200 Words at a Time: Part Three

This week I’m continuing the story started by MWebster76 and continued by Michael D Woods!  Once again, this is for Chuck Wendig’s 200 Words at a Time challenge!  I kind of went over (240 words), oops…

Making Merry

Merry took a last, long drag on her cigarette before flicking it out the window. The butt skittered across the pavement, throwing a shower of sparks across the street. Nash always nagged her to quit, but Merry had always been more afraid of living than she was of dying. Her breath hung in the chill night air over the steering wheel. She pulled a wad of Starbucks napkins from the center console and wiped the fog from inside the windshield so she could get a better look at the neat suburban ranch.

It was a duplicate of every other house on the block. If she was drunk, she might have gone to the wrong house. But she wasn’t and besides, she knew this house. She knew the dormant lilac bush that shouldn’t have been planted so close to the front door. She knew each straw covered rose bush by name.

Merry had left the envelope with the bail money under her sister’s pillow early that morning before leaving for work. She hoped Melody wouldn’t find it and spend it, not realizing what it was for.

The porch light flicked on. It switched off, then on again. Once. Twice. Thrice. It was time.

* * *

Merry switched the headlights off and drove slowly past the house. The streetlamps along this stretch of road were busted and anyone standing near a window would have to look hard to catch a glimpse of the vehicle as it cruised by. Forty dollars well spent, contributing to the delinquency of rock-throwing teens be damned.

After parallel parking between a Saab and a BMW, Merry slouched deeper into the seat, reached to adjust the rear-view mirror and watched the house. Within minutes of the flickering porch light, three men climbed from nearby cars and walked up the sidewalk toward the front door. Merry edged forward, staring hard into the mirror. Was the fourth man already inside? It didn’t matter. If everything went as planned, come morning she would either be in jail or dead.

She slipped back down into the seat, pulled a pack of Winstons and a lighter from her purse. Merry lipped a cigarette from the pack and lit up. She took a deep pull, certain it would be her last, and held it briefly before exhaling a thick plume of smoke out the window. Only minutes to go.

“So good to see you,” said Nash, aiming a pistol at Merry’s head.

* * *

Merry barely blinked as she glanced at Nash’s face, all teeth in the narrow stripe of the rearview mirror.  She turned to face the gun, looking down the black hole of the barrel with a strange blankness.  She’d halfway hoped to feel something when this time came.  Some sort of fear of death. 

“Hey, lover,” she said.  She sucked in another mouthful of smoke.  “Thought I might see you.  Not alive, necessarily, but that’s nice too.”

Nash’s self-satisfied grin inched towards a sneer.  “Call them back, Merry.  I’m not kidding.”

“Nah.”  She shrugged, lazily, winking at the black eye of the gun.  She let the smoke escape through her teeth, watched Nash’s nostrils flare and his throat hitch as the white cloud enveloped him.  “They’re going to get back what you wouldn’t give me.  You could have made this easy on yourself, you know.  A whole lot easier.”

“It was five hundred bucks, Merry.  Jesus fucking Christ. Get over it.”

“Isn’t about the money.”  She leaned forward, inhaling, feeling the warmth of smoke down her throat, holding it in her lungs like some kind of dragon. 

“Then what?” Nash insisted.  He pressed the gun closer to her, until it was nearly touching her nose.  “Fucking pride?” 

That wasn’t really the answer, but she smiled and let out the lungful of smoke straight into his face as she said, “Yes.”  Then she found the knife in her pocket and slashed at him in the dark.

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