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ym75bridgegame.jpg
Art by Darren Blanch 2019

Bridge Game

By

DV Bennett

 

Frankie shook his head, “I can’t believe this.”

Why not? Situation normal for you, kid.”

And there it was. Nothing shredded Frankie’s brain like the voice of his step-father in his head. The old man had taken the dirt nap three years earlier, but Frankie’s screw-ups were the topic for the evening, and he wouldn’t let it go.

Nice of your punk-ass friend to get himself killed when you need him most.

Mike’s corpse was on the bridge, fifteen feet to Frankie's left, on the traffic side of the railing. The shiny grill of a candy apple red ‘73 Cadillac had sent Mike skittering for a good fifty feet, tucking him into the guard railing like a puck into the net.

Everyone always said you’d die young and strung up.”

“The term is strung out, dumbass.”

It was a play on words, but whatever. You shouldn’t have tried dealing your drugs in someone else’s territory.

“What the hell do you care? You never did before, you old thief.”

You’d be the expert on B and E kid. Not me. Tell me, who did I ever steal from?

“You don’t sell used cars your whole life without ripping somebody off.”

Prove it, mouth.”

Frankie closed his eyes, trying to force the old man out of his head, but he could still see the stupid porkpie hat, pulled too low, the pencil mustache, flecked with gray over lips stretched out into his irritating, cocky grin.

After running Mike down, the guys in the Caddy had knocked Frankie around and joked while tossing a length of nylon rope over a girder. They laughed even harder when they strung him up by his wrists.

Dazed by the beating, the faint sound of a pin being pulled startled him into wakefulness in time to see a grenade shoved into his right palm. The men had bragged about stealing them, and how lucky it was for Frankie they had.

“Who carries grenades around? Such nice people you know.”

“I don’t know these guys, you idiot.”

The two men had stood looking at each other, wondering who Frankie was talking to. The larger one said, “You shouldn’t sample your own product, kid.”

Letting up on the spoon and letting their own grenade blast their grinning faces off was tempting, but not enough to die for. The squealing tires of the Caddy sounded like laughter when the two men had left him there, doing the tiptoe dance with death.

An attempt to jerk his hand hard enough to throw the grenade over the railing behind him filled him with doubt. He was afraid he might not be able to throw it with enough force and end up dropping it at his own feet, instead. He would only have four to five seconds before it exploded. If that happened, he knew he couldn’t extricate himself from the rope quickly enough to avoid blowing himself up.

He stalled the inevitable as long as he could, but with his arms sticking straight up in the air, he felt the burning pinprick sensation from the strain on his blood circulation. In a little while his hands would be completely numb, and he would lose his grip on the grenade and everything he had worked for would be gone.

He and Mike had expanded their operation, making their own stuff instead of cooking it for other dealers. He had used a loan from his mother to pay for their startup. He could always count on Mom.

Hey asshat. You need to do something.”

“I know that, old man. Don't you think I know that?” the sound of his anger merged with the sound of rushing water, and the hush of cool spring air through the trees.

Sweat beaded on his forehead and ran down into his eyes. The salt stung as he gripped the grenade, and he pulled his toes up from the walkway. Hanging there, he expected the pain in his wrists to be overwhelming, but he didn’t feel a thing.

He stuck his legs out and back, attempting to swing his body. He built a bit of momentum when the rope snapped under his weight, and he fell.

As if in slow motion, the grenade slipped from Frankie’s sweaty hand, and he could see snippets of his life passing before him. His beautiful mother patiently teaching him how to tie his shoes, baking him birthday cakes, helping him with his homework and combing his unruly hair. As his body neared the pavement, the remorse over what he would never be able to tell her overwhelmed him.

Slamming hard against the wet concrete, he heard the old man’s voice counting down, “two…one.”

Lying there, Frankie heard a loud boom, followed by the sound of metal fragments, tick-tacking against the structure of the bridge. He relaxed. The grenade must have bounced over the safety railing after all.

He finally stood and leaned over the rail to look downward into the black abyss. After shaking the feeling back into his arms, he pulled Mike’s corpse from the roadside. He hoisted it over the guardrail, across the walkway, and over the side of the pedestrian safety railing, letting the body drop into the frigid rush of water below. Better for the cops to find Mike downstream. Let them think he’d jumped or fallen into the water.

“Smart, kid. Best place for bowl-floater like him, anyway. Time to go now. Time to leave all this crap behind. Time to go home and talk to your mother.”

Frankie untied the rope from his wrists, limping away from the bridge, “You talk to her, old man. I’ve got a deal to do.”

 

-End-






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D.V. Bennett lives in southern Washington State, enjoys spending time with his family and training in martial arts. He has a day job, but writing is what keeps him up nights. You can find out more about him and what he writes at https://www.dvbennett.com/

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