(After A Little Mistake, Phillip McIntosh Was In...) Hot Water

A Thrilling Short Story By The Ceej

We apologise that the below story was written in American English. The Ceej used to write this way, but we can assure you all future work is written in proper English. He would rewrite it in proper English, but can't be arsed.

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I.


They always said I had an anger problem. They always said it would get me in jail or the ground. I never listened. I told myself everyone gets angry. I don’t have a problem. But I don’t think I ever believed that. You see, I knew I had problems controlling my emotions. Even if they were good emotions, I had problems. I knew I shouldn’t have had sex with as many partners as I did, but I couldn’t help it. I had very serious problems that needed to be dealt with and I denied that to myself because I didn’t want to go to anger management classes.

Everything was benign and everything could be solved by talking to the people I wronged until one day. I loved the One Stop Shop, a department store similar to Wal-Mart and Target. It was my favorite store. I went in there all the time to get good deals on what was really cheap shit anyway. Just like Wal-Mart, they only carried the censored versions of explicit CDs, but unlike Wal-Mart, they didn’t even have R-rated movies. I didn’t care. There was a used CD store next door that I could get any version of any CD or DVD I wanted. Granted, they only worked about seventy percent of the time, but they had a decent exchange policy.

The One Stop Shop was only about a mile from my house, so if it were a nice day, I’d just walk. My friend, Griffin, also liked the One Stop Shop, so we often went together. It was ten forty-five at night and I had to get up early the next morning for work. My alarm clock was broken and I needed a new one. Griffin was with me, so I decided to go to the One Stop Shop to pick up a new alarm clock and then drop Griffin off at his apartment.


II.


I hadn’t been to the One Stop Shop in a couple weeks, and when I got there, I was shocked. They had completely changed the store. I don’t mean they moved everything around. They sold different things. Expensive things. Things people who make my kind of money could never afford. I looked around the store for anything, just anything I could afford. Nothing. I found some clocks. I found grandfather clocks, fancy wall clocks, but nothing digital. No alarm clocks at all. I found an employee around the clocks. By now, it was almost midnight. “Where are the clock radios?” I asked.

“We’ve changed our demographic and no longer carry clock radios,” she answered.

“Do you even have clocks below seventy-five dollars?”

“No, I’m sorry. If you can’t afford our new merchandise, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“What happened to the One Stop Shop that I used to love? Why are you being so rude now?”

“Sir, this conversation is over. We’re closing in five minutes. Now get out.”

“You uppity bitch, I demand to speak with your manager.”

She called for the manager and he came quickly. He was the same manager that I knew. What scared me is that a security guard was coming with him. He approached me and started walking me out of the store, “You called one of my employees an expletive again, Phillip. We can’t have this.”

“She deserved it, Louis,” I insisted, “She was telling me to get out of the store because I wasn’t rich. What did you do to your store?”

“New owners. They thought we’d make more money if we targeted the upper class than if we just sold cheap merchandise. Now that we’ve changed, you’re no longer welcome in the store.”

We walked out the door and headed for my car. “Louis, you’ve changed,” I said, “You’ve become a fucking son of a bitch.”

The security guard pulled his gun out of his belt and pointed it toward my head. Louis said, “Last time, we were able to make up. This time, you’re not going to get back in here or anywhere with that anger of yours. You should have gotten help, but now—”

I grabbed the security guard’s gun and pistol-whipped Louis in the face, “But now you’re gonna regret crossing me this time or the last!”

I punched him in the gut and in the face again. He was on the ground moaning and the security guard had done run away. I don’t remember when because I was beating the shit out of Louis. I just knew he was gone now and he was probably going to call the cops. I decided I better get out of there fast. But where was Griffin? I didn’t know. I couldn’t risk going back in there to find him, though. I was in deep enough shit as it was. I quickly got in the car and backed out as fast as I could. I felt a big bump. I knew what it was. It was Louis. Was he alive? I didn’t have time to get out and check. He’d changed anyway. I’m not sure I wanted him to be alive sucking up to the rich and being a snoot to me. I drove out of that parking lot as fast as I could. I didn’t even slow down for the speed bumps.


III.


I couldn’t go home. That’s for damn sure. But where was I going to go? Fortunately I knew some friends that no one else knew I had. These friends were good at helping people get out of tight situations. I wonder if mine was too tight. This was going to be a long drive. I was certain that the security guard saw my license plate and he knew it was my car we were standing behind. That means if the cops saw my car, I was in trouble. I decided to turn on a local news station on the radio just to see if they were talking about me. I was listening for my name, my car, my plate number, the One Stop Shop, or anyone from the store. I didn’t hear anything. I had a chill down my spine. I realized leaving Griffin in the store probably wasn’t a good idea. He wasn’t that particularly smart and wouldn’t usually lie to the police, so whatever information he knew about me and the crime I committed would probably be supplied to the cops.

