We were parked in the midst of what appeared to be a giant junkyard. Row after row of wrecked cars of every color and model sat in various states of disrepair for as far as the eye could see.
Behind me, I heard the unmistakable crunch of gravel under boots but, before I could turn, I felt the barrel of a gun pressed between my shoulder blades. Instinctively, I put my hands in the air. Then a voice I recognized said: “We meet again.”
Julie smiled evilly. “You really are an idiot,” she said. “You actually thought I’d let you steal from my cousin?” My face must have revealed my shock because she followed that with an affirmation. “Yes Josh, Brad’s my cousin!” she spat. “If you were a little less into you and a little more into other people you probably would have remembered that.”
Brad punched me hard in the back of the head and I dropped to my knees. “If Mande wouldn’t have posted about you on Facebook, you’d be dead right now!” he said. “I’m tempted to do you anyway and take my chances. Put you in a trunk and put the car through the crusher. They’d never find you.”
Julie’s eyes were suddenly worried. “Brad, you promised me. No violence.”
“Where are the rocks?” he demanded and she ran to the car and returned with the bag. He was pressing the gun hard into the back of my head.
“I have them here,” she said.
“All of them?”
“Yes, they’re all here. Every one.”
He lowered his mouth to my ear and growled: “Steal from me again and I’ll kill you and there won’t be a body at your funeral. Are we clear?”
“ARE WE CLEAR?!”
“We’re clear, Brad,” I said. “We’re clear. I’ll never steal from you again.”
“Damn right,” he said. Then he cracked me in the skull with the pistol. It didn’t knock me unconscious but I wished it had. I lay in the gravel holding my head, blood running through my fingers. They walked away, got in their vehicles, and drove off.
Julie said: “So long, Romeo,” through her open window as she sped away throwing dust and rocks into my face.
I laid there for a long time before my vision had cleared enough to stand. Then I staggered about trying to find my balance. I leaned against an old truck and stuck my hands in my pockets. Then I smiled.
“Should have checked my pockets, Brad.” I said sifting emeralds through my fingers. “You really should have checked my pockets.”
Hope You enjoyed this Short Story Collaboration as much as I enjoyed writing it with Fred. Always diverting to go down a new road and test my wings with something different. Should you feel inclined, have a notion or idea for a collaboration, please feel free to contact me via my Write With Me page or Contact information.