A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

Meetings in the Night
by Alecia Bailey (Nov 2012)

A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street. He pulled his black wool coat tight around him to ward off the chill. An eerie silence settled over the already hushed night. Instinctively he swung his head left and right trying to find any reason for the terror that had suddenly taken hold of him. He saw a movement coming from the alley to his left and a small women stumbled out in front of him.

"Gotta light, mister?" she slurred. Charlie could smell the rank odor of strong liquor roll out of her mouth.

Charlie tried to relax, this must have been what had set his instincts off. "No m'am, I don't," he said trying to passed her. Still something felt off as he moved to walk around the drunk women. He had barely made it by when something sharp pushed through the layers of his coat and felt a hand held his shoulder.

 A low voice hissed in his ear, "Wallet, man, right now!"

Gun or wallet, he contemplated as his hands slowly raised. "My left hand is going to reach in my right jacket pocked to get out my wallet," Charlie explained in a cool, even tone though his adrenaline was raging and heart was pumping like he was running the fifty yard dash. The punk behind him was so focused on what Charlie had told him to watch that he didn't notice Charlie's right hand creep around to his side holster where his .22 was strapped. His army buddies always gave him a hard time for carrying a "sissy gun" but it was light, small, easy to conceal and a bullet in the heart will kill anyone no matter the size.

With practiced efficiency Charlie turned, disarmed the junkie and had his gun pushed hard against his sternum in a matter of seconds. "Listen, you little puke," Charlie barked between clinched teeth, "you've got two choices. One. Turn your skinny..." he was cut off as hot pain screamed through his shoulder. Damn, the woman, I forgot about her. He grabbed the ragged looking man and spun around, placing the man between the attacking woman and himself. Slowed by intoxication and fueled with adrenaline, she couldn't stop her attack once it was launch. The knife slid into her partners neck, and he slumped onto the blood spattered snow.

"NOOO... RANDY!" she screamed in agony as the white snow turned to black in the dim light. The knife clattered to the sidewalk while she dropped next to Randy, gently placing his blood matted head into her lap and wept.

After an eternity of telling and retelling his side of the story to the police and a short and painful visit to the hospital, he was released to go home. Just as the sun came peeking over the horizon, Charlie Reardon finished his walk down Madison Street.


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Revised November 2012.