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News & Features » June 2018 » “Cross Training” by Michael Loniewski

“Cross Training” by Michael Loniewski

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, after suffering a terrible loss, an Olympic athlete takes her revenge . . .

Cross Training
by Michael Loniewski
Ashuelot, New Hampshire

My elementary school invited me in for an assembly before I was set to leave. Kids made banners and gave me good luck cards. They made cute drawings of on me on skis and biathlon was spelled in a hundred different ways. They were chanting “Carrie” like my name mattered. It was my last good day.

My brother Andrew was killed a week before the Games. His overdosed body was dumped alongside a Christmas tree farm a few miles from our home. The opening ceremonies ran while we laid my brother in the ground.

Andrew had a list of emotional disabilities that earned him the reputation as the kid you stayed away from because he had screaming fits in the halls. Kids picked on him in school but kept him around as a novelty. Eric and Cole Dowdy, two shit-bag brothers who thought the rural neighborhoods of Ashuelot, New Hampshire gave them street cred, were no different. Andrew worshipped them, followed them everywhere. Wasn’t long before we started getting calls that he was passed out on someone’s yard covered in vomit.

They never linked Andrew’s death to the Dowdys. Instead, Eric was given a minor possession charge. After a three-month sentence, the brothers skipped town and there was no one left to answer for Andrew’s murder.

I wasn’t sleeping anymore. I’d think of the times Andrew and I built pillow caves and raced head-first on sleds down our hill. I’d try to think of the things a brother and sister laugh about as they get older standing around the kitchen. But I just kept seeing his bloated, gray face.

I stopped skiing, stopped shooting, and found work at the feed store. I’d cry sometimes, standing in the canyons of pet food that had become my life.

Fentanyl was everywhere the next summer, shipped up from outside of Boston. Kids were ending up just like Andrew; stiff, and gray, and dead. I started thinking about the Dowdy boys.

An itchy, scrawny degenerate named Greg ran the forklift at the feed store and I caught him shooting up behind a bunch of pallets of horse grain. He begged me not to snitch, and I promised only if he’d make a buy for me. Told him it looked bad for an ex-Olympian to score heroin. He laughed and said, “You weren’t in the Olympics.”

Eric and Cole had been traveling between Boston and Ashuelot delivering fentanyl to a farm house their grandma owned. Greg was one of a half-dozen dealers who spread it around. I rode with Greg in his shit heap and passed him money when we pulled up to the farm. I could see the brothers through the windshield as Greg made the buy. He pointed to the car and all three of them came walking back to get a look at me.

Eric held out my wad of cash. “This yours?” he asked.

I nodded, hiding my hands from the shaking.

“I had to come see this for myself. You know, we ain’t strangers, Carrie. Next time, you come to the door.”

He tossed a bag into my lap. “Don’t hurt yourself with that,” he said.

Back home, I packed my Team USA bag and left a note for my parents on Andrew’s bed.

I waited until dark to set fire to the giant “D” that hung from the front archway of their property. I watched through my scope from the tree line as the boys hopped in their pick up and raced out to check the flames. The truck came to a stop and I put a neat hole dead-center in the driver’s side windshield. The truck’s horn blared and Eric tumbled out from the passenger side with something in his arms. He disappeared in the tall grass. A blast came up from the field and something punched my shoulder.

I dropped into a cluster of dead branches and bullets cracked and zipped overhead. My left arm was numb. My shirt and pants were slick. Eric rushed forward, his rifle flashing. I braced mine through the thicket of branches, held a slow breath, and put a round straight through the back of Eric’s skull.

The grandma was wailing from the porch and sirens weren’t far away. I sat up and held my Team USA bag in my lap as police lights flittered in around me. I stared at the Olympic rings stained with my blood and wondered if the kids would still chant my name.

***

MIKE LONIEWSKI is a writer from New Jersey. His short fiction has been published by Akashic Books, One Eye Press, Switchblade Magazine, and others. His short comics have been published through Image Comics and APE Entertainment. His original graphic novel, Gung Ho, co-created with artist The Mico, is available on Comixology. You can follow Mike on twitter at @redfox_write.

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jun 15, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,



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