This first line of a fictional short story was suggested by American blogger, Maggie. https://fromcavewalls.wordpress.com/
Devon often wound up in strange predicaments but finding himself tied to a chair with a rattlesnake at his feet was new even for him.
The man on the other side of the room didn’t seem to be afraid of the big rattler. Then again, he was holding a twelve-gauge pump, so he had a distinct advantage over the snake. The pain in his head came back worse than before, throbbing where they had hit him with the pickaxe handle. He should be worried that his skull might be fractured, but he was more concerned about the snake’s next move.
When you see people tied to chairs in movies, they usually thrash around, pull at the ropes, maybe tip the chair over trying to smash it. But this was a metal chair, and he was secured with painful cable-ties. Besides, he didn’t want to end up any closer to the rattler than he was already. Moving his head very slowly, as if in slow motion, he spoke quietly to the big man holding the shotgun. How good is a snake’s hearing? He wasn’t sure.
“Mister, I have no idea why I am here, I promise you. Tell me what I’m supposed to have done, or what you want from me. Tell me that at least. I ain’t got no money, and if this is a kidnap, I can tell you none of my relatives ain’t got no money neither”. The man didn’t reply, or so much as glance in his direction.
Devon Mason had always been a drifter. Dropped out of school and bummed around the country. Work was easy enough to come by if you didn’t mind too much what you did for the money, and he had done all sorts. Bouncer at a strip joint, picking fruit on farms, washing cars in a car wash, even tending bar in a gay club. As long as they came up with the cash on payday, he didn’t care. Tuscon had seemed a good a place as any, and Xcel delivery services was hiring. Shifting parcels was easy enough work, and he soon learned his way around.
After a package delivery at West 29th Street out in South Park, he had seen the two men standing by his truck. But he hadn’t seen the pickaxe handle one of them was holding, not until the guy swung it and knocked him cold.
Then he came round in that chair, listening to the edgy snake rattling its tail. Judging by the view from the window opposite, he was in the desert somewhere, probably a ways out near Organ Pipe. He was very thirsty, and it was getting dark.
A door opened behind him, and a man walked in. He was immaculately dressed in a three-piece suit, and looked cool and calm, despite the desert heat. Standing with his back to the window, he spoke quietly, his accent pure New York City.
“Just tell us what you did with the package, you redneck sonofabitch. No point denying you had it, as we got the tracking number and waited for the delivery. It didn’t show up, but you know that of course”. Before Devon could answer, he turned to the shotgun man and nodded. The big guy propped the gun against the wall, and walked over holding a sack. He grabbed the rattler as if it was nothing, and stuffed it into the sack, pulling the drawstring tight.
Suit man smiled. “You tell me now, or the snake gets free. Up to you”.
There was a noise from outside, and through the window he could see two men digging next to a big old cactus. They had their jackets off, and shirtsleeves rolled up. Devon felt the sweat running down into his eyes, and wondered why nobody else could feel the heat like he could. His mouth was so dry, he had trouble replying.
“I’m just a parcel delivery guy mister, don’t know nothing about your parcel. I just scan them, and deliver them. If they said yours was tracked, then I would have delivered it, honest”. Suit man seemed unhappy.
“Twenty kilos of pure heroin. That ring a bell? Just tell us where it is, and you can go. It’s a long walk back to Tuscon, but you can make it. Look, just stop lying. We know who you are, and where you’re from. Don’t you think we have contacts at Xcel? Levon Masson, hailing from some cajun shithole in Louisiana. Think you can pull something like this off?”
The relief was so overwhelming, Devon almost started laughing. “Ain’t me, mister. I’m Devon Mason, and I’m from Georgia. My driver’s licence is in my wallet, just check it out”. After a nod from his boss, shotgun man walked over and pulled the wallet from Devon’s back pocket. He slid out the licence and showed it to suit man. The New Yorker shook his head, and grinned.
“Well on behalf of the management, please accept my apology for this inconvenience, Mr Mason”. Turning to the big guy, his expression changed.
“Put the snake in the hole with him”.