|Allen, R. A.
|Baker, J. D.
|Bartlett, Daniel C.
|Berriozabal, Luis Cuauhtemoc
|Burke, Wayne F.
|Campbell, J. J.
|Centorbi, David Calogero
|Crist, Kenneth James
|Davis, Michael D.
|De Neve, M. A.
|Dillon, John J.
|Dunham, T. Fox
|Fagan, Brian Peter
|Fortier, M. L.
|Greenberg, KJ Hannah
|Holt, M. J.
|Irwin, Daniel S.
|Karl, Frank S.
|Larsen, Ted R.
|Le Due, Richard
|Lucas, Gregory E.
|Mannone, John C.
|Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl
|Owen, Deidre J.
|Reddick, Niles M.
|Reutter, G. Emil
|Ross, Gary Earl
|Rowland, C. A.
|Sesling, Zvi E.
|Slota, Richelle Lee
|Smith, Elena E.
|Snethen, Daniel G.
|Taylor, J. M.
|Traverso Jr., Dionisio "Don"
|Turner, Lamont A.
|Waldman, Dr. Mel
|Weil, Lester L.
|Williams, E. E.
|Williams, K. A.
|Zumpe, Lee Clark
“I should have been here for the
funeral,” Jasper said.
It came out like a whisper like he was in confessional
looking for absolution, but the sound echoed throughout the clearing,
nonetheless. Jasper stopped, shut his eyes, and took a deep breath. They were
almost to “Ichabog.” He could wait until they were settled before
broaching the subject again.
“Ichabog” was the name Ray
finally settled on for the deer stand. He had originally wanted to call it “The Suck,” Marine
slang for bad
conditions since the place got flooded frequently but went with something a little
different in the end.
Jasper continued until he
emerged from the path and into the clearing.
He enjoyed hunting, but he wouldn’t have labeled himself a hunter; not
like Ray. If they didn’t get something by the end of
the day, it would bother Ray. Jasper was just happy to crack a few beers and
call it a win regardless.
Jasper took in the surroundings. The water had risen a few
inches, but the giant willow tree was still there a few feet from the water’s edge. Something behind the
tree glinted in the sunlight. Unsure of what it was, Jasper took a couple of
steps forward. It was a shovel buried in a fresh mound of dirt next to a hold.
The thoughts didn’t process, and
confusion spread over Jasper’s face.
“Ray?” Jasper said and turned around.
Ray stood in the clearing twenty feet away with his rifle
aimed directly at Jasper.
Ray saw the bewildered look on Jasper’s face. Jasper still hadn’t gotten it. Ray wanted
to put the rest of his plan into
action, but somehow seeing the confusion in Jasper’s face prevented him from doing so. He needed Jasper to
understand. So, Ray would wait to pull the trigger until Jasper’s eyes widened, and his mouth
contorted, as it finally dawned on him.
Everything had been planned meticulously; digging the hole,
showing Jasper all of the things in his past, leaving out the hospital bills,
and making sure Sarah’s photo had been
in plain view. Ray knew that if he put any more pressure on the trigger, the
firing pin would ignite, and the bullet would leave the muzzle. It would hit
Jasper in the stomach. The projectile might not kill him, but it would send him
to the ground in a flood of pain.
Jasper still looked puzzled, but by now, rage had
threatened to overtake Ray. The muscles in Ray’s finger tightened by a fraction; almost at the breaking
point. That’s when it finally
happened. Jasper’s face changed,
but he was no longer looking at Ray. He stared over Ray’s shoulder toward the water. Jasper’s face had gone white. Ray heard water
splash behind him,
and he turned his head.
An alligator was heading directly toward them.
Ray knew how fast they were in the water, but they were
deceptively quick on land. They were territorial. However, this one kept
moving. Both men took off for the tree. Jasper struggled, but made it up to one
of the middle branches. Ray had tried to sling his rifle over his shoulder, but
the strap got tangled, and he had to ditch it. He had an easier time climbing,
and soon the alligator was too far away to strike.
Instead, once the animal had reached the base of the tree,
it did a slow revolution before it walked back to the water’s edge and slid effortlessly
back into the murky depths.
Ray grabbed a cup from the cabinet, some green tea, and
poured the water. He placed the cup on a tray along with some apple sauce and
headed toward the stairs. Sarah had been home from the hospital for about
a week, and Ray had waited on her night and day. He didn’t mind. It was just nice to have her back, even if it
pained him to see her this way.
