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The Block Mayor

#fiction #shortstory

By Andrea Corwin Published about a month ago 7 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Photo by YesMore Content on Unsplash

Like every warm day, Terrence is finishing this day on his L-shaped porch, sipping whisky from a dented flask. Cars pass by slowly, and he watches young women pushing babies in strollers; he hears the neighbors’ arguments and knows which have a regular income and those who are unemployed. Terrence is the self-appointed block mayor, laying judgment on his fellow folk.

“Hi, Terrence. How are you this fine sunny day?” Terrence sits up straight, wanting to make a good impression.

“I am superb, Miss Myrna, thank you. And yourself?” He stands up, slipping the flask behind a plant, hoping she didn’t see it.

They briefly discuss his potted porch plants and what type would do well in her front yard. Terrence’s eyes follow as she strolls up the street, his head moving rhythmically to the sway of her broad and shapely hips.

Once dusk has fully descended and the summer bugs are buzzing, Terrence makes a triple-decker peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich on thick egg bread. Spreading the chunky peanut butter to the edges of a slice, he splats a tablespoon of jam in the middle, adds another slice of bread, and presses firmly but gently, spreading the jam. A third piece of bread gets some butter, then peanut butter, and is finished with a layer of jam. Carefully placing the final slice, he uses his giant butcher knife to split it diagonally. Setting his dinner composition on a paper plate, he dumps some rippled potato chips and baby carrots next to it. While listening to the evening news, he munches his dinner and sips a dark beer mixed with some Coke.

A loud banging on his front door interrupts dinner, and Terrence curses as he goes to answer. In the peephole, he sees Betty Gomez, his backyard neighbor.

“Why, what is wrong, Miss Betty? What has you so upset that you ran here in just a t-shirt? Where are your bottoms? Wait! Who hit you? Your sonabitch husband better be gone when I get to your house!”

“No, no, Terrence, don’t go there, please! He was drinking and hit me.”

“Whatchu gonna do about it, Miss Betty? You can’t keep on like this, Bill drinking and hitting you. He could kill you next. Leave him. Why’d he hit you this time?”

“I served three shots to Casey.”

“That’s your job, idn’t? I mean, you are a bartender, ain’t you?”

“I am, yes, I am a damned good bartender. I usually make over $200 a night in tips. That’s why he hit me.”

“What? I don’t follow. Why would he hit you for doing a good job and bringing home big tips?”

“No, that’s not it. Bill didn’t hit me because I make good money in tips. He hit me because of Casey. Bill came in and sat in a dark corner, watching me, but I didn’t know he was there. Casey gave me a $5 tip for his first shot of whiskey. Then he ordered two beers for his friends and gave me a $10 tip. When I poured the second shot, Casey tipped $20; for the third, Casey smacked down two twenty-dollar bills! Each time he tipped me, I shoved the money in my pocket and waited on the next customer.”

“So, Casey tipped you a total of $75?”

“Uh huh, he sure did. I finished my shift, went home, and found Bill about three sheets to the wind in our kitchen. I tried to get some caffeine in him, but he was having none of anything I offered or said. He wouldn’t listen and kept raving about the ‘damned country boys hanging all over his wife, trying to get in her pants.’ He told me I had to quit and demanded my tips. I told him there was no way I was handing over the tips. My legs and feet hurt from working long hours, and tonight’s tips will get me a spa day! That’s when he jumped up, drunk, and stumbled into the cupboard. He made that my fault, too; he leaped across the table, grabbed me by the hair, and slammed my face onto the table. He kept smacking me, pulling my hair, spitting, and screaming that I couldn’t return to work. He yanked my work shorts, still zipped up, clean off of me to shake the tips out of the pocket, but I hit him with his beer mug. He fell to the ground, and I hit him over and over until I knew he couldn’t get up and hurt me.”

Betty was gulping air, sobbing, snot running from her nose, eyes red and swollen. Terrence could see the sheer terror and slowly handed her a dish towel. He got ice, wrapped it in a dampened dishcloth, and put his moth-eaten sweater over her shaking shoulders. “Sit down, child, sit and put the ice on your cheek.” He placed his large hand over her free hand, patting it. “It’ll be okay.”

“No, no, no, no, nothing will ever be okay! Ever again. Terrence, there is a pool of blood around his head.” She followed with words he could barely hear, “I think he’s dead.”

“Oh, Lordy, child. My lips are sealed, but we must clean up the mess and figure out the story. You understand?”

“What do I do, Terrence? If he’s dead? Or if he’s not? God, what if he’s not? He will kill me when he gets better.”

Terrence squeezed her hand and hushed her. She sat quietly while he made a phone call. Twenty minutes later, a refuse truck driven by Terrence’s friend Carl arrived.

After conferring far away from Betty’s hearing, they told Betty to sit where she was, and the two men crossed the backyard to her house. Entering the kitchen, they agreed that Bill was dead. Very dead.

The men wrapped the corpse in a sheet, dragged it to Terrence’s house, then loaded it into the back of Carl’s garbage truck, and Terrence watched as the mechanism scooped it inside.

“Just another piece of garbage,” Terrence declared, shaking Carl’s hand.

“After my run tomorrow, there will be no trace. My lips are sealed, my friend.” Carl nodded solemnly.

Terrence returned and told his young neighbor she had to leave town immediately.

