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Bobby Mathews
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The Handyman

 

By Bobby Mathews

 

I’m one of the lucky ones. I come outta St. Clair Correctional with my life and most of my teeth. I oughta be grateful. Five years, straight up, armed robbery and assault on an unarmed person. Lots of guys go into St. Clair, and not all of us come out upright and breathing. But you try getting a job with a record like mine. Can’t be done. Not in this town.

So, I went into business for myself. You won’t find me on Yelp, and if somebody ever leaves me a Google review, I’ll hunt him down and make him eat it. But if you know where to look, you can find me. I don’t have a set rate. I go from job to job, and so far it’s worked out pretty good.

What I do, I fix things.

***

“I don’t quite understand how this works,” Melissa Talley said to me. She was pretty, a former high school cheerleader gone to seed. I was wearing my best shirt, a blue Oxford button-down—sixteen bucks at Wal-Mart—and a pair of clean and creased khaki pants. We were drinking overpriced coffee at Octane, a hipster-friendly coffee house in the flossy Uptown entertainment district just north of Interstate 20. The urban planners probably called it the heart of Birmingham. That’s how you get restaurants nearby that sell “elevated pub grub” (at elevated prices, natch). I didn’t mind that the stuff was expensive. I wasn’t the one paying. I took a sip from the white china mug and grimaced at the dark brown liquid. Bitter and over-roasted.

That could be the title of my memoir.

“Think of me as your personal handyman,” I told her. “You got a broken window, some frame damage. So, you find a guy who knows what he’s doing to come and fix it. That’s me.”

Melissa smiled at me, dipping her chin in what I’m sure she thought was a sexy way and said, “So you know what you’re doing?”

“Sometimes,” I said. “And what I don’t know, I figure out as I go along.”

Melissa drank some of her coffee. She didn’t seem to mind the taste. Maybe it was just me. Around us, the din of the coffee house clattered and banged away. It was a busy scene, but the movement and the noise was why we’d settled on it when she reached out to me. Big echoing spaces like this, with a lot of people around, make it very hard to listen in on a conversation.

“I need something a little more complex than fixing a window,” she said, and took an oversized brown leather purse from beside her on the floor, reached in and brought out a small white envelope. I smiled. The only thing better could be a large envelope.

“That’s okay,” I said. “I don’t do windows.”

“I have twenty-five hundred here,” she said. “Is that enough?”

I raised my eyebrows.

“It depends on the job.”

She slid the envelope of cash toward me and I closed a calloused palm over it, ready to make the cash disappear.

When she spoke again, her voice was harsh with fear and need, and her face looked trapped, somewhere between hopeful and panicked.

“I want you to kill my husband.”

The coffee house was a wide-open space, with high ceilings and concrete floors stained brown on purpose so that you can’t tell if anything’s been spilled. There were other people around us, all in their own conversations, but I swear that everything around me stopped for just a minute.

I’m not one of the good guys, and I’ve never even claimed to be. But neither am I a moron. I shoved the envelope back across the table, mournfully watching it skitter away like a cockroach when the lights come on. She looked down at the money and back up at me. Her eyes were wide.

“Not interested,” I said, and got up to leave. It was early January, and I could walk a couple of blocks down to the Museum of Art. There was an exhibit I wanted to see. I put on my navy pea coat and a Birmingham Barons baseball cap to guard against the cold January air outside. The coat had fit me before I went to prison. Now it hung on me with room enough to fit another person inside.

“Good discussion,” I said, and walked away. I left her there at the table, openmouthed and sputtering, like a fish that’s just been hauled from deep water onto an open deck.

Twenty-five hundred dollars to kill her husband. I tried not to be insulted. Maybe she didn’t have much money. But her coat had been good quality, and that was a Hermès scarf she was wearing. Her nails had been lacquered and her hair professionally done. Her teeth were so white and even that recent and ongoing dentistry were the only explanations. A woman like that’s gonna offer me two-and-a-half to kill her husband?

I do work for hire. But I don’t come cheap.

I went south and west, heading for the museum. Police headquarters was about a block away, and the snarl of a major highway interchange was not too distant to the east. Heavy equipment groaned and snorted in the distance where they were elevating and replacing major sections of the interstate. Traffic in Birmingham may not be as bad as Atlanta or Nashville, but the city’s got ambitions.

