Bang Bang

by Brook Reynolds



The twirl and hum of the machines greeted Courtney as she stepped into the laundromat. Overhead, a neon tube light flashed. Courtney sighed and flicked the light switch, willing the light to remain steady.  The light relaxed and Courtney took in the room, thankful that she beat the early morning rush. She slung her laundry bag onto a table in front of an empty washer. After some rummaging in her pocket, she pulled out the correct change, only to realize she left her detergent in the car. She sorted the clothes and threw them into adjacent machines, claiming her spot, before running back out to her car.

When she returned with the detergent, the laundromat was now packed. The scent of sun-kissed cotton and lavender surrounded and hugged her. Courtney strolled over to her machine, adding the specified amount of electric blue liquid, and started the machines up. They whirled to life. She lingered a second, watching the clothes dance. Then, nodding at the Friday morning regulars, she found an empty chair in the corner and settled into her book. Courtney cherished laundry day. She loved the machines’ drone, the clothes’ soft clatter. Her weekly chore provided an escape from the pressures of work and nagging coworkers. The stress faded away in the anonymity of being just another citizen waiting for her clothes.



The whirl and tumble of the machines sent a chill down Courtney’s spine as she walked into the laundromat. One of the overhead neon tubes flickered overhead, sending a slew of flashbacks into her mind. She took a deep breath, convincing herself that she was being silly. This was the same laundromat she visited every Friday morning. She set her bag of clothes down on the nearest table by the door and started to organize and separate. She remembered her detergent this week. She rummaged through her front pocket, searching for her change. Realizing that the quarters were in the cup holder in the front seat of her car, she cursed as she slipped out the front door to retrieve them.

When she returned with the change, the laundromat was cramped, filled with the morning rush of regulars. The mixed damp smell of mildew from the old building and overwhelming floral scents smacked her in the face. Her eyes darted back and forth at all the strange faces in the room. As she scanned the room, her heart rate increased. She could feel the walls closing in on her. Courtney closed her eyes to get ahold of herself but the whine and shake of the vibrating machines only added to the stress. She could feel the glances from strangers burrowing into her as she drew too much attention to herself. In a panic, she scooped up her clothes, threw them back in her bag, and raced out the front door to safety.




Courtney pushed her cart down aisle after aisle as the loudspeakers blared the same old familiar mix of soft rock ballads. She forgot to make a list but still remembered what she needed for the upcoming week. Hitting the frozen food aisle, the items behind glass doors exploded to life as she triggered the motion sensors. Courtney loved the fake sense of magic she felt when pushed the cart faster, illuminating the entire frozen food section. She smiled from the rush as she came upon the next aisle of adult beverages. Courtney was going out with a few friends from work that evening and figured it wouldn’t hurt to have something cold waiting in the fridge if they decided to have a few before or even after a night out.

While perusing the beer aisle, a man approached her from the opposite direction. He was clad in jeans with an oversized hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap pulled down, covering most of his face. Courtney paused. She faked interest in a particular craft beer to gain a better look at the mysterious stranger. As he walked by her, he acknowledged her with the slightest head nod and a smirk that spread across his chiseled jawline. Courtney felt the heat rise in her cheeks as she blushed. She grabbed two six-packs of the closest beer and hurried toward the cash register, embarrassed that he may catch her staring again.



Courtney pushed her cart straight toward the back of the store. She had one mission, get in and get out. The only sound she heard was the squeak of the loose wheel on the right side of the cart. No music played overhead today. She kept her eyes glued to the floor, avoiding all eye contact with any passersby. As she rolled down the frozen food section, she kept her cart on the far side of the aisle, avoiding the motion sensors for fear that she would draw attention to herself. She was spending the night in and needed a six-pack to pass the time. It would help her sleep.

As she turned the corner toward the beer aisle, a man approached from the opposite direction. He was clad in blue jeans, a tight fitted shirt and was wearing a baseball cap pulled down, covering most of his face. Courtney kept her head down. She thought about leaving but assured herself that she was being ridiculous. This was not the same guy, plenty of normal individuals wore baseball caps. She snatched a six-pack and headed toward the end of the aisle. As she passed him, he reached his hand out to grab her attention. Courtney jumped back and swerved her cart, smashing it into the center display and spraying beer all over the floor.

The man pointed at the floor behind her. “Geez, lady. I was just trying to tell you that you dropped something. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Courtney mumbled her thanks, still without looking up, and grabbed the packet of guacamole mix that had fallen out of her cart before heading toward the check-out.




Knowing that she would need some cash for the evening out with her friends, Courtney stopped into the bank. Several customers were in front of her in line. She debated going back out to her car and simply using the ATM, but she loved interacting with a real person, a rarity in the world today. Plus, this bank usually handed out lollipops, even to adults.

At last, Courtney found herself next in line. The man in front was depositing wads of cash. He kept reaching in his overstuffed pockets and pulling out rubber band bound bills. In no particular rush, she found herself making up stories about the man as cash continued to flow out of his pockets. She wanted to ask him if there was an end to this or was he trying to entertain everyone with a ridiculous magic trick of boastful greed.

