Oneida

The story of a natural born killer, one who dishes out an urgent brand of vigilante justice to those who sidestep the retribution they wholly deserve…

by: Frederick Foote

Oneida Robinette was not a good person. I suspected as much when I first laid eyes on her in the Boogie Woogie Bar and Grill in Solano, California, in the fall of 2021. It was something about the slope of her shoulders and the angle of her hands that clued me in. I confirmed that insight in our first conversation.

I opened with, “What’s up, cautious Capricorn? I see you drinking here all alone.” Most of the time, women would reply with, “I’m not a Capricorn,” or “Caution is not my game.” Or possibly, “How did you know I was a Capricorn?” or “Fuck off,” or something similar.

“I’ve been drowning’ kittens and stompin’ puppies to death. What’s up with you, Shoo Fly?” Oneida surprisingly responded.

I slid onto the barstool next to her. She fascinated me. I never heard a response like that. “I’ve been robbing widows and orphans and burning churches in between. But I’m not a killing machine.”

Oneida leaned back and took a long look at me. “Shoo Fly, I think you a natural-born killer. You got that killer instinct. We just need to let it out, right?” 

Oneida told the bartender to put my drinks on her tab. Now that was a first.

The bartender started to speak but then thought better of it and served me a beer and a shot.

“Thanks for the drinks. I’m Colt. Is that fresh blood on your boots?”

“I like Shoo Fly better. I’m Oneida Robinette. Shoo Fly, I think you are lustin’ for the opportunity to kill somebody if you haven’t already. Maybe a lot of somebodies. I think just a little-bitty push might put you into killer mode.”

Oneida looked at me, unblinking, as relentless as death and suffering. 

I was just bullshitting of course. I was not robbing orphans or widows or burning churches. However, at that moment, I realized Oneida was dead serious. At that moment, I could have just got up and walked away. I could have and should have said, “You aren’t my cup of tea. Excuse me, and good day to thee.” But I was intrigued and curious as a cat about what this self-described puppy crusher was up to. Turns out, Oneida was up to ordering drinks for a handsome young Black man and White woman couple sitting at a table in the back of the bar.

The couple raised their glasses to acknowledge and thank Oneida for the drinks.

Oneida returned their smiles and then turned back to me.

“Shoo Fly, you think execution is the right punishment for serial, incurable pedophiles?”

I sipped on my beer and inspected Oneida. She was a mellow brown color with short, curly black hair. Her face was pleasant and symmetrical, but her hands were long, bony, rough, and as ruthless as claws. I imagined those talons ripping my beating heart right out of my chest. A thought which sent a chill darting down my spine.

The kitty killer wore a plaid men’s work shirt, jeans, and work boots. The slope of her shoulders suggested brutal power.

She gave me a thin smile as she observed me checking her out.

“Oneida, I don’t believe in the death penalty. Our injustice system is too racist and unreliable to give anyone a fair trial.”

Oneida looked thoughtful and bared her long teeth.

“What about mass murderers of children? Do they get a pass too?”

‘No one’s getting a pass. There are other punishments and forms of justice.”

Oneida nodded her head in agreement and said, “I like you, Shoo Fly. You’re very progressive. She tossed back her shot. “Let’s go meet our new friends C and D.”

“Wait. Why do you call me Shoo Fly? What’s up with that?”

Oneida answered as we walked to the Black and White couple.   

“Oh, that’s just a term of endearment that I picked up from my old grandfather. Whenever he saw me approachin’ with mischief on my mind, he would wave his hand and say, “Shoo Fly.”

I didn’t find the nickname, Shoo Fly, appealing at all. I didn’t protest because by then, we had arrived at the couple’s table.

Oneida smiled at the pair, “Thank you for your service.”

The woman smiled back. “Is it that obvious?”

The man added, “What gave us away?”

Oneida nodded and said, “let me order us another round and let us hang with you for a quick drink. Is that okay? I’ll answer your question, anyway.”

The couple exchanged a glance and motioned for us to sit.

Oneida signaled the bartender for another round.

“I’m Oneida. This is my friend Colt. I’m glad to make your acquaintances.”

“I’m Amber, and thanks for the drinks.”

“Hey, I’m Dalton, and we appreciate your generosity. We want to reciprocate. This round is on us.” 

We sat across from Amber, and Dalton, and Oneida answered their question. “Your posture gave you away. You were ramrod straight marching into the bar, and you sat straight with squared shoulders. That was one thing.”

