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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Richard Martinez—He's Nobody

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Art by Cindy Rosmus 2021

   He’s Nobody

 

Richard Martinez

 

 

 

Two thugs are driving in a car, chatting.

“What’s so special about this guy?” The Fat Thug says to the Skinny Thug.

“Actually, nothing. He’s just a normal guy. Kinda short. Bald. And…notoriously hard to kill,” said the Skinny one.

“Really. I bet I could kill ‘im.”

“I heard the last guy was a pro. But this guy, he blew him away,” said the Skinny one.

“Really.”

“Yeh. The funny part is that this guy, he didn’t even make the hitter for a hitter! He thought he was being mugged!” The Skinny one chuckled.

“Really.”

“Yep. So, he don’t even know there’s a legit contract on him! He still thinks he shot a mugger!” Skinny thug choked on his own laughter, coughing.

“Really…” The Fat one scratched his stubble.

“That’s right. We pick him up for the fake job, take him to it. And put him in the ground. No fuss, no muss. Easiest 50 g’s you’ve ever made.” 

“Damn right. Work smarter, not harder,” said the Fat one.

They laughed, driving on.

 

Wake up. Pee. Shower. Shave and dress yourself. Make your bed and…

Henry sat on the edge of the motel mattress and reached for the drawer next to the bed. He pulled the revolver from the drawer and opened the cylinder, carefully sliding a bullet into the chamber. He closed his eyes, and snapped it shut.

          The phone rang.

Henry paused for a moment, trying to decide what to do. He opened his eyes and put the gun in his jacket pocket. He’d taken the job for these two bozos, he just needed the money. So he answered the phone.

“We’re downstairs waitin’.”

 

“I heard about you before.” The fat one said from the back seat. Henry sat quiet. Great, he thought. Talkers.

“I heard you had like a mental breakdown or something. Something about you shooting some kid.” Henry saw the skinny thug glance at his cohort through the rearview.

Henry sat still. The fat one sat deeper into the backseat, slouching. “Yeah, something about your—”

“My wife left me.” Henry said. “She left me so I just retired.”

Retired?” The fat one scoffed. “I didn’t know there was a retirement plan. Besides, the pay is good, right?”

“I just need the money right now.” Henry sighed. This guy’s not gonna shut up, he thought. “I shot some punk who tried to rob me. It was nothing. But my wife never saw me the same so…one day she just left. That’s it.”

The skinny one could feel the tension in the car. Why pester the guy? Just get him to the drop point and put him in the ground! Christ…

“That’s it.” Henry said. “I just need the money, that’s all. Then I’m done.”

The fat one snickered. This guy ain’t so tough.

“Fuck wives.” He said from the back seat. And that’s all it took.

Henry pulled the revolver from his pocket and shot the driver. The windshield turned red as the splatter filled the car with eerie red shadows from the freeway lights.

“What the fu—” The fat one didn’t finish as Henry turned and pulled the trigger, but the gun only clicked on the empty cylinder. He could hear the engine winding up as the dead guy’s foot sank into the gas pedal.

The fat thug scrambled to pull the automatic from his belt and in his hurry, accidently discharged it, blowing off his genitals. He shrieked, pulling the blood-stained weapon with both hands, trying to aim it, but Henry grabbed the gun as it slipped and slid in his fist. The man screamed, firing holes in the roof as the vehicle sped off the shoulder and into a tree.

Henry was the only one wearing a seatbelt. The two thugs, torn and mutilated, had been thrown out the windshield and their bodies crushed against the large tree, lying against it and the smoking wreck like bloody, broken marionettes.

Henry pulled his face from the deflating airbag and tore off his seatbelt, pushing his way out of the now-burning wreckage. His body began to hurt, the adrenaline was wearing off…already!

I’m too old for this shit, he thought as he limped off into the forest away from the crash.

 

“How the hell did he know?! How could he?!” The Boss slammed his fist into the table, hurting his wrist and trying not to show it. “Somebody talked…”

“He can’t’ve known, baby. He ain’t smart like you.” The woman came around the table to massage his shoulders.

“You tell me. You were married to the guy for ten years.” He glared at her.

“Don’t give me that look. He’s a moron. He’s clueless. Ten years I’m with this guy and he still thinks I dunno what he does for money. Thinks I think he’s a freakin’ traveling salesman.” She came around him to sit on the edge of the table, pulling him closer.

“You’re the boss, baby. That’s why I’m with you. He’s a nobody.”

There was a knock at the door and it swung open. A bouncer entered followed by the pounding bass of the club music.

“I said knock first, dammit! I’m busy here!” The Boss shoved the girl onto the nearby sofa.

“Uh…I did, though.”

“Whatever. What do you got for me?” The Boss settled into his chair.

“That ex-cop you was talking about, the investigator, he’s here.” The bouncer motioned to the doorway.

“Yeh. Send him in.”

 

Henry stumbled out of the brush, tripping on some roots and vines and falling face-first onto the very same. He cursed, then stopped himself. Inwardly kicking himself for being so weak and impulsive. Why kill that asshole? He thought, you could be getting paid right now. But now those thugs are dead and you’re just running. Either from their people, or the cops.

Either way, you’re dead, he thought. Stupid, stupid!

He crossed a small river at a shallow point, slipping on the round stones. It was getting on to be late afternoon and with the sun to his right, he saw the city in the distance, peeking over the trees. Maybe you could head over to the club where Wendy works, he wondered, not wanting to return to the motel.

 

The investigator, a man named Gomez, plopped the accordion folder onto the table. “I got school records, medical records, financial records, military records, and a short resume. Plus some of my own research.”

“Military records?” The Boss couldn’t hide his surprise. Rubbing his fist.

“That’s correct. What’s wrong with your hand?” Gomez asked.

