Getting back to the normal Flash Fiction feature here at Blue Ink Alchemy, I’m jumping into the Terribleminds challenge of Continuing The Tale, Part Two. I decided to follow up on the excellent start provided by Lisa Shininger, which you can see the original containing post here. Enjoy!
Part 1, by Lisa:
Fee didn’t recognize the voice at the door, but she knew the face when she looked through the peephole. Danny Vinzo was a pinch-faced boy with piggy eyes and a perpetual sneer. A bully from birth.
“You in there, Alou?” Danny demanded, banging again. “I texted an hour ago. We need more.”
“He went out. Back soon, I’m sure,” Fee told him.
She couldn’t turn him away. Danny was a regular. So she pasted on a welcoming smile and opened the door. It wasn’t hard to pretend. She had plenty of practice. Pleasant was a good distraction, one way or another.
Danny shoved past her and stomped down the hall like a man who weighed three times as much. Behind him came another boy. Solid where Danny was reedy, this one had skin like stucco and a suspicious look he seemed to aim everywhere at once.
“Sure, come in,” she said to their backs.
At least her kitchen always cheered her up, no matter what or who was in it. Danny heaved himself into a rickety chair, which creaked nervously under him. The other boy hovered near the fridge with his hands clasped behind him. His eyes never stopped moving, measuring everything.
Fee saw him look at her, away, back again. What did he see? Height of the new winter, hot and bright, and here she skulked in long sleeves and skirt. Boys their age always thought she was ancient—harmless—so she played it up. Sugared her voice even more. Asked if they wanted a glass of something. Her hands were starting to shake a bit. Not enough so they would notice, surely. She curled one hand until the knuckles cracked.
With a smile to Danny, she said, “Let me call Alou so you don’t have to wait. He should be back any minute!”
Fee picked up the phone and hurried out of the kitchen. Past the door to the basement and into the living room, she pretended to dial. There was no need. Alou was exactly where she’d put him.
“He’s on his way!” she shouted toward the kitchen. “Five minutes out, tops.”
Everything Fee needed was behind a false stone in the fireplace. She checked to make sure neither boy had followed. Danny wasn’t what anyone would consider the curious type, but his friend…. She jimmied the stone free. Inside the tin box behind it was what she needed, everything arranged just so. Of course it was. How could Alou have found it from the bottom of the stairs where he fell?
It was too bad Danny brought his friend. If not, she might have given him what he wanted, pills from Alou’s personal stash—for a ridiculous price but still low enough to send him away happy.
Fee shivered. She could feel that boy’s eyes staring at her here, rooms away. They were heavy on her covered arms, cool like the gun in her hand.
The house was quiet. So was the neighborhood. Fee couldn’t risk pulling the slide on Alou’s slender little automatic. She didn’t want to spook the boys in her kitchen. She knew Danny didn’t carry heat; he barely had enough scratch to pick up the pills to feed his addiction, let alone scrape up cash for a piece. The other boy was an unknown that Fee didn’t like. The gun was a reassuring weight in her hand, as it had been before.
She replaced the tin box and gently slid the false stone back into place. She winced a bit when stone scraped against stone, but a quick glance over her shoulder told her the boys hadn’t followed her. Was the larger boy behind Danny just a lookout? For what purpose, though? Alou had never double-crossed Danny. Alou had done a lot of things – cheated, lied, stolen, shut off the heat to parts of the house purely out of spite – but he had never handed a customer a raw deal.
Four minutes, now. She had to decide what to do. She had no idea if Danny would take pills from her; Alou had handled all of the business. She knew where everything was, now that she had taken the time and been able to leave her room and the kitchen without danger. She had already lied about Alou’s arrival, she couldn’t now take that back.
The cat wandered into view, curious and cautious, and it gave Fee an idea. She picked up the feline and put it on the bottom step, then gently shooed it towards the top. The cat was a large tabby tom, and he made a bit of a ruckus as he clomped upstairs. Danny didn’t kknow about the cat. For all he knew, it was Fee making her way towards a bedroom.
Fee quietly slipped past the staircase and around through the dining room. The floorboards didn’t creak as she moved, and she hugged the wall as she approached the kitchen. As she had hoped, the sounds of feet up the stairs made the two boys comfortable talking to one another.
“Whatcha think?” Danny was keeping his voice somewhat low.
“Damn shady.” The other boy had a baritone that belied his age. “Ain’t nobody seen or heard from Alou in a long time. Ain’t been around his usual haunts. Girls ain’t heard a peep.”
“I don’t know. Maybe he’s finding a new hookup. Last time he was here, he was talkin’ about getting bent over by his supplier.”
“He would have figured that shit out by now. Alou’s no slouch.” There was the distinctive, ratcheting noise of a revolver being checked.
“Whoa, whoa!” Danny hissed the warning at his friend. “Tre, come on, dude. She’s an old lady.”
“An old lady who’s blowin’ smoke up our asses. Alou owes folks money and if I gotta collect from Grandma, I will.”
Fee swallowed. The automatic suddenly felt very heavy in her hand. Ninety seconds left. Not enough time.