Avenida Mañana by Denise Calhoun

Avenida Mañana by Denise Calhoun

She rubbed one hand across her left eye, hard, so hard it hurt. It was nothing compared to the pain in her heart. It was an empty heart now, empty as her bank account the day before payday.

She walked over to Blake’s nightstand, lifted his starched white pima cotton handkerchiefs, picked up the Ruger LCP. It was ugly, short and stubby. But the blueing contrasted nicely with her rice pale skin and pink nails, the pink of those heart-shaped candies so popular on Valentine’s Day, the ones that said “Love Me.” “Sweet Talk.” “My Baby.”

My baby, my ass. If he had been her baby, he would never have taken Fifi, her Dogue de Bordeaux, with him for protection when he went to pay the ransom on his daughter from his first marriage. He didn’t even ask her permission. Bastard. He didn’t even get the child back alive. What he got was a slit throat, a fatal bullet for Fifi, and the body of Brittany, a 5-year-old who’d probably been dead within hours of her abduction.

The only good things he’d done was left her with a mint condition 1969 Mercedes 280SL; this condo, small, but restored, in a building built in the forties, grotesque with gargoyles and cherubs frosting the exterior and ornate molding icing the indoors. It had its charm, not least the fact that it was hers, free and clear, with the maintenance fees paid in full for a year.

Blake, left for dead by the kidnapper, had called and left her a message before passing: “Ryan… Ryan did it.”

Ryan, his best friend and bar buddy, now walking around with all the money Blake had in the world: $200 grand. Ryan who was smart, an investment banker who had an unrequited love affair with the dice.

She put the loaded Ruger in her black patent bag with the mother-of-pearl clasp. It was Friday; she knew just where he’d be, at a card game on Avenida Mañana.

She had it all planned out like a summer vacation: She’d park a few blocks away, use the extra set of car keys he’d left with Blake in case he lost his, and wait for him in the passenger seat.

He’d be glad to see her, surprised but glad. He’d always appreciated her sassy curves, her face, worthy of adorning a 1950s chocolate box, the way she slung her hips to and fro like an eighteen-wheeler on a winding two-lane road.

She found his car parked in the far corner of an empty lot across the street from the deserted office building where the games were played. She waited, reclining against the leather seat of his used Chevy Equinox, steps down from his Range Rover. No lights anywhere hinted she was inside. She wondered if he had used the ransom to pay gambling debts. She pulled out her compact, powdered her nose, reapplied her Cherries in the Snow lipstick. Smoothed down the skirt of her tight tango red vinyl dress with her gloves, the color of a magnolia leaf in summer, rearranged her breasts to show to best advantage in the low V-neckline.

"Diana" image by Flickr user Mikko Miettinen

“Diana” image by Flickr user Mikko Miettinen

Blake climbed in the driver’s seat around 3 AM. She could smell the sickly sweet bourbon on his breath.

“Doll. Never expected to see you here. You’ve turned my nightmare into a dream.” He traced a finger clumsily down her cleavage, glued his sticky mouth to hers. The smell of pepperoni pizza made her stomach roil.

She could handle bad breath. She placed her left arm around his neck, opened her lips to his tongue, pulled the pistol from under her thigh and placed it in his groin, right next to his artery. His dick jumped like a kid on a trampoline.

She nipped his ear with her teeth, said softly, “This is for Fifi.” She pulled the trigger. Then she shot him in the other artery. He’d bleed out before anyone ever found him. She looked at his face; she wanted his shocked image seared into her memory.

She looked around. Not a soul in sight. She dropped the gloves, gun and vinyl dress in a sewer. She had on a black body-hugging dress underneath and black tights. Made her less likely to be seen in the darkness.

She wiped down the bag with a Lysol wipe, then tossed it in, too. Did the same with her stilettos. She slipped on a pair of black flats she’d stored in her bag and tucked her platinum curls in a black beret she’d knitted herself.

She walked to her car. Fluffed her bangs in the mirror. Started the ignition. She’d always miss Fifi.

But justice? Justice was grand.


deniseDenise Calhoun lives in Albuquerque – land of winds so fierce they snap trees like matchsticks, sunsets the color of watermelons and more aging nuclear warheads than she cares to think about. Calhoun, who was a journalist at the Houston Chronicle for fourteen years, is working on a novel and stops occasionally to write a short story when instant gratification is required. When she’s not writing, she indulges her love of vintage sewing patterns as proprietress of The Blue Gardenia website (www.thebluegardenia.com). Her fiction has appeared in Black Heart Magazine, Fourteen Hills, Rose Red Review and is upcoming in Blackbird.