Taffeta stared down into Petey’s eyes which in almost the same moment, popped wide with the realization of what Hover just did to him, then dimmed as his consciousness, and his life slipped away from him.
With a soft grunt, he tipped forward dropping his head into Taffeta’s lap, then slid down from her knee and along her calf as his body slumped to the floor.
Taffetta’s breath caught as she tried to pull her eyes away from mound that was Petey, or at least tired to squeeze them shut, but they would not comply. Instead she slowly lifted her head tracing the room until her gaze fell upon Hover. Her face twisted in to disbelief and fear.
“Dammit!” Hover shouted, dropping the sledge to the floor. His body grew rigid as his hands clenched into and out of frustrated fists.
“Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!”
He stomped around in a small circle as a child might while having a tantrum, shaking his fists and at one point, raising them up to hit himself in the forehead several times in quick succession.
“Dammit, dammit, dammit!”
He kicked out at Petey’s lifeless body, catching him in the leg and making the body shift with its force.
“You stupid son of a bitch,” he said, grinding his fists harder into his head. “You couldn’t just leave it could you? Could you?”
Taffeta stared at the building, brooding mass of anger and frustration before her, her heart beat rising in pace with the escalation of the situation which had quickly deteriorated from a moment of hope and possible escape to…this.
Whatever this was now, whatever their situation had become, it came with a heavier weight than anything up to this moment, as her husband might say, “This was the shit and they were up to their armpits in it. Time to do, or be done in.” She missed that about him.
When Hover kicked out at his associate’s corpse, the alarms screeched through Taffeta’s head.
She burrowed deeper into her friend’s side trying in earnest to elbow her awake, but without drawing attention.
“C’mon, Myrna,” she shouted silently in her head. “C’mon, c’mon. I need you now.”
For the first time since plopping her into the dilapidated sofa, Myrna uttered the very softest of groans causing Taffeta to jerked her head toward her friend’s face.
“That’s it,”she dared to whisper. “C’mon Sweetie, wake up.”
Myrna uttered another soft and barely audible moan as her right eyebrow raised up ever so slightly.
Even that ever so subtle response set Taffeta’s heart to beating faster, but with a greater sense of comfort and relief than compounding fear.
Hover’s swearing boiled down to a base growl as he continued to smack and berate himself while churning in a small squall of a manic pace.
“Myrna,” Taffeta whispered, following another nudge. “You have to wake up now, but you have to be quiet…really quiet.”
An eyelid quivered, then lay quiet for a moment before both eyes popped open.
“What the…,” Myrna said, sitting bolt upright.
Taffeta grabbed the lapel of her friend’s coat and pulled her close to her.
“Sh, sh, sh,” she whispered directly into Myrna’s ear as loud as dared, but with the intention of being heard. “Keep calm. Keep quiet. We’re OK, for the moment.”
Myrna’s eyes shot around the room as her brain worked to put everything together as fast as she could. She remembered the…pharmacy, yes the pharmacy, they were going to get, but then there was that horrible, dirty boy and… She turned a face twisted with fear and a dash of panic back to her friend.
Taffeta raised her hands to catch Myrna’s face and made her focus on her. Her own face mimed deep, careful and calming breaths before she mouthed a long and silent, “Shhhhh.”
Myrna nodded, working to match her breathing to Taffeta’s. The two calmed each other to the point where Taffeta could finally hear something other than her heartbeat banging in her ears. At least until…
“Sweet Jesus! What the hell?!”
Hover stopped instantly, dropping his arms and turning to face the voice that blew out of the shadows like a child who got caught lifting the goods from the family cookie jar. Whether knowingly or by reflex, he took a small step to the side in an effort to block the greater problem, which was the slumping dead pile of Petey Chambers.
“It’s not what you think Danny,” Hover said, pleading his case. “He was gonna let them go.” He pointed accusingly at the ladies cowering on the dilapidated couch. “He was gonna let them go, just like that and you know they would rat us out! I mean he was untying them and everything! He…”
“SHUTUP!” Danny Mackenoy, leapt from the shadow swinging a fist wide and fast that caught Hover square in the jaw, knocking him to the ground.
“Just,” he said, through dangling, dirty strands of hair and a heavy breath, “Shut up.”
Hover lay on the ground rubbing the side of his face as a small tear welled up and dripped down to his cheek. Danny slogged forward, kicking as Hover scurried out of the way, clearing a path to Petey’s body.
“Jesus,” he said, leaning down to poke at the corpse that lay in the dark. “What the hell have you done? What the hell, Hover!?” He spun around and lurched toward Hover who tried to spider walk himself into retreat.
“Did you forget the plan?” Danny asked. “I made a plan! A careful plan that uses three legs of a stool made up of my brain, your flair for on the job security, and Petey’s gift for distribution, everybody playing to their strengths. But you, you with no brains what so ever decide that you will, kill our key to effective distribution!”
Danny’s words started clear enough so as to emphasize his point, but as his own words sunk in along with the realization that his plan, which worked perfectly up until this point, was now messed up beyond reasonable repair, his words grew tight and forced. He began to spit them out through gritted teeth. And as Hover tried to slink away, Danny inched ever closer.
“No distribution, no cash! It’s a pretty simple formula!”
Danny jumped forward grabbing Hover and dragging him across the floor to Petey’s body. “No distribution, no cash, Hover!”
He forced Hover’s face to the floor so that his gaze would have to meet Petey’s lifeless stare. “No cash, no plan!” He brought Hover’s face up to his own. “Did you ever think of that? Did you?”
“No!” Hover yelled, “No, I guess…”
Danny forced his head back into the floor. “Of course not!” He yelled. “You didn’t think!” He raised Hover’s head and forced it back into the dusty, dirty wood floor with a heavy thud.
“You never think!”
“You aren’t paid to think!”
“But I guess you wanted to give it a try anyhow!”
“Now, look what we’ve got!”
“And, that means…”
The last blow pushed Hover’s head in a way that his now similarly lifeless eyes stared into Petey’s. Danny sat, perched on top of Hover’s body, holding his one time partner’s head against the floor until the slight twitching in Hover’s left foot stopped completely. Then he slowly forced out a heavy breath before sitting upright and shooting his head back in a way that should have flipped his hair back and out of his eyes, but the dirt and sweat held it back. He brushed it away with a bloody palm leaving a smear of red across his forehead. He looked up.
“Ladies,” he said, matter of fact. “I’m sorry you had to see that. However, the poor behavior of my associates has brought us to a rather uncomfortable crossroads in our relationship.”
He looked down at his hands covered with blood. The tops. The palms. He clenched his fingers to feel the stickiness before dragging them hard across his shirt.
“Idiots,” he muttered to himself.
Myrna and Taffeta sat still, clutching at each other, trying to remain calm, in the face of this recent turn of events.