Melissa Talley rushed to catch up with me. Her breath puffed white in the chilly air and she gasped.

“Wait,” she said, the words half-whispered and urgent. “Please, I need help. I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

We were the only people on the street. This town ain’t much for pedestrians.

“Fine,” I said. “If you can keep up, you can tell me all about it.” Abruptly, I changed directions and headed more directly south toward Linn Park. I didn’t hurry, but I didn’t wait around, either. She scurried after me and was soon matching me step for step, as much as her short legs could.

“Why won’t you help me?”

Over to the east, the red rusted hump of the Sloss Furnaces water tank loomed over the city like something out of War of the Worlds. I could just barely see it, but every time I did, it kind of reoriented me in the city. I took a hard, cold breath, shoved my hands deep into the pockets of my pea coat, and stopped in front of the woman.

“You’re cheap.” I said. “And I can tell by your clothes and your purse and your face that you don’t have to be. You go making that offer, and the next guy you approach is gonna be a cop.”

Melissa Talley’s smile was bitter.

“So what,” she said. “Jail would be better.”

Most of the time, that’s bullshit. I’ve been to jail, and I could write a scholarly paper on the million little ways that it’s bad, how every hour inside kills your soul just a little more. But Melissa was serious. And here in the natural light, I could see her more clearly. Underneath her makeup, her cheeks were lightly pockmarked. When I’d first seen her in the coffee shop, I’d chalked those scars up to chicken pox or a bad case of teenage acne. But out here where there wasn’t soft and glowing light to help hide the damage, I could see more clearly.

The scars had tiny, square edges. And there were dozens of them, sprinkled from her hairline all the way down to her chin.

Shit.

“He hits you,” I said. She didn’t speak, instead settling for a small solemn nod. We walked together then, and I slowed my pace to match hers. Our breath hung around our heads like we were smoking the world’s coldest cigars.

“Not every day,” she said. “But it started early.”

I didn’t need the details—they were written all over her face—but she told me anyway. And then she did something that I wished she hadn’t: Melissa Talley reached into her mouth and with a terrible slurping sound pulled out a complete set of false teeth. Uppers and lowers. They sat in her palm, gleaming in the thin winter sunlight.

I turned away.

“Put them back in,” I said, and tried not to listen as she did.

“You think I’ve got money,” she said after a moment. “But Frank is the one with the cash. We’ve got nice cars—a Bentley and a Mercedes—and a big house out in Mountain Brook. But I don’t have anything.”

“Nothing?”

“He controls everything. It took me nearly two years to scrape up this much. Meantime, that sonofabitch drops that much on a new set of golf clubs.”

There was a park bench just ahead, and when we reached it, I sat down and motioned for her to join me. Linn Park was pretty, a small green square in a city caught up in growth and gentrification. I wondered how long it would stay the same in a place where everything changed almost daily.

“All right,” I said. “Give me the envelope.”

She passed it over, and I pocketed it. The money felt heavier than it should.

“Tell me everything.”

•••

That’s how I found myself hanging around outside the Marble Ring, a real by-God speakeasy in the Avondale neighborhood a few nights later. Frank Talley was there on the second floor balcony, smoking a long cigar and flirting with his waitress. I’d been to the Ring before, sat at the horseshoe-shaped bar and admired the chrome-plated bathtub in the middle of the big room. The ceiling was stamped tin, and the bartenders wore white shirts, dark waistcoats, and bow ties.

Roaring twenties, baby.

I could go up there right now. But Frank was having a nice time, maybe his last good time. So instead I went down 41st street to Taco Morro Loco and got a couple of al pastor tacos and a Mexican Coke to go. On my way back to the speak, I stopped at a convenience store and bought a pint bottle of Sneaky Pete.

I ate the tacos and drank the Coke, ignoring the bottle in the brown paper bag next to me. Above, Frank Talley had smoked down most of his cigar. I could see the cherry-red end as he drew deeply on it. When he threw the cigar butt down and sparks scattered against the sidewalk below, I reached into the bag and unscrewed the cap on the bottle.

I swished a little Sneaky Pete around in my mouth and spit it out, then poured some into my palm like aftershave and patted it on the front of my gray tee shirt and faded jeans. I hadn’t shaved in a couple of days, and my jeans and shirt were ripped. I was wearing a quilted black hoodie over the shirt, and I grabbed a couple handfuls of gritty dirt from the gutter and wiped it over my shirt and pants, then did the same with my face.

