Another shot had boomed about forty-five minutes ago. Fairly close. Seven Mag. He knew the sound well. It had come from east of where he was and rolled away from him. Everything had been still since then. No movement.
Just now he had smelled something. Faint, only a suggestion of sweat.
Trev was tucked into thick brush and behind an old jagged trunk of a fallen oak. He was a statue, his breathing slow and shallow. He didn’t move his head, only the eyes. A drop of sweat hung on his eyebrow and another one was creeping its way down his forehead.
His eyes bore into a small gap in the heavy thicket and trees about thirty yards downrange. Had to be the spot where he’d come. It was a game trail, no larger than a foot and a half wide.
There it was again. Sour smell. Man smell. Just a slight breeze though, still very faint.
Fifteen minutes later, Early Benbright slowly materialized just inside that trail opening. Trev saw the white face first. The bastard brother of Harlan was crouched down a few feet inside the gap.
Trev’s barrel moved left, slow and easy. The scope barely picked out the angry purple scar that ran down Early’s cheek and jaw. The scar Trev had given him years ago. He studied the face the best he could through the undergrowth. Looked like the six years at Huntsville had taken a toll on Early.
He had a shot but didn’t take it yet. He wasn’t sure if they were together, but doubted it. Harlan was probably trying to flank him. He fingered the safety off.
Early was doing a slow sweep. His eyes stopped and locked in on Trev’s position. Stared right at him for what seemed an eternity. The big man’s look finally moved on. Slow and grudgingly, his head swiveled away.
Then just like that, Early clicked right back to his position. All the Benbrights, including their old man Bill, had the hunting instincts of fucking jungle cats.
Trev gave his chin just the slightest uplift and snuggled it back in against the stock. He still didn’t think Early could even see him, but the son of a bitch had his position pegged somehow. It was time, no matter where Harlan was, no matter the difficulty of this shot.
The final round he had hit its mark. He was pretty sure he blew the top half of Early’s head off. Bringing the scope back onto the target, Trev caught a quick glimpse of the body still balanced on one knee for a moment before it flopped over, arms still clutching the rifle.
Trev trained his scope down into the high weeds on the ground and he could partially see one leg and a hunting boot. For a good five minutes after the shot, there was no movement at all.
More wait, more nothing. Each minute, an hour.
The yell made him flinch. It was distant, muffled. Almost like it came from the solid wall of thick brush and trees that were behind him.
“Hey, Trev! Your little bitch Kenny is back there about a mile or so. He’d almost bled out before I got to him. Why’d you leave him like that? A pussy thing to do, Trev.” Harlan didn’t sound too close but it was hard to tell out here.
“Should have heard him Trev. Cried for his momma. I mean…” A long pause. Trev’s eyes searched the woods to peg the sound of that voice, then, “I mean, he wanted to be dead, so I just helped him. He sure didn’t like my rifle jammed in his mouth, though. He’s just a God-awful mess now.”
Harlan could not come at him from behind. Brush was too thick. He’d have to swing out and around.
“That satchel full of meth money you got is mine, muchacho. I’ll be takin’ that from you.”
Then finally a laugh and, “You gonna cry for your momma, too.” Harlan was on the move. Voice sounding farther away now, definitely moving on his right. Yes, Trev was sure of it.
There’s an old rule. You move, when they move. Time to change positions. Not far to his right. Much thicker cover. All he had left was his .45.
Trev rose slow, to a crouch. A squirrel started chattering and scolding.
Back in the day, as a scout sniper in the Corps, he would have sensed it coming. He would’ve felt that scope on him. Felt that eye.
But that was then. This was now.
Jim Wilsky is a crime fiction writer. He is the co-author of a three book series; Blood on Blood, Queen of Diamonds and Closing the Circle. He’s finishing up a new book that will be coming out soon, as well as planning to release a published collection of his short stories.
His short story work has appeared in some of the most respected online magazines such as Shotgun Honey, Beat To A Pulp, All Due Respect, Yellow Mama, The Big Adios, A Twist of Noir, Rose & Thorn Journal, Pulp Metal, Plots With Guns, and others. He has contributed stories in several published anthologies, including All Due Respect, Kwik Krimes and Both Barrels. He is supported and strengthened by a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters.
Copyright © 2015 Jim Wilsky. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.
6 thoughts on “THIS WAS NOW by Jim Wilsky”
Great stories, congratulations on your success. This was Now is definitely my favorite. I loved the suspense.
Thank you Christie. Comments like this are worth more than you could imagine.
That was a great story. I’ve never been in any kind of intense situation like this, but I could feel the tension. I think I held my breath a few times as I read it. Great ride.
Appreciate you reading Damian. Glad you liked it. – JW
Great writing. I was really right there in the woods and the undergrowth. And a satisfying, non-cliché ending.
Thank you for the gracious comments Lida. Much appreciated. – JW