Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Issue #12: June, 2011

by Jim Wilsky

Friday afternoons at Speery Lance Investments corporate headquarters were typically very slow and this one was no different. By four-thirty that afternoon, the parking lot had only a few scattered cars left and the building was almost empty. The last few diligent workers were finally heading out.

Peeking from the restroom door opposite the elevators, Abbott watched the uniformed guard get up from his desk in the middle of the lobby and walk slowly to the back wall of windows. The view was gorgeous from there, overlooking a large terraced patio and two acres of manicured grounds. He could see that the old man was lost in thought. The guard just stood there staring out at nothing, hands on his hips.

Henry Duggart was one of the few employees at Speery that Abbott had ever really respected. The old man was a loyal worker who had worked for the company for almost thirty years and he was a solid family man who never complained. He was probably thinking about having dodged the inevitable for another week. Abbott knew the man had to be aware that the cutbacks and downsizing were going to get him sooner or later.


Startled, the old guard turned to Abbott’s voice which was right behind him now.

“Henry, look, I don’t want to do this but I don’t have any choice. Believe me, this isn’t about you. Not about you at all.” As Chris Abbott was talking, he shrugged off his overcoat and let it drop to the floor. The guard looked at the coat and frowned, his gaze drifting slowly back up to Abbott’s eyes.

“Mr. Abbott? What, but, what’re you doing here? Whatcha’ got there?” Henry asked him and pointed at the long skinny Fed Ex box Abbott was holding.

Abbott smiled at him.

“Mr. Abbott?”

The former Speery exec still said nothing but took the box and set in on the floor, standing it straight up. He took tape off the end, reached in and pulled out a long sword. It reflected the lobby lights off its gleaming blade. It was slightly curved, with a gold and white handle. There were ornate designs at the hilt and on the hand guard, with a braided blue and crimson tassel.

“It’s fuckin’ beautiful isn’t it? It’s called a Mameluke. Marine Officers saber, passed down to me from my Grandfather.” Abbott gazed along its shining length and then smiled over at Henry. Abbott’s eyes were burning way too bright, like two little suns.

Henry tore his look away from those terrible eyes and stared at the sword.

“Mr. Abbott, you don’t want to be doin’ this. Whatever it is you’re up to. Y’all put that away and just go on now. Ain’t no need for this, jist head to the house.” The old man’s voice was a whisper and Abbott felt sorry for him. He was just trying to do his job and keep this from getting any more out of hand than it already was.

With his free hand, Abbott pulled out the Beretta from a shoulder holster under his left arm. The barrel of the gun was extended by an expensive suppressor, an added accessory that he had bought only a week ago.

“Not much time for chit chat Henry. I’m sorry, I really am, but I gotta’ go.”

Henry’s eyes opened wide and he stepped back slowly. Still smiling pleasantly, Abbott raised the pistol to the security guards waist.

“I saw his Jag in the lot but just to be sure, he’s still up there right? The hard working CEO, waiting until everybody else is gone to make it look good.” Abbott’s voice had a quivery sound to it. Excited and terrified at the same time. Even he noticed it. It was almost like he was teetering on the edge of a very deep drop. That couldn’t be though, his mind’s voice told him. Hell, I already fell off that ledge.

Abbott giggled at the thought and then he laughed out loud. It came out as a short bark.

He’d been told two months ago that the company had decided to go in another direction. ‘The next level’, ‘a new focus’, ‘changing course’ and all the other empty corporate fucking phrases had spewed so naturally out of Bettencourt’s chubby little pink mouth. Well today was game point, set and match.

“HENRY! Goddammit man, pay attention, I asked you a question!” Abbott was grinning even more now, showing perfect teeth.

The bank of elevators dinged twice and two different doors opened.

The five people walking out of the elevators filed out, not looking back to where Henry and Abbott were. They were only looking ahead, out the front doors, and two days of freedom.

Both men watched this small group of employees head out the front lobby doors.

