Speakeasy #132-Secrets Shadow the Soul

The wrecking ball makes its ponderous way through the air. The tinkle of shattering glass mingles with the dry cracking of black rotted wood.

A small crowd mills about, watching. Murmuring. Some make the sign of the cross as the roof groans its death cry. I lean over to Millie, ignoring the crust in her ear. “We shouldn’t be here.”

She frowns, lips almost lost within wrinkles, and shoots me a glare. “Sack up, John. You young’uns have no guts. That bastard, Usher, got exactly whats comin’ to him, and I mean to see it finished.”

My neck tenses and the vein pulses. Her blue-gray hair waves in front of me, like a matador’s cape in front of a bull. It would be so easy…

I shake the thoughts away. “Look, all I’m saying is someone knows. Phil and Jack are dead. We’re next.”

She turns and slaps me. Behind her, the frame lays its burden down and the house tumbles. “Idiot! You made me miss it with your sissy whining. Phil fell down the stairs and Jack had a car accident. It happens! Nobody knows!”

She glances around at the crowd as I hold my cheek. Our argument draws eyes, suspicious and grateful at the same time. “Besides, if anyone did know, they’d be thankin’ us, not killin’ us.”

She limps off toward a powder-blue Corolla almost as old as I am. I hear her mutter as she walks, and the crowd parts like the Red Sea, not daring to face her wrath. As she eases behind the wheel I make out her mouthing, “What my grand-daughter sees in that fool is beyond me.”

The pulsing moves from my neck to behind my eyes. I stomp over to my truck, indifferent to the stares and whispers that follow me.


The lights from the Corolla silhouettes us against the trees, turning  justice into some macabre shadow-play. Fists rise and fall. Flesh violently meeting flesh echoes impossibly loud. Feet join in as he falls to the ground, cracking bones and spraying blood. She shuffles over, grasping the dagger her husband took off a SS officer. The light glints off the swastika as it falls. 

He laughs.

I bolt upright, sweat soaking my t-shirt. Steph murmurs something and I pat her backside. She rolls over and falls back to sleep. My phone buzzes, catching my attention. I pick it up and check the message.

i know what u did-usher house 0100 hours

The sweat freezes to my body and my breath quickens. I glance over at Stephanie sleeping, unaware and innocent. This ends tonight.

I creep out of bed and dress. I reach up into the closet and pull out an old wooden box. The .45 left to me by my grandfather gleams in the faint light streaming through our bedroom windows.

I grab it and a clip. I sneak out of the room and down the stairs, keeping to the sides to avoid a traitorous creak. I put the truck in neutral and roll it out of the driveway, starting it up when I think I’m far enough away.

The town sleeps, it’s streetlights glare softening the dark. Shadows of nocturnal scavengers dance along the buildings as they pillage the day’s offerings. The remains of the Usher place beckon me, the rubble laid out as if it were smiling; like it knew all about dark deeds in the night.

A powder-blue Corolla sits alongside the curb. I pull up behind it. The door creaks and Millie stumbles out. I load the clip and pull back the slide to chamber a round.

I exit the truck and Millie shuffles over. “John! Did you get a message?”


Tears spring from her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

I turn my back. My gaze sweeps the street. “It’s alright, Millie. I…”

White-hot pain explodes in my right shoulder and my gun falls to the ground.

Millie stands over me, blade shining wet with my blood. “You’re weak, just like Phillip and Jack. Like Usher. And now you’re going to die just like they did.”

“Why?” I crawl along the street, my left hand scrabbling over the pavement, searching.

The old nutcase smiles at me. “Let’s just say Usher knew certain things about me he shouldn’t, and leave it at that. A lady has to have her secrets.”

My hand finds the pebble-grip. “Fine. I don’t really give a damn anyway.” I roll over and fire.

The knife clatters to the ground and a scream pierces the night.

Word Count: 750

Crazed old people, huh? Yup, it is Speakeasy time again, folks, hosted by the fine minds over at YeahWrite. Head over there and read some great writers you may or may not know. Even better, read some great writers, write something of your own, and enter it.

This weeks prompt:

“The knife clatters to the ground and a scream pierces the night.”

Rules of the game:

  • your post must be dated October 20, 2013, or later
  • submissions must be 750 words or fewer
  • submissions must be fiction or poetry, including fictional accounts of true stories
  • your piece must include the following sentence as your LAST line: “The knife clatters to the ground and a scream pierces the night.”
  • though your post is NOT about the media prompt above, you must make some reference to it
  • the speakeasy is designed for submissions written specifically for the grid. Please do not submit an entry if you intend to showcase it to another blog link-up. Such posts are deleted without notice.
  • please do not post explanations, qualifications or other stuff prior to the beginning of your post. If you need to clarify anything, feel free to do so briefly at the end.
  • the badge for your speakeasy #132 post is found in the sidebar. Be sure to add the code to the html view of your post before publishing. Come back on Tuesday and add your link!

Happy reading and writing!

J. Milburn


12 thoughts on “Speakeasy #132-Secrets Shadow the Soul

  1. Good story! Crumbling houses, shadowy secrets, death…oh yes, it must be Poe’s inspiration. He had quite the dark mind! (The old lady should’ve calculated that like scissors beat paper, a gun beats a knife any day :))

    • Ha! Yeah, that’s why I had her wait until his back was turned. If I had just a few more words I would have implied arthritis, which would explain her terrible aim 😉
      Thanks for reading and commenting! I look forward to reading yours!

  2. Love “missed it with your sissy whining”…so funny. Enjoyable read.

  3. This is fantastic! I adore this line: “the frame lays its burden down and the house tumbles.” Excellent job with the prompts!

  4. That was an exciting take on it 🙂 enjoyed reading.

  5. Loving the details and the characterization here! Great work!

  6. Ha…a feisty, murdering old lady? I want to be that when I am much older…minus the whole murder part. I really enjoyed this fresh take on the prompt. 🙂

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