Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Christmas, Mrs. Cash by Jaap Boekestein




Happy Christmas Mrs. Cash

Family. For Ned family was one of the most important things in the world. Family and friends. You took care of them, and they took care of you.

It was cold in the damned car and Ned wanted to smoke. But he didn't want to run the motor and didn't want the red tip of his cigarette give his position away.

Maybe he should get one of those pussy e-cigarettes. That would have come in handy right now.

But he didn't have one, and there was no use bitching about it. He would wait whole evening and whole fucking Christmas night if need be. He would wait.

Ned looked at the lights of the other side of the street. Some half hearted shitty Christmas lights hanging from the porch and he could see a decorated tree through the front window. Together with the flickering blue white light of the television that had been on whole afternoon.

Cold lights, like a hospital.
#

Ayla got stitches on her face and arms. Frankenstein rail tracks on black, blue and purple skin. Her face, her throat, her arms. It was quiet in her room. At least she wasn't on one of those bleeping life support system.

From her bed she looked at Ned.

“You didn't talk now, didn't you sweet?” he asked. “No charges, no accusations?”

The battered woman didn't speak, couldn't say anything with the tube in her throat. She only shook her head, a little.

“So it was just an accident. You slipped on the bathroom floor. Or such?”

A silent minimal nod.

Ned rose, put his hand on hers. His voice sounded tired. “I'm going to Jimmy's, to celebrate Christmas. After Christmas we will talk, if you are up to it. Love you, Birdie.”

There was a tear running down Ayla's wrecked face when Ned left.

#

Jimmy's, a real Irish bar. As real as they came in Boston. Which didn't mean shit, but fuck, it was a good bar anyway. And it was already packed this early. All guys with nowhere else to go on Christmas eve. Or maybe they just wanted a drink before that had somewhere to go.

It didn't matter.

“Jimmy!”

“Hi Ned!” Jimmy replied, busy drawing beers.

“If you got a minute...”

“Sure.” The graying fifth generation true Boston Irishman -sure...- came over to Ned after serving the beers. “What's up, Ned?”

Ned shoved his phone over the bar, together with three c-notes. “I want you to take care of my phone will I sit over there in that boot all afternoon, evening and night, having a meal, drinking, celebrating Christmas.”

Jimmy and Ned were old pals, from long way back. Friends.

Friends were important.

“All afternoon and evening and night.”

“Yup.”

“Sure thing, Ned.”

“Thanks, you're a pal Jimmy. Happy Christmas.”

“You too Ned. Enjoy your meal and drinking.”

Ned left through the back door.

#

He was in luck. The front door opened, revealing the silhouette of a woman against a rectangle of light.

She wore a long winter coat, a red woolen hat and a shoulder bag. She made her way down the porch and started to walk down the street.

Some last minute shopping? Getting some Christmas spirits from the package store?

Ned got out of his car, all cold and stiff.

It didn't matter, this was what he had waited for.

#

The first time he had met Birdie -Ayla- was years ago, in a club called The Comet. The place didn't exist anymore, except for the memory.

A beautiful but somewhat insecure girl who smiled a lot.

She was nice, Ned thought. He talked to her, got her a drink. They hit it off.

No, not in the deep love forever kind of way. They fucked on and off for six, seven months, but neither one really wanted to commit. They ran in the same circles, especially when Ayla's friend Tina married Cole, one of Ned's mates.

Somehow Ned and Ayla stayed friends.

Friends were important.

She was like his little sister.

Like family, you know.

#

Black and blue face, broken nose, broken jaw, broken this, ruptured that.

Insecure. Ayla was a sweet girl, but so god damned insecure. A man could tell her he loved her, that she was worthless without him, that no-one would ever want her, and she would believe him. And stick with him, no matter what.

Low self esteem or something like that.

She hid it well, first, but one day she ran into Ned on the street and it showed. The shade hid her eyes, it couldn't conceal her swollen lip.

“What do you tell people if they ask what's going on?” Ned asked over a coffee.

Ayla looked away. “I just ran into a door. I'm real clumsy.”

“You stick to that story,” Ned said, anger in his voice. He paid for both of them and when he left, he asked her. “And who did this to you, Birdie?”

