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Pancake Eyes

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George picked her out of the line-up.  The line-up meant the group of hookers on the corner of Maple and Flour.  Given its proximity to the interstate exit, the area invited the drifters who got tossed aside by those who really knew them.  Some honestly wanted a better life, but most wanted to stay in their cycles.  George embraced his own cycle.

She stood under five feet and like the others, wore a tight top and a loose skirt for easy access.  Only her eye shadow caught George's attention.  He pictured the caked on mess of cobalt blue hard enough to require a chisel for its removal.  George grinned, pointed to her and opened the door.  She climbed inside like a kid running to greet the ice cream truck.

She explained the rate to him first thing.  Her eye shadow cake cracked when he handed her a hundred dollar bill for absolutely nothing.

Usually they inquired about the destination once he left the accepted radius of the profession, but she did not.  She had not seen a hundred dollar bill in a while.  She kept her lips together until he pulled into the foreclosed hardware store's parking lot.

She leaned over toward him, but he pushed her back.  Her eyes bulged beneath the cakes.

“Are you some kind of freak or something?  I just do straight deals.  Nothing odd.  You can take your money back.”

George produced a flask of bourbon.  He removed the lid and swirled it about, taking a sniff.  Her poise softened.

“Hey, I don't drink.  Not on the job.”

George turned up the flask, swished the happy water around in his mouth and swallowed, his Adam's apple thumping in his throat.

“Look, you need to tell me what you want and then we can do this and I can get back to my corner, honey.”

George handed her another bill.  She opened her mouth.  He awaited her protest facts were facts.  But she did this for money.  It turned the tricks and eased the tension and ruined the lives.  She proved no different from the rest, going silent and holding the cash in her hands.  If she was typical, the money would fund a habit she either could not or more likely, would not break.

“Well...this is really sweet.  Are you going to hurt me?”

George took another swig.  Her eyes searching him, he shook his head “No.”

“Then what do you want?”

He offered her another swig.  She refused.  He held the flask toward her.  She took it and sipped like a Catholic school girl sneaking her first taste of stolen wine.  She coughed a bit and handed it back over.

“Honey, this is getting weird.  Just tell me what you want.”

He handed her another bill.  In ten minutes, she had earned three hundred dollars.  Her face held more disbelief than anything.  Most strangers in a '92 Toyota Camry with bald tires and a blue passenger door on a red body and dressed in an AC/DC shirt and holy jeans not only did not carry a lot of cash, but held onto it with their oil stained fingers.

“Once again, you're so sweet.  But-

“You have a client.”

“Yeah.  Several.”

“A cop.”

“Maybe.”

George offered her another drink.  She refused.  He indulged and smacked his lips.  Then he produced a tiny device.

“What's that?”

“You wear this the next time he picks you up.  It's a camera.”

“And get him fired?  No way.  I won't testify about nothing.”

“You wear the camera and do your thing.  Hand it back to me and that is it.”

“I won't testify.”

“Once you hand me the camera, you're done.”

“But...why do you want that?”

He produced two more bills.

“We have a deal?”

She took the flask and poured two healthy slugs down her throat like she was only warming up.  She handed it back to him and took the bills.

“Take me back to my corner.  Drive back by at one.  I'll hand it to you.  Now tell me how to work this gadget.”

George complied.  True to her word, she handed him his prize at one o'clock on the dot.  He offered her a ride home, but she hailed a cab instead.  After all she could afford one now.

An hour later, George pulled into his apartment complex.  He ran into his apartment, played the contents to ensure it captured all the debauchery he had hoped for, burnt the camera's contents onto a DVD and headed back out.  Twenty minutes later, he pulled into a house in the suburbs- a house he once knew quite well.  But since the divorce, he knew nothing of it, except that his ex-wife did keep the lawn in great shape or well, HAD it done.

He rang the doorbell twice and leaned back against the porch rail.  She answered with her Remington .38 in her grip.  She kept it low, but ready for action.

“Yes?”

Her voice croaked like a frog this time of the morning.  George stepped lightly to her and handed over the DVD.  She motioned for him to let it drop and back away.  He complied.  After all, she had the gun.  And she had used it on him before.  His knee still itched when rain crept about.

“Anything else?”

“You're still a peach.”

“I swear I'll shoot you in your other knee, you old bastard.”

“That's my girl.”

He left the porch he once painted.  He drove down the street and waited.  After five minutes, she was out the door, in her ForeRunner that he had purchased and off toward the northern side of town.  He kept his distance because he knew her destination.  But he dared not dawdle.  She did not value patience.