I just hoped the Cop Blockers could help me out of this one. Yeah, it’s a stupid name, but that’s what they called themselves. I just noticed a white Ford Crown Victoria behind me and got a little nervous. Was it a cop car? I couldn’t tell. It was too dark to see if there were lights on it. How long was it following me? Shit! It turned its lights on and warbled its siren. I decided to play it cool and keep going, but it turned its siren on all the way. What was I going to do? Was I going to try to outrun it? No. I might lead it to the Cop Blockers. I pulled over.

Whew! It turned out he wanted the guy in front of me. That cop just started pursuing the Mustang in front of me that just happened to be speeding as well as having a broken tail light. I only had 20 minutes of anxiety before I got to the Cop Blockers’ apartment if all went according to plan. I didn’t hear anything on the news about my crime. I just kept driving and obeying all traffic laws. I didn’t want to get pulled over. I mean, after all, I had a pistol that wasn’t mine in the car and possibly a warrant.

IV.


I pulled up to the Shady Lane Apartments and knocked on the door to apartment 101G. The peephole went black for a second and a voice said, “Who is it?”

“It’s me,” I said, “It’s Phillip McIntosh.”

The peephole lightened up again and the door opened.

“Come on in, Phillip,” Nolan greeted me.

This was just a studio apartment with three guys. This wasn’t where they lived, but at least one of them was always here. They leased the apartment and the landlord believed they lived here, but this was just where their operation was. It was set up as if it were being lived in just in case the landlord or maintenance man stopped by. There was a bed, a couch, a TV on a shelf with a stereo, a VCR, and a DVD player. They had cable coming in here. I’m sure the cable either came with the apartment or the bill arrived at the apartment’s mailbox to further the illusion that the apartment was being lived in. There was a desk with a computer on it. The computer got broadband internet, and I’m imagining through the same company that gave them cable TV. They used that computer to hack, but also to do many legal things that their operation may need to do. I’m sure they had erasing software on it in the event that their hard drive needed to be examined. When you delete something on your computer, it never really goes away. You just can’t see it anymore, and you free up that space for new information. It almost always can be recovered. If you use erasing software, that file is completely erased from the hard drive, and then the space it was in is rewritten on seven times. That’s what the government does with their classified information. They had a fully stocked kitchen and a table at which to eat. This apartment looked like they really lived there.

Nolan was at the door. The other two members of the clan were there as well. Jesse was watching a porn movie on the TV and Lucas was doing something on the computer.

“I did something bad, Nolan,” I told him, trying not to cry.

Jesse and Lucas turned their heads toward me.

“I think I killed a man,” I continued, “Can you cover that up?”

“Gee,” Nolan said, “murder is a tough one. Can you tell us the whole story?”

I sat down on the bed and popped the clip out of the pistol I had stolen from the security guard. What was this?

“Seven left,” I said.

“Huh?” Jesse asked.

“There’s only seven bullets left in this clip,” I continued, “That means that son of a bitch security guard used this gun three times. If we can expose him, maybe we can blame what happened to Louis on him.”

“Except that you have the gun now,” said Lucas, “Your fingerprints are on it, too. For all they know, you used it those three times.”

I chuckled nervously, “That’s what you guys are for, right? Saving my ass.”

“You’re lucky we don’t charge you like we do everyone else, Phillip,” Nolan snapped at me, “Murder and theft of a firearm is a tough one, you know. Especially since now you might be blamed for wherever the first three bullets went.”

“Well, there are seven left,” I said, “It would only take one to get me off the hook.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Lucas asked.

“I think we all know what he’s talking about,” Nolan replied, “and I, for one, don’t support it.”

Lucas had a helpful suggestion, “Let’s check the police scanner and see if anyone’s looking for you.”

Lucas turned on the scanner and I told them the whole story. I was playing with the clip to the pistol the whole time. We never heard anything about me on the scanner, but maybe I was just too late. Maybe it was on the scanner sooner and since there was no new information, we didn’t hear anything else.

I suddenly had an idea, “Let’s see where the first three bullets in this clip went.”

“How?” Jesse asked, surprising me.

“You dickwad,” Nolan said to him, “we’re hackers. We have the tracking software to find out who the security guard is and see if anything happened to people he came into contact with.”

I slipped the clip back into the gun and played with it while they messed around with the computer. Damned if I knew what they were doing. They were talking to each other while they were doing it. Words I didn’t know kept making their way to my ear, but I didn’t pay any mind.

Eventually, Nolan came over to me and explained things, “The security guard at the One Stop Shop’s name is Keith Anderson. He reported his gun as being stolen tonight. The only explanation for the bullets missing we were able to find is two customers of the One Stop Shop. Apparently they also complained that it was now an upper class store, but no one has seen them since they filed the complaint. I have names if you want them.”

“No,” I said, “But if you need to use the names to help me, go ahead.”

“Anyway, according to several news sites, the manager of the One Stop Shop got into a fight in the parking lot with a guy who matches your description. Well, not really. They kinda got it wrong.”

“Well, it was dark. It was hard to see what I look like or what I was wearing.”

“Anderson goes on to say that during the fight, someone backed out of his parking space, ‘you’ ran and the manager was run over and killed. So they got the story a little messed up, which makes it easier on you.”

“Did he get the plate number?”

“No. He tried but the car was too fast.”

