Archive for the ‘Only Friday Flash’ Category

“The Proposition” by Nick Slosser

“I got a proposition for you,” said the fat man in the purple track suit sitting in my favorite chair and fumbling with my remote controls.  The chair was one thing, but fucking with the remote controls—of which there were four—was just not right.

“Well?” he said, as if I wasn’t paying attention.

“Well, what?” I said, feeling surly.

“Gordon,” he said, still eyeing my home electronics, and fireworks lit up my brainpan and thunder echoed around inside it.  Gordon was the four-foot-ten-inch hunk of raw, deformed beef standing behind me, waiting to smack the back of my head with an open hand that could have been a phonebook.  Plus, I think he wore a ring, one of those heavy class rings they sell graduates for not thinking.  I hated Gordon and his medieval hands and his stupid suburban name:  Gor…don.  Now, I watched The Sopranos.  I would take it from a Vinnie or a Tony or even a Paulie, but a Gor…don?  Fuck that noise.

I rubbed my head and sat up, wondering what the fat man had pushed to get what sounded like Russian to spew from my speakers.

“Well?” the fat man said again.

“Well, what?” I said just to antagonize him.

I heard Gordon shift his weight, ready to strike, but I was ready to dodge this time.  If Gordon hit only air, I might have the few seconds necessary to fundamentally alter the situation.

But Gordon never tried, because the fat man started laughing like a tree-dwelling monkey:  whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo.

“You are tough, I’ll give you that.  That’s probably the army in you.  Special Forces, right?”

I shrugged.  So was my roommate.  So were many of the guys in the building.  My landlord favored veterans.  He was a no-load, a John Wayne freak who’d never been in uniform, but we didn’t complain:  rent was low and he often treated us to beer and hot wings.

“Maybe the sources were right about you.”  I had no idea what this guy was talking about:  who would recommend me, for what, or why this guy might doubt them.  I had no idea who this guy even was.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Never mind that.  You want the job or not?”

“No.  But thanks anyway.”

The fat man stared at me in disbelief, then laughed again.

“Real fucking asshole, you are,” he said, “but I like you.”  He nodded to Gordon, which caught me off-guard, and I flinched.  “Relax, cowboy.  Take a look.”

From over my shoulder appeared a brown paper bag, roughly in the shape of a stack of bills—a hundred of them or more.

“Not interested,” I said, though I kind of was.

“So you said, but look inside.”

“Listen, I’m not going to say it ag—”

Gordon had dropped the bag into my lap and it hurt.  It wasn’t paper, it was lead.  Where the corner had hit, my leg would be bruised.

“What do you think?” he asked.

I opened the bag and pulled out a bar of what must have been gold—I’d never seen any before, not it real life, anyway, and it was much duller than in the movies.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

“You eat it.  Sprinkle it over your cereal.  Spread it over saltines.”  He laughed, thinking he was funny and nodding to Gordon so he’d laugh too.  “Dip it in your coffee.  Soak up your egg yolk with it.  What do you think you do with it?”

I stared at him blankly, glad he’d stopped listing foods, though I was getting hungry.

“Here, give it back,” he said, obviously disappointed.  “This is just a sample.  So you know what we’re talking about.”

“What are we talking about?”

“We’re talking about a score…a big one.  An armored car that’s never found again.”  He watched the effect that had on me.

I nodded stupidly.

He went on:  “Here’s the number.”  Over my shoulder, Gordon held a small slip of paper.  “You call it and identify yourself, and you’ll be told what to do and when.  Don’t write it down, just commit what he says to memory.  And don’t try calling a second time.  Got it?”

I nodded.

“The man you’ll be dealing with has no compunction.  You know what I mean—no compunction?”

I just kept nodding.

“Good, now we’re getting somewhere.”  He stood, hitching his pants around his bloated middle.  He handed the gold back to Gordon, who tucked it into an inside jacket pocket.  The jacket hung goofily to one side, which explained why I thought Gordon was deformed.

“Make the call tomorrow afternoon.  Got it?”

“Who should I say gave me the number?”

He smiled, first at Gordon, then at me.  “See you ‘round.”

Not five minutes after those guys left, my roommate came home.  I was still trying to undo what they’d done to the remote.

“What happened to the TV?” he asked.

I smiled.  “You know that girl from the pool hall?”


