School’s Out

By Steven Cordin

Johnson was surprised how fast a big guy like Ray ran. He could almost keep up with Johnson. Almost. Johnson sprinted down the street ahead of him. He knew what a vicious guy like Ray would do if he caught him. If I can just reach the school at the end of the block

Something large, powder blue and metal swung out in front of him.

Johnson bounced off the metal door of the old Buick and staggered to the right, trying to keep his balance. He failed and crashed, scraping his hands and knees on asphalt. He rose to his shaky knees when something heavy slammed into his back, knocking him flat and driving the air from his lungs. Ray’s heavy foot rested in the small of Johnson’s back.

Ray yelled towards the car. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Through half closed eyes, Johnson watched Ray’s partner, Eric, climb out of the Buick. He was smaller than Ray, but more muscular. He was also more brutal, known for the sap he used to break bones. “What?”

Large thick hands hauled Johnson to his feet. Ray tossed him onto the hood of the car. “You could have dented the door of my car slamming it into this bitch. Why didn’t you get out to stop him?”

“He would have run the other way if he saw me and I’m in no mood to chase him.”

“You are just being lazy.”

Ray released Johnson’s collar and stalked off to examine the car door. Johnson began to rise but Eric pressed him back down with one hand. Johnson saw the famous leather sap in the other hand.

“Where’s our five grand, bitch? You better have it, or I will break your hands…”

“Eric…kids.”  Ray called out. “School’s out.”

Johnson turned his head to see the doors of the middle school on the other corner open and hundreds of kids flooding the street. A wave of the kids drifted in their direction.

Eric’ s hand tightened around Johnson’s wrist. “We don’t believe in violence around kids. You be cool and don’t do anything stupid. Or you’re dead.” 

Johnson nodded. I’m counting on that.

Eric pulled Johnson to the side of the Buick. Ray popped the Buick’s hood and pretended to study the engine as kids swarmed the street. The kids ignored the three men as they ran, skipped, and meandered by. Eric and Johnson stood there as if they were watching Ray.

Johnson searched the children’s faces. He was supposed to be here. His knees began to shake as the wild procession of screaming and laughing kids made their way down the block.

The last few stragglers passed by. Eric pushed Johnson against the Buick and pressed his sap against Johnson’s nose. “Now then, you better have our five grand…”

“Hey dad.  Who are your friends?”

A small boy of about ten stood off to the side. He wore a blue flannel shirt and carried a lunchbox covered with superheroes.

“Hey. What did you need, buddy?”  Ray asked.

“That’s my dad.” He pointed to Johnson.

Ray and Eric exchanged glances. Ray blew out a deep breath and closed the hood of the car. He walked around to the driver’s side to get in.

Johnson watched Eric’s gaze linger on the child before turning back to him. He shoved his sap into his pocket and opened the passenger door. “You better have our money Monday. I won’t care if you have six of your kids with you. “

Eric jumped into the Buick as Ray started the engine. Johnson watched them drive off, a slight smile on his face.

“Did I do okay?”  the little boy asked.

“Yeah.”  Johnson fished a twenty-dollar bill from out of a pocket. “You did fine, Billy.”

“Thanks, Mr. Johnson.”  The twenty disappeared into Billy’s lunchbox. “Do you want me to be here the same time on Monday?”

Bio: Steven James Cordin is a native of the Chicago South Suburbs. Steve is a
bank fraud and money laundering investigator. His crime and horror fiction
can be found in Shotgun Honey, The Yard: Crime Blog and Short Story
SubStack. He currently lives near Joliet, IL.

He has published “My Wife’s Brother ” and “Warmth and Whispers” with The Yard.

Read More Flash Fiction at The Yard: Crime Blog

Photo by The Yard: Crime Blog

Published by .

Publishing Editor for The Yard: Crime Blog.

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