Archive for the ‘ Thriller ’ Category

Chiefs

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Morgen Knight

Roy slammed the shot of Jack then exhaled, his vision momentarily swimming. The bar was in an uproar as another touchdown was scored. A minute and change left in the game, but the ending had already been signed, sealed, and delivered. No one loses a twenty-one point lead in just over a minute. Especially not at the Super Bowl. And he wanted to cry.
How long had he been a Chiefs fan? How many heart-wrenching seasons?
But he couldn’t cheer. Not now. Not after the deal he’d made.
“Your soul,” the man had said, a dark stranger he couldn’t exactly envision in his mind.
And Roy had been too eager to shake the man’s hand, laughing. A bit of Jack in him then, as well. Funny, because who can guarantee a Chief’s win? Super Bowl win? Roy hadn’t thought much if it.
Until they’d started to win. And win. Lose a couple (breathing easier) until they won again and again. Unreal wins. Turns of luck. Players doing more then they should be able to.
As the game clocked ticked down and the cheers defended, his hands began to tremble. His bowels threatened to loosen. As the last three seconds ticked away, he held his eyes closed. His soul. That’s all.
0:00 the game clock read.
The bar was a riot of chants and howls, booze splashing.
And Roy felt a tap on his shoulder.

Refinancing

Morgen Knight

He threw the Marlboro cigarette down before he turned up his street, stepping on its life like he would an insect. His stained tennis shoe twisted over it without thinking. Old habits and all. When his fingers held a cigarette again, it had that same natural feel, tilting at the same angle. David didn’t think about how comfortable it felt. How familiar. It was this naturalization that made it effective. It was like slipping into a familiar room, giving him a place to think.

In his left hand was today’s newspaper. He had walked all of the way down to Quiktrip to buy it. His route had not been a direct one. There were too many things to consider. Walking helped. Smoking helped even more. The nearly empty streets gave him all of the room in the world to do both. And thoughts this big needed a lot of space.

It was five in the morning. The fall air carried amber leaves across the rough asphalt. It sounded like the final labored breaths of an emphysema victim. To the east, the sun’s toiled tones fought to break through the thinly overcast sky. It was a losing battle.

He stopped in front of his blue Craftsman house. All of the windows were dark. His wife and son were asleep inside, he knew. David didn’t know what they dreamed. He hoped that they were happy thoughts. Simon always slept with the covers pulled over his head, but David had sat and watched Becky sleep beside him many nights over the last couple of months. He couldn’t sleep, and he couldn’t lay there and stare at the ceiling. He was afraid that if he did, that ceiling might start to lower, the same way that the walls could feel like they were closing in.

What David had seen on his wife’s face as she slept were deepening lines. Worry. Anger was laid there, too. He couldn’t avoid the sharp guilt those lines handed him. He knew he was to blame. She had never said that, no open accusation. But she didn’t have to. The way that she looked at him was enough. Every desultory sigh.

He stood there looking at his house, and he knew that he could drop this paper right here and keep on walking. Down the street, down the next. Wend his way out of this life and into another one. A man changing hats. He didn’t know if it was a natural thought, but he was disgusted by the glimmer of excitement he felt in the pit of his stomach for it. Shame.

David walked quietly into his house. He didn’t need the light to find his way to the kitchen, laying the paper on the table. The oven’s digital clock read a green 6:45. Becky would be getting up soon, her phone alarm sounding on. Her shift at the hospital started at eight-thirty. It would be twelve hours before he’d see her again. Maybe more. She was working every extra minute that she could. She had to. It was the only money coming into this house.

A house that they were always an inch away from losing. He thought, it might as well be a house of cards.

David had lost his job 6 months ago. Down-sizing, they had called it. Necessary layoffs needed to save the company, like cutting away necrotic tissue.

Daylight was rising. The fettered sun pushed an ashen cast across the firmament. David moved around the kitchen. He started the coffee that Becky had to have three cups of. He would usually take one. Half the pot was wasted, sitting on the heated pad until he could get around to dumping it down the sink. He took the half a loaf of bread from the bread box, and made two sandwiches for Simon’s lunch. An apple and a packet of string cheese. The boy was twelve. David was sure that he recognized that things were tense.

