Whereabouts Unknown by Jim Wilsky.

Elton Mackey drove the stolen truck slowly into a crowded grocery store parking lot and finally found a nice snug place to park. The Alabama sun had only gone down about a half hour ago so it wasn’t completely dark yet. Leaning back and down in the seat, he took a swig of warm beer. Mackey was dragging ass and needed a short rest but he had to ditch this truck.

He was wearing the clothes of a dead man. A pink stained t-shirt that was more or less a shredded rag now, a pair of work jeans and a greasy John Deere cap. The son of a bitch who owned this truck had not died easy. Mackey had stabbed him deep in the gut with his own boning knife but it had taken about five more jabs to finally do him.

Mackey had done his best to wash the blood out of the clothes in a river but he still looked like something the cat drug in. The jeans he had on were baggy as hell and the waist was so loose he had to use a piece of oily rope to cinch them up.

No big fuckin’ deal there. Hell, I ain’t the only guy in Tuscaloosa looking a little rough around the edges.

Mackey was a scrawny little shit, only about five nine or so and maybe one forty five. Still, he was not one to mess with. His nickname at Donaldson Correctional Facility had been Copperhead and it sure the fuck wasn’t because of his hair color.

For two nights, he and Myron Diggs had been on the run, headed due west. Last night, they had been trying to go down a steep drainage ditch. The dumbass had ended up cart wheeling all the way down the embankment. He’d broke his leg bad, gleaming white bone had been sticking through his damn calf. Mackey had left him behind quickly, without as much as a so long or a fuck you.

***

Haley Tompkins was in a hurry to get home. Coming out of the Buy Smart she didn’t see the man coming up from behind her as she rolled the grocery cart towards her truck.

“Let me help you with those bags ma’am.”

“Oh SHIT!…..you scared me half to death.” Haley Tompkins put her hand to her chest and looked behind her.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to. They get on me if I don’t help the customers out here.”

It was dark, the lot lights didn’t quite reach here but she had parked this far out because Trev loved his King Ranch 350. He’d kill her if the damn thing got so much as a smudge on it.

Haley turned again and kept rolling the cart, she’d gotten a good enough look at him to know she didn’t want that kind of help. He looked like a damn convict. Where the hell do they hire these store people from, work release programs?

“I got it, thanks.”

“Have to help you ma’am, I don’t have a choice.”

She just kept rolling, didn’t stop. She unlocked the truck from about thirty feet away and then made a fist, sticking the long ignition key out between her first and second finger.

“Nope, don’t want any help.” She rolled on with her back to him. The truck was close now.

“Yes Ma’am, I’ll give you a hand though, I gotta take the buggy back anyway.”

His voice sounded like he was right behind her this time.

She whirled around and aimed the fisted key at him.

“I said no and I meant no. Now GO.” Her top lip was curled up a bit and there was fire in her eyes.

To him though, that just made her hotter. Brown hair in a long ponytail, painted on jeans and a nice low cut top. It would damn near be worth it, even if he did end up getting caught.

He’d spotted her when she first came rolling out alone but she had surprised him with this little show of defiance. He eased up a little.

“Look ma’am, I didn’t mean nothin’, I just need to help you.” He took one more step towards her and touched the bill of his dirty cap.

“You want me to hit the car alarm button?”

At that he stopped, held up his hands and took two steps back.

“Okay, okay, no need for all that now. Y’all have a good night. Just tryin’ to help.” He dropped his hands and smiled at her.

“Go.” She stood staring at him, still pointing her key. He hadn’t turned around yet and was still smiling at her, but his eyes weren’t. She was almost ready to hit the alarm and take off running because she got a better look at his filthy clothes. He could not be working here – even at Buy Smart.

Another car started up nearby and its lights lit them both up from across the lot as it started to pull out. Spooking him for good, he finally turned and walked back in the direction of the store.

She watched him go for a moment and then rolled the cart quickly to the truck. She clicked the key ring again and lit up the dome lights in the extended cab. She wasted no time in throwing the groceries in the back seat. Giving the cart a little shove, she stepped up into the driver seat, slammed the door shut and punched the lock button.

