Friday, December 12, 2008

Spare Change #30

It was the last thing I expected. I was still ten or fifteen feet away from Tommy, my legs were on fire and refused to carry me any faster. Ashes was closing the distance, her knife held hard and low by her side, full of sinister promises.

And Tommy just stood there.

He was not frozen by fear or shock or anything like that. He looked at me and then slowly turned his head to watch Ashes approach but he made no move to run. I was about to yell at him again but then he said the one word I least expected, the only word I could not have seen coming in that moment of madness.


I stumbled to a stop; his words had planted a brick wall in my path. They did not, however, have a similar effect on Ashes – she kept coming, a hideous snarl forming on her lips.

Where his words failed, his next action did not: he pulled his gun out of his jacket pocket and levelled it at her head.

She skidded to a halt without a word, I stood panting shocked white clouds and Tommy stood like a statue, not an inch of him wavering. And now here we are, in a poor man’s Mexican standoff: words against a knife against a gun.

“Tommy... don’t do it man... this isn’t the way to end this,” I tell him, my voice hoarse from disuse and the cold.

“I have to say I disagree J,” he tells me without looking away from her face. Her hatred is plain to see, I don’t know how she’s keeping it all inside her head – mine would have split open by now. “I have to say that this is the most perfect, most fitting, most just way to end this nightmare.”

I can’t pretend that this is not a deeply tempting solution, the only one that would ensure Ashes never interfered in our lives again, but I can’t let Tommy become a murderer. Obviously a good case could be made for self-defence but right now this would be cold-blooded homicide.

“We need to get the cops, get her locked up and finish this the right way man,” I plead but I can tell already that he won’t listen to anything I have to say. His eyes are flat and determined, there is no anger there: only certainty. “Tommy if you do this they’ll put you away instead, that’s not how this mess should end up!”

“I’ve got places I can hide,” he says from a faraway place. “If they ask, you were never here... tell them you were with TJ, she’ll cover for you... I’m sure Karl would too. You’ve got people that look out for you; I hope you know how lucky you are.”

Ashes remains silent – that’s the only thing I’m grateful for right now. One word from her could set this powder keg off... but I can’t see a way to get out of this without that gun going off and ending two lives. Hell, it might end mine as well – I bet Officer Cruz would jump all over this chance to get me behind bars: he’d find a way to prove Tommy and I planned this together, he might even put my finger on the trigger.

What can I say, what can I do... I should have brought Karl with me, he would know the right thing to say to bring sanity to this situation. I should have brought the cops here yesterday, maybe they could have staked it out, caught Ashes before any of this could have happened. I should have –

“Get out of here J, get somewhere you’ll be seen so that you’ve got an alibi,” Tommy tells me the same way he would tell me to go get a bottle of tequila from the corner store. Calmly, confidently, matter-of-factly. “I don’t want you to get caught up in this -”

Tommy is cut off by Ashes’ feral scream as she rushes toward him with teeth and knife bared. My heart stops beating, my lungs stop breathing. Tommy blinks once, twice, then pulls the trigger.

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