“Terrence, someone will come and see the blood. I watch true crime, and someone will figure it out. They always figure it out! I’m headed to prison. I’m a murderer.”

“You are not going to prison; that sonabitch deserved all you gave. I will take care of everything.”

“But why are you helping me? I’m a murderer. We were just neighbors, not best friends. I don’t have much money to pay you for your help.”

“Now, I done told you. My lips are sealed. AND, I don’t want any money. A long time ago, someone very dear to me was abused, and I swore then that I would stop it if I saw it again. I didn’t stop yours, but I can help you get away and get rid of Bill’s body. You pack up some belongings and get out of this town by morning. Take the train because there are more people to disappear in than on a bus. And sweetie, believe me, you can be a bartender anywhere. Find a job in a high-class joint.”

He ensured she avoided the kitchen and helped her select items to pack because she was still in a dazed state. In addition to the night’s tips, she had one thousand dollars in cash in the house, and Terrence gave her another two thousand. She argued with him, but he wouldn’t let her refuse his offer.

By Jason Leung on Unsplash

Three weeks later, Betty worked in a high-end Denver cocktail bar that business travelers liked. She didn’t wear shorts in this establishment; the work dress code for females was navy ankle pants, a button-down white shirt with pale blue stripes, and black pumps. She worked from 5 pm to 1 am Tuesdays through Saturdays, with Sunday and Monday off. The supervisor of the bartenders was a guy in his thirties from Phoenix, and he recognized the special skills Betty had; he asked her to create craft cocktails, and they would name them together. She was tasting a concoction she had just mixed when the six o’clock news popped up on one of the bar’s TVs. Startled when she heard the word explosion and the name of the town she had left, Betty stared at the TV screen, her hand holding the drink frozen halfway to her mouth.

Staring at the camera was Terrence, eyes wide in fright, hair askew and singed. The reporter asked about a house behind his that had blown up, sending burning pieces flying at him.

“Yes, that’s right,” he said to the reporter. “I was sitting like always, having my nightcap, when I heard a small explosion. I went through my house and into my backyard. Then BOOM! The entire house behind blew up, with pieces of wood flying at me. Look, it singed my hair and burned my arm. I ran inside and called 9-1-1 while hearing loud bangs from inside the house. I know the young man has weapons, so maybe it was the ammo blowing up.”

Betty watched as the reporter panned back to the house, and the only thing visible was a smoldering lump. There was no structure, no walls, no roof. Her home was obliterated.

By Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash

Two months later, at home, on her third day of annual leave from work, Betty was enjoying homemade nachos and watching the news before she went to a friend’s.

“The police speculate that the owner abandoned the house when he couldn’t make the mortgage payments. Mr. and Mrs. Gomez have been absent for some time. The fire marshalls and insurance investigators have concluded no one was inside the Gomez residence when it blew up. They believe squatters caused the explosion, and they have closed their investigation.”

Betty's hand froze mid-air, and she stared at the television. "Well, I'll be damned! Terrence is a man of his word."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: ReedsyPrompts provided the prompt that began this story: Write a story that includes the line “my lips are sealed.” Updated for Vocal stories, from the original post on ReedsyPrompts, 5/26/23.

thrillerShort StoryPsychologicalLove

About the Creator

Andrea Corwin

🐘Wildlife 🌳 Environment 🥋3rd°

Pieces I fabricate, without A.I. © 2024 Andrea O. Corwin

https://atmospherepress.com/interview-with-andrea-corwin/

Instagram @andicorwin

Threads @andicorwin

X - no holds barred! @andiralph

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Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (16)

  • Murali28 days ago

    Congratulations👏🎉

  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

  • Joe O’Connor29 days ago

    I really liked how you included lots of small details for the sake of world-building, really helped create a great story!

  • Congrats on your top story.

  • Lamar Wiggins29 days ago

    Thats what neighbors are for...Not sure who said that, lol. Seriously though, loved your story, pretty intense at the right times. And congrats!!!

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Rachel Deeming30 days ago

    Nice, Andrea. Terrence is the man!

  • Christy Munson30 days ago

    How was I not subscribed to you? That’s got to be a mistake! Great writing as always! 😮🙌

  • Love the egg bread sandwich and great story! I enjoyed the part about taking out the garbage lol

  • angela hepworth30 days ago

    Amazing Top Story!! Loved Terrence!

  • Margaret Brennan30 days ago

    first of all, congratulations on TS. Now ... THIS IS MAGNIFICENT!! I didn't want to stop reading. Excellent writing, story telling, and just WOW...

  • Dana Crandell30 days ago

    Well, I gotta' hand it to Terrence, even though he does awful things to good beer. Great job with the prompt, and congratulations on Top Story!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Everyone needs a friend like Terrence in their lives! I wonder if I'll be lucky enough to find my Terrence hahahahaha. Betty was so lucky. Go to hell , Bill and may you rot there. Also, that sandwich that Terrence made at the beginning and those potato chips, both made me sooooo hungry! I loved your story so much!

  • Mark Gagnonabout a month ago

    You put in just enough twists and turns to keep me wanting to know what will happen next. I use Readsy for some of my prompts as well.

  • Kodahabout a month ago

    This was intriguing! Incredibly done, Andrea! 💖

  • Ainy Abrahamabout a month ago

    Interesting story. You keep the motion right from the beginning till end.

Andrea Corwin Written by Andrea Corwin

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