We're continuing the "200 words at a time" flash fiction challenge over at Chuck's site. My 207 word addition brings the story up to 826 with only 200-ish to go. I changed the font colors of Amanda, Michael and Jeff's contributions.
Merry took a last, long drag on her cigarette before flicking it out the window. The butt skittered across the pavement, throwing a shower of sparks across the street. Nash always nagged her to quit, but Merry had always been more afraid of living than she was of dying. Her breath hung in the chill night air over the steering wheel. She pulled a wad of Starbucks napkins from the center console and wiped the fog from inside the windshield so she could get a better look at the neat suburban ranch.
It was a duplicate of every other house on the block. If she was drunk, she might have gone to the wrong house. But she wasn’t and besides, she knew this house. She knew the dormant lilac bush that shouldn’t have been planted so close to the front door. She knew each straw covered rose bush by name.
Merry had left the envelope with the bail money under her sister’s pillow early that morning before leaving for work. She hoped Melody wouldn’t find it and spend it, not realizing what it was for.
The porch light flicked on. It switched off, then on again. Once. Twice. Thrice. It was time.
* * *
Merry switched the headlights off and drove slowly past the house. The street lamps along this stretch of road were busted and anyone standing near a window would have to look hard to catch a glimpse of the vehicle as it cruised by. Forty dollars well spent, contributing to the delinquency of rock-throwing teens be damned.
After parallel parking between a Saab and a BMW, Merry slouched deeper into the seat, reached to adjust the rear-view mirror and watched the house. Within minutes of the flickering porch light, three men climbed from nearby cars and walked up the sidewalk toward the front door. Merry edged forward, staring hard into the mirror. Was the fourth man already inside? It didn’t matter. If everything went as planned, come morning she would either be in jail or dead.
She slipped back down into the seat, pulled a pack of Winstons and a lighter from her purse. Merry lipped a cigarette from the pack and lit up. She took a deep pull, certain it would be her last, and held it briefly before exhaling a thick plume of smoke out the window. Only minutes to go.
“So good to see you,” said Nash, aiming a pistol at Merry’s head.
* * *
“Wish I could say the same about you,” she replied, slowly scooting herself higher in her seat, the pistol following her head as it rose.
“When are you going to quit that kid’s habit?” he asked.
Merry took a drag and said “No time like the present.” She blew the smoke out hard in Nash’s face, while simultaneously flicking the half-smoked butt into his face. Sparks erupted as the orange-hot coal exploded between his eyes. Nash’s face twisted in grimace. His eyes clamped shut and he took a step backward. Merry pushed the car door open as hard as she could, smashing it into his knees. Nash fell to the ground, dropping his pistol. She got out of the driver’s seat and pulled her .38 snub nose revolver from her shoulder holster under her coat.
“You stupid bitch,” Nash said through gritted teeth, rubbing the ashes from his face. “What are you going to do now? Storm the house?” Nash chuckled, “Good luck with that.” He glanced around, found the pistol about an arm’s length away. He glanced up at her and began a sudden reach.
“Yea, that’s it big boy, go for it,” she said, pulling the hammer back on the pistol.
* * *
"Like you need an excuse." He said keeling in front of her.
"It makes the paperwork easier to fill out."
"When have you ever cared for ease?"
Merry smiled as he looked down again at his weapon and brought the metal in her hand down hard across the back of his skull. She felt sorry for Nash she actually liked him, but this was the way it needed to be. Regardless of the outcome, she knew what she needed to do.
Storm the house? She snorted indignantly. In the darkness of the broken street lamps she crept up to the house. Kneeling under an open window, she strained to hear as many details as possible.
"I'll see your ten and raise you twenty." She heard through the window. Another voice responded, "You're full of crap." A pause, followed by, "Trying' to buy the pot, eh?"
What the hell? Her intel couldn't be this wrong. She uncocked the hammer on her revolver preparing to leave and knocked over a metal decoration.
"What was that?"
She froze, willing herself to blend into the shadows.
"What was what?"
"I heard a noise outside."
A figure appeared in the open window. He scanned the yard and his eyes locked on Merry.