Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The small key

"Got what I need?" Daggett flashed a sour face. "Cause if you don't."

"It's right here." I flipped him the small key.


"Go down to Ash and hang a left. Go all the way until the cul de sac. It's that blue and purple house. The basement's unlocked. In the back corner, under a pile of rags and junk there's a hole in the floor that unlocks the mechanism. Just push it down and to the left once you turn the key."

Daggett was missing both of his front teeth and his breath was rotten like the maggots he picked out of his food. When he smiled, the remaining yellowed nobs framed the hole like a window onto a dark, awful world.

"What about Jamison?" he asked.

"He's dead," I said.

I took the key from Jamison's corpse after Daggett's men were finished with him. The problem was they made me listen to their destructive work. Running wasn't an option; I'd just end up on the wrong end of their business later, and they couldn't let me go because they needed me to tell them where Jamison kept his stash. But they weren't forcing my eyes open, so I shut them against the hiss of fire on flesh, the scream and then faint chatter of a tooth dropped on concrete, of a man struggling to breathe and wheezing until the last gasps of life slipped from his lungs like stale air from a bellows.

"Too bad, so sad," Daggett said, and then belted out a wheezing laugh that degenerated into a hacking cough. He spat. "Get over it kid. We've got a lot of fun left for you."

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