“Yeah, that one.  She was here last night.  She screwed it up trying to watch Sex in the City or something.  I still haven’t figured out what she did.”

He smiled, but I could tell he was jealous.  We both wanted Shelley, and up till now I bet he thought he’d be the one to get her.  Well, it’s not my fault if he takes my word for it, thinks I’ve already been there, and sets his sights somewhere else.  Besides, all the better for me if he does.

“Hey, anybody stop by for me?” he asked.  “Maybe a fat guy?”

I stared at him blankly and shook my head.  “Not today.”

“Oh.  Well, if anybody does, just holler.  I’ll be in my room.”

“You got it.”  I laid the remote on the coffee table and picked up the slip of paper Gor…don had handed me.  All the better for me, I thought, and stuck it down my front shirt pocket.


“After Midnight” by John C. Caruso

After midnight the warehouse district down by the train yard has a haunting deserted stillness to it.  Although the day’s long rain has stopped for the moment, the pavement of streets is still slick with dark standing water.  Deep puddles swell the gutters at corners where leaves and litter have clogged the drains.

The cool night air has a hushed quality to it, interrupted only by the faint hum of a solitary streetlamp, reaching its lighted arm high over the street and standing tall in the yellow pool of its own light glaring off the wet pavement.

In the distance, approaching gradually from where a small cluster of dive bars and pool halls huddle together down by the waterfront a mile or so away, a faint and rhythmic noise edges softly into hearing range. As it nears, the noise slowly builds into an actual sound – the sound of shoes striking the pavement.  Someone is running.  The footfalls come fast together.  The person is moving fast, running as hard as they can.  But the shoes repeatedly striking on the pavement don’t have the padded squeak of athletic cross-trainers.  No, these shoes make the sharper clapping sound of leather soles, like men’s dress shoes.  Someone is running as fast as he can in a pair of leather oxfords.

As the sound of these feet striking pavement nears it grows louder, and another softer rasp becomes audible as well.  The second sound is wetter and warmer than the first, but like the first it has a desperate, insistent rhythm to it, coming quick.  It has a jagged quality to it, like someone tearing a wet cotton sheet into long strips, and only as this sound arrives and rises in volume does it make itself clear as the frantic, breathless gasps of this man in dress shoes running as fast as he possibly can.

Faster than would seem possible after the gradual build in the sounds of his approach, this man dressed in a dark suit splashes out of the darkness of the street to flash quickly through the yellow pool of light under one of the streetlamps.  His rain coat flaps behind him like a dark flag blowing in a stiff wind, but the night air is cool and still.  As soon as he’s there – a frozen silhouette of a suited man in full sprint – he’s gone again, the sound of him faintly retreating into the overcast darkness of the night.

The damp rasp of his breath has faded out of hearing range and the clap of his soles on the pavement has retreated to the edge of hearing when another soft set of sounds begins to emerge in his wake, just as rhythmic but with a different quality.  This time the approach is slower, more methodical, almost plodding, and it comes in a brief pattern of three repeated sounds: clomp, clack, scrape.  Only the third sound in the series is dragged out so that it’s twice as long as either of the other two sounds, like clomp, clack, scraaaaaaape.

Clomp, clack, scraaaaaaape.

Clomp, clack, scraaaaaaape.

This is the sound of the running man’s dogged pursuer.  It’s slow, almost ridiculously slow after the other man’s furious dash, but it’s relentless.  It keeps moving.  It will not tire.

And there, the second shadow appears briefly in the pool of yellow lamplight, a hunched figure draped with a long coat, a strong booted leg coming down with a heavy clomp, then a cane stabbing forward to clack sharply against the pavement, followed by the dragging scrape of a dead leg.  Clomp, clack, scrape, spotlighted for a moment as it moves slowly into the dark night.

“The Wet Dark” by Jim Smiley

The forest and the mountains might have been there forever; I didn’t know. I couldn’t see much beyond a few yards, and I’d never seen anything to compare with this weather. Rain sluiced down my shirt, adding to the awful chill around my heart. Ground fog eddied around the trees, giving the me impression that there were shadows moving around in there.

It had been at least a few hours since I escaped from the fiendish bitch in the schloss. Like the fool I was, I thought she only meant to kill me, or turn me into one of her slaves. No such luck; it pleased her to make me keep reliving the worst turns in my life. I think the smell of my living blood tormented her, and she thrived on the pain she inflicted on herself. It figured that she’d enjoy torturing herself, as well as others.