It had become too difficult for her to speak over the last
few days. Jasper reached over and took her hand and held it gently in his own.
He could feel the bones in her fingers trying to squeeze his. He placed his
other hand under the pillow beneath her head and helped her to sit up. She
sipped the tea, and he spooned some apple sauce into her mouth. Afterward, he
picked up the book on the nightstand and began reading from where he’d left off the previous day.
When he saw her eyes begin to drift again, he closed the book without making a
sound and exited the room.
Initially, the doctor told him that her prognosis looked
hopeful, but things got worse exponentially. The only thing left to do was to
make her as comfortable as possible. Ray placed the dishes in the sink. He
watched the sunset for a moment out the kitchen window, grabbed a beer, and
took a long pull of it. Then he cried. Not a lot; he didn’t have much left, but some days he just got overwhelmed.
He went back upstairs in another half an hour, administered
her pills, and changed her bedpan. Finally, he tucked her in for the
evening. When he was almost at the doorway, he heard her speak. Her voice
was weak and strained.
“Do you want to play
odds?” Ray asked without a hint of irony in his voice.
“That bad?” Jasper
asked. He hadn’t thought his plan of making a
run for it was far-fetched, but Ray’s response had
given him doubts. The alligator had returned and was sunning itself in between
the tree and the water. It was smaller than it first appeared to be, but it was
still sizable at about five and a half to six feet.
“This one’s aggressive.
Alligators are territorial by nature. They mark off a spot and that’s it. They’ll defend it to the death, but once
you’re out of their territory they
leave you alone. They don’t migrate unless
they’re finding a
separate place to die.”
Jasper’s eyes lit up with a
faint glint of hope.
“Even if that were true,”
continued, “It might take days.”
“This one is different,”
added. The respectful tone had caught Jasper off guard.
“So, what do we do?”
“Go for the rifle,”
Ray said and
shifted his position which revealed the handle of a knife on an ankle
“What about that?”
and pointed to the blade.
“Do you want to try to
Jasper didn’t say anything.
“What do we do now?”
“I’m thinking,” Ray
Jasper let his eyes drift back
from the alligator.
“Why?” Jasper said
and jutted his
chin toward the hole and shovel.
“You should have been
here before the funeral,” Ray
“I already told you—”
began to say.
“What?” Ray said
something from his pocket and threw it at Jasper. He caught it; a piece of
balled up paper. He unfolded it. A photograph; worn and yellowed, but Jasper
had remembered the day it was taken. Jasper was maybe ten, standing in the backyard
with his twin younger siblings who’d just joined
“What could be more important
than family?” Ray added.
Ray couldn’t take it anymore.
Even though she hadn’t seen him in over a year,
forget about the fact she’d been sick, Sarah’s last words had been Jasper’s
name. Ray was already up with the knife in his hand. Whether Jasper understood
or not was irrelevant. Ray negotiated all of the branches like he’d been living in the treetops
his whole life. The knife disappeared between Jasper’s ribs, and Jasper let out a groan as the wind had been
knocked out of him. Ray held his brother for another moment and watched the
light leave his eyes. Even though Jasper had been their only natural child,
their parents had loved all of them. Before Ray could reflect on what had
transpired, how things had soured, he glanced down at the alligator and let the
“Here you go,”
Ray could always
return and fill the hole another time.
Three Little Pigs
by Andrew Davie
“Did it say Ice
Cube’s a pimp?” Asked Floyd
stared at him. It wasn’t a look
of anger or confusion, but one of pity. Floyd was sitting in a chair in front of the mirror
which served as the makeup station before showtime. Except for the head, he was already
wearing his costume of the pig who’d built his
house out of bricks. When they’d been giving
the costumes each had been tagged simply Pig 1, 2, and 3. However, Floyd had suggested
they embrace the story. He had been an actor at one point and said it would help with his
motivation if he could be the final pig from the story. Neither Delaney nor Byron cared,
so they agreed.
hair was disheveled since he hadn’t showered
that morning, and he continued to bear a wry smile on his face, which those who knew him
either grew to love or hate. It wasn’t difficult
to figure out where Angela stood on the matter.
“No, it didn’t.” She said, dryly.
She hadn’t known Floyd was referring
to the song “A Good Day,” by Ice Cube, who claims in the song that Ice Cube’s
role as a procurer was the message depicted on the side of the Goodyear Blimp. It didn’t matter to Floyd whether anyone ever got any of his
references, and it had gotten him into trouble more than once.
