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Dick and Jane, Together Again-Fiction by Marcy Dilworth
Lay Down Sally-Fiction by Jack Coey
Cleaning Up After the Narc-Fiction by Walter Giersbach
Faith-Fiction by Don Stoll
Cigarettes-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Blood Will Bloom Like a Watercolor Flower-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Toast, Jell-o, Tea-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The PLacebo Effect-Fiction by Paul Smith
Aftermath-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Just Like Fish-Fiction by Paul Lubaczewski
Waterworks-Fiction by Sue Cmileski
Saith Me-Fiction by Robert Ragan
The Return of the Ladykiller-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Fire Man-Fiction by Terry Butler
Lost in Greenwich Village-Fiction by Dr. Mel Waldman
Never, Ever Bring This Up Again-Flash Fiction by Ralph Benton
Hip-Hop Baby-Flash Fiction byJ. Brooke
Idylls of the Queen-Flash Fiction by Dini Armstrong
Looking Cold-Flash Fiction by Stanton McCaffrey
Camera_Flash Fiction by Leyla Guirand
Ashes and Dust-Flash Fiction by Janet Hartwell
Family Man-Poem by Ann Marie Rhiel
Heads-Poem by John Grey
The Architect-Poem by Marc Carver
economy class-Poem by Meg Baird
She Knows-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Rain-Poem by Maddisyn Condora
Counter-Intuitive-Poem by Henry Bladon
An Eerie Journey Down the Invisible Staircase-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
A Sonnet for Elvira-Poem by Juan Perez
Unforeseen Endings-Poem by Michael Keshigian
When Her Kisses-Poem by Richard M. Prazych
In Your White Cadillac-Poem by Richard M. Prazych
Love in the Time of Wolves-Poem by Jennifer Lemming
I Do-Poem by Jennifer Lemming
a bite better-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
hot afternoon-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
registry-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Dirty Pink Lipstick-Poem by Ian Mullins
Wrestlin' Gal-Poem by Ian Mullins
Between Takes-Poem by Ian Mullins
Banjo Bob and Cassy-Poem by David Spicer
Neurotic-Poem by David Spicer
I Imagine It's Goodbye-Poem by David Spicer
A Date with Destiny-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Under Moonlight-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
2020 (The Heart and the Thorn)-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
She Loves You-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

78_ym_returnladykiller_cartwright.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright © 2020


The Return of The Ladykiller


By Michael D. Davis

  

          “I will kill you slowly so I can watch your eyes go dull with death. I will drain your blood into pots, pans, cups, bowls … and other items of the like. I will strip the skin off your body like I’m plucking the feathers off a chicken. I will make your meat into savory jerky then go on a hike, I will walk into the woods up a hill over another hill towards a mountain sustaining myself on the jerky I made from your remains and the juice I mixed from your blood. There I will start fresh, form a colony of people in which I will be elected ruler, your skull will be my crown.”

          Count Whorton turned over on the floor of the Quartertown jail cell. His head ringing with a hangover. He looked at the old man talking who had Rip Van Winkle hair and wore a shabby soiled suit. Count said, “Darwin, you’re my lawyer do you have to keep threatening me with death?”

          “Yes,” was the raggedy man’s response.

          Count sighed and peeled himself from the floor. He stretched slightly, which helped slightly, however, the crick in his neck was a lost cause. Leaving his left ear to lay on his shoulder, Count sat down and asked Darwin for the time.

          “For you it’s limited,” said Darwin with his eyes gleaming with sinister intent and his cracked lips parting to show his expensive dentures in a smile of dark delight. “For soon I will begin the journey that will lead to your death.”

          “Yeah, yeah, so what’s it like, nine-ish?”

          “The time at the tone will be twelve-thirty-seven…bbeeeeeeeepppp.”

          “Oh, fuck that was like a bullet goin’ through my brain. What are you tryin’ to do kill me?”

          “Not yet.”

          “Wait, its noon already? Where the fuck’s Irma?”

          Count wandered over to the bars and motioned to an officer a ways away. The officer didn’t get up but instead let out a groaned, “what?”

          “Can you get me Miss Pinky from the front desk?”

          “I’m not here to get you people.”

          “Then can I make a phone call?”

