Latest Flash

Baby Ruth

If you're going to hustle a king's ransom,

make sure the crown isn't cracked.

Baby Ruth by Mark Slade


Danny sat at the table, staring a hole in Rose. He sighed and reached into the left pocket of his hoodie. He produced a plastic bag and briefly flashed it to Rose. 

She saw the baggie contained finely cut white powder she desperately needed. Rose trembled, wiping tears dampening the dark circles under her eyes.

Danny looked around the café to make sure no one was watching. He laid the baggie on the table and pushed it toward her, clutching it tight when Rose reached for it. He had a devil-may-care smile on his face.

A smile Rose did not care for.

“Are you a good babysitter?” Danny asked.

Rose hesitated to answer. “Yes,” she said, trying hard not to fidget with her hair.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“What makes you so good?” Danny said, then chuckled.

“Can I have the stuff, please?”

“Tell me,” Danny insisted.

“Just give me what I paid for,” Rose said through clenched teeth. She tried to pull the baggie from Danny’s grip.

“Give me an answer, cunt.” Danny wasn’t smiling anymore. “Or I’ll take this and give it to another junkie……for free.”

Rose trembled again. Her whole body shook at the thought of not having her medicine. Then there was the thought of the shame she’d feel if her parents knew she’d become a junkie and was no longer in college; that she no longer lived in a dorm and was using her monthly allowance to buy drugs.

“Tell me.” Danny glared at her with a horrible, scummy smile returning to his ashen face.

“Because….” Rose tried to explain. “Because……”

“Yes?” Danny raised an eyebrow.  An almost demonic, high-pitched giggle followed.

“Because….I watch over people’s children. I’m attentive and caring. I take care of other’s children…..almost as if they were mine.”

Danny laughed.

“I never let anything bad happen,” Rose added.

Danny let go of the little baggie and Rose snatched it off the table. She quickly slipped the baggie down the front of her sweat pants.

Danny watched with an almost perverted stare. “Well,” he said after a lengthy silence.  “You’re about to let something bad happen.”

“How’s that?” Rose shot back. “What do you mean by that?”

“Me and Karl.” Danny sniffed the air, sat back confidently in his chair. “We’re branching out into other areas of opportunity.”

“Which are?”

“The Rosenblums,” Danny said. He watched a waitress bend down to clear a table of plates and glasses. Her skirt rose up to reveal no panties under her black tights. Danny was pleased with the view.

“What about them?”

“Rich. Right?”

“Looks that way.”

“They have a baby girl. Ruth is her name, I believe.”

Rose sighed. “You don’t want to do this.”

“Do what?” Danny laughed. “Go on. Tell me what I shouldn’t do.”

“Take that child,” Rose whispered. “And…what…sell it?”

“Don’t be stupid, you cunt,” Danny snarled. “What kind of monster do you think I am?” He leaned in. “We’re going to ransom the baby. All right? Sell a child? That’s just plain evil.”

“How are you going to get inside—”

“We aren’t.” Danny had that evil smile on his face again.

“No,” Rose shook her head. “No way.”

“You are going to bring the child to us.”

“No.”

“We’ve been watching. Karl and me. Every Saturday night. We sit outside that big house and watch Mr. and Mrs. Rosenblum leave while you sit there and take care of Baby Ruth.”

“Look….those people are not what you think…….they are a little….unusual….. the woman isn’t well……” Rose tried to reason with Danny. Suddenly, she realized she didn’t want, nor have, to reason with him. He was a natural born psychotic, working his way up the ladder of criminal activity. She could just get up and leave anytime. She had her medicine and didn’t need to listen to him rattle off his sick scheme.

Rose stood up and kicked her chair away from her.

Danny took a burner phone from the right pocket of his hoodie. He dialed. It rang a few times before a woman answered the phone.

Rose knew her mother’s voice very well.

“Hello?” Rose’s mother said.

“I’ll just tell your parents you’re a junkie,” Danny said, pleased with himself. "Or….you help Karl and me.”

“Hello? Hello? Who’s there?” Rose mother continued.

“How did you get her number?” Rose asked.

“Hello? Hello? Look….if you don’t answer I’m hanging up! I’ve heard about you silly telemarketers.” Her mother was screaming now.

“Wasn’t hard,” Danny said. “Karl looked her up on Google.”

“I’ll help you,” Rose blurted. 

Danny hung up and placed the phone back in his pocket.

“Good,” he said. “We’ll be parked outside the Rosenblum’s house tomorrow night. We’ll wait for them to leave and you bring us Baby Ruth. That simple.”


****

Karl and Danny sat in a beat up, four- door ‘99 Mazda. The blue paint had rusted off the front end and the driver’s side. They needed a car in a hurry and found a junkie on the north side of town who not only owed them money but was one hit away from death on a crack pipe. They entered the junkie’s house while his family slept. They ate his KFC leftovers and drank his Red stripe. He didn’t even know his car and keys were missing.

They watched the Rosenblums leave their house. Mr. Rosenblum led his frail, feeble-minded wife to their BMW and they sped off, haphazardly swerving to miss another car.

“Holy shit,” Karl said, shaking his head.

Danny laughed. “He’s been giving it to her in the ass too much. That’s her problem.”

A few minutes later, Rose came trotting from the house with the baby wrapped in a pink blanket.

Danny rolled the passenger-side window down and took Baby Ruth.

Rose stepped back from the curb and away from the car with a strange look on her face.

There was no baby wrapped in the pink blanket. Rather, a plastic baby doll with no eyes, no mouth, and no hair.

“What the fuck?” Danny yelled.

A car sped toward them.

It was the BMW, with just Mr. Rosenblum inside. He pulled up beside them, rolled his window down, and pulled a Glock. He fired twice and sped off, leaving Karl with no face and Danny with a hole in his neck, fighting for air.


Mark Slade has appeared in Dark Dreams, Schlock! Weirdbook #32, Detectives of the Fantastic, Stray Branch, and other publications. Recently, a story was read on Manor House podcast. He writes audio plays for 4077th productions and created the audio series The Sundowners and The Hangman's Dozen.

Here is the link for Manor House: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpYII9bGbGg

His audio play "Olivia" will soon appear there. He has had stories read and forthcoming on Oddcast, That Horrible Woman, and Wicked Library. His website is: http://bloodydreadful.blogspot.com/. He lives in Williamsburg, Va with his wife, daughter, and a Pomeranian that uses mind control on humans.