Courtney approached the teller with a smile. She understood how difficult customers could be and offered the teller the courteous respect she deserved. She finished her transaction and thanked the teller when she offered her a lollipop.



Courtney tried to pull herself together. She needed to deposit a check at the bank and thought of using the drive-thru to avoid any further confrontations. On a normal day, she would enter the bank. She craved normalcy. Checking her watch, she needed to make a decision before the bank closed for the day. She dragged herself from the safety of her vehicle.

The bank was empty for a Friday afternoon. Only one customer waited ahead of her. Without looking at him, she noted his hand stayed in his pocket. He tapped his opposite hand against the counter. Courtney surveyed the rest of the room. The crawling hands on the wall clock trapped her in slow motion. She felt her heartbeat thumping, her blood racing. Her eyes darted from the teller to the customer’s hand. She watched as his hand slowly withdrew from his pocket. Courtney sucked in her breath and stumbled backward, falling to the ground.

“Ma’am, are you okay?” The man in front stooped down toward Courtney. “Can someone get this girl a glass of water? I think she fainted.”

Courtney sat up. She could feel the heat rising to her cheeks. “I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well.” She declined the hand that was offered her and rose to her feet. Deciding she had enough excitement for the day, Courtney left the building to deposit her check at the ATM from the safety of her car.



The Incident

The sky growled overtop the blaring speakers as thick clouds rolled in to cover the night sky. Courtney hung out and played corn hole in the beer garden with her work friends at the Music Factory. The place was packed, typical for a Friday night. A birthday party filled the covered portion of the outdoor patio, leaving Courtney and her friends vulnerable to the coming rain. Picnic tables with umbrellas were scattered everywhere. The flickering sign of the recording studio next door lit up the night sky. The wind picked up and a few droplets fell from the sky, splattering Courtney and her friends in the face.

“Maybe we should head back inside,” suggested Patsy.

“Yeah, I guess. But let’s just try and finish this game first.” Courtney tossed another bag and it smacked the board, right next to the cutout hole.

The sky opened up. Buckets of water poured down. Courtney and her coworkers squealed, splitting up and running for cover. Half sought shelter under the covered patio with Courtney while the rest huddled under the nearest umbrella. No one could hear each other due to the sheer force of the rain pelting down. A chain-link fence surrounded the bar. Courtney had her back toward the parking lot, huddled close to her friends who were trying to protect themselves from the wind and an occasional sideways spray of the rain.


Not a normal sound of thunder. Maybe an old car backfiring? Courtney spun around to look for the source of the sound. Not a car. A man. Facing them. In a baseball cap. Holding something. A gun.

“Get out. Now!” Patsy grabbed ahold of Courtney and shoved her toward the inside building. “Look!” Patsy pointed to a girl standing just three people away from Courtney. She held her hand cupped over her face. Blood poured between her fingers and dripped onto her rain-soaked shirt.

Chaos ensued as the crowd screamed and pushed toward the exit. Caught on the outside, Courtney pushed toward the center of the crowd.


A second man burst through the doors of the recording studio next door. He chased the man in the baseball cap and shots continued back and forth.

Patsy shoved Courtney toward the door. “I’ll go get them. You head for the door. Stay away from windows.”

Courtney raced inside, followed by the rest of her group. Her heart pounded in her chest. Her hair hung in her face, dripping from the rain. She rubbed her arms and shivered. “Is everyone okay?” Courtney searched her group to make sure no one had gone missing.

“Courtney, I think you have some blood on your shirt.” Patsy pointed to the back of Courtney’s right shoulder. Courtney reached up and felt a small nick in her skin. A bullet had scraped her skin, causing a small wound. She started to breath faster. If she had been standing just a fraction in either direction, the ragged, splintered form of a ricochet bullet would have done more than just graze her.

“Man, it looks like it just nicked you. You are so lucky,” said Patsy. “I’ll go find someone to get that looked at.”

Courtney slumped to the ground as her friends crowded around her. The police arrived on the scene. With exists taped off, everyone stayed inside until both shooters were detained. Inside of the bar, the music cut off. Most of the patrons sat huddled with their groups, some talking, some still sipping beer. Staff members of the bar placed coverings up over the windows of a side room while the paramedics worked on the girl who fell victim to a stray bullet. Courtney’s friends asked each other if they thought the girl in the room would be okay. More small talk from her friends as the minutes slipped by. Courtney just sat in silence.




More of the 2018 FLASH SUITE Contest



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4 Responses to “Bang Bang”

  1. » Blog Archive » Bang Bang: After Says:

    […] « Bang Bang […]

  2. » Blog Archive » Bang Bang: Before Says:

    […] read the complete suite in order […]

  3. » Blog Archive » Bang Bang: After Says:

    […] read the suite in correct order […]

  4. » Blog Archive » Bang Bang: Before Says:

    […] read the suite in correct order […]

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