Groundswell: Chapter Thirty-nine

“Remind me again why we had to come here.”

Logan glanced back at Candy, who was standing outside of their stolen M-ATV smoking a cigarette.

“Come inside,” he whispered, gesturing towards the front door of Walt Sheckley’s place.

“You first.”

She followed him in. He led her to the bedroom, and then into the closet. “Look,” he said, shining his phone’s flashlight into the secret storage compartment he’d found earlier.

“Wow,” Shonda breathed, crouching down for a closer look. “You count it?”

“Not yet, but I figure it’s at least triple digits.”

“Why didn’t you want to tell your girlfriend out there about all this cash?”

“She is not my girlfriend.”

“She certainly seems to think she is. She was a bitch to me the entire way here. Have you slept with her?”

He hesitated.

“A-ha! You have!

“No,” he said, “not like that. All we did was sleep. Like, sleep sleep. Cuddled, I guess you could say.”

She rolled her eyes. “Gay.”

“She wants to, I guess, but I can’t go there. She’s crazy.”

Shonda laughed. “Well no shit, Sherlock! How long did it take you to figure that one out?”

“Shut up,” he said, looking around for something to put the money in. He found an old leather tool bag and dumped its contents on the floor.

“We’ll put it in this. As far as Candy knows, we came back to load up on ammo. Okay? You and I are going to have to disappear for awhile after all this is said and done, and we can do that more comfortably with this money.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Together?”

“If you’d like,” he said, stuffing the money into the bag. “I know I’d like.”

“Well my life has been completely uprooted by your insatiable curiosity. You’ve destroyed my career. I guess I can’t think of a better way to thank you for that than daily sex and bottomless margaritas on some tropical beach.”

“Fine, then. I’ll give you half the cash and we can go our separate ways. I’m taking these war medals, too, in this shadowbox. Purple Heart in here, too. Man.”

“I’m just kidding,” she said, touching his arm. “Sort of. You know I’ve always loved you. Even though I know I shouldn’t.”

“Aw, how sweet!”

They looked up to see Candy standing in the doorway, holding Shonda’s pistol with two trembling hands.

Shonda sighed. “Bitch, put that down before you hurt yourself! And after I saved your life.”

Logan saved my life,” she sneered, tears running down her reddened cheeks. “And he and I are going away together and you’re never going to see him again. I’ll give him all the sex and margaritas he wants!”

Shonda laughed. Her fingers wrapped around something hard and round in the shadows–something plastic.

“Sweetie, I don’t think you know who you’re–”

She hurled the object.

“Fucking with!”

It struck Candy in the forehead, causing her to drop the gun. Shonda charged her and was halfway across the room when she heard a gunshot and doubt found herself showered in blood and bloody chunks of brain and skull.

Candy’s body collapsed to the ground, and in sauntered Dale, pistol in hand. He looked down at her and smiled.

“Gotcha, slut. Homewrecker.”

“Who the hell is this?”

Dale turned his gun on Shonda. “Don’t you move, missy. I’ll blow the black off you with this.”

“Are you drunk?”

Logan grabbed her by the wrist. “This is Dale. Chance Miller’s brother-in-law.”

“Oh,” said Shonda. “Well that makes sense, then. You can put that down. We’re both on the same side. I didn’t like her either.”

He lowered the gun, just a bit. “Oh yeah? Jealous ’cause him and her been screwin’ around? Y’all two married or somethin’?”

“We didn’t do anything,” said Logan, trying not to look at Candy lying dead on the floor. Trying not to feel anything about out it. He couldn’t help himself on either count, though. Lying next to her body was the object Shonda had struck her with–it was a Magic 8-Ball.

“Liar!” shouted Dale, pointing the gun at Logan. “Oh, man, I’m gonna enjoy this. Ain’t nobody gonna do shit about it either. Ain’t you heard? No laws.”

Bang.

Dale looked down in shock at the rapidly-expanding blood stain on his shirt. He fell to the floor, dead.

“Nate!” Logan ran over and high-fived the old man. “How’d you find us? And, I mean, you know… Why?”

“Well,” said Nate, “figured if anybody had a ton o’ guns it was Crazy Sheck. Can’t seem to find him, though.”

“That’s because he’s dead, I’m afraid,” said Logan.

“Oh. Well, I’m s’prised he lasted this long out here, anyway. What y’all got there?”

Logan tried to think of a lie, but it was too late. Nate’s eyes lit up.

“We need that money, Nate. Take all the guns. We’re getting out of here.”

“Y’all ain’t even gonna help? Thought you said you was my friend.”

“Not that good of a friend, Nate. I’m a good enough friend to give you some advice, though. You get outta here, too.”

“City folks,” said Nate, spitting on the carpet. “Can’t trust a one of ’em.” He raised his gun again.

“I’ll be takin’ all that money, and all them guns. This is a new start for me. Yessir.”

Logan wondered who would walk through the door and save them this time.

Nobody. Nobody’s coming. This is already too weird.

“Well Nate, guess there’s no stopping you,” said Logan. He gestured towards the money. “Have at it. We’ll make due.”

The two men’s eyes were locked, and nobody was looking at the floor.

“Hey Nate,” he said, “shoe’s untied.”

Nate eyes darted down, then up, then down again. “You really think that’s gonna…shit!”

Nate shoved Shonda into the closet and dived after her, yanking the door shut just in time to shield them from the blast of the grenade he’d just kicked across the floor.

He grabbed the doorknob and quickly jerked his hand away. “Knob’s hot. We gotta get outta here before this place goes up in flames, and all the artillery with it. Come on.”

He kicked the door, and it fell off its hinges, flooding the closet with daylight. One of the bedroom walls had been completely blown away and the bed was on fire.

They ran to the M-ATV, and Shonda started it up while Logan tossed the money inside.

“Maybe I’ll run back in for more ammo,” he said.

He started back towards the house, and the roof collapsed.

He heard gunfire in the distance, and saw two hawks circling above them in the bright blue morning sky.

“Or not.”

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