Thursday, May 26, 2016

SHOT IN DETROIT; Willis Dumphrey


Willis Dumphrey and Carla Battista

The only convenient— no, make that the only possible time—for them to have sex was before eight A.M. And to top it off, they had to do it on a narrow cot in the boss’s office. It took Carla back to her high school days when she made love on her mother’s bed while Mom was at her shift at the Chrysler Plant on Jefferson. 
Travis, their boss, kept the cot for similar purposes if that was Vera Wang she smelled in the fiber. If their wages were any indication, he was too cheap to spring for a room.
 Travis Slack, former ballplayer and now businessman, never came in much before noon, and many days didn’t show up at all. He was about to run for City Council or so the Metro paper said. He never confided in his bartender and cook. Sometimes she worried the scent of their morning activity would seep into the room and trip them up, but at some point in the past, it’d become part of it.
The two of them were supposed to come in by nine to set up. The bar attracted an early lunch crowd—people from downtown offices, the courts, or the stadiums if there was a game. The waitresses, hostess, and dish-washer started work at ten or so when things picked up, giving the lovers a nice chunk of time. Carla and Willis finished their shift at six and went home to their spouses. But there was this first—this magic—and almost every day.
It was not a love affair exactly or if it was she was kidding herself.  It felt more two lonely horny people taking comfort in each other. Too bad it had to be at this hour, though at some point, it began to seem right. When one of them took a vacation or got sick, the other one grew antsy. Making love with her  husband twice a month—that’s what seemed odd now. That’s what seemed cheesy or stale.
            “You’re going to invite Sweetie in here while I’m gone, aren’t you,” Carla asked, curled up in Willis’ arms. Sweetie was a waitress who’d just turned 22. Willis laughed. They were dressed now but couldn’t quite say goodbye. They had a few minutes. She was going to Lapeer for a few days to help her daughter out with her new baby. It’d be her first grandchild if the kid ever got itself born. Trixie was a week late and showing no signs of an imminent birth. Going bonkers waiting. Of course, there was no husband on the scene to calm her down. The lunatic father had hit the road.
Willis was about to say something funny—she could tell from the smile that was beginning to form on his lips—when the door to the office swung open and two men wearing masks pushed into the room, obviously startled to find the two of them. Carla started to scream but then thought better of it. The larger man shrugged and without saying a word, yanked the cord from a lamp, motioned for them to get up, and herded them toward the cold storage unit down the hallway. They could hear the other man rifling the safe as the three moved in single file down the hallway. Once inside the storage room, the man inadvertently rubbed up against Willis and his mask slipped down. They saw it was Travis and glanced at each other in shock.
“Too bad,” he said. Just those two words was all. Looking indecisive for a second or two, he shrugged, pulled a knife from his pocket, and quickly stabbed Willis in the chest and stomach. Willis slid to the floor as blood spurted. His eyes went blank in seconds.
“Travis,” Carla started to say. “You don’t…” She could see the terror in his eyes, but also the heartlessness. The coldness.
“Money for a campaign’s hard to come by. If I rob myself…”
He shrugged then and his arm rose over his head, coming down hard into her breast. His ballplayer days were behind him, she thought as she died, but he still had some power in those arms.


Mathew Paust said...

Great idea for promotion teasers, too.

TracyK said...

I liked that a lot. Surprising and sad.

Margot Kinberg said...

This is really well-written, Patti. And I do like learning about these people.