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by Arnold Hollander

“If I tell you, you know I’m gonna tell you...”

Reet, Spike’s girlfriend had heard that riffraff talk before. Spike was always mouthin’ off. Some said his mouth was always workin’ even when he slept. This time, he was not just movin’ his mouth, his hand grabbed Junior and slammed him against the bar.

“Now where’d you say you left it?”

“I told ya before, I was in Paco’s car. I’ll bet he got it.”

“So tha’s the way it is?” Spike slapped Junior with his free hand then released him. “Ya really messed up this time and left me a lotta trouble. Now get back ta your digs an’ stay outta sight.”

Junior stumbled to the door nearly tripping over his feet.

“Reet, you’ll hafta move ta your sista’s place for a while.”

“Why can’t I stay here with you, Spike?”

“’Cause this is gonna get messy, and I don’ wan’ you gettin’ hurt.”

“Aw, come on. I can take care of myself. Besides, her kids can be a pain.”

“Listen up. Aljus is already mad his stash was hit. Paco is his brother. If Paco finds that dime bag with the Lucky Star logo, he’ll be up on my trick and they’ll be lookin’ for me and everyone with me.”

“So what’s your plan?”

“There’s no plan. I gotta know if Paco found it and if he tracks it back to me.”

“So, how will you do that?”

“I’ll ask.”

* * *

“Hey, Paco, wha’s happenin’?”

“My man, this sorry day is just too much. First, Aljus is mad his stash was stole and then my wheels get jacked.”

“So how’d that happen?”

“I had Junior wid me. He took a hit and looked sick. I didn’t want him messin’ up the car so I got him out and hustled him into a nearby lot. When I got back, the car was gone.”

“Yeah, Junior didn’t look too good when I saw him. Whatcha gonna do?”

“I’ll see Aljus and see what he wants.”

“What about yo’ wheels?”

“Well, I ’spect Aljus’ll just have a looky-loo in the hood, then he’ll find me ’nother one. ’Course the guy that jacked the car is dead already. Aljus’ll find him and waste him. I di’n know Junior was usin’.”

“Yeah, he hid it from me, too. I’ll hafta watch him now. Ya t’ink there’s a connection ’tween the stash being hit and yo’ car gettin’ jacked?”

“I dunno. Tha’s for Aljus to figure on.”

“Yeah, well tell him ta call me if he needs help.”

* * *

“Hey Reet, looks like you’ll hafta stay wid yo’ sista a while longer.”

“Ah, no, Spike. Ya know it’s hard on me.”

“Yeah, but I don’ know if I’m in the clear wid Aljus. Paco knows zip and Junior’ll hafta lay low too.”

“So whatcha gonna do? Hang ’round till Aljus figures you for the hit on his stash?”

“Nah, I t’ink the cat jacked Paco’s wheels is gonna be tied to dat too.”

“How you know dat?”

”’Cause I kinda put an idea in Paco’s head. Aljus’ll believe that, like as not. Let’s give it anotha’ day.”

* * *

Yellow tape still covered the upper section of street where the bodies were found, although they had been removed an hour before. A crowd that gathered earlier had dissipated leaving just two onlookers staring at the bloodstained sidewalk. They gradually turned away, one holding the other as if the release of contact would lead to collapse.

* * *

“Oh God! Spike and Junior are gone.”

“Listen, Reet. Ya gonna stay with Aunt Sereena in Philly. If Aljus did this, ya could be next.”

* * *

“Aljus, I didn’ know Spike hit your stash.”

“Paco, you my bro’, but you is STUPID! I followed ya an’ saw ya wid Junior. Da hit he took was from my stash. I looked at yo’ wheels an found da dime bag wid my logo on the floor of the back seat. I jacked yo’ wheels. I figd it was Spike ahind it.”

“How’s I ta know?”

“It’s alright now. I saw Spike, chatted him up, den wasted him. I did da same ta Junior. I dumped ’em on Main, kinda like a message.”

“Well, I guess dat’s over.”

“Uh huh. See, you knew where I hid my stash. You tol’ Spike.” Aljus pulled out his gun and...


The gun’s report was loud and Paco dropped where he stood. Aljus looked down at him. “Gotcha!”

Copyright © 2008 by Arnold Hollander

Open Challenge 314...

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