Fuller Foreclosure

Posted: September 13, 2012 in Flash

‘Fuller Foreclosure’ is a tale of betrayal and death that I wrote for the Aphelion-Webzine October 2011 Flash Challenge.

WARNING: Mild gore and, of course, murder!

——

Louisa was uncomfortable about the gun. The revolver was buried deep in her bag on the passenger seat next to her. She felt contaminated by its presence but she was going to need it later, to kill Howard.

She pulled in to the farmyard in a cloud of dust that whipped around the car. Louisa opened the door and stepped into the dry summer heat that instantly made her blouse stick to her skin under her jacket. There was no one in sight but the heavy rumble of machinery was loud in the air.

“Hello?” She called.

No one answered. Louisa headed towards the noise. On the far side of the barn she found the source; a tractor at idle, the side of the engine cover open and a man, naked to the waist, bent over it.

“Hello?” She shouted and got his attention. He reached in the cab and shut it down.

“You the caretaker?” She asked, her voice loud in the silence.

“Yep. I’m Jed.” He squinted at her, eyeing her. Jed’s face was sun burned, his scalp too under a buzz-cut. “Who’re you?”

“Louisa Hollenbeck. I’m from the bank.” She got a business card from her bag, flinching as her fingers brushed the gun, and handed the card to him. “They told you I was coming, to do the inventory?”

“Yep.” He held the card by it’s edges, glancing from the card to her and back. He was young, fit and trim, his muscles well defined. He looked kind of sexy, all grubby and streaked with sweat. Louisa’s mind slid from that thought as she remembered the gun, and her fatal appointment planned with Howard for after she finished there at the farm.

“Let’s start with the house,” she said.

***

Inside, it was cool but felt musty. The sight of dried blood on the family room wall, sprayed out in a dark fan behind the armchair, caught her by surprise, made her gag.

“Jesus, didn’t anyone clean it up?” Louisa said, her hand to her mouth in disgust.

“Sheriff said someone would come by. They ain’t come yet.”

“And upstairs?”

“It’s bad. ‘specially the boys’ room”

Louisa made it out onto the porch before she vomited.

“It’s not my fault,” she told herself between convulsions.

Another farm, another foreclosure, she’d done dozens. Times were hard. If she was a little overzealous, a little too keen, so what? The bank was a business not a charity. And Howard, dear, darling Howard, with his taste for a fast buck and a dirty property deal, had made it well worth her while. That is, until the Fuller farm foreclosure.

Jack Fuller, had been a bad farmer, a bad husband, a bad father, just a bad bet in general. When he got the foreclosure papers, that clear, blue Tuesday morning, over a week back, he’d decided it was time to cash-out. Jack took his shotgun, went upstairs and shot his twin nine year old sons in their beds. He shot his wife, Nancy, twice, as she came running down the hall at the sound of her boys’ screaming. Then he went downstairs, sat in his favourite chair, and blew his own brains all over the wall.

Now Howard was getting edgy. He’d squeal like a pig if anyone so much as looked funny at him. He’d hang her out to dry to save his own skin if he got the chance. Louisa just had to shut him up first.

“You okay?”

Louisa became aware of legs in dusty boots and dirty jeans on the porch next to her, Jed was standing over her. She looked up at him, he didn’t seem to care that she’d thrown-up all over the steps. He didn’t seem to care at all.

“Let’s do the barn instead,” she said.

***

The barn smelled of dry straw and oil. Machinery loomed in the shadows. Louisa ticked uncertainly at boxes on her clipboard while Jed followed her, a dark hulking mass at her shoulder. They came out the side door, to the tractor that Jed had been working on.

“What’s wrong with it?” Louisa asked, checking it against her list.

“Nothin’. Just needed an oil change and service.”

“We don’t pay you for that.”

“I promised my sister I’d do it. Her husband weren’t no good at that kind of thing. He weren’t no good at all.”

“Your sister?” Even as she said it, she knew. She reached into her bag, groping for the gun. Jed’s fist hit her in the jaw like a hammer, knocked her down like a sack of wet sand.

***

Pain brought her back. Pain and the deep, throbbing rumble of the tractor’s engine that she felt through the dirt beneath her, as well as heard. She cried aloud and tried to sit up, but dizziness and nausea forced her back down. Her legs were pinned, they were in agony. She raised her head to see them, they were jammed under the blade tips of a plough, their flesh pierced and bleeding. More blades hung above her body as the angle of the plough loomed over her from the back of the tractor. Jed stood by the back of it, his hand on the lever that would hydraulically push the blades into the ground.

“I knew it was you,” he said, loud so she could here over the engine noise. “I recognised your name from the foreclosure papers.”

“It wasn’t my fault,” Louisa cried, “It was just business.”

“Just business! We ain’t nothin’ but dollars and cents to you people. “

Jed dropped the lever, the pitch of engine noise increased, the plough lowered. It wasn’t fast, it took handful of seconds. Louisa did a lot of screaming. They turned to choked-off gurgles before she died.

***

He answered his cell-phone on the second ring. “Is it done?” He asked.

“Yep.” Jed was as taciturn as ever.

Howard cut the call without saying goodbye and smiled grimly.

THE END

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