Standoff

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: House of Matchsticks
A little night fishing?

Submitted: September 26, 2019

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Submitted: September 26, 2019

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Standoff

The headlight beams of Russ Foreman's Geo Tracker were the only light on Hubbard Rd. as he drove down toward Merrick Landing on Phillips Lake. He glanced down at his dashboard clock, which read eleven fifty-seven as he turned onto the gravel drive leading down to the landing. Chip's car was right there, just where they'd agreed to meet. Merrick landing was the perfect spot to go night fishing and catch a mess of catfish.

Russ grabbed his cell phone off the passenger seat and called his wife, Hannah, she'd be home now, about an hour removed from the end of third shift. She always liked to have Russ call her when he went night fishing, so she knew where he was, and that he had gotten there safely. With the phone to his ear, he'd begun to turn towards the back seat when he caught the blue glow lighting up the inside of Chip's car. He heard someone answer Hanna's phone. They hung up at the exact same moment the blue glow in chip's car vanished. There was someone else in the car with Chip, someone small.

In an instant, the puzzle pieces all clicked into place. A six month fog lifted, and it all came into focus, the additional insurance policy that Hannah had insisted they take out, her supposed change to night shifts despite her seniority, the long, slow disappearance of the love they once shared, and a thousand other things. Russ reached under the passenger seat and groped around, but his .380 was not in it's regular spot.

“Fuck,” he muttered, then let out a resigned sigh, pushed the driver side door open and got out. He left the door open and stood behind it, though he knew that if this was actually what every hair on the back of his neck told him it was, the door would not afford him much protection. He watched as both doors of the Jeep Cherokee opened and the two backstabbers stepped into the beams of his still running Tracker. As he expected, Chip was armed and the passenger was indeed Hannah. It had, for a split second, occurred to him that he could run. He could throw the Tracker in reverse and maybe get out of there. At the very least, he could have made himself a harder target. But in the moment before he got out of his car, he'd experienced that 'I don't want to live' despair that everyone feels when they find out that the person they love has betrayed them. Also, his rage fed his urge to have this confrontation right then and there.

“Hey buddy,” Chip said with a voice that dripped cheerful contempt.

“I never would have guessed you, Chip,” Russ said before he addressed his wife, “Hannah, I guess this explains your eagerness to get that huge joint insurance policy.”

“Oh don't take that holier-than-thou attitude with me Russell,” she snarled, “you brought this on yourself.”

Russ's jaw hung agape for thirty seconds before he could gather himself enough to reply.

“Are you insane Hannah? I somehow deserve to be shot down like a dog in the woods?”

“Don't you call me insane you fucker! I ought to shoot you myself!”

Russ realized there was no reasoning with Hannah. He'd muttered that she was nuts hundreds of times but now he realized how horribly correct he had been. He decided that Chip was his only hope to get out of this alive.

“I guess that's my gun you're holding, huh Chip?”

“Nope, it's a stolen gun. They're cheap in the hood you know.”

“So have you two talked on the phone this week buddy?”

“Huh?” Chip asked, the first hint of uncertainty creeping into his voice.

“The cops always suspect the spouse Chip. I learned that on the Investigation Discovery Channel. That's Murder 101, check the spouse,” Chip's brow furrowed, “when they check Hannah, they'll see that I called her. Are they going to see that you've been talking to her too?”

“You always call me when you go fishing,” Hannah interrupted.

Russ ignored his wife and kept chiseling away at Chip.

“Chip I just called her and you saw her answer her phone. I watched the inside of your car light up with that blue glow. Sure, she didn't say anything, but her phone will. It's gonna sing like a bird, Chip.” His traitor of a friend tilted his head. He was listening, he was thinking now. “What cell tower do you think that call bounced off of? There's a tower up on that hill,” he said, nodding to his left. “They're going to know she wasn't at home. They'll figure she was out here with me, with us.”

“Yeah, so?”