“Nobody.”

“Good girl. Really smart.”

#

Ned crossed the street, gun in his pocket, the collar of his coat up. There was nobody else, nobody was out on Christmas eve.

He rang the bell of the front door. He rang it long, until he heard someone cursing inside. From the sound of it a guy was making his way to the front door.

Ned pulled the gun from under his coat. His other hand closed around the blackjack in his pocket.

#

Shortly after doing six months in Chucky's Place for a disorderly behavior charge and a lousy lawyer, Ned ran into Ayla again.

Nothing had changed. Black and blue girl.

“Birdie, Birdie. I can't help you, if you don't help yourself,” Ned said. “Come here sweet.” He tried to hug her.

She started to shiver and cry.

“He... He is married,” Ayla sobbed.

This fucking asshole beat her up time after time and she was fucking crying because he was married?

Ned shook his head. He would never understand women.

“Give me his name,” he demanded.

“No.”

“Gimme.”

“No! Fuck off Ned!”

He didn't get the asshole's name.

#

The guy opened the door. He was drunk; he wore a faded Guinness t-shirt and some shaggy sport pants. He looked angry. Red eyes, bad breath.

Ned moved quickly and got real close. The barrel of his Ruger LC9 was buried in the fucker's belly.

“Now come with me, Andrew.”

#

Cole called Ned. “Do you know Ayla is in hospital? Tina just came back. He beat her up pretty bad this time.”

“Fuck. Where?”

“In Man's Greatest. Room... Honey, what room is Alya stay... Room 533, Ned.”

“Room 533, Massachusetts General Hospital,” Ned repeated. “Got it.”

#

Christmas eve, so only fucking Christmas songs on the car radio.

Ned drove on, not to quick, not to slow, merging with the end of the day traffic.

Andrew in the trunk wouldn't wake up for a while, and even if he woke up, he wouldn't be able to do much, gagged and bound the way he was.

Ned dove on through the night. He knew exactly where he was going.

#

Ayla was sleeping when Ned came in.

He looked at her and his heart broke.

She was like a little sister to him. Family. This had to stop.

Her phone was in the small cabinet beside her bed. He had seen her use the thing often enough. Swiping the Z he unlocked the little screen.

Andrew. He was called Andrew. She sent him so many messages, saying she was sorry, begging to take her back.

It was not nice to read.

Andrew what?

Ned found the last name and an address in Ayla's phone. He read and reread them until he was sure he had them memorized.

By the time Ned put the phone back, Birdie woke up.

#

Andrew was very sober now.

He was kneeling in the snow, at the edge of the quay. A black night with a zillion white snow flakes. Fifteen feet down the dark water waited.

He was cursing, he was crying, he was begging.

“You are married, aren't you?” Ned asked.

“I... Yes, I am.” Andrew was grasping for a straw.

“You should have stayed faithful.” Ned said, shooting Andrew five times, back and head.

Slowly the body fell forward, towards the dark water.

Ned cleaned the gun and threw it after the corps.

Through the snow he made his way back to his car.

#

No police at the house. Ned drove by slowly. Inside he could see a woman, waiting for her husband who had gone out, like he did so many times.

The only difference was that this time he wouldn't return.

“Marry Christmas, Mrs. Cash,” Ned whispered, driving on.

He had a phone to pick up in a bar, and a girl in the hospital to visit.

He wasn't going to tell her about Andrew Cash.


-End-

Bio Jaap Boekestein (1968) is an award winning Dutch writer of science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers and whatever takes his fancy. He usually writes his stories in trains, coffeehouses and in the 16th century taverns of his native The Hague, the Netherlands. Over the years he has made his living as a bouncer, working for a detective agency and as an editor. Currently he works for the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. His English publications include stories in: CyƤegha, Nonbianary Review, Strange Shifters, Lovecraft after Dark, Surreal Nightmares, Urban Temples of Cthulhu, Sirens Call, Mystery Weekly Magazine, Double Feature Magazine, After The Happily Ever After, Cliterature, No Safe Word, Sex & Sorcery 3 and Brave Boy World: A Transman Anthology.  http://jlboekestein.wixsite.com/jaap-boekestein
Share:

0 comments:

Post a Comment