          Count was walked over to a phone on a wall with the officer hovering over him like an angered parent. “This’ll just be a minute,” said Count dialing the phone. It was picked up immediately. “Hello, Miss Pinky,” said Count talking into the receiver, “no, I’m fine and you? Oh, that’s good. Hey, I got a favor to ask, I’m down here in a cell…yup right in the building.” Count changed his voice some while saying, “the call is coming from inside the house, yeah, yeah, anyways could you call Irma for me I don’t know where she could be. I know usually she already knows I’m here, but if you could call her I don’t remember numbers too good. What? Oh, well its on fucking posters all around me. Okay, thanks see ya.”

          Count hung up and turned around to see the officer scowling at him. “What?” Count said.

          “Very funny calling the station from the station,” said the officer in a voice deeper than the bottomless pit.

          “Thank you, Lurch, and I hope late tonight when you’re sitting alone in the dark getting ready for that one laugh and smile you allow yourself each and every day you’re thinking of what happened here.”

          The officer grunted and led Count back to his cell.

          It wasn’t long after that Count was sprung. He left Darwin spouting another death threat behind bars to find Miss Pinky at the front desk talking to Kenny.

          “What are you doing here?” was Count’s greeting to the kid giant.

          “I’m bailin’ you out, what the fucks wrong with your neck?”

          “Slept on it wrong, where’s Irma?”

          Kenny shrugged his shoulders, “Workin’?”

          “I called,” said Miss Pinky, “she didn’t answer. Maybe she’s off doin’ wedding preparations? Only two days till the day.”

          “Irma?” Said Count leaning on the desk, “I don’t know? Technically you only need six things to get hitched. First, you need a couple, two cake and booze, three, good flowers and good music, four fancy-ass clothes, five family, and six church. And speaking technical, all of those are optional except the cake and booze. All right, let’s get out of here, Kenny and I’ll pay you back the bail.”

          “Why? It’s your money.”

          “What?”

          Kenny took an envelope out of his pocket saying, “Irma gave me this envelope labeled Count’s bail money. Told me to keep it and wait for the call.”

          “Yeah,” said Miss Pinky, “I got one too, I just figured you’d need a ride and I’m workin’ so I called Kenny.”

          “I’ll be damned, well thanks.”

          Count squeezed in next to Kenny in the big man’s little car and they started towards the apartment. It was February 12th, two days before Valentine’s Day and two days before the wedding. The roads were clear, but Quartertown was blanketed with dirty snow filled with thirty-degree temperatures. Count flipped on the radio where Six-fingered Sally was playing “Tainted Love” by Softcell.

          “Fuck,” said Count after they parked, “what the hell did you have the heat set at in that toy car of yours, hellfire?”

          “Well, shit its colder than an Eskimo’s asshole out here.” As Kenny spoke the door of the bar that Count lived above opened as people entered letting out an animal. The black-furred thing sauntered along the sidewalk up to Count and Kenny. Upon noticing the beast’s presence Kenny jumped back with a slight yelp. Count turned around just as Kenny said, “What the hell is that thing?”

          Count grinned crooked teeth saying, “Don’t be a pussy, Kenny it’s just a dog. This little guy is King Charlie Archibald. Found him awhile back in the alley. Took him to the vet, now he’s usually either in the bar or upstairs with us.”

          Kenny, staying back as Count ushered the animal up the stairs to the apartment said, “Are you sure that’s a dog?”

          “Of course, although the vet said he’d seen nothing like him before.”

          As Count opened the inner door to the apartment The King shot right inside. He ran across the apartment through the open pocket doors into the office right up to Doctor Box who lay unconscious on the floor.

          “Fuck,” was all Count could find to say as he looked about the wreckage of his home and office. Furniture was overturned and broken as well as just thrown about. Quickly joining The King at Doctor Box’s side, Count and Kenny looked over the little man who didn’t seem to be bleeding. With a little shake and The King’s sloppy tongue on his face, Doctor Box was soon aroused.

          Kenny flipped the couch back right side up and laid Doctor Box down.

          “Are you alright? What happened?” Were the questions slipping off Kenny and Count’s tongues.

          “My head hurts excruciatingly and I’m not sure. I came in, saw the place was a wreck and Irma…”

          “What about Irma?” Count pleaded.

          “She was tied up, then everything went black.”

