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Joseph Washburn
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thebagcartwright.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2019

The Bag

 

by Joseph Washburn

 

 

           Smoke dimmed the light in the little room. A blue-striped fedora sat discarded on the floor, beside a leather bag. Sam and Victoria sat huddled over a table. Beer and snubbed cigarettes littered the surface, marring the brown finish.

“Oh, my God, how in the world could this have happened?” Victoria said, as she rubbed her eyes, eyeliner and makeup dripping down her wet face.

Sam slumped, as his bald head fell into his hands. “Vicky, I am getting too old for this. I could go for a line; it’ll be the last one I get.”

“Is that all you care about? After what we did?”

“What we did. Last time I checked, this mess is your fault. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Sam said.

“How can you be so full of shit?”

“Hey, watch your mouth.”

“Look you’re just as much to blame,” said Victoria.

Sam leaned back as he pressed a fresh cigarette to his lips and struck a match. The cigarette glowed before he exhaled a puff of smoke into the room.

“I say we toss the bag and run,” Victoria said.

“Toss it, and what about when the police find the bag and see what’s inside?”

“It’s better than other people finding out what’s in it,” Victoria said, as she reached down and picked up the leather bag. The bottom sagged low as she cleared a space on the table and dropped the bag between them.

“Damn, Vicky, get that thing away from me.”

“I hoped that seeing it might help us decide on what to do.”

“Do you want to see what’s inside that bag again?”

Bang, Bang, Bang.

 “Sammy boy, we need to talk!”

“Oh shit,” Sam said, as he pushed his chair back and jumped to his feet.

“How did they find us, Sam?”

“Sammy boy, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way, your choice.”

“What are we going to do?” Victoria said.

Sam dropped his cigarette. A small hole burned into the carpet as he walked to the window and peeked between the plastic blinds.

“Sam, did you hear me?” Victoria said.

“Shut up, bitch, I’m thinking. OK, I can see three cars and three people. Damn, with their headlights, I can’t make out much. . . .”

“Sammy boy, last chance to come out!”

“Sam!” said Victoria.

“Victoria, get into the bathroom, close the door, and lay down in the tub.”

Victoria sat there a few more seconds before leaping to her feet and grabbing the bag.

“No, leave the bag,” Sam said, as he pulled a silver pistol from his chest rig.

Victoria stared at him, then turned on her heels, and disappeared through the bathroom door.

Sam positioned a chair facing the door before he fell into it. He sat the pistol on the table beside the bag. He grabbed a bottle of amber liquid, swishing it around, before pouring it into a glass. “Guess this is it.”

He downed the shot and grabbed his pistol, placing it under his neck.

 "OK, Sammy boy, guess you want it the hard way. All right, boys let him have it."

Sam pulled the trigger.

Gunshots rang through the room, bursting through the door and window.

Wood splintered, glass shattered, and the muffled screams of Victoria echoed through the room. Sam jerked, as blood and brain matter splattered the floor and table, as the onslaught drew to a close.

“Sammy boy, you dead?”

Sam slumped forward onto the table, his lifeless eyes staring up at the bag.

Little rivulets of blood leaked out.

 

 

 

Joseph Washburn is 33 from Alabama. He is married with four kids, and after his wife finished with her Master’s in Elementary Education, he decided to enroll at Full Sail University for creative writing. He is currently working on his B.S. in Creative writing for entertainment.



It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.

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