Hello all! 🙂 I hope your New Year is off to a good start! For Free-writing Friday, I was inspired this week I just wrote it on Monday night! I apologize for the rough-around-the-edges feel… but, I (also) just started classes again this week, and, well, time being as it is… I hope you like it! (Warning: there are cuss-words… lol) If you missed the last Free-writing short story: Here’s “The Slumlord“.


“The Victim”

By T. Riggs, Copyright© 2017

How the hell did this happen again? Randy shoved the glass door open and let it slam behind him, rattling the metal frame. The clerk at the register stood watching him leave. A glimmer of relief passed across her tired, worn, and lined face.

“Fuckin’ assholes…” he muttered as he pulled the pickup truck door open. He climbed up into the seat, trying to position his beer belly without hitting the horn, or getting stuck against the steering wheel. “Damn piece a’ shit.”

A “Heart of Dixie” ringtone broke through his thoughts and mutterings. He tapped the phone sending it to the blue-tooth ear-piece that was a permanent fixture on his right ear.

“Yea. Oh hey man.” He paused… listening… “Yeah I know, fucking bastards won’t take my card again… Yeah, I fucking know man! I will get the shit for the job. I just gotta go home and get the wife’s card…?” Randy glanced at his watch… it was 1:30. “Yeah, 2, I fucking know! I will be there.” He cut the conversation short just as, what Randy had nicknamed his business partner, ‘pussy-ass Joe’ started his next round of bitching about the last time. “Fuck you.”

Randy started the truck and put it into gear. When he pulled his bright red diesel-powered pickup truck out onto the main road, he squealed the tires a little bit, just for fun. He chuckled and shifted gears.

#####

Just as he angled the truck into the dirt and gravel driveway of his house, Randy saw his cousin, Sue’s car. His face went hot and the muttering started again. “Fucking bitch… go get yer own freaking house.”

Sue, with her tall, fancy looking frame swaggered out of the house as he was climbing down from the truck cab. “Oh, hey Randy! I was just droppin’ off some tomatoes for Judith from the farmer’s market, got some good ones!” Before he could even do more than nod his head in her direction, she was starting the car and putting it into gear. She smiled and waved as she maneuvered her Lexus down the gravel drive out-of-sound-and-sight of his muttered curse words.

“Hey babe… whatcha’ doin’ home so early? Thought you an’ Joe had a job today?” Judith held the screen door open for him as he stomped up onto the porch.

“I told you not to let that bitch into my house again.” Randy all but spat, not able to bring himself to say her name.

“That’s yer cousin, babe, don’t be so mean.”

“She’s a conivin’ bitch. Gonna talk you into leavin’ me, just like Danny’s wife… damn fancy-ass car, flauntin’ an’ thinkin’ she’s better’n everyone else?”

Judith touched his arm at the mention of his brother’s messy divorce, and he stopped himself. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere.” She smiled and nudged him into the house.

“Where’s yer card?”

“Which one?”

“The DIY Store card. Mine ain’t workin’.”

“D’you pay the bill?”

“What the fuck Judith? Just tell me where the fuckin’ card is… I gotta get supplies or there ain’t no bill payin’ happenin’.” Randy grabbed her purse and dumped it out, grabbed her wallet and opened it to find the card.

“Not much left on that…” Judith had returned to rinsing off fresh, green, tomatoes at the sink. She carefully placed them on a clean paper towel, one at a time, to sit in the sun and finish ripening.

“Don’t need much… just some lumber and blocks…”

Randy muttered a thanks and gave Judith a peck on the cheek. It was only seconds before he was peeling out of the gravel drive and onto the paved road again – heading back to the DIY supply store.

#####

As he pulled the truck into a parking spot at the DIY store, Randy glanced at his watch, it was 2 o’clock. Shit! “Damn it. Fancy-ass just had to come visit today…” Randy muttered as he maneuvered himself out of the cab awkwardly and stepped hard onto the pavement, his boots made a clacking sound as they hit flat, full force.

Randy stormed up to the contractor counter. The manager, Rick, looked up from a clipboard of paper and smiled weakly, “Hey Randy…”

“Hey. I got an order I left for lumber and block… need to pick it up.”