One time, she left herself open, and I could see into the ancient past. Her past. The trauma and fear of a young bride, just into her teens, married to a cruel man thirty years her senior. Unending nights of horror, until she felt nothing at all. Until only torture could stir her heart at all. A visit from one who served the will of Satan himself, and the hurried flight from Cjesthe. That was the closest thing she’d ever had to a honeymoon, and it ended in her Undeath.

I saw light ahead of me, and a became dimly aware of the Countess’s light footfall behind me. With some last reserve of strength, I threw myself into the light from the door. She hissed, cheated of quarry at the last moment. I could see the scene through her eyes, and my pity for her died abruptly, as I finally understood.

The light from the door was on my chest, and it was in the shape of a cross. The Countess hated the shape, hated to be reminded of what she had been cheated out of, but mostly, it was the symbol of eternal love and sacrifice, things her night existence could neither acknowledge or fathom. I still felt pity for her, but I knew when I struck the blow that finished her, I’d just be relieved that she’d never inflict any more nightmares. I had more pity for her future victims.

“Slayer of Lilith….why do you fear me? Could it be that you fear more for another? Someone dearer to you than your mortal life?”

She was thin on facts. I hadn’t put down Lilith; I was just there at the time. But I’d take the credit. But her implied threat had me going, and I almost forgot where I was and what time it was. I simply wanted to rip her head from her shoulders. About that time, I felt warm hands under my arms, pulling me inside the cloister, and locking out the darkness that still walked.

“METAL MAN” by Jim Ehmann

A gust of wind blasted through the front door of the #45 bus. The small photo of Mary Hodge’s son Aaron blew off the dashboard onto the wet floor, where the onboarding passenger nearly stepped on it. Mary gave a small cry, straining against her seatbelt to snatch it up in time. She carefully wiped the muddy spots off the photo and absorbed the image for a moment – Aaron under the Christmas tree at age three. Could it really be eight years ago now? And Christmas coming next week. She slipped the photo in her shirt pocket.

Mary sighed as she flung the bus around the hairpin curve at 60th Avenue. She knew the passengers did not appreciate being lurched into attention out of their little iPod and iPhone worlds, but today she was past caring. It was Mary’s last day on the route and she would likely never see any of these people again.

Except for Suzy. Suzy’s daughter attended the same school as Mary’s daughter. Suzy always sat as close as she could to Mary, leaning forward with the bare minimum of her butt perched on the edge of the seat, yammering endlessly about every stray thought that entered her head. Mary supposed that Suzy did this all day long to a succession of hapless victims. It was just white noise to Mary. Usually it was aggravating, but sometimes it was curiously soothing.

Suzy did not know about Aaron. He had died before Mary and Suzy met. Unlike Suzy, Mary could keep her thoughts to herself. Suzy expressed great regret about Mary’s imminent transfer to the other side of town but Mary was looking forward to a change. Scanning ahead to the next stop, Mary spotted another reminder why.  There he was. Metal Man.

His age was hard to discern. His filthy dreadlocks snaked down his heavily stained clothes nearly to his knees.  Dozens of metal rings and studs pierced his face, lips, tongue, and ears. Tattoos covered nearly every exposed inch of sickly, pock-marked skin. Mary opened the door and instinctively held her breath against the stench she knew Metal Man brought, hoping she could hold out long enough as he fumbled pitifully for the correct change.

Mary had enduring him for almost six months.  – the smell, the blackouts, and the vomiting episode. This was the last time. Something to be thankful for.

Suzy fell silent for a moment and cringed as Metal Man heaved himself down the aisle, but quickly restarted her ramblings. Two more hours, thought Mary.

As the bus approached downtown, a string of brake lights indicated a traffic jam ahead. Probably an accident. Mary cursed inwardly as Suzy detailed her battles with a supposedly rude math teacher at her daughter’s school.

Ten mostly motionless minutes later Mary was reaching the breaking point when Metal Man staggered to his feet and approached the front.

“Let me off,” he said, gargling the words.

Mary grimaced.”Not until the next stop. Rules.”

“Let me off. I gotta get off.”

Mary turned and glanced at his face. Metal Mans eyes were bleary and distant, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings.

Damn, maybe he’s going to piss or get sick, Mary thought. What the hell. Get rid of him while we are stuck here.

