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Art by Cynthia Fawcett 2021

The Pie Room


Dave Kunz


Jimmy stuck the gun in the woman's face. "You weren't supposed to be here," he said. The woman didn't look too thrilled about it either. "But long as you are, show us the safe."

  We already knew the woman's name. Deborah Backlin. A blonde and glossy trophy wife. She raised an eyebrow. "'Safe?'"

Jimmy cracked her across the mouth. "Sure, we can play it that way," he said. He cocked his hand for another go but I stopped him. 

Jimmy glared at me. "You got a death wish, Frank?"

Hearing my name was a bad sign. It meant Jimmy planned to put a bullet in the back of Deborah's skull once we popped the safe and grabbed the coins. 

Jimmy squared off against me. He was bigger, but I was faster. "How 'bout we just get the job done," I said. "Get paid and get out."

It was past midnight. The house was an oversized mansion in a gated community. Lucky for us we knew how to climb walls and break windows.

Deborah had already recovered from the slap. The defiant glint in her eye told me she'd been hit before.

"Your husband's been set up," I told her. "We know he's sitting on a pile of Krugerrands. Payment from one of his money laundering clients."

Deborah folded her arms. "I'm sure I don't know what you are talking abo--"

Pistol shots popped from somewhere nearby, the rounds chewing up the raised hood of a grand piano. We all spun around.

A hand holding a pistol stretched out from behind an archway. The hand was busy pulling the trigger. But whoever it was had forgot a couple things. Like bothering to look. Or aim.

Jimmy had a fondness for hand-cannons. For this job he'd picked out a forty-five Colt. He let loose with a couple rounds. The hand dropped and we heard a groan as blood trailed out, making a tiny red river on its way to a blue Persian rug.

Jimmy grabbed Deborah by the arm. "Who the fuck was that? Who's here?"

Deborah barely flinched. "It's just a neighbor. His name's Arnold."

We all went to the archway. I'd never known Jimmy to be a good shot. But both rounds hit their mark. Arnold breathed his last.

"So what was Arnold?" I said, "An accountant?"

Deborah took a breath. "An actuary, actually."

I stated the obvious: "He's not wearing pants."

"He's been drinking. I was just about to kick him out."

"Sure you were." It was Jimmy again. He gave Deborah a shove. "Come on, let's go."

The safe was in the library, behind a painting.

We went to work. But Deborah stopped us. "If you want the Krugerrands," she said, "they're not in the safe."

Jimmy pointed a crowbar at her. "You're lying."

"Okay, fine, I'm a liar. But the only thing in that safe is a lot of worthless paper, unless you know how to buy and sell Ukrainian oil derivatives."

"The gold," Jimmy said, "just tell us where the fuck it is."

Deborah hesitated. But Jimmy and the Colt won out. "I moved them. They're in the pie room."

Me and Jimmy exchanged a look. "You have a 'pie room?'"

I've lived a life of crime. No way I'm getting into heaven. But even if I did, it'd come in second to Deborah Backlin's pie room. It smelled like Christmas and looked like something out of a French chateau.

Deborah noticed me staring at the multiple racks of goodies. "I like to bake," she said. "Besides, it goes to charity."

"Well you're looking at charity right here," Jimmy said. "So, bring out the gold."

Deborah moved one of the racks and pulled out a heavy bag from a cubby hole. Jimmy grabbed the bag and dumped the contents out across a butcher block table.  His eyes gleamed at the sight of that much gold.

Deborah shrugged, "It's only about a hundred-k."

"For us," I said, "that's a damn good night."   

"Not for Arnold." She looked a little sad as she said it.

"Fuck Arnold," Jimmy said. "I feel like celebrating." He walked up on Deborah and dropped his voice down to a low growl. "Tell me something," he said. "What's your best?" 

I had blueberry. Jimmy had the pumpkin. I kept a close eye on him as we shoveled it in. I didn't like the way he was looking at Deborah. Halfway through he whispered: "I think I'll have a private little party with wifey over here."

"She's done enough," I said. "Let it go."

"Yeah, two things about that. First: Fuck no. And Second: Fuck off."

"And I say we leave."

Jimmy's eyes narrowed as he leered at Deborah. "Not until I get a second slice."

I didn't have to think about it all that much. I was carrying a smaller caliber pistol. But it didn't really matter. The bullet still went straight through one side of Jimmy's head and out the other. He face- planted straight into a pile of whipped cream.

Deborah gasped but didn't run.


I stood up from the table. "Okay, here's how this is gonna go. I'm leaving Jimmy, taking the coins."

Deborah gathered her thoughts. "And pie," she said. "Don't forget that. I'll wrap one up for you."



Dave Kunz is an emerging writer who recently had a flash fiction story published in the Mystery Tribune.

 His day job is working with databases in the legal field, although he was recently furloughed due to Covid. He lives just outside of Minneapolis and is married, with two kids. 

Cynthia Fawcett has been writing for fun or money since she was able to hold a pen. A Jersey Girl at heart, she got her journalism degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee and now writes mostly technical articles about hydraulics and an occasional short story or poem on any other subject.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021