Southbound Boyz

Submitted into Contest #140 in response to: Write a story that involves a flashback.... view prompt

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Crime Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

[This story contains mentions of violence.]


PART 1: Jackie Brown and the King of Beers


The sun would soon be setting over the deep-blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, as what had been a picture perfect July day began to wind itself down.


While lounging on the beach of beautiful Naples, Florida, Johnny and Matt were quietly discussing their next steps, enjoying some adult beverages, and soaking in the view – both geographical and anatomical.


Matt opted for Budweiser in a can (‘Why get fancy now?’ he thought.), while Johnny enjoyed his drink of choice, that old vodka and orange juice classic, a screwdriver.


“What’s that Tarantino movie where the guy is always drinking screwdrivers?” Matt asked.


“Are you talking about Jackie Brown?”


“Yeah. That’s you, the guy from Jackie Brown, always drinking screwdrivers.” He laughed.


“Well, you’re basically drinking piss. So, …”


“Budweiser is a high-quality beverage. It’s the king of beers. Says so right on the can.”


“I’ll stick with this.” Johnny held up his glass. “I’m getting vitamin C while I get drunk. It’s perfect.”


“Agree to disagree.” Matt said, taking a swallow from the cold can in his hand.”


The waves rolled in and crashed onto the shore. 50 feet out pelicans flew over the water, while several men were fishing from the peer.


“How about your Spanish?” Johnny asked, “Any better?”


“Un poco mejor.” Matt said. “Es muy dificil.”

“Its going to be a lot more difficult if you don’t pick up the pace and learn that shit.”


“Maybe I can hire a language coach to teach me. A pretty one.”


“Maybe. But you need to take it seriously. A gringo like you will really stick out if you only speak English.”


“Relax, papi. Breathe that ocean air.”


“I’ll relax when it’s the Caribbean Ocean air I’m breathing.”


“Pronto, mi amigo.”


Johnny nodded.


“First, we’ll drive over to Miami in the morning and meet up with Miguel.”


“I really shouldn’t complain,” Matt interrupted, “But two hours driving through the fucking Everglades doesn’t sound like fun.”


“Play games on your phone. You’ll make it.”


“I’m just saying.”


“Anyway, we’ll make the exchange and make sure everyone is satisfied. Then, we enjoy the scene over on the Atlantic side until our flight.”


“Brother, I can’t wait.”


“This time tomorrow we’ll be just passing over Cuba.”


“Yes, sir.”


For a few moments they fell quiet. Sipping their drinks as beachgoers passed by.


“Can you believe we’re here?” Johnny asked.


“I’m starting to.”


“What did I tell you? Stay calm, stay confidant, and remember everything I told you. If you can do that, we’re good as gold.”


“Or as good as diamonds.”


Johnny gave Matt a small, knowing smile. Then said, “You thought I was full of shit.”


“How could I have not?”


“See, that shows how much I trusted you. Because I knew you could have said no – that you would be extra cautious. But, fortunately for you, you came around.”


“Yes, fortunately.”


“Cheers, brother.” Johnny leaned over, holding out his glass.


“Cheers.”


They clinked their drinks together.


“What do you think ol’ Bob is doing right about now?” Matt asked with a grin.


“Ahhh, what would we have done without our friend Roberto?”


“I bet he’s not looking for food in a trash can anymore.”


“Fuck, I hope not.” Johnny said.


They finished their drinks a short time later and left the beach.

All the while the sweet ocean breeze blew in from the Gulf. 



PART 2: Taco Bob



They had been watching the man from a distance for just under a week.


During the day he would panhandle, collect aluminum cans, and search through the garbage receptacles of about a 3-block radius. Twice they saw him eat something he had found.


At night the man would settle in under the overpass, where he was currently standing, while him and several other homeless people would tend to a fire that burned in a steel barrel.


“Is he the guy? I think he might be the guy.” Matt said from the passenger seat.


“He might be.”


“What do you think?”


“I think he might be.”


“Don’t be so goddam cryptic. This is a time sensitive issue. Is it not?”


“It’s a time sensitive issue. And I think he might be the guy. But first – we need to talk to him.”


“Let’s go.”


The man watched them with a suspicious expression.


They got out of the car and approached the homeless man that they would come to know as Bob.


“How’s it going?” Johnny began, as they got within a dozen feet of him. “Can we maybe talk to you for a second?”


“You can maybe fuck off.” Bob replied.


“Just give me 5 minutes.”


“What are you? Jehovah's Witnesses?”


“Nah, we definitely aren't that.” Johnny said.


“I don't have any drugs.” Bob said, looking away from them. “I don’t know where you can get any, either. I suggest you boys take yourselves back out to the county.”


“We don’t want drugs.”


“I don't know any prostitutes, neither.” The man said, shaking his head.


“We don’t need any drugs or prostitutes. Drinking is as far as we go. We could get a drink, if you wanted to. Our treat.”


“I gave that up 15 years ago.”


“Than just let me talk to you for 5 minutes. I'm Johnny, this is Matt.”


