FLUKE LUCK THAT
The night Hurricane Chino made landfall, Stu Mason took forty feet of barbed wire and lashed Linda Cox to a Cypress tree.
Stu picked up Linda at the bar attached to DG’s Liquor Mart, a shit-colored concrete bunker about forty miles southeast of Olustee. Linda was bombed beyond repair and coming off a bad relationship with a Disney cruise puppeteer named Cal. So Stu made nice. He complimented her on her homemade jewelry, eyes, and bought her a trio of rocked, fizzed gins.
“I like you,” Linda slurred as her hand crept like a shaky creature up Stu’s thigh, “But I'm not so drunk or crazy to be messin’ with nobody just yet. I'm still tender inside, know what I mean?”
Later in the parking lot Stu sped things up with a sinker-filled sock. Actually he marveled at how simple it was this time around. Florida bar flies having their half-hearted hurricane party, the storm providing good cover for him taking Linda out clean. Didn’t hear jack shit. Fluke luck that.
In the front seat of his pick-up Stu caressed the puffy, belly flab that mushroomed out and over Linda’s unsnapped jeans. His groin itched and thickened, so Stu swallowed hard, fired the engine of his F-150, and tried to focus on the rain-hammered road.
Johnny Cash sang “Guess Things Happen That Way” as he plowed northwest across the state, the bands of Chino rocking his Ford from side to side as he struggled to stay between the lines. Weather Channel had said Category 3 back at the bar. Not as bad as Andrew or catastrophic as Katrina, but sure as hell a lollipop swirl of motherfucking doom.
The spot Stu picked out was at the bottom of Marion County, two hundred swamp acres off a sandy two track where a golf developer went tits up the year before. Stu knew it would be some time before anyone came looking back there. The wind screamed as he dragged Linda from the cab and worked the barbed wire around her tight with a pair of slip-joint pliers.
Once finished, Stu peered into the rain slashed dark. Probably take her feet first, he thought. Gators always lay low in weather like this.
Stu went back to his truck to get his digital camera.
Eight months later, Deputy Sheriff Walter Gates knocked on Stu Mason’s trailer.
Gates was conducting a routine follow up. Some old lady claimed Stu or someone with a black F-150 like his had clipped her van while leaving a Stuckey’s parking lot out near Lake Butler.
No answer from within prompted a quick peek through an adjacent window. A set of hairy bare feet forked in the hallway. Gates removed his sidearm and identified himself twice. He then slowly pulled open the trailer’s door.
Place was a wreck. Not from a struggle, but just from degenerate, white trash living. Above the dish-choked sink a couple of freaked out crickets bashed themselves to death against a rusty screen trying to escape.
Gates crept closer to the body. The stench of rum sweat, cigarettes, and sour garbage was prime in the Florida heat. Then Gates heard Stu Mason’s faint snore and he was relieved.
Mason’s jeans were wet with a long, dark patch that led from his crotch and halfway down his thigh. Christ. Dumb bastard must’ve passed out drunk and pissed himself. Gates holstered his gun, hitched up his belt, and went over to the sink. He ran some tap water into a faded plastic tumbler and spat with disgust. Man, this shit was getting old. Serving papers to welfare dads, giving bad news to car wreck victims’ families, shaking kids down all sparked up without a dime to their names, grunt work and then some. Not what he envisioned as an exciting career in law enforcement.
Gates was about to pour out the tumbler of water on Stu Mason’s forehead when he saw a laptop open on the kitchenette table. The computer was coal black and looked worse for wear, its keyboard flecked with flakes of ash. The screen-saver was hot and displayed a simulated lake bottom complete with fat bass, abandoned tires, and an oil drum with a leering toxic skull.
Half expecting some hardcore smut, Gates ran a damp fingertip on the touch pad. He nearly gasped out loud when dozens of tortured images of three unsolved homicides bloomed before his eyes. He knew about these women. Each body had been half eaten by alligators, rats, and assorted swamp feeders.
Quietly Gates snuck back out to his cruiser. He plucked up the radio mic from the dash thinking, sweet Jesus… and me just here just to check some pissant traffic complaint. Man oh man. Handle this right and I'm going places.
Fluke luck that.
BIO: Kieran Shea believes the quality of mercy is strain'd so you best back the fuck up, Portia . His short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Word Riot, Dogmatika, Pulp Pusher, Plots with Guns, and upcoming in both Demolition and Thrilling Detective.