It was the weirdest job I’d ever taken. No double-crossed thugs, no unpaid loan sharks, nary a cheating spouse to be seen. Just a creepy loner who needed a bullet to the skull before he could push into motion a sick plan to make the world a lonelier place.
And damned if I’d ever had to do that much travel before. But they told me the payday would be worth my while so I sailed off strapped with a 9mm. and a head swimming with 80s nostalgia.
Fighting off a stiff December breeze I wove through the Manhattan streets, eager to find my mark and get the job over with – but good luck fending off the distractions of that gorgeously insane place. The sidewalks were a freak show, alive with coke-fueled craziness and the promise of dangerous sex.
I spent my first ninety minutes spinning deeper into that breathtaking web, absorbing everything.
The sights – even the subway graffiti was somehow beautiful.
The smells – real food, made by real first generation immigrants.
And the voices – Deborah Harry cooing, David Byrne hiccupping, Joey Ramone whimpering, Grandmaster Flash cutting, scratching, reinventing the beat.
How could I not lose track of time? Shit.
I raced from the subway, determined to get across town to The Dakota before it was too late.
It was too late. A cloaked figure – arms extended – closed in on his target rising from a limousine.
“Everybody get down!” I shouted, and both bodies dutifully dropped.
I waited for the gunfire. But it never came.
The autograph seeker turned, his face frozen. Unfamiliar. He wasn’t my mark.
I slipped into the shadows, chagrined.
Then I heard the steps and the gun being loaded. But saw nothing.
“Get down!” I wheezed, no voice left after the false alarm.
I still saw nothing, but tried again:
“Somebody’s got a gun!”
Smirks all around. Who’s the wiseguy? they had to wonder.
My head swiveled, swept the shadows, the alleys, behind the dumpster. Nothing.
Another click. A hammer yanked back. No more steps.
A silhouette emerged, stepped into the moonlight.
“Mr. Chapman?” I asked.
He turned. This was my mark. Sharing that demented grin, glassy eyes shinning on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun. I could see the marquee beaming in his head. He was there already, finished, famous, complete. Nothing left to do but add the exclamation point.
But I had to fuck things up by being a quicker draw.
“The dream is over, motherfucker,” I said.
And I shattered his face into a mess his mother wouldn’t recognize. Twice.
I dove back into the shadows and scampered away, the scene now bathing in stunned silence.
It was time to get back to where I once belonged, back to spring of 2011, a world that could now watch Yoko grow old with her walrus.
Bio: Copper Smith is a writer of crime fiction and the shadowy figure behind Uppercut Avenue, something the kids apparently call a “web-site.” For some reason he lives in Minneapolis: http://www.uppercutavenue.com/
7 thoughts on “Nothing To Kill Or Die For by Copper Smith”
Clever stuff! If only etc…Beaut.
Nice. I agree with Paul…if only.
Nice read… very nicely done!
Back in college… junior year… psych class… question was asked… “…if you could go back in time and change one thing…” Someone answered… “Stop Chapman…”
Nice idea, and great read! I loved it. vivid on the sounds and smells. keep up the great writing!
Thanks for the kind words! Writing it was fun and weirdly cathartic.
This is nothing short of gorgeous and deadly! I can’t imagine anyone upping this in your contest, Copper. This paragraph is especially breathtaking. “Sharing that demented grin, glassy eyes shinning on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun. I could see the marquee beaming in his head. He was there already, finished, famous, complete. Nothing left to do but add the exclamation point.”
I’m in solid agreement with everyone – this is a great slice of noir crime flash fiction with scifi overtones.
As the creator of the character Dick Dice, who’s a 22nd century time travelling hitman, I loved this story of yours.
You craft such great lines of narrative Copper and theres not one story I dont like of yours
Its been a distinct honor of mine in the past to have illustrated your “Massacre on 34th Street” short story for Yellow Mama.
You ever reprint this story in Yellow Mama or any other noir zine that allows spot illustration – please please please let me illustrate it.
Love your work