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P. K. Augustyn
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latereturns.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2018

Late Returns

by P.K. Augustyn

 

It was dark. Then there was a pinpoint. A pinpoint of light. It was far away. Peaceful. Wake up. No, it’s peaceful here.

The light started to move. Slowly closer. Wake up you fool.

Faint noises. Echoing. Closer the light came and it was picking up speed. Like a freight train. The light was getting bigger and brighter. Faster and faster. Crashing noises.

Blinding light filled the space and my head exploded.

I opened my eyes. My skull felt like it was split open by an anvil. I closed my eyes and fell away. Back into the dark.

 

I woke up. The taste of blood and vomit in my mouth. Minutes passed. Slowly, I rolled over and got to my knees. I felt doing that was a major achievement. My head was killing me. On all fours, I made my way to the bathroom.

I reached the sink and with my right hand pulled myself up. I let out a yell. Agony torpedoed throughout both sides of my chest. Those damn kicks in my ribs. I turned on the cold water.  

I buried my head in the porcelain. The chill of the water did little to null the throbbing pain in my head.

I looked up. In the mirror I saw a face. I knew my nose was broken. My left eye was completely closed, surrounded by colors of black, brown and orange. The white of the right eye was fire red. My lips looked like two fat sausages and between them both front teeth were chipped. The right side of my jaw was as large as a catcher’s mitt.

 

And then I remembered Vera.

I stumbled out of the bathroom.

She was laying in the kitchen between the table and fridge. Her legs were bent at odd angles and her eyes bulged out glaring at me. The piano wire cut into her neck causing it to swell and forced her tongue out.

Crap. I failed.

 

Vera Sobieski came to my office yesterday. Said she needed protection. A Private Cop. She worked as barmaid at The Double Deuces. It’s owned by the Wojcik brothers. Four of them. She saw something. Something they did. And they saw her see that something.

She wouldn’t tell me what she saw. But she pleaded with me to protect her.

She had cash and I had twenty-six dollars in my savings account. 

 

I wrestled putting on my overcoat and shoved my .45 in the pocket. It was dark when I got outside. Dark as black oil. I grabbed a gas can from the garage and lifted it. Almost full. I got into my car and drove it slow over to The Double Deuces.

 

It was 4 A.M. when I stopped the car in front of the joint. It was closed, but lights were on and I knew they were in there. Grabbing the gas can, I made my way to the back of the building. I splashed gas all over the back, making sure I got the rear door good. Then I lit a match and hurried out to the front. I waited at the sidewalk with the .45 in my hand.

Frankie came out first. My first shot took half of his jaw off and spun him around. The second shot slammed into the back of his head.

Big Stan was next through the door. He had a gun in his hand but he never got the chance to raise it. I put two into the center of his chest.

When Luke came out I didn’t even care if he had a gun or not. My .45 blasted a hole in his throat. He just stood there with his blank eyes as big as two headlights. I placed the next shot between them.

Walt started spraying bullets before he came through the door. He managed to put a couple of them into my heap. Once his face emerged through the smoke I emptied my gun. I didn’t know how many bullets were left in my .45, but the coroner would never identify Walt by looking at his face.

 

It’s done. Over. The roof collapsed and flames shot twenty feet up in the air.

Two visions of Vera entered my mind. One of life when she first walked into my office. And one of death laying on my kitchen floor.  Then I remembered a repulsive face in a bathroom mirror.

I’m done. It’s over for me too. No one would hire a detective that couldn’t protect his client. Especially a detective that got his client killed.

I shoved the .45 in my coat pocket and headed east down the sidewalk.

I spotted a pinpoint of light down there. But it seemed far away.

 

End





wasdivine.jpg
Art by John Thompson 2018

Baby It Was Divine

by P.K. Augustyn

 

When the car stopped it took four of them to haul me out of the trunk and through the door. They stripped me naked and threw me into the chair. Two more were needed to tie down my arms and legs. Six goons total. I almost felt like I was winning. I turned my head to the guy on my left and spat blood and mucus on this face. He launched a haymaker that landed dead center on my ear. A howitzer shell exploded in my head.