“Now look here Mr. Abbott, Missus Bettencourt came and picked up her husband. They was headed out to do somethin’. Spur of the moment. ‘Bout an hour ago. That’s why his car is still out there.” The guard’s eyes stayed on the sword.

“Henry, I appreciate what you’re trying to do. I really do. Now I need you to walk into the men’s room over there. Quickly. Do it right now. Just gonna’ tape you up, I promise that’s all. Gotta’ keep you quiet for a bit.”

“I can’t do that. Put the gun down Mr. Abbott. You ain’t no killer.” As he had been speaking, the man was reaching slowly for the safety snap on the .45 automatic on his hip. A gun that had never been drawn, let alone fired.

“Well Henry.…as it turns out I think I am.”

Just as the guard managed to unsnap the holster, Abbott squeezed off two quick shots which sounded like loud coughs. The old man fell sideways, hitting a chair and then glancing off a low coffee table on his way down to the floor. He was holding his stomach tightly but he’d also been hit farther up the chest, near the heart. There was a lot of blood on the marble floor already.

Abbott looked down at him for a moment longer. The guard’s eyes were staring up at the ceiling and he saw him blink once, then once again more slowly. His bloody hands were now sliding away from his stomach wound.

The sudden buzzing of the lobby desk phone jerked Abbott’s attention away from watching the dying man.

He trotted quickly over to the elevators and pushed the up button.

The phone at the guard’s desk stopped, and then started again.

Abbott watched intently as the digital numbers above the mirrored doors of the middle elevator kept coming down.

He was sweating heavily now and it was stinging his eyes. He swiped at his face with a sleeve and held the sword pointing down, snug against his right leg.

The elevator dinged.

Swishing doors opened and there stood Hugh Davidson, a senior accounting manager. A mid level fucker and always would be, but he was also a terrific brownnoser if there ever was one. Davidson was laughing about something with Marcy Gotts, the little queen bitch from Human Relations.

They both looked at him for only a moment with frozen smiles, then jaws dropped and mouths slowly opened as they recognized him. Davidson saw the long barreled gun first and he actually pointed at it like the idiot he was.

Abbott put a foot forward and blocked the elevator door.

Davidson blubbered something unintelligible and frantically pushed the button to shut the door anyway. It bumped Abbott’s foot and opened again.

“Hey gang, TGIF!” His voice was loud and unhinged. He smiled at them and they both stepped back to the far wall of the elevator.

“Mr. Abbott, I don’t know what you think your doing but you need to leave the premises immediately.” Marcy Gotts stuck her chin out and up, evidently deciding this had to be handled firmly. It was HR 101; take control of the situation, simple as that.

“Is that right MARCY?” His voice was just under a shout. The gun swung her way.

“Abbott, please, look, just…” Davidson held a hand up as he finally found his voice. The accounting manager gave Gotts a quick look that said please shut the fuck up Marcy and then glanced back to Abbott.

There was a long silence as they both stared at Abbott. She was just starting to say something again when Abbott decided he had heard enough out of Marcy fucking Gotts. The Beretta reported with that same loud popping sound. The bullet went almost perfectly through her left eye, blew straight out the back of her head and made a clean hole in the elevator wall.

Amazingly her body stayed upright for a second, as if she’d been somehow nailed to the wall. Abbott thought she looked like some sort of one eyed zombie right out of a movie, complete with blood streaming down her cheek and a gaping mouth. Finally though, the purse she’d been holding plopped down at her feet. Slowly the body sagged and slid downward, ending up in an almost perfect squatting position, with her head lowered between her knees.

A dark wet stain had spread quickly down Davidson’s pant leg. Apparently the accountant couldn’t bear to look at Abbott, so he stared at the floor and squatted down too. His hands were held out in front of him.

The elevator to Abbott’s left dinged and he quickly stepped in with Davidson, pushing the seven button once and then again. Just before the doors slid shut, he caught a confused sideways glance and double take from Kevin Portman as he walked by.

Portman, from Sales and Marketing wasn’t quite sure what he’d just glimpsed in the elevator, but whatever it was, it hadn’t looked good. He kept walking towards the front doors, although his walk was a little quicker. He fumbled for his phone and then dropped it twice while trying to dial.

