cheap, but I ain’t free.”
mind him,” said Eloise Stanton, the
owner of the Stanton Harbor Grocery. “He
don’t mean nothin’ by what he says. He ain’t quite right.”
stared at the old man, waiting
to hear what he would say next.
Charlie’s look and said, “He
might not say anything more for the rest of the day, if that’s what yer waitin’
She had bagged Charlie’s
purchase and had her
hand out waiting for payment.
be $18.89,” she said. “As the sign
says, we take cash only.”
Charlie put a twenty
in her hand. “Keep the
big spender,” said Eloise.
Charlie had turned
to leave, but now he stopped
and looked back at Eloise. Pale blue eyes stared as if daring her to say
“Hey, I was
just kiddin’ with ya,” she said. “I
appreciate the tip, I really do.”
cheap and . . . , and he ain’t free,” the
old man broke in again in his sing-song voice. The words he was saying were put
together and spoken like a refrain from an old blues song.
you just say?” asked Charlie, turning
The old man looked
down at his scuffed work
shoes and fell silent again.
Eloise opened the
drawer below the cash
register and took out an old .38 special.
had three robberies, all attempted
robberies as they turned out, in her forty-two years behind the counter. All
three ended with the would-be robber dead on the floor. And if they hadn’t had
a gun when they’d come into the grocery, they all had guns in their dead hands
by the time the local sheriff arrived.
Eloise had seen to that little detail herself.
had also done his share of
killing. It was his chosen profession.
He’d killed men and women who deserved killing, and men and women who
had just gotten in the way of other men or women who had no use for them.
“I asked you
a question,” said Charlie. “You
callin’ me cheap?”
even know you,” said Eloise, now
holding the pistol at her side. “I already told you he wasn’t quite right.” She
tried to give this ornery customer a reason to back down and continue to his
not always true, but I’m never false,”
said Arnie, still looking at his shoes.
Charlie set his
bag of groceries on the floor
and pulled a Glock 17 from his shoulder holster.
no clue who yer messin’ with, you
crazy fuck,” he said, pointing the Glock at Arnie’s head.
“If you do
anything but drop that pistol
onto the floor, I will shoot you,” said Eloise in what she hoped was a
to point his Glock at Eloise.
But as he reached the end of his spin, Eloise shot him in the chest twice.
Though her aim was
true, Charlie got off a wild
shot that found its way into and out the back of Eloise’s skull by way of her
The echo from the
three shots hung in the air
with the smell of gunpowder. The coppery smell of blood quickly joined that
gunpowder smell in the tight confines of the little grocery.
Arnie had clapped
his hands over his ears at
the sound of the shots. He now lowered his hands to his hips and looked at the
two bodies on the floor of the store he had visited daily for most of his life.
toward the cash register,
he stopped about equidistant between Eloise and Charlie.
that his wife and the man who
killed her were dead.
He raised his eyes
to the ceiling and wailed,
“You’re dead and I’m alive. I’m alive, but I’m dead.”
And then, looking
down at his shoes, said, “I’m
not a killer . . . , but I’ve killed.”
Arnie may not have
been “quite right,” but he
knew who’d really killed those two people.
Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits
Office and has been a voracious reader for over 65 years. At the prompting
of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a
voracious writer. He has had flash fiction and poetry published in Black
Petals, Bewildering Stories, One Sentence Poems, Yellow
Mama, Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Dark Dossier,
The Rye Whiskey Review, Near To The Knuckle, Theme of Absence,
Shotgun Honey, and a number of other online and print journals. Unweaving
a Tangled Web, recently published by Hekate Publishing, is his first
Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines.
She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous
Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals
such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s
Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous
anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night
to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales
from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror
anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big Easy, Thuggish
Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She
appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus
Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France,
Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern