“Luci” by Brandon Dutton
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, Brandon Dutton goes off the grid.
A white Prius squealed up the driveway of the Chevron station and pulled around back. Dark, syrupy blood dried to the grill.
Luci got out and sprinted to the hose bib. She cranked the valve open and stuck a bottle beneath the stream of water. When she went back to the car, she couldn’t squeeze the contents out quick enough.
Just as she worried the plan was a failure, she looked around the corner. An on-site carwash. She tossed the bottle and got in the car.
Luci pulled forward and waited as the mechanical gears fired up. As soon as the water jets came on, she let out a howl. It was as hard as she’d ever screamed. Tears ran down her cheeks as she pounded the steering wheel. But by the time the multicolored wax covered the windshield, she was fine. She had to keep her wits about if she was to make it out of this. She took a deep breath and reminded herself that any evidence of John was circling down the floor drain.
After the wash was done, she got out to inspect the damage. Broken headlight, a pretty good dent on the hood too. If she’d hit him harder, he would’ve rolled over the car and busted the windshield. Can’t let the cops have an excuse to pull her over; she needed to be careful.
The Prius darted down the I-15E—just a long stretch of desert before Vegas. But the longer she drove, the more anxious she got. Her hands drummed the top of the steering wheel without rhythm. She poked at her black eye in the rearview mirror and put her sunglasses on. All she wanted was to get off the freeway, be done with the whole situation. Start over.
Oh shit, not now. Not when she was so close. All the breaks she got to this point would’ve meant nothing. Just a little further.
Piece of shit. What a piece of shit. Luci had to act fast.
Up ahead was a sign for Zyzzx Road. A real mouthful, but mostly a barren landscape. She got off the freeway and ventured down the single lane.
She drove until the paved street became dirt. Until three-quarters of a tank turned to a half. Until the pounding in the car became too much to endure.
The Prius pulled off the flat road to rockier terrain. When she got out, the heat was overwhelming, like a kick to the face. But the freeway wasn’t even visible—she’d picked a good spot. The car was off, but there was still a thud. Luci opened the back door and took out a shovel she’d gotten at Home Depot earlier that day—still had the sticker on it.
The pounding didn’t let up until she popped the trunk and looked down at her beloved John, huddled in the fetal position. His scalp had a scabbed crust that met his forehead. The light-blue dress shirt she’d bought him was now gored.
After John’s eyes adjusted to the light, he tried to get up. His broken bones prevented this. He collapsed back down with a deep groan. Then he saw Luci.
“Sweetie. Sweetheart, thank God,” he said. Again he tried to lift himself. Luci pushed him down with the blade end of the shovel.
“Luci, baby, I’m hurt. I’m hurt bad. We need to get me to a hospital.”
Luci looked down at the pitiful sight before her. Suddenly, the shoe was on the other foot. He wasn’t so powerful now.
“Get out, John,” Luci said. She might’ve given him a three count before she took his shattered wrist and gave it a hard yank. The pitch of his scream gave Luci an odd delight.
John flopped on the ground. Gravel stuck to the injuries on his legs. He tried to drag his broken body away. If he got a little separation, he might’ve been able to make a move.
Instead, Luci wound the shovel back and brought it down with all her might.
The blow wasn’t fatal, and John was left on the desert floor screaming for his life. There were a few times when she would beg and plead and John would just ignore her. Dish out more abuse.
With a smirk, Luci lifted the shovel, blade aimed for her husband’s neck. She brought it down with enough fury to silence his screams for good.
BRANDON DUTTON was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He received his BA from UC Santa Barbara. Currently, he works in the film industry trying to elbow his way past all the other writers in LA.
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: Jan 25, 2016
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