“Nothing. Whaddya got?”

Gomez pulled a small notebook from his jacket pocket. “Naval Academy… speaks four languages, trained in—"

“What?” The Boss whirled over to the girl on the sofa, who shrugged.

“Yeah…I thought you said this guy was a moron.” Gomez looked at his notes, flipping through. “Turns out, your boy Henry was a pretty highly-trained counter-intelligence agent. He speaks Spanish, Farsi, and…French.”

“That’s only three.” The Boss grumbled.

“What?”

“Three languages. That’s only three.” The Boss looked again at the girl.

“English is a language, too. Remember?” Gomez walked over to the desk, leaning his weight against it, hearing it creak. “Jimmy, we go way back. I know it’s none of my business but, what’s your beef with this guy? I thought he worked for you at some point.”

“He never worked for us. He’s sort of a, um, free-agent type. And you’re right, it ain’t none of your business.” He stared at the girl on the leather sofa. “He’s a…a loose thread. That’s all. I’m just tying up loose ends.”

 

The club music was pulsating so loud that even from the outside Henry could feel it in his stomach. His suit was in disarray, and he tried to blend in but when he got to the door the bouncer simply let him past the velvet rope with only a strange look, no charge. He didn’t pause to think about it as he knew Wendy would be working tonight. She owed him a favor from a previous lifetime, in which he had killed a man who’d assaulted her sister. She would help, he kept thinking. Maybe give him some money or a safe place to go. Either or, he’d get a couple drinks and be on his way. He wormed through the crowd of dancing people who jumped and shoved one another, reaching the bar and securing himself a spot. He saw Wendy down at the end and he waved, calling out to her over the music. He caught her attention and she recognized him, making her way down the bar towards him.

 

What?! Don’t lie to me!” The Boss screamed into the phone.

“I ain’t lying, boss! He’s here! He’s at the bar, ordering a drink! Right now!” The bouncer shouted over the music.

“I knew it! I knew he knew, and now he knows that I know! Now he’s here for payback!” The Boss scrambled over to the small safe in the corner, hidden behind some file boxes. He entered the combination and pulled a small automatic pistol from inside.

“Whoa, whoa, take it easy.” Gomez stepped back.

“I’m gonna take care of this myself. And you’re gonna help me.” The Boss waved the weapon at Gomez. Gomez sighed, drew his pistol from an ankle holster. “He’s unarmed, right?”

 

On the dance floor, Henry drank the soda water Wendy gave him. She asked if he was alright, told him he looked terrible, he just nodded and drank. The music was giving him a headache, and the strobe lights…

Then he noticed the two men coming down the stairs from the VIP area. One was the owner of the place, that much he knew. The other one looked like a cop. But not a cop.

Then he saw the gun.

The cop-looking guy raised his hand and in the split-second before he fired Henry dropped to the floor. The shot rang out and there was a scream from someone in the crowd who was struck by the stray bullet. The club owner aimed his weapon and Henry rolled into the crowd of confusion, automatic fire ringing out as people around him started dropping dead.

Chaos erupted, and the music played on. The bass pumped as panicking, screaming club-goers trampled each other in their mass hysteria, running for exits, bathrooms, any cover around.

Henry rolled to his feet and scrambled behind the bar, seeing Wendy slumped over. She was wounded but alive. And it’s your fault, he thought. Something inside him snapped.

He grabbed at the heavy glass bottles.

Vodka. The two men continued to shoot indiscriminately in their general direction as the mass of people pushed away from the dance area, the annoying music continuing to pulse on an endless loop. Cheap bastard couldn’t even afford a decent DJ, he thought. Henry flung the vodka at the men, winding up and heaving them over the bar like grenades and hearing Gomez shout in anger as a bottle shattered next to him, covering him in alcohol. Gomez fired and his pistol clicked empty and Jimmy tried to run past him but they fell over each other and tumbled down the stairs. They crashed into the dance floor at a funny angle, and there was a dull crack as Gomez’ neck snapped under Jimmy’s weight.

Henry fashioned a Molotov cocktail, stuffing it with bar napkins and lighting them with the bar matchbooks. He threw the flaming piece like a quarterback, and it exploded against the two men on the floor, setting them both aflame.

The boss howled, waving his arms and running around the dance floor as the beat dropped, setting other stools and tables on fire as he ran headlong into them. Henry pulled the fire alarm and the sprinkler system doused the boss and he came to rest in a steaming pile of smoldering flesh, mouth agape with the lips and eyelids seared black. The alarms shut off the music and Henry finally got some relief.

Remembering Wendy, he ran back over to where she was laying. The bullet had gone through her love handle, but it had exited the other side and aside from the bleeding she should be okay, he told himself, hoping. If I get some supplies…

Henry pulled her up slowly, getting her to her feet. “Let’s get to your car,” he said.

Wendy stopped him, squeezing his shoulder. She reached under the bar for a small lockbox. It wasn’t locked, and inside were rolls of twenties and fifties that hadn’t yet been changed from the previous shift.

“Jimmy was always a lazy boss.” Wendy groaned.

Henry grabbed up the box, smiling. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Richard Martinez, 38, was born in San Antonio, TX. He served in the Army for four years as an Infantryman stationed in Vilseck, Germany, and was honorably discharged. He enjoys playing guitar, and anything guitar-related. Late in life Richard developed a form of epilepsy and today, he enjoys working from home with his two cats, writing in his spare time. He had the joy of working on The Sagebrush Review on one of its earliest editions at UT San Antonio. “He’s Nobody” is his first published story.




Cindy Rosmus is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants She’s been published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E, and Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights activist. She has recently been branching out into photo illustration, under the guidance and mentoring of Ann Marie Rhiel.



In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021