Perfect Timing

James Arlen Roth took something from me, something important. Her name was April. We were going to be married in the Spring. She’d said that was the best time to get married, and who was I to argue. We set the date and made all the arrangements. Then along came James.
+++++He walked into the store where April worked at 9:47 PM and walked out at 9:53, he left with $142.36. In six minutes this man changed my life and ended hers. She didn’t die right away. It took some time. Slowly she bled out on the dirty floor behind the counter. A customer walked into the store at 10:17 and found her still alive. April was a fighter, but she’d lost too much blood and died before the ambulance got there.
+++++James Arlen Roth put us on a collision course. He set in motion something that neither of us can stop.
+++++The only evidence the prosecution had was video evidence from several different cameras. One from inside the store showed someone wearing a ski mask. He entered the store and pulled a gun, revealing a rose tattoo on his right hand. April gave him all the money in the register. She cooperated and he shot her anyway, and then calmly walked out. Videos from outside, at an ATM machine and a pawn shop entrance, showed a man the same build and height wearing the exact same clothes. These videos also showed a face, the face of James Arlen Roth and they showed a rose tattoo on his right hand.
+++++His lawyer argued that while his client, who was gainfully employed and had no reason to commit such a heinous crime, was in the area at the time of the robbery. He didn’t commit the crime. Anyone could have been wearing clothes that were similar.
+++++The tattoo that sold me on his guilt also helped get him off.
+++++James had gotten the tattoo when he was nineteen, just a kid. He was in a street gang and the tattoo was part of the gang’s colors. His lawyer then showed the jury mug shots of other members and pictures of their tattoos. Each one had the same rose on their right hand. He argued that anyone of them could have committed the crime.
+++++The most valuable part of his defense was that Jimmy appeared to be walking casually and in no hurry. Wouldn’t a man who just robbed a convenience store and shot a clerk be in a hurry or perhaps even running away from the scene? All the evidence was circumstantial. The jury found him not guilty. I don’t care what the jury says, he’s guilty and we both know it.
+++++For James life went on. For me life fell apart and became all about James. The countdown had started.
+++++After his acquittal I followed him for three months getting to know his routine, his timing. I studied every facet of his life. I could tell you where he is going to be and what he is going to be doing at almost any given minute. From poker games on Wednesdays and his once a month haircut, to the two women he’s seeing. I know more about him than he knows about himself.He’s regular, like clockwork. This is all information I need to know to do what I have to do.
+++++I’m ready. Tonight’s the night.I’ve decided to wait outside of the Highlight Club and do it when he gets into his car. It sounds easy but there is always a chance of something going wrong. Timing is the most important thing. Today is Wednesday, he’ll leave alone. He left alone last Wednesday and the previous three.
+++++The Highlight Club is a seedy strip joint. It’s located off of the downtown express way and across from Smitty’s convenience store. Set back along the property line all parking for the club is up front and along the roadside, well lit.
+++++I drove downtown, obeying the speed limit. I’ve always been a law abiding person. Pulling into the Smitty’s I glanced across the street over to The Highlight’s parking lot. His car was there, a 67 Mustang Fastback. I knew it would be. I grabbed a cup of coffee and a donut and waited until two thirty, last call.
+++++People started to exit the club. Knowing James would be one of the last to leave I crossed the street and lingered outside in the parking lot. I shook, a little from the cold but more from the chore before me. The lot slowly emptied.
+++++At 3:05 he walked out, like clockwork. Wearing his customary leather jacket and gold chain around his neck he looked like the thug I knew he was.
+++++Walking to his car I fell in step a few paces behind him. He looked bigger this close up. It must be his gym routine-three nights a week- he never misses a workout.
+++++“Hey Asshole,” I called out.
+++++“What’d you call me?” he said and swung around fast, taking a defensive stance.
+++++I’m not a big man by any stretch of the imagination, weak some might call me, non threatening. A smile crept on his face. He didn’t even recognize the man who sat behind him in a courtroom every day for three weeks.
+++++“Listen buddy you’re gonna be in a world of hurt if you don’t turn around and walk away right now. I have things to do,” he said and turned his back on me.
+++++“I know. You’re going to play poker, uptown at Sid’s Café, or is that on Fridays?”
+++++It knew it wasn’t on Fridays, it was tonight.Slowly he turned, surveying the situation as he did.
+++++“What did you say?”
+++++I stood my ground and smiled. “No, you’re going to see Angela. Does Marie know about Angela? Does Marie’s husband know about you?”
+++++“What the fuck?”
+++++“What about April, do you remember her?”
+++++My smile disappeared. This was the moment I’d been heading toward since he walked out of the court room three months ago.He looked in my eyes and suddenly knew who I was.
+++++“Why’d you do it? She gave you what you wanted. Why did you kill her?”
+++++He smiled but said nothing. Seeing the smug look on his face I could feel the rage building inside of me. I touched the outside of my jacket pocket. His eyes darted from my eyes to my hand and back. Fifteen feet separated us, too far for him lunge. I reached into my jacket pocket. At the same moment he reached for the bulge under his coat. I’d seen the bulge before, a shoulder holster. He always wore it.
+++++I’d practiced this a thousand times standing in front of a mirror, like De Niro in Taxi Driver or an old time western.I knew how fast I could draw. I didn’t know how fast he would be.
+++++Time slowed. I could see his jaw clench and brow furrow as his hand slipped into his coat. I imagined his thumb flicking the snap off his holster as my hand slid into my pocket a second faster than his. Fluidly his gun slipped out and arm extended as my hand was just exiting my pocket. He was too fast. I knew he would be, but when you have nothing left, you have nothing to lose.
+++++His hand seemed to explode as his gun went off. The slug hit me squarely in the chest, shattering my sternum and tearing through a lung. The impact threw me back and my body slammed to the ground. When I opened my eyes James stood over me, his gun pointed at my face. My hand, finally free of my pocket, went to my chest, still clutching the only thing that had been inside of it, a picture of April.
+++++I coughed through a bloody smile. As life drained out of me I and turned my head to Smitty’s. A police car had just pulled into the lot, same as last night and the night before.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
The following two tabs change content below.
Donald Glass

Donald Glass

Donald Glass lives in Altoona, PA. He writes mostly about the underside of life that dwells in every city … including yours. He’s had work published in all the usual places online including Shotgun Honey, Dead Guns Press, Yellow Mama, Near to the Knuckle, Spelk, Out of the Gutter, Thrills Kills ‘n’ Chaos and has had 2 stories published in the Dead Guns Press anthologies Crime Scene and Dames and Sin.
Donald Glass

Latest posts by Donald Glass (see all)

2 thoughts on “Perfect Timing”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *