This is a story I wrote in early 2016 for the now defunct MASH Stories website. The 500 word or less competition required us to use three randomly chosen words, in this case, “converter,” “happiness,” and “mug.” Enjoy!
GIRL AMONG THIEVES
by T.R. Leton
“Hope you find happiness in the afterlife, chum,” he said, pointing his piece straight in my face. His ugly mug twisted and he sneered. “‘Cuz, that’s where you’re headed.”
My heart raced as my eyes darted back and forth across the garage. I looked for anything that would serve as a weapon. Old, dusty cars sat half-covered in disorganized rows. Shelves and racks ran between them, lined with odds and ends of rusted-out auto parts. Nothing resembled anything close to a weapon. I sniffed. The pungent smell of oil filled my nostrils.
A goddamn wrench. That was all I needed.
“Look, buddy,” I replied, backing away. “You’ve got the wrong guy.”
“Oh, yeah?” he scoffed. “S’pose you’re just here for a tune-up, huh?”
My shoulder brushed one of the shelves. Out of the corner of my eye, a dull metallic glint caught my attention. I froze.
“Something like that,” I said, weary over just how bad a day I was having. The case started with a missing girl. Little did I know that it would lead to a gang of car thieves. Still, time was running out. I had to find her. Only one person remained standing in my way.
Desperate, I looked past him at the door in the far wall. I let my left eye twitch, then looked back at him with a sigh of false relief. He fell for it.
The barrel of his piece dipped as he glanced over his shoulder. The brief distraction was all I needed. Reaching for the shelf beside me, I grabbed onto the rusted bulk of an old catalytic converter. With what strength I could muster, I swung it at him. The metal mass collided with the side of his head with a satisfying crunch. His head jerked back, but not before he fired off a shot. The bullet went wide, bouncing and ricocheting off into a corner of the garage.
He stood dazed. Blood trickled down the side of his face. I poised, ready to fight in case the first attack failed to take him down. As he looked at me, his eyes glazed over then rolled back into his head. He collapsed to the floor like a rag-doll.
“I can’t believe that worked,” I said aloud, catching my breath. I dropped the converter. It clanged against the concrete floor.
The thumping sound came from a darkened corner of the garage. I stumbled over to find an old Buick. I opened the door, located the trunk release mechanism and pulled. With a clunk, the old car’s trunk popped open. I rushed around and lifted the lid. Maggie Robbins, bound and gagged, lay sobbing in the trunk. She looked up at me with wide, trembling eyes.
As I carried her out of the building, I grinned in spite of myself. The girl was alive and safe. The stolen-car racket was out of business. Case closed. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad day, after all.