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  • keliciahollis

Last Day on the Job

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

(You can listen to this piece on season 2 episode 5)

Outside, a pair of crows cawed loudly. Lola checked her duffle bag for the loaded gun and extra clip. All there and ready for this last job.

“They’re called a murder of crows,” said Zach, Lola’s 8-year-old. Lola turned to look at her round-faced boy putting together his new train set on the living room floor. Did he know?

“What did you say?”

“A group of crows are called a murder of crows,” her son repeated.

She exhaled a sigh of relief, closing the closet carefully and sliding the duffle bag over her shoulder.

“Where did you learn that?” Lola asked.

“My teacher.”

The crows cawed once more, and Lola refocused her thoughts on the plan of the day. She checked her watch. Percy should arrive soon.

“You learn a lot of things at school, huh?” Lola said, turning her attention back to Zach. He sat cross-legged, train remote control in hand. The tracks and train were now fully assembled, and she smiled at her bright boy. He could be an engineer when he grew up, and she looked forward to the prospect. After this last job, she planned to whisk them off to New Mexico or Utah. Somewhere where they could start over.

The crows cawed again. Zach’s toy train made it’s first lap around the bare living room floor. The doorbell rang. Lola gathered her keys and slicked her hair back in a low ponytail.

“Remember, Ms. Rose is babysitting you for a few hours, okay?” Lola said walking over to give her son a kiss.

“Yeah,” Zach replied absently. The train was a six-car deluxe set from Austria. Complete with a red caboose. That winked at her. A light within the caboose winked at her as she turned towards the door.

“Did you put something in there?” Lola asked her son, pausing.

The doorbell rang once more.

“Coming Rose!” Lola shouted, though she made no motion in that direction.

“Zach?” Lola said again.

“Huh, mom?” The crows cawed; their cries sharp. The doorbell rang twice in succession. Lola took two slow steps backwards, eyes squinting at that winking caboose.

“The caboose Zach, what’s that blinking in the caboose,” Lola asked. The crows cawed. A knock at the door now. Not the soft knocks of an elderly Panamanian woman. And her partner Percy never knocked.

“Who is it?” Lola called. But instead of the visitor, her son’s voice called out from back in the living room.

“The man said every train needed a blinking light,” Zach said.

“What man?” Lola said, peeking through the peephole. Except no one was outside. She felt the cold draft and heard her back door close simultaneously.

“This man,” said a voice that sounded both close and far. A haunt from the past. Lola turned in one deft movement, hand reaching for the pistol in her duffle bag.

“Mom!” Zach screamed before the man covered his mouth with a black-gloved hand.

“Your son for my son,” said the shadowy figure. “I think that’s a fair deal.”


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