By the time Frank Talley came out, I looked like any other bum on the street. Frank was tall, taller than me, and thin as a whippet. He had a gold wedding ring on one hand, and on the other hand he wore a square, sharp-looking pinky ring that glinted silver in the dim streetlight.

I stumbled toward him with my half-empty bottle of port and took a swig.

“Howaya doin’ champ, take a drink with me.”

Talley muttered “Excuse me,” and tried to go around, but I swayed toward him and leaned forward as if I was about to fall. As I flailed, I tossed the bottle into the bushes that lined the sidewalk. He tried to push me away, but I got an ankle in front of him and tripped him. He hit the sidewalk hard on his knees, tearing the fabric of his Armani suit. Oops.

“You sonofa—“

“Hol’ on, hol’ on,” I slurred, stepping on his hand with a heavy steel-toed boot. Something snapped, and Frank howled in pain, yanking his hand free.

“Shorry, shorry,” I said, “lemme he’p you up.” While he was gripping his hand and flinching from the pain, I got hold of his collar with one hand and his belt with the other, straining hard to keep him from straightening all the way up, and ran four long steps, ramming him headfirst into the brick wall of the speakeasy.

Oops again.

Frank was down on his hands and knees now, blood streaming from his broken lips and busted nose and pooling on the sidewalk. His hair had fallen into his face and it was greasy with sweat. So I tangled my fingers in his locks and dragged him halfway around the building into the alley where the speak kept its dumpster. He was trying to make a comeback now, flailing his arms at me, and I put a stop to that with a quick knee to his chest.

The wind whooshed out of Frank Talley, and he groaned and folded up like a camp chair. I went back around to the front of the speak, found the bottle of port—now empty—and returned to Frank. He was bloody all over the front of his face, and his nice suit was torn in several places.

“How you doing?” I said, squatting in front of him. Frank didn’t say anything. I’m not sure he could. The one eye that wasn’t closed rolled around and looked at me with no comprehension.

I broke the bottle against the ground and picked up the biggest piece by the neck. As I lifted it, Frank shied away. He still didn’t speak.

“I could take your eyes,” I said. “I could cut your throat.”

He closed his eyes and his lips moved without sound. He may have been praying.

“The next time anybody close to you shows up with a scar, with a bruise, with even a goddamned pimple, I’m going to be there,” I said, my voice low and menacing. “I will be the last thing you see. Do we understand one another?”

Frank whimpered and tried to move himself into a more comfortable position. I thumped him on the nose with my free hand. “Do we understand each other, Frank?”

He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the dumpster. After a long moment, he nodded.

•••

Three weeks later, Frank hit her again. This time when I saw her, the scar on her cheek was fresh and garnet red with dried blood, and her eyes were puffy from crying.

“I told you it wouldn’t work,” she said. I nodded and brushed past her into the house. We had to talk, and I had work to do.

Melissa filed a police report, and applied for a restraining order. Two days later, she went missing. She still hasn’t been found, and Frank is a ‘person of interest’ in her disappearance. The cops that I know aren’t saying anything, but they’re obviously proceeding as though she’s been murdered. They’ve got a witness, a guy who sometimes does them favors, who said he’d seen Frank moving a 50-gallon drum from his garage into the back of his wife’s Mercedes SUV. They also have canceled checks from Frank, made out to cash, totaling a little more than eighty thousand dollars.

Nobody knows where the woman or the car—or the money—went. Except me.

The cops’ best guess is that Frank killed Melissa, and then hired someone to hide or dispose of her body. I’m sure Frank had a hell of a time trying to explain where all that money went.

It took some time, but the news crews finally left the Talley’s home in Mountain Brook. The cops stopped coming around every couple of hours. So here I am. It’s a nice place, three stories done in Danish Modern except for Frank’s office, which looks like it came straight out of the Sharper Image catalog. I have his confession right here in front of me, and I’ve read it nearly a dozen times to make sure there’s nothing missing. It’s even got his signature—a scrawl that is lethally easy to copy, let me tell you—and today’s date.

Melissa didn’t want to go, didn’t want to leave her friends, her family. She didn’t want a new identity. But I told her that’s the way it has to be. I spent a lot of Frank’s money setting her up with a new birth certificate, a new history, driver’s license, the whole deck.

