Crime Story

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Contributor: Andrew Hubbard

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The old man said he’d tell me a story
If I brought him some scotch.
I did so.

He turned the bottle in his hands slowly
Like a jeweler appraising a rope of pearls.
“Malt,” he said slowly, “none of that
Blended shit. You’re a good boy.”
I’m forty four.

I brought him another gift:
A Waterford crystal tumbler,
I even had it gift wrapped.

He opened it very slowly
And smiled behind his white moustache.
“Let’s go on the porch,” he said.

It was just past sunset.
Bats did their spirit dance,
Coyotes were tuning up far away.

A cork squeaked, and a most excellent aroma
Glided into the cool air.

He drank, closed his eyes,
And pressed the tumbler to his forehead
Like a sacrament. He started talking
Before he opened his eyes:

“Must be forty years gone now
I was rasslin’ pulpwood near Oldtown, Maine.
I stopped in the bar and an old man took me aside.
He said a couple of low-life’s
From the reservation were planning
To rob me that night at my cabin.
He was pretty far into the Budweiser
But he sounded straight up, and I believed him.”

“I got a nap, picked my hiding place, and waited.”

“They came on the dot at twelve.
I let them get well inside
And then they were looking at my flashlight
And a gun barrel.”

“I had them cuff themselves together with a zip tie
Right wrist of one to left wrist of th’other.”

He paused to drink, then paused some more.

“I almost never lie,” he said
And I don’t like it.
But when I have to,
I can do it pretty well.
I said to them, ‘I ain’t
Going to hurt you boys
But we’re going for a walk.’”

“I made them go first
And I followed with the flashlight.
One of the guys was silent, the other was sobbing.
We went through the woods,
Then past our cutting area
Into a dark stretch of virgin timber.”

“When I judged we’d gone far enough to kill the sound
I shot the one on the left in the back of the head.
He pitched forward so hard
He pulled the other guy down on his face.
He was making little puppy noises, and then
I shot him in the back of the head too.”

“I pocketed the shell cases, found my way home, and slept.”

“I knew they’d find the guys eventually
And they did.”

“The newspaper made it out like a hate crime
But they didn’t have much to go on.
I remember one headline:
‘Officials have determined that the shots
Were fired from a nine millimeter handgun.’”
He chuckled. “That’s like saying, ‘The getaway car
Was found to have four wheels.’”

He’d been working at the scotch judiciously,
Now he took a gulp.
He coughed a little and yawned.
The bottle was down almost halfway.

“I don’t know why I did it that way
I could have called the cops.
Sometimes you just do things
Cause they feel right at the time.”

“I guess there’s no harm
In talking about it now…
And what can they do to me anyway?
Walls of my heart are tissue paper,
I’d never survive a trial.”

“Good scotch.”

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Andrew Hubbard was born and raised in a coastal Maine fishing village. He has had six books published, and currently lives with his family in rural southern Indiana.


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