The boy’s lunch was put in a brown bag and set in the nearly empty fridge. By a glance, David could tell which necessities were gone and which were dwindling. He closed the door, took the pen from the magnetized clip on the fridge door, next to Simon’s report on the industrial revolution, and jotted a few things on the notepad.

Milk. Eggs. Bread. Chicken. Since having the rug pulled out from under him, David had been the one to focus on domestic issues. Before, he and Becky had split them, but now it was the only thing that he could do to contribute. All of the cleaning. Food. Whatever it was, he saw to it so that Becky could relax when she got home.

You might think that doing this provided a modicum of pride, but really it effaced it. He knew that he was doing all of this because it was the only thing he could do. He was keeping busy so that he wouldn’t have to look at his life and wonder when his grip on it had grown so loose.

David was thirty-eight. He could remember being young once. Remember the call of ambition. But life had a way of settling itself into place, doesn’t it?

He was sitting at the table when his wife came in. She was in her scrubs, dressed for work. She poured a cup of coffee, added two tablespoons of sugar and sat down. David had a pen in his hand. He was reading over the classified section by the luminal light dusting down from the obscured sky outside. When he saw something interesting in the paper, he circled it. There were only two so far. He wasn’t qualified for many of them.

He had been in college, back when he was young. That was where he had met his wife. But then he’d hurt his knee. When he couldn’t play football anymore, his scholarship evaporated. Becky had been understanding back then. The future was wide open. Every possibility still remained. Now that the future was here…

David looked at his wife. She was reading the front page. He didn’t know how a marriage grew stale, when the small cracks formed, or how the mold got into it, spreading. There was once a time when they were on fire. When he heard her voice, he use to hear laughter. The breed of laughter with joy in it, not sardonically veined. But he knew that those days had slipped painlessly away, like dying in your sleep.

“Any luck?” she asked, and everything that he wanted to say, what needed to be said, fluttered away like crows startled from a wire.

“It’s hard right now,” he said.

“Of course it is. I know.” She spoke with the cushion of steel.

He had washed his hands twice, making sure to obliterate the stain smoke left. It would be hell this morning if she picked it up. He had given up the habit years ago. While she was pregnant with Simon, in fact. That didn’t mean that he hadn’t sneaked one or two over the years. He’d almost fallen back in the habit two years ago, when his mother had died. What he didn’t do was let her know. Becky had never been overburdened with understanding.

And if there was ever a time when he needed that peace, that inhalable break, it was right now.

“There are a couple here that might work,” he said off-handedly, his wife sipping her coffee. How many applications had he filled out in the last three months? He had lost count.

A man is not a man unless he is striving for something. Holds a goal and moves toward it. The speed at which he moves depends on the type of man. That’s what David believed. Always towards something. He didn’t know when it would feel right to stop and take in a panoramic view of everything you’ve fought for, sigh and feel content. Career, family, those other, smaller, more defining and less definable goals. What he did know was that he was nowhere near there. To him, it seemed akin to death. He needed to be working. His family needed it. And everyday that went by cost him more of his pride. The comments and looks Becky gave. And how could he be a father, show Simon what a man was, if he wasn’t one himself? That was how he felt when the lights were out and all he had were his thoughts and the walls. But in words this felt more like…oxidation. He was slowly rusting.

That was why he had to do something. They barely had a hold on the mortgage. Both of their credit cards were filled to the tip with debt, the interest the only thing eating payments. David had already lost his truck. Becky used her car (thank God it was paid off), and he had borrowed his brother’s Ford.

This ship had leaks; it was sinking. What he had to do was drastic.

Becky left for work as Simon was coming in the kitchen to fix himself a bowl of cereal. She kissed her son on the cheek and left. With her went the pall of disappointment that she seemed to throw over David anymore. He didn’t know if they could be fixed or not. Every woman has an idea of what a man is and after that glass is cracked, it’s hard to look at a fractured image. He wished that he knew the words to say. But how do you tell a woman that you think you still love her? Isn’t that worse than saying you don’t love her at all?

