by Mary Vettel
“Fuck me!” Lenny laughed and pulled the Mercedes to the curb. “Get in,” he called as the tinted window glided downward.
The scruffy man on the corner squinted into the dark interior. A nervous smile creased his five o’clock shadow. A frigid wind blew, piercing the frayed tweed coat Custer held together at the collar. He blew on his chapped hands and shifted from foot to foot.
“My ol’ lady’s gonna be pissed when she finds I ain’t here, Lenny.”
“You’re breakin’ my heart, Custer.” Lenny turned the car into the deserted town dump. “Smells like death, don’t it?” Lenny swung the car behind a mound of twisted metal embedded in chunks of concrete.
“I hear they got wild dogs roaming the place,” Custer croaked, straining his eyes into the inky recesses of the night as he slowly exited the car.
“Dig.” Lenny jabbed a spade against Custer’s ribs, all traces of levity gone from his voice.
“Dig? Christ, Lenny. The ground’s nearly frozen.” Custer’s sphincter tightened at Lenny’s glare.
Lenny disappeared behind the raised trunk lid.
“I don’t hear digging,” he sang.
“What if somebody sees us?”
“Number one, anybody who’s here is probably breaking the law. And B, so what? They gonna ticket me for litterin’?”
“Lenny, I just remembered that bouncer at Lanky’s said he knew where Frisbee lived.” Custer jammed the heel of his worn shoe against the spade. “Soon as we’re finished, I’ll go talk to him.”
Custer rested the spade against the grill and walked around the car to Lenny. He saw a lumpy mound beneath a green chenille bedspread that looked familiar. He dragged deeply on his cigarette, looking at Lenny’s smiling face then back to the bedspread.
Lenny grabbed the fringed end of the bedspread and yanked it off.
“What the fuck you think it was?” Lenny lifted the golf bag out of the trunk.
“Your game that bad?” Custer joked nervously.
“You think I drove all the way to the Bronx to bury my golf clubs? Guess again.” He pointed a Luger at Custer’s chest as he lifted a carpeted floorboard.
“Jesus, no!” Custer cried, staring at the still form of his wife, her hands bound behind her back. “You son of a bitch!” He leaned into the trunk to scoop her up. Custer reached out a shaking hand to brush a lock of graying hair from her forehead. Matted with recently clotted blood, it refused to move from the entry wound, as though hoping to conceal a blemish. Custer buried his face in his wife’s neck and wept.
“I know. I almost cried myself.”
“Why’d you do it?” Custer’s running nose mingled with his tears.
“’Cause I messed up with Frisbee?” Custer spat. He wiped his nose on the back of his chapped hand and tugged the housedress down to cover his wife’s bare thigh. He settled her back down gently and noticed the shiny residue on her inner thigh. “You raped her?!”
“I’d have to be pretty fucked up to do that, wouldn’t I?”
“You are that fucked up!” he lunged for Lenny but Lenny dodged him. “You may as well shoot me right now, ‘cause I’m not going to make it easy for you and bury her.”
“Too bad you couldn’t muster up this amount of balls when you were supposed to deal with Frisbee. The grapevine tells me you sent him scurryin’ with a warnin’. That’s not what I wanted!”
“You can’t kill everybody who crosses you, Lenny,” Custer said, carelessly defiant.
“No?” Lenny whispered, his eyes wild. “Your fingerprints are on the spade and the car. And her,” Lenny sneered inches from Custer’s face. “The cops always suspect the husband first.”
Custer spun and ran blindly around the mound of debris toward the entrance to the dump. He slipped on a patch of damp brown grass, then tripped over a rain-soaked cardboard box, sprawling spread-eagle on the patchy winter grass.
“You’re a pathetic excuse for a man!” Lenny called as he closed the space between them. His custom-made Italian leather shoes squished in the mud.
Custer scrambled to his feet and ran toward the lights of the tollbooth beyond a curtain of tall swamp reeds, waving his arms to attract attention. He turned to see how close Lenny was.
“Peek-a-boo,” Lenny sang.
“Fuck you!” Spittle dangled from the corners of Custer’s mouth.
“Fuck me?” Lenny asked incredulously and pulled the trigger, striking Custer’s forehead dead center.