It had rained all day, and in the late evening mist still rose from the pavement. This made Stan’s job harder. More room for error: distraction, misplaced evidence, footprints. So much more could go wrong when the world was sopping wet.
Stan knew there was no room for error.
He usually transported the bags himself, and saw no need to involve anyone else this time. Pulling up to the warehouse, he slammed the gear shift a little too jerkily, the restored Chevelle jolting forward. He yanked out the key and rose from the car.
Stan tried to blend in with the wet night. Black leather jacket, dark jeans, black leather boots, scruffy beard, black beanie covering his scraggly pony tail. He just looked like another longshoreman returning to work to pick up something he forgot.
Now came the tricky part. He’d need some luck and speed to pull it off, but he moved with the confidence. As if he’d done it before.
He hefted first one, then another of the bags from the darkened trunk. Staring straight ahead, he transported them through the rusty aluminum warehouse door. He returned for the next set of bags.
Back and forth. Trunk to warehouse. He had gotten out most of the contents, with maybe four or five lumpy black bags left when he became conscious of the music playing. It sounded like a ringtone, maybe, or someone playing something on an iPod.
He started rushing. One more trip. He trotted from the warehouse back to his car.
Something moved in the shadows. Looking up, Stan saw the backlit figure cutting a trail through the mist. He could hear the music clearer now, too. He sort of recognized it…
“Wet night, huh?” a voice called. It echoed against the aluminum walls of the warehouse.
“Yeah, man.” Stan shut the trunk. He hadn’t finished, but it was no use now. He felt his arm shaking, so he reached in his pocket for his keys.
“You know what I like on a wet night like this?” the voice echoed.
“What’s that?” Clinkety-Clink the keys echoed, too.
“A stiff bourbon, and some show tunes.” The man chuckled. He had gotten close enough for Stan to see the glint of a badge, a black jacket, a night stick. A security guard.
“Show tunes? Like, My Fair Lady and shit?
“Yeah, I know, it sounds pansy-ass, but I fucking love it. Andrew Lloyd Webber. West Side Story. Sweeney Todd. Fucking genius.”
“I don’t know man. I never saw any of that shit.” Stan started backing away, as if making to get in the car.
“You know what Sweeney Todd is about, right? The demon barber?”
“Huh? Naw.” Clinkety-clink. He fumbled. Couldn’t get the keys in the lock.
“Yes,” the night guard giggled thickly, “Sweeney Todd would get people into his chair, pull out his razor, and slice!” He mimicked the motion with his hand, which now held the nightstick.
“Shit,” Stan said hollowly. “That’s pretty fucking barbaric.” Clinkety-clink.
The night guard continued giggling. “Yeah. But man! That music!” He started humming along to the music coming from his pocket. “That music just gets inside and cuts you up.”
CLICK. The key slid in the lock, and as Stan turned it he remembered he had left it unlocked. “Damn,” he muttered, then looked up at the night guard. He was about ten yards from the trunk.
“Well, I gotta run, man,” Stan said, pulling open the door.
“Do you know what else can cut you up?”
Stan stopped. The tone in the night guard’s voice…
He gulped. “I’ve really got to go…”
“What ever it is you used to cut up that person in your trunk.”
He stared at the night guard.
“What?” His voice shook.
The night guard stopped at the trunk. “What was it, chainsaw? Machete? Kitchen knives?”
Clinkety-clink. “Look man, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, but I gotta go now,” Stan shouted, throwing himself into the front seat. Jabbing the keys into the ignition, it took a few false starts before the engine turned over. He sped away, seeing the night guard diminish in the rearview mirror.
The night guard stood by the small pool of blood on the wet ground, chuckling softly. What ever the guy left was still in the warehouse, and he’d already sent cars to cover the front gate. Pulling out the radio on his belt, he depressed the talk button.
“I’m going to need some back up here.”
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