Following up on the success of 'A Killing Kiss' published by the new ebook/paperback publisher, Number Thirteen Press, I decided to upgrade a Smitty story I started sometime back and turn it into a novella. The idea is to submit it to the above publisher again in the hopes they might be amenable to the idea of building up a fan following for my dark eyed killer.
I'm aiming for a goal of 120-125 pages this time. And again, like all my stories, the twists and turns in the story I'm hoping will trip up the reader just enough to make them want to dig deeper into the puzzle. I've never liked a story that simply began at A and followed along a straight and narrow road which ran straight and true all the way to B and beyond predictably. I like my stories twisty and convoluted. Not so much as the mundane standard straight alphabet run. Rather, a tipsey turvey roller coaster ride on a curving back county road in the hill country of Colorado or Arkansas.
All I'm saying further about the story is this; It is amazing how absolute fear and absolute disgust seem to be so closely related to each other.
Enjoy the next two pages of 'Sometimes Nightmares Come True.'
His hands were shaking.
He grinned . . . hysterically . . . lifting a hand up and watching it rattle and quake visibly in front of him. Looking at it he realized he was also having a hard time breathing. Short, explosive bursts were coming out of his lungs. Like someone who'd just seen a . . . a . . . a . . . ghost. Wiping sweat from his brow with the back of the shaking hand he turned and reached for the Zippo lighter and a pack of cigarettes lying on the green felt table top. It took a moment of sustained concentration to make the yellowish blue flame of the lighter finally touch the tip of the cigarette. Pulling in a deep drag he held it for a moment, turned, and exhaled slowly as he tossed the lighter back onto the table.
Would he come? Would he really come and hear what he had to say?
Why would he come? He was a nobody. A schmuck. A common grunt with little cash and no friends. So why would a guy like this come and hear what he had to say? Unless . . . unless . . .
Panic gripped him. He staggered back against the wall of the condemned building his dad used to own and work as a local saloon, a hand over his mouth and eyes as wide as sauce pans. Glancing to his right and left with spasmodic jerks of the head, staring into the depths of the dark shadows filling the long, narrow, musky smelling old building, his imagination was seeing him . . . seeing him with a gun in his hand . . . coming out of the darkness. Materializing out of nothing with gun in hand and the muzzle aimed straight for his head.
My god! My god! My god . . . . !
He leapt toward the old wooden chair slid back from the card table. Leapt toward the webbing and holster and the gun riding in the cheap leather. Reached for the handle of the Colt .357 Python . . . and froze in mid motion, hand outstretched, eyes bulging at the image on the floor directly opposite of the table.
Black loafers. Brightly polished to a mirror image. With just the cuffs of a pair of dark slacks above them in the dim light of a street corner lamp cutting a shaft of light through the gloom of the old building.
Someone was standing in the darkness just a few feet away! Just standing there silently. Making no noise. Watching. Silently observing. As noiseless as a ghost. He stared into the darkness in front of him and saw nothing. Saw nothing! Heard nothing! But he knew. He was there. Knew the guy was . . . was . . . was . . .
Sweat rolling down his brow. His lips squirming and rolling around as if he was either about to scream or beg for mercy. Bulging eyes, filled with madness, kept glancing down and at the wooden gripes of the .357 only inches away from his outstretched hand. Frozen in this position unable to move. He knew he was dead if he lunged for the gun. Knew he probably was dead anyway. Why would a guy like him help him out of a jam? A big time killer like that? Someone who usually worked only for guys like Paulie. For big time money. Why would a guy this good even consider taking on the job he had in mind for mere pennies?
Unless, of course, Paulie had already hired this guy to find him and silence him.
With a groan of resignation, eyes filling with tears, he dropped the outstretched hand to his side and stood up slowly. Bowing his head, closing his eyes, he knew there was nothing he could do. He wasn't as fast as him. He couldn't run. He sure as hell wasn't going to fight this guy. So he accepted it. Accepted his death and waited for the bullet to drive through his head.
Outside in the streets some guy was riding his horn angrily as some jerk who wouldn't move on the green of a traffic light fast enough. In the distance was the sound of a siren, probably an ambulance, hurrying to some unknown tragedy. There was also the momentarily loud engine whine, and then the metallic 'thunk' of an empty garbage can being slapped onto the sidewalk pavement.
But there was no Boom! of a gun going off. No bullet was ripping through his cranium, splattered the wall directly behind him with his blood and brain matter. Inside the old building there was only semi-silence; with only his heart beat breaking the absolute silence of this mausoleum. Stunned. Amazed. Hesitant . . . he opened one eyelid hesitantly, lifting his head up to stare into the dark shadows in front of him. At the ghost known as Smitty.
He was sitting at the table. In the other old wooden chair. An average sized man with dark, short cropped hair and a razor thin nose. Nattily dressed in a pair of tailored dark brown slacks, with a black shirt and metallic silver tie underneath a dark chocolate brown sport coat. One leg was thrown over the other. Hands were folded together and lying neatly on his lap. There was a thin half smile . . . a smirk . . . stretching across his lips. Dark eyes, dark as , stared up at him unblinking.
The image of Death sitting quietly in a chair and waiting. Patiently waiting for the inevitable to happen.
"You . . . you got my message."
The dark eyed man nodded silently and made no other motion. Just sat in the chair, legs crossed, hands on his lap, and continued to stare at the standing man curiously.
"Look . . . I . . . I don't know what to do. I'm in big trouble. Deep shit I can't shovel my way out and I need help. Help only you know how to do."
"I heard," the smartly dressed man answered with a voice slightly stronger than a whisper and infinitely, infinitely, nerve wracking. "I came because you asked, Joey. You've helped me in the past several times. Helped me out of a couple of jams. Just paying back a debt I owe. That's all. So sit down and tell me everything. From the beginning."
Joey stood up, ran a shaking hand across parched lips as he stared at the dark man with the dark eyes and wondered how the hell did he get in here and not make a sound. But, dropping the hand to his waist, he giggled insanely. Why ask a stupid question! Smitty was here. Everyone knew Smitty just showed up unannounced. And left when he no one was looking. This was Smittty fer chrissakes.