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Little Jimmy Haggle stumbled out of the mouth of the Lancaster Mine. Clouds of dirt rose as his weathered boots smacked the earth. A black duffle bag bounced precariously on his back. He came to a halt, panicked and exhausted. The white van was not on the outskirts of the fence.

“No,” he muttered. “Don’t leave me.”

Footsteps sounded behind him and he slipped into the shadows of the ancient mining equipment. The duffle bag on his back rustled as he slammed against the metal of an industrial loader. He held his breath and withdrew into himself. The steps grew closer, no more than ten feet. Jimmy stopped his inhalations.

“I know you’re out there,” said a gruff voice.

Jimmy felt like whimpering.

“I’m going to find you. What you stole belongs to my employer. It is very valuable.”

In silence, Jimmy reached into his right boot. He’d dropped his primary piece inside, when the man first fired, but he still had his backup, a seven shot nine millimeter. Suddenly, a phone rang.

The mysterious man answered it. “Hello?”

Jimmy held his breath and strained his ear.

“No,” said the man. “Mr. Windstrom, there is nothing for you to worry about. I’m handling this right now.”

There was another pause and Jimmy pulled back the pistol’s slide, easing a round into the chamber. With one hand holding the strap above his head, Jimmy slipped out of the duffle bag’s embrace.

“Sir, I’m telling you…. Please sir, hear me out.”

Boots shuffled and Jimmy grinned. The man was getting scolded. He was flustered, off guard. Maybe, even facing the other way.

Jimmy tip toed alongside the industrial loader and rounded the cab. Around the corner and he’d have the fucker’s back. The man was distracted, begging for his employer’s forgiveness.

Smiling, Jimmy took the corner, and fired. The first shot went wide, ricocheting off the loader, and spinning into the dust. The next two hit true.

“Don’t you move!” Jimmy squinted through the night. There was something in the dirt, something black and deflated. He took two steps forward and stopped dead, recognizing the shape. It was the bundle of the man’s jacket.

“Hello there,” said the man’s voice.

Jimmy spun, but didn’t make it. Two shots struck him in the side and blew through his chest. Little Jimmy Haggle died gasping.

The man stepped forward, ejecting the two spent shells from his Colt .44.

“That makes three,” he said, spitting into the dirt. His phone was back in his pocket. If he had service out here, he might have called Alexander Windstrom, but whatever reception he had was nonexistent by the mine. The man picked up his jacket and Jimmy’s fallen pistol then retrieved the duffle bag.


A mile down the road, Mark Watson watched the entire exchange through a pair of Svenson night vision binoculars. When Jimmy had fallen and the package had been retrieved, he lowered the goggles and shook his head. He didn’t like sending men to their death, even if it was the plan. When the man disappeared back inside the mine, Mark started the van and pulled off. As he drove, he thought about the current predicament.

It had started four months ago when production mogul Hamond Davis approached him at a gala meet and greet. The guests were there for drinks and frivolity, Mark was there for wallets and watches, and Davis was there for him. Davis had handed him two hundred dollars and a note that requested his appearance in the upstairs bathroom. Curious, Mark had attended.

“I know all about you,” Davis said, penny loafers dangling off the marble countertop, black shirt unbuttoned, revealing a tuft of red chest hair. “So before you go denying it, would you like a list of your deeds? The Gillago in Burbank, the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, the Odyssey in Tampa. For fuck’s sake man you’re like Danny Ocean.”

Mark denied it and pulled open the door.

“Wait, wait wait, hold on just a second. Hear me out.” The producer walked towards him. “You’re not Mark Watson the crusader, I know, I know. Here me out anyways though? I gave you two hundred dollars, guess what, here’s a thousand. Fuck it, here’s two.” He stuffed the bundle into Mark’s hands.

Mark nodded and pocketed them.

“Now.” Davis took a sip of his sink side Martini. “What do you know about film reels?”

Mark shrugged.

“I didn’t think you’d know much. Well, the ideal place to store film, due to temperature and humidity reasons is in a cave. A mine preferably, in a locked box.” Davis smiled. “America knows me, you know me, I’m a bit of a collector. Every great film known to man has a place in my vault. From Gone With the Wind to Leaving Las Vegas to The Avengers.” He took another drink. “I quite like the new superhero flicks. Lots of classic swagger and flare. But you know what my favorite movie is?”

Mark shook his head.

“The fucking Godfather. Good Jesus it’s brilliant. The pinnacle achievement of filmmaking. Our industry’s Sistine Chapel. And you know what? The original cut has an extra two hours of footage. Two hours!” Davis clapped his hands. “And even better, I know where it’s going to be.”

