"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


Thugs Like Us

He was young; she could see that, now that he was stripped of the bravado he always wore on the streets with his crew.  She passed him often on the way home from work.  He'd try to catch her eye and stare her down, sometimes grabbing his crotch through baggy denim and offering vulgar suggestions.  The rest of his gang banging friends laughed, egging him on.  She would turn away and lower her eyes, picking up the pace to get by as quickly as possible.  Her ears burned with the filth he flung at her.

No more than sixteen, she guessed.  He knelt before her, his fingers laced behind his head, his big, scared eyes flicking from her to the gun she aimed at him.

"You come into my house?" she said.  "My house?  It ain't bad enough you be disrespecting me every day on the streets, you have to come into my house?"

His lip quivered.  Beads of sweat formed on his brow.  His eyes watered, and he squeezed them shut to keep the tears back, then opened them again in panic.

"You think you have the power, out there on the streets.  Some punk kid turned god, with all those boys that got your back.  They ain't here now, are they?  It's just you and me.  And I'm not what you expected, am I?"  Her voice trembled, but the hand holding the gun was steady.

"This thing," -- she looked down at the gun, waved it at him while he cringed -- "you think it's got some kind of magic, think it's your talisman, that's what they call it.  Except it ain't in your hands anymore."

She took a step closer to him.

"No, it ain't in your hands anymore."  She reached her fingers into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out a dirty quarter.

"Let me tell you how it's gonna be," she said.  "I'm gonna flip this here coin.  Heads, I shoot your brains out.  Tails, I call the cops.  Fair enough, eh boy?"

He stared at the clouded silver disk as she balanced it on her thumb and with a flick sent it into the air.  She caught it as it fell.  She held her hand out to him and opened it slowly. 

Tails.  It showed tails.  Relief flooded over him, the tension in his body released as he dropped his head and let the tears flow freely now.  She squatted down in front of him, and he raised his thankful eyes to hers.

"Except I don't need no coin to tell me how to make up my mind." 

She pulled the trigger.


Today's prompt:  In her right hand a woman holds a loaded gun, in her left, a coin that just came up 'tails.'  To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday. 


Anonymous said...

Whoa....I mean....vivid picture and I have to give the girl props, but...I almost feel bad for the boy. :) Great writing Shelli.

Tanya Parker Mills said...

I'll echo Karen here. The only suggestion I'd make to improve it would be to cut all the lines in the first paragraph after "...wore on the streets with his crew" and then add the next paragraph to it. Those lines weakened the effect of your opening.

Great, vivid writing.

Scott said...

Wow. Very effective story. Knowing the prompt, I knew which was the coin would fall when she presented to him, so the end really was surprising to me. I smiled at your twist.

Renee said...

Okay, ever the optimist, I was shocked at the ending. Dismayed in fact, so you pulled me in and then surprised me big time! Great writing once again..I look forward to Fridays posts from you, Shelli!

Anonymous said...

He who lived by the gun certainly died by it. I admire the way you turned the power relationship on its head. But now I need to have a bit of lie down ... I am too delicate for such an utterly ruthless ending!

John Pender said...

Very well played, Shelli. And I absolutely love the ending.

Shelli said...

Thank you, Karen -- I was trying for a sense of ambivalence about my character. Sure, the kid deserved it, but she wasn't any better than him, was she?

Tanya -- Ah, I fell for the back story trap. Now I'm itching to do a little editing, which is against the rules. :)

Scott -- Thank you! I'm glad I caught you off guard.

Renee -- I think I owe you some happy stories. There are good people in the world; I need to start writing about them, too!

admin -- Thank you. Maybe I owe you some happy stories, too!

John -- Thanks! And, yes, I had to go there.

Anonymous said...

This is well conceived and executed, if you can pardon the pun. Nice and tight, with a great twist at the end.
Adam B

Walt said...

A complete roll reversal, a real who's the bad-ass now moment. Loved the twist that she wasn't the weak victim he had thought her to be.

Well done

Susan G. Haws said...

I really enjoyed it. Good twist.

Melissa said...

Great use of description and one-sided dialogue. I loved the twist at the end.

Shelli said...

Adam -- thank you, and puns are always welcome!

Walt -- thank you for your comments, and also for sharing my story on Twitter. That was so cool of you!

Susan -- I'm glad you liked it; thanks for coming by to read.

Melissa -- thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

This is a great flash, Shelli! The transition from the first to second paragraph was extremely well done. The twist at the end caught me by surprise and was true to the character.

Very well crafted.

Shelli said...

Cathryn -- thanks for coming by. I appreciate your point of view, coming from a flash fiction aficionado like you!

Anonymous said...

I realized that my comment didn't capture how much I enjoyed the story since it was so focused on mechanics -- those mechanics made it a great read!

Shelli said...

Cathryn -- I love your comments on mechanics, because it helps me gauge not just how well you like my story, but how well I'm doing with the actual writing. And funny -- I thought my comment back to you didn't convey properly that I'm honored to get your comments because I admire your own writing so much! Thanks for giving me a chance to express myself better.