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FRUIT LOOPS THE SERIAL KILLER

Title: Fruit Loops the Serial Killer

Series: N/A

Author: Mary Maurice

ISBN: 978-1-60975-173-9

Product Code: BK0123

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 248

Release Date: September 2016

Cover Price: $17.95

Our Price: $17.95

 

 

Additional Formats Available:

 

 

 

 

 

Book Jacket

 

Never before has Mongoose Falls, Minnesota seen a spring storm like the squall paralyzing the small Midwest town. Candy Jane Cane comes to, cold and disoriented. Fluffy flakes tickle her red nipped nose as her surroundings bewilder her. Jerky, bolting movements slide her through deepening white. Is she on a sled? Has she been caught by Fruit Loops the Serial Killer? Her heart stops and starts, as muffled moans moisten the duct tape sealing her lips.

 


 

Book Excerpt

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

“My sweet lord, just wait a minute!” Candy Jane mutters under her breath as she scans the dining room, hoping no customers over-heard her ranting. Storming into the kitchen, she throws the half filled plates into the plastic bus tub, as Jose, the dishwasher, jumps away from the raging waitress and flying food.

“I’m sorry, Jose. Sometimes these people really get to me.” She hisses through clenched teeth.

“Si Candeee. Nada problemo.”

 

b   b   b

 

Knowing he barely understands a word she’s saying, Candy laughs, and pats him on the back, slyly removing a piece of chicken skin from his shoulder. “Later, amigo.”

“Adios, amiga,” he replies.

Heading back out to the front of the restaurant, Candy feels her good mood dissolve little by little, as once again, the night crew is late.

“They’re never on time.” Her brain screams in agony.

“Cane, hey Cane.” A surely voice rises over the clatter of dishes, breaking Candy’s thoughts.

Turning around, she sees Hector Toth stampeding toward her. “Oh, hell,” she mumbles.

Dashing behind a table, Candy pretends to be wiping and arranging the condiments. Toth stops right in front of her; annoyed at being ignored. “When I call, I expect you to answer me. Do you understand?” His voice rising like an impudent child.

“I’m not in the mood for your anger, Hector. I didn’t hear you.” Sliding past him. “What do you want?”

 Candy knows one of Toth’s pet peeve’s is being talked back too, especially by a woman.

Snarling. “I need you to stay and work the dinner shift, Melvin’s sick, and there’s no one else to fill in.”

“What! No way, I’ve been in this hole all day, and I’m tired. Find somebody else!”

“There is nobody else.” Toth’s jaws grind. “I’ll try to get you out of here early, there’s nothing more I can do.”

Candy Jane glances at the Swiss Miss figurine above the door. The hands angled toward five.

“I can’t do it Toth, I’ve already made plans, and I’m not going to break ‘em.”

“With who, your dork boyfriend, Billy?”

Candy gawks at Hector Toth. “What, are you six?”

“You’re staying, and that’s final. I’ve discussed it with Sven, and he agrees.”

“You called Sven?” Candy turns away whispering, “Jerk.”

“What’d you say?” Toth inches closer. “You’d better be careful, missy. You think you’ve got it made here, well you don’t. You watch, one day Sven is going to wake up to your antics and get rid of you.”

“Yeah, okay Toth, whatever you say. Just remember, Sven already knows about my antics, and he likes them. Plus, you’re not my boss.”

“Well, tonight I am, and if you don’t do this, then forget about coming in tomorrow.”

“What are you saying?”

“I think I’m making myself pretty clear.” She watches as his face reddens and his upper-lip begins to quiver. “Just do it.” He spits, whipping around.

“Hey Candy Jane, my Christmas candy cane!”

The hairs on the back of Candy’s neck stand on end as she hears Billy’s voice. Time and again she’s asked him not to call her by that nickname, but thinking it’s cute, he continues to tease her.

Flicking around, she eyes him strolling toward her. Pretending not see Toth, Billy sidles up to Candy, planting a wet, beer smelling kiss on her cheek.

“Hey, Honey,” he belches while sneering at Hector. “Toth, you’re looking as ugly as ever. Your mom should’ve shot you when you were born, put you, and us, out of our misery.”

“Shut up, Billy.” Pushing him away.

Studying the grungy, thirty-one year old man whom she had been sleeping with for the past three years, Candy wonders where the attraction is. There has never been any real passion, and very little romance. The relationships is a casual one, which is fine with her.

Lately though, Billy’s been hinting that he wants more. No way, even now the thought of hanging out with him is appalling.

“Okay, Toth, I’ll work.” Candy Jane announces, noticing Billy cringe.

“What do you mean, you’re staying?” Billy whines. “We have plans.”

“Hector needs me to cover a shift tonight. One of the guys called in sick.”

