The insistent knocking
on the door continued.
Or had it stopped
and then started again?
“Just a minute,”
Billy Fitzpatrick mumbled. His head hurt
and the dried blood in his eyes made seeing difficult. He rolled a body off him,
somebody who was either unconscious or dead, and struggled to a shaky standing
He opened the door a
crack to see his neighbor from across the hall, Candy something or other,
standing there looking expectant and a little worried.
She was wearing a
red Santa’s elf hat that complimented her pained expression.
“There’s blood on
your face,” she said.
“Yeah, so what?”
said Billy. “Go away; I’m busy.”
“I bet you are,”
said Candy. “I could help.”
An hour ago, Billy
had come in from Happy Hour at The Thirsty Troll and had been ambushed by someone
who’d accessed his room.
He was only in town
for a week or two, and rented a place at a small rooming house off Kedzie in a
residential neighborhood near Irving Park.
Billy was in The
Windy City for a job.
The intruder had
been behind his door and Billy somewhat dodged the first blow, taking it on the
shoulder. He managed to draw his .38 and
get off two wild shots just as the second blow came down onto his forehead.
He’d awakened to the
knocking on his door and what he now knew was a dead man lying across his legs.
“I don’t think you
can help me with what I gotta do,” said Billy.
“Ya got a dead body
in there, don’tcha,” said Candy. “I can
help ya with that. I already did help ya
some, ya know.”
“Oh, yeah? And just how did ya already help me?” Billy still
hadn’t opened the door any
further than a couple of inches. He
sensed his neighbor was the nosy type and possibly a little bit off.
“The landlord heard
the shots and came upstairs to your door.
He knocked, but you didn’t answer.
I’d heard the shots too. I came
out and told him I’d used a hard cover book to try and kill a spider that was
runnin’ across my floor. I don’t think
he bought it, but he left.”
“Why’d you do that?”
asked Billy. “You don’t even know me.”
“Then that nosy old
Mrs. Evans poked her head out of her door and asked if somebody had been
“Ya tell her the
spider story?” asked Billy, opening the door a little further.
“No, I just told her
to mind her own beeswax,” said Candy with a smirk.
“Why do ya think ya
could help me with a dead body? Assuming
there is a dead body, that is. Maybe I
was just killin’ spiders with a mystery novel.”
“I’m good with dead
things,” said Candy. “I’m tryin’ to learn
how to bring the dead back to life.”
What a whacko, thought Billy. And she knew too much. He toyed with the idea of dragging
killing her, and dumping both bodies off the fire escape.
“….. and I’ve
on a rat and a bunch of mice …,”
Billy really needed
to sit down, have some coffee, and do something with the stiff on the floor
monologue was starting to wear on him, he was curious.
“So, you’ve brought
these animals back to life?”
“Nah. I think they’d been dead for too long. But that body
in there has only been dead for
about an hour. I’ll give ya a hundred
bucks for it; I’d like to see what I could do with a fresher body.”
According to the ID
in his wallet, the deceased was one Arnie Weston from Trenton, New Jersey. After
wrapping the body in a sheet, he and
Candy carried it across the hall to Candy’s room.
“You can have the
body,” said Billy. “No charge for the
first one. Call it a Christmas present.”
“Thanks, yer a
peach,” Candy grunted, struggling with her end of the bundle.
“Smells kinda funky
in here,” said Billy.
“Yeah, I use air
freshener, but the smell of death’s hard to get rid of. Actually, I’ve
gotten so I kinda like it.”
Billy raised his
eyebrows at that. “Well, I gotta get
back and tidy up my place. The landlord
or that old biddy from down the hall might have decided to call the cops. I’ve
gotta make things presentable in case
they stop by.”
“How ‘bout we have
dinner tomorrow night?” asked Candy.
Billy wrinkled up
his nose as he looked past her into the little kitchen. He didn’t think
he’d be able to eat anything
in here with that awful smell and the new dead body now lying on a surgical
table in the middle of the room.
Candy read his thoughts. “Oh, we can go out to eat. I’ll
buy since you were nice enough to
provide me with a body to mess around with.”
“I’m gonna clean
and get some sleep,” said Billy. “I’ll
stop over about 8:00 tomorrow night.”
“Cool, it’s a date,”
“Candy, it is
definitely not a date, okay?
We’re just having dinner.”
“Okay, but that
sounds an awfully lot like a date to me,” said Candy with a playful smile.
Billy as he went out the door.
Billy slept until
noon. There’d been no visit from the
police and he was happy for that. Of
course, whoever sent Arnie Weston to kill him would probably send someone
looking for his boy before too long.
He should probably
do some research on his hit and get the job he was getting paid for done as
soon as possible.
At 8:00 Billy opened
his door to go over to Candy’s. He still
wasn’t sure about whether she was a witness he could afford to leave behind. He
stopped when he saw a big guy in a nicely
tailored suit talking to her through the opening allowed by her door’s security
Billy couldn’t hear
what the guy was saying. All of a sudden,
the door was pushed open, tearing the cheap chain lock from the door jam.
Candy gave a shriek as
her questioner barged in and closed the door after him.