“OK,OK…”she sighed. “Hurry up.”

Metal Man stepped past Suzy and hesitated. He gave a shiver and stood straight up, stiffening for a moment. Then he reached a grimy, calloused hand into his jacket pocket. Alarm bells rang in Mary’s head and she braced herself against what might happen in the next few seconds.

His hand withdrew from the pocket and Mary caught a glimpse of shiny green wrapping paper. Metal Man slowly offered the tiny package, tied with a silver ribbon, to Mary.

She stared at him, his red, faraway eyes.

“Aaron wants you to have this,” he said.

Mary took the package, not remembering to be revolted by the fleeting touch of his hand.

Metal Man turned and stumbled down the stairs off the bus.

“Omigod, can you believe it…” blurted Suzy, going off again.

Suzy’s monologue failed to penetrate the crushing fog than had seized Mary. She numbly closed the bus door.

Mary gently removed the simple bow and unwrapped the gift, revealing a cardboard box. Her pulse pounded in her fingers as she opened lid and looked inside.

She took the heavy, heart-shaped red crystal from the box and brought it into the last sideways light of the winter sun. She had to tilt it just right to make out the crude letters etched into the heart. The boxy, plain letters of a young child:


“Symmetry” by Jim Smiley

A wind, soft but insistent, ran over the prairie grass. Two or three wisps of cloud tried to stand against it, but they finally gave up and departed, leaving two figures standing alone in the churchyard.

“I think I need to go away,” mused the taller of the two.

“Is there any place that can comfort you? Especially now? After seeing the things you’ve seen?” The second figure spoke from millennia of knowledge.

“I never doubted there were nasty things in the world. But their problem should have been with me. My family was off-limits. Under protection.”

“That’s not the way it’s done, Matt. We have set rules for this sort of thing, after all.”

“And you expect the Prince of Darkness to play fair? I can see myself burning in Hell for being dumb enough to buy your line of pious bullshit.” Matt kicked at a discarded blossom.

“Does it not occur to you that Satan might not even know of the attack on you and your family? That there are other factions in play?”

“I thought about that. He’s been in charge of the darkness a long time. I doubt that he didn’t know about the operation. He had to have known.”

“It’s not like you suppose. You have this idea of the Prince as some mighty, horned god out of your nightmares. He was that way, once.” He exhaled, pausing for effect. “He’s just an old man now, besotted and senile. Hell is being run by those who came after.”

“Then what have I been fighting against all these years?”

“It might be a hundred lesser devils that are the ones responsible.”

“Responsibility. You make them sound like demonic terrorists.”

“If it helps to put that name to them, then do so.”

“It’s not like I’m a member of the angelic host….and I’m only a mortal, with only this lifetime….”

“I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but I don’t believe I like it. What exactly do you propose?”

“I’m proposing nothing, you pompous twat. I’m telling you: this attack on my family means war.”

The angel did not quite laugh. “And do you think you can even get the direct attention of Hell?”

“I know how to get there incarnate. I kill everything that crosses my path. I don’t care who or what they are.”

“Even if you could get to Satan, what do you mean to do? He was an archangel, Matt. Even old and brittle, he is too much of a foe for you.”

“Let my friend in Novisibirsk worry about that. He owes me a big favor. Say…about five kilotons worth.”

“You’ll be killed.”

“How about that? I’ll already be in Hell. Convenient.” He turned to leave, and never knew it when the angel broke his neck with a casual, fatal blow.

“I’m sorry, Matt. But Satan provides symmetry. The Son wouldn’t like what I did here today, but what He doesn’t know won’t hurt Him.”


“Sleep No Sleep” by John C. Caruso

It’s just your imagination.  You should go back to sleep.

You’ve heard this before.  That scratching sound is coming from the wind scraping a branch against the side of the house.  That’s all.

That twisted shape dancing along the far wall is the shadow of a branch moving in the wind.  It’s the moonlight.  That’s all.

Did you hear that?

The dog is asleep.  He’s your protector.  He’ll keep you safe.  If it were something else the dog would wake up and bark.

You shouldn’t have had more coffee after dinner.  That might have helped.  You should have had another glass of wine.   You’re never going to fall asleep like this.  Why aren’t you just lying there peacefully?


Why are you just lying there peacefully?  You’re going to fall asleep like this.  You shouldn’t have had another glass of wine.  That might not have helped.  You should have had more coffee after dinner.

