Friday, July 13, 2012

Dan Swagger: Death Only Knocks Once - Part 7

Escapism by KDMB

[background] [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]
[Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6]

Chicago – South Side – Liberty Motel

Big Jim Bradley sounded like he was in a piss poor mood, but then again I can’t recall a time when he wasn’t. Maybe it was only when he was around me. Either way, I wasn’t going to stick around and find out.

 I quickly threw on my trench, pocketed my shooter and wallet, slipped on my streetwalkers, and headed for the window.

"This is your last warning! Open up or we're coming in," a muffled shout came through the door as I worked the latches on the window. I pushed up with all my might, but it wouldn't budge. Years of neglect and far too many coats of cheep white lead paint kept it sealed tight. Good for keeping the heat in, but not so good for letting me the hell out.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl. I could feel the adrenaline racing through my veins. The shouts of the police behind me were subdued and muted by the sound of my own heart beating in my ears. No matter how hard I tried, the window would not budge. Soon the pounding in my ears was replaced by the sound of pounding on the door behind me.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Time was running out.

I slowly turned to face the door. It was the only thing keeping Big Jim at bay, and me out of the slammer. There wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to be able to talk my way out of this mess. Big Jim had an open and shut murder case, and he’d have his revenge. And I couldn’t blame the man for that. Hell, as it stood, I wasn’t entirely convinced I hadn’t done it. But why? To whom?

My mind was a swirling fog of images and sounds, each desperately battling the other to be recognized. Time slowed down even further. Each heartbeat seemed like a distant church bell calling me to salvation.

I dropped to my knees.

My father had always taught me that a man should stand and accept the due licks coming to him, as I had always done when he took the razor strap to me on many occasions. But not today. I wasn’t able to address my fate with dignity. My strength was tapped.

The walls of the room began to close in.  My vision narrowed. My life as I knew it was about to end. If I was lucky, they’d give me the electric cure [1]. If I wasn’t, I’d be doing time with the chain gangs.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The door buckled and swayed with each driving force. Splinters flew off in multiple directions.

Then I saw it. I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before. But it wasn’t enough. Alone it would not prove my innocence, but it was a start. I would need more time, and more importantly, the freedom to build a case, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to be able to do that in the slammer with Big Jim breathing down my neck.

I need more time.

By shear will alone I grabbed the side of the bed, pulled myself up onto my feet and stumbled over to the window. I heaved and pushed with all of what little strength I could muster. Finally a cracking sound pierced the chaos, as both the window and the door to the room tore open. Icy cold air rushed in and stabbed my exposed flesh like a bed of nails. Without pause, I shot through the window.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Three gunshots rang out.

I landed on the terrace face first. My stomach lurched. My vision blurred. Pain wracked every inch of my body. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run away from it all, yet I could do nothing.

I could hear faint cries carried in with the wind, but I could no longer hear my own heartbeat.

My eyes closed.

Darkness then silence.


[1] A slang term meaning the electric chair or death by electrocution.

Michael A. Walker
Defying Procrastination

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