          Count moved away from the couch, his hands were on the side of his face and he repeated, “no,” over and over again. Kenny put his hand on counts shoulder saying, “It’ll be alright, she’ll be alright.”

          Shrugging off Kenny’s hand Count said, “Take care of him, I’ll be back in a minute.” Then he went out the door and down the steps, The King on his heels.

          The bar below Count’s apartment had changed names and owners multiple times over the years. It was currently called The Toe Tap Bar and Grill, and it had a good-sized crowd when Count stepped in.

          When the bartender saw him, he automatically put a full glass on the table. Count emptied it in one swallow, then turned to face the room and said at the top of his lungs, “I’m gonna need every dumb ugly son of a bitch’s attention in this place.”

          There were grumbles and swears as a sea of eyes turned reluctantly towards him.

          “Good,” Count said, “I need to know has anyone seen Irma today?”

          “Who’s that? Your mother?” Came a voice towards the back.

          “Listen up, you alcoholic pea-brain fuckers, some of you may not know who I’m talkin’ about, but I know a lot of you do. I need to know about Irma. Have you seen her today? Talked to her? Was she here? Upstairs? Outside? I mean did you glance out the window and see her walk by? Or were you all too busy watchin’ your fuckin’ ice cubes melt?”

          “Yeah, I seen her,” said a blurry-eyed man at the end of the bar. Count knew him to be a regular, but couldn’t remember his name. The man looked like he’d played in the mud as a boy and hadn’t taken a bath since. Count went up to his stool.

          “Where’d you see her?”

          “What’s in it for me?” asked the man slurping his drink.

          “What?”

          “I’ll tell ya if ya give me a little inspiration if ya know what I mean.”

          Count Whorton was never a man of violence, but he was even less a man of money. With his last nerve losing the battle to hold on Count grabbed the man by the throat and shoulder pushing him backwards. With a high-pitched yelp, the drunk was thrown off his barstool landing hard on the floor. Count stood over him as The King growled.

          “Tell me where you saw her,” Count said.

          “Outside… she got into Rick’s car. She’s a pay-for whore ain’t she?”

          Count kicked him hard in the crotch then turned around to the bartender saying, “Who the fuck's Rick?”

          He’d been gone more than just a minute, but when he came back through the apartment door, he had a few answers.

           “What the fuck’s goin’ on?” Kenny said.

          “Irma’s in trouble, we need to go now, we’ll drop off Doc Box at the hospital on the way.”

          “Not necessary,” said Doctor Box getting up from the couch, “I’m fine, it’s just a knock on the head.”

          Count wasn’t going to stop and argue with him so he just said, “Fine, let’s go.”

          They were rolling away from the curb as the man from the bar came out the door screaming obscenities with one hand on his crotch and the other making rude gestures. Before the door to the bar could close The King slipped out running away from where Count had left him and going right up to the drunk growling and barking.

          Kenny’s car stopped half in and out of its parking space, the passenger’s side door opened and Count yelled, “King.” The ghoulish looking dog stopped growling, ran over to the car and jumped up onto Count’s lap.

          Kenny started driving again saying, “Who the fuck was that guy?”

          “Beats the hell outta me,” said Count, “now head to Dotty’s.”

          “Fine, but can you fill us in on what the hell is going on?”

          “Yeah, yeah, I’m gettin’ to it, keep your flip flops wet. A customer back there at the bar kindly offered up some information sayin’ he’d seen Irma get in a car, black Chevy, with a man named Rick. Bartender said this Rick has been hangin’ around a lot the last couple weeks. Said he was a nice guy, a real ladykiller. He thought good’ol’Rick asked about the people upstairs, but he wasn’t sure. I asked just what Rick looked like and I got a pretty good description which made a few wires connect. Bartender said he was dark-skinned, tall, good shape, looked damn near like a movie star. That’s when it hit me… Rick is Brick.”

          “What the fuck does that mean?” said Kenny taking his eyes off the road.

          “Who’s Brick?” asked Doc Box from the back seat.

          “Brick, is Brick Side, Irma’s Ex-husband.”

          “What?” Kenny swerved in his lane.

          “I didn’t know Irma’s been married,” said Doc Box, “and the man must be a complete idiot using Rick as an alias for the name Brick.”

