New Stories for January 16, 2017
The earth was dead. The air was still. Tiny snowflakes floated down like ash from the fallout of some great disaster far away. My sister was driving an old, rusted-out Dodge van with no heat and no door handles; hell, the entire inside of the door was missing. Just a bunch of rods and plastics to get stuck on, or grease to rub off on your pants. I paid it no mind, though; I wore all black back then, black so dark grease stains wouldn’t show. My sister, on the other hand, she’s the hippie who missed the bus, born two decades too late for peace and love and San Francisco.
The asphalt was frozen so hard you’d think it had gone brittle, like it would crack under your weight. The whole thing resembled an immense, dark pond of unfathomable depth. Salt stains etched the surface like cracks in the black ice. We pulled up to the thrift store in this squeaking, squealing ruckus machine and parked on the far end where it was easier to maneuver the behemoth. Elissa and I hopped down from the contraption, slamming the doors to make sure they’d stick.
“Well, we’re here.”
Now that we are finally moving along the driver seems as unhappy as we were when the journey was young.
Sheila did not look like a hired killer. Not that Paul really knew what a hired killer looked like. His old hired killer, “Mr. Smith,” had been totally anonymous, so Paul had never even met Mr. Smith.
Sheila looks more like a suburban mother than anything, Paul thought. She was short. She was a bit pudgy, as if she’d eaten too many cookies she’d baked for the family cookie jar. She wore a faded sweatshirt and jeans. Outside, he could see her SUV, which would look at home in the school parking lot on open house night.
Looks aside, she was worth a try. Particularly since Mr. Smith had rather inconveniently decided now was the time to retire. Roger, Paul’s cousin, used Sheila and thought highly of her. “She delivers excellent value for my assassination dollar,” he’d said.