Good morning and Happy Hump Day ! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.
Char is visiting with Isabella, the genealogist Casey guided him to, when he is alarmed to discover the rednecks he had the run-in with are nearby. Abruptly leaving his gracious hostess, he goes to see what the idiots are up to and why they are seeking him. See what's going on in this week's chapter of An Unholy Alliance. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!An Unholy Alliance #22 (6.1)
By all the gods, how had they managed to find me? I had to assume more than sheer coincidence was causing our paths to cross once more. I wasn’t so naïve to believe that if I’d remained where I was—in the shelter of Isabella’s garden—they would have simply gone along their merry way and made no attempt to invade Isabella’s peaceful paradise in a foolhardy pursuit of someone whose very nature they were clueless about. No, there was some agenda at play here. Whatever it was, I intended to take care of these fools, once and for all. But I would do it outside of Isabella’s knowledge and immediate vicinity. I would apologize profusely for my rude and hasty exit later, but her safety was what was paramount right now. That and finding out what they were up to.
I intersected the mangy group about a half mile away from Isabella’s home. They were apparently following the same path which I had taken to get there. The reason for that became crystal clear to me in an instant. They were huddled together in the middle of the deserted road. Thickets of trees and dense foliage flanked either side beyond which lay farmers’ plowed fields, but not another human in sight. Frank knelt beside his dog, grasping something blue that he held up for the dog’s inspection. “C’mon boy, you can do it. Find that ignorant son of a bitch.”
Except he didn’t say ignorant. But I wouldn’t allow myself to even think the racial epithet he did use. His language didn’t surprise me. I’d expect no less from a man of his low intellect and limited vocabulary, and I’m sure he knew a lot worse slurs he could hurl, given the chance. And then I recognized what was in his hand. That was a piece of my now discarded jacket he held, and that explained everything. They were deliberately tracking me, using that bit of torn cloth and the dog’s olfactory capabilities. Probably still angry after our last encounter. Time to end this little game here and now.
At first they were oblivious to my presence, too focused on the dog to pay attention to their environment. At least not until I strode confidently into their midst. The dog was the first one to take notice. He gave a joyful yip and leapt up against my leg, as if requesting that I hold him.
He was the only one who was happy to see me.
“Rover!” Frank remonstrated, shooting his dog a baleful glance. “What are you doing, you stupid mutt?”
“Looks like Rover found him, just like you told him to.” Joey sounded disconcertingly smug.
“Looks like he found us,” Caleb corrected him. Or maybe it was Donny. They all looked alike to me. Plus I didn’t really care to remember which one was which. Frank’s identity was made easier to recall only because of his dog.
“Shut up, all of you!” I snapped. Leaning down, I scooped up the overly excited canine. He immediately licked my face, which I tolerated, mostly to irritate Frank. My secondary motivation was to remove him from harm’s way before anything went down.
And something was surely going to go down. How could it not?
I drew in deep breaths, attempting to calm myself before I made another move. As I’ve mentioned before, I am generally not a man of violence unless forced to it. I adhere to the age-old adjuration of do no harm. But I was willing to make an exception in the case of these idiots, and that knowledge did not sit well with me. They were mostly harmless, after all. Was stupidity a valid reason to kill someone? If so, the world would surely be littered with more corpses, not to mention being a nicer place to live in.
“Tell me why you are stalking me?” I addressed the group at large, but they all glanced toward Frank, as if they didn’t have a brain cell between them that could act independently of his leadership. So I followed suit and glared at Frank as well.
He made no immediately reply but reached out toward me as if he intended to snatch his dog. He’d barely begun to move when I took a quick step back and thus easily outmaneuvered him, my reflexes being far superior, of course.
“I’m sorry, was the question too complicated for you?” I snarked. Rover yipped, as if in support of my comment.
Frank’s face suffused with anger mixed with embarrassment, no doubt, and his so-called friends snickered. So much for group loyalty. He narrowed his eyes at me and found his tongue.
“You’re too uppity for your own good. You need to learn your place among your betters.”
I was torn between anger and the desire to laugh at his so-cliché words. I had hurt their poor little feelings when I didn’t just let them hurt me, and had in fact fought back. They couldn’t seem to stomach the idea that a black man had bested them.
I could hear the sound of a car engine and braced myself to see a vehicle come over the hill toward us, but the sound ceased. Nothing to do with us, I reasoned, and returned my attention to the rednecks standing in the middle of the road.
“Betters? You?” I scoffed. “Excuse me, but who did I leave lying on the ground just a short while ago? Or have you forgotten?”
“You cheated!” Frank shouted angrily. “It wasn’t a fair fight.”
Oh right, four against one and he had the nerve to talk about fairness?
Just then I heard a gun cock. At the same moment, Rover leapt from my arms toward the newcomer.
Why was Tyrone standing there, large revolver in hand, aimed toward the rednecks?
“Hey guys, what’s going on here? And why are you trying to abuse my friend? Didn’t your mama teach you better manners than that?”
to be continued
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