It took four additional meetings and seven more bundles of loose bills, but Mark was in. Now, as he drove through the Arizona desert, he wished he’d never set foot in that bathroom.

He took out his phone and called Davis.

“Hello?” Davis sounded flustered.

“It’s me.”

“Well, how’d it go? Spit it out.”

Mark sighed. “It went exactly how we thought it would. Windstrom’s man, this Calhoun, he’s good. Picked them all off.”

“That’s bloody brilliant. I’ll go ahead and make the call.”

“No,” said Mark. “Don’t.”

“What?” Davis sounded dejected. “Why not?”

Mark rubbed his face. “Because, something’s up. While Jimmy and the gang were in the mine I put a transponder in the cabin. I want you to use the portable. Extension 347.”

“What do you mean something’s up? What’s up?”

“Just do it.”

“Okay,” said Davis.

Mark hung up the phone.


When he arrived back at Davis’s RV, the producer was pacing nervously, a radio headset pressed to his ear and a yellow legal pad in hand. The driver, George Deluco was laying back on the leather couch.

“About time you got here,” Davis said. “This isn’t good.”

Mark walked to the kitchen and poured a glass of water. “What happened?”

“It’s Windstrom. He’s not doing what we wanted, he’s not tossing the bodies like you said. Instead he’s sending a fixer named Sal Neeson and if anybody else shows up Calhoun’s supposed to destroy the bloody film.”

The filtered water tasted unnatural, like chemicals and chime. Mark dumped the rest down the sink. “Neeson huh?”

Davis nodded.

“Well then you’re right, we can’t call the cops.”

Davis shook his head.

“Did it sound like Calhoun knows Neeson?”

Davis shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

Mark rubbed his eyes. It could work.


Two hours later, a red Corvette glided down the mountain highway, a stone faced man at the wheel. He was dressed in a black suit and listening to ACDC’s Thunderstruck. His high beams cut through the night like a fog light on the ocean and he was smelling the dry desert air when he noticed the gyrating shape in the road a mile away. He slowed to a halt and retrieved the night vision goggles from his glove compartment.

He lowered them and squinted. In the center of the road there was a little red haired man doing jumping jacks in the nude.

“What in the fuck?”

“Hey there Neeson.”

Neeson spun but not quick enough to avoid the dart now protruding from his neck. A moment of struggle and he collapsed against the steering wheel.


Twenty minutes later the red Corvette was parked behind the RV. Mark adjusted the cuffs on his new black suit.

“That was really liberating,” Davis zipped his slacks. “I might have to do naked calisthenics more often.”

“I’m sure you will,” said Mark.

Five minutes later, his hair was combed and his face was shaved. A 45 caliber Kimber was tucked in his side holster. The unconscious Neeson lay bound and gagged in the back bedroom.

“You’ll meet me back here in an hour?” Davis asked.

Mark opened the door to the Corvette. “Yes, as I told you before.”

“Okay. Good luck.” Davis turned away then looked back. “Real quick, I heard a story. Did you really steal Kevin Spacey’s wallet outside the Oscar’s three years ago?”

“It was Kevin Hart’s,” Mark said. “I couldn’t resist”

He shut the door and drove away.


Ten minutes later he arrived outside the front gate that now hung open. Calhoun stood with his back against the industrial loader spinning the chamber of his revolver. As Mark drove through, he holstered the weapon and walked to the car.

“Hello there.” His voice was sweet southern honey. “You’re Neeson?”

“Expecting anyone else,” Mark said. He got out and walked towards the mouth of the mine. Calhoun fell in behind him and introduced himself. “Yeah, I’ve heard about you. Windstrom’s night manager on a pet project.”

“Little more than a pet project,” said Calhoun. “And I’m here daily as well.”

“Regardless. Show me where I’m looking.”

They descended into the mine three hundred yards before arriving at a large well lit room. There was a pile of bodies in the center, bloody and pale.

“Three of them?”

“Yes, sir.”

Mark grunted. “Okay. Where’s the Carbonic?”

“Right this way.”

Calhoun pointed him towards a long metal table in the corner of the room abreast three oil drums. A line of chemicals sat on the tabletop and on the floor was the black duffle bag.

“That’s what they were trying to steal?”


Mark stepped to the table and lifted up one of the bottles. “Isn’t it supposed to be in special quarantine?”