          “No, he’s no idiot. The bastard has used dozens of different names, fuck he goes into the shitter as Jeff and comes out as George. He used Rick on purpose, he wanted Irma or me to know he was there.”

          “You sure it’s him, Count and not a coincidence?”

          Count reached into his coat pocket and took out an old wallet that held three wrinkled one-dollar bills. Beside the money was a folded yellowed newspaper article. He took it out then handed it back to Doc Box. The headline read, “Man Suspected of Local Area Murder”. There was a picture between the text of a dark-skinned handsome man.

          “That picture’s a few years old, but when I showed it to the bartender, he recognized him right off. I know what I’m talkin’ about. She was born Irma Elsa Lanchester, she had a rough childhood then, she met him when she was in her twenties, and she thought she was in love. Or at least she did before he started beating her senseless, but by then she was trapped. Married and living with him. They stayed like that for years—he bruised her, scarred her, broke her, nearly killed her a few times.”

          Kenny parked out front of Dynamite Dotty’s and said, “I can’t believe Irma went through that or didn’t stop it, she’s so strong.”

          “Every superhero has their weakness,” said Count, “she wasn’t able to stop it. Finally, she got out with not much more than the clothes on her back. Irma bounced around, hiding, getting a divorce without ever seeing him. Then she found herself in Quartertown going through some bad times, she became a prostitute. That’s when she moved in across the alley.”   

          As the three of them walked into Dynamite Dotty’s, Count addressed the bartender saying, “Could you get me somethin’ to soothe my streptococcus de fungily throat, Rita Haywart?”

          A chunky man with a long beard and exquisite eye makeup turned around saying, “It’s WARP. My name’s Rita Haywarp, legally and all, you hunchbacked asshole.”

          Count had his drink down practically before Rita was done pouring it, then asked, “Dotty in back?”

          “She ain’t out front, is she? So, she must be.”

          “Yeah, yeah, Haywart,” Count started to walk away then turned back. “There been a man named Rick hanging around?”

          “I don’t know.”

          “Here,” said Doc Box handing Count the newspaper article. Rita glanced at the picture and scratched at her beard. Then said, “Oh, I do happen to recognize that beauty.”

          “Beauty? Ya didn’t read the headline did ya, Rita?” Count said.

          “I did, but often the more rotten the core the sweeter the surface. Never see a picture of Ted Bundy? Talk about ladykiller.”

          “Alright, where you see him?”

          “Here, of course, he’s maybe come in once or twice in the last few weeks. A smooth talker, again ladykiller, why?”

          “He took Irma,” said Count before walking away. Kenny followed him to Dotty’s back office as Doc Box stayed upfront asking Rita for some pain meds.

          Dotty sat behind her desk and when she saw Count said, “Aw fuck. If this is another thing about your damn Valentine’s Day wedding here you can go to hell. Valentine’s is a big fucking day for this place and like a big fucking idiot, I’m shuttin’ it down all day for you two’s. So, be happy with what you fuckin’ get and why the hell ain’t Irma with ya? I texted her just a minute ago and got nothin’ back.”

          Count stood in front of Dotty’s desk listening quietly, then said, “Can I speak now? Brick Side took Irma.”

          Dotty stood up. “What? Where’d he take her?”

          “The zoo, they’re pettin’ the baboons.”

          “What?”

          “I don’t know where they are, but I’m gonna find out and I’m gonna need a gun.”

          “Why?”

          “Because when I find him I’m gonna kill him. I’m gonna put that ladykiller right in the ground.”

          “Fuck, very 80’s straight to VHS action hero, Count,” said Dotty looking into Count’s dark-ringed bleary eyes, “but bullshit. I give you a gun and you’ll blow your foot off like a drunken version of Don Knotts in ‘The Shakiest Gun in The West’. I’ll hold the fuckin’ pea shooter, and I’ll fuckin’ drive. You drain the booze out of your brain and figure out where that fucker took her.”

          “Fine, we need to attack this at all angles. We need to call Miss Pinky, even that ass Klunkel to get the blue boys on it. APB and whatever. I got a tech wizard I know that can try to track Irmie’s phone. Kenny, I want you to take Doc over to the paper, go through the files, see if they have anything on Brick Side, everything is useful. Dotty, I want you to talk to all of your regulars, your employees, everyone. The son of a bitch has been following us at a distance, Rita out there said he’d been here. So, see if he slipped up, said the smallest thing that could lead to the location. Brick’s a smart asshole so, he’s had this planned. He knew where he was gonna take her.”