If it were something else the dog wouldn’t wake up and bark.  He won’t keep you safe.  He’s not your protector.  The dog isn’t asleep.

Didn’t you hear that?

That’s not all.  It isn’t the moonlight.  That twisted shape dancing along the far wall is not the shadow of a branch moving in the wind.

That’s not all.  That scratching sound is not coming from the wind scraping a branch against the side of the house.  You haven’t heard this before.

You shouldn’t go back to sleep.  It’s not just your imagination.

“Trichina” by Aaron Hilton

Detective Lindy Ferguson had just finished cleaning her kitchen after hosting Thanksgiving dinner, got her four-year-old daughter, Gillian, to sleep with only five pages of Alice In Wonderland (instead of the customary ten), and managed to steal maybe four hours of sleep.

When her cell phone lit up her nightstand, the ringtone of the theme from Dragnet telling her her captain was calling.

“Yeah . . . ” she grumbled.

“Sorry to interrupt your beauty sleep,” Captain Hicks said, “but you’ve got a homicide.”

“I’m not on call,” Lindy coughed, swallowing the expletive she almost blurted.

“Adams can’t respond right now,” Hicks explained. “He’s getting stitched up. Got stabbed with a butcher knife answering a domestic disturbance.”

The horrible news of a brother in blue injured woke Lindy up immediately.

“Is he going to be okay, Cap?”

“I think so. No major artery severed. He should be back on his feet by New Years.”

Lindy grabbed a pad of Mary Engelbreit stationary and pen with a snowman bobble head.

“What’s the address?” She jotted the Southeast location down in hurried shorthand. And she would have used her palm rather than a piece of her Mary Engelbreit collection, but she needed to grab a quick shower. “Felony Flats. Terrific. I’ll be there in forty-five minutes.”

“Lindy. Wait.”

Oh God, she thought, the captain only used her first name when giving her a reprimand, or at personal functions like Gillian’s first birthday party.

“What now?”

“Thanks again for dinner last night. Are you still sure you won’t share your family stuffing recipe?”

Lindy didn’t even bother to gratify that with a response and ended the call.

After pulling on a pair of black jeans, a purple silk blouse, her Glock in a shoulder rig, and fleece-lined leather coat, Lindy left a note for her family on the coffee table, then stepped out into the brisk forty-degree night.

While she warmed up her restored 1968 Hunter Green Ford Mustang, Lindy unlocked her iPad. She accessed a database developed by the Cyber-Crimes division that catalogued criminal activity. She entered the address off Fifty-Second and Henderson to track any recent updates.

A week ago one Geoffrey Shepard had been reported for a parole violation and when his parole officer tracked him down to confront him, Shepard assaulted her with a knife, then raped her. Several calls from the neighborhood Lindy was going into had reported sightings of Shepard. She tapped a link to the felon’s rap sheet. He’d been nailed for a GTA five years ago.

Her memory clicked on the day of Shepard’s apprehension. She had been one of the officers that corralled Shepard into driving his stolen Shelby GTO over a spike trap.

The evening was cold, but not moist, and once the windows were defrosted, Lindy shifted gears, and pulled out of her driveway in Clackamas. 103 FM plays Christmas music every year from Thanksgiving to New Years and Fergie began to sing a cover of “Santa Baby”. Lindy rocked out to the Black-Eyed Peas chanteuse all the time, but as far as she was concerned, Eartha Kitt would always own that song.

She double parked across the street from the location, grabbed a travel case and baseball cap from the back seat, then headed for the border of crime scene tape around the broken-down Victorian house that’d seen better days. One of the two uniformed officers that’d secured the exterior got out of the driver’s side of his cruiser to offer Lindy a cup of coffee.

“No thanks, Charles,” Lindy said. “Who tipped us off here?”

“Neighbor lady next door. She was supposed to have dinner with the family that rents the place, but they never answered the door when she knocked on the door yesterday afternoon. A couple hours ago, she did some nosing around and discovered all four tires on the family car slashed, then the family cat scared the shit out of her running out through the animal door.”

The officer panned the beam of his flashlight along the gravel path that lead to the stairs. Lindy spotted the paw prints of blood.

