Betty’s retribution

Ice-covered the sidewalk, reflecting the frozen pit inside my chest. The ache of loss radiated outward. Passing strangers sensed it, their eyes averted, they skirted around me as though I might break under their gaze. I marched on regardless, today was the day, and I had no time for their sensitivities.

My leather boots had trodden this path many times. It never got easier. I wonder if my daughter was distracted by the delicate icicles hanging from the trees like nature’s decorations or if she bowed her head to the bracing icy gusts. One thing experts did agree on; she didn’t see her attacker coming.

The smell of cigar smoke and gin filled the air outside Finley’s lounge as I passed. Nancy deserved better than to spend her last night serving swill to the low lives that frequent that place. Nursing the lump protruding from under my coat, I skirted around Joe’s pizza place and slipped into the dark alley behind. Right on schedule, one of Jimmy Fin’s henchmen propped open the service door and skulked off down the alley for his weekly rendezvous with Harley. I prayed that the two-hundred-dollar bonus I’d paid her was enough incentive for her to keep him busy and crept into the bar’s dusty storeroom.

A single dull bulb cast long shadows on a room lined with shelves of boxes and stacks of barrels. I slid my hand inside my coat pocket and let the weight and cool grip of betty, my Colt cobra revolver, soothe me. I took a deep, shaky breath and pushed open the creaky door to the private back bar.

All chatter ceased as I stepped over the threshold and held Betty high. A young woman, barely clothed and around the age, Nancy would have been when she was killed, screamed, and fled through a side door, leaving four men, Betty and me, alone.

“Easy now darlin’, what’s gotten you all shook up?”

My heart pounded in my ears, but my hand remained steady. The first took a step forward, and I pulled the trigger. My ears didn’t register the shot, but a high-pitched ringing told me that Betty had done her job. Blood spatter trickled down my face, teasing my tongue with the sweet metallic taste of vengeance.

Of the three men that remained, none went to the aid of their comrade. The closest lunged toward me, but Betty was too fast for him. The glint of a blade tore into my thigh as the man fell at my feet.

The smallest man and the only one I didn’t recognise fled out the same way as the young woman. I let him go. He was of no consequence when my real target, the man who murdered my Nancy, remained. He smirked and stood for the first time.

“Well, darlin’, I guess the cat’s out of the bag. Now, who’s mamma, are you? Mary? Lynda? No, don’t tell me, Barb—”

“Her name was Nancy.”

By Stacey Potter

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