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a Night Shots short story (Suspense)

by John Argo


The Hill Club by John ArgoLou ran as fast as he could. It was always like this: the panic, the fear for his life, the closing up of the recent past upon dark and dreadful events.

The whole thing was starting again. As always, he was powerless to stop this from happening, or to understand why. Why, why, why?

Sirens keened somewhere around the estate. He was, as always, like a hunted animal fleeing across the border between then and now.

He wore only jeans and track shoes. His breathing hacksawed over facial muscles contorted to near tearing. His shoes stabbed into sand along the moonlit suburban road. So near, he thought, so far! He heard a siren directly behind him. It's over, he thought as the black road surface yellowed with light. The siren grew louder and he threw himself into the forest to his side. He rolled in a ditch.

The squad car whipcracked past. The siren dopplered. Road grains wickedly stung his naked chest.

Lou waited, heart pounding. He sobbed one desperate breath after another.

But the wolf pack of sirens grew faint. He heard crickets. He heard the snap of a woodchuck, the flap of a night bird. Laughing, he lay on his back and looked into the wallet. As his thumb passed over the sweaty money, he glimpsed an avalanche of passing zeros interspersed with plenty of 2's and 5's and 1's. Several thousand, he thought. Then he saw the credit cards. Carlo Milanese. Freddie Fortiano. He felt hilarity welling up, but suppressed the urge. It wasn't yet time to laugh. These people were more dangerous than the police.

First, he thought, find a shirt, get to another city, another state.

Marie knew she looked stunning. She had just returned from the Bahamas, tanned and minus twenty pounds. She'd had her hair re-rinsed that shade of teenage blonde, her face made over to hide maybe fifteen of her 44 years. The country club seemed dull tonight. She felt excited and restless, with no time to lose, and then she saw him.

He looked cute and furtive, and hungry, eyeing the waitresses and the hors d'oeuvres and the card tables.

She put out her cigarette and rose. She had a low-cal salad on the way, with a carefully measured dose of oil and vinegar on the side, but who cared about that now. As she walked toward the bar, she smiled to herself and kept her eyes averted from him. In a mirror among the liquor bottles, she saw his eyes follow her.

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Copyright © 2018 by Jean-Thomas Cullen, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.