to something in the comment box, well, it’s not like I can stop you.

So Hilary, whose debut crime novel, The Damage Done, will be published by Forge in October 2010, and her scar have been the subject of various pieces of flash fiction over the last couple days. This is my offering. You can check out links to the rest here. Be warned — many aren’t for the squeamish. This is a rough crowd, you know — they’re all friggin’ writers!

It Should Have Been Easy

A smelly dive in a shithole town on the inner rim of the unwashed asshole of America, that’s where we linger. No one comes here. Not anyone with anywhere else to be, anyway.

A bunch of us were in the bar just sitting around, drinking and waiting, smoking like there was a prize for catching cancer. Couple three guys shooting pool, shitty white boy blues playing on the juke box. We figured someone would be coming. We just didn’t figure on her.

Slappy nudges my shoulder and nods toward the door. “Check this shit out, man,” he says.

A woman strolls in that looks about as out of place as a Reno stripper in the last desperate hour of a Wednesday night working a bombed-out street corner in Afghanistan. I can see she’s pretty hot from where I’m sitting, even if she does look like she should be chasing a van-load of kids out onto some grassy suburban playground. She’s got a white t-shirt on, fairly tight, some kind of bag over her shoulder, and those goofy pants chicks wear that barely reach past the knee. And running shoes.

I watch her go to the bar and talk to Wimp. He scowls a bit, says something, then his expression changes to a little bit of surprise. He jabs a finger in my direction.

Chick walks right up to me from across the room – not even paying attention to all the looks and little whistles she’s getting – smiling like I’m either a celebrity or a re-tard.

“You must be Collins,” she says, sticking her hand out like she’s running for office, “I’m Hilary.”

“Hilary, huh?” I nail her with my eyes. She doesn’t blink. I let her see my gaze start slow down the front of her chest, totally checking out the rack. Except this t-shirt throws me; it’s got a big black “I” on it, then a big pink heart shape, then a big red maple leaf. I’m like, what the fuck?, and it throws me off my game and I have to look down at the table to refocus. I come back to her, but I feel like I lost my advantage when I say, “What can I do for you, Hilary?” Totally meant to say ‘what can I do to you’ instead.

She smiles again, winks at Slappy, then sets her bag on the table and sits down in the empty chair. The bag is leather with stickers on it that say shit like, “I Ran With the Bulls in Barcelona” and “I Did It Like a Rabbit on Easter Island.”

“I believe you have something that belongs to me,” she says.

The package. She was the one I was told might come for the package, and that I shouldn’t let her have it. Under any circumstances. I throw a nod toward Wimp at the bar, then shoot a look around the room. I can hear people shifting and sidling closer. She either doesn’t notice, or doesn’t care.

“Maybe I do have something, maybe I don’t,” I say.

“You do. We both know you do.”

Wimp arrives with a bottle of tequila and two shot glasses. He sets them on the table. I splash some booze into each shot, put the bottle aside and push a glass toward her. I pick mine up, salute her with it and toss it back. “So what?” I say. “What the fuck are you gonna do about it?”

She’s still beaming that smile, that smile that might make me feel like an awkward teenager that’s never been laid if things weren’t so serious. She throws her tequila back and holds it out for more. I fill it and she takes it right down the hatch, then says, “I figure either we’ll do this the easy way, or the hard way.”

She glances at the bottle. I know the game, feel the challenge. I top off both of our shots. We hold them up, clink them together, then toss them back and slam them down on the table. “Wimp,” I say, loud, “get us some more goddamn glasses.”

***

The chick could fuckin’ drink. I don’t know how long we’ve been at it, and I can’t hardly see good enough to tell if it’s two tequilas or four. It’s hot, I’m sweating, I’m farting almost non stop and can barely sit up.

She doesn’t look much better, that dark hair of hers keeps falling in front of her face so that she has to blow it out of the way. Hell, I’m too drunk to even get turned on watching her mouth anymore.

We each do another shot, Slappy pouring. I just want to die, but then she looks like she’s finally gonna keel over, her eyes fluttering, and that will be that. I don’t know if I said something, or grinned, or what – but somehow I screwed up. Her eyes snap open. “You think I’m done, you big, big, smelly . . . loser?!” she says. She reaches in her bag and pulls out this huge Rambo-looking knife. Everyone around the table, who had all pushed real close, take a big step back with a collective, “Whoa!”

Hilary pulls the sheath off the knife and throws it over her shoulder. She’s brandishing the blade, but not really threatening. Hell, I figure she sees three or four of me anyway, but she could probably stab each one and there wouldn’t be anything I could do to stop her.

“You think I feel your stinkin’ rot gut tequila?” she says. “I don’t feel nothin’. I don’t even feel this!”

She takes the edge of the blade and draws a nasty gash right across her upper arm. Blood starts flowing, and her eyes light up like a badger snarling into headlights. She slaps the knife down on the table, challenging me. I just stare at it. “Give this man another shot!” she yells. “See if he can drink up a little courage!” She wipes at the blood with her hand, then licks her palm and laughs.

The room really starts to spin as I reach for the knife. It all catches up to me at once, and I don’t know what hits the floor first; me, or my fucking puke.

***

So yeah, I lost the damn package. Don’t know how she got it, and no one wants to talk about it. The rest of my crew seems damn embarrassed by the whole thing, but that don’t explain the bruises and abrasions they’re all wearing either. Thing is we got bigger problems now. We scatter in eight directions, hoping to hell we can buy ourselves some time before the one who left the package with us finds out that it ain’t ours anymore.

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