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Fiction Thriller Suspense

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

My new girl likes it when I call her a whore, and my brother tells me if these streets don’t kill us first, they’ll make us strong. He likes to iron money and wear 2XL tall T’s that drape long enough to cover his sagging jeans and conceal his tucked Glock 19, which he brings everywhere. The gun doesn’t have a serial number, and I’ve never seen him use it, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t or won’t. 

Rusty security bars cover our house's windows, and outside our front door is another door made of steel that’s so heavy and loud it makes the neighborhood dogs howl whenever it closes. Its rattling slam reminds me of my mom because the sound would let me know she was home; she’s not coming home anymore, though. She’s in prison. The gutter above the garage hangs off the roof like a droopy lip above our cracked and stained driveway - my brother’s 93’ Acura Integra leaks. The paint on the house's exterior - a seventies seafoam green - is chipped in too many places, exposing rotten wood, and the front yard has patches of dead grass, but most of it’s covered in dirt because we can’t afford to run the sprinklers. 

I think my new girl probably wants to fuck my brother since he’s got more clout - I could just be a stop along the way, and if that does happen, I’ll be cool with it because they have more in common; he was a grifter before he turned into a thug. You’re old enough to read, so you know this story. We’re two kids making it on our own; no dad, and our mom’s locked up. My brother didn’t even graduate high school, at least I got that, but that’s not the type of clout girls around here find attractive. Nope. Girls around here don’t care about GEDs; they care about money and power - shit my brother’s planning on getting a lot of with my help. 

There are other dudes my brother could enlist for this robbery, but blood is thicker than water, he thinks he’s doing me a favor, and I got nothing going on. I think about the future and picture community college; me doing something with words. When my brother talks about the future, he makes it sound like a music video. He wants the money, the bitches, the cars, the clothes, and he won’t let anyone stop him. He welcomes violence and brags to our circle that he’s up next. I’ve been hearing him yell, “It’s my time,” for the last three weeks. Are you wondering if I believe him? Doesn’t crime pay? Didn’t he hold down the mortgage while I finished high school? Man, I didn't want to get involved in this shit; I was born into the hustle. 

***

My brother executed a string of successful burglaries, so when he told me the one he wanted me to do with him was a sure-fire lick, I had no reason not to believe him. It was suspicious when I asked for more details, and he told me I was on a need-to-know basis, but I let that slide. You’d think I would have argued like, “Yo, I’m about to break into a fucking house. I need to know what’s up,” but, to be honest, I didn’t want to know, and he knew not to tell me. There were risks, right? I could have told someone, or I could have backed out. Actually, If I’d known who we were robbing before we parked a few doors down from their house, I would have backed out. 

It was one of those nice suburban neighborhoods; it wasn’t fancy enough to be gated but had houses that looked like they were a million bucks. The neatly trimmed lawns of every home we passed were a reminder that we didn’t belong. I was paranoid driving - my anxiety was at its peak, so I was sensitive to everything, like how smooth the asphalt was and how the white lines on speed bumps shined bright when the Integra’s lights beamed on them. My brother was beside me, fidgeting with shit inside a Nike duffel bag on the floor. We were dressed in all black, and the music was off. The next thing I knew, my brother had two ski masks and a gun I’d never seen before on his lap, and he ordered me to park the car. 

I did.

“There’s anti-freeze in the trunk,” my brother said, putting on his ski mask, “If someone’s checking you out, just pop the hood and fill it up.”

“I’m not going with you?”

“Nah,” he said, handing me the gun, “you’re looking out.” 

“For what?”

“For someone coming home, dumbass,” he said, picking up his duffel bag.

“Who’s house is this?” 

My brother laughed like he use to when we were kids, and he was about to tell me the trick he played on me.

I repeated, “Who’s house is this?” 

“It’s Von’s baby mama’s house.” 

This shocked me. Von was my brother’s rival. If we got caught, it would be a death sentence. My brother must have seen the fear in my eyes. 

“Don’t trip,” He said, pointing to a house a few doors up the block with the lights off, “No one’s home. I got the drop.”

I wanted to ask him how he was sure but figured it wasn’t something I needed to know.

“What am I supposed to do if I see someone?” I asked instead.

He laughed that laugh again, and right before he slammed the door shut, he said, “You got a gun, don’t you?” 

He crept towards Von’s baby mama’s house, bent at the waist, with the duffel bag only a few feet off the ground until he was far enough away that I could only see his shadowy outline before he disappeared. I had a clear view of the two-story house's driveway, but hedges obstructed the path to the front door. The rumor was Von was making a killing on the streets. This place was proof. 

My phone rang, and it made me jump. I fumbled for it, and the gun on my lap fell to the car's floor. Shit. My new girl was calling me; she never called me, so I picked it up. 