Amber laughed. “Yes, I believe that. My sister says we look like someone stuck a stick up our asses.”

“What else gave us away?” Dalton asked.

Oneida looked from Amber to Dalton, leaned toward them, and whispered, “You look confident, like you give orders. You look like leaders. Are you officers?”

Dalton smiled, “Yes, we are Air Force officers. You have a keen eye, Oneida. What do you do?”

Oneida smiled. “I do corrective action contract work.”

Amber asked, “Are you in law enforcement?” 

“No. No, I do the stuff law enforcement can’t get to. I do grunt work. What do you do for the Air Force?”

Dalton turned to me. What about you, Colt?”

“I’m a salesperson. Currently, I’m selling cars at Wannamaker Ford. I would love to put you both in new F-100s.”

Amber answered Oneida’s question, “We’re drone pilots.” 

Oneida smiled and chuckled. “Wow! That must be exciting and demanding.”

Again, I was intrigued. “That’s amazing. Do you have to be a pilot to be a drone pilot?”

Dalton shook his head. “No, you don’t have to be a pilot or have any flight experience. The Air Force trains you.”

Amber added, “By the time you receive your first mission, you are confident and eager to fly.”

Oneida raised her glass. “To our drone pilots.”

We drank a rousing toast, and I ordered another round.

“Aren’t you guys based in Nevada, but your targets can be anywhere in the world, right?” I asked.

Dalton nodded in agreement. “We visit the world from our chairs. Our travel agent is unreal.” 

Amber spoke with pride. “No tourist has ever had as much intimate contact as we have. We hear and see better than Superman.”

The soldiers bump fist.

Oneida shook her head in disbelief. “Yeah, it is incredible, but you still must be under unbelievable pressure makin’ snap judgments where lives are at stake.”

The pilots looked shocked for a second.

Oneida turned to me. “Colt, I remember reading, just a month ago, about a drone strike that killed seven children. “

“Hey, I remember that,” I jumped in. “The military said there was a secondary explosion, and they only killed terrorists. Turns out the press found out they killed seven kids, there was no secondary explosion, and the terrorist was not a terrorist at all. He was an aid worker for an American company. How can we believe anything our government tells us?”

Amber was frozen, wide-eyed, breathless, bleached of color.

Dalton clenched his fist, squinted, with curled lips and a frown.

Oneida lowered her voice. “Oh, shit! My bad! That drone pilot was you, Amber? I apologize. That was a tough call. You had only seconds to decide. Collateral damage is inevitable, right?”

I was confused. Was Amber really the pilot on that massive fuck up or was she offended by our bringing up the story?

Amber began raining tears. “Fuck you, cunt. It was faulty intelligence. It was—you knew who I was all along. You set me up.”

Dalton sneered at Oneida. “You serve only yourself, bitch. You have no right to judge us.”

Oneida was loving their reactions. “Hey, I was not settin’ you up, sweetie. I was after Dalton. You’re just collateral damage.”

Dalton stood. “Fuck you. You know nothing about me. Not a goddamn thing.”

Oneida looks thoughtful before responding. “In August of last year, you destroyed twenty-one terrorist and hundreds of pounds of explosives, earning a medal and a promotion. Am I right?”

Dalton grabbed amber’s arm and pulled her to her feet.

Amber glared at Oneida. “How the fuck do you know all this? Why are you doing this?”

“Mostly public record info, sweetie. Except, I also know a secret or two. I’m just trying to understand mass murderers and maybe find justice somewhere in this mess.”

Dalton tugged on Amber. “It was an accident. We aren’t murderers, goddamn you. We were doing our duty. We were protecting you, asshole. Amber, let’s go before this gets out of hand.”

Oneida turned to Amber. “Sweetie, did you know that not one of the twenty-one passengers on that bus were terrorist? There were men, women, and children on that bus, but the Air Force said it was an all-male terrorist cell. The Taliban had put the explosives on the bus, but the passengers and driver didn’t know that. There were simply on their way to the nearest town market.”

Amber yanked her arm free from Dalton. “How the fuck would you even know this? Are you CIA or what?”

Oneida spread her arms and laughed. “The Air Force got away with the bus story like they had many times before. How can I prove it? Even if I do, it was an honest mistake, right. Tough shit for the towel heads, right?”

Dalton turned away. “I’m out. This is crap.”

