Prompt: Use the painting Gray and Gold as an inspiration and a setting for your story
Word Limit: 1,300 words
Deadline: Wednesday, September 26th at 9:00 p.m. EST
Black and Gold
‘Boy, I just don’t have any luck do I?’ He thought as he walked down the dirt road. ‘When Al and Slim got shot during the job I thought it was good luck, but look where that’s gotten me.’
He looked to his right and saw the black clouds gathering on the horizon above the golden hayfield. They were blocking out the sunlight and soon would open up and pour on him.
‘Slim was always good with cars. He could have gotten that damn Ford back up and running. I kinda miss him. Not Al though. Al was a jerk.’
He thought he felt a sprinkle fall on him but he wasn’t sure.
‘As it is now, a job that should have netted me a couple hundred thousand dollars became about two millions dollars. And now I’m down to about a hundred thousand. Just what I can carry with me. I really wish I hadn’t had to leave the car. All that money…’
There were two million one hundred sixty four thousand nine hundred and twenty dollars in the trunk of the Escort that was stalled out four miles down the road. It would have run now, the only problem was that the engine had overheated, but he didn’t know that.
‘I wonder who’ll find it first. It probably won’t be a cop. I don’t know that there’s any cops out here. I don’t think I’ve seen one since I’ve been in Nebraska. Am I still in Nebraska? I could be in Iowa by now. Or maybe Arkansas. Are they next to each other? I’m sure they don’t put ‘Welcome to Arkansas’ signs on piddly-ass dirt roads like this.’
Thunder rumbled in the distance. The sunlight took on the eerie green glow it gets when it knows it’s about to be blotted out for a few moments. Or hours. Or days.
‘I’ve got to find a motel. How far is it to the next town? I have no idea. I wish I’d bought a map. No. It was too soon to go into a store. I need to lay low for a while. I’m sure they won’t be looking for me out here, but it never hurts to be careful. What is that?’
There was a man standing in the road about a half mile ahead.
‘Who the hell is that crazy bastard? That’s some suit he has on.’
The stranger wore a bright red 3-piece suit with a matching fedora covering his red hair. He smoked a cigarette as he lolled about in the four way intersection.
“Well, you look lost,” said the stranger.
“I am buddy. What is that smell?” he asked, the odor was nearly strong enough to knock him over. “It’s like rotten eggs. Have you been dusting these crops here, fellow?”
“More room out than in is what I always say,” he said with a mischievous grin. “Smoke?”
“Sure, Thanks. But don’t you worry that you’re flammable with all that gas you been spillin’?” he put the cigarette in his mouth and let Red light it for him. “You’re not from around here are you?”
“What gave it away?” Red laughed. “Neither are you.”
“Guilty as charged,” he admitted. “I’m actually a little bit lost. My car broke down a few miles up the road and I’ve been walking for hours.”
“I see. So you’re looking for a town then?”
“Yeah. You wouldn’t happen to know where the closest one is would you?”
“Well I certainly would,” Red said. “But it’s going to cost you.”
He frowned. “You’re going to charge me for directions?”
“Well of course. That’s business my friend. I have something you want and you have to pay me to get it. Haven’t you ever done this before?”
“Hmmmph,” he said and walked off. He stepped to the center of the intersection and looked around. There was no way of knowing which way was North, South, East or West with the clouds blocking the sun. Not that that would have done him any good anyway. “Where’s your car friend?”
“I never ride in the things. Dirty and dangerous, you know,” Red took a deep inhale of the cigarette and bellowed smoke like a forest fire. “They spew out a lot of poison gases.”
“So how did you get here?”
“I just came out here to meet someone.”
“Oh yeah? Why would you come out here to meet someone?”
“I always meet people at crossroads like this. It’s the way I like to do business.”
“Hmmph,” he snorted again. The man in red was a strange character. That was for sure. But he had what was needed. The clouds wouldn’t hold back for long. Soon they would release and he wanted to be indoors for that.
“So why are you meeting this guy?”
“Why to mete out a deal. Why else?”
“I don’t know. Maybe you’re a fag or something.”
“Son, I invented homosexuality.” Red winked and made him very uncomfortable.
“So what kind of deal are you looking to make?”
“Oh, whatever kind of deal presents itself.”
He didn’t like the idea of spending the miniscule amount of cash he still had from the robbery, but he disliked the idea of being in a hayfield during a lightning storm even more. He could part with a few twenties for this whack job to tell him which road would lead to shelter.
“Hmmmph. Well how about we cut a deal for those directions. What’s it gonna cost me?”
As Red’s lips pulled back from his yellow teeth in a wide grin the smell of sulfur grew stronger.