The man looked at Johnny. After a moment, he seemed to lower his defense. “I'm Bob.”


It ended up taking longer than 5 minutes. They managed to convince Bob to take a drive with them, so they could talk more comfortably, after agreeing that 1.) There would be no, as Bob said, ‘funny business’ 2.) They would drop him off exactly where they had found him, and 3.) They would make it worth his time.


An hour later they were sitting in a Taco Bell parking lot, while Bob was enjoying the best food he had eaten in over a year in the back seat.


In between bites of taco, Bob relayed back everything that had been explained to him.


“So, on July 1st, about 10:00 A.M., I need to be waiting for you under the overpass. If all goes well, at that time the two of you will be pulling up fast and in a hurry. But you won’t be in this car. It’ll be a different car.”


“So far so good.”


“And you’ll give me a trash bag. And you want me to burn the trash bag in the fire barrel.”


“Make sure there’s nothing but ashes left.”


“Burn it till it’s nothing but ashes.”


“If any kind of law enforcement approaches you asking about us? “


“Never seen you. And for this you will give me jewelry?”


“Valuable jewelry. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly what the item will be yet, but we promise it will be well worth your cooperation. And I strongly recommend taking it King’s Pawn Shop on Chippewa to get your money for it.”


“King’s, huh?”


“He’ll compensate you.”


“Understood.” Bob said.


“So, you’re on the team?”


After a moment, “Put me in coach. And how about a few more of these tacos before you drop me off?”


Johnny and Matt shared a look and smiled.


“You got it, Bob.” …


The heist went off without a hitch.


No shots were fired, just some broken glass and a few frightened jewelry store employees. One girl, that Matt thought didn’t look a day over 25, was crying and shaking uncontrollably by the time they were finished.


It was over in less than a minute.


Rush in – prop open the door - Johnny in the lead - one hand pointing gun – other hand with hammer smashing glass - Matt behind Johnny - backpack fastened to the front of his body – one hand pointing gun – other hand putting jewelry in forward facing backpack - Smash, grab, gone…


It went so smooth that Matt was almost convinced he had dreamed the whole thing.


And Bob proved to be a man of his word. He was waiting for them under the overpass, the fire burning in the barrel, when they pulled up not 5 minutes after the robbery.


Johnny handed the trash bag containing the ski masks and clothes they had been wearing out the window and placed a diamond ring into Bob’s weathered hand.


“That’ll keep you in taco’s, my friend.” Johnny said.


Before Bob could make any reply, they were gone.


He put the ring into his pocket, and promptly put the trash bag into the fire. Watching it burn for over an hour, adding newspaper and bits of cardboard to stoke the flames until he was sure only ashes remained. 


After changing vehicles and doing their best to wipe all fingerprints, Johnny and Matt hit the highway and drove south.


“Next stop,” Johnny said, “Florida.”



PART 3: Just Like in the Movies



After returning to the hotel, Johnny began applying aloe vera to his face and shoulders where the Florida sun had already turned his usually pale skin red.


Matt stretched out on one of the two Queen sized beds, and turned on the TV.


After washing the aloe off his hands, Johnny grabbed the bucket from the small countertop, "I'm getting ice." He went into the hall, and the door swung shut behind him.


Matt looked away from the TV, and his gaze settled on the closed door leading to the hallway. Feeling his heart rate begin to increase, he knew he would need a beer soon.


After a few minutes Johnny returned with the freshly filled ice bucket.


“A couple of girls were in the hallway,” Johnny said, coming into the room, “They started chatting me up. Guess where they were from.”


“The moon?” Matt said, with a flat expression.


“No, asshole. They’re from Chicago. Or about 20 minutes outside of Chicago.”


“No shit?”


“No shit.”


“You didn’t invite them to hang out?”


“Hell no I didn’t. We gotta keep our priorities in order. If I invited them back here we’d be up all night. They’d probably want to go out to a club or a bar. And we need to be on the road to Miami when the sun comes up.”


“You’re right.”


“Damn right I'm right.” 


“Still, it’d be fun.”


“You want girls?" Johnny said, "In two days, we’re gonna be neck deep in genuine Latin women. Not some Chicago chicks that flew Southwest down to Florida for the weekend.”


“You make a convincing argument.”


Johnny held up his hands and nodded his head, as if to say, ‘See my point?’.


“Alright,” Matt said, tossing the TV remote onto Johnny’s bed, “I’m taking a shower. Grab me a shower beer, will ya’.”


Johnny took a Budweiser from the mini fridge and handed it to Matt as he walked by on his way to the bathroom. Then he took out the vodka and orange juice for himself, setting them on the counter next to the ice bucket.


“I'm telling you." Johnny said, "We’ll have brown beauty’s coming at us left and right.”


“I can dig it.” Matt said, and held his fist up for a bump.


Johnny held up his own and the fists connected.


“We’ll have a proper cheers when I get out.” Matt nodded towards the making of Johnny’s screwdriver. Then, he went into the bathroom, undressed, and cracked open his beer.


