You know that saying, “I never saw that coming …”
Well, Porter saw it coming. And couldn’t do a damn thing about it. North Carolina’s Samantha Biggers crafts a tense tale of what happens when the jig is up.
By Samantha Biggers
Porter took to carrying his .45 wherever he went after the hit. He was starting to get paranoid as all hell and thinking that he hadn’t thought the killing through enough. Maybe the money would start rolling in from the drug sales and he could breathe easy.
He lived alone but occasionally had some woman that shacked up with him awhile, at least until he got tired of her. It had cost him a mint to settle his last divorce. One he would never get back without a lot of work. Women always got to suspecting and knowing too much if they stuck around long. That wasn’t a risk he was willing to take.
Porter found himself resorting to checking under his car for tampering and looking behind the seats before he got in. Looking behind the seat was a leftover habit from his younger days when he had almost had his throat slit by someone he had beat badly at a poker game earlier in the evening. The crazy fucker had hid behind his seat and waited. Luckily, the feller was shit faced drunk and Porter had managed to get the knife away and had proceeded to beating him unconscious and throwing him down a hill. He knew that John had a thing for explosives but never had heard tell of him actually using one to kill anyone, but it was likely that he had.
He was starting to wonder if he would have to kill again before this was all over. He sure hadn’t planned on having to do such a thing. This was all supposed to have come off a lot easier. Maybe some of Gordon’s old buddies had gotten older and settled down, didn’t want the trouble and such. He didn’t think that was too likely though. That bunch had been a tight crowd. Loyalties ran strong here in the South.
At least he lived on a dead-end road with five acres so if someone drove up there was only one way to approach it. He had the house and acreage because even after the divorce, he still had enough to keep it. The henchman and crime racket had paid off well for Porter and he figured he had earned the privilege to have a right nice place.
Of all the mistakes Porter had made, the worst he had made presently was wanting more. Of course this was the same mistake that a lot of people made in life. A lot of successful people make that mistake and lose a lot if not everything they had before. He could easily have lived many years comfortably and with little hassle with the money he had saved and the few side rackets he was involved with that nobody gave a damn about and a few women that nobody gave a damn about either.
Porter unlocked the door to his house, walked through the front hall and to the kitchen, depositing his groceries and brown paper bags of booze on the granite counter top, immediately reaching for the bottle of Johnny Walker and began pouring a healthy dose over the ice in his highball glass.
“Hope you don’t mind. Didn’t think you would.”
Porter’s glass crashed to the ceramic floor creating a spray of expensive scotch and Austrian crystal. Cotton was sitting in Porter’s lavish leather chair near the river rock fireplace. He was drinking a $200 bottle of Porter’s bourbon. Obviously he had been rummaging in the liquor cabinet.
Porter’s blood ran cold, and at that moment he though he might not live more than a few moments. He did not let it show, though. He knew that was a mistake. Maybe Cotton was here for another reason. They had known each other for years after all.
“You scared the shit out of me,” he said. “What the…”
Porter read a lot into that simple calm statement as Cotton continued to sip his bourbon, smiling just enough to be extremely unnerving.
“That bottle ought to be good. It sure cost enough.”
“That should be the least of your worries at this here moment,” Cotton said. “In fact it is right trifling compared to the affairs you should be concerned with.”
Porter wished the bastard would stop smiling like he was offering up sweet tea on the porch or something.
“Sit down,” Cotton said, motioning to the chair opposite him with his whiskey glass. “We got a hell of a lot of catching up to do. Unless of course you object?”
Cotton’s hand went to the pocket where Porter knew the .45 lurked, waiting for Cotton’s steady hand to reach for it and blow a hole in him. Cotton had never showed nothing but cold calm and didn’t seem to have any sense of remorse for the carnage he had caused in the past.
Porter could have swore it dropped 10 degrees in the house while he was still standing there. He carefully eased over to the chair opposite Cotton and reached for the bottle of bourbon, with Cotton never taking his hand from near his gun.
“A man can at least have a drink at the same time, right?” Porter asked.
“Your bottle,” Cotton replied.
“Go get one then.”
Goddammit, he hated how calm the bastard was.
Porter was thinking that he would almost welcome some outburst. At the moment he was just acting like an old concerned buddy that was stopping by. To top it all off the fucker was speaking in two-word sentences that made him nervous as all hell.
“So what have you been up to all these years?” Cotton said. Smiling.
Oh God, he was going to draw this out, drive him crazy, and take pleasure in it. Porter swallowed a deep gulp of his bourbon.
“Not too much, just piddling around here and there. A bit of cards and whiskey. Nothing too major or anything.”
“Hmmm that’s funny,” Cotton said. “I heard you were still in the game pretty heavy, so to speak. Had a few gambling machines at some gas stations and such.”
