The Caged Type

A home for Craig Thomas Boyle's writing and life.

Tag: Short Fiction

A man searches a cupboard (Short Story)

He opened the cupboard door and sighed at the barren landscape that confronted him. His hand pawed inside the emptiness, searching. The man strained with the effort, stood on his toes as he stretched up into the overhead cupboard and tried to grasp what he was looking for.

Finally, he gave up and pulled his hand out. Cemented on his leathery old hand was a fine layer of dust, which he shook off with a frown of absent irritation. He knelt down in the kitchen and opened another cupboard, this one below the worktop. He nodded to himself now.

“It’s got to be here.” He said aloud. He felt anger rise in him as he rifled through the barren cupboards, eager to find it.

His reflection caught in the dusty glass of the oven. For a moment, the man saw himself as he was – an old, tired face with lines of stress and age creasing his features.

Then, he saw himself as he had been. A young man, with a perpetual smile. He saw his wife and him in the kitchen he was in now, but the cupboards had been full. The oven had been gleaming. He saw her cooking noodles on the hob, his body wrapped around her from behind. How she’d laughed softly and fended him off with a wooden spoon as the smell of the chicken noodles had wafted through their new home.

With the weight of memory hanging heavy on him, he paused his search. The man’s shoulders slumped and he looked around the dusty, disused remnants of his kitchen. Of their kitchen. He looked up at the counter-tops and the kettle. He remembered the terrible agony on their faces as they’d poured steaming mugs of tea for one another the night she had miscarried. The steaming hot drink had done little to stir the coldness that had settled in both of them that day.

The man laid his hand on a circular object in the cupboard and he drew it out quickly, as though relieved to have found it. Then his face crumpled in disappointment. It was a bottle of Mexican spices. He didn’t remember her ever cooking with those. He threw the bottle away and resumed his search, more slowly now. The weight of time was upon him and it was like an anchor dragging him down.

After they’d drank tea that night, they’d lived like robots. They’d stopped laughing so often. Stopped holding one another. She still cooked for him, but the distance between them had grown into something physical. Like it could be touched, if only he reached out to grab it. But he didn’t. Neither of them did.

And now, here they were. He almost laughed at the bitterness of it. Forty years of unhappiness together, where they should have separated but couldn’t. And now she was gone, asleep in some mortuary a few streets away. Eternally at peace, perhaps with their infant son from all those years ago.

The old man’s search ended. He found the circular grip of the revolver in the back of yet another cupboard. With tears of remembrance, he closed his eyes and thought of her at the hob, cooking noodles for them in their brand new home, with the swell of their child on her belly. The promise of their future.

The old man pulled the trigger.

 

The Yearbook Prophecies – Short Story

When I first pulled it out of the box in my attic, I had to do a double take. I hadn’t seen it in years, but it seemed so familiar. It was an object of such fondness to me that even though I’d just found it again, I felt I’d had it by my side all of these years.

But I hadn’t. Not really. It’d been up here, in the box of memories like the rest of my aging junk. Nestled there, amongst the skateboard and roller blades, between the paintings I’d done when I was 15. The pages still felt crisp, despite all the times I’d read the book through the years when I’d missed those formative years.

Here it was, my school yearbook. Chock full to the brim with pictures of people I’d called friends. Some who I’d called my enemies, too. A tome that I’d taken with me to college and even now remained. Even with me moving to a new house with my second wife, it was still stored in the attic instead of discarded in the trash like most people’s memories.

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The Warehouse (Part 8) – Short Fiction

Part Seven HERE (This is the final chapter of this story. I began it in earnest after a writingprompts thread blew up and people asked me too. I’ve enjoyed the series and I’m grateful for the feedback you guys have given me. I hope you enjoyed the ride. If you’ve enjoyed this series please subscribe. This story is available in a handy ebook format HERE at $0.99. Buying a copy would be a nice gesture, but the story will always be available for free here.)

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The Mansion (Part 7) Short Fiction

Read Part Six HERE

They had her.

For all the crimes the Hitman had committed in his lifetime, he had never felt punishment like knowing these sick fucks had Melissa. Knowing he had failed to protect her.

Not just failed – helped. They couldn’t touch Melissa while the Teacher was alive. They wanted to but Melissa’s mother had put up too much resistance. And the Teacher had wanted Melissa to stay his ‘special girl’. Now, the Teacher was a corpse and Melissa was in their hands.

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Establishing a target (Part four) Short Fiction

Read part three HERE

The sun was setting on Oakfelt Terrace by the time the Hitman left that haunted house. The dead autumn leaves were turning to skeletons in front of his eyes. Winter was rapidly approaching, bringing with it the cold and the darkness. Appropriate, he thought.

Tomorrow would be violent. Like the old days. When this was all new to him. The early times had been ultra-violent, dangerous, lucrative.

After he’d made his first hit in the migrant camp, things had progressed quickly. A lawyer was shot in the back of the head walking home from work, a bent cop had his car blow up on him, a banker had his throat slit in an elevator of a popular hotel – people still talked about that one, how the blood oozed out onto every floor the elevator stopped on before they could remove the body. The old, wild days. Continue reading

Never Break Rule one – Short Fiction (Part one)

“Two.”

“Two!? I’d been told it was one…y-you sure?”

“You were misinformed. The price is two.”

“Two hundred grand? You better be good.”

The man laughed into the receiver, a deep chuckle that died softly almost as soon as it had begun.

“I’m the best.”

Rule one: Don’t ever sell yourself cheap.

Another day, another phonecall. The man shook his head as he hung up the payphone. He liked to take calls at payphones – in an age of convenience and, more importantly, surveillance, a payphone was an innocuous choice and it meant people were rarely late. If he told them to call x payphone at n time, they’d call. Rule two: Be careful and precise.

