Latest Flash


There's all sorts of ways to break down a score. Cuts, percentages, three for me, none for you, one and one make ten years (suspended after two).

Then again in the Gutter, we ain't never been too good at math. We're more about bread. As in, you better know which side gots the butter.

Split by Carmen Jaramillo

“Where are these guys? I’m getting bored.”

Brendan spit in the sand before he answered me.

“Keep quiet. The night guards have rifles.”

“Sor-ry. Jesus.” 

I leaned over the handlebars and let my head loll over, looking up the beach past the umbrellas with the tacky-ass swirly sun logo stretched over the front. If the Royal Decameron Resort guards hadn’t heard the four-wheeler motor running a few minutes earlier, I didn’t know how the hell they were supposed to hear us talking.

But he was right about the rifles. The guards have no problem firing at anyone creeping past the gates in the dark to steal a tourist’s Patek Philippe off the hotel dresser. 

Another gust of wind rolled by every few minutes, from the rows of trees and aloe plants down to the ocean. A little light bounced over the sand towards us. I leaned into him. 

“Hey, is that them? With the flashlight?”

He swung his leg over the four-wheeler and hopped off. He motioned at me with his hand.  

“Move over.”

I shifted forward; he pulled up the back half of the seat and fished two pill bottles out of the compartment. 

“Just stay here ... don’t make any damn noise, for god’s sake.”

I met Brendan about a month or so before that night. He smelled like smooth rum and fresh fruit. He crooned when he talked to me. He had long eyelashes and legs like marble columns. 

I could go on. He was a few years older than me, but I wasn’t totally sure how many. 

The two guys with the flashlight stopped under one of the black umbrellas, out of the moonlight. Brendan turned and started walking to them, a bottle in each hand. I listened, and I heard the other bottles rattling, zipped up in his pockets.

He talked me into getting a hold of the pills for him. He pulled me aside at the party Marilén Navarro’s mother threw for New Year’s Eve and asked me to swipe them out of the medicine cabinet. 

“You mean, like, just steal them right outta the bathroom? Why can’t you get ’em?”

“’Cause only the women are using that bathroom.”

He set his drink on the side table and laid his hands on my shoulders, running his fingers under the straps of my tank top. 

“Come on, Freddie. I really need the money ... I’ve got something all worked out with a couple waiters at Royal Decameron. And we’ll split it, okay?”

“Fifty fifty? Of all of it, right?”

“Yeah, yeah … half for you and half for me.”

So I did it. I took the two bottles and tossed them into my purse. Over the next few weeks he asked me to swipe four or five more bottles of pills for him, to sell to the waiters he knew. The waiters, I supposed, sold them to the resort tourists from Cincinnati or New Hampshire or wherever the hell people are from. 

Brendan only wanted to move two bottles at a time. I thought it was a dumbass way to make a hundred dollars and told him so. There was no reason why we couldn’t unload everything at once, but he didn’t change his mind. He just told me he kept the others in his apartment.  

Brendan was still talking to the waiters. I tipped the brim of my hat back a little, loosening it from my skull.
He shoved something in his pocket and stepped away. The waiters went in the other direction. 

The rattling in his pockets was gone. I sat back up and pushed myself off the seat.  

“How much did they give you? Couple hundred?”

He put the key in the ignition.  

“We’ll work it out when we get back, okay?”

He opened the seat compartment again and dropped in a wad of twenties as thick as my fist. 

“What d’you mean, when we get back? I’m just asking how much you’ve got, why don’t you wanna tell me?”

“Don’t make this into a big thing, Freddie. Just a couple hundred bucks, okay? I’m gonna put it in here, and I’ll give you your hundred when we get back. That’s it.”

“I just don’t get why you won’t tell me.”

He grabbed my shoulder and pushed down. I let my knees buckle until I collapsed back on the seat. 

“Turn the bike on.”

I turned the key.  

“Okay. Now we’re getting out of here, before anyone sees us.”

In the dark, he couldn’t see my whole face burning and my back teeth grinding. After all the work I’d done for him.  

I tipped the hat brim up further. The next gust of wind from the trees lifted it right off my head and sent it rolling across the sand to the ocean.  

“Goddammit, Freddie! That’s my hat!”

I looked up at him again. I raised my eyebrows, like I was pleading, and put my hand on his thigh.

“I’m so sorry, I’m really sorry … it didn’t fit me, I just wanted to fix it. Can’t you go get it? Please?”

He stared down at my hand, right next to his hip. He heaved another breath out and swore at me before he started jogging after his hat.  

I looked up the beach. Three more bouncing lights started weaving out of the trees, away from the hotel. They hit the sand.
Brendan kept right on marching to the ocean, his back to the lights.  

The guards were passing through the umbrellas. One of them raised something in his hands, pointing a muzzle up to the air. He fired. Brendan jerked upright and start sprinting towards me.  

I let him get about halfway before I gunned the accelerator and swung the handlebars around. I thought he might’ve yelled out my name, but I couldn’t hear him over the motor or my laughter.  

Carmen Jaramillo is a Chicago-based writer who loves a good beer and a good MacGuffin. She is a wrangler of academic data by trade. Follow her on Twitter @jaramilloc2