“That’s bullshit.”

Glaring at Toth, who is submerged in their conversation, Candy barks. “Is there something else I can help you with, Hector?”

Turning on his toes, he marches into the kitchen.

“Loser.” Candy snorts.

Squaring up to Candy Jane, Billy nuzzles against her. Pushing him away, she steps back. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Flustered, she combs her hands through her hair, and scampering behind the counter, grabs a mini box of Fruit Loops. Ripping the top off, Candy pours the color coated cereal directly into her mouth.

“I can’t believe you! Don’t you realize we’re in a public place, a public place that’s my job?” Dumping more morsels into her mouth. “Are you trying to get me terminated?”

“There you go again with that fancy college talk. Can’t you just use normal words?”

“I only went to St. Cloud Community College for a year, Billy, and all I did was party.”

“Yeah, but um, still.” Stuttering.

“You’re drunk.” Candy moves out from behind the counter, as Billy rears.

“I’m not drunk. I only had a couple.” He continues back peddling.

“I thought you weren’t going to drink, Billy?”

“Are you going to start raggin’ on me because I had a few beers? You’re not my wife, or my mother.”

“Thank my stars for that, I wouldn’t want to be either one of those poor women. What a cross to bear.” Candy smiles, trying to break the tension.

Shyly, Billy moves closer to Candy. “Don’t you get a little break before you have to start?”

“This is it.” Hurling him away again. “Why are you being so needy?”

“I’m aching for some loving, babe.”

“Listen Billy, I think the best thing you can do right now, is leave, go somewhere and sober up. Then maybe we can talk when I get off. I’m not doing anything with you if you’re still wasted. Got that?”

“Candy, I’m not drunk. I’m just intoxicated with the idea of being with you.”

Shut up!” Candy says softly, stepping up to Billy and kissing him on the mouth. “Why don’t you go take a nap, maybe a shower, and we’ll see what happens later, okay?”

Billy cants up to Candy Jane. She stops him with her outstretched arms. “You heard what I said, and I’m not joking.”

“Okay, all right, I got it. Why don’t you give me one more little kiss before I go? It’s cold out there, and I need something to warm my blood.”

“I’m sure there’s plenty of booze in those veins keeping that blood warm.”

“Real funny, Candy Jane.” Feeling dejected, Billy peck kisses her on the cheek, and slinks toward the revolving door. “I’ll be back at around eight.”

“I’m not making any promises.”

“Ah, how can you resist this?” Rolling his hips like Elvis.

“Yeah, right, how could I say no to that?” Waving as he wheels out, Candy Jane listens to the vacuum sucking sound of the revolving door as it whirls around.

Sighing, Candy lumbers over to the bus station to set up for dinner. She’s not feeling well, but figures being here is better than hanging with Billy. She has to break it off with him; it’s getting to be too much. Plus, he’s drinking a lot, again.

Grabbing the coffee pot from the burner, she holds it in the air. A thick coating of burnt java rims the bottom with little bubbles popping up like roofing tar.

“Darn-it,” Candy sighs.

Trying to think who could be so stupid, she realizes it had been her. She must’ve forgotten to turn the machine off when Toth appeared.

Dumping a scoop of ice, salt, and a lemon into the glass pot, Candy swishes the remedy around, watching as the crud loosens and falls.

Feeling grumpy, she wonders if a touch of cabin fever has infested her again. After all, for the past two weeks the temperatures have been spring like, then all of a sudden, with no warning, a cold snap blows in, settling over Mongoose Falls.

What she needs is a breath of fresh air, maybe go for a stroll tonight. But by the time she bundles up, she’ll be so bulky it’ll be hard to walk.

Candy Jane longs to get out of Mongoose Falls, Minnesota, forever. Every time she tries to leave though, a setback happens. Her car breaks down, or she’ll make excuses that she doesn’t have enough money. Being honest with herself, Candy Jane has to admit; she’s never tried that hard to get out of the small town. After all, it is home.

Glaring at the swooshing revolving door as a family of six rolls in, Candy feels a pit grow in her gut. The father has two small children dangling from his arms, with another sleeping in a car seat. Following is his wife. Her arms filled with another child and a diaper bag.

Shaking her head, Candy begins setting a table for them.

 

b   b   b

 

Hector Toth spies through the greasy kitchen window after ducking behind the door. Leering, he sees Candy Jane push Billy away from her. That’s a good sign, he smiles, holding his breath. Could she be coming to her senses? Toth’s fantasies ignite.

He’s been in love with Candy Jane for about six months now, and craves her more than ever. They’ve known each other since childhood, as most of the residents in Mongoose Falls do. Then, out of the blue, he begins to see her in a different light. As if cupid has stung him with an arrow. Giggling, he recalls the day she bumped into him accidentally. He was electrified, she groveled.