“Oh yeah that. Well that is just a few. I’m not really into it like some fellers around here. Left a lot of those lines of work behind me awhile back. Can’t do anything forever you know.”
“My friend Gordon was pretty concerned about that kind of thing actually,” Cotton said. “Thought there should be an extra tax on that kind of thing to go towards something useful. After all those things bring in a lot more money than one would think. But of course you know all about that. I’m preaching to the choir here.”
“That right? Didn’t know that Gordon was into politics as much as to propose new taxes. How about that?” He took the last dregs of his highball of bourbon.
“Don’t lie to me you sorry son of a bitch,” Cotton said. “Now we’re going to do this the easy way or the hard way. That part’s up to you entirely because I ‘d just as soon shoot you as look at you at the moment.
“In fact I think more and more along those lines the lower the level of whiskey gets in this bottle. If you’re honest from here on out, I will look over those other little lies. It might pay off for you in the end or you can get ornery and make this a damn sight harder and more painful than you could possibly imagine. It’s entirely up to you”, he said shrugging like he had not a care in the world besides the whiskey in his glass.
Porter had poured another highball of bourbon without taking his eyes off Cotton. At the moment he was the color of his undershirt. As white as snow. He took a deep swallow and spoke in a slightly hoarse voice. “Now see here, I don’t know what the hell all this is about. I was no where near Gordon when he died.”
He started to rise up, bristling with indignation but quickly lowered himself when he saw the barrel of the .45 appear while Cotton just sat there with the calm of a man that was in his element. The bastard had already drank at least $50 worth of bourbon.
“Oh I think you do know exactly what I am talking about and I suspect your coke head friends know as well,” Cotton said. “What, you really thought that everyone would keep everything quiet? I admit that it was hard getting what I needed to know but I got it. Gordon didn’t just throw himself off a bridge or take all that cocaine. He’d do a line here and there but nothing like that.”
“You guys always thought you were better then the rest of us, Porter said.
Cotton couldn’t help himself at this point. He whipped out the .45 and pistol whipped the shit out Porter. The blood bloomed red from his broken and battered nose.
“We were better and still are. Now you tell me what you know. I won’t repeat myself again, Porter.”
“Fuck! You broke my goddamn nose!”
“I’ll be doing a hell of a lot worse than that here in about two seconds if you don’t start talking.”
“There ain’t too much to say,” Porter said. “Gordon was in the way and going to cost certain folks a fortune. He had to go and I wanted money.”
“Don’t you dare say ‘certain folks’ again,” Cotton said. “There is not certain folks about it.” He hit Porter with the butt of the .45 again. “You took money from a bunch of white trash and damn Yankees. I’ve know some sorry motherfuckers in my day and put more than a few in the ground but what you have done has made me angrier than I was with any of them.”
“Fuck you.” Porter was fed up and knew he was in a bind and a bit of defiance wasn’t going to change his situation much. If only he could get to a weapon.
“Let’s take a walk.”
It was with those four words that it finally hit Porter that he was truly not long for this world. That is until he realized that he had a switchblade hidden in his boot. He was just gullible enough to believe to think this gave him a chance, so he followed Cotton without trouble or even too dirty of a look. He’d have to bide his time and play this off right because he would only get one chance, and if that failed he was definitely a dead man.
Cotton drove Porter out into the country to a dead-end dirt road that was just used for getting up hay a few times a year. They would not be disturbed out here. There would be no one to hear what went on. The whole truth of the matter would be in Cotton’s hands after Porter was dead. It was going to be a few hours before that mercy was delivered though.
After beating Porter severely with a bag full of rocks, Cotton considered dumping him in the river. Years ago a train had derailed at one of the trestles near Marshall and the divers never could find it. That was back when divers could only go down 100 feet. There were some deep holes in the French Broad.
No, he had a much more suitable solution in mind. The DOT had a quarry near town where they crushed gravel. It would be easy to get into after hours. At this point Porter was beaten so badly that he could not move on his own, even though he was very aware of what was going on around him. He lost consciousness briefly and when he woke up again it was getting to be daylight and he heard the sound of machinery. Of course that was the last he heard because Cotton had put his badly beaten body into the gravel crushers hopper, and when Larry the boss came in that morning and turned on the crusher, he didn’t even hear the quickly silenced scream as Porter became something to be spread on the many state roads. The next day the workers would wonder why the crows and buzzards were so interested in the pile of gravel off to the right.
Sam Biggers lives and works on a small family farm in Appalachia with her husband. She writes Southern crime fiction, homesteading books, and more. She can be reached via email. Her collection of crime shorts “Men At Work” is available on Amazon.