*Greetings, thREADERs! Some of you may or may not be aware that Typo-Critical knows talented people outside of #TheThreadBlog. One of these talented people in particular, is Bradford J. Howard. Mr. Howard is aspiring author in the process of publishing his debut novel later this year, but he’s also worked on a few short story series. Bradford came to me with an interesting new concept for a short story series, and he wanted #TheThreadBlog to serve as the springboard to get this new series to the people. I said, sure, why not? Provided our readers find it interesting. lol
Thus, this is the start of a summer long short story series, a joint effort between The Thread Blog and Bradford J. Howard, and you can check back here all summer long every Wednesday for a new “episode.” We hope you enjoy it. And now, without further ado, the debut of “Liquid – A Story”
“You’ll tell them I love them, won’t you?” He started to turn his head back, but I pressed the muzzle up against his neck.
“Don’t,” I told him. The man laughed a bitter laugh.
“You can’t even face me, can you?” he asked, the bravado he was striving to display offset by his wavering voice. “You’d rather shoot your brother from behind than face him like a man, that it?” He was trying to egg me on.
“We’re supposed to be fucking family!” he barked. “Family doesn’t do shit like this to family.” His shit-talking irked me. I asked myself for what seemed like the millionth time if I was doing the right thing. Then I remembered.
“Fucking family,” I heard him mumble. “If you’re really about it, then be about it. End me, then. End me. If that’ll make you feel better about yourself, pull the gotdamned trigger. But just know, you’ll never be me.”
I licked my lips, inhaled deeply. Then, keeping the gun trained to his neck area, I walked around him until I stood squarely in front of him. His eyes widened. His mouth fell open. His lips struggled to form words, and I could tell he had something to say, but nothing was coming out. It took everything in me to keep my eyes from filling with the tears that wanted so desperately to fall.
“Family…” he started, then he coughed. “Family… doesn’t do family like this.” I kept the gun focused on him, then slowly moved my hand over to the left. I looked him right in the eyes. And I nodded.
“You’re right,” I said. “Family doesn’t do family like this.” He let out a deep exhale, then smiled at me, an expression of relief plastered across his face. That’s when I fired the bullet through his heart. Time slowed down. I watched his mouth fall open, watched his body collapse backwards upon his knees before crashing with a thud to the warehouse floor. I looked down at the fallen body before me.
“But we haven’t been family for a while.”
I stood there in silence, listening as the wind rattled the outside walls of the warehouse. I tucked my gun into my left back pocket and knelt down before the body. I kissed my brother on his forehead, and allowed three tears, just three, to escape my eyes. Then I got back up on my feet, brushing the dust off my jeans just as I heard the sound of the sirens growing closer and closer. I made my way back to the front of the warehouse and pulled open the door.
I brought up a hand to shield my eyes from the piercing red and blue lights outside. It was hard to make out anything, though I could hear running footsteps and slamming doors. I started to reach for my back pocket.
“Freeze!” I heard someone shout. “Keep your hands where I can see them.” I disregarded the order. Hell, the worst they could have possibly done is shoot me. I wasn’t sure I didn’t want to be shot.
“Hold on.” I shouted back. “I’m one of you.” I couldn’t see them because of the bright lights, but I felt the guns ready and waiting to fire at the first sign of a particularly shaped object. Still, I continued to fiddle with my back pocket. In the back of my mind, I knew my actions were suicidal. But I didn’t care.
“Ma’am, put your hands where we can see them!” I heard another voice ring out. I heard the faint click of safeties being taken off, of gun hammers being drawn back. But I didn’t care. Then
“Stand down, men.” My head jerked up at the sound of that voice. “It’s just Riley.” I saw a faint shadow grow closer and closer to me in the blinding light, and before I knew it, he was standing in front of me.
“How are you?” Captain Duncan asked. He put a reassuring hand upon my shoulder and I fell limp before him, letting my head hang. “Is there anyone else in there?” I shook my head.
“Not alive, anyway,” I replied.
“Alright, guys!” Captain Duncan shouted, turning back towards the lights. “Move in and secure the area!” A wave of officers ran past us into the warehouse, guns drawn and ready for anything, though there was really nothing left inside for them to be prepared for. I’d taken out the only threat.