          Count paused, he had to catch his breath after having such a lucid moment. The silence was soon broken by the song “Beth” by Kiss coming out of Dotty’s cell phone on her desk. She picked it up, looked at it, then turned back to Count saying, “It’s a text from Irma’s cell. Just says ‘Hotel Hinchley’.”

          “Okay,” Count said nodding, “fuck everything I just said, let’s go get Irma.”

          “Wait,” said Kenny still standing in the doorway, “it could be a trap or somethin’.”

          “Doubtful, Brick already has what he wants, Irma. There’s nothin’ I could give him. Plus, if it is a trap, I’ll have you guys to help me get outta the snare.”

          Dotty grabbed her revolver and the pump shotgun that stayed behind the bar.  Kenny got his bat from the trunk of his car and they all met at the garage beside the club. Dotty hit the button that rolled up the door revealing her fire red 60’s Oldsmobile nighty-eight four-door. They quickly got in the big boat of a car including The King who sat in the back seat between Kenny and Doc. Dotty hadn’t noticed the creature until it was scrambling up onto the bench seat. Count’s only explanation was, “Don’t worry—he’s with me.”

          When Dotty turned the key, the radio came on rivaling the roar of the engine and Six-fingered Sally introduced the next song. “This is an old one,” she said, “The Shangri-Las with ‘Leader of the Pack’, enjoy this classic, wherever you are, wherever you’re going.” As the music started, they were already out on the road and soon out of Quartertown.

          Their destination was in the next county. Just twenty miles southeast out of  Quartertown and you hit Hinchley Haddon. Officially two towns, one of them the county seat, but they sat so close together most referred to them as one. Dotty sped down the highway towards the two towns. The Oldsmobile flew over the Iowa river and zoomed past the Meskwaki Settlement right into the town limits.

          Only Count had been to the Hotel Hinchley before so he gave directions to the old building uptown. It was still called hotel, but years before had been converted to apartments, it had obviously seen better days.

          “Black Chevy out front,” said Count as they parked, “they’re here.”

          “What’s the plan?” Dotty said.

          “I’ll go in the front with Kenny following behind. You make a loop of the building see if you see anything. Doc will stay in the car, he’s not in the best shape anyway. If things go bad he can either get help or keep the car running.”

          “Seems like the best plan to get us killed, let’s go,” said Dotty getting out of the car.

          As Count and Kenny went up the stairs into the old hotel, Dotty slipped around the side. Stepping in the empty lobby Count realized The King was right on his heels, coming with him.

          “What now?” said Kenny ready with his bat.

          “I guess we start knockin’ on doors.”

          The first apartment they came to was dark and empty, so was the second. The third door was opened by a man with thick glasses wearing not much more than boxers.

          “Have you seen a good lookin’ man holdin’ a woman against her will?” asked Count.

          “Huh?” Was the man’s reply.

          Count dug out the old news article again and showed the man the picture.

          “Yeah, I think I know him. Why you askin’?”

          “What apartment’s he in?”

          “You a cop or somethin’?”

          Kenny stepped from around the corner and said to the man in the boxer shorts, “Or somethin’.”

          “Fine, put Baby Huey away, second floor on your left.”

          “Thanks,” said Count starting to walk away.

          “Hey, hunchback, you can’t have dogs in here.”

          “He’s a service animal.”

          “Oh, yeah, what service?”

          Count turned back to the man and said through clenched crooked yellow teeth, “Military, the pooch served in Nam.”

          Boxer’s swore and slammed his door.

          Standing at the top of the second floor Count loomed in front of the door that he hoped Irma was behind. Kenny stood quietly a few feet away, out of sight; his grip tight on the bat. Count knocked and waited, there wasn’t any movement inside, no one came to the door. He knocked, again and again, there was no response.

          He tried the knob; the door was unlocked. Count walked in the apartment and was shot.

