Monday, 14 March 2011

Parking For G

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.


Petrea said...

Oooh. When everyone has added their stories, I'll tell you what really happened. If you want to know.

dive said...

Petrea, I am dying to find out!
However, Mackinson's comment about the white socks and brown loafers echoes my own opinion so I hope it's not someone you know.

Petrea said...


dive said...

Hee hee …

Ms M said...

I'd say your pencil has been mightily revived ;)
Good story!

dive said...

Hee hee hee, Ms.M. That comment made me chortle heartily just now. I hesitate to admit that it even brought forth a snort.

Scout said...

A great start to a new 500 Words series. The murder was a nasty business, but I'm chuckling at the idea of a man with no face looking peaceful.

dive said...

Thank you, Robyn. Murder is never a pleasant business, but with Bubba, having no face was such an improvement on his previous condition that he must have seemed peaceful in comparison.

I'm afraid I find myself resorting to Bartleby 'pulp' stories as they are so easy to write. I must force myself to do something more imaginative next time, however much I like Mackinson.

I also have a huge stack of names to use up, as you probably noticed here. Chert was a leftover from the Tharp and Stent tale and I've always loved Gavroche. Victor Hugo first used it as a name (according to the OED) and its meaning of "gamine" reminds me of Cosette and also maybe a touch of Audrey Hepburn, who I had in mind for the character in this story.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

I love that Bubba has no face. He doesn't deserve one. But more than that, readers don't have to feel even an ounce of sympathy for Bubba because, without seeing anything but his shoes, we can't really see a human being. It's easier for us to mentally knock him off that way.

This is a great line: "Cigarettes and alcohol make good nurses."

dive said...

Yes, Bubba is irredeemable. All we get to see of him is the awful combination of brown shoes and white socks and nobody could ever have a scintilla of sympathy for somebody wearing that combination.

I don't know about cigarettes but I'm with Homer Simpson on alcohol: "To alcohol! The cause of... and solution to... all of life's problems."

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

I think fiction could quite possibly be the cause of and solution of all life's problems. We imitate bad art in life, then try to run from it by creating more fiction and reading it. HA!

Here's my contribution:

dive said...

Hee hee, Katherine. I have spent the past 52 years imitating bad art in my life. Living like a crappy novel is the only way to go.
Love your story! I'll post it up today.

neetzy said...

Cigarettes and alcohol make good nurses! Love that. Nice weird pulpy shite Dive.

dive said...

Thank you, Neetzy. My problem seems to be that I can churn out pulp without thinking. I need to kick my brain until it starts getting more creative.

MmeBenaut said...

Well pulp is so easy to read and I do love a good romance ... I have $10 on seduction :)

dive said...

Mme, you could well be on to a winner. We know Mac's weakness for vulnerable women from a previous chapter, though at one point I almost had him dispose of her painlessly as she lay sleeping but that story would have taken a lot more than 500 words and would have turned Mac from 'the happy hitman' into something much deeper and bleaker than this format could handle. Besides, I am addicted to that Chekhov ploy of sketching out a situation and leaving it for the reader to resolve.
So - let's just say you won your bet and I owe you dinner next time we meet.

Vanda said...

It's a great story! I love Mackinson's detachment from reality. One of these days you'll have to string all these stories together into a coherent whole and give us resolves!

dive said...

Vanda, where's the fun in resolution? I like the disjointed way they feel when the stories are read together. It's more like the utter confusion and fucked-upness of real life.
God, that sounds so pompous. Hee hee.

Lulubelle B said...

I like it. It leaves more questions than it answers. Gavroche may have told her story to Mackinson, but she did not tell us.

The only sin worse than white socks with brown loafers is black dress socks with sandals.

dive said...

Thanks, Lulu. I love leaving things unresolved. I'm a great believer in Chekhov's old dictum about short story writing: that it's the duty of the writer to set the scene and characters and the duty of the reader to decide what happens to them.

Socks with sandals? AUGH! Only Jesus looks good in sandals. Nobody else should ever, EVER go there, least of all with socks on.