What Are Friends For? (flash fiction)

“Hello, old friend.”
He looked calm, his dark eyes as piercing as ever, his hands relaxed on the shotgun, finger on the trigger.
“Milo.” For half a second I froze in the doorway, then, having no alternative, I walked in the room.
“Mind if I have a Scotch?”
“Be my guest,” he said. The point of his gun followed me as I walked.
I poured a finger, stopped, then poured a double.
“You want one?” Milo did not answer or shake his head, his eyes on my every move, shotgun on my chest.
“Mind if I sit?”
He gestured slightly to acknowledge my question. I sat by the liquor counter, just for convenience.
“Any last requests? Any message to your wife?” said Milo.
“My wife died last year.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. How did it happen?”
“Cancer. How about you put some flowers on her grave for me?”
“I can do that.”
“And you can tell Big Murd to go fuck himself.”
“Murd had a message for you too. He said ‘Rot in hell.’”
“I’ll be waiting for him.” I washed down the Scotch over the residue taste of afternoon coffee. I hated Starbucks then like I never knew. Milo was biting his lip.
“You want me to shoot Murd for you?”
“You can do that?”
“I’m your friend, Steve. I’d do anything for you.”
Except spare me, of course. He was a professional that way. I took another sip, and realized the Scotch was going down real fast. I shook my head, not at anything in particular, but Milo didn’t like it. His finger tightened slightly on the trigger.
“Murd needs to die, Steve. He’s gone paranoid.”
“Not my problem now, is it?”
“We go back, Steve. We’re friends. You need to help me on this. I know I’m next.”
“What do you need?”
“Proof of your death.”
“Then chop off my head and take it with you.”
“To Chicago? I have to take a flight. Get real.”
“Well how do you figure?”
“Murd needs to know I killed you. Then maybe I can get close enough to cut him down.”
“Good luck with that.”
“I’m serious!”
I reached for the bottle and poured myself another. I gestured the bottle to Milo, but he shook his head. I sipped on the Scotch, trying to enjoy it. Then I reached in my shirt and saw Milo tighten again as I pulled out a crucifix on a chain.
“Murd gave it to me. Happier days. Said it belonged to his mother. He’ll know when he sees it.”
“I still need someone to find your body.”
I reached for the phone on the counter with my eyes on Milo, one hand holding the glass to my mouth. I pushed the button for the speaker phone.
“Nine-one-one. What is your emergency?”
“Home invasion. 1866, Gilmore road.” I hung up.
“It will take them fifteen minutes,” I said.
“Thanks, Steve. I owe you.”
“What are friends for?”
“Finish your Scotch.”

(This piece was an assignment in a Facebook forum to write a story about friends within 500 words by the end of the week.)

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