OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Fiction Series: Chuckle - Part 8

Fiction Series: Chuckle - Part 8

There was blood everywhere in the kitchen. Drops, splatters, smudges, drizzles. It was a sickening painting brought to life. "Mom," I coughed. I couldn't speak. I gathered myself and crawled over to her. I shouted this time. "Mom!" Her eyes were slightly open and she didn't respond.

"She's gone," a voice said. I looked behind me. The man I would never call my stepfather stood by the door. "If she had just listened..."

"Excuse me?" I said, rising to my feet. I flung my backpack off and grabbed a chef's knife out of the block to my left.

“Son, I’m just saying-” he said. I cut in.

“I ain’t your fucking son,” I shouted. I threw the knife. It dug into the wall behind him. I missed him by a full inch. He looked at it, then squinted at me.

“Now, I get that the gravity of this moment is a bit much for you,” he said. I pulled a santoku knife out of the block next. “I’m willing to let that pass. But you best straighten up…” he continued speaking. His voice faded away. I felt my face go blank. I put the knife back in the block, hand trembling. It was happening again. I felt my feet creep towards him, and everything went black.

Now...

 “I’m gonna be honest,” I say. “I… I don’t have the slightest clue as of to what the fuck happened from there on in.”

“You had a rage blackout,” the therapist says.

“I’ve had them before, but they’re usually not so bad,” I say. “I’d never experienced something like that.”

“You were traumatized,” the therapist says. “I think finding your mother in that condition was greater than you could bear, so when you saw, um, her husband-“

“Her killer,” I interjected bluntly.

“Um, right,” the therapist says. “But, um, yeah. I think you were overwhelmed.”

“I kinda figured as much,” I say. “It was just… a lot.”

* * *

“You’re really gonna get rid of this place?” Nick asks.

“Uh, yeah,” I say.

“It is really nice,” Charlie says.

“It’s too big for one person,” I say. I walk over to the cabinet and grab some glasses to accommodate the expensive scotch sitting on the table. “I also would not like to be reminded of who was supposed to live here with me every time I decide to go home.”

“True,” Nick says. “So how was therapy?”

“Um, okay,” I say. “Therapeutic.”

“That’s a vague and elusive answer,” Nick says.

“I know,” I say. I toy with my goatee while easing into my favorite chair. Back pain. “Shit.” I pull the forgotten pistol from the back of my waistband and set it on the table. I open the bottle gently, hearing the pop as the seal breaks. I pour myself a generous serving of single-malt and take a small sip, letting it dance on my tongue. I close my eyes and nod approvingly.

“I heard this one was good,” Charlie says.

“Help yourself,” I say. We all sit back and drink a bit. The evening sun continues to shine brightly.

“So,” Charlie says. “You think I should tell him?”

“Hmm?” Nick asks.

“Tell him what?” I ask.

“About the job. The side job,” Charlie says. I think for a moment.

“Oh!” I say. “You wanna help us catch a mole?”

“A mole?” Nick asks. “Hmm. Sounds interesting. Is there free shit?”

“This unit Devin is working with has a really nice armory,” Charlie says.

“Oh yeah,” I say. “The armorer is awesome. He even does the mods and stuff for you with a quick turnaround.”

“Really?” Nick asks. “Because I have this assault rifle…”

“Do not bring that rifle in that office,” Charlie says sternly.

“You’re still on that?!” I exclaim.

“It just needs a little work,” Nick says.

“Sure,” I say. “And the Titanic just needs a wet-dry shop vac and some electrical tape.” Nick shakes his head.

“Are you busy tomorrow?” Charlie asks.

“I have a few afternoon meetings,” he says. “I can move some stuff around though.”

“Come in with us,” I say. “We can talk with the director before Charlie and I ship off.”

“Ooh,” Nick says. “There’s a director?”

“Yes,” I say. “And don’t fuck up my place while I’m gone. I need it to look something like the listing.”

* * *

“So you two grew up together?” Bailey asks. I continue flipping through the file.

“Boarding school,” Charlie says. “And college.”

“Oh, I see,” Bailey says. “So this is a reunion of sorts.” Andrea sits off to the side, loading a small handgun.

“You two work together a lot?” She asks. “Devin here is quite mum about his past.”

“I am too,” Charlie says. I finish with the file.

“Okay,” I say. “I don’t want this to be anything like the last op. It’s simple. We get in, have some free champagne, bug the device, and go.”

“So, no guns?” Bailey asks.

“I said simple, not stupid,” I say. “But let’s try and keep it low key. Charlie and I will keep the primary device, you and Andrea will keep the secondary. We only need to get one in place, but if we can do both? Even better.”

“I thought we were just gonna make a copy of what’s on there,” Andrea says.

“Same,” I say, “but it’s going to be in motion all evening. If you can get alone with it long enough to make an actual copy instead of planting this, more power to you.” I hold up something that looks like a tiny, clear piece of tape. I set it down and pick up the compact Kimber pistol.

“Changing guns again?” Bailey asks.

“This is a black-tie event we’re infiltrating,” I say, peering down the barrel. “I need something a bit more sleek. Subtle.” I drop a hollow-point into the chamber and slide a fresh magazine in.

“Nothing screams ‘subtle’ quite like a .45 loaded with hollow-points,” Bailey says.

“It’s an Ultra Raptor, so yeah,” I say. I click the safety on and slide the pistol into my shoulder holster.

“How are we getting guns past security checkpoints?” Charlie asks. She gets up and walks towards me.

“We have gadgets for that,” Andrea says.

“Good to know,” Charlie says, sinking into the seat next to me.

“They’re pretty neat,” I say. Charlie leans into my shoulder.

“I don’t think I care for her,” she mutters.

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