She placed the travel bag on the hood of the cruiser, then bunched her shoulder length blonde hair underneath the Oregon Ducks baseball cap. Lindy didn’t want any of her golden locks to get mixed with any evidence she collected inside. Grabbing the case, the homicide detective approached the house, sidestepping the gory animal tracks.

“Watch my caboose, boys,” she told Charles over her shoulder.

“Aye, Lieutenant,” the uniform promised as Lindy snapped on a pair of gloves.

She found the door locked, but before resorting to her lock picks-a trade craft Lindy didn’t have the patience for-she found a set of spare keys in a tin stowed away inside the bird house that hung above the archway of the porch.

Inside, she canvassed the dimly-lit dwelling, starting with the living room and kitchen, then the three bedrooms upstairs, and finally the basement which was a deathtrap of magazines and newspapers. She spotted a mildew-stained rag on top of one pile that was an out-of-print circular for Portland’s adult entertainment industry back in the day when she was a lingerie model to help pay her way through college.

She found the bodies of the family stacked like lumber in the tub of the basement bathroom. There were no weapon marks or bruises on the body to suggest they’d been slain by a weapon. Just feline bites and scratches where the cat had fed. Poison then. She examined their fingertips, along with the slack mouths, and hollow expressions of their death masks for any tell-tale signs.

“Gross,” she muttered. “What in the hell are you?” Lindy asked the tiny worm that crawled out of the adult male’s eye socket, leaving a slimy trail. She snatched a petrie dish from her evidence collecting kit, along with a pair of tweezers, and delicately placed the worm inside.

She took a picture of the creepy crawly with her cell phone and sent it along with a text message to an entomologist friend at PSU that lived with insomnia. Just before her cell phone battery died, he revealed that the specimen was a trichina worm.

“You’re telling me that these people died from trichinosis?” Lindy talked to herself. “Food poisoning? Then how did the corpses end up in the bathroom?”

She raced back up the stairs and into the living room. One of the pictures above the mantel of the fireplace showed the adult male with his arm around the shoulder of Geoffrey Shepard. Taking a deep breath, Lindy dropped her evidence collecting gear and unholstered her sidearm to aim it at the entrance of the kitchen.

A bowl or something rattled.

Barrel covering her twelve’ a clock, Lindy proceeded to step towards the kitchen, her heartbeat racing, her lips clenched to breathe quiet and shallow.

The kitchen was a mess of moldy dishes and food containers. Fruit flies drifted around the sinks garbage disposal and a stench forced Lindy to move her gun down so she could cover her mouth. The cat’s bloody paw prints were all over the linoleum floor and formica countertops.

It leapt from the top of the fridge to land at her feet, then scurried away.

“You little shit,” Lindy chuckled, following her nose to the smell in a pantry lined with shelves of canned food just beyond the kitchen and a little nook and dining room table.

The butt of a cigarette smoldered in an ash tray off center.

The foul stench led to a refrigerator next to a deep freeze, neither emitting a hum that they were operational. The fridge door was ajar and Lindy pushed it open all the way with her foot.

Trichina worms spilled out onto the floor. The hundreds that didn’t fall out were clinging to a ham that rested on a plate.

The door of the deep freeze flew open and Geoffrey Shepard’s ratty mop of red hair whirled in Lindy’s peripheral vision.

“Suspect on location!” she began to shout, but Shepard nailed her in the mouth with a fist. A mop handle smacked her hands to knock the Glock from her grasp and the weapon dropped. Agile as a tiger escaped from a cage, Shepard hurdled out of the freezer to reach for the gun, but Lindy sent it skittering across the floor with a swipe of her Nikes. The shooter swiveled underneath the fridge.

“Bitch!” Shepard yelled, giving Lindy a shove into the kitchen. Off balance and coughing from the blood in her mouth and acid reflex in her throat from the vomit she swallowed at touching the worms when she lost her gun, Lindy hit the floor on her ass, legs spread.

“Oh yeah,” Shepard said, grinning. “I’ve been thinking of this moment ever since you read me my rights. I’m gonna fuck you up so bad.”

As the felon lunged, Lindy hurled a fistful of trichina worms into his face, then rolled out of his path. Shepard screaming obscenities like a girl, Lindy grabbed the first kitchen tool she could, a marble rolling pin, and brained Shepard up alongside the head with it.

After he went down hard and began to moan, Lindy gave him a swift kick to the nuts.

“That’s for making me miss the Black Friday sale at Fred Meyer.”