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Two of a Kind

suspense by Robert Swartwood

Their driver had been spooked by the gunfire, so by the time they made it out of the bank, Eddie shot in the arm, blood soaking his shirt, the stolen Mazda that was to be their getaway car was long gone.

“Fuck!” Eddie shouted.

Alan wasn’t sure what Eddie was cursing at, his gunshot wound or the fact that their driver had bolted.

Alan said, “We have to go.”

“You think?”

In the distance they could hear sirens approaching.

“I can’t believe that bastard shot me,” Eddie said.

Alan looked up and down the sidewalk. “What should we do now?”

Eddie was moving before Alan knew it, stepping out into the street, into oncoming traffic. He raised his gun — he still managed to grip it with the hand of his wounded arm — at the first car in the lane.

The car, a brand-new Honda, screeched to a halt, the front bumper stopping less than a foot from where Eddie stood. Eddie hurried toward the driver’s-side, managed to open the door while keeping the gun aimed.

“Get the fuck out!” he yelled, shoving the barrel of the Glock in the woman’s face, the woman screaming and crying and calling him baby.

This last didn’t make any sense to Alan but he started forward at once, stepping around Eddie and pulling the woman out of the car. Eddie kept the gun aimed at her as he moved around to the other side, opened the door and slid in. Alan slammed his door and the woman threw herself onto the hood, pounding her fists against the windshield.

Eddie shouted, “Fucking gas it!”

Alan pushed the pedal to the floor, the Honda’s engine roaring as it sped forward. The woman managed to hold on for half a block before she slid off and went flying to the macadam.

Eddie, rocking in his seat, still holding his wound, laughed like it was the funniest thing in the world.

Two blocks later, after they had passed the three cop cars speeding in the opposite direction, the crying started in the backseat.

#

“Shit.”

“I can’t believe it,” Alan said.

“Shit!” Eddie said again, louder this time, and smacked the heel of his hand on the dashboard.

This only made the baby in the back of the Honda fuss even more.

Alan said, “We have to take it back.”

“We can’t.”

“But—”

“Don’t be stupid. If we take it back, the cops will arrest us.”

They were driving through the city, keeping a respectable speed, nothing that would rouse too much attention.

Alan said, “Then we need to ditch the car. The cops will already have its description.”

Eddie slumped in his seat, stared out his window. “Not yet.”

“Eddie.”

“I said not yet. Just drive.”

They drove, headed toward the expressway, the baby in the backseat still crying.

“Maybe it’s hungry,” Alan said.

“Maybe it needs to take a shit,” Eddie said.

“I’m serious.”

“So am I. You want to change its diaper?”

Alan didn’t like the fact they kept referring to the baby as an it.

“Boy or girl?”

Eddie looked at him. “What are you talking about?”

“The baby. You think it’s a boy or a girl?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. If you haven’t noticed, I’m bleeding here, and we have nothing to show for it.”

A minute later they pulled onto the expressway. The baby continued its shrill crying.

Eddie said, “I think I’m going to shoot it.”

“You can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because. It’s a baby.”

“People have abortions every day.”

“You’re crazy.”

“No, I’m pissed, and I can’t think straight with that fucking baby crying non-stop.” He turned suddenly in his seat, his face red. “Shut up! Just shut up!”

The baby didn’t shut up.

Eddie said, “Stop the car.”

“What?”

“Stop the goddamn car.”

“Why?”

“You don’t want me to kill it, fine, but it’s not staying in here.”

Alan’s fingers tightened around the steering wheel. “We’re not leaving it on the side of the highway.”

“Why not? Someone will spot it right away, pick it up.”

“Yeah, and they’ll also spot us dropping it off. Not a good idea.”

The baby continued crying, even more agitated now.

Eddie lifted the Glock. “Pull over.”

“No.”

“Fine then,” Eddie said, and aimed the gun at the screaming baby. “Suit yourself.”

Alan jerked the wheel hard to the right, sending them over the caution strip. Eddie lost his balance as he pulled the trigger and the bullet shattered the back window. He wasn’t wearing his safety belt, so when they crashed into the concrete barrier he was flung out of his seat and into the windshield. The driver’s-side airbag popped, chalk shooting everywhere. Alan’s ears were ringing as he reached for his gun and turned toward Eddie.

“Don’t,” he said, breathless, his .38 trained on Eddie’s head.

Eddie was half bent over, his fingers only inches away from the Glock on the floor.

In the backseat, nothing had changed about the baby’s crying, so Alan hoped that it — no; he or she — was okay.

Eddie grinned, his mouth full of blood, and said, “This didn’t go according to plan, did it?”

Alan didn’t answer.

“You really think you can shoot me?”

“I don’t want to find out.”

“What will mom say?”

“She always said I was the soft one. I think she’ll understand.”

Eddie’s eyes shifted to meet Alan’s. He said, “No she won’t.”

And he leaned down, grabbed the Glock, brought it up toward Alan, who had no choice but to pull the trigger.

#

The baby was still crying when Alan unbuckled it from its baby seat and lifted it into his arms. There was a pink blanket so he assumed it was a girl.

“Shh,” he whispered, “everything’s okay now.”

He rocked the baby in his arms, standing there on the side of the highway, waiting for the police to arrive.

Copyright October 2009 by Robert Swartwood

Robert Swartwood lives in Pennsylvania. He blogs about writing at Robert Swartwood.

[Return to the October 2009 stories]

4 Responses

  1. Call me Eddie ’cause I’m blown away. Thanks for raising the bar.
    ~Chris

  2. That was a wild ride! Enjoyed your suspenseful story, Robert. Good title, too!

  3. Loved the title. Good story.

  4. Thank you everyone for reading and commenting.

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