Monthly Archives: May 2013

The White Van by Sandra Scoppettone

Everywhere I went I saw it.  I knew it wasn’t the same old one but it felt like it was.  

Today I almost fell over.  When I got home from school, the white van was on my street, parked two houses down.  I guess I should say a white van cause I didn’t really know.  Still, in my heart a hearts I did.

Was he here for me?  Rhonda Schroeder lived two houses down.  Maybe he was here for her.  Should I warn her?  What would I say?  No one knew what had happened, and the one person I told, Ma, didn’t believe me.

She said, “You’re a filthy girl, Bernice.  Stuff like that don’t happen here.  You read too much.  Get them books outta this house. God knows what’s in em.”

My books started flying off the shelves as Ma grabbed one after another throwin them any which way. Then one hit an ugly vase she’d won at last summer’s carnival and crashed to the floor.

“Now look what ya made me do.  That was the only thing I ever won in my life.”

“I’m sorry, Ma.”

“Sorry?  What good does sorry do me?”

She slapped me across the face and I stumbled backward.  I wanted to scream out that her boyfriend had made fun of it and she only kept it there so he could put his peanut shells in it, which were now all over the floor.

“Clean this shit up, Bernice.  Do it now.  And get them books outta here.”

So there wasn’t no point in tellin Ma about the van bein on our street. She’d give me a fat lip and that was all.

I probably coulda told Miss Curran, but that was kinda risky.  If I told her she’d sure have to tell the Principal or the police.  Then it woulda got out to everybody.  Maybe even in the local paper under Police Blotter.

Miss Curran was a nice lady. She always looked so clean.  She wore nice clothes, nothin fancy but clean and sunny. And she didn’t use whole pots of make-up like Ma did.

I guess Ma didn’t know how awful she looked with that red red lipstick, and dark mascara which when she came home from a night out with Dwayne or even with her girlfriends looked like she had two black eyes. Except I knew what real black eyes looked like.

So it wouldn’t do no good to tell Miss Curran and she was about the  only one I could imagine tellin.

Now that it was six weeks, three days and nine hours since it happened I didn’t need to tell anyone and no one would believe me anyhow.  But it was with me all the time and a damn white van was everywhere.  Now it was on my block.  I didn’t know what that meant.  Was it there for Rhonda?  Or maybe it was for Melissa farther down our block.  It coulda been there for any number a girls.

I wondered if I was supposed to go warn em.  Is that what someone like me does?  One of em was gonna ask me how I knew? Then what?  How could I tell em?

“Oh, Bernice,” Rhonda would say. “Yer always makin stuff up.  You just wanna be the center of attention.”

That was the last thing I wanted to be.  So I didn’t know what to do. Anyway, why should I stick out my neck?  Those girls didn’t like me.  They called me Buggy Bernice. They said I had bugs in my brain cause a the things I said.

I didn’t know what made them say that, what things they meant and I wasn’t going to ask them.  But if I said anything about the white van they’d say I was just being Buggy Bernice.

It seemed like I couldn’t do nothin to help them girls. I would let the chips fall where they may, as Miss Curran was always sayin.

I took a coke outta the fridge and went back to the window. I didn’t really expect the van to be gone but I still got a ping in my stomach when I saw it. Like it was new.  Like it was happening all over again.

And what if it did?  Which girl would it be?

Somebody might say there are thousands a white vans.  But I knew this was the one.  I know I said I didn’t but the real White Van had a black circle like thing above the 7 on the license plate.  Not on the plate.  On the van. This one had that.  All the other white vans I’d seen didn’t have it.

Even if those girls didn’t like me and called me names I thought  it was my job, my duty to do somethin about it.

I left my coke on the windowsill and went into the kitchen drawer which had the knives.  I took a big one and put it up the sleeve of my jacket and held the handle in the curve of my hand.  It felt real good, like it belonged there. I opened the front door, took the four front steps real slow and started down the street toward the van.

I won’t pretend I wasn’t scared cause I was. I could feel my legs shakin, knees bangin against each other.  But I wasn’t gonna let scared turn me back home. It felt like sixty million hours til I got up to the passenger door.  I could see him in there.  Just sittin. Thinkin about his choice. It was now or never. I knocked on the door.

When he saw me he had a funny look on his face.  He powered down the window.

“Watcha want, Bernice?”

“Let me in.  I need to talk to ya.”

“You alone?”  He looked in his mirrors.

“Yeah.”

He leaned over and opened the door.

I stepped up, makin sure the knife was safe in my hand.

Sandra ScoppettoneBio:  Sandra has published 19 novels.  Now most of them are on Amazon as eBooks. She wrote under the name of Jack Early for 3 of them and was nominated for an Edgar and won a Shamus. You can find her at her blog – sandrascoppettone.blogspot.com

10 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction

Love in the Darkness by T. Fox Dunham

“Fuck it,” Louie said. “If this asshole Max doesn’t pay us tonight, we’ll dump his body in the Delaware.” Louie rolled ball bearings in his Eagles sweatshirt pocket, fisting them for when we finally met the guy.  We’d only worked with subordinates of the master drug dealer of South Street, never meeting their boss.  Max liked to keep it that way—fewer witnesses—but we had a beef.  We’d staked Max with two large worth of percs, and we’d yet to see our end. Dominic, skipper of the local crew, arranged a meeting.  He warned us to be polite and smiled that ever-knowing diabolic grin.  He liked to play with people, never telling them everything.

