Challenge 67

D L Mackenzie

Challenge 67

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Like a Steel Trap

D. L. Mackenzie

Jimmy sat back, his arms crossed. “You were wearing an ugly plaid shirt that night, and jeans, and your right leg was still wet because your moron buddy Rick punched a hole in one of your irrigation boots as a prank.”

Phil squinted at Jimmy and sipped his bourbon. “Yeah, I guess I remember that.”

Jimmy continued. “You had seven bourbons here in the bar and walked over to the craps tables around 8:30. You lost $450, accused the stickman of passing you fixed dice, and you were eighty-sixed by ten o’clock.”

Phil frowned. “How can you—Jeez, Jimmy, that was years ago. You got like, what do they call it… photographic memory?”

“Hyperthymestic. It means I remember everything, Phil. Every sight, sound, smell… even thoughts. I remember it all with perfect clarity.” Jimmy scoffed and gulped the last of his Tom Collins. “Gift from the gods, right?”

“Yeah, you ought to be sitting behind a deep stack in the no-limit room, right?”

Jimmy shook his head wordlessly, intently eying Phil, who tittered nervously and took another drink.

“Anyway, why you telling me this, Jimmy?”

Jimmy tapped on a pack of matches next to his cigarettes. “You told me three years ago you’d never heard of the Palomino Motel, but last night you give me a pack of matches from that very place.”

“It’s just an old… you know, I kinda collect ‘em everywhere I…” Phil finished his bourbon in a gulp and motioned to the bartender.

Jimmy’s face grew expressionless. “Funny thing, there’s a phone number written inside that pack. Elena’s cell phone.”

Phil blanched. “No kidding? Well, I—I guess she must have, uh—”

“I knew it was you all along, too, but you were pretty damned cagey. Three years, and you never slipped up once.”

“Jimmy, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Jimmy leaned back in his chair and gazed up at the ceiling. “Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory. Great sense of humor she has… or maybe it’s irony. See, I even remember things I want to forget. I can’t just… drink from the river Lethe and put it all behind me. I remember. I can still smell the bourbon on Elena that night, and your cheap goddamn cologne. I can still hear her crying, begging for forgiveness. I can even see the precise patterns of her blood on the walls. I’d put a bullet in my own head just to stop those memories, but I don’t have the guts.”

Phil shook his head, his eyes wide. “Jimmy, you said Elena left you—”

“I lied, Phil. I didn’t want to go to prison. But I do now. No trial, no appeals, just… straight to death row and one last… intravenous cocktail.”

The waitress brought two more drinks and Jimmy opened his wallet, emptying it. “This is for you, sweetheart. You’ve been great. Hey, you know my buddy Phil, right? He slept with my wife and I killed her.” He pulled a small pistol from his jacket and aimed it squarely at Phil. “Better take a break, sweetheart, ‘cause you don’t want to see what happens next. You’ll never forget it.”

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