It was an hour before the cop pulled into his driveway.  She waited until the cruiser stopped and then floored the ForeRunner and plowed over his mailbox.  His face glowed red in the darkness and he fired orders at her.  She emerged from the ForeRunner with the .38 trained on him.

George crept out of his Camry and hunkered down.  The cop stepped forward and wrestled with her.  George stepped lively to them.  The cop slapped her face, but she held on.  George stepped behind the ForeRunner.  The open windows revealed that the leather car freshener scent lingered.  What a scent.  He felt a desire to wrestle her away and take her on the hood like so many times before but the chances of that died long ago.

The cop delivered a right cross to her cheek that sent her colliding with the fender.  She fell down, but was not quite unconscious.  George drew a pistol, stood and pumped two rounds into the cop's throat.  He watched George as if he were the devil himself.  George watched him back like a dog ready to strike.  The cop blubbered something through the blood running down his chin.  Then he dropped to the pavement along with his the .38.

“That's right.”

George stepped to the fallen officer and picked the weapon up and put it into his pocket.  He placed his own .38- an identical match to his ex-wife's along with the scratched off serial number- into her hand, used her zombie fingers to fire it toward the stars and then patted her face(God the feel of those cheeks- pure heaven) and picked up the DVD.  He removed his gloves on the way back to the Camry, jumped inside and crept away.

After a month, the trial was over.  George's ex-wife was in the lock-up for murdering a police officer- touchy stuff.  She brought up her ex-husband's involvement but the facts stood over her like the sword of Damocles.  He just could not be found anywhere.  When they quit their marriage he moved out of state and lived off the grid long enough that no one could be sure where he was at or even if he was still alive.  When he returned to the city, he got his apartment under a false name with a driver's license manufactured in a garage and did not work- only watched.  He never had to work.  His father's investments provided him with an easy lifestyle and his ex-wife enjoyed that life style as well during and after the divorce.  Yet now she sat in prison after her key witness never showed up.  The last word in their relationship was silent but it was his, by God.

George returned to the city, pulled to the corner of Maple and Flour and picked the same pancake-eyed girl out of the same line-up.  She did not recognize him at first.  When she did, it was too late.  The chloroform came through like a champ.

She woke up in his den.  He bound her, but used no gag.  She asked him lots of questions at first.  He just sipped his flask and smiled.  Her voice touched his insides like a feather tickling the flesh.  Eventually, he cut the ropes and told her she was free to go.  And go she did.

However in Las Vegas land, she did not find many options.  She came back to him for money, but he only gave her enough to try and get back to the city.  Her habits sucked her back in each time and each time, she told him about her escapades.  And George loved it.  Her voice and her caked on makeup gave him a breath of renewal.  His ex-wife always paid the most careful attention to everything.  Never a strand of hair out of place.  Always gave him the final word on everything.  This girl lived in her haphazard manner and told George every word to which he gave his trademark response.

“That's right.”

Then the day came when she offered herself to him.  George accepted her body and she his.  They made love for days and then of course, came the vows.  George would sit and listen to her go on and on about her days working at the casino.

“That's right.”

But then one day, she told him nothing.  For no reason at all, she stopped talking.  George dealt with it the first few days, but after a week, he confronted her.

“Hon, what's on your mind?”

She channel surfed with dead eyes.

“Hon...hon...hon?”

She surfed through the channels with no destination in mind.  For days after, she only sat staring straight ahead.  George tried every way he could to get her attention.  One day he finally took a long walk along the Vegas strip.

When he returned, she was not watching TV.  Instead, she was back at her old profession.  The customer's blue trousers and shirt hung from the chair.  His belt and night stick rested on the floor.  She was making plenty of noise in the bedroom.  George went out to his Camry, retrieved his .38 and entered the bedroom.

She was screaming in the bed by herself.  The man stood in the corner and aimed his pistol on George.  He was not just a cop.  Something familiar lied in his eyes and face.

“You got my brother killed.  Your ex-wife told me.  You think you would get away?”

“Your brother?”

The girl dropped her neglige to reveal a camera strapped to her chest.

“Any final words, George?”

George considered it.  His father made home movies of the family all the time.  George's sisters and his mother would just sit and talk into the camera.  George just liked to film them before saying “Cut” after each take.  He opened his mouth to speak.  The cop's brother fired into his gut.  George eked out his final words.

“Pancake eyes.”

George collapsed.

The girl frowned.

The cop chuckled.

 

End

 

Anthony David Mitchell writes crime suspense fiction from his humble home in Jackson, TN.  He has two books available on amazon.com with a third in the works.

 

 

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