Louie leaned up against a streetlight.  It flickered off and on, exposing the collapsing row houses that lined Ferry Street in Philly. “He ain’t going to pay,” Louie said. “I’m gonna fuck him up. This is our cred. We’ll look like pussies.”

“Cool it,” I said.  I scratched my facial piercing then pulled back the chain hanging from my eyebrow to my lip, clearing my vision.  I gripped the handle of my Luger snug in my jeans, ready for some shit to go down.

“I’m going to get laid after,” Louie said.

“And pay for it. No one’s ever going to give it to you for free.”

He fisted the bearings and cocked his arm, ready to crack my skull. “Bitches are trouble. I’d rather pay, then I can tell them to get the hell out.” But his eyes looked down at the sidewalk like a sulking child.  I’d hit a nerve.

“How about this one?” I asked, referring to a rotund woman walking towards us in heels squeezing her elephant feet.  A crucifix tattooed her right cheek.

“Vincent?” she asked.

“Yeah?”

“Your money is still coming,” she said. “Some people have to learn how to wait.”

“Holy shit,” I said. “Max?”

“Maxine.”

Her aspect looked familiar, a face associated with danger, and my instincts told me to be patient, to negotiate.  I couldn’t figure out why.  Louie gripped the ball bearings.  He had no intention of being diplomatic.  It didn’t even bother him Max was a woman.  He’d beat the shit out of anyone who crossed him.

“You’ve had a month,” I said.

“I’m good for it,” she said. “These things take time. You’re new to this business, or you’d understand that.”

“Fuck a whore,” Louie said and lunged at her, having to angle his fist up to her face.  Louie only stood equal to her shoulder.  He struck her jowl, and she spit bloody saliva.

Stunned at first, she shook her head. “Did that just fucking happen?”

“Ball bearings, bitch,” Louie said.  He hit her again, hammering her cheek.  She toppled into the brick wall. “Our money.”

She rubbed her face. “You two dicks are so fucking dead. Do you have any idea who I am?”

“A bitch with a broken jaw?” Louie asked.

“Calm it, Louie,” I said.  A cold shadow crept over my heart, and my stomach clenched.  Her indignation worried me.  She acted with all the entitlement of a queen, and her bearing said underworld royalty.

“Joey Minnow is my godfather and blood uncle,” she said, slurring her words and spitting blood.

“Joey Minnow from Trenton?” I asked.  She nodded.  Fuck.  I knew she was familiar.  Her uncle was next in line to be a boss in Jersey.  Hitting her, we might as well have kicked him in the balls.  Dominic must have been laughing his ass off.

Louie reached to hit her again. “Fuck you and your uncle,” he said.  I grabbed his arm.

“Are you trying to get us clipped?” He punched my chest, and I knocked him back into a rusty dumpster on the side of the street and shook him until he calmed.

“Max,” I said. “I apologize. We didn’t know.”

“Too late assholes,” she said. “You’re dead.”

The lowlifes and dealers of Philly called her uncle The Undertaker.  He’d built an empire on death, and we’d be just a couple of roaches under his Italian leather loafer.  I had to figure this shit out, or we’d have to flee Philly tonight.  I had no money or product.

Louie never exercised self-control, and he’d killed us tonight.  No wonder no dumbass woman would ever love the freak.  That gave me an idea, a slim chance.  Everyone’s lonely.  Everyone wants to be loved in the darkness.

“Do you have a boyfriend, Max?” I asked, as she turned to walk away.

“He’s going to cut your balls off and feed them to you before you die.”

“No. Wait. You don’t understand.” I punched Louie’s shoulder, my way of telling him to go along with this crap. “You have to forgive my friend. He’s not skilled in the ways of women.”

She shrugged and lit up a cigarette.

“He’s got a thing for you. It’s like in kindergarten when you pull on a girl’s pigtails. He’s just not mature enough to express himself properly. So he just hits.”

She looked over Louie and disguised a grin.  This shit was working.  Everyone’s lonely.  Everyone wants to be loved.

“Don’t play with me,” she said.

“It’s true,” I said. “Tell her.” I threw Louie forward.  I hoped he’d realized this was our only chance.  He stood in front of her, puckering his lips to speak.  Instead, he punched her in the shoulder.  Fucking Louie.

“See. That’s the only way he can communicate affection.” Louie bowed his head, looking bashful.  Shit.  He really might have had a thing for her.

We forgave the debt as a favor to her uncle.  She dated Louie for six months then dumped him to marry a made guy.  Louie rampaged for a month and secured our street cred.

485310_10200889214542024_1156341989_nBIO:  T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia PA—author and historian. He’s published in nearly 200 international journals and anthologies. His first novel, The Street Martyr will be published by Out of the Gutter Books, followed up by Searching for Andy Kaufman from PMMP in 2014. He’s a cancer survivor. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. Blog: http://tfoxdunham.blogspot.com/.  Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham & Twitter: @TFoxDunham

8 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction