A little fiction: “Off Road”

19 Mar


A noir re-imagining of a story you know by heart.

“Off Road”

By Barth Anderson

“It used to take me only ten lousy dollars when I first met up with you! Now it’s a hundred bucks for me just to get off!” He snatched up the Beretta from the rickety kitchen table and pointed the cold barrel against his temple. “Oh, yes, come to Papa, you pretty little bullet.”

From where she was leaning against the kitchen counter, the girl shoved the gun away from his head. “Christ, you pussy.”

He was supposed to be her tank, her power-muscle, but he couldn’t keep doing this. He wished she’d let him pull the trigger. “Get me out,” he shouted at her, weeping. “I want out!”

“Just do the hit so we can pack up and go,” the girl shouted, jabbing her lit cigarette in the air at him. “We’re all waiting for you.”

The big fellow glowered at her other two henchmen. One stood at the counter beside the girl, stupidly dicing Spanish onions because he never knew what to do with himself. The knife chopped ever closer to his fingertips till he sliced them off knuckle by knuckle which made him drop his chin to his chest and snicker. Across the kitchen, the other one sat on the linoleum floor as he reloaded the tungsten-lined ammo-chambers in his forehead.

Those two horrified him — he let the Beretta slip to the floor in despair.They weren’t flesh and blood. They were mannequins. Golems. They felt no fear, no love, never bled, and they were shockingly loyal to the girl. He wished he was back on the road, right now, running away from these two un-men; he wished he’d never joined up with them. But the farm girl terrified him even more than the road did, and there was no stopping her or this grisly rampage. Were they running away from her star or returning her to it? There was only one way for him to be strong enough for her, to make his way forward and go back to his home of ten dollar highs and the lovely lie that he was great and powerful. So he did it. He hunched over the powdery line that she’d razored in place for him and huffed it up his nose. He grabbed the edge of the kitchen table, tossed his mane in fury, spurting out, “Goddamn it!” over and over. Then he crushed the kitchen table in his monstrous paws.

“That’s a good boy.” Dorothy stubbed out her Marlboro angrily into the surface of the counter, like someone ready to finish the next job as fast as she’d finished this one. “One last kill and I’m out.”

Image via Shutterstock

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