“If you don't have my gun and I don't have it, who do you think has it? Why does she have my gun if she talked you into shooting me? What do you figure her plan is for you?”

“Chip,” she snapped, “we're wasting time. Shoot him! Shoot him and let's get out of here!”

“Did she bring her purse Chip?” Chip glanced over at Hannah. She had her purse in her left hand and the fingers of her right hand were lingering around the opening of the purse, “Why would you bring a purse to a killing? Is her hand in her purse right now?"

“Shoot him Chip!” she screamed.

“Sure, I'm a sucker Chip, but you're a chump too. My guess is you're gonna shoot me and then she's going to shoot you. By the time the cops get here she'll have worked up some tears and a story about how us two got into it and you pulled out a gun and shot me. She happened to be by the Tracker getting her phone and got out my gun, which she knew I kept under the seat, and killed you in defense of herself and her poor wounded husband. I bet she brought her fishing pole, right? Because she came here with me and you shot me. The only thing she didn't work out is why would I call her if she came here to go fishing with me.”

Fuck you Russ!” she fired two shots at her husband, who dove for cover inside of his Tracker.

When Hannah fired at Russ, Chip knew instantly that Russ had it about right. From his hiding spot in the Tracker, Russ heard three more shots in quick succession and then, nothing. The sound of crickets, bullfrogs and one fish leaping somewhere in the lake, were the only sounds in the darkness, for thirty seconds that took hours to pass. Finally, Chip broke the silence.

“Russ. Russ? Russ?” Chip called out, not entirely sure Russ didn't have another gun in his car.

“Yeah Chip?”

“What are we going to do now?”

“Seems like I should be the one asking that question,” Russ yelled back, “you're the guy with the gun,” another uncomfortable silence, Chip didn't trust that Russ was unarmed, “how's Hannah?”

“She's dead Russ,” he said with a terrifying absence of emotion, he didn't wait for Russ to respond, “I had no choice. She tried to kill me. She tried to kill you too.”

“I'm aware of that.”

“So what are we going to do now?”

“Again Chip, the guy with the gun is usually the decision maker. That would be you.”

Chip couldn't help smirking for a split second. Russ always was the funny guy in their circle of friends. “I don't want to go to jail Russ. I've killed one person already, but killing Hannah can be justified. She shot at me first. You saw it.”

“Sorry buddy, I was kinda busy trying not to get shot. All I saw was the floor of my tracker.”

“Well it's the truth, she did shoot at me. I can make a case for self defense, but I don't see how I stay out of jail if I kill you. I don't want to shoot you Russ.

“Well I appreciate that sentiment.”

“My problem is that you seem to have worked out the whole plan. So how screwed am I when the police ask you what happened?”

“Ah, I see. So you would prefer that I overlook this whole, I think I'll kill Russ for Hannah, thing.”

“I wasn't lying Russ. The gun that killed Hannah is a street gun. What if some thug surprised us, not knowing Hanna was with us? She was at the car, yeah, she asked you to ring her phone to help her find it, she heard it in your car and went back to get it. Just then the punk confronted us and Hannah heard it. She grabbed your gun from under your seat, obviously she knew it was there. She came back with your gun pointed at the thug. There was an exchange of gunfire, she took two shots and missed, we dove for cover in the woods, he shot her and took off when he couldn't find us.”

Russ didn't reply. He was too busy trying to calm his pulse down.

“And don't forget, that half-million dollar joint life insurance policy.” Only then, did Russ realize he was going to be loaded, which was enough to make him pause and think. “What do you say Buddy? You walk away a wealthy man and I get my life back.”

“How the hell am I supposed to look you in the face anymore Chip?”

“Don't ever look at me or talk to me again, I deserve that. I swear to God Russ! I had to shoot her, she tried to kill me.”

“Fuck her Chip, you were going to kill me! Kind of a stumbling block.”

“So that brings us back to what do we do now,” Chip asked … and then ... he waited … and waited.

 

--- G.H. Monroe ---


© Copyright 2020 ghmonroe. All rights reserved.

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