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They had pulled off the hit six hours ago, and the body was starting to smell.
Chester had been left behind to watch over the corpse because he was the one who had forgotten the tarp. Now there was nothing to wrap the dead man up in, and his blood was congealing on the floor. It looked like glass candy, like the fake food in a tacky window display. Anyone have a hankering for raspberry jelly?
The thing was, Chester remembered grabbing the tarp. He knew his job. Getting rid of the victim is priority one. Getting the right tools is automatic, like locking the door when you leave the house. Okay, sure, you don't remember doing it that morning when you left, but you know you did it. You just do. Chester's only mistake today was letting them leave him alone. It shouldn't take no six hours to get the tarp.
He hadn't moved from his chair since the other boys had left. It was like he was stuck there in a staring contest with the deceased. The first to blink loses. Of course, Chester still had a gun and the other guy didn't. If that fellow blinked, he'd take two more slugs, one for each eye.
But then it made no sense to stay there stuck in place like that. It wasn't as if he'd give away his position to anyone if he got up. Like the cops were just waiting to see if someone moved before they'd have probable cause to break down the door. Come to think of it, what about the cops? If Chester was being set up to take the fall, it would only be a matter of time before a badge came knocking. Someone drops an anonymous tip, the frame job is done. The gunman got up and crossed the room to the window. He pushed the curtains back with the muzzle of his .45 and peeked out. He scanned the streaks for anyone that looked out of place. Only problem was, this wasn't his neighborhood, so everybody looked out of place to him. He didn't belong, so no one belonged. It wasn't a very good part of town anyway, that's why someone like the dead man lived there. The only obvious choices would either be familiar to Chester or wearing a uniform.
What was it? What was the game here? Were they testing Chester's mettle? There was that story going around that he had run out on his last job, but that wasn't true. He had been taking a leak and he heard the cops roll up. He was trying to get around them, to get to the car so he could have it ready to get the other men out of there, but they got pinched, so there was no reason to stick around. It's possible they were trying to see if he'd stick around now.
Chester supposed circumstances could have been such where the guys got derailed in some similar fashion on their way to get the tarp. A short trip can become a long trip the same way a sure thing can metamorphose into a disaster. If not that, then what were they waiting for? The next guy to come through that door was either going to help him or kill him, there were no other options as Chester saw it. Maybe they were making him wait longer in the hopes he'd get nervous. All the while the corpse lay there in a puddle of its own gooey syrup.
He was determined not to let it go that way. He would not be dulled by nerves; Chester would be sharpened. Like his mind was a blade and his anxiety a whetstone.
The dead man had nothing in his apartment that would be helpful. His shower had no curtain, his bed sheets were worn thin. Chester took a calculated risk. He left the apartment. As quickly as he could, he ran downstairs, taking three at a time, heading for the basement. He rummaged through the tenant storage, and found an old sleeping bag in with some dusty camping equipment. He hauled it back upstairs, cautious to scope the situation in the upstairs hallway. No one had returned yet, he was still alone with the dead man.
Chester unzipped the sleeping bag and spread it out flat on the floor. He then rolled the body into it, breaking the corpse from its excretions. The dried blood cracked and tore, more like old taffy than glass or crystal. When the body was inside, he closed up the bag around it, zipping it all the way around, locking the stinky meat inside. The cleaning supplies they had brought were still there, so he made fast work of the stains on the floor. He used a paint scraper to chip the hardened blood from the tile. If this was all some weird misunderstanding, he'd show initiative, he'd be ready.
Once that was done, he got back in the chair. He hefted the sleeping back up so it lay across his lap. It was awkward and heavy, but it was a necessary discomfort. Chester had turned so he faced the door.
Another hour passed, and Chester grew tired. He began to nod off. He had small dreams about big things. A picnic on the side of a mountain, pancakes with pomegranate syrup, which he squeezed straight from the hard fruit with his bare hands.
Chester's head jerked up. There was a sound at the door. Someone was fiddling with the handle. Chester moved fast, lifting the body from his lap and sitting it up, laying the length of the sleeping bag over himself. It was his full-body shield in more ways than one.
The door burst open. The other men fired first. Their guns fired faster. The dead man took the hits. Fuzz from the inside of the sleeping bag danced in the air, pushed around by the rush of bullets. Chester returned fire, shooting blind from behind his covering. He kept pulling the trigger until the clip was empty. It was only then that he realized there was no more return fire, that the room was quiet.
He had done it! Chester had made a stand and he had won! They had doubted him, but they would know now. He was the real thing, a genuine thug. Chester pushed the dead body off himself and stood to claim his victory.
The bullet caught him right between the eyes. Chester had a second to register. He had gotten one of the men, but not the other. He had only gotten halfway there.
And now Chester was all the way dead.
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All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich
All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich