Kieran Shea's fiction has appeared in many publications including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Dogmatika, and Crimefactory. He has been nominated for the Story South’s Million Writers Award twice. He divides his time between Annapolis, Maryland, and Ocean City, New Jersey.
Man, marketing promotions. A dollar for any tall coffee? I'll bite. What? No java for you, Jack?
It's a little late in the day for me, Eddie.
Trouble sleeping, huh? I guess that happens to guys our age. Hell, coffee is one of the few drugs I still get to enjoy.
Have a seat, man.
I need to be serious here, Eddie. I've got a client meeting at three so I'd like to say my peace and then head on out for that, all right?
Sure, sure … totally. So, um, what's on your mind?
Well, it's been almost a year, Eddie.
Man, really? A whole year?
Three hundred and twenty-two days to be exact.
Not that you're counting.
Hey, I'm just joking, Jack. Of course I know it's been a year. I mean, wow, how could I even forget?
So, I thought we agreed on a time frame.
That we did. So what's the problem?
Well, Eddie, I've been more than patient and reasonable.
Jack, Jack, Jack—
Don't 'Jack, Jack, Jack' me, Eddie.
Christ, what's your problem?
My problem is I just want what's coming to me.
What's coming to you—maybe you ought to just relax.
I'm relaxed, Eddie.
No, you're not. You're shaking like a leaf.
All right. I'll lay it out for you, okay? In plain English, so there's no misunderstanding. First, it's been a year, and second … it's been almost a whole goddamn freakin' year, man. I know, I know you said we needed to wait and then wait some more to be sure, but by now? Those cops—
Hey, do you mind keeping your voice down?
Those cops? They got to be looking at different angles by now, don't you think? I mean, I keep up on things. The blotters. The community news. Seriously, what we did? It's got to be in their rearview mirror by now. Besides, the Rolands and the Hurleys? I know for a fact they're over it. Chuck Hurley told me as much.
Chuck told you?
In a manner of speaking, yeah.
When was this?
A few weeks back at the supermarket.
So, what did he get?
Short ribs or something.
No, Jack. What did he get with the insurance?
He wasn't specific, but you know Chuck. His wallet is not exactly hurting these days. Bragged on and on about some new Beneteau he's got moored up down river. The settlement money helped him buy it.
What the hell is a Beneteau?
It's a pretty expensive sailboat.
Well, see, there you go.
What's that supposed to mean?
Christ, Jack, look. Way back when you were all wigged out, I told you unburdening people like the Hurleys and the Rolands, what we took would mean less than nothing to them.
Then settling up with me now makes even more sense.
This is your thinking?
Of course it's my thinking, Eddie.
You do realize I'm just looking out for your best interests, don't you?
I know that.
Well, the way you're talking doesn't sound like it.
Now hold on a second—
No, you hold on a second, Jack. You don't know the first thing about how the back end of something like this works.
Oh, sure, and you do.
That's right, I do.
Mister I Know How to Handle Things. Mister I Grew Up On the Mean Streets and Cleaned Up My Act So Watch Me Be Dabble in Little Neighborhood Larceny.
Man, could you at least try to keep your voice down?
Oh, c'mon, Eddie. It's a Starbucks. Nobody's listening. Nobody cares.
Listen, Jack. The Hurleys and the Rolands, those were decent scores. When we went ahead, I was hoping we'd grab something easier to move, but all that Cartier, Mikimoto, and all that Tiffany? That was some major league complications right there.
You're just being evasive.
If being evasive means being smart then sue me. Not following the rules, however, that's bad. That's something that could easily screw us both.
I'm not trying to screw anyone, Eddie. I just want all this to be over. Why is it taking so long?
Oh, right. Complicated. You're just jerking me around.
You're the one calling me out at a stupid Starbucks. The people I had to deal with on this? They're super careful, Jack. They run a respectable front. Yeah, they know me from back in the day, but they've got lives too, you know? They've got families. Show some consideration.
What my consideration, huh? Right now my life is about this close to the meat grinder. I've a non-stop river of bills and keeping my head above water with a thirty-year stone tied around my neck. I've got a job that I hate with every fiber of my being, and it sucks balls. Sure, my wife is back working now for the public schools, but if you ask me she might as well just have stayed at home for as much a dent her paycheck makes. The way I see it, if what you told me you could get for that stuff is for real, then my half will go a long way in helping me out with some bills right now.
I'm unemployed, Jack.
So, I know about problems, okay?
Oh, give me a break. Your wife works at a brokerage firm, Eddie, don't cry poor. Get off your ass and hang out your shingle. Didn't you used to sell cars? Work like that can't be that hard to find.
You don't know anything about my situation, Jack.
I don't? Your two kids are in private school.
Whatever—it's still expensive. And you drive a new, top of the line Navigator. Not only that, but you went to Aruba last winter.
On my in-laws.
Aruba was on my wife's parents, Jack. They're always springing for their grandkids. Those smarmy Jews, they secretly enjoy embarrassing me. Call me a low-life dago behind their backs.
Man, why are being such an asshole? And FYI, just because my wife works in finance doesn't mean were wiping ourselves with hundred dollar bills. God—one of the senior partners at her firm was under indictment last year. Everyday we wake up with an axe over our heads, so don't go making us out to be all sunshine and lollipops. You've got your problems, but we've got our own.
Okay, I guess that was uncalled for.
You're fuckin'-a right that was uncalled for. Did I mention she gets rashes too?
Yeah, rashes like a friggin' leopard. Takes one and half Valiums most nights just to black out. Having sex is like trying to pin down a lab rabbit. Look, Jack, I knew you were cool, that's why I brought you in on this thing in the first place. So do me solid, okay. Stop busting my balls.
I wish none of it ever happened.
I said, I just wish none of it ever happened, Eddie. I just want to move on.
You know what? You need a drink.
No, I don't.
Yes, you fuckin' do.
I've stopped drinking.
I thought you Irish altar boys got iron-clad livers. So this is what this is about? You getting sober?
No. I stopped because drinking because was just getting away from me. I still have a glass of red wine now and then, but my quitting booze has got nothing to do with it. The bottom line is, I really need what's coming to me, Eddie. I need it bad.
What if I said there ain't isn't anything coming to you?
What if I said there's nothing coming to you? I mean, only you and I know what went down. It's not like you're going to risk ratting me out. You're just as guilty as I am. Besides, if you turn rat, you'll pull yourself down as well. True, with my history it might make it harder for me, but you? Maybe some Martha Stewart corn-hole punching action and a heart attack if you're lucky, but seriously?
I'm not in the mood for games here, Eddie.
Do I look like I'm playing fuckin' games?
But you said we were partners.
In deed, I suppose, yeah I did. But now that I think about it … not so much.
You've enough to lose here as I do, Eddie.
Which again frames my point.
Please tell me you're joking.
Eddie, this isn't funny. Jesus Christ—tell me you're joking.
You dumbass. High-end jewelry like that? No serial numbers, watches, diamonds, and pearls, all of it was untraceable and it was fuckin' liquid six months ago. The truth is, I was putting off on making up a story about getting burned by my contacts. But now, just now as I sat here drinking this coffee, I think I've had a change of heart. I mean, really, what's the point of lying anymore? Why not go for the nuclear option?
Oh, gee, look at the time. Don't you have a meeting at three, Jack?
Copyright © 2016 Kieran Shea.