Billy walked up to
the door and listened.
“I want ya to go
over there and, ya know, distract him for me,” said a male voice.
“Fuck you,” came
Candy’s voice. “I ain’t doin’ nothin’
Billy pulled his .38
from his shoulder holster and quietly opened the door.
The thug’s back was
to him and Billy saw that he had a sap in his hand, threatening Candy.
Candy saw Billy
enter the room, but the expression on her face didn’t change one bit. Billy
was impressed with her ability to stay
But then her eyes
widened and she yelled, “Behind you!”
“What the —”
Billy. Somebody used something hard on
the back of his head and down he went.
As he was losing consciousness, he heard the “Pffft!, Pffft!, Pffft!” of
a silencer and figured chances were he wasn’t going to wake up from this one.
Someone was gently
slapping his face.
true, for the second time in twenty-four hours there was what felt like a body
lying on his legs.
“Wake up, Billy, we
got stuff to do.”
“Who’s that? What happened?” Billy asked without opening
his eyes. “Am I dead?”
“No, silly,” said
Candy. “Yer not dead and I’m not dead,
but everybody else in here is.”
“Get this stiff off
me, will ya?” groaned Billy, trying to sit up.
“Hey, did I hear gunshots before my lights went out?”
Candy rolled the
body of the second wiseguy off Billy.
“That was me,” said Candy. “You
should really invest in a silencer. It
cuts down on visits from the landlord when ya have to off somebody.”
“And you ‘off
somebody’ on a regular basis?”
“Nah, these are my
first two. But they say you’ll always
remember your first, right?” Candy said,
waving the pistol at Billy. “This used
to belong to my old man. He left it
behind when he had to leave in the middle of the night a couple of years back —”
said Billy. “We gotta get outta
here. Whoever sent these guys will be
sending more. That’s how it works.”
Candy. “Are we a ‘we’ now?
We didn’t even have our date and now yer
askin’ me to run away with you?”
Billy. “My place is cleaned up. You
clean everything up in here except for the bodies. I’m goin’ down
to The Thirsty Troll and rent
some muscle to help get rid of ‘em. Then
we’re gettin’ the hell outta Dodge.”
“Aye, aye, my
Captain,” said Candy, giving Billy a jaunty salute.
Billy sighed and
Walking to the bar,
Billy did some thinking. Maybe instead
of going to The Thirsty Troll he should just go to O’Hare and catch a flight to
But he still had to
make his hit. He had a reputation to
maintain; he couldn’t leave a job unfinished.
He shook his head to
clear it. What had he been
thinking? Had he really thought he was
going to take Candy with him? Where in
the hell had that idea come from? Maybe
he’d had too many hits to the head recently.
She must have
somehow bewitched him in his weakened state.
He’d clean up the
mess, finish the job, and fly out of Chicago.
He’d let himself get distracted by Candy, but now he was back on track
“So you’ll get two
thousand bucks for the two of ya to split,” said Billy to the hired help from
The Thirsty Troll. “There’s four bodies,
all in one room, and they go to the landfill.
You said you’ve done this before and there better not be any
slip-ups. I don’t expect those bodies to
ever be found. Got it?”
The three took a cab
to borrow a truck from a friend of one of the two and then headed back to
Billy led Frank and
Lester down the hall to Candy’s door. He
took his .38 from its holster. He still
had Candy to deal with. He’d use her
pistol. She was right about the
silencer; there’d already been enough loud gunshots in the building.
“I thought ya said
there was four bodies,” said Frank. “I
only see three.”
“There’s a woman
gotta take care of; she’s the fourth,” said Billy. “Maybe
she went out for a minute.”
“Right behind you,
Billy,” said Candy, stepping into the living room from the kitchen. “Merry
Christmas.” Before he could get a shot off at her, she
shot him in the forehead and he dropped to the floor.
Frank and Lester put
their hands in the air.
“Okay, now we’ve
our four bodies,” said Candy. “And guys,
there’s been a change in management.”
Candy had already
removed the wallets of the three dead guys she’d been left with, and now she
took Billy’s. She had plenty of cash.
“What was Billy
gonna give ya?’ asked Candy.
“He said two
thousand bucks,” said Lester.
“Yer probably lyin’,
but I’ll give ya twenty-five hundred.
Christmas bonus. What’d he say to
do with ‘em?”
“We got a truck
outside and the bodies are goin’ to the landfill,” said Lester.
“Sounds good,” said
Candy. “Okay, get on with it. No
screw-ups or I’ll come lookin’ for ya.
Do ya believe that?”
Lester and Frank looked
at the four bodies, back at Candy, and then started getting things done.
They believed it.
retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and is the
submissions editor of Yahara Prairie Lights. He has had poetry and
flash fiction published in One Sentence Poems, Near to the Knuckle,
Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Theme of Absence, Drunk
Monkeys, The Flash Fiction Press, Black Petals, and a number
of other online magazines.
Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi
and pulp fiction
websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the
independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award
nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal
Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey,
and Red River Review, as well as numerous
anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night
to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales
from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror
anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big
Easy, Thuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White
Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited
"all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007
Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France,
Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern