A STEP IN TIME
By Gary Clifton
"That ol' graveyard gotta haint in them museums, Johnny Doc. You go breaking in there, they gonna have your ass." Piss Willy's voice quavered with fear.
"Mausoleum, dumbass...not museum. Trouble wit you Willy...you yella. Ain't no cause to be scart of them folks...they all deader 'n hell." Johnny Doc reached over to grab the muscatel bottle before Willy drained the last drop.
Johhny Doc Blatkis was forty going on sixty-five with a month's beard stubble and sunken watery blue eyes—the toll extracted by too many years of too much wine, garbage can food, and sleeping in gutters. A sorry, no-good thief since he could walk, he'd shoplifted, burglarized—and twenty years earlier raped a couple of street-whores around the downtown transit station. Johnny Doc had been a badass mother all right, and he'd dealt out plenty of grief, but time had swallowed his lunch, his libido, and his luck. These days, stealing from a grave was his best shot.
"Tellin' you boy, they a haint...a creature from Hell inside that LeCleef crypt-museum thing. They leave 'um above ground like that so the evil spirits can guard her grave." Willy was black, maybe thirty, and skinny enough to stand under a clothesline and stay out of the rain.
"I heard from a dude who helped seal that thing up after that ol' bitch died." Johnny Doc finished the bottle. "The front side only got one inch thick stone. He say she buried with a handful of pure gold...'nuff to buy all the damned wine you need."
"You gonna get et, Johnny...by a devil creature."
"Sheeeiit," Johnny Doc sneered.
Johnny Doc pried the outside iron door open a crack and slipped inside the crypt. The heavy door clanked shut behind him. Certain nobody could hear the noise that time of night, he moved boldly. Sure, he was a little edgy, but scart...hell, any man does a job like this is a little nervous. With a lit match he could read enough to identify old Mrs. LeCleef's above ground crypt.
"Monster from Hell, your ass, Willy," he whispered nervously. Johnny Doc had a job to do.
He'd brought a couple of bricks. By beating on the frontal plate for a minute, he was able to open a small hole. All left to do was kick the hole open enough to climb in, light another match, and take the old woman's gold. His foot broke through the thin stone on the first try.
Then, mother of God, the instant his foot penetrated the stone, it had him! Excruciating pain as the creature ripped and tore at his foot and ankle. Frantically he yanked, trying to extract himself. He lost his balance and fell, his foot trapped above him as he lay helpless on his back. "Help, sumbitch! Hellllp! Grave Monster!" he shrieked, but the isolation and thick walls stifled the sound. The monster was eating him alive. "God, forgive me my sins!"
Horrible, hideous pain as the monster slowly chewed off his foot. He realized the hot blood and gore drenching his lower leg was the end. Consciousness began to fade...then mercifully, a sharp pain in his chest. "Mama," he gasped...then darkness.
"Christ." The homicide cop knelt on the mausoleum floor. "I recognize this guy...
Goddamned thievin' wino, hangs around down the block. Mean sucker." He helped the Medical Examiner drag the body free of the hole in the crypt. "Attempted robbery here. Kicked in the side, smashed his ankle, then fell and couldn't get up. Musta been layin' here dyin' several days."
"Maybe been stuck here okay." The M.E. studied the cadaver's eyes. "Only injury is this shattered ankle. Musta broke it when he kicked the wall in. Very painful injury. But see the dilation of his eyes, the petechial hemorrhaging? Smell the bowel failure?" He pointed to Johnny Doc's bulging eye-sockets. "Died of cardiac arrest less than a half hour after getting hung up here. Scared to death, maybe?" He chuckled.
The cop surveyed the room. "By what, for God's sake?"
by Gary Clifton
"Hey baby, how much for a half and half, the big yum yum?" The driver said. He was forty, white, fat, with about a year's hair left in a scraggly, dirty blonde comb over. He was no cop—Vice woulda never opened with a shit line like that. I'd already spotted the undercover cop-whore a half-block down. This was a jerkoff gettin' his jollies.
"Five hundred, baby." I leaned down to head level with his Buick. Cops, male or female, try to trick your ass into makin' a price—that's the violation. If this dickless wonder rolled up a few spaces and hit on that cop bitch, he'd land in County. "Whore!" he spun off.
"Duh," I said.
You think whorin's easy? Try standin' out, half nekked in all kinda damned weather, takin' a ration of shit from two dozen losers before you land a john...who might try to cut off your tits. Bitch next to me already copped some attitude—wanted me to move the hell away. Told her to pick out part of my ass to kiss.
I'd been workin' the west half of
Edmond for three nights...just waitin'. This
super rich dickweed was a regular and I wanted some 'a him in the worst way—always
kept a double wad of cash. I was in jean shorts cut high enough to take a piss
without droppin' them, with a cut off T-shirt that barely dropped below my 44
D's. I had plenty of legs to reach a long damned way from my crotch to my five-inch
I'd just turned down a really good lookin' dude wavin' a wad of green. He couldn't be no cop, remember. He made the cash offer. Then there the mu'fucker was—rolled up in a Porsche, one 'o them hundred-plus-grand versions. I pushed the skank next to me off the mark, leaned in and purred: "Baby I can suck a golf ball through a garden hose. Only fifty bucks to a stud like you."
"You got some tits on you, bitch." He leered like a sick dog. I walked around, slid onto the leather and he roared off.
"Strip bitch," he ordered, before we'd made a block. When I didn't snap too quite quick enough he reached over and backhanded me across the mouth. Blood dripping, I scooted over against the console, pulled the little .22 magnum derringer taped between my boobs and gave him one round up his smart-assed nose. His brains re-painted the headliner sticky red. Switched off the ignition, yanked up the hand brake—we stopped clean.
Lucky—but that's what they called me—it was dark between streetlights. I walked around, dug out his overstuffed money clip, rolled his dead ass out onto the pavement and drove away in a brand new 911, damaged only by oozy ceiling decor.
I pulled into the park three blocks up
Edmond where I'd left my Camaro. After
clearing the area, I dialed Rocco on my cell. "Kettledurms," I said
when he answered. That was the Goddamned
agreement...and not another damned word.
He was supposed to fuckin' say "wrong number" and hang up. Instead: "Is he dead?" the dumb bastard blurted.
"He can't get no deader dipshit. Whud I tell you about loose talk on the phone?"
"Hey, Lucky, baby...sorry kid. Look, it won't happen again. Don't want you pissed and paying me no visit." His nervous laugh had an edge of fear. "Look, I got another sumbitch I need offed. The contract's yours. Don't be sore."
You bet your ass it wouldn't happen again. You can't take chances in this occupation. I'd check and see if that fat-assed idiot had deposited my fee in the Cayman's. Then we'd see whether to take his next contract hit before or after I put a bullet in his ear. I had plenty of business—lotta dudes wantin' somebody knocked off. But, I swear, sometimes it seems like bein' a real whore might be an easier gig.
Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has about sixty short fiction pieces published or pending with online sites, including Broadkill Review, Boston Literary Mag, Spinetingler, Powder Burn Flash, Out of the Gutter, Short, Fast, ’n Deadly, and Underground Voices. He’s been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued, misunderstood and doesn’t much care if school keeps or not. Clifton has an MS from Abilene Christian University.