Oneida spoke softly. “Well, here’s the shame in this shit. Within thirty minutes of the drone massacre, the Air Force knew the truth. Dalton knew the truth even earlier. And they hid it and made Dalton a hero and hailed the mission a big-time success. Am I wrong, Dalton?”

Dalton didn’t reply or slow his walk to the exit.

“Captain Dalton,” Amber yelled. “Is she telling the truth? Carl, is she telling the truth?”

Dalton shook his head as he left the restaurant.

Oneida leaned back in her chair. “Amber, you need to check out next Sunday’s Washington Post. There is going to be a drone warfare story that might interest you, sweetie.”

Amber spit on Oneida. “You piece of shit. I was doing my best. I hope you rot in hell, bitch.”

As Amber was leaving, Oneida said. “I’m no eye in the sky, but I will catch up with you guys.”

Amber gave us the finger.

Oneida wiped her face with a napkin.

I was drained. This was way too much drama for me. “Wow! How did you know all that about them? Who are you?”

Oneida rubbed her forehead and gave me a wan smile. “Ah, I just stumbled onto them. I’m here for you, killer.”

“No, no, I’m not a killer. I’m a salesperson. I sell Fords—”

“And before that, you supervised and trained Purdue Pharma pharmaceutical representatives. They were pushin’ Oxy all across this glorious land. Colt, there were 70,000 overdoses last year and over 841,000 thousand ODs since 1999. You done killed more people than we lost in Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined. You a mass murder, man.”

“Hey, I didn’t break any laws. I supervised salespeople. You need to go after the owners, the board of directors or the doctors. I was small fry.  Once I understood—”

“I think you’re right, Shoo Fly. The owners and board are villains like the generals turning a blind eye to atrocities.”

“Yes! Go after the big dogs.”

“Shoo Fly, you missin’ the point here, man. You on the hook for their bad. You made grand theft dough, man. You was a key cog in the machine, Colt.”

“No, no, that’s not fair. How can I challenge billionaires? I mean, the courts gave the owners a pass. What do you expect me to do?”

“Use your ‘other punishments and forms of justice’ to correct this shit, Shoo Fly.

“I can’t—”

Oneida took my hand in hers and squeezed. The pain was electric. However, it was the look of eager anticipation in her eyes and the dried blood on her boot that left me sitting in my urine.

“Shoo Fly, I don’t much believe in the death penalty either. There Are things far worse than dying, man.”

I felt and heard bones in my hand snap. 

Everything went black. I floated back on a wave of pain.

Oneida grinned and spoke gently. “Shoo Fly, you look done in. You need to have someone look at that hand. And you got seven days to show me your justice system in action, okay?”

“Fuck you! I can’t take on the—”

“No problem, Shoo Fly. You have another hand and two feet and two eyes — I’ll see you around, man.”

I flinched as Oneida patted me on the shoulder as she left.

I wept. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. This was so unfair. I never manufactured or sold drugs. I never put a needle in anyone’s hands or drugged anybody. Congress, the executive branch, the CDC, the FBI, the FDA, they let this happen. Why was Oneida punishing me? I didn’t have a chance against the US drug cartel. They owned the government and the police. 

Pain flared in my crushed hand. I visualized putting a bullet, no emptying a gun, into Oneida. I was not a killer. I didn’t even own a gun.  But I was looking forward to my first kill.  I was lusting for it.

 

Frederick K. Foote, Jr. was born in Sacramento, California, and educated in Vienna, Virginia, and northern California. Since 2014 Frederick has published over three hundred stories, poems, and essays, including literary, science fiction, fables, and horror genres. Frederick has published three short story collections, For the Sake of Soul (2015), Crossroads Encounters (2016), and The Maroon Fables and Revelations (2020).
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2 Comments

  1. says: Bobbie

    We are all guilty of allowing things to happen to others – without our verifying stories or looking deeper into what appears on the surface of our daily news. However, I don’t see Colt moving that quickly into the heat of it…. But my hand is not crushed, either.

  2. says: Clifford Andrew Washington

    It was a very interesting story. It captured my attention early and the story moved nicely from a simple mean character to other fellow humans who find themselves paid, patriotic twisted callous adults who were serial killers or mass murders. I formed my personal opinion probably not probably different than others. Is it black and white? A book that reminds is a fairly new book called “Cult Of Glory” –“The Bold and Brutal History of The Texas Rangers” by Doug J. Swanson. It will make you think about Del Rio, Texas in the news and aspects of the writer’s story I just read. Well Done story Fred or the writer who penned this story,

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