 

          Okay, let’s pause here. I know what you’re thinking, “This bastard just shot the main character. How could he? I love the odd, strange looking, always drinking, Count Whorton, and now this son of a bitch killed him off! What the fuck?” Well, untwist your knickers because I’m not done with this story you dumb pot-lickers. Now, we need to rewind a little, to no more than twenty minutes earlier in the Hotel Hinchley. As Count was talking to Rita Haywarp at Dynamite Dotty’s, twenty miles away in the second-floor apartment Irma was sitting on a ratty old couch, her hands zip-tied, her mouth gagged, and a gun in her face.

 

          On a folding chair a few feet in front of her Brick said to Irma, “Now, I am going to be taking the gag out. I hope you will have learned by now that screaming will only bring you pain. I do not want that at all, I love you my darling, always have, always will.”

          He reached forward, leaving the gun on his thigh, carefully untying her gag. When it was off Irma moved her jaw slightly trying to ease the pain. Two large bruises were already forming on her face.

          “Now,” Brick said leaning back in his chair, “may we speak civilly?”

          “Why don’t you go fuck yourself to death.”

          Brick clenched his teeth then took out a pocket knife. Leaning forward he lifted Irma’s shirt and sliced her stomach.

          “Let’s try again, start fresh if we can. It seems like your days on the streets have certainly soiled you.”

          “Yeah, it did. I’m not the same fucking Irma I was when I was bein’ beatin’ by you. You don’t want this dirty, old nasty woman so just get the fuck outta here.”

          “Oh, now don’t say that. I am sure my Irma is still in there, deep down. I will just have to carve away the disgusting parts like a sculptor.”

          Irma smiled slightly saying, “You’d be carvin’ away an awful lot.”

          “You’re worth it.”

          “You know Brick, I’m gettin’ married again. To a man I love, a man that doesn’t need to carve me away.”

          “That ugly thing to which you refer could use some carving of his own… a lot of carving.”

          “So, what are you gonna carve away, Brick? My job and the horrible things you think I’ve done?”

            “Are you speaking of being a whore?”

          “I say prostitute or hooker and I wouldn’t trade a day of it. I met Count through it and I learned a lot from it. Like one of my first regular clients, said he was an ex-navy seal, not that I believe him. Into bondage, that man was, tied me up every way he could think of, and each time he taught me how to get out of it.”

          Irma lifted her tied hands behind her then brought them down hard on her lower back breaking the plastic binds. Before Brick could move Irma was off the couch. She punched him in the face once and then again causing him to fall off his folding chair. She picked the pocket knife off the floor and stabbed Brick in the leg repeatedly until he hit her hard in the head causing her to fall backwards.

          Getting up from the floor, his leg bleeding profusely, the little knife still stuck in his thigh, Brick went for the gun. Irma saw him and kicked it away, causing it to slide across the floor into the open door of the bathroom. He again lurched for it, Irma put her shoulder into him from behind throwing him to the ground. Then quickly she got around him and to the gun. As she turned back to the room, gun ready, Brick was out the door. He slammed it behind him, then said from the other side, “Old building this is. The door here is your only exit and I’ll be here waiting. I’ve got the pocket knife here and I’ve done worse with smaller items.”

          Irma went around the room, finally finding her cell phone in one of his bags. The battery symbol was flashing red. She quickly sent a text before it died. Accidentally, a response to her last text received. She looked for another phone, but there was only the landline and he’d cut the wire. So, she sat the folding chair in the corner, held the gun ready, and watched the door. Someone had to show up eventually, anyone, and if it was him coming through the door, she’d shoot him dead.

          Irma sat quietly, waiting, as he constantly spoke through the door. He wouldn’t shut up, wouldn’t stop saying such vile things. Then he was suddenly silent. There were footsteps outside and then a knock. She knew it was Brick, it had to be. He was playing her, a sick game. There was another knock, Irma started to breathe heavily. The knob started to turn and she tensed. When the door opened Irma saw a man step in so she shot him.

          When the bullet hit Count, he fell to the floor having said the strange spur of the moment obscenity of, “Fuck a toe!”

          Upon hearing the odd shout, Irma knew instantly what she’d done and ran to the bleeding Count, The King already by his side.

          “Oh, God Countie, are you alright? Are you okay I’m so sorry?”

          “I think you just got me in the arm, I’ll be alright. How are you? I’ve been worried sick.”