“Any tests today?” David asked.

“No. Not unless it’s a pop quiz,” Simon said. He was shoveling the cereal into his mouth, slurping the milk noisily. He still enjoyed spending time with his father, which David figured he should be grateful for. That would be gone soon. Simon had no idea how fragile things were around him. He knew that David had no job, but his mother’s judgments hadn’t tainted the waters yet.

“Do you want me to walk you to the bus stop?” David always asked him this. When he was younger, Simon had loved it.

“I’m fine,” Simon said.

“Rain’s coming today. Don’t forget a jacket. Your lunch is already made.”

“Thanks.”

Simon hated taking his lunch to school, David knew, but it was cheaper until he could get him on the free-lunch program. That was Simon’s economic sacrifice. David hated it, too. Every brown sack was like an indictment. A kid shouldn’t have to suffer for the failing of his father. It didn’t work that way, obviously. Quite the opposite, in fact.

David read over the classified section, circling attractive listings in red pen, and listened to what Simon had to say. It wasn’t an endless gab. Sports—he’d discovered basketball—and music mostly.

How many men were sitting in dark rooms, doing the very same thing as him? But he doubted that many would do what he was going to do.

When Simon left, David made sure that his son had his coat on and his bag over his shoulder. The bus stop was at the end of the street. Visible through a small gap at the edge of the front window. He had hidden the pack of cigarettes when he’d come in with the paper earlier. They were in his hand now. He lit one, moving with a mindless knowing, watching. Even after the bus came and went, David stood there.

One cigarette. Two. He stood there until the first plumb drops of rain fell, and then he felt like he could wait no longer. It was time to be a man again. Re-grasp a portion of his dignity. That was all of the reasoning that he needed. His family was hurting, and there was something that he could do about it.

He went and got his gun. It wasn’t anything special—a 12 gauge. The barrel had been sawed off. He also grabbed the box of shells. They were in the garage closet, the only place that was truly his.

The barrel’s mouth looked wide. David had changed into a grey shirt and jeans. A light jacket. The shortened shotgun went inside a duffel bag he’d used to go to the gym on Monticello years ago.

He hadn’t drunk any coffee, but his pulse was pushing as though he’d drowned the entire pot. One last cigarette, and he stepped out the backdoor with his bag.

The rain wasn’t heavy, yet, hitting his hooded jacket. And then in the far distance, David began to hear thunder.

He had planned out his route a week ago. It would take him two blocks over, and by doubling back he could come to the white house at the end of his street from behind. David had been sure to stay away from that house in the last week. He didn’t want anyone vaguely remembering a guy walking around the neighborhood.

The white house was a drug house. He didn’t know who it belonged to, but two men in their mid-twenties stayed there. One was thin and one was stocky. After walking Simon to the bus, this was months ago, David had started to wonder, thinking. The men had been sitting on their porch, the house dilapidated the yard unkempt around them.

“What’s going on?” the thinner one had asked.

David, interrupted, had stopped. He’d approached the men, happy to delay going home. They were smoking weed. David knew the smell from high school—parking lots and football games. He had never been big into it but he had been known to smoke a little here and again. When the thin man had handed the joint over, David had taken it. Why the hell not? The two were idiots. He later found out that the police had served warrants on the house at least twice. SWAT and vans and all the hustle. But then, they had listened to his sad story, nodded consolingly, and helped take the pain away on a cloud of smoke.

“And if you want more of that, I can make ya a deal,” the man has said when he’d finally left.

David had thought nothing of it until the tide had started washing against his sand castle-life. It was a small idea that had grown. Why did he, a good man, have to suffer? These men were like cancer to neighborhoods. They brought trouble and criminals to their doors. Sure, everyone around here worked hard and fought for a lead, but did that make them disposable? It wasn’t like they only toked a bit of weed. The men had offered him meth, coke and mollies, as well.

One rationalization split into two, until he was convinced it wasn’t the wrong thing to do. Fact was it was the right thing. Damn near a community service. The only thing that he had to do was look at his family to know that it should be done.

