Five Minute Fiction is an ongoing experiment. The goal: To write as much as I can in five minutes, letting the fingers do the work, then go back and clean it up. Written quickly, these aren’t perfect stories, composed on the spur of the moment with little forethought and limited writing time. They’re nothing more than first drafts. Please consider these simple weekly exercises, with the singular hope that I don’t bore the reader.
At the onset I knew that Rogers was living under an assumed name at the Grande Rio hotel on the outskirts of town. Being a creature of habit with the IQ of a turnip made tracking him down far too easy. And it was only a matter of time before he used the phone to let his buddies know where he was and what to do with the still. The voice recognition software on our phone taps brought me straight to his door.
I pulled up into the parking lot at two in the morning, lazy like, and sloped into a spot across the lot from room 218. No need to be in a hurry. Hell, who’s ever in a hurry at this awful hour of the night, aside from the Rushers, Jitters, and all other creatures of the habits? No, it was best to take my time. Blend in with the lowlifes. Act like you belong in this flea-bitten dump at the end of God’s forgotten nowhere.
I settled into my bucket seat, the leather creaking with that hollow machine gun sound as I leaned forward to grab my cup of tea from the center console. The interior of the windows already steaming up with my warm breath as I sipped away at my bland beverage. Chamomile Tea the guy at the corner store called it. Supposed to be good for the nerves, at least that’s what the Good Book says. Can I get an Amen?
The lights in 218 were on, but no need to jump the gun. Wait for signs of activity. Make sure the target is there and unaware that he’s being watched. Look for movements. Shadows. Like in Plato’s cave. Let the poor slob go on believing that he’s alone in his own little world.
I leaned forward again to wipe at my steamed up window with a crumpled napkin, and that’s what I saw it. Movement. A quick shadow. Somebody brushing up against the sepia-stained curtains from when these rooms still allowed smoking. Good. So he’s still up. Typical Pressurehead.
I opened my car door and stepped out onto the rain slicked pavement and adjusted the badge on my belt, shiny side up. Pressing the PTT button on my cell phone I whispered into the microphone, “Rush in thirty,” and started making my way across the desolate blacktop.
And I swear, I felt like I was in a movie. All I needed was a big iron swinging on my hip and a tumbleweed to cross my path. Perhaps a theme song. Something like from Gunsmoke or The Rifleman. In my mind I hummed a tuneless melody and smiled at how perfect it sounded.
218 was now right in front of me. The thick coat of brown paint peeling at the corners. I can hear the muffled sound of canned laughter from inside. The television must be on.
I loosened my tie and unclipped my government-issued Glock from its holster, one round already chambered. Leaning back, I raised my foot and at the same time yelled, “Freeze! Down on the ground! GHI!” The cheap door collapsed under my weight. Splinters sprang into the air as the deadbolt exploded from a door jamb that was already weakened from the last time it was kicked in. Hinges buckled and popped with a metallic ping that I consider one of my favorite sounds in the whole world.
“GHI! GHI!” I’m yelling as I charged into the room, my tie whipped around my neck like a cowboy’s bandana. From behind me pours in a stream of heavily armed and armored GHI agents, but they’re not quick enough to get to the Pressurehead first, who sits stunned at the foot of his bed.
I tackled him with a leading shoulder, making sure to make contact with his jaw as I sprawl on top of him like a cheap date. As I lifted up to straddle him and gain the dominant position I cracked him across the neck with an elbow throw then stunned him with a right cross to the temple with my collegiate ring.
“Freeze, Rogers!” I yelled as I spun him around and cuffed him. To hell with James Arness and Chuck Connors, I thought. They were nothing but amateurs. “GHI, Rogers. You’re under arrest,” I told him as I pulled him up by the neck to edge of the bed. “Search the place,” I ordered to the agents, who proceed to tear apart the room looking for contraband.
Stunned. Bleeding. The Pressurehead looked up at me with eyes that were focusing on two different points on the horizon at the same time. “What the hell?” he mumbled.
“Government Health Inspector,” I barked. “We found your still. Had your fingerprints all over it. Your friends were more than willing to dish on you”
“Damn it,” the head whispered, his faculties coming back to him. Yeah, he knew the score.
“You’re under arrest for the unauthorized production of sodium with intention to distribute,” I said, flipping open my notebook and thumbing through the heavily scribbled pages. “When the boys get done here, you and I and going to have a nice talk.”
“Salt?” he asked with a vague airiness of surprise like he didn’t know the deal. “All of this for salt?”
“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, citizen. Sugar. Caffeine. Salt. Water. Sex. Their regulations are covered in your issued Good Book.”
And I’d be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t humming that same tuneless song in my head as I escorted him across the parking lot and into the back of my car. Just like in the movies.
Can I get an Amen?