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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

87_ym_tourist_hlyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2021

The Tourist

 

by Max Thrax

 

 

Shane jogged past Star Market. In the alley, he saw a dead man.

 At first, he wasn’t sure if the man was dead. It was a poor part of town and he’d seen guys sleeping rough on benches or huddled below the overpass.

It was three in the morning, the main road cold and quiet. He took out his phone and switched on the flashlight, stepped closer to the body.

The man had a ball-peen hammer buried in his forehead.

Shane slipped the phone in his shorts. When he turned to leave, a man wearing a windbreaker and tan pants appeared on the sidewalk.

“Evening,” he said. “Live around here?”

“Mission Hill.”

“Hillside condos? I bet. Seen you running. What’d you run for?”

Shane inched back.

“Few runners around here. Receive me?”

“I was just—”

“Coming out of an alley.”

Shane wanted to go home, told the man.

“Show me who’s got a hammer in his fucking head.”

                                     

                                                          ***

The man introduced himself as Bob. “This is Brian Cafferty,” he said. “Lives on Cypress with his mother. Or lived. Receive me? Tossed from every pub in town center.”

“You knew him?”

“Well as anyone,” Bob said. “Call the police?”

“No phone.”

“But you would’ve called the police? I mean, if you’d brought your phone. Here, I’ll  call . . . My emergency? Not much. Dead guy on 85 Chestnut, next to Star Market. That’s S-T-A-R—”

Shane heard the creak of a shopping cart. A woman wheeled a basket of empty cans and bottles through the playground across the street. He was no longer sweating and felt the chill in his legs.

“Should be here soon.”

“I need to leave.”

“No problem,” Bob said. “Tell the cops I saw a guy named Shane flee a crime scene. In running shorts. Direct to them condos.”

 “I never told you my name.”

 “I’m from the neighborhood.” Bob held up Shane’s wallet and phone. “Here’s it back. Didn’t take anything, nah.”

“Thanks.”

“Cafferty had his chances. I’m saying they warned him. Death don’t seem real until the boys drop a hammer on your skull . . . Never crossed them. The boys. Known them years. Know I’m no threat.”

From blocks away, sirens sounded. The whine grew louder, and Shane saw a cruiser speed up the street toward the bridge.

“They’ll turn around,” Bob said. A white van parked in front of the alley and blocked them in. “Eventually.”

The door slid open. Out walked two men in ski masks. The short man tripped Shane and the tall man pulled a thick cotton bag over his head. He struggled as he was lifted from the pavement, dragged to the curb, slung in the van.

The door closed and he tumbled to the floor. Someone threw a weighted blanket over him.

“Too many drunks,” Bob yelled, and Brian Cafferty’s body landed on top of Shane. The hammer fell out of the man’s head, clattered against one of the seatbelts.

“Getting sloppy,” said the short man.

“Some jogger,” Bob said. “Stood in the alley. I lose Cafferty for one fucking second, he’s in the alley.”

“Tourist trap.”

“Telling me.”

The van started. “Long way home,” the short man said, and they pulled away from the curb, into the cold morning.

 

 

 

Max Thrax lives in Boston. His stories and poetry have appeared in Shotgun Honey, Bristol Noir, and Punk Noir. His novella God is a Killer (Close to the Bone) will be published in May 2022. Find him online at www.maxthrax.com or on Twitter @ThraxMaximilian. 



Hillary 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 EasyThuggish 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 Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021