                                                   ***

I was working for The Bastard for only a couple of months when I first saw her. She was standing on the far side of the room and I remembered how her long blonde hair flowed down her back like ocean waves made of gold. She turned and caught me staring at her. Like a dream moving in slow motion, a warm smile came upon her beautiful face.

They moved quick. A guy started pounding brass knuckles into my left side. Another one went to work on my right. The cracking of my ribs echoed deep in my ear drums.

Everyone has that time in their life when they dive into something that they know they shouldn’t. Well, that’s how it was with us. In the beginning, it was just a lustful craving that we both felt we needed. Like two magnets, north and south. Which later turned into a romantic friendship with its laughter and sadness and despair. Then it turned to the most dangerous human emotion for both of us. Love.

A big hairy-knuckled lug stepped up to the plate. His closed fists looked like two cinder blocks. He danced the left-right number across my face. My head dropped when he was finished. Out of my one good eye I saw teeth, part of my lip and what I thought was the pulpy mass of an eyebrow laying in a pool of blood on the floor.  

You see, we were playing a dangerous game. She was The Bastard’s wife. And that created two gut-wrenching problems for me. I knew he didn’t like to let go of his possessions and I knew that I couldn’t live without her.

One of them drew a knife. He bent down and sliced my right Achilles tendon. A hot rubber band snapped up my leg and slammed into my calf like a shotgun blast. He cocked his head and smirked at me then he moved over to my other leg.

We talked about how we could make it work. She wanted to just break away and leave him. I thought about killing him.  I never told her that because she didn’t have that much hate in her. But I did. And I came up with a plan to knock him off.

The next punk came at me with an electric drill in his hand. The bit kept stalling in my kneecaps and he had to keep yanking it out to free it. My bloodcurdling screams caused my back to arch which intensified the agony in my chest from the shattered ribs.

I wanted her far away from him and his strings before I did it. I set her up near a little dusty town in Southern Utah. In an old Mormon farmhouse that I thought we could fix up and have a quiet life together. I was in my apartment, packing up my things and getting ready to head out to take care of The Bastard when they came. Six of them.

 

                                                      ***

When the cobwebs cleared, the goons were lined up in front of me. I saw six haggard faces. Their jackets were off and my blood laid in dark red streaks across their untucked white shirts. Brown sweat stains ran down their backs and under their armpits. I put a smile on what was left of my face and wanted to laugh, but couldn’t.

 

A door opened, and The Bastard walked in.

 

One of the goons told him that they worked me over for three hours and I wouldn’t tell them where she was.

 

He came over and looked down at me. The harsh light forced a dark shadow across his pompous face. 

 

“Look at you. All of this could have been avoided.”

 

His voice seemed distant, like a light whisper.

 

“She’s the reason you’re here now.”

 

God, how I loved her.

 

“She’s the reason you’re all busted up now.”

 

God, I never hated a man so much.

 

“And she’s the reason you’ll be dead a minute from now.”

 

Then he just stood there, like he was waiting for me say something.

 

I dropped my head to my chest and managed to get one word out. Asshole.

 

Then I had a cloudy vision of her sitting alone in that farmhouse while the sound of his voice echoed in my skull.

 

“She’ll be found.”

“She’ll be found.”

“She’ll be found…”

 

I lifted up my head to look at him. I knew he was right.

 

He turned and nodded to the men before leaving the room.

 

Six guns came out, pointed dead center at my chest.


The ancient Greeks called love “the madness of the gods.”  Before I met her I never knew what the hell that meant. We had our stretch together and nothing could ever take that away from us. It happened. And it is stamped on a point along a timeline that runs forever with no end. It is there and it will always be there. I know she is here with me now and she will be with me forever. Wherever God sends me.




P.K. Augustyn was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and has worked at a leading high tech company in Rochester N.Y. When you don’t see him walking the streets of Western New York, you will find him kicking up dust in the deserts of the American Southwest. He has authored numerous short stories. Some can be found at Near to the Knuckle and, of course, Yellow Mama. He is still laboring on his first novel, featuring a Polish-American private detective operating out of Buffalo, NY.

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