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My Little 281

You know that song This Little Light of Mine? This story is like that. But with more fucking and killing and horrible things.

So same basic gist. But with a beat you can dance to.

My Little 281 by Ryan McCallum

Tell me about work,” the one on the left said.

“Highway 281 connects Falfurrias to Premont, and Premont to Alice, and then it runs clear to the north of the State. Miles and miles of sweating road. All in some state of disrepair. Up and down this road you get to see real Texans living. Not the transplants that you find in Houston or up there in Dallas. And definitely not them loose boys taking over Austin. Or you all. On 281 you find the State. Small towns. Dairy Queens. Places where kids still get raised on Moon Pies and RC. Full service gas.”

“Talk about August 5, 2011,” his buddy chimed in.

“On August 5, 2011 I started my shift like I always do. Pulled into the Whataburger over on Rice Street. I got out of my cruiser, and took a beat to admire my look in the window. Ain’t a pretty boy, but I look real good in that car. Checked the name on the door, ‘Officer Cole Landry’ it still read. That’s new for the department, painting our names on the doors. Supposed to bring us close to the community. Like somebody would come up to me and say, “Well hey there Officer Landry, mighty fine morning we’re having ain’t it? Maybe I’ll see you at church this Sunday.” I went in to get my coffee and take a leak before I started patrol on my 281. Up to Alice, back to Falfurrias. Some people call it Fal’ you know, but I like to say the whole thing. No abbreviations. It’d be like calling a country a cunt, and that ain’t right.”

“What happened at the Whataburger,” the bald cop said as he slid me a new cup of old coffee.

“Nothing happened at the Whataburger. You want me to continue, or are you going to keep interrupting me to ask these shit questions? Been in here two hours already with you two, and you’re still asking this level of bullshit.”

“Please continue.”

“If August 5 was going to be like every other Friday I’d be up north by noon, meet Sarah at the Capri Inn—room 112, then back down south to the wife so she could start her bitching about wanting to go to night school over in Kingsville. Some A&M school. Thinks she’s gonna be a nurse. But, as it were, this August 5, 2011, was uniquely its own. As you are aware.”

“Yes we are. So you met Sarah in Alice. Last name?”

“Montelongo. She’s got a husband and a kid in San Diego. You going to call over there? Confirm all this?”

“Something like that,” the one on the right said, shifting around in his seat.

“Well, my advice, don’t go starting any trouble for her. She tells me her husband likes to knock her around a little bit. I told her that I can swing over their way one day, snatch him up and hold him on some charge for a little while. She says no because he will just be pissed off when he gets out and come looking for her again. So don’t start anything up ’cause the only one who’s gonna get hurt is Sarah.”

“Okay, Mr. Landry, continue.”

“There isn’t really a lobby or anything at this place. Just rows of little buildings like at elementary schools. We met outside. The room was just how we left it the Friday before. That’s the kind of place we’re talking about—no service. We did our thing and I left the room before Bold and the Beautiful even started.”

“Where did you go?”

“I didn’t want to go back south yet, so I took 44 out to Robstown. Went to the Garage Bar for a Lone Star.” Read the paper. Something about a waterpark opening over in Corpus. I remember thinking that Sarah will probably take her kid there someday.”

“Then what?”

“Then what is that I finished my drink and went back to Falfurrias. Took 77 down this time instead of back to Alice, then down my little 281. Mistake.”

Silence. The right one shifted again.

“I got into Kingsville and planned to turn down Texas 141 to cut over to 281. There it was. Heather’s Explorer at the Comfort Inn. Right there in front of everybody. I pulled in. Went up to the desk and got the room number. They just gave it to me because I’m in uniform, you know? Plus they just don’t give a shit about much in Kingsville.

I knew exactly what I’d see when I opened that door. I knew it. But you don’t really know. You hope you’re wrong even when you know you can’t be. You prepare yourself for a tick. So I did. Then I opened the door and saw her on her back with some prick on top of her. The guy didn’t even notice the door opening, but her, she looked right at me. Just stared right at me like she didn’t give a damn that I was there. Like I was just some guy. Like she expected me. Her eyes said, ‘What took you so long?’”

The left guy looked across the table to the right guy.

“You don’t have to look at that guy like you’re nervous that I’m not going to tell you the rest. I’m going to tell you.”

“So I’m just standing there like I’m the asshole for breaking this little party up. The guy catches on and before he can even say shit I have the gun out and I shoot them both. That’s it, man. Confession.

The guy on the right stood up to make it official, “Cole Landry, you’re under the arrest for the murders of Heather Landry and Christopher Montelongo.”

“Well how about that?”

Ryan McCallum was raised in Austin, Texas. He’s worked some corporate jobs, worked on a gun range for children, and tried college several times. He has recently worked as a pro basketball blogger—unpaid. Now, he is an unpublished fiction writer—also unpaid.* * ed note. This is untrue. All our authors received a free set of e-steak knives and . . . an e-hug.