He sat in the back yard, feeling cold, hidden by a couple of sickly shrubs. His socks were getting wet. The ground was mudding beneath him. He could hear the thunderstorm moving in.

There probably wasn’t even anyone home, he thought. He had started walking by the house weeks ago, at different hours, taking note of cars and activity. It was unpredictable, but the one semi-constant was the dearth of movement in the morning. The thunder was moving closer. A sheet of bright light held the gloomy clouds and then thunder followed it. The deep, crackling kind.

Rain fell like tears down David’s face as he watched the sky. Is a man his actions or simply the result of them? He couldn’t answer that question. His hand grabbed the bag as he stood, scurrying toward the house hunched over like a soldier storming a beach.

Dave stood under the deck, beside the grill. He tried the basement door, and it opened. His hands were shaking when they pulled the shotgun from the bag. He couldn’t wrap his mind around the reality of this, so he didn’t try to. It was easier to move dreamlike.

The basement was half-finished and filled with random storage. Boxes of blenders, an exercise bike, a couch holding a pile of clothes. He had to high-step his way over to the steps. There was a smell like wet animal coming from somewhere. David had been a pretty good football player. He still had the look of an ex-athlete. College hadn’t been hard for him, but after he had gotten hurt, he couldn’t pay for it. Now he was standing at a closed door at the top of dark stairs, listening to a storm above, a shotgun in his hands.

The door opened to a filthy kitchen. The sink and counter were avalanched with dirty plates, pans, and utensils. Hardened food crusted them. The place smelled like a trash can.

David pushed himself against the wall. He could hear something in the front room. His feet took small steps, eyes wide. He peeked around the corner, pulled his head back, then peeked again. The thin man was asleep on the couch. An open bag of nacho chips were on the scuffed hardwood. David didn’t see anyone else. That was good.

He crept into the room, conscious of his weight on the wood floor. A bad squeak and who knows. The hood was pulled tight over his face and tied so that only his eyes and nose were exposed. Not enough to know a stranger by, he guessed. He hadn’t thought to grab a ski mask. His hands were bare.

Judging what was the center of the room, David stopped, leveling the gun on the sleeping man. He felt like he was floating.

“Hey. Hey,” David said, starting at a whisper and growing. He wasn’t going to get too close to the man. “Hey, fucker, get up!” he yelled. The man stirred, starry-eyed. Looked around. When he saw David, he didn’t really see him. When the man standing in the middle of the room with the gun registered, he yelled out, sitting up quickly—all alert. He moved so swiftly that it almost startled David into shooting him.

“What the hell, man!”

“Move and I’ll kill you.” It was a lie. “Where’s the money? Quickly!” David yelled.

“What money, man?”

“The fucking money!” Guys like this didn’t use saving accounts. No stocks or bonds. The thunder was on the lightning’s heels, now. He could feel the rumble in his legs. Long, breaking cracks that exploded at the end.

“Man, there is—”

The back bedroom door swung open. The bigger of the two men ran out. There was a pistol in his hand. Bright flashes dotted the tip, and David realized that it wasn’t thunder that he heard. Something grazed the side of his head.

He tried to shoot back—swing the gun over and fire. Unfortunately, the order got reversed. The shotgun kicked in his hands, and that quickly, the man on the couch lost his face. Blood splattered against the back wall, a storm of it hitting the front window. But David wasn’t looking at that, yet. He was running toward the kitchen, pumping the shotgun, firing.

The shotgun only had five shells. He had alternated between slugs and pellets. Spinning into the kitchen, he dug into the jacket pockets, pulling out more ammunition, extra shells falling to the dirty tile and rolling. He slammed them into the gun, cocking it. The inside of the hood was moist with his hurried breath. He had never been shot at before. Hell, he’d never shot anyone before.

He didn’t think about running down the steps and out the back until he saw the second man sprawled out on the ground, red pooling around him. Pellets pocked the wall. He inched over, gun ready, noticing the body. Two men dead, and he hadn’t seen either shot.

