Thursday, 7 January 2010


TKnC welcomes Robert...


Some things you can’t plan for.

The rip-off out at the dope-house went south. They got away with the money and dope, but an old lady bystander got waxed right outside and the world was after their ass.

Eddie would not be able to hang with the killing. Ramon and Dennis decided that he had to go.

Eddie and Dennis had stashed the loot in a storehouse. They’d planned to meet Ramon there next night, divvy up, and vamoose. The plan now was, Ramon wouldn’t show and Dennis would leave Eddie there…

They got to the storehouse at 8:45. Eddie pulled in and parked. They sat in the lot for a minute, Eddie thinking Ramon would show up.

Dennis said, “This is stupid. We’re out in the fuckin’ light here. Somebody comes along, I don’t want ‘em checkin’ us out. Let’s go inside.”

“What for, man?” Eddie said. “It’s cold out here, it’s cold in there, too. I don’t want to just hang around waiting for the guy anyway. Let’s go and come back.”

“We’re already here. Look, see that place across the road where the cars are? We go in, get it, an’ then go over there, by that tree, cut the lights, an’ then wait. Ramon comes, we can flag him.”

“Why not just go somewhere and come back?”

“Man, I—let’s just do this, alright? I don’t wanna drive around. An’, if we get back, somethin’ happened, he’s late, I don’t wanna wait, either. Means somethin’ happened, an’ then I’m gonna just wanna go. Plus, if he comes an’ we ain’t made it back yet, he’s gonna wonder how come. So—okay?”

Edgy Dennis, a flash from last night. He looked like Bluto there in the shadow: black sandpaper beard and muscles he ripped off some bear. Not a guy you wanted pissed off.

They got out of the car and went into the place.

Inside, the darkness pressed down. Dennis hulked down the hall. Eddie trailed, a thin, sharp-featured shadow, chewing his lips as his deep set black eyes flicked this way and that.

Eddie felt something…bad feeling… But, he was tired, way past his limits. He brushed it, the feeling, whatever it was. He just wanted to go get the money and boogie.

They got to the room. Dennis brought out the key. He scratched his belly, adjusting the gun in his belt. He opened the door and turned on the light, hanging back by the switch as Eddie came past him into the room.

Dennis brought the gun out. This would be quick. A shot to the head, he’d lay him up under the shelf, grab the stuff, and be gone…

He started to bring the gun up, but—what was the deal? Eddie’d stopped dead. He was—

Why is he—?

The shelf—the—where is the shoebox?

The money! It’s gone!

Eddie turned, saw Dennis, the gun—

Time exploded—

Eddie jumped at that gun! Something inside him—a blind, flailing will to survive—

Dennis, agape, off-guard and off-balance, tripped up and went down. Eddie blew out of that room like a rocket.

Dennis untangled, got up, and tore after his ass.

Out to the lot—where the fuck did he go? Over at the edge, bushes, trees, an old chainlink fence—and something that snicked off the metal.

Into the bushes, a hole in the fence. Dennis crawled through and got up, looked around. The place was all shadows and barely lit shapes.

Up ahead stood a shack. A broken-down school bus behind it. Crap all around. Spooky scene, man. No sound whatever.

Dennis hopped to the shack and tipped toward the bus, gun up and ready. He got to the bus and peeked past it. Nothing but bushes and weeds and dark, rusted shapes, with a fence all around. Maybe 60 feet deep. Eddie had to be hiding here someplace.

Dennis listened for sound. Rats pissing on cotton. The wind picked up just a bit.
Where is the rabbit?

Then, some kind of noise. The other side of the bus, in the bushes. Rustling, maybe a cat. The place was a snarled-up mess. Clusters of bushes, waist-high. Plus, all the rusted-out crap. A rabbit could hide here a long time…

Get him and kill him and leave his ass here.

Dennis went into the dingles, slowly, mouth-breathing, crouched low. He got his pants snagged on a wire. He stopped and eased free, looked around. Shapes dancing, but, nothing… No sound but the wind. Time oozed on by.

Another rustle, off to the right, near the fence. Dark, patchy ground. A rat, a raccoon, bushes thicker than shit… C’mon, motherfucker!

Bing, an idea. Flush this cocksucker. Dennis picked up a rock, looked this way and that, and… If he knew where the cocksucker was, he’d know where to toss the damn rock. And, then, why would he need to…?

Fuck, toss it wherever…

He flung the rock off to the left. Clank, rattle, rustle, and nothing. Fucking stupid idea…

What else?

The place was too wet from the rain to set it on fire. And, besides…

Jesus Christ…

A thump to his left up ahead, like something got dropped, like a rock, or, who knows? He took a step toward it—and, rustling behind him, and—Blam! Dennis’s whole world lit up, then went red, and then, black. He fell like a sackful of rocks.

Eddie stood over him, gasping for breath, a thick chunk of wood in his hand. He almost fell over himself, then steadied and gripped the wood tighter.

He took a quick look around. Off to his right was the fence, and beyond that the storage, and past that, his car… What to do? He looked down at Dennis. Should he finish him off or just leave him? Eddie hoped he was already dead. He wasn’t going to hit him again.

The dope was still in the bag in the storage. The money, who knew? Ramon might have snatched it…

Some partners he, Eddie, had picked…

The storage keys and gun. He bent down and snatched them off Dennis.

He went back through the fence and into the lot and into the storage and down to the room. Quick in and out.

Out to the car, to the trunk. He threw in the satchel, chock-full of dope. The keys and the gun? Leave them. Wipe the gun first. He tossed them up on the roof.

Into the car. Hit the ignition, bang into reverse, crank the wheel and then into first, hit the road, exit Eddie…

Not the way Dennis had figured the whole thing would go.

Robert Crisman knew Eddies and learned early on that they'd die for nothing. He wanted to live so he cut them loose. He tries to bring them alive in his stories, however, through acid-noir looks at the way they did business. He loves Dashiell Hammett, who also knew Eddies, and thinks Raymond Chandler is bullshit.


  1. as harbiled as a hardboied thing. very good tale.

  2. Hard and fast, words ripped to the bone. Loved the pace of that piece. Great noir, Robert.

  3. As usual, Rob, it's tight and tense and hardboiled as hell.

  4. Col, Paul, Matt, and Christopher,
    Thanks all you guys for your comments. It's real nice to hear from four guys I respect.
    I'm a little embarrassed though; in earlier drafts of this story, I had Eddie pick up Dennis's gun as well as his keys after he knocked him out. In this one, somehow, I forgot to have Eddie pick up the gun! Which makes him look pretty stupid. Which also makes his throwing the gun up on the storage roof afterwards a pretty neat trick.
    Do any of you guys ever have shit like this happen? It just drives me nuts! I need a proofreader...

  5. Things like that happen from time to time for me. In fact, there's an example that happened right here at TKNC that was grammatical but still stuck in my craw and Col had already put it up but Col was also good enough to change it for me upon request.

    As for the proofreader, I think we all wish we had one of those.

    Sometimes, though, I take the how do you know the character just didn't have that in mind when he said it tack and see if that sticks to the wall.

    Though that's not at all like not picking up a gun and then it magically appearing in a character's possession.

    But live and learn, right? We knew what you were going for.

  6. Wow - catch your breath with that one! Pacey and pared to the bone! Well done!!!

  7. Hey Robert, i for one didn't notice the continuity blip. If you want I can add ...and gun. In fact I already have.

  8. Matt, thank you. Now Eddie can leave knowing he did the right thing.