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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

After the smoke cleared, one lay dead. The other had to face the music, or had he been played?

Officer Billy Nelson slowed his police cruiser to a stop near the loading dock of Abelson’s Imports. He had arranged to meet Kyle Morgan, the night watchman, there at midnight. Billy was banking on Kyle knowing the whereabouts of George Winston, the prime suspect in the murder of Marsha Winston.

Billy got out of his patrol car, paused, and listened for any activity, but it was quiet—almost too quiet. After a quick scan of the area, he radioed in, walked to the side door, and went inside.

Before he let the door close behind him, Billy quickly glanced around. Ahead was a half-court-sized staging area. To the right was a forklift, and debris scattered about. Above were security lamps—their downward-focused light caused deep shadows between rows of supplies.

Billy let the door close, and he moved toward the staging area. “Kyle,” he yelled. “It’s Billy. Billy Nelson.”

Only the buzz of the overhead lights broke the silence.

“I’m gonna kick some serious a**, Kyle, if you’ve been drink--”

He stopped dead in his tracks when the light illuminated the bearded, six-foot-six hulk of a man. The man’s massive right hung by his side, loosely gripping a gun.

“Kyle said you’d be comin’. You alone?”

Billy nodded and put his hand on his weapon. “You George Winston?”

George tipped his head. “Yeah, that’s me, all right.”

Billy swallowed. “Where’s Kyle?”

George thumbed over his shoulder. “In the back.”

Billy stepped toward George.

George chuckled. “Drunk as a skunk... As usual.” Then George’s face muscles tightened. “Whatcha want with me anyhow?”

“Bad news, George.”

George looked to the side. “Already know.”

“You ain’t all that put out.”

George shrugged his shoulders. “Why you wanna see me?”

“Some questions.” Billy pointed toward the door. “Down at the station.”

George backed toward the shadows. “No way, man.”

Billy motioned with his left palm pointing toward the floor. “Put the gun down, George, and come with me.”

“Kyle says you were Army like us.”

“A lifetime ago.”

“Then you go your way, and I’ll go mine.”

“Can’t, George. You gotta answer some questions about Marsha’s death, so put down the gun and come with--”

Without warning, George groaned. "Not again!" He grabbed his head and spun on his heels. “It’s in here, don’t let you have no peace.”

Billy back-stepped and gripped his weapon, ready to unholster it. “You saying you do it?”

“Rico, Tony, Joey, Sal, Carlos. Dead, every one of ‘em.” George staggered and pounded his head with his fist. “Their faces, voices. See ‘em, hear ‘em, all the time.”

Billy’s face and grip relaxed, and he extended his hand. “We can get you help.”

George shook his head. “Tried that. Didn’t work none.”

Billy moved toward George. “Ease it to the floor.”

“Marsha hounded me,” George said. “Wouldn’t never stop. ‘Get help,’ she kept yelling.”

George wiped his tears. “Couldn’t take her no more.” He wildly waved his gun. “So I up and shot her.”

Billy unholstered his weapon and leveled it on George. “Gotta take you in, George.”

George planted both feet, crouched, and raised his gun toward Billy. “I’ll shoot you before I--”

“Don’t do this, George. I just wanna talk,” Billy said in a calm tone. “Can we talk? Brother to brother?”

George backed toward the shadows. “Go f**k yourself, man.” And aimed directly at Billy.

Billy gripped his weapon with both hands. “George! Don’t!”

George’s brows lowered, eyes glared as he squeezed the trigger.


Billy returned fire.


Two bullets hit square in George’s chest, forcing him backward. He lay sprawled on the floor, his massive hand still clutched the gun.

Billy stood over George’s body. “S**t!”

Kyle stumbled out of the shadows, rubbing his eyes. “What the hell’s all the racket?”

Billy staggered backward. “He almost killed me.”

Kyle squinted at the gun and then at Billy. “He couldn’t, Billy.”

Billy panted and waved his weapon toward George’s body. “Was him or me, Kyle. Him or me.”

Kyle pried a Pinovk toy pistol from George’s hand and held it toward Billy. “Got a whole pallet.” He shoved the toy in his belt. “Kids love ‘em.”

“But George said he killed her.”

“Marsha? Not ole Georgie. Marsha shot herself. Was an accident.”

Billy’s jaw dropped, his cheeks drooped.

“They were fighting... Again. She got out Georgie’s gun. They struggled... Well, you know the rest, Billy.”

Billy was white as a sheet.

“George said he’d push you to... You know. He played you like a honky-tonk piano, Billy.”

Billy back-peddled. “No, I wasn’t. He confessed.”

“How you gonna explain this, Billy?”

Billy shuffled backward. “Lemme think!” His feet entangled in a pile of rope. “What the hell!”

Billy reached for something, anything, and found nothing but thin air. The forklift’s prong cracked the base of his skull when he hit it square on its tip.

Kyle recoiled at the sound of metal crunching bone. He knelt, checked Billy’s pulse, and listened at his chest--nothing. After he stood, he glanced at George and back at Billy.

“Saved my sorry a** outside Kandahar, Billy, and, you remember Kabul, George? I owe you guys. Brothers-in-arms gotta stick together.”

He hurried and returned with the handgun. Kyle put on gloves, wiped his prints, put the gun in George’s hand, and fired two shots into the forklift.

Kyle went to an open bin of toy guns and pitched the one from his belt onto the pile. Next, he returned to the staging area and sat on the floor against a pallet.

He punched 9-1-1 on his phone.

“What is your emergency?” the voice at the other end asked.

Kyle screamed into his phone. “Send cops! Two dead!”

“Calm down, sir. Say again.”

“Officer Billy Nelson. George Winston. Shootout. Both dead.”

“Are you injured?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“What’s your exact location?”

When Kyle finished providing the information, he ended the call. Then, aloud he rehearsed his version of how Billy and George died. Meanwhile, the wail of sirens grew louder in the background.

Submitted: November 18, 2021

© Copyright 2021 DRayVan. All rights reserved.

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