“Oh, yeah…” Rick picked up the phone and dialed a 3 digit extension. “Oh, okay… thanks.” He put the receiver down slowly to stall for time. “Um… Randy, it looks like the order was returned to stock.”

“What the fuck Rick?” Randy felt his face going red again… “I was just here not twenty-minutes ago…”

“So sorry… but there was another contractor came in after you left, took most of the order, rest was put back… we can send the order in again.”

“I need that order now! I’m supposed to be on-site…” Randy glanced at his watch again, “goin’ on ten minutes now! And it’s a fucking 20 minute drive!”

“We’ll get started then, do you have the original order sheet?”

Randy thought, at that very moment, his head just might explode. “NO, I don’t have the fucking sheet.”

“Okay, Randy, language please…” Rick looked around to see if there were any customers nearby, thankfully, no one had turned to look their way. “I know you’re upset, but we can get this worked out. Let me look it up on the system.”

Randy tapped his keys anxiously on the countertop.

“Here it is…” The manager picked up the phone to his ear again and tapped out the same three digit extension. “Hey, I need you to pull some stock… yeah, block and lumber…”

The tapping of the keys became more forceful and agitated as the seconds passed. Randy’s “Heart of Dixie” ringtone ended the tapping with one sharp scratching sound. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and tapped the blue-tooth option. “Yes. I fucking know, Joe. I’m here now, getting the supplies.” He tapped the button to end the call.

“Okay Randy, while they begin pulling the stock, how will you be paying?”

Randy tossed out his wife’s DIY store card from his wallet onto the counter. Rick saw Randy’s raised eyebrow and the sneer playing across his lips. He thought better of saying anything and ran the card through the point-of-sale system. As the final receipt printed, Rick attempted an idle conversation… “So, what job are you all working on today?”

“Retaining wall. Sherman property.”

“Oh, okay, that’s a nice place.”

“Yeah. Where’s the stock?”

“On its way…”

Rick was relieved to see the first pallet being brought from the back. “Well, here we are…”

#####

With all the pallets loaded, Randy climbed up into the truck and barreled towards the jobsite. It was past 3 o’clock by the time he pulled the truck down the dirt drive path to the back of the property where the retaining wall needed to be installed.

Randy climbed out of the truck and walked over to the site.

Joe was there, with another worker – some new guy, Randy struggled to remember his name. The two had just finished cutting away part of the hill and were beginning pouring the base for the blocks and frame.

On the bed of Joe’s truck, pulled up to the base of the hill, ready to unload – were pallets of blocks and lumber.

Randy’s jaw dropped. “What the hell Joe?”

“Oh, hey Randy… yeah, I had Steve pick up the blocks and lumber for me… you over-ordered, but we got what we needed.”

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me? I just waited a fucking HOUR to get the shit loaded into the truck!”

“Well, I tried…”

“Fuck yeah, you tried – my ASS…” Randy’s fists clenched and his teeth were set.

“Well, you hung up on me twice Randy… I tried to tell you not to worry, that I’d sent Steve to get the order.”

The blood rushed out of Randy’s face. His anger slowly deflated like a balloon, replaced with disbelief. In one last rush of angry curses, he turned, got back into the pickup truck and pealed out. Soil and grass spewed from the back tires in an arc around the truck bed.

#####

How the hell does this shit keep happening to me? Randy shifted to a higher gear once he hit the main road and headed back to the DIY store.

#####

The blue and red flashing lights of the police car, and the silent, red and white flash of the nearby ambulance reflected off of the DIY store front glass. Rick was standing to the side of the main door, speaking to a police officer. “…Stacey, my clerk, yes, she saw him weaving around the parking lot.”

“He was here earlier today?”

“Yes, twice, but he left the last time to go to the job site.”

“Did he get out of the truck?”

“Nope. Just wove around and hit the gas all of a sudden… That’s when he hit the light pole…”

The officer nodded and wrote down the last of the details of the incident. The lead EMT came up just as he finished. “What’s it look like Sam?”

The EMT was taking off his medical gloves, shaking his head. “Looks like he suffered a coronary… couldn’t resuscitate.”

The officer nodded and reached up to click the button on his CB radio receiver to notify headquarters. “…nope, not a crash… med says he was a victim of a heart attack.”