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News & Features » April 2017 » “Hit the Till” by Costa Koutsoutis

“Hit the Till” by Costa Koutsoutis

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, Costa Koustsoutis does what he must for a gym bag full of cash.

Hit the Till
by Costa Koustsoutis
Flusing, Queens, NY

The first thing out of his mouth when I sat down was about the High Park. I hadn’t been in maybe a year or so since I’d moved out of the neighborhood, but my brother was a regular. “Dude! Someone tried to rob the bar, it was in the papers!”

I’d been meeting up with my brother Nick every so often to hang out, grill some pork chops and have a beer or two. When our parents died, he took over the house in Flushing, getting rid of his apartment nearby. One of the things we mostly did when we hung out was go through the bookshelves, dressers, and boxes, deciding who got what, what to sell, and what to throw away. This time was a little different though, with him sitting on the porch staring intently at his phone while holding a mostly-empty beer bottle in his other hand, before looking up at me.

“What?”

My brother got up, went inside, and came back out with two more beers, handing me one and then sitting back down. “Someone tried to rob High Park at closing, one of the regulars shot at the guy as he ran out the door. Found him a block away, dead, one in the head.” He took a draw from the bottle, plunking it down between his feet. “Fucking crazy, guy came in at like four AM when they were emptying the till, then tried to rob the five guys left sitting there. One of them’s this old cop, a regular?”

“Yeah?” The regulars at the High Park, an old spot in Queens not far from the house I grew up in, weren’t the liveliest bunch, older white men who nursed cheap beers or scotch and soda for most of the night, bumming smokes, and watching baseball on the two TVs mounted to the walls. You got the feeling watching them that they were alone, drifting, the kind of older men who still had roommates, who used to work for the city and now made pizzas or gassed up cars part-time for cash under the table to supplement their pensions.

“Which regular?”

“No one you know, Carl something,” he continued, “So the guy gets the till, tries to get whatever everyone else in the bar has, he’s got a gun and a gym bag yelling to fill it up, Carl’s carrying, pulls out a .22 when the dude isn’t looking, and BANG.” My brother made a gun with his fingers, pointing right at this temple. We grilled pork chops and hot dogs, had a few more beers, and I went home with some leftovers, riding the bus back to my apartment a few neighborhoods over. I walked up the four flights to my door, hearing the Spanish music playing from other apartments, seeing the remnants of a sandwich and an empty forty-ounce in bags at the base of the stairs going one more flight up.

Good thing I was moving soon, I told myself, opening the door and flicking the lights on. Bundle and Brick, the cats I’d found that night it snowed last year and shut the city down, purred from their spots on the windowsills, looking up in half-interest as I flicked a light on and closed the door behind me.

I went into the bedroom, kicking boots off. The story my brother told me was still working around in my head, the dead young man with the bag of cash from the bar and collapsing a few blocks away with a hole in his head from the shot the ex-cop got off. It was a good story. I stared at the pistol on the bed next to the gym bag full of cash, reminding myself to take it apart and throw the pieces away tomorrow, probably the bedspread it rested on too. I couldn’t smell it, but I’m sure cops would be able to tell I’d fired it when Bobby caught up with me a block after knocking over the bar, triumphant that he’d gotten away after I’d scoped the bar out earlier, in for a drink.

He never saw the .22 coming up from my pocket to his temple, so I know he didn’t see me scoop the gym bag up and walk off towards the bus in the dark and quiet early morning, either.

***

COSTA KOUTSOUTIS is a writer and English professor who lives and works in New York, the hometown he’s always come back to. When not slamming his hands randomly against the keyboard he’s either teaching English or yelling at the cat to get off the bookshelves. You can find more of his work at costak.wordpress.com.

***

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: Apr 24, 2017

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



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