And if she can keep her head down, it’ll all be okay. She’ll be happy in Flagstaff or Sedona, wherever she ends up, far away from Birmingham. Maybe she can start again. Maybe she’ll be able to look at herself in the mirror and not see the damage that a wrong man did to her. And in the back of her mind, she knows that if she comes back … well, let’s just say that the warranty runs out on this little job I did for her.

Frank’s due back home in an hour or so. I can wait. After half a decade behind bars, waiting is one of my best things. When he gets here, Frank and I are gonna have a discussion. I expect it to be short and to the point. And when I’m done, the cops aren’t gonna be able to find Frank, either.

 

***

I called in some help to get rid of Frank’s body. I spent time in one of the ugliest, worst prisons in the country. I met all kinds of people with all kinds of skills. Right now there’s a Ford Econoline van parked down the street, and the guys in it are very, very good at making things go away.

When I fix things, they stay fixed.

THE END



Every Night I Tell Him

 

Bobby Mathews

 

Tony Charles made his run on a Friday night, when the jukebox was belting out Jason Isbell, the lights were low, and the cigarette smoke was thick as a band of low-lying clouds. He was slugging down Jack Daniels like the distillery was on fire, and I was at one corner of the bar with Kat. She had her hand on my leg under the bar where no one else could see, and occasionally she’d give me a little squeeze.

I couldn’t tell if I was frozen or on fire. I had loved Kat since the day I’d met her in ninth grade. Twenty years, and all of a sudden it was like she’d noticed me for the first time. She pulled away when her husband, Scott, shambled out of the men’s room. His shirt hung untucked over his gut and sweat stood clearly on his high, sloping forehead. He bellied up to the bar and ordered us all another round, despite the fact that Kat and I had barely touched ours.

“What are you two smiling about?” He asked. “Y’all are thick as thieves lately.”

Kat’s smile widened.

“Lanny’s trying to get me to run away with him again,” Kat said. “You know, same as usual.”

I nearly choked on my beer, setting the heavy mug down a little harder than I meant to. I watched their reflections in the mirror behind the bar and didn’t say anything.

Scott stared hard at Kat, his eyes red and misty from the beers, and she returned his look with a level gaze, her lip quirked in that killer little go-to-hell smile that I loved so well.

“Yeah,” he said, and laughed. “Right.”

Kat turned her head back toward me.

“Every night I tell him, and every night he doesn’t believe me.”

Thank God.

About that time Tony swaggered down the bar and asked Scott if he’d like to shoot a little pool. Scott said yes, and they settled on a dollar a game. It wasn’t high stakes—it never is around here—and we expected Tony to lose anyway. That’s what Tony Charles was: a loser. He’d been a loser ever since we’d known him in high school, and we all kind of dismissed him. Tony was all right, I guess. He was always there on the periphery of things. But you wouldn’t notice if he was gone. You’d just assume he was around somewhere.

But this night was different.

They flipped for the break, and Tony won. He sank the two and three balls off a shot that cracked like a whip. We could hear it over the sound of Alannah Myles singing “Black Velvet.” He ran the table with a sure hand that belied his very nature. Scott’s face was waxy white. He couldn’t believe it.

Through it all, Kat and I leaned our heads together, taking turns to whisper in one another’s ear. Ideas and plans and sweet nothings. Things I’d only ever dreamed of us saying to one another.

Tony and Scott stayed at the pool table and each time, Tony won going away. Scott barely got a chance to put his cue on the worn green felt of the table, and pretty soon it got to him. I bought us all a round, even one for Tony, because it was such a change to see him win.

Scott didn’t understand what had happened. He came back to the bar and ignored the beer I bought for him. Instead he ordered a double bourbon on the rocks, lots of bitters. It didn’t take long for him to start getting mad.

“Fucker ran the table on me,” he said. He was having a little trouble separating his words, so that on me came out as one word.

“Everybody gets lucky sometime,” Kat said. She slurped the watery tequila mix from the bottom of her glass and cast a meaningful glance at me through the veil of her thick eyelashes.

Tony downed his whiskey and pushed off of the bar, heading back to the pool table. I don’t think he ever put his cue down. He schooled a couple of college-age kids, beating them as steady as a metronome. Tony swung by us, his grin splitting his face from ear to ear.

