A big thank you to Petrea for helping me get 500 Words going again after a long period of creative constipation.
This time around, the story was based on her fabulous photograph from her equally fabulous Pasadena Daily Photo blog (reproduced with her kind permission):
If you're new to 500 Words, you might want to read a few previous "Bartleby" stories before reading this one as Mackinson is a character who has developed over some time now.
The links to other participating writers are in the sidebar.
Parking For G
Her sudden sob startled Mackinson and he turned, involuntarily jerking his camera upward so the first photo merely showed the man's feet and the garage wall. He nodded at her and turned back to the task in hand, framing and focusing.
Click. Another one for Bartleby's album.
"What now?" she asked.
The man looked peaceful except for the growing pool of dark blood haloing his head, and of course the mess where his face had been, but in Mackinson’s opinion that was a decided improvement. He pocketed the camera. He never questioned Bartleby's instructions, nor asked for reasons. Of course he presumed there must have been a reason why Bartleby wanted this man dead, but not knowing what it might be Mac added a couple of his own for good measure. Anyone who called themselves "Bubba" and wore white socks with brown loafers deserved all they got, he mused. And anyone who did that to a woman …
"Chert will dispose of it." He said.
Gavroche shook her head. "I meant what now with me?"
It was a good question.
Mackinson held out his hand and she passed him the gun. She was shaking hard now, teeth chattering. He wiped off her prints. Holding the warm barrel in his handkerchief he placed the pistol in Bubba’s unresisting hand.
Chert walked around the side of the garage carrying a tarpaulin.
Time to go.
Cigarettes and alcohol make good nurses. An hour’s vigorous application and Gavroche had the tears and shakes under control. She sat scrunched tight on the motel bed, her fingers kneading the candlewick.
Mackinson refilled her glass.
The question was too big. It burned him. What to do about this woman?
Bartleby would not have hesitated. Gavroche was a complication and Bartleby liked simplicity. Mackinson, however, liked elegance. Bartleby’s simplistic mentality of ‘kill until there are no remaining witnesses’ offended his sensibilities.
Which still left the question.
And the complication.
Mackinson liked elegance. He also liked Gavroche, and that was the problem: a familiar problem in his solitary, fucked-up life, but a problem nonetheless. Mackinson was well aware that his own sense of detachment from reality left him vulnerable to vulnerable women. He needed to be needed. Finding Gavroche bound, beaten and bleeding in Bubba’s garage changed a simple job into an emotional quagmire. She had clung to him sobbing out her story. He had handed her Bubba’s pistol and watched her empty the magazine into the man’s face. That act: that first step toward reclaiming herself had formed a bond between them.
And the complication.
Gavroche shuddered as the raw scotch seared her throat. She had killed a man. Taken a life. And a part of her was glad. She didn’t know if that was good or bad but it wasn’t going to go away.
And now this man: her deliverer. She felt drawn to him and sensed his uncertainty.
Would he kill her? Seduce her? Let her go? Or what?
The question hung in the air between them.