Flash Fiction Challenge: “Shooters”

My contribution to the Flash Fiction Challenge found here

My mash-up was The Godfather meets The Walking Dead



by Desmond Manny

Michael Valenti slumped in the passenger seat of the sedan to ease the ache in his lower back and turned his gaze up and out of the partially rolled down window. Even at nine at night it was hard to see stars in the city. Now the sky was streaked by contrails left by planes that had criss-crossed the skies over the city for the last few weeks on National Guard maneuvers and made it all but impossible. The sound of those aircraft had been driving the people in the city to distraction and the wispy remnants of their passage had come to decorate the sky morning and night like a huge checker-board. With it had come a smell that was even more of an issue and had increased day by day. Most people went out with scarves or medical masks on in the early mornings when it was at its worst. Valenti had heard some goof or other on the radio claiming the contrails were part of some effort to introduce chemicals and all kinds of shit into the population. Valenti didn’t buy that bullshit though. There was no margin for profit in it. Being a man who had grown up to learn to appreciate the bottom line he knew that any effort was marked only by the value of its return. Valenti knew also the value of family and of loyalty, these were everything. Which brought Valenti to his business tonight.

Fighting the urge to check his watch again he turned his head to look at his driver. The kid, he was nothing more than a kid to Valenti even at twenty-one, was sitting with his shoulders hunched over one of those electronic game boxes, his face washed in a bluish glow. Valenti reached out and put a palm over its screen and pulled it out of the kids hands. On the screen Valenti saw a cartoonish version of a hotel as though he were looking into a tiny window. The barrel of a gun was in view and men in dark suits and sunglasses rushed forward. Pixelated flashes of muzzle-fire dazzled Valenti. Valenti tossed it back. “Turn that thing off. I need you to focus on this, Stevie.” The kid switched off the GameDock without saving. “I am focused, Mr. Valenti. Just, ya know, getting in the right frame of mind. ‘Mafia Hammer 2’. ‘S a pretty good shooter. Not really my thing though.”

“Kid, you pull this off tonight and you never have to worry. The family will look after you.” Valenti hoped to impress the importance of this. Stevie was a good boy, his mother a distant cousin. Valenti had made him his protégé and started bringing him up through the organization. Stevie had proven reliable on the increasingly important errands Valenti had tested him with but could go no further in the family until he made his bones. Valenti, his caporegime, was responsible for providing the opportunity to do that. So on a Friday night when Valenti would rather be home eating dinner with his wife and children, and Stevie would rather be trying to do the job on a girl who had let him feel her breast through her blouse, both waited for two men who had to die.

They were parked half a block from a dive where they knew the two men would be. When the men entered they would be given a sign and then Valenti and his protégé would cross the street and end both men. As if the thought had summoned them, a car pulled up and disgorged the two men who hurried into the building. Minutes passed and then a man came out of the staff entrance and lit a cigarette, took a single puff, and tossed it away. Valenti and the kid got out and started across the street.

Both men had shown an error in judgement in choosing a booth. It left them nowhere to run when Valenti and Stevie moved quickly through the door, crossed the room and pulled their weapons to fire two shoots each into their faces. Except that Stevie had frozen and stood with the gun extended, not squeezing the trigger. It only took Valenti a moment to notice and turn his own gun on the second man, a red flower blossoming between his eyes where the bullet entered. Seconds was all it had taken.

Valenti grabbed the kid by his still outstretched arm and made to drag him out while the few patrons recoiled in shock. From the corner of his eye he saw men come from the kitchens and instinct told him they were not his. These were button men as hard as Valenti himself but fortunately poorer shots. Their aim was wild and Valenti heard bystanders scream, his balls tightening as he raised his own gun and put the one in the lead down. Stevie was still dumb as a rock. Valenti shoved him aside and hurled himself in the opposite direction firing at the same time. His aim was true and the men went down; one, two, three.

The blood pounding in his ears he grabbed Stevie by his collar and heaved him up. “Move!”, and he meant to make for the door when movement caught his eye. The men he had put down were, incredibly, getting up. Their smoking wounds still gushed but they got to their feet with pale, unseeing eyes and the sight of them froze Valenti, his gun slipping away. Abominations, they shambled toward him and the hard man who had made his bones at nineteen could not comprehend. Valenti had an idle thought to retrieve his gun but the thing was too close now and then suddenly it’s head exploded in a spray of gray and red, and then the other two did the same. Beside Valenti, Stevie held his own gun and Valenti’s which he had picked up.

“Now this,” the kid said smiling, “Is my kind of shooter.”

Copyright 2013 Desmond Manny

3 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: “Shooters”

  1. artandthemannequins says:

    Hi, I work for a publishing company and we’re currently open for submissions for our new anthology. I think you should send some of your work to our editorial team. It’s really good. Is it possible to email you? Thoroughly enjoyed this piece.

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