Partners - by John M. Floyd (Flash Fiction 2021)

John M. Floyd’s work has appeared in more than 300 different publications, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and three editions of The Best American Mystery Stories. A former Air Force captain and IBM systems engineer, John is also an Edgar Award finalist, a four-time Derringer Award winner, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and the author of nine books.

Partners

by John M. Floyd

“New Orleans,” the red-haired man said.

His companion, a tall fellow with a friendly face, turned to look at him from his seat a few feet away. “What?”
 
“You asked what I was thinking about. I told you. New Orleans.”
 
“What about it?”  The tall man took a pipe from the pocket of his coat. Unable to sleep, both men were sitting on wooden benches in a stone-paved courtyard outside their rooms. A few oaks and elms stood nearby, casting gaunt shadows in the moonlight, and soft music strummed somewhere in the distance. The air was chilly, but that was to be expected: it was early March.
 
“We should have gone there,” the red-haired man answered. He shifted a little in his seat, wincing in pain as he did so.
 
His friend glanced up at him, then went back to filling his pipe. “When should we have gone?  Tonight?”
 
“Why not?”
 
“You wouldn’t want to wait until you’re feeling better?”
 
“That would’ve made me feel better.”
 
The tall man regarded him in amused silence for a moment. “We couldn’t leave,” he said, “and you know it. We’ve only been here a little better’n a week. This is business. These folks are more than friends, they’re our partners now.”
 
The redheaded man sighed. “I know that. I’ve just been daydreaming, that’s all.”  He added in a grim voice, “And I think this could be a no-win deal.”
 
His friend nodded. “I think you’re right.”  He lit his pipe with a wooden match, then fanned it out and flipped it away into the darkness. The music in the distance had stopped now, and it was eerily quiet. “But tomorrow there’ll be a crowd of people here, hundreds maybe, and we’re the stars of the show, you and me. We’re the ones everybody’ll be watching.”  He paused for a moment, puffing. “If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out,” he said with a shrug. “But we’ve been in risky deals before. I was a congressman once, remember.”
 
The other man smiled. “I’ve never done anything quite that dumb,” he said.
 
His companion blew a series of little gray smoke-rings and watched as the wind pulled them apart. “I heard you used to rassle alligators.”
 
“Alligators,” the red-haired man agreed. “Not politicians.”
 
“And you once lived in New Orleans,” the tall man said. “You call that good judgment?”

“Don’t kid yourself, David my friend. It’s the greatest town in the world.”
 
“Great to visit, maybe. But to live in?”
 
The red-haired man just sighed and looked wistful. “We should have gone there,” he said, shivering in the cool wind.
 
Suddenly they heard someone coming, walking toward them in the darkness. Both of them reached for their guns.
 
“Crockett?” a voice called. “Bowie?  Colonel Travis needs you. Meeting at the north wall.”
 
The two friends relaxed, then looked at each other.
 
“Showtime,” the tall man said.


4 comments :

  1. cj Sez: Good one, John, with the usual surprise ending.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! I loved the story. Did not expect that ending.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow. That ending was so totally unexpected. I love it.

    ReplyDelete

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