“Incident on the 405” by Travis Richardson appears here in its entirety. It's been nominated for both the Macavity Award and Anthony Award for Best Short Story, and is joined by 13 other short crime stories in Criminal Element's e-collection, The Malfeasance Occasional's Girl Trouble issue.
Jessica Tan eased the Rolls Royce onto the 405 onramp from Santa Monica Boulevard and instantly regretted it. Her smart phone had showed yellow, medium traffic, but what she encountered was a barely crawling red. How smart was that?
She looked at the time: 4:42 p.m. She needed to have this polished British export up to Clive Winterborne’s mansion on Mulholland by five, or he’d blow up… again. That horndog was either making creepy advances at her or was pissed off and screaming. It wasn’t like it was her fault that Julio, the only person Clive designated to touch his prize possession at Tidal Wave Car Wash, was on lunch break when she arrived in the Silver Ghost. And now, this gridlock.
Jessica hoped to be the first assistant in years to last more than six months. If she could do that, she could easily find a better job with a reputation as the assistant who managed the devil himself, and perhaps cut a path to being a producer. But with only two months to go, she was beginning to doubt if she would last that long.
• • •
Sadie Bitterman bit her lip hard to keep tears out of her eyes. She could taste the blood. Was this the lowest low? The depths kept sinking deeper. Even now, after straightening out her life, it all flew back in her face. Splat. She wasn’t a criminal. Not anymore. She was doing her best to keep a job, but this fucking traffic, she’d be late again. And what would she tell Walter, the teenage shift manager? Sorry Walt, I had to go to court today in Torrance.... Child custody.... No, I didn’t win. Thanks for asking. She’d have a lot to talk about at her Narcotics Anonymous meeting on Monday.
[Read the rest of “Incident on the 405” by Travis Richardson]