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You Can't Go Alone
About the Author: By day, Andrew Welsh-Huggins is an editor and reporter for the Associated Press in Columbus, focusing on criminal justice topics. By earlier in the day, he is the author of six novels about an ex-Ohio State and ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback turned private eye,including the newly released "Fatal Judgment." His short fiction has appeared in "Down And Out Magazine," "Tough," and previously in "Mystery Weekly Magazine."


YOU CAN’T GO ALONE

Now he had him, Pressman thought. Finally, he could make it right. Starting today, he wouldn’t lose it every time he saw Billy’s face pop into his—

“Gah,” Orndorff said.

“Shut up,” Pressman said, jamming the barrel of his gun harder into the underside of Orndorff’s jaw, forcing him to stand on his toes to avoid choking right before he had his brains blown out.

“I’m going to kill you,” Pressman said. “Just like you killed him.”

“Gah … go ahead.”

“No one would miss you. How does that make you feel?”

“Like I wish … just shut up … do it.”

“I’m going to, believe me.”

“I believe you,” Orndorff said.

Pressman blinked the sweat out of his eyes as he struggled to hold the gun steady. He concentrated on the spider web tattoo that ran up and down the scrawny dealer’s neck, dark lines overlaying skin as pale as a snapped tendon. He could do this, he told himself. No biggie.

Billy, his first Little League game. Eight years old and nervous as hell. Pressman nervous too but also proud—graduating from the academy proud. How sharp the boy looked, the perfect creases in the freshly washed uniform, his cap pulled on firm and true.

“Hold still, dammit,” Pressman said, as Orndorff’s legs trembled with the strain of standing.

“I’m trying.”

“Not hard enough.”

Pressman blinked his eyes clear again. It was blazing in the room, like a bakery on the equator, with the windows down and shades drawn despite the near-100-degree temperatures outside. Frustrated, he pushed the gun until Orndorff’s head snapped back like a man checking to see if the sky’s about to fall. One shot. That’s all it would take. Orndorff’s brains, if he even had any, painting the wall. In this neighborhood, who’d even blink at the sound?

“You’re done,” Pressman said. “It ends now.”

“No,” Orndorff gasped.

“Oh yeah.”

“Won’t end.”

“Wanna bet?”

“Arthur,” Orndorff said.

“What?”

Arthur.”

“Arthur who?”

“He’s the one … you want … end it …”

“And why’s that?”

“I just … sell. He’s the guy … supplies …”

 “Just sell? You can’t be serious.”

“Gah,” Orndorff said.

Jesus. Pressman’s cell buzzing in his back pocket. Now? Of all the times? Really?

He said, “Arthur the one who sold to my boy? ’Cuz that’s the only guy I care about. And I’ve got him right in front of me.”

Orndorff made a sound like a gurgling drain. Pressman pulled back a fraction of an inch, afraid the shithead would pass out before he could kill him.

“Arthur,” Orndorff said, when he could speak again. “He’s the one.”

“You think giving somebody up’s going to save you?”

“Nothing … to save.”

“You’ve got that right. So where do I find him? This Arthur.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Doesn’t matter? You just said—”

“You can’t go alone.”

“Who said I’m going alone?”

Orndorff didn’t respond. Just peered down at the police detective pressing a gun into his jaw in a stifling room in an abandoned foreclosure that was empty but for the two of them.

“Just tell me where he is,” Pressman said after a moment, forcing Orndorff back on his toes.

“Dogs.”

“What?”

“There’s dogs. Never get past …”

“I can handle dogs.”

“Not these.”

In his back-pocket Pressman’s phone continued to buzz.

“Who says?”

“Trust … me. Too … many.”

“Trust you? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Not kidding,” Orndorff gasped.



This story appears in our AUG 2019 Issue
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