I looked back up at Captain Duncan. He tightened his grip upon my shoulder, then pulled me into a big hug. He broke protocol. But when my Captain did it, I felt it was okay for me to do the same. I buried my head into his chest and started sobbing, let out all the tears and all of everything that had been building up inside of me over the last few weeks. I hated showing emotion in front of anyone, because I felt it showed weakness. It was a combination of what I’d been taught and what I’d learned I HAD to do. But after everything that happened… I at least deserved to cry.
Six Months Earlier
“This is some bullshit.”
“Oh, stop complaining, Devon,” I said, smirking at my partner from the other side of the bonfire. “It’s not like this is the first time we’ve had to do this.”
“This motherfucker’s too damn small-time for this, though!” Devon continued. “Like, what the fuck busting him gon’ do? Sure, we get a collar, but what else do we get?”
“That’s what we’re bringing him in for,” I replied, looking over his shoulder at the young man camped out against a brick wall two streets away.
“But I’m saying, Shelly! Like… how the fuck y’all know I ain’t have to be at my son’s baseball game right now?” I looked back over at Devon, my eyebrows raised at him.
“Devon, you don’t have a son.”
“I’m saying in a hypothetical sense, though!” he admitted. “And, for the record, the only reason I don’t have a son is because for the last three years, you’ve continually denied me.” I struggled to hold in a laugh.
“Devon, stop playing.”
“You always think I’m playing, Shelly. Come on, now. My son is waiting to be welcomed into the world. The time is now. It’s time for you to step up and accept your place as the fertile soil baby mama to my not yet planted seed.” I looked back over his shoulder to see if anyone was coming, then punched Devon hard in the arm.
“Shelly, what the fuck?!” I burst out laughing against my better judgment. I recovered and quickly looked again in the direction of the young man against the wall; he hadn’t moved.
“Devon, I didn’t even hit you that hard. Stop being a little punk.”
“You think you can get these free licks on me just because you’re a woman. I done let you get away with a couple because you’re kinda cute, but don’t get too comfortable, Shelly.”
“Devon, are you actual real-life flirting with me while we’re on a job, though?” He carefully turned his head back, as if discreetly looking back at the young man himself, then returned his attention to me.
“Shelly, are you actual real-life pretending that I’ve never flirted with you on a job before?” He replied, doing a very poor imitation of me.
“I hate your punk ass, Devon,” I told him. “I don’t even sound like that.”
“Um, yes, you really do.”
“No, asshole, I don’t.” Devon raised a hand to his chest.
“Asshole? Me?! That’s slanderous. Matter fact, that’s what I’ma call you from now on. Shelly the Slanderer.”
“When we get back to the precinct, I’m putting in a partner change request. I’m tired of you belittling me.”
“Fine with me,” Devon replied with a shrug. “I never liked your ass, anyway. Actually, I take that back. I love your round, firm ass in particular. I just don’t like you in general.”
“Fuck you, Devon.” He spread his arms out wide.
“I’m saying, Shelly!” He said. “Don’t talk about it, be about it!”
The grin I’d been suppressing throughout our entire conversation finally rolled out across my face. Devon Nixon could be a charmer, for sure. Though I was sure he was joking and just being a big flirt like usual, at times, it was hard to tell if he wasn’t actually a little bit serious. He smiled at me from the other side of the bonfire. Too bad he’s married, I thought, as I smiled back. I looked over his shoulder and my eyes widened. I lowered my head and watched underneath my hoodie, as a blue car pulled up near the young man who’d been posted up against that wall. The young man looked both ways, then slowly walked over to the car.
“They’re here,” I told Devon softly. He discreetly looked back over his shoulder.
“Oh, shit, you’re right. Well…”
“We gotta wait until an exchange is made.” I reminded him.
“Fine, Shelly. But I still don’t see the po-“
“Shh!” I needed Devon to stay quiet while I was observing what was going down. The young man leaned into the driver’s side window, looked to his left and his right. He dug into his pocket and pulled out two small bags that were barely visible in his palms. He held out his other hand. Devon and I watched as the car driver dropped a wad of money into the young man’s hands, then took the bags. A hand extended out of the driver’s side window, beckoning the young man to come closer. They appeared to be talking.
“What’s he doing?” I heard Devon mumble.
“Hard to tell,” I replied.
The young man’s head suddenly jerked up and looked straight at us. Neither Devon nor I moved. Any sudden movements would have given us away, for sure. So we stood there, our faces hidden underneath our hooded sweatshirts, hoping we hadn’t been made. The young man then casually stepped away from the blue car, and he resumed his post up against the wall as the car drove off. I let out a heavy sigh.