“Hey,” I whispered.

“Where are you?” 

“I’m out.” 

“With who?”

“I’m just out. What’s up?” 

“Why won’t you tell me who you’re with?” 

“I’m with my brother,” I said.

“We need to talk?” 

“About what?” 

There was a pause, and headlights appeared in the rearview mirror, coming in my direction. I slumped low in the driver's seat, trying to conceal myself. My new girl’s breath was shaky, making me more nervous. 

“About what?” I asked again.

“I’m pregnant,” She said. 

“What?” The car’s headlights were more prominent now, only a block away.

“I’m fucking pregnant,” she blurted.

I dropped my eyes from the headlights in the rearview to the floor where the gun was. The image of that gun on my brother's worn-out floor mats is how I’ll always remember getting the news. 

“You going to say something?” She asked. 

I wasn’t; I couldn’t; I was holding my breath because the lights in Von’s baby mama’s house had just turned on and the car driving up on my left carried the steady thump of a subwoofer. Holy fuck, I realized. It’s Von.  

I hung up the phone.

His Cadillac Escalade parked in the driveway, and I watched him get out. He was a few years older than my brother, a soon to be veteran in the neighborhood on his way to OG status. I saw jewelry shining from his neck and wrist as he crossed in front of the SUV and disappeared behind the hedges. 

It was my moment to decide what I was made of, but did I really have a choice? My brother was all I had; he provided for me; I owed it to him to help. I snatched the gun from the car floor and ran toward the house with my ski mask covering my face.

Suddenly, I heard two gunshots. I sprinted as fast as I could to the front door, which was open. Without stopping, I ran into the house. The act felt like jumping off a cliff; I had no idea what my future would hold, but I knew that if I didn’t try to help my brother, I was nothing.

Inside, my brother stood triumphantly over Von’s dead body. Blood had soaked through Von’s shirt, where the two bullets lodged deep in his chest. My brother was skittish and full of adrenaline, and I watched as he waved the gun at me and then to a corner of the room I couldn’t see. 

“Get in here,” He motioned. 

I took a few steps on the tile floor of the foyer, avoiding the puddle of Von’s blood expanding around his body, to see Von’s baby mama holding a little girl in her arms. They were both crying. 

“You see, bitch?” My brother yelled, pointing his gun at her, “It’s my time now!” 

“We got to get out of here,” I shouted.

“Not yet,” He said, running up the stairs, “Keep your gun on them. I’ll be right back.” 

“Fuck!” I yelled. 

The front door was still open, and I wanted to close it, but I’d lose sight of Von’s baby mama if I did that. She looked at me with all the fury in the world, then started screaming. 

“Help!” She yelled, “Help! Someone, help!” 

She was holding her little girl, who couldn’t have been more than two years old, against her chest, covering her ears.

“Shut the fuck up,” I screamed, walking toward her with my gun raised. 

“Shut her up!” My brother yelled from upstairs. 

“Help!” she screamed again. The baby was crying. It was chaos.

I held the gun a foot away from her face and looked her in the eye, “Shut. The. Fuck. Up.” 

Von’s baby mama began whimpering, but the little girl started crying louder and breathing rapidly like she was hyperventilating. Her mom’s attention went to her; she didn’t care that I had the gun in her face. The little girl was gasping for air like a fish out of water.

“She needs her inhaler!” The mom screamed. 

“Shut the fuck up!” I shouted back.

“Please, it’s on the kitchen counter.” 

“Shut up!” 

“Please! She’ll die!”

The little girl sounded like she was choking and looked like she was in pain. I panicked and ran to the kitchen, leaving them alone in the corner. I looked on the granite island but didn’t see anything. 

“I can’t find it!” I shouted at her. When she didn’t respond, I turned to look at her and saw that she wasn’t in the corner anymore. 

I heard my brother’s footsteps on the stairs. 

“Let’s go!” He shouted. 

Then the sound of a gunshot. I heard my brother fall down the stairs and then another gunshot. 

The mother was screaming. 

“Fucking bitch shot me!” My brother yelled.

At the same time, Von’s baby mama screamed, “You killed my baby! My baby!”

I ran back into the living room. The mom had blood all over her shirt, neck, and face. The gun she used to shoot my brother was in the middle of the floor; she must have dropped it when my brother shot her daughter from her arms. 

My brother pointed the gun at her as he struggled to pick himself up from the stairs; blood poured from his left leg. 

The mom was kneeling over her daughter’s limp body, crying and screaming. The bullet had ripped a hole right through the little girl.

“What the fuck,” I said, pointing the gun at her. 

“Shoot her!” My brother said, limping to the door with the duffel bag over his shoulder, “Finish the fucking job and shoot her!” 

