Blood Money

They say you cant teach an old dog new tricks, or get a tiger to change its stripes. Good advice.

Especially in the Gutter. Because this place is a fucking zoo.

Blood Money by Garrett Box

It was the ordinary way that Stanley lived his life that made him forgettable. He took little risk and garnered little reward for his safe efforts. Over the span of six years he achieved the mantle of nighttime manager at a grocery store, a roll he accepted in spite of his better judgment.

“It’s a guarantee,” his brother-in-law Bill told him. “All you have to do is unlock the back door and we’ll do the rest. I know my sister is cheating on you. Money is how you get your life—and your wife—back.”

Recently his wife had grown increasingly careless hiding her affair, and she displayed little pity for Stanley as he moped about the house.

“Things are going to be different,” Stanley would say. 

“I’ll believe that when I see it,” she’d respond.

On the day of, Stanley kept to himself and didn’t speak much to the other employees, who were too young to care. “All they have to do,” he told himself, “is not step out of line.”

At the agreed time Stanley slipped to the back and opened the locked door. He felt the chill night air against his face as he imagined his wife with another man. 

He would be different. This would make him different.

Three burly men wearing ski masks and carrying sawed-off shotguns appeared from the shadows. The last was Bill, who stepped calmly past him.

“Lead the way,” his brother-in-law said.

Stanley brought them to the security room. Before he could explain how to disconnect the feed to the cameras, the three burly men had already begun smashing the necessary equipment to bits.

“Now remember,” Bill said, “you’re the victim. We bloodied you unconscious, took what we wanted and then left. After you call the cops, you explain you don’t know shit about shit and win back my sister.”

“And you really think she’ll go for all this macho criminal stuff?” Stanley asked.

“They all do,” said Bill as he slid on his ski mask.

Stanley winced at Bill’s clinched fists. “Make it look convincing.”

Bill punched Stanley as calmly as he would work a speed bag. Again and again he struck him until he became a controlled bloody mess on the floor, a convincing victim.

“Almost there,” said Bill cheerfully.

He dragged Stanley to his office and dropped him on the floor to wait out the robbery.

Once Bill left, it was Stanley’s chance to make it even bigger, taking a slice that wouldn’t have to be divided up four ways.

He crept out of his office and into his boss’ private safe. For years Stanley had wanted to take it for all it was worth but had always been afraid to. This new Stanley, however, was a different man. He had seen his boss punch in the code on several occasions, and the numbers came back to him with ease.

Then he heard the gunshots.

Several blasts rang out through the store. The noise stopped for a moment, before another round of gunfire unleashed.

Stanley ran back to his office, his bloody fingers staining the money, and waited there for his head to clear. This had gone too far. Robbery was one thing. But murder? He picked up the phone and began to dial. He got as far as 9 and 1. . .

“Sorry,” said his blood-soaked and wounded brother-in-law at the office door. “I’m up for eight counts of felony murder, and right now there’s no difference between eight and nine.”

The gun pointed at Stanley told him everything.

“But you said this was how I’d win her back!” Stanley shouted.

“My sister doesn’t love you. She hasn’t loved you for a long time.” 

Stanley looked at him confused, his world crashing down around him. 

“I like you, bro. But the cops are going to see right through you. You’d break in a New York minute.”

“This is a death sentence.”

“You’re already a dead man.” Bill lowered the gun a moment and smiled one last time. “I’m sorry, Stanley, but rule number one of this game: no witnesses.”

Garret Box has B.A. in English and a Theatre minor from the University of Utah. He started out writing screenplays and then turned to the master race of novels. He is married with two kids and always striving for that double-dipped goal: publication and a root beer float.