The Leash

The Leash

A Story by Seth Kinle
"

The night of a tragedy.

"

     Inside of the Bousy Beadsman, Duane Killian sat like a hunkered shadow in the back corner. The call had come that afternoon. A hunter found Henry in his truck in a backwoods swamp in Florida with the majority of his head blown all over the cab. The officer on the line didn't tell him what a bloated mess his brother was when they found him, but Duane had been through the woods enough times to know what three months of humid heat can do to a body.

The first three glasses of whiskey hadn't helped much, but his head was swimming when a girl approached his table and sat down. Her face was the begrutten wreckage of a night of rage with a significant other. He drained his glass and looked the woman up and down. There was a dark bruise around her eye and a split in her lower lip. He shivered as the warming drink slid its way to his gut. He lit a cigarette and added his smoke to the haze that hung in the room.

"What are you in for?" She said.

"I lost something." He said.

"I lose things all the time."

The girl slid a shot of whiskey across the table. Killian downed the drink with a hard swallow. The girl did the same.

"To what do I owe the pleasure?" Killian said.

"To losing things and never getting them back." She said.

Killian smiled. He wouldn't get him back. He wouldn't have to worry about hiding what little of value he had. He wouldn't have to answer the phone to hear his mother sob about what Henry had done this time. He was free. His chest lightened and the gloom of the bar transformed into the seductive den of pleasure it had been years ago. He looked back over to the girl and could tell by the glint in her eyes that he would be taking her home.

"Never again." He said

Duane stood and pushed his chair back with his legs. He made a show of stretching his arms above his head as he surveyed the room.

"What do you say we get out of here?" He said.

"You sure do move fast, don't you?" She said.

"I don't have time to move slow these days." He said.

He headed toward the door knowing that she would follow. There was a lightness in his steps and a sense that nothing could go wrong. Everything had to get better now. The crowd in the bar parted at his approach, the universe was cutting him a path and he was going to follow it. His frustrations brought on by the past ten years melted away and flowed from him in a glacial torrent. He reached the door and pushed it open like a gunslinger at a saloon. He heard the girl catch it behind him before it could swing back. The smile returned to his face and he laughed. He produced his keys from his pocket with a magician's flourish and tossed them from hand to hand. Duane Killian felt like a made man for the first time in his life. When he reached his green Chevy Nova he unlocked the passenger door and opened it.

"Your chariot awaits, Miss." He said.

"Call me Regan." She said.

"Is that your name?"

"Does it matter?"

Duane closed the door. As he rounded the car Regan reached across and unlocked his door. He got in and started the engine and lit a cigarette as he rolled the window down. He didn't have a destination in mind as they pulled out of the parking lot, he just wanted to move. He wanted to ride with this beautiful damaged woman and blast music and feel the night air roll over him. He wanted to enjoy this new found sense of freedom, to explore the lightness that had swelled in him at the thought of his brother's demise.

"I'm Duane." He said.

"Where we headed, Duane?"

"To Hell if we don't change our ways." He said. "Do you think it's horrible to be happy that someone is dead?"

"Not always." She said.

Duane saw her graze the split on her lip with her finger as she lit a cigarette of her own. He decided not to dwell lest he leave his mood in ruins. He pressed his foot on the gas as hard as he dared do on a road still in city limits and cranked the volume on the radio until he feared for his speakers. Regan didn't show any sign that the speed or music bothered her, so Duane relaxed back into his state of bliss. His phone vibrated in his pocket. He slid his hand down to his leg and ignored it without looking to see who it was. There wasn't anyone he cared to talk to besides the woman riding shotgun. Regan turned the radio down enough to be heard.

"So, Duane, what do you do?"

"I watch people do things they shouldn't." He said.

His answer caught her attention. She imagined him as a security guard watching monitors with voyeuristic excitement in his little cramped closet of an office or as a teller at one of those payday loan places behind a pane of bulletproof glass. She studied him and decided that neither of those fit him. She couldn't picture him in a rent-a-cop uniform and he seemed to be too much of a straight shooter to make a living trying to get people to borrow money at interest rates they couldn't afford to pay back. Duane saw her studying him.

"I'm a private investigator." He said.

"That's exciting." She said.

"Not as often as you'd think, but things do get interesting sometimes. I've always liked watching people who don't know they are being watched. In my experience, that's the only time that people let their walls down and let you see who they are. You can see the person they try to dress up and hide from everyone else."

"I don't think I could do that for a living. I see enough of the dark side of people without spying on them." Regan looked out the window, watched the woods whip by.

"I didn't say it was always pleasant. I just find it interesting to see the secret selves people work so hard to conceal. I like being a random face in a crowded food court or a shadow in a dark parking lot." He said.

"Was it a client or someone that you had been watching that you are glad is dead?" She turned back to Duane.

"Neither." He said. "It was my brother. He was a junkie."

Regan clucked her tongue behind her teeth. "Heroin?" She asked.

