This completes a November hat-trick of crackers from Chris...
Victoria's Uncle Rob is on the floor of his living room, bleeding from a thousand different cuts on his naked upper torso. He continues to refuse to give up the combination to his safe and the password to his bank account.
I can end this anytime I like, though, I said the same thing about my alcoholism and look where that's got me.
Victoria's uncle is loaded, according to Victoria. She told me that herself, back when we were still together. I miss her.
I perch on the edge of the desk and watch as Lloyd and Dean continue their handiwork.
Dean is a genius with a knife. I've known this since our tour in Afghanistan four years ago, before the drinking, before Victoria left me. Dean can make a man bleed out with a well-placed stab wound or make him think his life over with a couple hundred small cuts, letting time take its toll instead of going for the home run in one go.
Lloyd's good with his hands. We've known each other since we were kids in Golden Gloves. When he was thirteen, he knocked the shit out of a sixteen year-old on his way to the title. Lloyd can loosen your teeth with one punch and, if he's not satisfied, he'll reach with his bare hands and start yanking.
Victoria used to talk about how Uncle Rob lorded his wealth over her father, Al. Al was a real good man, before the cancer got him and took him away from us. Rob, Victoria said, would swoop in whenever Al's wallet started to get light and offer to help out. He said it in such a way that Al never took a dime from his brother.
Rob had this air about him, she said, like he smelled like roses and everyone else smelled like shit.
That air was gone now; it fled when Lloyd hit him like a Mack truck after Rob opened the door to me.
"I'm going to give you one more chance," I say. "Combination to the safe and password to the account or I let my friend there start cutting, go searching for your heart and pull it out of your fucking chest."
The son of a bitch decides to be a hero and keeps his mouth shut, as if his life depends on it. Time to end it, I think, and nod to Dean. He smiles and takes his knife, puts it against Rob's chest and starts to slice through the cellulite there.
It's a small incision, nothing even close to the shit I've seen Dean do, when Rob starts screaming his head off, giving the combination and the password.
"9 Left, 33 Right, 10 Left, 23 Right! Cuckoo Bird! Cuckoo Bird! Please, don't kill me!"
I tell Dean to stop, nod to Lloyd and he goes to check the safe. When the door opens, I slide off the desk and into a chair in front of the computer. I bring up the account, type in the password and wait a couple of seconds. I drool when I see all the zeroes and ask myself why I didn't rob Rob back when Victoria was mine, back when everything mattered.
Christopher Grant is editor and publisher of A Twist Of Noir. His crime fiction appears at Thrillers, Killers 'N' Chillers, Not From Here Are You?, Powder Burn Flash, The Flash Fiction Offensive and The 6S Social Network.