Haley looked in the rear view mirror and saw the slimy little bastard rolling a cart around near the store entrance. She took a long breath and shuddered as she let it out. Starting the truck with a roar, she leaned her head back on the leather head rest.

As he gathered a few carts just to make it look good, he was still thinking of her. It hadn’t worked this time but no big fuckin’ deal. I just need to find the right bitch.

As she drove to the farm, her mind was all over the place. She was still shaking fifteen minutes later as she took the interstate exit and turned right onto rural route 2.

Okay, alright, almost home. She started to loosen up and stretched her tense fingers wide open on the steering wheel. With Trev over in Georgia seeing his mom and a nice bottle of Chardonnay, it would be a nice quiet night.

Turning onto their private lane she sighed and grinned to herself in the rear view mirror. At thirty two, she tried hard to keep herself looking good. It was just her luck to always get the attention of greasy little men with half their teeth missing.

Wedged halfway under the toolbox in the bed of Trev’s prized truck, right behind the rear window was another greasy little man. Elton was covered up by heavy bags of seed corn and the ride had been a little rough, but he can wait a little longer. He swears he can smell her perfume through that back window.

Jim Wilsky is a central Illinois native with a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling. He has written short stories in the genres of mainstream, suspense, crime, westerns, and historical fiction. His work has appeared in Beat To A Pulp, A Twist of Noir, Yellow Mama, Pulp Metal, Darkest Before The Dawn, Plots With Guns, Powder Burn Flash, Mystercial-E, The Medulla Review, Hardluck Stories and others, including several print anthologies. Despite his obvious drawbacks, questionable repute and extreme moodiness, he is supported and strengthened by a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters.

15 comments:

David Barber said...

A well written story, Jim. It was creepy and read like a bit of a movie scene, with her feeling all relaxed on her way home and Elton lying in wait. A fine, gritty tale indeed.

Well done, Jim, and thanks for sending your work our way!

Paul D. Brazill said...

Great stuff. Nice and chilling!

Christopher Pimental said...

"To him though, that just made her hotter." :)

Bill Baber said...

oh, that was good! elton gave me the creeps. great character!

David Cranmer said...

You're on one helluva good roll, Jim.

Thomas Pluck said...

Great twist on this one. I remember stories like it as a kid- the creepy gas station attendant who tries to tell a woman there's a guy hiding in the back of her wagon- but you fooled me with this one, and defined the characters real well with the shifting point of view. Really a great job.

skees said...

David, Thanks go all to you for putting my story up. Really appreciate it.

Paul, thanks very much for taking the time to read and comment.

Hey Christopher, a pleasure to have you comment you and thanks so much for reading.

Bill, really appreciate you reading this and I'm glad you liked it.

David, thanks much for reading and the support.

Hi Thomas, good to make a new acquaintance and I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting.

Cindy Rosmus said...

How the hell did that little bastard sneak into her truck? Must've been when she lay back & relaxed. Probably shut her eyes for too long. Jim, you (& Elton) scared the shit out of me!

skees said...

Cindy!

Thanks for reading and I'm glad Elton bothered you!...He was in the bed of the truck, under those seed corn bags. Waiting patiently for a good twenty minutes - all sweaty and nasty. Hitched a ride before her and greasy #2 even faced off.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Jim, Great job with this. Well written and nice tension throughout. Very visual and although I figured there was going to be a twist, you got me with the ending. I loved this line: "without as much as a so long or a fuck you", awesome!

skees said...

Sean,

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, I appreciate it.

Jodi MacArthur said...

You know how to write a good visual creepy, Jim. The suspense! Reminds me of the old suburban myth with your own twist.

Jesse Lee said...

Nice build to a suffocating finish. Great stuff.

skees said...

Jodi,

Glad you liked it and thanks for commenting. Appreciate it!

Jesse,

Thanks for reading, I'm gald you enjoyed it.

kurtnewton said...

Jim--great stuff. Killer ending.