Hard-Boiled Flash Fiction By Kyle Decker

Kyle Decker, author of Moral Threat, is and educator and punk vocalist based in Chicago, Illinois. His work has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail and Mystery Magazine. His most recent novel is titled This Rancid Mill, also featuring Alex Damage, published by PM Press.

*****

As I sit in the car, the smell of cigarette smoke starts to overwhelm the smell of leftover fries from the In-N-Out bag on the passenger seat. The ashtray is getting full. I’m not one of those dipshits that flick the butts out the window. It’s not just that I’m environmentally conscious, a pile of cigarette butts next to a loiting car is a huge red-fucking-flag. Anyone’s ever seen Dirty Harry‘ll tell you that. It’s rookie shit and I’ve been doing this too damn long to pull rookie shit.

Keeping a low profile means the radio stays off. It’s all garbage until Rodney comes on KROQ anyway. But robbed of my favorite distraction, my mind wanders. Some people lie awake in bed at four in the morning thinking about every shitty thing that they’ve ever done. Hopefully, I’m getting that out of the way in the driver seat of a 1971 Chevy Vega on Traction Avenue at 6:00 pm. hopefully.

I mistake a french fry I’m eating for a cigarette. I laugh at myself, relieved it wasn’t the other way around.

I wish this guy’d hurry up. Social Distortion is playing Madame Wong’s tonight and I want to get this done quickly.

Keeping a low profile means the radio stays off. It’s all garbage until Rodney comes on KROQ anyway.

Finally, the cheese-dicked little shit comes stumbling out of Al’s Bar. White. Somewhere between lean and just plain scrawny. A hair shy of five-eight. Leather jacket, ripped jeans, and a mohawk taller than mine that’s green instead of blue. Still, a normie wouldn’t be able to tell us apart in a line-up.

I pop open my glove box and pull out an expandable riot baton. I’d taken it off a cop a few weeks back after a noise complaint against the Cuckoo’s Nest turned into a riot. Again. The thing had a nice weight to it. Heavy enough to do some damage where damage needed some doing, yet light enough that it was easy to carry and swing; and I knew from experience how much these fucking things hurt.

For a moment I think he’s looking at me, but he’s just turning into block a gust of wind so that he can light a cigarette. This encourages me to check my own pack. I’m out. Duly noted.

I wait for him to round the corner before I get out of the car and tail him. He starts walking like he’s gotta’ piss and ducks into an alley. I follow him in. He’s shaking off and zipping up as I approach.

Now he says, “what the fuck?” But he definitely knows what the fuck. His eyes speak through a megaphone. He knows who the fuck I am and I got to imagine he’s got a pretty good idea why I’m here. Reputations are more valuable than stocks.

He woofs as the baton gets him in the gut, knocking the wind out of him. The cigarette shoots out of his face. It hits my cheek and I wince as the cherry sparks. He tries to take the opportunity to tackle me, but the baton nails him in the knee, sending him down. As he falls, the baton strikes his sternum. A steel-toed kick with Docs to the dick and that’s all she asked for.

I lean down in his face.

“H-hey, Alex…” he wheezes.

“Evenin’, Jimbo,” I say, “you fucking shithead. Sally’s made it clear to you five too many times that she ain’t interested. From here on out, you go home and jerk it like a real man, yeah? You fucking touch her again and you won’t even have that option. You get me?” The baton raps on his wrists.

“Y-yeah.”

“Good.” With that, I take the cigarette pack from his jacket pocket, lighting one as I walk away.

Sally hadn’t any money to pay me for this job. Which is fine by me. There are other ways to return favors. Just to be perfectly clear, you pervert, I’m not talking anything sexual. The girl’s only sixteen and I’m not a fucking monster. Out of this world chef, though, that one. Her meatloaf’ll take you to the goddamn Moon. She wants to open her own restaurant. And I’ve never been one to undervalue a home-cooked meal.

*****

If you’ve enjoyed “Moral Threat”, you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

For online archive of short fiction (longer pieces) on Mystery Tribune website, you can visit here.

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