Shirt City Blues by Angel Zapata.

“You’re hurting me, Dad. Please don’t do this.”

“Do you know what time it is, Conner?”

“I know. But let me explain.”

“It’s two hours after curfew. Your mother and I—”

“But I have a good reason.”

“Let me guess. You lost track of time again.”

“That’s not it!”

“Keep your voice down. Your mother’s asleep.”

“Whatever. It’s not like she’d hear us anyway with all those fuckin’ pills she swallows every night.”

“You better watch your mouth, boy. You’re walking on some painfully thin ice.”

“Stop squeezing my arm, Dad! It hurts!”

“Hey, isn’t that my blue shirt you’re wearing? What the hell did you get all over it?”

“It’s blood.”

“Blood? Are you hurt?”

“Let go of me. It’s not my blood.”

“Huh? Well then, whose blood is it?”

“It’s Jimmy’s.”

“The kid that lives next door?”


“Is he alright?”


“Okay, son. What the hell is going on?”

“Jimmy’s dead. I hit him with your car.”

“Is this some kind of prank? Cause I’ll tell you right now, Conner, it ain’t funny.”

“No! He’s really dead.”

“Jesus Christ. I need a drink.”

“Haven’t you had enough already? Ow! That hurt.”

“Quit squirming and tell me what happened.”

“We were down at Astoria Park talking to some girl Jimmy knew from school. Jimmy asked her if she needed a ride. She said, yeah.”

“Get to the damn point.”

“Jimmy knew a place to park out behind the old drive-in theater. He told me to wait in the car, kill the engine and lights. After he got out, I waited like five minutes. It was dark, but I saw him take off his jacket and lay it on the grass. Then the girl started unbuttoning her jeans and Jimmy pulled her down to the ground. She screamed and then went real quiet.”

“I still don’t understand how—”

“I was curious. I switched on the headlights and I saw what Jimmy was doing to her. He was on top of her with his hand over her mouth. I started the car and stepped on the gas. I was just trying to scare him. Next thing I know, I felt both their bodies under the tires.”

“Jesus. You killed them?”

“Not at first.”

“Uh… what are you saying?”

“They were screaming. I was afraid someone might hear.”

“Oh, fuck no. Don’t tell me—”

“I shifted in reverse. After a few passes, neither one of them made any more noise.”

“Oh, God. Are you sure they’re dead?”

“Yeah, I got out of the car and made sure.”

“Made sure?”

“There was so much blood everywhere. The girl’s head was a mess, but Jimmy was still moving around. I found your shirt in the back seat. I rolled it up and put it over his face until he stopped breathing.”

“My God, Conner. Do you think anyone saw you?”

“Yeah, someone did.”

“Aw, hell. Who was it?”

“As I pulled off the dirt road back onto I-421, this old guy waved at me. I’m not really sure who he was, but he thought I was you.”


“Yeah, the guy called out, ‘Good seeing you, Mr. Hutchens’.”

“You mean he thought you were me?”

“Uh-huh. That’s when I got the idea to put on your shirt and drive around town for a little while. You even had one of your baseball caps in the trunk. It seems I look a lot more like you than I thought. Plenty of people recognized you behind the wheel. And as far as Mom knows, I was in bed when she went to sleep. Where were… you?”


“I promised myself I would never let you come home drunk and hurt me or Mom again. Jimmy and that girl helped me keep that promise.”

“Oh God, I feel sick. Who’s that? A car’s pulling up in the driveway.”

“It’s probably the cops. I called them just before I walked in.”

“The police!”

“Yeah, I told them I saw my father drive off drunk earlier tonight with the neighbor’s kid, Jimmy.”

“Oh, shit. Please don’t do this.”

“Where have I heard that before?”

“Conner, I’m so sorr—”

“You better put something on while I get the door. Here’s your shirt, Dad.”

Angel Zapata was born in NYC, but currently resides just outside of Augusta, Georgia. Some of his fiction and poetry has appeared in the Toe Tags Anthology, Mausoleum Memoirs, Long Live the New Flesh: Year One and Year Two, The Best of Every Day Fiction: Volume 2, Howl: Dark Tales of the Feral and Infernal, Branded Words, The Best of Every Day Poets: Volume 2, and the zombie anthology: Putrid Poetry and Sickening Sketches. He is also author of the Trestle Press short story horror series, The Man of Shadows.


David Barber said...

Angel, this is superb. A fine tale of "fuck you", but on top of that, the dialogue is top drawer. I love dialogue only stories and this is fantastic.

Well done, my friend. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely bloody awesome... brilliant..

Graham Smith said...

A fantastic revenge tale where the biter gets bitten good and proper.

Excellent writing Angel.

Anonymous said...

Like I've said before. I see Angel's name on something, I go there, at once. Hard to hold a story together with only dialogue, but I think AZ does it just to show the rest of us how it should be done.
Cool runnings, Angel. Thanks.

EC said...

Sooo wicked! And the dialogue a nice treat.
Beautifully done, Angel.

Fiona Johnson said...

Nice one Angel, very clever!

Gita Smith said...

Day-um! You know how to do noir, Dude.

Angel Zapata said...

You folk are awesome! Thank you for reading and showing the love.

Chris Alliniotte said...

I love how the dialogue is not only natural, but it just flows so damned easily along a superbly crafted story arc to an ending that surprises without cheating.

Wonderful stuff.

Charlie Wade said...

Agree with AJ above, a story with just dialogue is really hard to pull off. Kept me all the way through. For some reason I especially like the line, "Not at first." Great stuff.

Madam Z said...

Angel, this is a devilishly good tale. The dialogue is captivating. I could "see" the characters, even though there was no description. The story was revealed, bit by bit, line by line, and had strangely happy ending (well, except for Jimmy and the poor girl). Revenge is sweet.

Unknown said...

I have to agree with everybody else about the sharp dialogue. You really brought all those characters to life Angel and threw them into a great revenge tale.

Really enjoyed reading.

Kristin Fouquet said...

Excellent dialogue with a perfect pacing of suspense.

Liam Sweeny said...

Ooooeeee! Lovin' this story. It's good that you can tell such a tale almost purely with dialogue and keep it sprung up right until the end. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

Terrific tale with great dialog, Angel. Moves forward quickly to a killer climax that will warm the hearts of everyone seeking methods of revenge. It's always fun to read your work.

Michael A. Kechula

Bruce Harris said...

Great title, great dialogue, great fast moving story!