          Before she could answer there came a noise from the far end of the hall. Kenny who had been standing in the door looking at the bleeding Count turned to see Brick Side. He was watching everything from behind an open door.

          Kenny started down the hall and Brick limped out from behind the door. The little knife in his hand. “Let me warn you, big boy,” he said looking up at Kenny, “I’ve hurt a lot bigger than you.”

          “Just shut up,” said Kenny as he swung his bat. Brick ducked the swing and the bat made a dent in the wall. Stepping forward Brick slashed at Kenny’s arm and hand making him drop his bat and pissing him off. Kenny pounced forward onto Brick. The two men stumbled and crashed through the second-floor window. They fell onto the tin roof of the shed beneath, then onto the ground.

          Dotty came rushing around the building just as Kenny was getting up.

          “What the fuck,” she said, “you okay?”

          He cracked his neck and said, “Yeah, just a few scratches.”

          “Not just scratches,” Dotty pointed at the pocket knife now sticking out of his shoulder. “You want me to pull that out for ya big guy?”

          “Naw, that will just make it bleed more, leave it in.”

          Brick started to stand up until Dotty pointed the shotgun at him and told him to remain seated. Sirens were whistling in the distance.

          Two days later in front of a sizable group of unconventional people in Dynamite Dotty’s club Count and Irma were married. Count with his right arm in a sling said, “Irma, when I first saw ya cupid shot me with his arrow, which didn’t hurt as bad as when you shot me the other day. Everyone here, or in the state, can agree I’m a better drinker than detective which isn’t sayin’ much. But with you as my partner, I get better every day. And I know you’ve been to hell and back a time or two, I’ve been to hell and back a time or two, but now with you by my side, I’ll be happy to go to hell because with you there, it will be heaven. I love you so much Irmie;  down to the bloody whorehouse end.”

          They exchanged question mark rings, made supposedly of gold as they’d been acquired in an unusual fashion. Mother Whorton sat in the first row, her eyes tearing up during the ceremony. Afterward, she congratulated Irma and hugged her before saying, “I hope you know what you got yourself into, my boys a moron.”

          As the evening wore on the music kept things going. A few different acts from the club played, a woman dressed as Elvis Presley did “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. While later on a golden-voiced drag queen sang The Searchers song “Love Potion No. Nine”.

          A while later Irma found Count in the alley out back smoking a bent cigarette. “Everythin’ okay,” she said taking his cigarette.

          “For me, it couldn’t be better. I was just thinkin’ we just got hitched on the cheap, with these probably stolen question mark rings, and there isn’t any way we can go on any honeymoon. Unless you want to spend a few hours in a yellow mattress motel across town because I think I might be able to swing that.”

          “Countie,” Irma said, “shut the fuck up. I love our rings, I loved our wedding, and I love you. Honeymoons are for assholes. What I want is to just sit at home with you or even better have someone come in the office tomorrow with a suspiciously dead grandma. That’s what I want.”

          “Yeah?”

          “Yeah, now let’s get back inside, it’s colder than a witches titty out here.”

          “You’d know,” said Count making Irma laugh in that screechy fashion of hers, “did you see Klunkel dancing with that drag queen? I can’t believe he crashed our wedding.”

          “I invited him,” said Irma going in the back door.

          Count Whorton following his bride said, “Why the hell you do that? He’s an ass and a bad dancer. He kept stepping on the drag queen’s toes.”

The End

 

Epilogue

 

          Darwin stood in front of the judge in a clean suit with dirty wild hair and said, “This is obviously a cut and dry case of temporary insanity. He had just learned his fiancée had been abducted, he was out of control with emotion, obviously not responsible for the so-called victim losing a testicle.”

          As the prosecutor spoke Darwin leaned over to Count and whispered, “One of these days I’ll cut your throat and use the skin of your ass to make little flags that I’ll stick in my garden.”

          “Yeah, whatever,” said Count dismissing him, “you’re doin’ a hell of a job today. Keep it up.” Count gave a smile, Darwin smiled back then returned to paying attention in court.

The End….Again

Michael D. Davis was born and raised in a small town in the heart of Iowa. Having written over thirty short stories, ranging in genre from comedy to horror from flash fiction to novella he continues in his accursed pursuit of a career in the written word.



It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.

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