That’s when he decided Candy Jane Cane will be the mother of his children. Nobody knows of his obsession, and no one will. There will be the perfect time, Hector believes, when Candy will realize how much she desires him.

Feeling his intestines twist as Billy kisses Candy Jane on the cheek, Toth sneers as his competition heads out the door. Glancing back at Candy, he watches as she opens another box of Fruit Loops. Shaking some into her mouth, she then stuffs the cardboard into her apron pocket. He’ll have to remember to dock her paycheck. Turning away disheartened, Toth rushes back to his office, closing the door behind him.

“Hey Toth, you in there?” He barely has a chance to take a breath, before hearing again. “Hector.”

Loud knocks follow the outcry.

At first he doesn’t know who it is, but then recognizes the voice, as his stomach begins to churn at the idea of having to deal with Cynthia Scotchland. He hesitates in answering.

 He and Cynthia were an item up until a couple of months ago. All Toth wanted was sex, and someone to have dinner with every now and then, and told her this from the beginning, but she kept insisting on more. So he broke it off, and had succeeded in avoiding her, until now.

Wrapping his sweaty palm around the doorknob, Toth turns it, and listens as a shallow clicking sound echoes off the peeling drab, brown walls. He shivers, as though someone has just walked over his grave. Swinging the door open, Toth steps forward.

“What do you want, Cynthia?”

Brushing past him, she stomps over to his desk. “Shut the door Toth. We need to talk, now!” She orders.

Not wanting to get into a confrontation, he does what he is told. Toth knows how she can get, and it isn’t pretty. “There’s nothing to talk about. I think I’ve made myself perfectly clear.” His tone twangs in disgust.

She falls into him, and begins rubbing her body against his, trying to get a reaction. “I want you Hector, it’s been such a long time, and it seems like you’d rather be by yourself, than with me.” She pushes him away. Catching Toth by surprise, he stumbles backwards, stopping himself before slamming into the file cabinet.

Gathering his balance, he glares at her.

“Get out, it’s over between us. You should’ve believed me when I told you it was only about sex, and nothing more. So let’s just drop it, okay?”

Beaming her dark, black eyes at Toth, Cynthia barks. “There’s someone else, isn’t there?” She lunges toward him. “Isn’t there?” She wails.

Hector edges around her. “No! Why can’t you just get it through your trailer-trash brain that I don’t want anything to do with you.”

“I know you’re lying, and believe me, when I find out who she is, both of you are going to be sorry.” Cynthia grinds her teeth, tightening her jaw like a madwoman.

“Hector, hey Toth.” Candy Jane slips through the office door, immediately feeling the tension hanging in the air. Glancing at Cynthia, she thinks she recognizes her, but can’t place the face. Looking back at Toth, she says. “Sorry if I’m interrupting anything, but Hector we need you up front. A bus load of older folks, heading for the casino, just shuffled in, and they’re hungry and grouchy.” She peers at the two standing silent. “So, whenever you get a chance.” Her tone, sarcastic.

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

“You better make it a quick minute.” Candy dashes away.

Slamming the door behind her, Cynthia rushes at Toth, screaming. “Is that her, huh Hector? Is she the woman you’ve been making love with? I saw how you looked at each other. I can smell the skank’s scent on you.”

“My gosh, Cynthia, calm down, she’s just a waitress here, and not a very good one at that.” His voice cracks.

“I can’t believe this Toth, I thought you loved me.”

“Hey, wait a minute, I never said anything about love, not once.”

“You don’t have to say it, I can feel it in the way we connect. The way you talk to me, and touch me.”

“Listen Cynthia, I think the best thing for us to do is not see each other at all. It’ll make it easier for you.”

Hector feels the hairs on the back of his neck stiffen, like troops called to attention. He watches as Cynthia’s face turns red. For a minute, Toth imagines her head bursting into tiny shards, splattering brain and blood all over Sven’s office.

“What do you mean, not see each other anymore?” Cynthia yells at the top of her lungs. “You can’t just up and tell me that, I won’t accept it.”

“For one thing Cynthia, it’s my life, and I can do what I want.”

Anger gags her, and for a split second, by the look of hate in Cynthia’s eyes, Toth pictures her attacking him. Instead, she stands taut, erect, and surprisingly, Hector feels his manhood twitch.

Turning around to the door, Cynthia flings it open. Twisting her head back so fast her hat falls to the floor, she curses at Toth.

“You’ll be back, you just wait and see. I know men like you. Thinking you can go without a certain woman, but always coming back to them in time of need. Because, believe me, once that new slut of yours realizes what kind of man you really are, she’ll dump you like the morning trash. Then we’ll see who’s bedpost you’ll be knocking on.”