The door to the trailer
opened, Byron walked in, threw his backpack on the floor,
and retrieved his costume from the wardrobe rack.
“Sorry, fellas,” he said “Physics is killing me.”
“No worries,” Floyd said and drank some more coffee.
“Just don’t let
Heather catch you again.”
Someone knocked on the door.
“Come in,” Delaney said.
“You guys almost ready?”
Constantine stood in
the doorway in his full big bad wolf outfit with the
head already in place. Technically, an employee could get written up if they were visible
outside out of costume, but Constantine never had to worry about that.
“We’ll be there in ten,” Delaney said.
“See you there.”
Constantine shut the door. Floyd had once compared the three of them
to the lead characters from the film MASH; alcoholic surgeons during
the Korean War who frequently broke the rules to stay sane during a crazy time. Floyd suggested
Constantine would be the equivalent of Robert Duvall’s character,
Major Frank Burns, a religious zealot who had no sense of humor. While Constantine wasn’t a religious zealot by any stretch, he did take his
job at the park very seriously. He was the only one of the four of them who worked there
without an ulterior motive. He truly enjoyed bringing smiles to the faces of children.
When Constantine wasn’t working at the park,
or as a plumber, he was a volunteer sheriff’s
They only had to do five shows a day, but they
also had to walk around the park and mingle with the
guests for at least an hour. Constantine would never do less than two hours. Now, Floyd
and Delaney sat in their street clothes at a picnic table near their trailer.
Floyd and Delaney had large sodas which Floyd had spiked with mini bottles
of rum he’d pilfered from one of the minibar
supply carts. Floyd would occasionally get shifts working as a bellhop at one of the park
resorts. No matter how many times Delaney said the hotel probably had surveillance going,
Floyd would suggest it was just a fringe benefit, and if they saw fit to garnish his wages,
so be it. Byron went home after the final show ended. He’d
be up all night again wrestling with physics concepts that were just out of his grasp.
“You know,” Floyd began, then stopped speaking
and watched the golf cart pass their table. Behind the wheel was one of the park security
guards making his weekly deposit. Next to him, on the passenger seat of the golf cart,
was a strong box.
“How much you think he’s got in there?” Floyd said after the guard
had left their immediate vicinity.
“I don’t know,” Delaney said. “A few grand?”
“That’s what I was thinking,” Floyd
said. “I watched Heat the other night,”
“No,” Delaney replied.
“You don’t even know what—”
“Fine; what were you
going to say?” Floyd paused.
“How difficult would
it be?” Floyd finally said.
began “let’s just forget it.”
“You think Fred Sanford is going to do something?” Floyd asked and pointed
in the direction the guard had gone.
“We’re not robbing the park!” Delaney said through gritted teeth. Neither
man spoke for a moment.
“How much of your paycheck
goes to your ex-wife?” Floyd said. His tone had softened but the words still had
bite. Delaney took another drink and slid the cup in front of Floyd.
“Hit me again,” Delaney said. He watched Floyd dump in another mini bottle.
Delaney took the drink back, took a healthy slug, and spoke.
“OK, so let’s change that,” Floyd said. He sat up straighter in his chair
recognizing he had begun to hook Delaney.
“No one gets hurt,” Delaney said.
“No one gets hurt. We won’t even
have loaded weapons.” Both men killed their drinks.
“Let me come up with a plan tonight,” Floyd said, “And we’ll both tell Byron tomorrow after
his project is finished.”
It took some convincing for Byron to agree,
but like Delaney when Byron had been reminded about
student loans he was game. Floyd said a few things were going for them. The first was the
typical guards weren’t ex-commando special forces
looking to recreate their glory days. Odds were they were counting down the minutes until
they could retire on a pension. Not to mention, it was theme park cash they were transporting,
not legal tender. The brass would know it was an inside job, but Floyd argued they wouldn’t be able to prove anything unless one of them was
caught. He’d be able to get some replica guns
from a special effects friend. On the day in question, they would finish their final shift,
leave the park, return and knock over the golf cart when it went to make the deposit. Floyd
said it would take him about a week to put everything together.
They all agreed the
following Friday would be the day. The days leading up
to it flew by. Except for a few conversations about how they would launder the money, no
one brought it up. Both Delaney and Byron already knew how they would spend their portions.
Floyd seemed to be genuinely excited just to participate.