My brother exited the house, and my eyes darted to the sobbing mother. 

“My baby!” She said one more time, then I fired a shot into the wall and fled the scene. 

Outside, I caught up to my brother on the sidewalk and put his arm over me; I carried as much of his weight as I could as we ran to the car. 

“You get her?” He asked. 

“Ya,” I said. 

Inside the car, I drove double the speed limit, and my brother shrieked in agony as we bounced over the speed bumps on the way out of the neighborhood. 

“Where do we go?” 

“Just drive,” My brother gritted his teeth in pain. 

When we were back on the main road, I went the speed limit, and I don’t know why, but I headed toward the community college, which wasn’t that far away. My brother was bleeding all over the car. It smelled like iron. 

“Fuck,” I said looking at him, “your leg.”

“Look at this,” he said, lifting the duffel bag off the floor and opening it up. Inside was a pile of money. I’d never seen so much of it; it filled up half the duffel bag. 

“Holy shit,” I said, “How much is in there?” 

“I told you it was my time,” my brother said, coughing. 

“You alright?” 

“We’re rich now, bro,” he said, “we’re rich now.” 

He was turning white, and I saw him struggling to hold himself upright in the car seat. The blood kept coming from his leg like water from a hose.  

“We need to do something about your leg,” I said.

He chuckled and then leaned his head up against the window. I thought about taking him to the hospital, but I couldn’t do that. The next thing I thought about was going to bed. I wished I was in bed, and it was just a dream.  

My phone rang; it was my new girl. I remembered that she said she was pregnant. I thought of the money, Von's dead little girl, and the girl’s mom I'd let live. Why did I let her live? Was my brother dying next to me? I ignored the call. 

I found a spot deep inside the college’s parking lot hidden from the road. Before I shut off the engine, the Integra's temperature gauge caught my eye; it was maxed out. The car needed anti-freeze. I shut it off and turned to my brother. He was breathing more slowly now, and his eyes were closed like he was nodding off. 

“Yo, what should we do?” I asked him. 

He mumbled like he was talking in his sleep. 

"Yo, wake up!" I said, punching his shoulder. His body slumped further against the side of his door, and a stack of money spilled out of the duffel bag onto the floor. 

My phone started ringing again; it was her. My eyes moved from the phone screen to the parking lot and then to the college’s campus and all the classrooms I’d never enter.

I tried to shake my brother awake, “Bro,” I begged, “just tell me what to do.” 



July 15, 2022 19:49

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8 comments

Andrea Doig
05:53 Jul 23, 2022

Hello Scott. Wow. That was quite a ride. So - it was well written and the pace was good. Tension was palpable from when Von’s car arrived. Nice ending … in that it leaves the reader to decide. But clearly we know what is going to happen (or do we). Too gut wrenching for me…I have to admit! I’m a Mom and a girl haha… so it was quite an upsetting story and I didn’t like that the baby died. But! That’s life sometimes right. Well done Scott.

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21:41 Jul 20, 2022

oh shit. this is good. i *love* how it unfolds. there are three full paragraphs that come before this sentence - many writers would have started here; but it's so much better where you put it. >There are other dudes my brother could enlist for this robbery, but blood is thicker than water, he thinks he’s doing me a favor,

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Scott Skinner
22:55 Jul 22, 2022

Thank you for the feedback!

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Graham Kinross
09:16 Jul 19, 2022

It all hit the fan here. Maybe you should call it, How To Ruin Your Whole Life in One Night. The chaos of it is epic. All to realistic in a world where any idiot can grab a gun and think they’re untouchable.

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Scott Skinner
02:11 Jul 20, 2022

Thanks for the read! I agree with you - all too real that it could go down like this that easily.

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Graham Kinross
04:42 Jul 20, 2022

Different interpretations of that scenario and similar probably happen all over the world every day. It’s a mad world we live in.

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Michał Przywara
17:36 Jul 16, 2022

Holy crap, "thriller" and "suspense" indeed! This piece starts strong and it just keeps building. I love how you add more and more fuel to the fire. A burglary is already exciting enough, but when you added a phone call about an unexpected pregnancy -- oh man, brilliant! And of course Von getting home. We have complications building on complications. And then there's the mother getting a gun, the baby getting shot, things are crapping up left and right. And that ending, man. Fantastic! The strongest theme I'm getting here is loyalty. Loya...

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Scott Skinner
23:29 Jul 18, 2022

Great catch! I've updated it - ty! So happy to hear you liked this one and the layering of the 'crapping up.' I wanted to just keep piling it on, and though it happened fast, I think the bones are there. I think you hit the nail on the head with the theme, too, and I think, especially when you're younger, you look at loyalty to others vs. loyalty to yourself - in some cases, it can be a huge mistake! TYSM for reading & commenting!

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