On the way up, Abbott stepped around the crouched body of Gotts, put the long barrel directly on top of Davidson’s shaking head and shot straight down. As he passed the fourth floor, Davidson’s body was still jerking as he put another round in the accountant’s right ear.

He slapped a fresh clip in so he’d be good to go if he needed it. Holstering the Beretta, he looked at his watch. It was 4:51 and he still had plenty of time. Bettencourt never left until at least five thirty on a Friday.

Holding the sword at the ready now, he didn’t even notice that the entire floor of the elevator was a shallow pond of blood.


Richard Bettencourt loosened his tie and stared at the ceiling of the boardroom.

“Is that it then boys and girls? Are we done here?” He was having a conference call with the west coast division managers on speaker phone.

The phone on the table beeped and Bettencourt looked at Meghan’s light blinking.

He put her into the conference call purposely, just to make her a little more uncomfortable.

“I said no interruptions but I suppose we’re about done here Meghan, what is it?” His tone was pissy and curt.

“I need you in your office immediately Mr. Bettencourt. It’s a personal matter, can you switch to line three please?” Her voice had a little quiver to it.

After making it clear that no, he would not fucking switch to line three, he told her to meet him in his office. Bettencourt signed off with everyone on the conference call. He stood up stiffly and straightened his pants, brushing them off and fussing with the creases. He wondered just what the hell this could be about.

Meghan never spoke in that matter, so he had known immediately that it was probably something serious. Could be business, but it could be his bitch of a wife, his wild ass daughter or the new little slut he’d been seeing lately. It might be any of those, or all of them combined.

He stalked over to the door that connected the boardroom to his private office and opened it up with a rush. Jeannie stood there waiting, nervously clicking her pen.

Her eyes were like saucers and he noticed she was almost looking over his shoulder, not directly at him.

“What the hell is so important Meghan?”

“I’m very sorry about this Mr. Bettencourt. I just, well….” she looked sideways and down. Her hand went to her forehead.

“WHAT, what is it goddammit?” he almost yelled the question.

“Someone needs to talk to you right now.”

“So, are we playing twenty fucking questions here or are you going to tell me who?

“A woman named Taylor called for you, Ms. Taylor Breen. She said you had her number and to call her right away, right now, or she was going to do it. No more threats she said, this time she’s promising she’ll do it.”

He looked at his watch.

“It’s almost five Meghan, why don’t you go on home. I’ll make the call and see what this all about.” His voice and tone had suddenly changed and he was almost pleasant about it.

He ushered her out of his office, shut the door and sat down slowly in his chair. He really needed time to think this thing out. That stupid little slut, just who the fuck did she think she was?

A moment later he heard Meghan scream. It was a shrill and awful warble that seemed to go on and on. Then there was nothing. Bettencourt stood shakily and spread both hands on the desk for support. He had no intention of going to out there of course, Meghan or no Meghan. Something fell and shattered out in the foyer and he stared at the closed door. There was another scream but this one had no force to it and it ended abruptly.

Ten seconds of stone silence ticked by, then there was three quiet knocks on Bettencourt’s door.

“Taylor?” his legs failed him just then and he sat back down hard.


The door opened and Abbott stuck his head in.

“Ohhh no, it’s much worse than that, it’s me! Is this a bad time RICKY?”

Bettencourt noticed a thin spray of blood that was misted across Abbott’s forehead, nose and cheek. There was a red glob on his chin too, almost ready to drop off.

Frozen in body and mind, Bettencourt had no words.

“Good, won’t take a second.” Abbott stepped in grinning, almost cordial. He held the dripping sword casually and walked to the big desk. There was a good amount of blood on his shirt as well.

“I only have one quick item on the agenda today—Severance Packages.” He cocked his head then and rolled his eyes upward. “Sirens, Ricky. Hear ‘em? Still a long ways off though. Never make it in time.”

Bettencourt cleared his throat but couldn’t manage to say anything.

