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evolutioncrime.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2017

Evolution = Crime

 

Calvin Demmer

 

 

Ricky Sullivan 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.

The creak of a door opening pulled him from the moment.

Alex Christianson, 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.”

“I can’t tonight. I’ve got—”

“Your loss,” 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 extra tonight.”

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 that.”

“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.

Alex sighed.

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 this guy.

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 hear me?”

“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 to Alex.

“Now you. You-you think I’m playing fool?”

Alex was frozen.

Ricky said, “Just give him your cash, bro.”

“I don’t have anything on me,” Alex mumbled.

The stranger 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—“

A bang 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 shadows.

Ricky kneeled 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.

“You dumb 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.”


Calvin Demmer 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.

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