“Didja see that? They wanted twenty bucks a game. I cleaned ’em out!” Tony bought us a round, even Scott. He was as gracious in victory as he usually was in defeat, but by this time Scott had mostly quit drinking. His face was sullen, and he was breathing hard through his mouth.

“I bet you can’t do that again,” Scott said. His eyes were down to pinpoints somewhere beneath that sloping Cro-Magnon brow.

Tony smiled at him. “Sure I can,” he said. He had the supreme confidence of a guy who knows he’s on a run, that his luck will hold.

“Prove it,” Scott said. “I got a hundred.”

Tony balked, just for a second, but I saw it. So did Scott, who grinned a wolfish smile. He reached his wallet and pulled out a Benjamin. Kat put her head face-down on the bar.

“Jesus,” she said. “Not again.” She sighed and pushed up from the bar, all dramatic-like, puffing out her cheeks and blowing her hair out of her face. She grabbed her purse and looked at me.

“You coming?”

I put a hand on her forearm, said wait a minute. I don’t know why I didn’t leave with her right then. I guess I just wanted to see what would happen. Maybe somewhere deep inside me, I thought Tony’s streak was about to end.

“Lanny’ll hold the money,” Scott said, and handed me the C-note. “That alright with you?”

Tony nodded. He handed me a mix of twenties and fives and ones from the money he’d won that night. I tucked it into the breast pocket of my work shirt, and they moved to the green felt.

Tony sank the fourteen off the break, and then ran through the rest of the stripes before dropping the eight into the side pocket with a kiss as soft and chaste as a nun’s prayer. Scott never even touched the table. I handed Tony the money and glanced at Kat. She shrugged into her leather jacket. I pulled on my navy pea coat, and we headed for the door.

“Goddamn it,” Scott said behind us. “Make it double or nothing.”

“What an asshole,” Kat said, her words nearly drowned out by Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” I didn’t say anything, but we turned around to watch.

I wish we had kept going. Maybe things would have turned out differently. Maybe we’d still be together. But we didn’t leave. Instead, we went back to the bar, put our backs to it, and watched the game.

Scott demanded the break this time, even though it was Tony’s by right. Tony let him go for it, though, and Scott whiffed on it. When Tony tried to move in and take the shot—which was his right—Scott shoved him back a couple of paces and positioned the cue ball again.

Tony let it slide.

Of course he did. That was Tony Charles in a nutshell. You could insult him, you could push him around. Tony wouldn’t do anything. When we were in high school, Scott rescued Tony one time when a couple of football players were intent on giving him a swirlie in the boy’s bathroom on third hall. I came along and helped at the end of things, making sure Scott didn’t get jumped after the fact. So maybe Tony felt like he owed Scott something. Whatever debt there may have been had been forgotten a long time ago, at least by Scott.

He couldn’t stand the sight of Tony mooning around us, and a couple of times things had gotten physical. Nothing serious. None of us were tough guys. None of us were mean, except for Scott when he’d been drinking. But when things did get out of hand, Tony was the one who ended up with the bruises and the cuts and the scrapes at the end of the night.

Scott took his second shot, and whiffed on that one, too. The racked balls sat there, a triangular island in the middle of a sea of green felt, undisturbed as the cue ball fluttered past and found the rail, rebounding and spinning away like a lost child.

I turned around and put my drink to my lips to keep from laughing, but nothing could have disguised my shaking shoulders. Kat leaned against me, and I could feel her silent trembling laughter, too. In the mirror, Scott glared at Tony. He lined up the break for the third time, and this time the cue ball struck home.

Nothing dropped, so Tony approached the table. Scott stood his ground, his shoulders hunched, and his head lowered like a pit bull about to bite. Tony took no notice, and Scott faded back toward the bar. Kat and I straightened up and turned around to watch Tony work the table again.

It was more of the same, as clean a game of eight-ball pool as you’d ever see, like watching the pros on TV, I tell you. That night, Tony didn’t know how to lose. For one glorious moment, the cosmic laws that had cast him into his eternal downtrodden state were suspended by whatever perverse gods may rule us.

And then he missed.

Scott surged forward to the table. It was the opening he’d been hoping for. Tony had left a clear path to the two and the six, and Scott was able to knock both of those down. On the next shot, though, his stick wandered and bumped the eight. It rolled across the sea of green felt like an ocean liner on a collision course with an iceberg and dropped into the side pocket.

