For this week’s flash fiction challenge, They Fight Crime
You take all sorts of jobs when you want to break into film. As odd jobs went, this wasn’t a bad one.
Lawrence Whitefield leaned back a bit and smiled as he strummed his guitar to the beat of the many drums behind him. The rhythms and passionate hand-strikes behind him permeated the room, matching the undulations of Minerva’s hips as her arms spread and her fingers touched cymbal to cymbal. He was smiling partially because they were firing on all cylinders tonight, but also due to his knowledge of the girl entrancing the audience. She was a great deal more than her gauzy skirts and the glistening scales of her outfit.
When her dance came to an end, the audience exploded into applause. Minerva blew a kiss to them, and turned to head backstage. He played just as well for the last dancer as he had for Minerva, noting that the tall, dark gentleman towards the back was there in the shadows near the door, as he had been for previous weeks. He tried to put it out of his mind and focus on the music during the final set. As the band finally broke up, he brushed off invitations for an after party and made his way through the venue to the back lot. Sure enough, under one of the lot’s lights, the dancer called Minerva was now in jeans and a t-shirt, bent over the engine of her GTO, a variety of tools at her feet, an old Sarah Brightman tune coming from the radio.
“How’s it look?”
She didn’t even look up to respond.
“I’m still not sure what’s causing the knocking in first gear. I may need to get her up and look at her transmission.”
“Sounds like a plan. I mean, I don’t know cars that well. Wouldn’t know a torque wrench from a socket wrench, honestly.”
“You don’t need a socket wrench for a camera?”
“Not most of them. Maybe an older one, you know, one of the ones you work with a hand crank? I don’t use those, though. I’m more of a digital artist.” He paused. “That sounds pretentious as hell.”
“What can I do for you, Larry?” She straightened and turned, wiping her hands off on a cloth. She had a small smear of oil on her face, now divested of makeup, and Lawrence thought she was just as lovely. Not that he’d ever put it in those terms.
“Well, I know you don’t like being filmed or even photographed, but I was looking to put together a film on the next show you all do, and I wanted to talk about it with you first before I got anybody else’s permission. You know, see if I can make it exciting for folks unfamiliar with belly dancing, dispel some misconceptions…”
He glanced past her, noticing some movement in the shadows. She took a deep breath and that brought his attention back to her.
“Look, I’m flattered. And I think it’s a good undertaking. Just don’t film anything I do, okay? I’m not… comfortable with that.”
The shadows moved again, and this time he couldn’t look away. Minerva followed his gaze, and her grip on the wrench in her hand tightened.
Lawrence didn’t need to be told twice. Instinct catapulted him forward, putting the bulk of the large car between him and whatever was out there. As he moved, the unmistakable sound of gunfire tore through the quiet night. Another sound joined the semi-automatic fire, one familiar to anyone who had ever been inside of an APC heading into a warzone. Moments later, Minerva was beside him, rubbing her wrist.
“Damn. I liked that wrench.”
“Are you okay? What happened?”
“One of Uriel’s laughing boys, I’d wager. He’s been stalking me for a while.”
“You have a stalker? Why didn’t you call the cops?”
“Unhinged angelic spec ops are a bit outside of their jurisdiction.” Minerva dug into one of her pockets, and began drawing on the pavement with chalk. “I just need a minute.”
More bullets slammed into the GTO. “I’m not sure we have that long!”
“When I say so, I want you to run out of here. That way.” She nodded towards the tail end of the GTO, away from the lot. “This isn’t something you can handle.”
Before Lawrence could protest, Minerva finished drawing the pentagram in the circle. She laid her left hand on top of it, placing her right against the car. There was a soft crackling noise, like popping popcorn, and her eyes closed as soft light came from under her hands.
He began to move as Minerva turned and stood. She thrust her arms forward, lightning streaking through the night to strike her assailant in the chest. He was knocked off his feet, the gun flying from his grip. Instead of running away, Lawrence turned and scooped up the gun. To his surprise, the assailant was back up, drawing a long sword from under his coat. Lawrence didn’t hesitate.
As he fired, he saw odd script etched into the slide of the automatic glowing with pale gold. Every bullet caused the inscription to flare. Each shot opened a ragged, luminescent hole in the man’s chest. After the fourth shot, the form of the man seemed to explode, and a murder of crows suddenly swarmed around him as they flew away.
Minerva emerged from behind her car. “You didn’t run.”
Lawrence looked down at the gun. “You were in trouble. I couldn’t leave you behind.”
“You seem pretty good with a gun, too.”
“Did a tour to pay for film school. I guess you never really lose the instincts. Squadmates called me ‘Hawkeye’, you know, like in the comic book?”
Minerva smiled a little. “Well, I’ll tell you what, Hawkeye. I think you’re about to get the biggest story of your life. The best part is, if you live long enough to get it on screen, nobody will believe it’s real.”
He’s a fast talking guitar-strumming filmmaker looking for ‘the Big One.’ She’s a disco-crazy belly-dancing mechanic descended from a line of powerful witches. They fight crime!