Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writing Prompt: Mexican Standoff

A single black briefcase sat  between the three of us.  On the surface, the case didn’t t seem too important. If you didn’t know any better you’d probably glance over it.  Unassuming. Uninteresting . It was  just  an average ordinary briefcase. It reminded me of one I saw on the clearance rack of a local department store or  one I saw in the lost and found at the  airport. The case itself  wasn’t special nor did it hold any significance. It’s contents, however, was a different story.

The contents of the briefcase meant different things to each of us.  For Johnny, it was power. If he had the case, he would have leverage over every single high ranking official in the city of Chicago. Darrell reasons were more honorable. Well, about as honorable as any hired gun’s intentions could get.   He sought a way out. A crooked cop had promised him witness protection in exchange for the contents of the briefcase. In the back of his mind, he knew the promise was empty and a bit far fetched. Hell, I even told him it was but he wasn’t given much of a choice. Not many options for a guy facing hard time. I was the only wild card in the bunch. I didn‘t have much of a reason nor any real stake in the matter.  Shits and giggles. Shake things up.  Just in it for the sport.

Three men. One briefcase. Zero room for error.  We skipped the dull pleasantries. We all knew why we were here. In hindsight, we were all probably tipped off by the same person.  We each stared at each other, then at the case, then back at each other.  All three of us frozen. It wasn’t fear. It was a pride thing.  A mental test of wills. We all  wanted to  make a mad dash for the case but we knew the first person to make a run for it would end up dead. I was packing and it was plain as day that that the others were too. I got rather bored  with all of the  tedious build up and decided to make a play. I drew my weapon. Darrell and Johnny immediately followed suit. Great minds think alike. That night, ours did too.

“What the fuck are you guys doing here?” Darrell shouted  “You know what this means to me?!?”

“Can it, Darrell! Your life is pretty much over.” Johnny said. “I’m taking the briefcase and making this city mine!”

I didn’t say a thing.  Words were trivial.

“ Oh, so this is the thanks I get for doing all your dirty work?” Darrell  said

“The family appreciates what you’ve done for us and we’re going to take care of you. We promise but now it’s time to step aside.”

“Bullshit. How are you going to take care of me while I’m locked up, Johnny?”

At this point, we were alternating our firearms between each other.  . It’s funny, a month ago, before shit hit the fan,  we were knocking back boilermakers at Charley’s pub. Hoods like us were never meant to be friends for ever. .   There’s no honor among thieves. Loyalties change, people die, and life goes on. This is the hand we chose.

“He has a point, Johnny boy. What are you going to do for him?” I asks. I couldn’t resist adding in my two cents.

“Stop fucking instigating, Samson!” Darrell says before Johnny could even speak.

“How did you even hear about this?” Johnny asks.
“That’s not important.” I said.

“Was it Lou?”`Darrell asked

I smiled and shrugged.  I could feel the patience of both men thinning out.

“You smug, fuck. . .” Johnny said under his breath

Darrell focuses his gun on me “Fucking Lou.” he mumbles under his breath. “Sammy, I like you but if you ain’t outta here in two seconds, I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you.” He cocked the hammer of his gun and aimed it between my eyes.  Darrell wasn’t a stranger to violence. He built up a pretty reputable body count in his early days but he hasn‘t done any wet work in years.  I wasn’t afraid of him.  A myth was built around this man and it was all a charade. He relied on fear of others. Guys would kill themselves if they even heard a slight rumor Darrel was after them. Blow their fucking brains out. He had that power over people. Darrell was the boogey man in this city but not for me. I saw him for what he was. An overblown ghost story perpetuated by the family and the chicken shit low-lifes in Chicago.

I decided to call to call his bluff.

“ If you‘re going to shoot me you better fuc--- . . . .”

Darrell’s eye twitched but he didn‘t blink. A loud bang. A flash of light. A sharp piecing sensation in  the middle of my forehead.

That’s all I remember from that night.  I wonder what happened to that briefcase. . . .

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