All James wanted was to come home to a tuna fish sandwich. But the day kept fucking with him. Too many crazy demands from dudes young enough to be his stepson, now somehow his boss.
Eight hours felt like a weekend and the drive home felt like the bus ride back to prison, knowing everything that would be waiting for his ass when he got home. A tangle of video game consoles by the couch, an apartment that smelled like nail polish and ass. And Velma.
The first thing he noticed was the coat she was wearing as she strutted out of the bedroom, all elegant, looking like a Kennedy or some-damn thing.
“New coat, huh?” he asked. “You buy it?”
She smirked. “Course I bought it. Like I don’t have my own money or something.”
But James knew the score. He just grunted and reached into the refrigerator. The coat must have been a gift from one of those young bucks on the block, always eyeing her, but too damn young to know what they’d do with the prize if they ever won it.
Or maybe it was from Bob.
He stopped and turned, planted his eyes on Velma, that mocha-painted face with the giant eyes he used to find so cute. “You seeing that rich motherfucker again.” He could almost smell him on her.
She smirked again and shook her head. “You and your stupid questions.”
But it wasn’t a question.
Velma ignored his predatory growl, let the TV’s late night glow wash over her face like a spotlight.
He walked up to Velma, tripping over some video game gun, then inspected the coat’s lining, catching a glimpse of her left hand’s shiny new bling. “You wearing rings, now?”
Another stupid question she’d be better off ignoring. But ignoring him only seemed like a good idea because she knew nothing about his day at work. And because she couldn’t see the twenty-two tucked into his sweat pants.
Now they were face to face, her perfume sharp like needles in his nostrils. “Where you going tonight?” he asked.
She lifted her eyes from the TV screen and cautiously brought them to him. “Nowhere. Out to the club. To Shannon’s or something.”
He gave her a crooked smile. “Damn, baby. Ask for one answer, you get three. I think they call that multitasking or something.”
She tried to wipe the rage away with a giggle but it was too late. They weren’t kids anymore. He stared at her, sending something venomous into both eyes. “Gimme the coat.”
She complied, saying, “Baby, I don’t understand why you so worried about this dude.”
He held the coat as far away as his tattooed arms could stretch. Then he pulled out the twenty-two and showed it to his wife, scanning her face for a reaction. “What’s this?”
She tried to stifle a giggle, but the thing looked like a toy and even James wanted his money back when that fool behind the dumpster came back from the truck with that little piece of shit. A day’s worth of pay for something that pretty? “Isn’t that cute?” he cute, chuckling along with Velma.
Then he fired at the coat four, maybe five times and watched as his wife’s eyes stretched into alertness. He held the remaining scraps of the coat in his hand. Without a word, he went to the phone and scooped it up. “What’s his number?”
Velma didn’t have to ask whose number. “Baby, it’s late. Please don’t call him up asking questions. I swear, he’s just some guy I know from work, he’s really nice and he buys presents for people –“
“What is his number?” he yelled, the gun’s adorable little barrel now cold against her forehead.
She told him his number and he dialed it, tapping along to the hip-hop beat blaring from next door. Casual as hell. Might as well have been ordering a God damned pizza. “Is this the George home?” he asked. “Is this George?”
“Who is calling?” a voice chirped.
“It’s your conscience, motherfucker.”
The conversation went on, drifting into crazed questions and odd demands.
Then a knock came to the door and Velma nearly leaped from her skin.
“Police, is anyone home?”
James grinned, slamming the phone down and bracing for the fun to start. He fired a shot at the couch, just a reminder that this wasn’t a joke. She buried her face in her hands and screamed, “Please!” over and over.
Another knock. “Come out with your hands up!”
More screaming, but James was chuckling now, re-loading that little gun and moving to the front door as the knocks became pounds. They wanted that door open and they were almost there.
He paid no mind to his wife’s whimpers as she scurried behind the kitchen counter, her breath choppy like a cheap fan.
He strolled down the hallway like he had a chance against the cops with that tiny twenty-two. But when the door finally flew off its hinges, James became a dancer, dodging behind the couch as bullets ripped apart the cushions and battered the wall behind him.
He ducked behind the love seat, firing twice before landing, knowing he’d got one cop on the knee and another between the eyes.
The tangle of video game wires at his feet become an idea. He grabbed the funky space gun and fired it, producing some Star Wars-sounding shit that made the cops gasp. Then he wielded it, because who’d be crazy enough to pull out a toy gun amidst a real fight?
“Oh, shit! The nigger’s got a laser! Let’s get out of here!”
James laughed as they scampered away, screaming for backup.
He stood there and watched them before strolling back to the kitchen, letting his twenty-two drop the carpet. Backup would take time to assemble. Five maybe ten minutes. So she shoved Velma’s shaking body away from the refrigerator just enough to open the door and grab that tuna fish sandwich.
She asked “Why?” too many times for him to ignore, but she couldn’t scrape her gaze from the floor long enough to find the answer on his face.
“What kind of name is Bob anyway?” he asked, mouth full of tuna fish, eyes placid because whatever was next, the worst had already happened.
Monday’s Lunch Break Crime Read: Watching the Cards