I backed deeper into dad’s half-collapsed toolshed and prayed Augie would stop counting long enough to turn around. My body screamed for oxygen, but my asthmatic lungs refused to comply. The man stepped with me, keeping the pistol inches from my head. Blood oozed from a gash across his neck.  Bright and red, just like the blood on the bag of money Augie and I found on the tracks. I knew we should have left it, but money was tight and that bag had a lot of it.

“Ain’t nobody coming after this money, Wyatt,” said Augie. “There’s way too much blood.”

A crooked grin split the man’s face. “I guess my name is Ain’t Nobody, kid.” His raspy voice sounded like the chain smoking guy at the station.

Augie’s voice shook. “Please don’t hurt my brother, mister. Take the money. We won’t tell. I swear.”

A flicker of sadness crossed the man’s face. “Just pack it up.” He pulled out a bottle. “Slow breaths, Wyatt. Drink this.”

I swallowed the liquid he poured into my mouth without thinking. It burned my throat, but by the time Augie packed up all the cash, my molasses filled lungs had cleared. The man took the bloodstained bag from Augie and tossed a thick wad of twenties on the ground.

“For your troubles.” He tousled my hair and smiled. “Slow easy breaths and a shot of whiskey, Wyatt. Worked for my brother every time. Remember, if anyone asks, Ain’t Nobody been here.”

About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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