When Byron asked him
why he was so gung ho on committing the heist, Floyd
responded with “The action is the juice.” He said it was from the film Heat,
but the significance had been lost on both Delaney and Byron.
morning of the caper there were no surprises. Angela hadn’t
stopped by since Floyd had asked about the message on the side of the blimp, but as usual,
Constantine was at the door fifteen minutes before showtime. The guys indulged him as they
usually did then waited until a minute before showtime before arriving on set. The performances
went off without a hitch. In between shows, the three of them made sure to circulate through
the park for their mandatory hour, while Constantine almost set another record. At the
end of the final performance, the three of them returned to the trailer to drop off
Floyd had already parked one of the laundry trucks from the resort
in the parking lot nearby for their getaway. In the trailer, Floyd gave them their
replica pistols. Even up close, they looked legitimate. Delaney checked the clip to make
sure it was empty.
said. “I didn’t even load it with blanks. We don’t need it.”
three of them wore bandanas over their noses and mouths
with the hoods of their sweatshirts pulled up high. Floyd waited until the coast was clear
before they exited the trailer. The park was always eerie at this time of day. All of the
rides had been shut down, all of the patrons and most of the staff had gone home. The occasional
conversation would carry from the parking lot; people saying their goodbyes, but otherwise,
there was nothing. All three men dealt with last-second jitters. However, Floyd had instructed
them to think about how no one would get hurt, the money could easily be laundered through
the park, and they wouldn’t have to worry anymore
about alimony or tuition. In another moment, they saw the golf cart approach. The guard
behind the wheel was middle-aged, with white hair and a walrus-style mustache. Once, Floyd
had remarked the guy looked like Wilford Brimley. This time, Delaney had gotten the reference,
but Byron hadn’t.
Floyd walked to the center of the road with
his hand up, and Wilford slowed down.
“Hep you with somethin'?” Wilford said.
“Sorry,” Floyd said and pulled the weapon. He held it sideways at first
showing the profile, so Wilford could get a good look at it. Delaney and Byron scrambled
from their spots and joined Floyd.
managed then slumped forward onto the horn.
The sound reverberated around the now empty
park, and Wilford shot back into his seat.
“Jesus Christ!” He yelled.
“We need to call an ambulance!” Delaney said.
“Why?” Floyd said.
“Wilford’s having a heart attack!” Delaney spat out angrily. Wilford
looked at Delaney with a furrowed brow.
“What’s your name?” Floyd said.
“Jesse, are you having a heart attack?”
“No. I get dizzy spells sometimes.”
“Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way,
can we move it?” Floyd said to Delaney.
Part two of the plan was to leave the guard
by the side of the road, take the golf cart back to
the entrance where they’d stashed a dolly, and
move the safe back into the truck. They’d have
all night to go to work on it following instructions from schematics Floyd had found on
went to take Wilford/Jesse by the elbow and lead him from the cart
when he was hit in the chest with a projectile; a rolled-up t-shirt. Both Floyd and Delaney
looked down the stretch of road to see Constantine about fifty feet away, sprinting toward
them, and holding a t-shirt gun. He still wore the lower half of his Big Bad Wolf costume,
but the upper half was missing.
“Forget this,” Delaney said and started to run.
aimed the t-shirt gun, and fired again. The rolled-up
shirt hit Delaney square in the back and knocked him to the ground. Constantine was only
a few feet away now, and Floyd turned the weapon around so he held the barrel. When Constantine
got within range, Floyd swung the piece like a hammer, but Constantine easily dodged it.
He swung the t-shirt gun and hit Floyd in the chin. Floyd’s
head snapped back and his legs gave way. He could taste the copper of blood flowing from
his split lip.
stood over him and put a foot on his chest. Floyd slid
his bandana down.
“Figures,” Constantine said after he saw who it was. Constantine jutted with his chin
toward one of the other fallen bodies.
“That’d be Byron?”
“And Delaney,” Floyd said. Constantine suddenly had a pained look on his
face similar to a parent when they’re not mad;
just disappointed. A siren grew louder in the distance.
“I’d stay down if I were you,” Constantine
called out to the other two who had begun to stir. Constantine took his foot off of
“How you?” Floyd managed before a coughing fit.
“I trained with the SEAL’s back in ’93,”
The last thought Floyd had before he passed out was how
similar the situation was to the ending of the film Heat.
Andrew Davie has worked in theater, finance, and education. He taught
English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant and has survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid
hemorrhage. He has published short stories at various places, crime fiction
novellas with All Due Respect, Close to the Bone, Alien Buddha
Press, and a memoir. His other work can be found in links on his website https://andrew-davie.com/
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