Welcome to Flash Pulp episode four.
Mulligan Smith and The Standoff, Part One of One
They both had guns drawn, and Mulligan knew it to be a bad scene.
Mulligan maintained a simple rule about firearms, and when the police asked he always had generally the same thing to say: “Never draw first if you can avoid it. Pull out a pistol and the other guy suddenly feels inadequate and wants one too. Hell – if he wants it bad enough, maybe he’ll try and take yours.”
Smith hadn’t had much choice however, as he’d stepped from the plush white carpet of the home office to the burgundy pile of the hallway, someone had loudly ratcheted a twelve gauge near the front door.
Since the announcement of intentions the white paneled house had fallen exam-room silent.
Mulligan knew that his unexpected caller, likely the pepper haired golfer who owned the home, was probably tip-toeing along the plush, dusty coral living room carpet. The PI was perched in the shadows at the edge of the hallway: a right would take him to the front door, the fake hardwood of the short front hall directly in the line of sight of the sunken living room. His other option was to move forward into the inky blackness ahead of him, where he knew the kitchen and dining area lay. The alternate route offered the conveniences of a patio door and an overlook into the living room.
A sprint to the sliding door tempted Mulligan, but the idea of silhouetting himself against the glow of the huge window kept him still. He was beginning to contemplate turning back into one of the alternate doors that branched off from the hallway – surely there was an overtly white bathroom with a window he might tumble out of – when a vase in the living room swooned, gave a hollow thud to mark the departure from its tabletop home and made a solid landing on the carpet.
Mulligan’s mind slid this new information around like a puzzle piece, attempting to fit it into his understanding of the scenario. He forced himself to conjur every bit of memory he could from the cursory glance of the living room he’d had before pressing on deeper into the house. There was a large standing lamp in the far corner of the room, a TV directly to his right, couches to his left, and, yes, a heavy pearl lamp with golden shade that would likely have made that exact thud. Its platform was a stout oak side-table, the kind of thing that would be quite handy as a stool if someone wanted to pull themselves up from the living room, over the railing, and into the dining area.
A large part of the problem with wandering, armed, around a strange house in the dark is that you don’t really have a lot of rights under the law, and Mulligan knew it. If he were to shoot the aging businessman, it would be a murder charge. If Eighteen-Hole McSwings took a shot at him, knocking him dead, the police would look at it as one less burglar, and nevermind that the old man drew first and that Mulligan had no interest in violence.
His eyes still hadn’t adjusted to the darkness, which he hoped meant that neither had his opponent’s. While still trying to peer into the murk that was the kitchen, his free hand traced loops along the wall, hoping to encounter something that might be of use.
His finger tips came across a large hanging photo, housed in a heavy silver frame.
Mulligan tucked away his pistol and rolled his shoulders in a quick stretch.
In a single smooth motion he removed the frame from the wall, tucked it into frisbee-position and let fly into the darkness. As the picture left his hand, his right foot followed, chasing it into the kitchen. His path diverged there however, as he turned right and flew down the double step that lead to the front hall, and escape.
Behind him, the frame briefly sailed on, catching a glint from the kitchen window to reveal the image of an aging couple, their adult children, and on their laps the third generation, all hanging in a moment in space.
Well before Mulligan had reached the door he heard the shotgun roar, and somewhere underneath, glass shattering.
Unable to feel any new gaping wounds in his body, his feet found fresh speed, his hands moved with surety in finding the deadbolt and knob.
“You… I shot my family!” chased him through the oak frame and down the cobblestone front path, his goal, a series of hotel receipts meticulously kept for tax reasons, tucked deep in one of his hoodie’s many pockets.
Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.