American Crime Fiction

I stood panting before two closed doors in a dead-end hallway. With every passing second, my pursuers’ distant footsteps grew louder. Heart thumping and runnels of sweat racing down my cheeks, I turned the handle of the right-hand door and it opened outward disclosing a cleaner’s cupboard brimming with mops and buckets. I grabbed a wooden handled mop, thinking it could be useful.

I tried the other door. It moved but wouldn’t open. I shouldered it and flew into a bright room. I slammed the door and wedged it shut with the mop handle.

I looked around. In the middle of the room stood a large oak table with a kitchen knife thrust into its top and a slab of cheese and a hunk of bread beside it. Beyond the table, there was a chair that had been pushed away. 

Suddenly, a man in a suit stepped out of a shadowy alcove holding a gun. I recognised him. It was Frank McGarr, head of the Irish mafia this side of town.

“Ah, Mr Jacks, I was wondering when you’d show up,” he said.

I crouched - a reflex - and scurried to an open bay window and scrambled onto the sill.

“Not so fast Jacks.”

I felt the business end of a pistol pressed against my skull.

The door tried to open but the mop handle did its job. I could hear voices the other side.

“Have a seat Jacks.”

Still pointing his gun, he slid the chair towards me. I sat down on it and he backed away, his little piggy eyes fixed on me. He kicked out the mop handle. The door burst open, and two heavies tumbled in carrying shooters. 

They bound my wrists with something rope like.

“You’re staring to irritate me Jacks,” said McGarr.

“That’s my job. To be a pain in the arse to people like you.”

One of his thugs, as wide as he was tall, backhanded me across the face. It stung like hell but I’d had worse.

“Watch your mouth,” he grunted.

“So, talk Jacks, what you want?” McGarr said.

“My hunch is that your gang was involved in the museum heist, last month.” 

“And what makes you think that?”

“A witness clocked one of your gang members, sat in a car outside late at night.”

“So what?”

I kept working my hands and I could feel the binding coming loose. That numbskull of a heavy did a crap job.

“So what? You’ve got form Frank. You like a Monet. You’re suspect number one,” I said.

The other heavy leant in to strike me. My hands came free, I dodged his swing and grabbed the kitchen knife from the table and stabbed him in the side. He went down moaning. I made for the open window. The gun went off and a bullet whistled past my ear. I leapt through the opening and landed in a bush just outside. Dazed and grazed, I got up and sprinted to an outbuilding up ahead and burst through a side door. 

It was dark as coal and I fumbled for a light switch. I found one and flipped it. The fluorescent lights hummed and flickered into life. I was in warehouse and all I could see were items whose rightful home was in a museum. 

I was momentarily dumbstruck. I was looking at millions of dollars worth of artefacts: Monets, Renoirs, statues from ancient Greece.

I could hear footsteps again. I dashed to the far end and hid behind a large framed oil painting.

Through a gap I could make out McGarr and one of his crew, creeping towards where I was hiding. 

McGarr suddenly stopped in his tracks as the distant sound of police sirens became audible.

He whispered something to his heavy then bolted out the door.

The heavy kept on coming and I grabbed a spear and a dagger - probably last used by an ancient Greek soldier – that were leaning against a wall behind me. As he came closer, I sprung out from behind the painting and flung the spear. It bounced off his chest and he staggered backwards. I kept on coming, dagger poised. I screamed like a warrior and thrust the dagger into his heart. He collapsed in a heap on the floor and I hurried out the warehouse. 

Outside, I saw blue lights flashing through the trees and heard sirens wailing. But where was McGarr?

I glanced up and saw a figure on the roof. McGarr. I scrambled up the building fire escape ladder and stepped onto the roof. 

He was waving frantically at the sky. A helicopter hovered above. 

He waved it down. The copter landed on the helipad and McGarr climbed on.  I dashed across the roof and grabbed his leg just as he was climbing in to the cabin. The helicopter started to take off. He tried to shake me free. I held on and we were flying over the trees. Dangling from his leg, I gave it a yank and he lost his grip and we started freefalling through the air. 

We landed in heap in a nearby field. I was out cold. When I came to, all I could see were stalks of wheat shooting up into the azure sky. 

I staggered to my feet and glanced around. McGarr was fifty yards away limping like an invalid. 

He was heading for the helicopter, which had landed in a nearby field. I tried to catch up but my legs felt heavy and my head was swimming. Just as McGarr had cleared the wheat field, two cop cars came roaring across a dirt track and pulled up, cutting him off from the helicopter, which had its rotors blades spinning ready to go.

Spooked by the sight of the cops, the pilot took off, while a heavy leant out the side of the chopper shooting down at them. With the cops distracted, Frank McGarr tried to get away but his game leg didn’t take him far. An officer caught sight of him out of the corner of his eye and spun round and shot McGarr in the back.

McGarr fell face down in the dirt.

May 28, 2021 20:23

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