Jeff Tsuruoka’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Night Train Part Seven
Madeline handed me the paper as I stumbled into what passed for a kitchen in the apartment.
The place was one of three apartments I maintained in the city. Multiple addresses had come in handy over the years, so handy that Jack didn't blink at paying for the two he knew about.
The room was barely two bodies wide and six bodies long, which was fine as I never cooked nor ate in there. I had room for the very small table and two very small chairs. The percolator on the counter was the only obvious sign of recent habitation.
I found her having her morning coffee at the table. She had on one of my white shirts-- carelessly buttoned-- and nothing else. I wished I had a kitchen window to let in the morning sun.
She got up and poured me a cup of coffee while I read, rubbing the ache my night on the couch left in my lower back.
Harvey Hendin's newspaper account of Jack's death was straight out of a dime novel. Blazing guns. Gallons of blood. The local bad guy rubbed out by a mysterious gunman no one got a good look at. He threw in enough classic Hendin flourishes and enough of his trademark wit to really sell it.
The man had me believing his story.
“Harvey's good, isn't he?” she asked.
“Best in the business,” I agreed. “Won't keep 'em off of me for long, but I'll take it.”
Madeline blew a stray lock of hair out of her eyes and stared at me. Hard.
“You're really gonna just up and go, Moe?”
“It's either that or I'm running this crew,” I replied.
She raised an eyebrow and waited for me to explain.
“I'm tired, Madeline. Tired of looking over my shoulder everywhere I go. Tired of wondering who's going to kill me first-- my enemies or my pals. I've done awful things in the name of business.”
“I know it, Moe.”
“Well, I'm done with it. The hell with it all. Hersch and O'Shaughnessy can sort it out.”
“It didn't sound like the boys were gonna let you go that easy.”
“I don't want it, Madeline.”
She took a seat, putting her feet up on the table.
“You should've thought of that before you shot Jack.”
I sipped some coffee. The steam and the bitterness put a little life back into me.
“The man had it coming.”
“Yeah, but you didn't have to give it to him.”
I nodded, ceding the point, then changed the subject.
“Get dressed,” I said. “We need to get moving.”
“Where are we going?”
“Been thinking about that. Everyone knows I want to go out west. So we'll go south, get down to Florida and catch a slow boat to someplace tropical.”
“And do what?”
“What's the difference? I've got enough dough to set us up wherever we go.”
“Got the dough here?”
“Some of it.”
“What about Hersch? He's not gonna mind that you killed his brother?”
“Hersch isn't stupid. He knew it might happen that way when he asked me to meet with Jack.”
I watched her face as she thought it over.
“Besides,” I said, “we've got a head start on him if he does come after me.”
She thought about it some more.
My attention wandered, starting at her toes, up her legs, finally coming to rest on the gap between two of the middle buttons of the shirt she had on. She looked better in it than I ever would.
“Oh no,” she said, “you don't get to look at me like that after falling asleep on me last night, mister. On the couch no less.”
I couldn't think of a thing to say to that. I didn't even try.
“It's not like you to give me the absent treatment, chouette,” she continued.
“I don't think I'd have been good for much of anything last night.”
“You should've let me be the judge of that.”
There wasn't anything in that for me so I drank off my coffee, then rinsed out the cup.
“I'll make it up to you, Madeline.”
She smirked and stood.
“A likely story,” she said as made to walk out of the kitchen.
I watched her until she disappeared into my bedroom, waited a couple of minutes, then followed.
I didn't bother to pick my shirt up off the floor on my way by.
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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.