His Witness

By: Vanessa Waltz


Tommy’s eyes are vivid against the dark. The Adam’s apple sticking from his throat bobs a little and he takes his hands away from my face. His voice drops even lower. “Why did you run away from me?”

I open my mouth to scream for help, but all I manage is a weak little whimper. A line of nausea pours in my mouth.

“Oh no, no, no. Don’t be like that.”

“L-like what?”

“Don’t be afraid of me.” He rubs my shoulder, which is knotted like a rock. “I don’t want you to be like the others.”

“You’re out of your fucking mind,” I say in a trembling voice. “You killed that guy when anyone could have seen us—”

“But nobody saw us. I’m a professional, you know.”

A wide smile spreads over his face, and a flash of anger momentarily shoves aside my fear.

“That’s not the fucking point!”

“It’s not?” he says, moving in closer. “Then what is it, sweetie?”

That fucking name.

“You’re crazy. You killed a man who—”

“—stole from us,” he interjects in a hard voice. “I promise you, he knew what would happen. He got what was coming to him, and you got your money back.”

“I don’t want to be involved in this shit!”

My yells ring down the street, and in the distance I see someone peek their head out of their brownstone. His face tightens and he grabs my elbow none too gently, dragging me to the side of the house. The porch light from my brownstone flicks on, and I flinch from the suddenly bright glare. He utters a swear and drags us into the shadows.

It scares me, seeing his face all half-hidden like that. The gravelly, rough edge in his voice makes my skin cold.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart, but you are involved. Whether you like it or not.”

“But—!”

“Enough,” he says in a suddenly tense voice. “Don’t fucking talk about it here.”

I flinch from the sound of his voice, and his fingers turn my jaw so that I’m facing him.

“I—I swear I won’t. Please, just don’t—don’t hurt me!”

I don’t even care about the pathetic noises I make. His eyes blaze at me, and he leans forward almost as if he’s going to kiss me. His fingers scorch my skin, like flesh on flame. It’s as though I’m a puppet in his complete control.

“The more you beg me, the more I want to.”

Jesus. What the hell is wrong with him?

It seems like a millennium before Tommy finally backs away from me, his face taut with rage. He reaches inside his jacket and pulls out the envelope of cash, giving it back to me roughly. Then he bends down and straightens, my shoes dangling from his fingers.

“Th-thanks.”

I reach out for them, but he pulls them just out of my reach with a small grin. That mischievous look is back on his face.

“Go out with me Saturday night.”

My jaw drops. He can’t seriously think I’d have a remote interest in him, especially after tonight.

“Tommy, please.”

I lunge for my shoes and he finally lets me take them.

“Please what?” His arms cross over his chest, and I notice the bloodstains on his sleeves.

“You killed him.”

“Yes, I did.”

It couldn’t be plainer that he doesn’t give a shit.

“He knew what would happen if he was caught.”

“You didn’t have to do it!”

“I know I didn’t,” he says as if I thanked him. “I wanted to.”

The shadows on his face move, reminding me of spiders.

“What did you do with him?” I can’t even say it. What did you do with his body?

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.” He slowly uncrosses his arms and grabs my arm. “Melanie, you need to keep this to yourself. Don’t tell your dad, your fucking girlfriends, no one. Understand?”

Like I’d tell anyone. I wrench my arm out of his grasp, my hands shaking slightly. “I won’t.”

The oily tone returns to his voice. “You know, some would say you owed me a favor.”

I turn my back on him.

“Hey.”

Something in his voice makes me turn around. Maybe it’s a small twinge of whatever it was that drove him to stab someone to death tonight.

I turn around and a slow smile spreads on his face. “You didn’t answer my question about Saturday.”

Part of me wants to say yes, just to appease whatever crush this guy thinks he has on me. Saying yes could be dangerous. He’ll want more. They always want more. Although Tommy has never once insulted me for turning him down, pressure builds inside my stomach and my heart races. The more I reject him, the angrier he’ll get. Right? The thought of being alone with him terrifies me. I won’t be able to say no to whatever he’ll want.

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