was smoking a cigarette in the darkened alley, ignoring the pungent aroma that
hung around the green dumpster near him. He was admiring the pin-up lady graffiti
on one of the walls, something he’d done so often he could recall almost every
shade of color—even at night.
of a door opening pulled him from the moment.
wearing his nerdy thick-rimmed glasses and dark green sweater, appeared in the
alley. Alex closed the backdoor to the bar behind him.
Ricky waited to hear
the lock click shut, and then slunk out from his position in the shadows. He
reached for something in his leather jacket’s pocket. Ahead of him, Alex
flinched, and then turned to see who approached.
“Damn it, Ricky,”
Alex said, correcting his glasses. “You scared the daylights out of me. I
thought you’d already left.”
Ricky took a
swig from the flask he’d procured from his pocket. “Nah, man. I was waiting for
you. I thought you’d want to get a drink. Maybe be my wingman. If you’re lucky
maybe we’ll find a hot babe for you, too.”
tonight. I’ve got—”
Ricky said. He flicked the cigarette toward the dumpster and spat on the
ground. He reached into the jacket pocket opposite the one he’d retrieved the
flask from, pulling out a clump of crumpled bills. “Forty-six dollars scored
Alex shook his
head. “I told you to cut that out. One of the guys is going to catch you out,
and then you’ll be fired or worse, arrested. Crime doesn’t pay. You should know
“No way, mister
model citizen. And it’s not like I steal from the bar. So I boost a few of the
drunkards of a few notes. It’s all a fair game if you ask me,” Alex said. He
took another sip from the flask and then placed it back into his pocket. “You
should try it. It helps with the peanuts we’re paid. In this world you have to
adapt or die. It’s like evolution and shit. And you’re wrong, if you’re smart,
crime does pay.”
Ricky pointed to
his head to emphasize his last point.
A loud clang
alerted Ricky and Alex of activity at the end of the alley. A dark shape was
approaching. Renegade beams of light flickered over the shape, revealing a
large man wearing a black-hooded jacket. The man walked clumsily, yet he still
maintained to keep an unnerving pace. He stopped a few feet before the two men.
Ricky didn’t like the uneasy vibe in the air. There was something wrong about
Ricky said, “Can
we help you?”
The man pulled
out a revolver. “Gimme all the cash you got on you, now. Give it now, you-you
“Alright man, just
chill.” Ricky said. He could tell the guy was either high or in desperate need
of his next fix. The man’s hands shook and his speech was slurred. Not wanting
to test the man’s resolve, Ricky reached into his pocket and handed the man the
cash he’d stolen that evening. The man snatched the money out his hand and turned
“Now you. You-you
think I’m playing fool?”
Alex was frozen.
“Just give him your cash, bro.”
“I don’t have
anything on me,” Alex mumbled.
cursed and cocked the revolver. “Man, I need your damn money. Just-just give
it, man. I-I didn’t do all this for nothing.”
Alex put his
hands up, “Listen, I don’t have any on—“
echoed in the alley. Ricky watched as Alex toppled backward and fell on the
cold, hard ground. The stranger turned around, ran, and disappeared into the
down next to his friend. The frigid shock caused paralysis as he stared at the
lifeless body. Crimson blood pooled all over the alley’s street. Alex had been such
a good guy, yet here he lay, with a hole in his chest.
Coming out of
the daze, Ricky checked Alex’s pockets and for any cash. He found a crisp
hundred dollar bill folded in a small shopping list. At the bottom of the list
it read: Love, Mom. P.S. Don’t forget the milk again.
son-of-a-bitch. You should have just given the money,” Ricky said, shaking his
head. He placed the hundred dollar bill in his wallet, and then he crumpled up
the list and tossed it in the green dumpster near him. He gave the graffiti
pin-up lady a wink. Even with that asshole stealing forty-six dollars from him,
he was still up fifty-four dollars on the night.
Thanks to his
old pal, Alex.
Ricky stood, reaching
for his cell phone to call
the cops. “In this world, crime does pay. You just gotta be smart,” he mumbled
while dialing. “It’s evolution and shit.”
is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction
author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and
anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the
night and the sciences of our universe. Find out more at www.calvindemmer.com or
follow him on Twitter @CalvinDemmer.