“Getting Even” by Bern Sy Moss
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, Bern Sy Moss gets even on a Colorado highway.
by Bern Sy Moss
Off I-70, Denver, Colorado
He stamped the snow off his boots, brushed it off the shoulders of his jacket, and hit his Stetson against his thigh, leaving small puddles where the snow hit the warm floor and melted. He looked around the bar and saw the only empty stool next to the guy that had been sitting in the row ahead of him on the bus. He took the seat.
“Draft,” he said to the woman tending the bar.
The guy from the bus turned and studied him, finally saying, “How you doing”?”
“Great,” he answered as he fingered the braided leather of his string tie.
“I’m Pete,” the guy from the bus said and offered his hand.
“Sure, Pete,” he said, thinking, What do I care, ignoring Pete’s hand.
“Road should be cleared in about twenty minutes,” the bus driver shouted as he came in the door, bringing in with him more snow and a bitter cold wind.
Pete waved at the bartender and pointed to his empty glass. “And another one of these for my friend here. Cold beers don’t cut it in this weather. Got to have something to warm you.”
The bartender set up another beer in front of him and poured bourbon in Pete’s glass.
“Hey, I just bought you a drink—at least you can tell me your name.”
“Mac,” he answered.
Two hours later they were still sitting there, and Pete was pouring out details of his life that became more personal, more intimate, with each refill of his glass.
“You want to know why I’m on that damn bus stuck here in this godforsaken dump, in the middle of nowhere, in a snowstorm?” Pete asked.
Mac didn’t answer.
“There’s a guy that wants to kill me out there,” Pete said. “Used to be my best friend till he took away my girl. That was years ago, when he took her away, but I got even. Went to the ten-year high school reunion and got even.” He nodded his head a few times and repeated, “Got even. Want to know how?” He nudged Mac with his shoulder.
Mac stroked the leather of the tie with his finger and remained silent.
“I whispered in her ear. There we were at the reunion, and she’s just pouring her heart out, telling me she should have married me and how he’s cheating on her and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t think ten years could make that much difference in someone. She sure wasn’t the same sweet, gorgeous girl I remembered. Hell, if had married her, I think I’d be cheating on her now too. But this wasn’t about her. It was about him, and now I knew how I could get even. I whispered in her ear, I still love you, Beverly Ann. That’s all it took.
“We spent the next five days at some sleazy motel a few towns down the road. It was great. I don’t mean Beverly Ann was great. Hell no! She damn sure wasn’t. Have to say I felt sorry for him about that. When she finally drove me back to town, I told her to drop me off at the gas station. Small town and all, well, you know how that goes, best place to get the news around. The word spread fast. By the time I got to the bus depot, I got a text message from my ex-buddy telling me he was getting a gun and coming after me. ‘Course, I was on the next bus out and didn’t care where it was going. Yeah, I got him good.” Pete nodded his head again. “Hey, enough about me. What’s your story, man? Everybody has a story.”
“Nope. No story,” Mac said, fidgeting with the string tie again. For sure, he wasn’t going to tell this guy he had missed his chance to get even with the guy that had whispered in his wife’s ear. Instead, he asked, “What’s the husband’s name?”
“Ed,” Pete answered.
“Everybody on the bus. They got the road cleared now,” the driver yelled out, and the bar started to empty.
“Got to make a stop here,” Pete said as he staggered to the men’s room.
Mac followed him in close behind. He pulled the string tie from his neck and quickly caught it around Pete’s neck, pulling the braided leather tighter and tighter until there was no need to do anymore.
“For you, Ed. Now, you’re even,” he said.
Author of short mystery stories BERN SY MOSS lives and writes from somewhere in the Midwest. Her latest publication, “The Letter B,” can be found in the Darkhouse Books’ anthology, Destination: Mystery!
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 [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: May 23, 2016
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