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About the Author: David Bart’s short fiction has been published in the Mystery Writers of America anthologies Show Business is Murder and A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime, which has recently been republished. He also has a story in the MWA anthology Life is Short and Then You Die as well as the anthology Fedora III. His short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Mystery Weekly Magazine.

Lyle tensed at the sudden sound of rushing air—flinched at a sickening thud, followed by the wet noise of a heavy object skidding over sodden leaves.

He let out his breath, the odor of moist earth nearly overwhelming him as he got to his feet and followed the muddy swath to the body. The killer’s legs and arms were oddly askew, crooked at impossible angles like a broken statue.

I’ll be damned. It worked.

Lyle picked up the killer’s gun, which had been fitted with a sound suppressor, and stuck it in his belt under an untucked shirt.

The Google plan had outlined the construction of a deadfall. Plenty of rope, a thick, heavy log suspended so it’d swing down in a lethal arc to smash hell out of whatever was in its path. Also, a release mechanism attached high up on a nearby cottonwood trunk. The plans recommended steel wire but Lyle had some shiny duct tape and so he’d used that because it works for everything.

Ten days earlier …

They hit the credit union at noon—piece of cake except for the hysterical cashier waving her arms. She’d totally lost her shit after knocking off his hockey mask, exposing Lyle’s ruined features, the woman shrieking as she clawed at his badly scarred face.

He pushed her away and jogged out the door, the bag of cash flopping against his belly, thinking: hell, lady, I have to look at this face every morning in the mirror.

Inside the stolen Camry, Trixie, his getaway driver, started busting his balls: “You should’ve just shot her,” she shouted, slamming the selector into Drive—lurched into midday traffic amidst angry honking and angrier shouts.

Lyle swiveled the rear view and looked at his face; damn, blood oozed from the new furrows through his old scars. “I’m not gonna shoot some broad in plain view of security cameras,” he said, dabbing at the blood.

He’d never had much of a problem with shooting people, but thought it wise to avoid being filmed.

Trixie slapped his hand away. “I’m driving here, Quasimodo.” Readjusted the mirror.

Always criticizing, spitting caustic remarks, getting under his skin. Being the boss’s current squeeze, she thought she was queen of the crooks or something.

I got attributes, he thought. Plenty of muscle under the loose flab. Strong as a rhino … and unfortunately about as attractive.

He liked wildlife shows and had just last week watched a flick on Discovery—amazing clarity on his new Sony—about an old-timey trapper in the wilderness and a device used for hunting. Lyle had immediately Googled a set of plans, printed them out.

So, when Trixie dropped him at his car at the QC Mall after the job, he drove home, gave Hannibal some cat treats, gathered up the plans and the gear he’d purchased at Home Depot, headed right out to The Lowlands, a wooded preserve south of Moline that was bisected by the shallow Rock River.

Lyle hid the loot from the heist in a tree, set up his trap.

On the way back through the woodlands, sweaty and hot, he smiled at the thought of someone, including Trixie, trying to grab the cash. They’d get a lethal lesson in gravity and kinetic energy.

Lyle and the perpetually whining Trixie slogged through early morning fog on their way to the money, acting on their boss’s order: “Go get it, mudak. Things cooled now.”

Lyle glanced back over his shoulder at Trixie who was partially shrouded in the pale vapor … he shuddered, the air cold and clammy on his skin. “You trust Grigori, Trix’?” he asked.

Her features were softened by the wispy fog; like how they do in movies to make an actress look younger. “Don’t trust nobody, Quasimodo,” she mumbled.

Dammit, shouldn’t have told her about that old French novel about the humpback loving a girl who ultimately betrayed him. Because now he’s Quasimodo.

This story appears in our OCT 2020 Issue
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Reader Discussion

Nicely done! Ha ha, trickster!
By Susan R

Great story for Halloween. Thank's for sharing.
By Jamie Stone

This was great! Unexpected ending but karma will get you sooner or later.
By Mickey Cherry

It was great! I was sucked in and the ending was fitting.
By Jennifer Kunz

Good, fast ride home!
By Diana Johnson

This was a great story, the suspense nonending. A great read. Kudos to the author.
By Frances Dunn

Engaging story! Nicely written! Bravo!!
By Tina Jude

Great story! Loved it from beginning to end.
By Robert J Petyo

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