Take a Break

Submitted into Contest #158 in response to: Write about a character with questionable morals.... view prompt


Fiction Contemporary Crime

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

The day started like most of his days lately. Jeffrey Cravnick III opened his eyes a few moments before his alarm sounded. He sprang to his feet throwing aside his sheets and the symptoms of the katzenjammer brought on by the previous evening’s reckless dive into the depths of the brown drink. Jeff yawned and, noticing a foot protruding from the pile of bed linens, he yanked the woman in his bed until she was almost falling off.

           “Hey!” he shouted, startling the woman.

           “What?” she moaned, covering her eyes to shield them from the sunlight streaming through the window coverings. She was clearly in worse shape than he was and not at all happy to be awakened so abruptly.

           “You have to go! I don’t know why you’re still here!” Jeff exclaimed, clapping his hands loudly. He ushered the woman out of his apartment half-clothed and none-too-delicately.

           Out of the corner of his eye he saw the vial. Oh, the vial! How to describe the contents of the vial? Jeff had his first hit last night and it was literally an out of body experience, a break from reality. He had run into the grungy guy outside of the bar who asked him if he wanted his mind blown, which was just about the worst sales approach he had ever seen. But at that point he was already blasted and didn’t want the night to end so he accepted the offer and was introduced to the vial in the side alley amidst the strong smells of hot garbage comingled with shit and piss. The bedraggled pusher who said his name was Sam referred to it simply as T.A.B. And Sam’s description of the high it provided seemed implausible but it accosted Jeff’s imagination. 

The transaction cost Jeff $1,000 and it was worth every penny! This bum on the street was able to illicit that sum from Jeff without so much as a business card or a pitch. And that’s when it hit him that this was a huge business opportunity. Never mind that he was suddenly considering becoming a drug dealer.

It wasn’t the case, at least not in the traditional or street sense of the term. He was a smart guy taking advantage of a mind-bending fortuity. To Jeff this was all a matter of taking initiative, the kind of thing that moguls do. See an opportunity before everyone else and seize it!

Be and it is, my man! Take what is yours. You’re a lion not a lamb! he recited to himself. Only the strong survived in his idea of the world. Jeff cradled two of the small vials in one hand and jiggled them like coins or popcorn. They made a crisp, crystalline clinking sound when they collided within the lose contours of his fist. He loved the sound. His eyes were glazed over from both lack of sleep and the stunning experience he had from his first mind-blowing trip with the sweet liquid in the vials. In his other hand he held a 9-millimeter gold plated SIG Sauer situated on his lap. It was noon, kids were in school, and moms with younger ones appeared to be allergic to the day’s extreme heat. So the playground was deserted, but more importantly the J-man, as he liked to be called, felt powerful with the gun out in broad daylight.

“There are kids out here man!” Sam exclaimed with a harsh whisper.

“Grow some balls, Sam! There are no kids out here and this can set us up for life. Or rather, set me up because you don’t have the gonads for this. You twat! Get out of here,” Jeff commanded dismissively and with a confident finality in his tone.

Jeff was a fast-tracker, an entitled schmuck who graduated from Cornell debt free because of his parents’ money. He was a young man who had abandoned the traditional left side hair part of his father for the shaved sides and spiked crown of his current hair-do, which was done in a salon rather than a barbershop. He was his own man, a self-starter, a wolf. He was determined to be rich and powerful by any means.          

           Sam extricated himself from his swing and ambled past the playset to the gate of the fence surrounding the playground. Jeff knew Sam was not only spineless, but also had the appearance of a creeper with his trench coat in the stifling 97 degrees. Jeff wouldn’t have socialized with someone seedy like Sam under any normal circumstances. But this was not ordinary it was extraordinary: an opportunity to be set for life.

           Oozing confidence and excitement, Jeff raised the gun, aimed it at Sam, and followed his path through the playground. Jeff loved the feel of the gun in his hand. He moved a finger to the trigger just for kicks and was jolted by the click of the trigger and the blast that escaped the barrel! His heart pounded in his chest. It was his first time firing a weapon. He had no idea he trigger was so sensitive. A snaking smoke trail wafted through the space in front of him. Sam was laying on the ground, blood splattered behind him and puddling underneath him.

           Jeff’s glassy, half-asleep eyes were opened grotesquely wide now. His first thought was What do I do? He approached Sam’s limp body slowly, looking around to discover whether anyone had seen the accident. Just coming to a playground to make a few bucks off tired and overwhelmed moms had seemed like such a risqué yet solid starting point. He was startled by movement and the distressed, quiet voice of Sam.

           “Did you shoot me you son of a bitch?” Sam wheezed.

           Jeff’s eyes grew wild and frantically scanned his surroundings. He slipped the vials into his pants pocket and quickly clamped a hand over Sam’s mouth. He tucked the gun in his pants at the small of his back before scampering back over to the swing set to grab his suit jacket. As he scurried his second thought was, How I am going to resolve this inconvenience before I have to be back to the office? I came to this playground to make a few stacks off desperate housewives in need of a break from their lives and now this!

           His mind made up, Jeff knelt next to Sam intent to let him bleed out and die in spite of his supplications for help and a 911 call. This seemed like a good plan to him in his current state of mind. Anything other than this option seemed too much to process and plan at the time.

As the murder played out Jeff pulled his phone from his jacket pocket and dialed his sister. Megan had just returned home from a rehab facility a few weeks before. She had struggled with addiction throughout her life and was constantly chasing a stronger high. Most importantly, she and her husband had plenty of money to burn.

           When he walked through the door of his apartment, Jeff exhaled deeply. The afternoon had been rough when he returned to work. The weight of Sam’s demise was not so much the issue as was a drop in the markets that sent everyone into a tizzy in the office at a time when he was hoping to decompress. On the bright side, Sam was gone and his case of vials confiscated for Jeff’s own use. It was perfect! He had made several thousand dollars selling vials to guys in the office he knew frequently disappeared into the bathroom to snort cocaine. Megan required some convincing, but he got her off the wagon for several thousand dollars as well.

           Now it was his time. He had anticipated another visit to euphoria all day long. He retrieved one vial out of the case and took pause. Jeff had never been a rule follower or a patient man. He reached for a second vial from the case, unscrewed the tops on both vials and quickly downed the liquids with a grin on his face. The void washed over him much more quickly this time. He was effectively outside of his own body in a way he did not experience the night before. He wasn’t in control…at all. He seemed to be more the guy grinning on the couch than the guy standing by his side. He looked up at himself as he simultaneously looked down at himself. Jeff’s mind was, in fact, blown.

           As he looked up, he noticed that his alternate self now held the gun that had remained in his pants before. He was confused within his euphoric high which must have registered on his face. His alternate smirked at him fiendishly.

           “Jeff?” he inquired of his alternate, quite puzzled.

           “It’s J-Man, Bitch.” His alternate self replied. “Why don’t you take a break, Jeffrey. I got this.”

           J-Man raised the gun and pressed the barrel against Jeffrey’s temple. BANG!

August 12, 2022 02:12

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