Getting into the shower, Matt set the cold can down on the little shelf meant to hold soaps and shampoos, and turned on the water – aiming the shower head so it wouldn't spray into the beer.


He unwrapped the little bar of hotel soap and began to lather up, when he heard a loud thud and the sound of breaking glass in the other room.


“That was fast.” he said, scrubbing his armpit with the little bar of soap. “Lo siento, amigo.”


Feeling no need hurry, Matt lingered under the warm water. “He won't be any less dead in 5 minutes.”


Finally, he finished up, got out of the shower and began to dry off.


“Nice towels.” He said, noting that the hotel towels were soft and absorbent. “Maybe I'll drop a good review online.”


He wrapped the towel around his waist, opened the bathroom door and came out of the bathroom, expecting to see Johnny lying dead on the floor. He had put three times the amount of the poison it would take to kill a man into the half gallon of orange juice they had gotten at the Publix earlier that day, after all.


Instead, Johnny was sitting in a chair in the corner, holding the gun he had used in the jewelry heist, pointing it in Matt’s general direction. “Sit your ass down on the bed, you traitorous fuck.”


Matt looked down at the broken glass on the floor.


“Thought I fell down dead, didn’t you? You sure weren't in no hurry to come check on me, huh?”


Matt tried to think of something to say, but after a moment, he only shrugged and sat on the edge of the bed.


“That’s right. You forgot to hide this, you shit bag.” Johnny held up the vile that had contained the poison that was now mixed into the orange juice he had almost drank. “You didn’t think I would know what this is? You really thought you could get rid of me and keep the loot for yourself? Just like in the movies, huh? It's too damn predictable, that's where you fucked up.”


Matt said nothing.


“What were you gonna tell Miguel when you showed up without me?”


“He knew.”


“That motherfucker!” Johnny slammed his fist down onto the arm of the chair.


“Man, listen,” Matt started.


“Don’t bother." Johnny said, "Go ahead and get comfortable. I'm not gonna shoot you, unless you do something stupid. I probably should. But, like they say, cooler heads prevail. And shooting you wouldn’t exactly be cool head behavior. I suppose I could make you drink that poison orange juice, but what can I say? I'm a puppy dog, and murder wouldn’t sit well on my conscience. Am I worried that you could snitch me out to the police? Not unless you want to spend some time in prison yourself. Which I'm willing to wager that you don’t. What I will be doing is leaving your ass here. Enjoy Florida, asshole.”


Matt slumped on the bed.


Johnny got up, and started packing his suitcase with one hand, keeping the gun aimed at Matt. “You see, this is what happens when you get greedy. We could have been living like kings down there. Women, no work, partying all day and all ni-"


That’s when the S.W.A.T. team burst into the room.


Johnny spun around.


Upon seeing the gun in Johnnys hand, the S.W.A.T. man in the lead opened fire. Several high caliber rounds hit Johnny in the chest. Knocking him backwards to the ground.


The second S.W.A.T. man into the room grabbed Matt off the bed, threw him to the carpet, and zip tied his hands tight behind his back.


As he lay restrained on the hotel room floor, Matt watched Johnny bleeding to death just inches from his face.


Then, seeming to come from a far off distance, Matt heard one of the men say, “Crime doesn’t pay, does it buddy?”



April 09, 2022 03:51

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7 comments

Chris Morris
13:49 Apr 14, 2022

This was a great little punchy story. Not my usual genre but my interest was held throughout. I can see some definite Tarantino influences here (who is also a great writer - have you read his novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood?). You had a pretty good balance of good dialogue and then descriptive writing. One little nitpick - there was an occasional use of an apostrophe where there shouldn't have been one, for example - "We’ll have brown beauty’s coming at us left and right", "beauties" (and plurals in general) shouldn't have apo...

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Mickey Carroll
14:55 Apr 14, 2022

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review it! Yes, I think the violent ending has a Tarantino feel to it (as well as the robbery). Not intentional, I just decided it would be less boring than other endings I had in mind. I have listened to the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood audiobook (voiced by none other than Daisy Domergue herself, Jennifer Jason Leigh). Tarantino’s dialogue and the fact that he writes all his own scripts has always been a big inspiration to me. Grammar in general has been my biggest obstacle here. When I a...

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Chris Morris
16:20 Apr 14, 2022

Haha, I'm not looking for grammatical errors in your comments, just some that I noticed in your submission! Editing is a necessary but tricky skill - I noticed a few errors in my own submission from this week so I'm certainly not perfect either.

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Mickey Carroll
19:48 Apr 14, 2022

Lol I guess I’m a little self conscious. It is very helpful to have people spot those little mistakes, though. It’s great when writers help each other out. I’m reading through some of your submissions, I’d say your really good.

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Michelle Konde
16:42 Apr 11, 2022

Some greats twists at the end--my interest was piqued the whole time.

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Mickey Carroll
16:47 Apr 11, 2022

Wow, thank you so much for the compliment🙏And for reading it!

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Michelle Konde
03:41 Apr 12, 2022

You're welcome. Hope to read more soon.

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