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In the Bag

Mark Slade is back to kick it old school. As in...eye for an eye, Old Testament old.

In the Gutter, what goes around, usually comes back around to fuck your shit up...but good.

In the Bag by Mark Slade

Freak smacked me on the arm and pointed to a man in a long black coat carrying what looked like an old medical bag, you know the kind that doctors used to carry in the old days? The man was tall, dressed like he had money. He wore a black homburg that sat too far back on his small head.

We were hanging around the auction house, looking to shake down rich fuckers, take their money, and maybe outright rob them of their antiques. We did it once a year for Monty Sea, who fences stolen antiques and sells them to other rich fuckers to buy.

They called him Monty Sea because he started out in the Life selling fish on the beach. Through connections (and those connections dropping like flies), Monty became the main fence in the city. How Freak and me came to work for Monty was funny in itself. Freak is Monty’s nephew. Freak’s mom was very concerned Freak would end up selling drugs or falling in with the wrong people. So she asked Monty to take him under his wing and look out for him. He looked out all right.

I was the friend that hung around other people’s houses only because I hated being in my own. My parents were always arguing, throwing things around, drinking whatever alcohol was available. So I’d ride my bike to Freak’s house, get fed and, in her own way, loved by Freak’s mom.

“Stack,” Freak leaned in and whispered, his shaven head touching left shoulder slightly. “That guy has money in that bag.” He stepped backwards from me, arched his eyebrows and smiled wide. “I’m telling you. It’s loaded down. Watch how he’s carrying it.”

I took another drag from my Newport, watched the weird old man walk toward his car. It was strange. A car out in the parking lot was blasting the Stones’ “Love in Vain.” I felt like I was a character in a 1970’s flick. Maybe Warren Oates was me and Michael J. Pollard was Freak. We were hardened criminals slighted by our old gang and out for revenge.

Yeah, right. My luck it would be a 1970’s Roger Corman flick starring David Cassidy and Jack Elam.

I was tired of hanging around and wanted to go back to my apartment, get high and watch Get Carter on Blue Ray. So I nodded, said, “I’ll go around Building A and you follow slowly on his heels.” I took my small black billy club from my pants pocket. “If you catch him first, shove the snub-nose in his back. Make sure you trap him by the auction house van. He has nowhere to go.”

Freak smiled, got this wild look in his eye. He put his hands in his hoodie pocket where he kept the .38. “I’m sure it's greenbacks, Stack. We eat steak tonight.”

I went around Building A and met up with a crowd of old Asian broads. Must have been about twenty of them taking up the whole sidewalk, all carrying large, white bags full of junk sold to them under the pretense of vintage. I pushed my way through them as best I could. I got through in decent time when I noticed my billy club was not in my hand.

I doubled back, searched in mud puddles, even in a drain, before I realized it was against the aluminum siding wall of Building A. I ran to the wall, scooped it up, and I turned the corner and saw the weird fucker’s car still parked beside the work van, but Freak and the weird fucker was gone.

I scanned the parking lot quick. No signs of either.

“Shit,” I said, put my billy club back in my pants pocket. Freak got cold feet and left. I betcha anything.

That’s when I felt a jolt of electricity in my back. I fell to my knees, then laid down. Just before I passed out, I saw that weird fucker in his black homburg leaning over me, milky eyes glaring at me, brown-yellow teeth clenched in a sardonic smile.

The fucker had tasered me.

When I came to, I was handcuffed to a drainpipe in a dank, darkened cellar.

The weird fucker was in his dress shirt, sleeves rolled up, his black homburg and black overcoat lay on a chair next to a table where Freak was sitting. His hand was in holes of a custom-made sawhorse. The weird fucker was sawing through the bone of freak’s left wrist while Freak’s screams echoed off cement. A large puddle of blood pooled at their feet on the concrete floor. Freak’s left hand was finally severed and joined the right one on the floor.

Freak continued to scream. The weird fucker smiled, picked up Freak’s .38 that was in the chair, placed the barrel in Freak’s mouth and pulled the trigger. Freak’s brains splattered the brick wall behind him, creating a new Rorschach.

Then he turned to me, smiled as he wiped blood from his hand with a dirty muddy brown towel. “Now for you.” He grit his teeth. Those deep milky eyes danced around with excitement. “I don’t like thieves.”

Just then, I noticed the black medical bag he carried lay a few feet from me. It was open and it must have had a dozen or more hands inside it.

I wanted to scream, but what good would it do? No one was going to hear me anyway.

Mark Slade has appeared in anthologies Tales of the Undead; Suffer Eternal, Hell Whore, and Tortured Souls, as well as magazines Blood Moon Rising and The Rusty Nail. He lives in Williamsburg, VA, with his wife and daughter. He also runs the story and podcasts Blackout City and Dark Dreams.