Tony whooped in triumph, dropping to his knees in relief. Sweat stood out on the back of his blue cotton button-down shirt. He stood up, a little shaky now, and stuck his hand out to shake, but Scott slapped his hand away. The jukebox wound down. No more quarters, no more music. A dark cloud crossed Tony’s face for a moment, but only for a moment. He came over, his cue dangling from one hand, and held out the other palm to me. I fished into my pocket for the thick wad of bills. His winnings.

There was a crash over my shoulder. Tony’s eyes widened, and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I looked behind me, and the back-bar mirror was shattered. Beside the billiard table, Scott grunted with effort. He was firing the remaining balls from the table at Tony like he was Nolan Ryan and the World Series was on the line. The five-ball missed us all, but it took out a bottle of Bulleit bourbon and a fifth of Jameson. The next ball—I think it was the one—struck Tony square in the forehead.

He went down like he’d been shot, and a huge goose egg began to sprout immediately, stretching Tony’s white, waxy skin. His hands and feet flailed against the floor like an epileptic having a seizure, and his eyes rolled back in his head. Scott rushed forward and dropped to his knees beside Tony. He still held a billiard ball in each hand.

“Fuck,” he said. “Fuck, help him.”

Kat moved at the same time I did. She took the balls away from Scott, and I elevated Tony’s head off the floor. I have no idea if that was the right thing to do or not. I don’t know CPR. But he was coming around a little, saying something I couldn’t quite catch. His brain and his mouth seemed disconnected somewhere, like when you watch a TV show, and the soundtrack isn’t quite in sync with the picture.

Scott fell back on his haunches, but he was so drunk that he couldn’t stay there. He slid back onto his ass on the floor. Tears clouded his eyes, and he kept saying oh I’m sorry I’m so sorry oh I’m sorry I’m so sorry over and over again until the words faded into the background and were meaningless noise.

Tony’s eyes finally fluttered open, and a few seconds later they began to focus. He grabbed Kat’s arm with one white-knuckled hand and asked, “What happened?”

“It’s nothing,” I said. “Stay still. You’re gonna be OK.”

Tony tried to sit up. He rolled onto one elbow and threw up onto the sawdust. His boot-clad feet scrabbled at the floor as he tried to get them underneath him to stand.

“Maybe that’s not a good idea,” I said, and tried to guide him back to the floor.

“That son of a bitch,” Tony said. I think I was the only one who heard him. He grabbed his cue and hoisted himself up. He listed to one side like a ship about to sink. “I won, dammit. I won.”

None of us saw it coming. Scott was still down on his ass, trying to scramble back, to give Tony some room. But Tony lashed out with the fat end of his cue stick, cracking Scott in the face. His nose exploded, showering us all in blood. The cue shattered from the force of the blow, leaving long, jagged, wickedly sharp stakes of wood. Tony picked one up and went after Scott. I tried to hold him back, but he slashed at my eyes, and I fell away.

They went down in a heap, and it was the only fight I ever saw Tony win. He used the shards of his cue to slash and spear skin wherever he could find it. By the time Tony got both hands around Scott’s throat, Scott was beyond help.

Tony’s hands were slick and red with blood by the time he began to choke Scott, and by that time, there was nothing we could have done, anyway.

The bartender finally came around the bar with a sawed-off Louisville Slugger. He didn’t waste any time or motion. He cracked Tony across the back of the head, and our resident loser collapsed on top of Scott, shuddered twice, and lay still.

By the time the ambulance got there, they were both dead. No losers and no winners now. Kat stared, unable to tear her gaze away as the EMTs zipped the bodies into the black plastic bags, closing their faces off from the light of the world.

“Do you want to ride with them?” I asked. She nodded and got into the ambulance. She never looked at me, and I never spoke to her again.

When the ambulance left, they didn’t use the siren, or the blinking lights. There was no reason to hurry.

 

THE END





Bobby Mathews is a writer based in Birmingham, Alabama. His checkered past as a journalist, investigator, PR flack, bartender, and roustabout often finds its way into his fiction. His short stories have been published in All Due Respect, Bristol Noir, Close to the Bone, The Dark City, The Sandy River Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Shotgun Honey. His novel, Magic City Blues, will be published in February 2022 by Close to the Bone. His story “The Handyman” appeared in Issue #84 of Yellow Mama.

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