Latest Flash

Unloaded

He who laughs last, laughs best.

Just hope it really is your last.

Unloaded by Mark Westmoreland


Rusty Bohannon kicked the ass of my Levis and I tumbled into a creek. It was dry from a summer full of drought. I tripped over some driftwood and banged my knee on a rock.

He dragged me up by a rope that tied my wrists together and led me along so I barely kept up.

“Better hope like hell Boyd’s dead,” I said. “That’s a tough sumbitch you shot.”

“Boyd’s a pussy.” Rusty spoke over his shoulder. “I’ve knowed him long as I have you, don’t take long to figure that out.”

We walked through the creek bed until Rusty decided to lead me out.

I stumbled up the embankment as he yanked on the rope, and tripped when my foot caught on a root. While I struggled back to my feet, he scratched his cheek with the barrel of his gun. It didn’t do me the favor of misfiring and blowing off his head.

“Try’n keep up,” he said.

“Sure, asshole.”

The woods grew thick the deeper we trekked. Tree branches grabbed at me and kudzu vines tangled around my feet. Gnats annoyed my ears and mosquitoes gnawed on my arms. 

Rusty sweat through his shirt and breathed like an asthmatic missing his inhaler. 

It seemed like all we did was walk uphill. My thighs burned.

“Be damned if I’m takin you all the way to The Devil’s Mouth,” he said.

“That where Peanut told you to take me?”

“Yeah.”

“Shit, he oughta known your fat ass wouldn’t make it out that far.”

“Peanut ain’t gone know no difference if I shoot you here or there.”

“Shoot me here then. It’s too damn hot,” I said.

“Naw, just a little further.”

Further meant we walked until we came to an old pecan tree where us kids used to play. There were still two-by-fours and rotten plywood left from where we’d built a tree house. It was the same place Peanut brought my daddy when he wanted him dead. I guess this was some way of bringing things full circle for Rusty.

He threw my rope over the closest hanging limb and pulled it until my arms stretched over my head and I stood on my tiptoes.  “What were you thinkin?” His jowls were slick and sweaty and he used the back of his hairy arm to wipe his forehead. He squinted into the sun when he looked at me.

My toes tingled from dangling like I was. I’d stopped feeling my fingers a long time ago. “Bout what?”

“Stealin from Peanut, fucker.”

“I’s thinkin I needed the damn money.” I couldn’t keep from grinning.

Rusty did the same. He may have been in the employ of Peanut but he hated his cousin more than the rest of us ever would.

“And you stayed in Confederate County?” He waved his fat arms around. The pits of his shirt were stained with sweat. The rope went slack when he did it and it gave my wrists a moment’s relief.

“Figured I’d hide in plain sight.”

“You could’ve went anywhere in Georgia. Athens, Atlanta, St. Simons. Hell, Mack, you could’ve went anywhere you damn well pleased.” His eyes were bugged out and his cheeks puffed up. He looked like a damn cartoon. I knew I could’ve gone where I wanted but I damn sure wasn’t going to run.

I shrugged.

Rusty sighed. His belly dropped and all the air went out of his chest. His shoulders tightened and his index finger flicked against the trigger guard. “Any last words?”

“Really?”

“It’s the Christian thing.”

“Sure you ain’t tryin to stall?”

Rusty aimed the gun between my eyes.

“All right,”

He brought the gun down.

I didn’t believe in an afterlife, and if there was one waiting for me, it wasn’t a place I’d want to spend eternity. I’d never liked Rusty so I figured I’d go out pissing him off. “I fucked your sister in the eleventh grade. Three times.” 

He snarled like a pit fighter, put the gun in my face, and pulled the trigger. 

It clicked.

Mark Westmoreland is a Georgia native living in Oklahoma. He is a Netflix enthusiast, Georgia Bulldogs fan, and pro-wrestling junkie. His fiction has been published in Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, Spelk, and other places online. He is also the creator and editor of Story and Grit magazine.