Latest Flash

Coffee Breath

Many folks think that a woman stranded on the roadside in the rain is a vulnerable thing. 

However, Daniel Moses Luft thinks otherwise ...

Coffee Breath by Daniel Moses Luft



Shit now it’s raining, could this get any fucking worse?  Lynda’s right hand slipped off the  lug wrench and onto the wet ground. She held up her hand and looked at her muddy knuckles as they began to bleed. Yeah, it’s worse.
              
Her black hose caught on a sharp twig and ripped as she stood up.  Sonofabitch this just isn’t going well. She steadied herself with a hand on the car and pressed her foot down on the wrench. Why did I have to wear heels tonight? Of all the stupid nights. She bobbed her foot down a few times before she lifted herself off the ground to stand on it. The lug nut finally turned and she fell back onto the ground, down on her butt this time. She reached for the wrench again but stopped when she heard footsteps in the leaves. She sat very still and ignored the mud that seeped into her pumps.
              
Lynda heard it again. The sound was coming from the road ahead. She wiped a rope of brown hair out of he eyes and saw the large shadow ooze out of the rain.
              
“Need some help?” his voice rasped, dryer than anything else on the road. He was still 20 yards away, approaching slowly, looking around.
              

“Think I’ve got it,” Lynda called back. “What are you even doing out here?”
              
“I passed by a minute ago.” He spoke slowly, confidently. “Tried to call 911 for you but I didn’t get any reception. Call just dropped.”
              
Lynda remembered the single car passing and had been thankful it hadn’t stopped.
              
“And when I saw the phone wouldn’t work out here I knew you were, well, stuck.”
              
He didn’t stop walking until he was right next to her. Looming over her.
              
“Can I help?” he said as he crouched down. “I’m David.”
              
Lynda could see him smiling at her in the last minutes of rainy daylight. She could smell the coffee on his breath.
              
“You don’t have to help David. I’ve got it.”
              
His hand was next to hers on the wrench and he slipped it away from her before she could react.
              
“Let me do it for you,” he leaned closer as he spoke in nearly a whisper.  “Pretty lady like you getting her soft hands all muddy.” He ran a hand slowly down the back of her coat getting a feel for her. “You’re a soaking mess. Bet you’d rather be out of those clothes. Are you supposed to be somewhere?”
              
“Yes, yes a party. I’m late. My husband will wonder what’s taking me so long. Everyone will wonder.”
              
“You’re not wearing a ring.”
              
He began to effortlessly remove the lug nuts from the wheel that had barely budged for her. “Don’t worry. I won’t take very long. I’ve done this before.”
              
He was leaning into her as he worked. Lynda could smell sweat mingled with his overwhelming coffee breath.
              
“Lemme show you what I can do. You’ll be surprised.  You might even tell your friends someday.”
              
Lynda stood up and backed away.
              
“Nice heels. I like heels, especially tall ones like you’ve got on. Lousy for running though. Hell, with mud like this I bet you could barely even walk in them.”
              
He had the tire loose and the wrench between his feet. He jacked up the car as Lynda stared down at him, feeling cold in her wet clothing, her hair falling into her eyes again. When he removed the tire she reached for her phone and sure enough there were no bars. David had the spare on quickly and began to reattach the lug nuts.
              
“Told you I was good.” He rose and walked closer to her. “And, no, there’s never any reception out here. Lots of flat tires but never any reception. Besides, you’re already late.”
              
Lynda shivered as she wiped the hair out of her face again. She made eye contact with David for the first time as she slowly leaned forward and kissed him. She was shivering as she forced her tongue deep into  his mouth. Her hands wrapped around him and pulled on his sweaty, wet hair. He bit her lip, nearly drawing blood.
              
“What changed your mind you little, horny bitch?” he whispered.
              
“You remind me of someone,” she whispered as she handed him the keys.
              
“Who?”
              
“My husband.”
              
“And where is he tonight?”
              
“Well he’s not waiting for me at any party if that’s what you’re asking.”
              
David smiled. Lynda wondered when the last time he’d brushed those teeth. He reached for her face and ran a wet hand along her chin then slapped her hard. She nearly fell over but when she looked at him again she was smiling.
              
“Never mind about about my husband, now let’s put all this stuff in the trunk and get in the back seat.”               
              
Together they walked to the back of the car. He unlocked the trunk and the little light inside gave off a dull orange glow.
              
He saw the chainsaw first, then he saw the arms piled next to it. There was a grey-haired head nearby which was still attached to the body but there was no way it was still attached to the legs on the other side of the trunk.
              
“What the fuck?”
              
David didn’t notice as Lynda slipped the jack handle out of his wet hand and embedded in the back of his skull. He fell down without a sound.
              
That, Coffee Breath, is my husband.
              
She removed the jack handle and dropped it into the trunk. The flat tire slipped a bit and bounced off David’s back before she placed it also inside the trunk. Then she reached down and rolled David off the highway and down the slight embankment. The daylight was almost gone and the rain was picking up. She watched it bounce off the car’s back bumper as it washed away the blood into the mud.


Daniel Moses Luft has had fiction published by Beat to a Pulp, Spinetingler and in the anthology Action: Pulse-Pounding Tales. His story "Icing on the Cake" appeared in Out of the Gutter last year. He has also published criticism on the websites Thrilling Detective, The Violent World of Parker and in Mystery Scene Magazine.