This is the 16th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.
Stitched Up, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 17th December 2012
Word count: 977
Theme: crime, revenge, suspense
Twenty years, that’s how long it’s been, twenty long years in prison.
Now I’m out, and staying out is proving far harder than I expected. I used to be the man with the plan, and I was worth my weight in gold. Then the people that hire me, they turned on me, set me up for the big fall.
First degree murder.
I’m in admiration of the plan, really, they had me break into the scene of the crime, while the real murderer used my escape route to get out, leaving me shafted, covered in the dead man’s blood holding the weapon, after I foolishly tried to save him.
I protested my innocence of course, for a while. Then I agreed to plead guilty in exchange for leniency. The judge threw that out because I wasn’t confessing to enough murders, there were several other murders with the same MO. Lovely.
Now I’m out and most of the faces I see are young ones, except for the three following me down across Oxford Circus. I might be rusty, but these were amateurs, I recognised one though which was enough to tell me this wasn’t the cops.
I ducked into an apartment store, knowing full well these guys would either want me dead, or back inside. Either way, it was my opportunity to find out who stitched me up, and make them pay. There was a twenty year unpaid invoice for vengeance.
They followed me as expected, but all three men avoided stepping off the store path into the lingerie section where I was ensconced. Never underestimate the male embarrassment reaction.
“Sloppy work,” I chuckle to myself as I try and work out this futuristic touch screen phone I had gotten myself yesterday on a whim. Of course I had the problem of who to call, no one had been to see me the entire time I was inside, which made sense, it must have been a power move in one of the cartels, gangs, or firms I did work for, back then. Doofus A, the one I recognised had been an enforcer for the mob twenty years ago, my bet he was a Leopard, and they didn’t change their spots after all.
“Michael?” I asked, having Googled his number on the Internet on my touchscreen phone.
“Who is this?” a gruff voice asked, deeper, drier, more aged than I remembered. I wondered how my voice sounded to him.
“Its butterfly, I need help,” I said.
“Where are you?” he didn’t need reminding who butterfly was.
I told him the name of the store, and what I could remember of it’s location.
“I’ll have someone meet you there,” he said hanging up with a click.
The three goons were becoming impatient, they were sure I was still here, but hadn’t seen me. They advanced in awkwardly, something akin to gorrillas in fine china shops. I was on the move, it wouldn’t do to be dealing with thugs when I was so close to something. I dived under a clothing rack, and wriggled out of the way just as one of them came stomping past. I rolled back again as another member of their little search party was coming into sight.
“I can’t see her boss,” one of the men called with a distinctly Essex accent.
“Fuck,” an older voice said, “Fuck, fuck, fuck. She got away, that bitch!!”
“What now?” the Essex voiced man asked.
“Cover the exits, she can’t have gone far,” older voice said.
They split up, so I used their backs turned as a chance to get out of the lingerie section and headed over to the shoes, where I could see the entrance before as discreetly as possible I headed up stairs.
I phoned Michael again, testing an idea, “It’s Butterfly, I’ve got out of the store I was in and slipped in the one next door. I should be safe for now.”
“Stay there,” Michael said, “Its not safe someone is after you for a reason.”
“Okay,” I agreed and described the sports goods shop next door.
“They won’t be long,” Michael said hanging up.
I watched from the upstairs window as the three figures made their exit, Doofus A was on the phone. That answered an important question, and I knew what I would have to do.
I slip into the stock room, avoid the noisy looking stock elevator and quietly as possibly make my way downstairs, then slip out the docking bay doors. I make me way up through the back streets keeping as low a profile as possible, back on a main street, I walk along casually, and quickly gathering supplies to disguise my identity.
I grab a tube, and head to Victoria station, and then onto a train to Bromley. See these marvellous smartphone thingies actually tell you a whole lot more than someone’s phone number, and it was my advantage that inside I did computer courses. It lets me use this little thingy to find out all the pertinent information about Michael, like where he’s currently living, his family, his brief time inside. All the while, wondering why he sold me out then, and now.
I eventually arrived at his home, a large detached white walled building. Getting inside was so easy, it was early yet, no alarms.
Sneaking round his house while he and his family are there is kind of cathartic.
Eventually I have everything I need, I dial his mobile. Predictably he steps out of the living room where his wife and kids are watching the television.
“Where,” he starts to ask, and stops as I step out of the shadows of the kitchen. I gesture upwards in the direction of the stairs with a knife I’ve claimed from the knife rack.
We’re due a reunion all right, but it’s going to be a long hard conversation and I want some privacy.
I gave myself a simple rule, don’t edit. I do my best to just post what I’ve written. Otherwise nothing would get posted. However I broke that rule this time, I did most of this, barring the end on my mobile. At some point between writing sessions, (read that as bus journeys), I switched perspectives half way through annoyingly without realising as I don’t generally read back on my mobile. I also don’t usually do first person. That’ll teach me. I rewrote the second half and gave it a finish.
I don’t know what happens next, but twenty years in jail for something you didn’t do, betrayed by someone you trusted, I’d assume that it wouldn’t be pleasant.
That said, I’ve used the open ending a few times to many of late, need to concentrate on finishes next. That’s the lovely thing about writing daily, can practice at different things, and set little challenges to try and find a talented writer somewhere inside, if he exists.