“What about Griffin Taylor? I left him at the store”

“We didn’t find anything about a Griffin Taylor. My guess is he walked home and was never questioned.”

“Well, come to think of it, I don’t think the security guard or the sales lady ever saw the two of us together, which is good. What’s our course of action?”

“Right now, we listen to the police scanner and watch the news. We all stay here until we know what we’re dealing with. But you gotta get rid of that gun as soon as possible.”

“I have work in the morning. It’s gonna seem suspicious if I don’t show up.”

“I don’t know. We wait. If all seems clear, you go to work. If not, we’ll make up an excuse routing the call through your home phone. Get some sleep. It’s gonna be a long night.”


V.


I was awakened at four in the morning by a knock at the door. Nolan put his eye to the peephole and said, “Who is it?”

A young man on the other side of the door yelled back, “Phillip McIntosh?”

“Sorry,” Nolan replied, “We don’t know you, Phillip. Who sent you?”

“I’m looking for Phillip McIntosh.”

“I said we don’t know a Phillip McIntosh.”

“Yes, you do. He’s in there with you. Let me in.”

I yawned, “Let him in.”

Nolan opened the door, and the man walked right to me, “You’re in trouble now. Aren’t you Phillip?

“Who are you and how do you know me?” I asked.

“I’m Nathaniel Clark. You can call me Nate. I’ve been watching you for a long time. When I heard you killed Louis Mullins, I knew you’d be here.”

“Are you here to help me or turn me in?”

“Ah, I cannot let you know my intentions as of yet.”

“How can I trust you?”

“You can’t. You can just realize that I know enough of what you did to get you put away for a long time. You have to cooperate. At least long enough to find out what my true intentions are.”

Nolan cut in, “Excuse me, Nate. We’ve got this under control. We don’t need your help or whatever you’re doing here. And if you plan on turning Phillip in, we also have ways of dealing with that.”

“Nolan,” Nate said, “or should I say Liam Waldrep? You have no clue how deep it’s gone out there in the last few hours. Hiding in here isn’t going to help. You need to be out where it’s all happening in order to understand what they know.”

Nolan was surprised Nate knew his real name. I knew they went by pseudonyms, but even I didn’t know their real names and I was their friend. I didn’t know whether to trust Nate, or even if that was his real name, but apparently he had been watching me for quite some time and I was afraid of what else he might know about me.

“Phillip,” Nate said, “these people mean you well, but they can’t help you in your current situation. You’re just going to get them in trouble as well. You better come with me.”

“But they said what they found gives me a good chance of getting away with it.”

“That’s because they’re luring you out. They know you’re with the Cop Blockers so they’re publishing false information to get you out. They’ve got a roadblock down the road. Griffin ratted you out because you left him there. Everyone knows what you’ve done.”

“How do they know I know the Cop Blockers? No one knew it before.”

“You were followed.”

“How do I know you didn’t just tell them?”

“You don’t. But then again, you don’t know me at all, now do you? For all you know, I could be luring you into a trap. But you have no choice but to trust me because even if I am leading you into a trap, I can just as easily tell them where you are if you don’t cooperate anyway. It’s funny that way. You have to cooperate with me whether or not I’m on your side.”

“Phillip,” Nolan pleaded, “Don’t go with him. He’s trouble.”

“Sorry, Nolan,” I said, “Looks like I have no choice.”


VI.


He must have been going at least eighty in a thirty-five zone. It was just one of the many ways in which he scared me. I was no longer worried about not making it to work on time. Now I was scared for my life and my future. I didn’t know where he was taking me, or what he planned to do for me or to me. We arrived at a shack in the middle of nowhere at about six fifteen in the morning. “Get out!” he said.

“Huh?” I said sleepily.

“Get out of the car and get in the shack.”

When we entered the shack, I realized he had been planning for me to flip out and kill someone for a long time. My hair was long and black, but when he was done with it, it was short and dark blonde or light brown. I don’t know what they call that color, but I like it. He had me take out my contacts and gave me a pair of glasses with my prescription. How did he have a pair of glasses with my prescription? He had me change into clothes I’d never worn before and gave me a whole suitcase full of clothes like that. He gave me a different pair of shoes. He also told me to grow facial hair. He gave me a fake birth certificate that he told me to use them to get a real driver’s license and Social Security card. When he was done changing my appearance, we were on the road again.

I wanted to go back. I just wanted to turn myself in. I’m now living another life. A life I hate. I want to go back even if it means getting help first. This is why I’m writing this. I hope to get into your hospital and get better of my emotional problems. I admit what I did. If I can just get back into town and come clean, I’ll feel much better. I don’t know how much of what Nate told me was true, but if he knew I was writing this, I’m sure he’d kill me. I’m going to give you my address and hope you can save me from this life. Even if you take me to jail, it’s better than living with Nate although I’m hoping you can just treat me, being a hospital for that kind of thing. It’s time I face the first round of consequences and jump into the hot water.


Phillip A. McIntosh

1045 Brantwood Ave.

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007


P.S. I still have the gun. I didn’t use it, and I’d like to return it to the security guard.

 

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