Tough Break

I have this strange and odd feeling that the story Superdude is never going to quite get its chance for the votes. You might remember it. Superdude was the Indies Unlimited challenge story a couple weeks ago.

Due to problems on their site they decided to run it as the challenge again this week. This would give everyone another chance to see how their stories fared in the votes. So I was going to post the link again here so we could give the story some vote love. Wouldn’t you know, I haven’t been able to get into their site at all tonight.

It would seem that this story is pushing through a number of tough breaks and it may never have its day. In the meantime, let’s check out this story, “Tough Break.” Seems a fitting title to describe the issues of the day.

Tough Break

Breaking out of prison was just the first step and far from the biggest challenge ahead.

Tough Break

Photo by K.S. Brooks

Bobby Dupree grew up in swamps like this. He knew the dangers that lay in wait, but the sounds of the hounds behind drove him on.

He surged forward through the shallow, muddy water, looking anxiously about for cousin Jack and the Jon Boat. Twenty minutes later and quite exhausted, Bobby hauled himself up on some cypress roots to rest. As he reached up to swat at a mosquito feasting on his face, he noticed something floating on the turbid water. It was an oar…

The end of the oar had been bitten through. No trace remained of the boat it went with, at least none that he could see. He scanned through the darkness to no avail, too damn dark to see much of anything.

The oar had drifted toward him from upstream, away from his pursuers. He grasped the end of the oar and pulled it in. No sense letting them know that there could be anything here for him. He could use it to bludgeon the dogs when they caught up if nothing else.

He kept himself close to the shore; there were gators in the deeper muck. His sopping, muddy clothes slowed him down but nothing he could do about that right now either. He just thanked his Momma, bless her immortal soul, that she raised him and the others out in these swamps. He knew a few tricks for cutting through the briars and brambles.

Low hanging branches and wicked roots swiped and tripped him, though he continued the fight. He noticed a clearing ahead, a spot of ground bathed in the light of the full moon. He could be crazy and delirious but he knew the place. A quick look for the marker, his cousin’s marker would confirm it.

Sure enough, a large headstone leaned to the side. The area was a family burial ground, unofficial of course. But they still honored their dead with markers. He never understood why they went to so much trouble though. The soft earth, washed with the humidity and flow of swamp water couldn’t really support the stones they marked the graves with. The stone that marked his Momma’s grave had sunk a good 6 inches into the earth since the last time he had been out here.

Jack marked the gravestone with a few white Xs in a staggered pattern. Meet up at the house. He couldn’t tell how long ago Jack had marked it but it was a good sign. Maybe the gators hadn’t eaten him. He’d find out at the house.


Much like the family plot, the house in the swamps had been a family secret. This was their hide out cabin. A second home if they ever needed to disappear. Stashed in a small cubby under a floorboard in the one room shack, Bobby loaded up on a shotgun and a .38, so much better than the boat oar. But Jack hadn’t shown up yet.

Lights cut through the darkness, before he heard the engine’s thrum. A beat-up old pick-up rattled across the dirt and through the trees. The monstrous thing stopped outside the front door to the cabin, not a truck that Bobby recognized.

He crouched down at the front window to get a look at the passengers, but couldn’t tell much in the darkness. Their voices though, he knew one of them was his cousin, Jack. He lived, the bastard, but didn’t meet Bobby out in the swamp. Bobby watched him walk up to the front door to the cabin. His friend had slipped out of view.

Keys jingled and scraped across metal as Jack fumbled with the door lock in the darkness. Bobby took to cover, shotgun in hand. He wanted to be prepared just in case. The front door opened and he aimed the shotgun at chest level as he stood up. “I missed you in the swamps, Jack.”

Jack startled with surprise, took a moment to catch his breath. “You got out,” he said. “I looked for you man. Must of waited five hours out in that swamp. I was afraid they caught up with you and hauled you back.”

Inside the cabin Bobby couldn’t see Jack’s eyes, couldn’t see where he focused his attention. He thumped the barrel of the shotgun in his forward hand, just a reminder. “Where’s your friend?” This time he didn’t need to see Jack’s eyes as he turned his head toward the window.

“What friend? I came here alone. I was going to look for your body tomorrow,” said Jack. “It got way to dark to be searching through those gator waters at night.” He shifted his weight from one foot to the other then back again.

“I heard it with my own ears,” Bobby said. “Saw him too. You rode here in someone’s piece a crap truck, don’t deny it.” His hand tightened on the shotgun’s grip.

“Put the gun down. You’re being crazy, man.”

They both turned when a floorboard creaked behind Bobby. He swung and fired the shotgun at the sound, but too late. The large man knocked him to the ground as he pulled the trigger. The shot went wild, hit the ceiling. He couldn’t bring it to bear again when the man stomped on his arm and pinned it to the ground.

Two more men jumped through the front door. They had hidden on the sides while Bobby and Jack talked. “I knew we’d catch you before too long,” Officer Tom Baker said as he kicked the shotgun away and his partners cuffed Bobby. “Don’t forget the other one when you get him secured.”

Jack backed away toward the front door. “You said I’d be free if I got Bobby for you.” His gaze swiveled between the officers.

“Tough break,” Officer Baker said. “I changed my mind.”


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