He lit a cigarette in the phonebooth, dark sunglasses letting him observe the crowds rushing around the busy city centre. To him, they looked like ants, scurrying around with their busy lives. To him, any normal life was a thing to be observed, critiqued, mocked.

His own life was far simpler. Or more complex, depending on the angle you viewed it from. His working life was about completion. His targets and bonuses were around one goal. His 9-5 about training, stalking, executing. Rule three: Research and know your target.

His business was death, and business was good.

The hitman had been doing this for a long time. Long enough to know there is a price on every man’s head. Long enough to know that no one dies for free. Long enough to be the best, or one of them. Which meant, of course, his price was high. Two hundred thousand dollars a hit, rising in doubles for riskier or higher profile targets.

He had killed doctors, lawyers, lovers, fighters, escorts, strippers, judges, policemen, politicians, leaders. One thing was the same. He had never killed a man for less than his price. At least, he thought, not since the first.

He’d been an ex-military washout, desperate for work. He’d looked everywhere, travelling state to state in an attempt to pick up jobs as a security guard or bodyguard. Overnight stays in shanty towns and campsites, rubbing shoulders with the homeless and the degenerate. Things had gotten desperate, and a man had tried to take his food. That was his first kill. He’d gotten him in his sleep. No one suspected a thing. Another man had been his rival, and paid the hitman a hundred dollars. That was his first hit, and ever since his price had been high.

Then he’d found it.

It was simple really. Laughably so. On one of his many properties there was a small purple box wrapped like a cartoon gift, a pink ribbon bow tied around the top. Left on the doorstep of the back porch. At first, the hitman had been tempted to throw it away. It could have been a bomb, a deterrent, a threat. Anything.

But for some reason, some insane reason, he’d taken it inside.

He couldn’t have told you why. He couldn’t have told himself why. The obscenely cutesy gift, a child-like idea of what a gift should look like. It sat on his metallic table worktop, garishly out of place amongst the guns and knives littered in his apartment.

He’d opened it after some consideration, his fingers neatly undoing the bow and chuckling at the care someone had put into this. Perhaps it was because he’d never received a gift, merely saw them in cartoons. Perhaps it was the feeling it gave him: an excited, giddy rise in his belly that threatened to compromise everything he’d worked so hard to contain.

Inside had been a note, handwritten in the untidy scrawlings of a child. Alongside the note was a crumpled ten dollar bill and coins. He added them up slowly. They totalled $13.42. Added to the scruffy bill that was just over twenty dollars. He laid out the money on the table and turned back to the note.

Mister It said. I think you can help me i have a problem and i think you can help me The hitman looked around, his empty apartment chilly. He almost felt embarrassed to be reading the note. It was as if eyes were on him, knowing his lizard-like slits should not be cast across something as innocent as a child’s note. Almost guiltily, he continued. My daddy is a bad man. He hurts my mommy and he hurts me some nights he comes in my room and he tells me he loves me and hurts me in the bad way. mommy cries alot. she tells me well run away but then he always comes back.

Mister. I live near you and ive seen you soemtimes. i know u hide but ive seen your guns.

Please mister. I saved all my money that mommy tries to give me. my daddy takes it away to buy more bottles but i hided some.

Please mister my daddy needs to go away. he says he is gonna kill my mommy and ill be his new woman when i growed up. he says hes gonna put a baby in me but thats silly im a kid i cant have a baby. i dont want a baby mister.

here is all my money mister. i know you make people disappereah. please make my daddy disappere.

we live at 31 Oakfelt drive, autumn boulevard. daddy comes home late every night and works in the city. he is a teacher.

The hitman put the letter down, blinking back tears. He traced the lazy scrawl of the girls handwriting with the tip of his finger, imagining her writing it. Desperate, rushed. It would have been neater, he could tell, if she’d not been so afraid. The dots were absent, the curvature of her writing tilted right down as though she’d been writing flat-out. Against the clock, sort to speak.

She was against the clock, he understood that. She was probably waiting for him to visit her room again, her tiny body shaking in fear as she wrote this plea to him.

He shook his head, sitting down on his leather sofa. It had cost him ten thousand dollars, that sofa. A luxury easily afforded due to his rules. Rule one: Don’t sell yourself cheap. A life was worth two hundred grand, minimum.

He thought of her letter. He picked it back up and looked at it for a long time, staring at the foot of the page.

Love from Melissa.

P.s dont worry i wont tell. i dont want a daddy anyway. daddys are mean

The hitman found his fist clenching, the paper crumpling in his hand. Tears gathered in his face and he stared at the last few words, hastily scribbled out by the girl. He noticed dark blotches on the paper, where tears had fallen and been stained forever into the sheet.

He thought back to his own father, a ghost of a man who was neither here nor there, ever-scornful and frightening but so often absent that the man had grown old thinking his father might have been imagined, rather than real.

He thought back to this desperate little girl, scrounging scraps of change to try and pay him.

Rule number one: Don’t sell yourself cheap.

A kill might have been worth two hundred grand to the hitman he thought to himself. But, as he sat and read the note one last time,some kills are worth more than money.

No more rule number one. This time, the job cost $23.42. This time, the job would be worth that young girls life.

Written by Craig Thomas Boyle

Part Two : http://thecagedtype.co.uk/writing/breaking-rule-two-short-fiction-part-two/




The Last Man Alive – Short Fiction

It had been months since everyone on Earth disappeared. 

I’d woken up one day in a hospital bed, no real recollection of why I was there. The heart rate monitor beeped a slow and steady rhythm. The only sound I could hear.

Beep Beep. Beep Beep. Beep Beep. 
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