“That was close,” I said.
“Yeah,” Devon replied. “For a second, I really did think-“ Devon stopped talking. He’d noticed just as I had, that the young man’s head was tilted slightly in our direction. The young man casually got back up off the wall.
“Fucking little shit,” Devon said. “Don’t do it. Don’t you fucking do it.”
As if he’d heard Devon, the young man immediately took off running in the opposite direction.
“Fuck!” Devon barked. He adjusted his sweatshirt to where he could use the police radio he’d had hidden under there. “Command, this is 2-1-2. We have a suspect on foot running down 15th and possibly headed towards the… Shelly! Shelly, what the fuc…”
That was the last thing I heard Devon say, because I had taken off myself to pursue the young man. No way my collar was getting away from me. No way in hell. I ran as fast I could, covering the two street distance that had separated us in two seconds, then sped towards the alleyway I’d seen the young man duck down. He’d slowed down to a jog, apparently convinced that he’d gotten away from us. Then he looked back, saw me gaining on him, and started running again.
A “Shit!” escaped between my lips as I continued to run after him, following him as he ran down alleyway after alleyway, then leaping over a short fence that led into an apartment complex playground. He plowed right through a set of kids playing basketball on the concrete court on the other side of the playground, and all I could do was say “I hope you’re okay!” as I ran past them myself. My legs and thighs felt like they were on fire. But I wouldn’t quit. I couldn’t quit. We needed this collar.
The chase spilled out onto a street, and the young man stopped running and turned around to face me. I wasn’t sure what he was up to, but I continued running towards him. Almost as soon as I reached him, he threw a punch in my direction. I couldn’t stop it. I pretty much ran right into his fist. I fell back onto the asphalt.
“Ha! Ho!” He looked down at me with a smug expression. Dumb move on his part. I kicked him square in his kneecap and he yelped out in pain as he fell down to his knees. I returned the favor, punched the young man in his jaw, saw blood spray out into the air. I pulled out my badge and reached into my back pocket for my handcuffs.
“You’re under arrest, you little pun-“ I was interrupted by the gun the young man had pulled out on me. May have been a dumb move on my part, too. I’d chased after him and completely forgotten I didn’t have my gun on me. Actually, I had my backup in my ankle holster. But I’d be dead before I could even pull it out. I raised my hands up in the air.
“Yeah, that’s right! Back the fuck up!” The young man said. He got back up to his feet, and I did the same.
“No, you stay yo’ ass on the ground!” he ordered.
“Fuck you.” I told him. “Make me.”
“Don’t think I won’t shoot you!” I heard the desperation in his voice, saw the desperation in his eyes. But I had never been the type to back down, and I wasn’t going to start now.
“So why you hesitating?” I egged him on. In a sense, I was buying myself time. For what, I couldn’t tell you. But the longer I kept him talking shit, the longer I could keep him from getting a shot off.
“You… oh, you a bold one, ain’t you?” The young man came at me like he was going to pistol-whip me, even going so far as raising the gun in the air, but he stopped mid-air. I wasn’t scared. I’d dealt with bigger and far more fearsome folks in all my years on the force. The fuck did I look like being intimidated by a young punk with a gun?
“You all talk,” I said, smirking at him. “You won’t do anything. You might as well just put the gun down now. Save yourself the embarrassment from getting your ass kicked by a girl.”
“Getting my ass kicked? You do know I got a gun to your ass!”
“No, I’m totally blind and didn’t see the gun at all. Could have fooled me.” The young man’s eyes widened. “Again. You might as well put the gun down. You’re not going to do anything with it.”
“Oh, yeah? Watch me, you cop-ass ho.” I saw his hand tighten on the trigger. Then I heard the loud click of a gun hammer going back.
“Might be a damn good idea to listen to the lady and put the gun down.” Somehow, Devon had caught up to us, and he had his gun aimed at the side of the young man’s head.
“MotherFUCK!” The young man said under his breath. He lowered his gun and I swiftly moved around him and put handcuffs on him.
“Man, Shelly… see?” Devon started. “All this time I’ve been telling you about chasing after these young motherfuckers. Now you see I’m right, huh?” I glared at him.
“Devon. Stop playing.”