“Anyway, I’ll be brief. This not my cheap-ass severance package, or even severance packages in general we’re talking about. No, I want to specifically detail your severance.”

“Now then. Chris. I – now, hold…just a moment here.” Bettencourt choked out this meaningless bluster, raising his left hand as a traffic cop might.

“Just a moment here,” Abbott giggled. “Oh man, Ricky, that’s so perfect, so you.”

The horizontal swing was textbook, swift and perfectly delivered. At first, Bettencourt just stared at his left hand without any real comprehension. It had flopped awkwardly over to the very corner of his desk. It fascinated him for a second and he didn’t really comprehend what had just happened until he looked at the resulting stump at his wrist. It was pumping blood like a garden hose. His high scream easily eclipsed Meghan’s.

After that it got very sloppy. Abbott missed several times. He had to chase, stab and slash quite a bit more than he wanted to. All the while, Bettencourt was crying, pleading and slip sliding around on his own blood. Finally though, the job was done. It was a good thing, too, because Abbott could hear them getting closer and closer.

The first SWAT guys that came in ready to rock and roll, found Abbott with his hands up in the air, sitting at one end of the large conference table. The sword, slathered in red, and the gun lay on the other end. In the middle of the table was a centerpiece that was somehow balanced upright but leaning precariously to the right.

Its mouth was forever puckered in an o shape and the eyes were almost comically frozen wide in shock. It was a little nicked up a bit to be sure. The right ear was missing as was most of the nose, but Abbott was so pleased that it hadn’t flopped over yet. That would’ve ruined the entire effect. Hopefully the forensic guys would get a good shot of it.

Jim Wilsky is a central Illinois native with a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling. He has written short stories of crime, suspense, mystery, westerns, and historical fiction. His work has appeared in A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Yellow Mama, Pulp Metal, Plots With Guns, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction OffensiveDarkest Before The DawnPowder Burn Flash,The Medulla Review, Mystercial-E, Hardluck Stories and others, including several print anthologies. He is supported and strengthened by a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters. You can find him hanging around here


  1. Work is a four letter word. Great story.

  2. Great tension here. It reminded me of THE AX by Donald Westlake.

  3. Great story! Very current subject matter, and fantastic gory ending.

  4. Tight, tight prose, Jim. A slow burning and classic tale- the man with nothing left to lose and the subsequent fall into madness. Stone cold.

  5. Shall we not talk about the pink elephant in the room? You hold the story steady and go all the way. There is no hesitation. It is simply an executive decision. Chop, Chop. ;-) Love the suspense & execution.

    Horror & gore works beautifully as an allegory within the work force.

  6. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting;
    Paul - As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read one of my stories. Means a lot.
    Patti - Thanks for the comparison to a great story. I was trying for tension and glad you felt it.
    C.J. - I'm glad you liked it. Hope to talk to you again.
    Mike - Really glad you read this. Yes, I wanted it cold and I wanted Abbott too far gone to be able to bring himself back. Appreciate the comments.
    David - Coming from you, that has great value for me.
    Jodie - Whatever you have to say about a story of mine, I soak it up like a sponge. Thanks so much.

  7. First it gently led me by the hand... then it grabbed me by the scruff of the neck... before dragging me by the hair to the beautifully poignant yet macabre finale.

    Abbot reminded me of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, popping his maniacal face around doors.

    Best I've read of yours, Jim, and that's saying something.


  8. Anybody who has been laid off or fired over the last three years, can't find work now, has been told he or she is too old or "too experienced," should dig this story. It's a violent fantasy most have while retaining the sense to not go through with it. This is one of fiction's better purposes-- To allow us to express frustrations without physically hurting anyone else. Well done, sir.

  9. "going in a new direction" uh huh. Lots of things going in new directions. Hands for example. Or ears. Noses maybe? Brisk story with a satisfyingly businesslike solution. Good stuff, Jim.

  10. Another fine piece of story-telling from you Jim. Nicely paced from start to finish. Well done, buddy!