Never send a boy to do a man’s job. Carter thought as he shuffled around in the dark. If Terry Mac had sent him to do the kill in the first place, he wouldn’t have been out there in the cold night, knee-deep in scrub brush looking for a shallow grave. The boy Alex never should have been put out on his own. Carter told Terry that, told him the boy didn’t have the balls for wet work. But Terry’s judgment was clouded, the boy’s mother got under his skin. Carter had to admit she was a real looker, and a great pole dancer, but this was business and it should have never happened.
Carter had been walking around in the wooded patch near the interstate for an hour and still hadn’t found anything. The cardinal rule of this business is always remember where you hide the bodies. The landmarks Alex gave back at the bar were shaky at best. The kid was clearly in shock, but the look on Terry’s face when Alex stumbled in, covered in blood and dirt was priceless. The little fuck was crying, and said the guy was still moving under the mud when he left.
Carter moved the flashlight in a sweeping motion until the narrow cone of light illuminated a tree with a broken limb, the tree that Alex had managed to describe. Carter noticed boot prints, heavy and smeared, heading back toward the road. Those would be Alex’s when he took off crying and pissing his pants. Carter spotted a large rock at the edge of the circle of light. Alex said that was where he dropped the body.
The grave was a mess. There were tracks everywhere, and unbelievably, the shovel was still sticking in the ground. Carter laughed out loud as he looked around for a suitable place to dig a new hole. That fucking kid really screwed the pooch on this one he thought.
Carter focused the light on the soft trench of broken earth at his feet. Something wasn’t right. The dirt sat too low in the hole. He squatted down and examined some deep marks near the edge of the grave. They were knee prints and there was blood pooled at the bottom. Carter sucked in air as it dawned on him. The fucker had crawled out. The tracks led deeper into the trees and there was blood on the tall grass. It looked black and oily in the dim light. Alex didn’t get off a clean shot. He wounded the poor bastard and now he was crawling around somewhere out in the thick underbrush.
Carter followed the tracks to the base of moss-covered tree. There was a large amount of blood around the protruding roots, but no sign of the body. Maybe an animal found him and dragged him off Carter thought. There was a sharp crack, and Carter saw a bright light flash through his field of vision as the shovel hit the back of his head.
Carter opened his eyes and saw his own pistol pointed at his face. The man on the other end looked like hell, he was covered in mud from head to toe and had a dark red stain growing across his abdomen. Carter tried to focus his eyes, but the pain in his head made everything look like it was underwater. He attempted to speak, but before he could open his mouth the figure standing over him pulled the trigger. Two shots slammed into Carter’s chest. The impact pinned him against the ground. As the darkness closed in around him, one phrase played over and over in his fading mind. Never send a boy to do a man’s job.