“It is.” Calhoun leaned against the wall between Mark and the bag. “But I was instructed not to let it out of my sight until you ship out of here with it.”

Mark moved to the oil drum and donned a pair of thick yellow gloves. “A very cautious man, our employer.”

“That he is,” Calhoun smiled. “Which is why he hired me.”

“I see that. Well, let’s get started with it. Is there a room that isn’t frequently used?”

Calhoun smirked. “Pick one.”

“Just show me. I want to sleep in my bed tonight.”

Calhoun went to pick up the bag and Mark scoffed.

“You think I’m going to carry the bodies myself? Find a dolly.”

“Sure thing, mind stepping out with me?”

Mark checked the lividity on Jimmy’s back. “Why? I’m taking the movie anyways.”

“Sure.” Calhoun smiled. “But humor me.”

They left the room and went up the steps to the loading bay where they found a dolly to hoist the oil drum. Over the next hour, they broke down the bodies.


Calhoun wiped sweat from his brow. “So what happens next?”

“What happens next? You dump these in the bottom of this mine. After about twelve hours of decay there’ll be no human matter left.”

“That’s mighty agreeable.”


Mark crossed the room, picked up the duffle bag, and slung it over his shoulder.

“I appreciate all your help,” Calhoun said. His hand went to his holster and he withdrew the Colt .44.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“I can’t let you have that.” Calhoun pointed the revolver at Mark’s chest and cocked the hammer.

“Stop messing around.” Mark took a step towards the door. “It’s a very long drive.”

“No.”Calhoun smiled. “I don’t believe I can. You see, I’ve known Mr. Neeson for the better part of a decade. We’ve worked together many times.”

Mark’s hands began to sweat.

“What are you talking about? I’m Salvador Neeson and I’m leaving.”

Calhoun fired. The bullet cracked into the stonework behind Mark’s head.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Mark shouted, hands clasping his ears.

“Please drop the bag sir. I won’t ask again.”

Mark lowered the bag and took two steps back.

“And your gun.”

Mark withdrew the Kimber and placed it on the ground.

“Now, we’re at a bit of an in-pass, you see. There’s you to dispose of, Neeson to find, and this bag here to get to Windstrom all in one night. What do you think about that?” Calhoun crossed the floor and picked up the bag.

“Why didn’t you shoot me on sight?”

Calhoun smirked. “Do I look like I know anything breaking down about bodies? Shit no. That’s not how I learned. I’m more of a corpse in a slurry pond kinda guy.”

“Okay,” said Mark. “So what now?”

“Now I’ve gotta get your corpse in a barrel. But first you’re going to tell me where I can find Mr. Neeson.”

“And if I don’t?”

“I think Mr. Windstrom will find Neeson an acceptable loss. But I don’t much like the idea of it. You see, I don’t like sacrificing the men I work with.”

“Well how about this,” said Mark. Let’s trade, my life for Neeson. You keep the bag but I walk?”

Calhoun scratched his chin. “I could be convinced.”

“C’mon. Do it like this and you go back to Windstrom a hero. I bet he hires you to hunt me down.”

“I think you’re right.” Calhoun motioned to the door with his gun. “After you.”

Mark drove through the night with Calhoun’s revolver pressed to his temple. He stopped two hundred yards from the RV. The driver, George met them outside. He held a rifle.

“What’s this shit?”

“Can it.” Mark stepped out with his hands raised. “Just go get Neeson.”

The exchange didn’t take long. Neeson was led out in a pair of Mark’s sweats. When they passed each other, Mark asked if they wanted to switch clothes. The fixer spat in his face and took the keys from Calhoun.

“Pleasure doing business with yall,” Calhoun said, flashing his winner’s smile. He got into the passenger’s seat and they gunned it up the hill.

The door to the RV opened and Davis stepped out. “Are they gone?”

“Yes. Did you get it?”

“Hopped out of that trunk as soon as you guys went into the mine,” said George. He motioned into the RV where a black duffle bag lay on the couch. “Swapped it with the blank reel before you got back from the first body. Mr. Davis picked me up ten minutes later.”

“Good man.”

“What the hell are you guys waiting for?” Davis exclaimed. “There’s work to be done! Planes to catch, a movie to watch!”

Mark turned away from the Corvette’s fading tail lights and got into the RV.

The End—


Andrew has been writing and publishing fiction for the past decade. One of his stories, The Crab Catcher, was recently reprinted in Brilliant Flash Fiction’s Best Of anthology. He currently lives in Arizona, working as a criminologist, and taking care of the world’s most adorable white husky.


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