Jeff Tsuruoka’s Picture Choice:
Title: Night Train - Part Twelve
The sheriff offered me a helping of the same silence I’d fed him. He sat up straight in his chair, breathing through his mouth. Blood coated the lower part of his face.
Tobacco Man turned his head like he wanted to pipe up but changed his mind halfway there.
I pulled out my handkerchief and wiped the blood off my own face.
“All right,” I sighed, moving toward the broken glass door. “How’s our pal out there?” I asked Madeline.
“He’s gonna have one hell of a headache when he wakes up,” she replied.
“Any serious bleeders?”
She gave him the once over.
“He’s leakin’ sauce but I don’t see any big ones.” She tried and failed to haul him toward the edge of the deck. “You gonna give me a hand or just watch?”
I stepped outside and helped her arrange Lazy Eye in something like a sitting position. Madeline relieved him of his weapon and handcuffs, then secured him to a post by the boat slip.
“Your boy’s all right,” I called out to the sheriff. “Keep the gun on him, babe. I need to have a word with the law.”
I re-entered the cabin and walked right into his bloody glare.
“What do you care if he’s all right or not?”
“I don’t kill cops when I can avoid it, pal. Haven’t always been able to. But I do try.”
“That sure makes me feel a whole lot better, mister.”
“You’ve got nothing to worry about, fella.”
“I’ll be the judge of that, Molloy. Or whoever the hell you really are.”
I smiled at him, still tasting the blood on my lips. It couldn’t have been pretty.
“Killing policeman is the quickest way to the morgue,” I said, “and if I’m headed for the slab it’s not going to be on account of a sap like you.”
He didn’t blink.
“Now, about those heavy hitters you mentioned, sheriff. The ones on their way here?”
I grabbed his broken nose before he could answer and gave it a twist.
He hollered and tried to flop around. Tobacco Man’s weight in the other chair kept him from tipping over.
The scent of cigarette smoke reached my nostrils. I looked toward the deck where Madeline stood, smoking and leaning against the rail next to Lazy Eye.
I let go of the sheriff’s schnozz and waited for him to get still. Then I slapped him. Hard.
He opened his trap to speak. I hit him again.
We repeated the process until he flinched when I raised my hand.
“You probably won’t believe me,” I began, “but this isn’t fun for me.”
Tobacco Man started groaning like he’d been the one taking the beating.
“Shut it,” I growled.
He shut it.
“Be a pal, sheriff,” I continued. “You want us out of your town. I want us out of your town. Tell me what I need to know and we both get our way.”
“Just tell the man, Phil,” piped up Tobacco Man. “This creep ain’t worth dyin’ for.”
“The man’s talking sense, Phil,” I agreed.
I tried to look as reasonable as the guy who’d just rearranged your face can look.
He took a deep, racking breath, forcing the air through his ruined nose. Then he blinked twice and stared at me with a sad emptiness in his bloodshot eyes.
“You have no idea who’s coming, do you?” I asked.
He shook his head.
“Called a guy I know on the force in New York,” he mumbled. “Told him we had a tough guy from up there, traveling with a real bearcat in a red convertible. He put me in touch with a guy he knows.”
“Didn’t ask. Didn’t get any names either.”
“Must’ve been some deep conversation you fellas had.”
He didn’t have a reply.
“When did you call New York?” I asked.
He chuckled. “Right after I left the diner.”
Madeline let a fresh stream of profanity loose.
I did the math and came to the same conclusion.
“Plan to bring ‘em out here, Phil?”
“The mick ought to be here any minute."
“Mick?” I asked the sheriff.
“Had to be, with that accent.”
Everything went quiet. I looked to Madeline. She looked back at me.
O’Shaughnessy. Had to be.
“Chouette?” she called out.
She stomped in off the deck and snatched each officer’s handcuff keys. I watched as she went back outside, flung the keys into the water, and returned.
“Time to go,” she said. She put her arm around me and tried to guide me to the door.
“This is your escape plan?” I asked
“No. My escape plan involved negotiation and less facial damage. You kinda put a bullet in that plan, honey.”
“That leaves my plan.”
“You have a plan?”
“I always have a plan!”
She gave me the stink-eye.
“I usually have a plan,” I mumbled.
“That’s what I thought,” she growled. She grabbed a hold of my hand. “Let’s go.”
I stopped to pick up my Colt and collect all available police revolvers.
“I’ve had it with running, Madeline.”
“It’s better than going to your funeral,” she shot back. “I look awful in a black veil.”
I swallowed what remained of my indignation and followed her out the front door.
The thick woods obscured almost all of the moonlight, leaving the entire area shrouded in darkness.
We spotted the headlights in the distance right away.
This time we cursed in unison.
The sound of their engines cut through the trees.
“Well,” I said, “I needed to see O’Shaughnessy sooner or later.”
“You going to shoot him too?”
“I don’t know, babe. That kind of depends on him.”
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Jeff Tsuruoka is an author in search of a writing career. He has found a home in the Flash Fiction circuit and is grateful to the blog hosts that give him the opportunity to get his work out there. You can follow him on Twitter @JTsuruoka and be sure to keep tabs on his weekly contributions to Daily Picspiration.