David stood there, not thinking, watching the blood slowly spread like madness. Standing here wasn’t doing anything; he began to search. First through the kitchen, sweeping cabinets empty and knocking on wood. The fridge. He scoured the living room, avoiding the dead men and their blood. He had come here expecting what he’d come for to be hidden. That was no problem. He had a nose for that sort of thing. More than once, he’d thought that he should have been a cop. Strange, considering the situation.

There were only two bedrooms in the house. One of them was like the basement—crowded with the miscellaneous junk. The other was set up into a kind of work shop. Flasks and piping and a chemical smell. A large Meth lab was set up on the table centering the room. There were plenty of drugs in a bowl and in bags. A cell phone. David looked through everything than began to knock on walls and stomp on floorboards. He was moving on pure adrenaline. Sweating. He wasn’t moving slowly or carefully. Kicking, knocking, throwing indiscriminately what was in his way. There had to be something here.

And there it was. He found it in the bathroom. The cabinet under the sink had a false bottom. There was money in zip-lock bags and a handgun. David left the gun, grabbing the wrapped cash. Every bill was a measure of his pride returned. What is a man without that? The thunder was no longer overhead, but the rain was falling hard. This gave him room to breathe. The house. Feeding his family. Animals fight and kill for survival, was he so different? It didn’t feel like it. He hadn’t felt this good in a while. No longer powerless. He knew that this couldn’t fix all of his problems, but you worry about the fire in the kitchen before the flood in the basement. There wasn’t nearly enough money to fill up his bag–it would take at least a million to do that—but David couldn’t stop his smile. It was thrown back at him by the broken mirror above the sink

What She Told Me

By: Morgen Knight

 Her name was Sarah. We met online. Her profile had the prettiest picture, arresting eyes.

She told me about her life, boyfriend. She told me about her college courses. She told me about her feelings, for months; she cried to me when Todd cheated. She told me secrets, I gave her mine.

She told me how funny I was.

She told me, after Christmas she was in love, that I was like a dream. That she wanted me.

She told me about a motel.

But she’d lied.

Turns out, she was a Mike, and Mike has a knife.

A Community Feel

By: Morgen Knight

 I live on a street of strangers. I’ve seen them, but their names? Their lives? Who they really are? I look at them and I don’t trust them.

My kids can’t leave the yard. 5792 might be a pedophile. 5795 could be a drug addict. 5787 looks like trouble, liars.

I’m surrounded by suspects; each man a potential rapist, the women deranged mothers.

I watch them all, disconnected. I feel alone among them. They aren’t people I can care about. So I keep a wary eye on them, and I practice caution. All my friends think that’s smart. They live among strangers, too.

The Martyrs of Gun Control


Morgen Knight

I know that I am going to die. I don’t think a more grad statement can be made. Protests, voting, debate–words, words, words. Change by show of hands is too slow, too weak. It gets compromised on by its creation, birthed through give and take. I don’t believe that’s good enough. That’s why I’ll be shooting innocent strangers. The only true way to promote a cause is to highlight its emergency, show exactly what there is to be afraid of, and urge a cessation.
Of course, I won’t see it; I’ll be dead.
My tools of change: an AR-15, two Glocks, a MAC-10 and enough ammo to hold off a platoon. I’ve never liked guns. I’ve never see the use or need. All people do is hurt others with them, kill animals. And when you point this out, they rail about freedom and amendments. They bride voters. They buy results. They disguise the truth.
Until my kind step up. We are believers in our causes. We are martyrs. We give ourselves to a better tomorrow by showing what should be changed today. I know they will tear my life apart. News anchors will psychoanalyze my motives. I may even be a throw-away quip in a Gutfeld monologue. And while they debate my sanity, looking over all the right-wing propaganda I’ve littered my apartment with, the country will be taking steps forward. Sure, it won’t all change because of me. But I’m not the only True Believer. And just like Jesus, we’ll all die for our causes. We’ll commit acts so terrible that you have no choice but to be afraid. I’m not crazy. I’m not a demon. I’m a martyr, and I’m doing all of this for you.