May 16th, 2017
The bullet went off like a force of nature. It went off as though it were in accordance to a grander scheme or a master-plan. In short, it was the culmination of what was a lifetime of bad choices for Jeremy Crider. It didn’t even feel real after it happened. As if part of him understood, but the rest of him still couldn’t comprehend it.
Jacob Halwright’s head exploded!
Such a phrase seemed too dramatic, almost, but, there Jacob Halwright’s dead body laid; head exploded. It was crazy the way a handgun could blow off the top of a person’s head like a magician’s trick gone awry. Imagine being a child at a birthday party, everything’s well, til your mother goes to cut off a slice of cake, then, stops, removes her mask, revealing Jacob Halwright, whose head then exploded. That’s about how Jeremy Crider felt. Shock scrambled Jeremy’s mind as he tried to process what happened.
Jacob had been an acquaintance of Jeremy only a few seconds ago. Jacob owed Jeremy fifteen bucks from a bet not even a minute prior, but did the shooter give two squirts about that? Jeremy felt his hands tremble, drenched with sweat. The person with their index-finger on the trigger was Richard Spade.
Jeremy couldn’t pry his eyes away from Robert Spade. It wasn’t a devilish glare or a fiery stare that kept him so enthralled. It was the nothing behind his eyes and how unchanged he seemed. Robert’s eyes could have as easily told of a man reading his morning newspaper, instead of having just murdered a man.
There was no discernible change in his eyes, no way to read him, which meant Jeremy Crider couldn’t predict if that was the only bullet he intended to fire off. Robert Spade’s eyes went off from the pieces that were now Jacob Halwright and to Jeremy, his head didn’t nudge an inch, like the hand of a clock, coming around to let him know it was his time.
This would be Jeremy’s demise, a fact he had no doubt of in this moment. He was now face-to-face with death, and death had a thick-gray handlebar moustache and a big-ass handgun.
Jeremy held the stare with Robert Spade intently, only breaking off in small intervals to keep for certain the barrel stayed facing the pile of Jacob’s that spilled onto the hardwood vinyl floor. A small smirk formed on Robert Spade’s face thereafter. Perhaps it was an attempt at comfort, but it only made Jeremy more uneasy. Robert was a middle-aged man, in his late-forties or early-fifties at the latest, with wiry limbs and a lanky frame, all except for the bump over his stomach. Maybe it was a beer-belly, maybe he was pregnant with the spawn of Satan? Jeremy didn’t know enough about Robert to say for certain, all he knew is that his father had respected and probably feared him a great deal.
Robert Spade lowered the gun, which was the first relief in the pressure trying to burst out that Jeremy felt. Robert wasn’t a strong or stout man, he wasn’t a burly guy who Jeremy would ever bet on in a bar-fight, but even now with his weapon lowered, Jeremy couldn’t imagine a time he wasn’t intimidated by him.
“Jacob Halwright, we will no longer be needing your services,” Robert Spade said in a monotone, deadpan inflection, before crying out in a fit of laughter.
It was a toothy laugh that reminded Jeremy a little of a rabbit. Out of nervous discomfort, Jeremy forced out a hearty chuckle. Beside Jeremy was a man named Steve Meiner, one of the two men Jeremy had spent the last three-hours robbing one of the wealthiest families in Urgway with. He was now the only one of those two men alive and had a look on his face that said this likely wasn’t the first time Robert Spade had killed one of his co-workers in-front of him. Steve looked more inconvenienced than afraid, but he held his tongue.
Robert Spade walked around the room, every sound made as his red-and-black sneakers met the floor felt amplified. “Although, as I am certain you’ve discovered, your first-day wasn’t without any unnecessary excitement, I think things could have gone worse,” Robert continued, his voice softening and feeling more like the man Jeremy had spoken to earlier in the day. Jeremy could see the black-tar in-between the gaps of his teeth from his tobacco chew. “Only one more thing left to do before you can clock out for the day and be given what you have coming to you. I’ll even throw in something extra for your troubles. All you have to do is get rid of the body.” Robert’s voice deepened with his final demand and his face was now only a few inches away from Jeremy, waiting for a response.
What came out of Jeremy Crider’s mouth didn’t have the cogency of actual words, what came out of Jeremy’s mouth was more of a guttural clearing of the throat, resembling what happens when a fork is caught in the garbage disposal. Robert Spade smiled again, patting his hand on Jeremy’s shoulder. Jeremy flinched, instinctively pulling away from him, an act that seemed to only further amuse him. “See to it that he does,” Robert Spade said, his head facing toward Steve.
Like that, Robert Spade turned his back from them, and with every step he made, a sense of finality in his decision sank in. Jeremy tried to find the words to speak but couldn’t find the words to do so. Once Jeremy heard a door shut, it felt like the hands clutching his throat had released him. He now felt aware of how drenched in sweat his body had become and free again to breathe. He also now truly appreciated his own predicament – a dead body of a fallen acquaintance and he’d now been appointed the warehouse’s janitor.
Jeremy Crider looked over to Steve Meiner in search of comfort, instead, the overweight man with the saggy, pug-shaped face offered an ambitious look. Ambitious in the sense that he said more with the curl of his lip than a mortal should’ve been capable of. With his look, he might as well have shrugged his shoulders and said, “Shit happens,” as though he hadn’t spent hours with the same man as Jeremy, the same man whose head now resembled uncooked ground beef.
It was a cold night, and even though Jeremy had anticipated this and knew he’d be exposed to the elements, wore a thin hooded-sweatshirt and no gloves. Bill ignored his pleas to stop at any nearby convenient stores to see if they carried any, and so, Jeremy spent a lot of the night rubbing his hands together to prevent having to chop them off from frostbite later. Also, Jeremy had developed what he chalked off as an ear-infection from the cold. Every now and again, they’d start to ring, and his hypochondria would wonder if this would be the moment everything in his life went silent. If Jacob Holwright’s death accomplished anything, it’s that the shock filled Jeremy with a red-hot warmth in his chest. Unfortunately, his ears were ringing far more now than before.
“What does he mean by ‘get rid of the body’?” Jeremy asked, finding the words to express his terror.
“It’s not a euphemism,” Steve replied swiftly, then turned his back to Jeremy as though that explanation was enough.
He lugged his prodigious body off to the kitchen. A few seconds went by again, comprised of Jeremy occasionally flinching every time he heard a rat or cockroach or whatever other vermin crawling around the rundown trash-heap that Spade conducted business. His mind fluttered with paranoia, thinking the movement came from Jacob Halwright’s remains. “Fuck,” Jeremy said fast, flinching from his own fear more than any such act. Soon, Steve Meiner returned, carrying a filthy mop in one hand and kicking around an empty plastic bucket forward with his boot.
“You can’t be serious!” Jeremy shouted, looking to where Robert Spade had left, like a child afraid of being heard bad-mouthing daddy.