"Close enough. Pain pills. We tried everything we could. He even went to jail for six months and was forced to be clean but he went right back to it no sooner than he was able to get out the door."

"That's s****y." she said, "I've known addicts. Sometimes you just can't help them, especially when they love their poison."

"Especially when they are a selfish b*****d." He said.

"Did he overdose?"

"He robbed a store with one of his friends and then went and picked up some pills. He must have dropped his friend off somewhere because he was alone when he drove out into the woods in his truck and shot up for the last time. Then he blew his brains out." He said. "I guess he finally saw how fucked he was. I loved my brother, but the guy that died in that truck wasn't him. He hadn't been that person for years."

"I understand." She said.

Killian knew it was the booze, but it felt good to vent to a stranger. Regan unbuckled her seat belt and slipped across the bench seat. She put her hand on his thigh and rubbed it. They had made their way out of the city limits and onto the back roads where trees took over in the absence of buildings. Duane put his free arm around her shoulders.

"What about you, Regan? Who are you?" He said

The phone buzzed in his pocket again and he reached down to silence it. Regan watched him, her eyes asking why he wouldn't bother to see who it was.

"My phone is a leash. I can hardly remember a time when you could have privacy without being expected to be available for calls whenever someone decides they wanted to talk to you." He pressed the button through his jeans and the vibrations stopped. He tried to savor the peace it brought him, but he had come to know that it was always short lived. "Somebody always wants something." He said.

"I've been alive for over two hundred years." She said.

Killian laughed and shook his head. He had heard crazier stories over the years. The look in her eyes was playful but serious, he didn't know what to make of it. Getting straight answers from this girl was going to be tedious. He decided not to bother. The road was a great black and yellow serpent in the night hoisting the old car through the shadows. The woods were full of creatures scurried in the darkness ready for the hunt. A chill ran down Duane's spine and made his neck twitch and the ashes from his cigarette fell into his lap. Regan brushed them away. She could tell her hand was welcome there and let it rest high between his legs. He shifted in the seat. The phone started to ring again. Regan made a move and her hand was in his pocket. She answered the call and held the phone toward Killian with a wildness in her eyes and a silent smile.

Killian was stunned, but he took the phone. His eyes were locked with the girls as he lifted the phone to his ear.

"Hello." He said.

"Duane? Duane, man. I need your help. Some serious s**t is going down." The voice said.

"Henry."

Duane broke eye contact and looked back to the road, but the road wasn't there. He got a glimpse of the field in front of him and the ditch before he felt the tires leave the pavement. The car rolled hard with a horrid thunder. It was the last thing he ever heard. Their bodies were tumbled like laundry and left shattered in the ruins of the car as it thumped to a stop. The next day Killian's body was found alone in the mangled Nova. The papers called it another tragic accident involving alcohol and a cell phone. 


© 2017 Seth Kinle



My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Featured Review

Great story. I really enjoyed the overall tone of it, exactly The type of thing I enjoy reading. The prose is stylish and carries a strong momentum. The dialogue is sharp. All wrapped up with a nice twist at the end.

Two little things I spotted: "They made there [should be their] way out of the city limits..."
"He pressed the button through his jeans and the [the] vibration stopped."

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Noir85

2 Months Ago

No problem. If you have time, I'd appreciate your thoughts on my short story "Rosie"
Seth Kinle

2 Months Ago

I will take a look at it as soon as i get the chance. Again, I appreciate your insight.
Seth Kinle

2 Months Ago

Would mind taking a look at my other writing. Its calked The Stitches. It's unfinished and i would .. read more



Reviews

I like it. Snappy and on point, and a momentum to it that many stories lack. Though I think it might be a bit too fast paced. I'm not sure what your goal was precisely in terms of getting attached to these characters, but everything just happens too fast for me to really be surprised at the twist ending. Honestly, it felt like the beginning to a story that went no where. I still enjoyed it for sure. I really like the dialogue, and how the characters are set up. The end just kind of comes out of nowhere, and for me at least, lacked effectiveness.

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Seth Kinle

2 Months Ago

I honestly don't know where it was going either. I have thought about writing several short stories .. read more
Great story. I really enjoyed the overall tone of it, exactly The type of thing I enjoy reading. The prose is stylish and carries a strong momentum. The dialogue is sharp. All wrapped up with a nice twist at the end.

Two little things I spotted: "They made there [should be their] way out of the city limits..."
"He pressed the button through his jeans and the [the] vibration stopped."

Posted 2 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Noir85

2 Months Ago

No problem. If you have time, I'd appreciate your thoughts on my short story "Rosie"
Seth Kinle

2 Months Ago

I will take a look at it as soon as i get the chance. Again, I appreciate your insight.
Seth Kinle

2 Months Ago

Would mind taking a look at my other writing. Its calked The Stitches. It's unfinished and i would .. read more

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

119 Views
2 Reviews
Rating
Added on September 29, 2017
Last Updated on September 29, 2017

Author

Seth Kinle
Seth Kinle

Clarksville, TN



Writing
001 001

A Story by Seth Kinle