Cynthia Scotchland, all five feet one inch of her, whips out the door and is about to slam it, when she pokes her pointy-head back in, and snips. “Mine!”

Hector exhales, as he hears her scampering steps hurrying down the dim hall. Shaking his head, his mouth creases with a slight grin. In a way, she’s right.

Suddenly, Candy Jane careens around the corner yelping, “Toth, we need you out on the floor, now.” Turning around, she vanishes into the shadows.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” He replies, skipping out of his office, exalted over Cynthia’s threats.

 

b   b   b

 

Billy Mendelson pops his Toyota Tundra into gear, spinning around on the snow packed parking lot of Sven’s All You Can Eat Smorgasbord. Cars pulling in from the highway, swerve to avoid the truck figure-eighting across the ice.

“Yahoo, yahoo,” he screams, reaching for a beer. Ripping the top off with the bottle opener attached next to his radio, Billy looks around before taking a long chug off the Bud. He has no problem drinking and driving. Especially in the boondocks, where the only thing you’ll drive into is your own back yard. “Friggin’ Mongoose Falls.”

Billy hates it here, he’s never been any further than Minneapolis, three hours south of this pit, and even that isn’t very impressive. Everything’s going to change though, after Candy Jane marries him. They’ll take off, maybe head out to California, throw dust to the wind, or whatever that saying is. They’ll settle down, have a couple of kids, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll try to stop drinking, get his act together for his family. The insurance money from his dad’s untimely death will help them get started. Now all he has to do is convince Candy to marry him.

Taking a deep swig off his beer, he tosses the empty bottle out the back window onto the truck bed. The brown glass disappears into the mounting layer of snow. Tearing out of the driveway and onto Route 9, Billy speeds toward town to get more brew before heading home.

Jamming the stick into third gear, he feels the trucks tires slide on the slick road. Yup, the town’s socked in tonight. He hopes the roads will still be drivable when he has to pick up Candy.

Leaning closer to the windshield, Billy tries to see through the blizzard. Out of fun, he flicks the light switch off, then right back on, as he feels the Toyota slip. Even though Billy knows luck is on his side, he doesn’t want to push it tonight.

Gale forces whip the cab back and forth, and for a brief instant Billy has no idea if he’s on the road or not. Trying not to show himself any fear, he puts both hands on the wheel and steadies himself. For a second he thinks he sees something run across the road, but then brushes it off as his imagination.

Feeling slightly edged, Billy eases his foot off the accelerator. He knows it’s just the storm messing with him. Trying to control his shaking hands, he focuses on the road, as sleeting snow slashes around him.

 

b   b   b

 

Candy Jane’s blood pressure is reaching an all time high. She can feel her pulse pounding out of her carotid artery. Not only did more people squeeze through the door, but Jimmy has not shown up yet, and Toth is still MIA. Storming into the lounge for a quick second, while the herd begins to gather at the trough: Sven’s buffets are always a hit with the locals and tourists, Candy jaunts up to the mahogany bar where Patricia, the bartender stands, and leaning over, begs. “Please, may I have a tequila? These customers are driving me nuts, and Jimmy’s late.”

With no hesitation, Patricia pours a shot of Jose Cuervo into a glass, and sets it in front of Candy. A slice of lime dangling from the rim.

“No salt, right?” Patricia confirms.

“Nope, takes the taste away.”

Holding the glass up, Candy toasts to the air, squeezes the tangy fruit in her mouth, and downs the burning booze.

“Rahhh,” Candy grunts, wiping her mouth with a napkin. “Thanks, Patricia.”

Plopping down on the padded stool, she feels the air escape like a hidden fart. Laughing, Candy wishes she had another shot sitting in front of her, as she watches the slender Swiss bartender stock beer. Patricia is new to the area, and Candy knows little about her. She seems nice though, and never refuses her when she asks for a drink.

“Working a double today?” Patricia asks, her words laced with a Swiss-French accent.

“Yup, one of the waiters is sick, so I’m stuck here till eight.”

“Here, maybe this will help.” She places two shots on the table then picks one up. “To working a double.” Patricia says, clinking Candy’s glass, and downing the liquor. Candy follows, suddenly wishing she had not partaken in the second drink. She can already feel the alcohol go to her head.

Patricia scoops up the two glasses, but hesitates. Swallowing she asks. “So, who is that woman Toth was with early?”

“I think her name is Cynthia Scotchland. They used to be a thing, but Toth broke it off. I think he has the hots for someone else. I’ll be praying for that woman.”

“He’s not that bad?”

“Right, wait till you get to know him.” Candy pushes the chair back, and edges out. “Well, I guess I’d better get back before I decide to have another one.”

“Just let me know.” Patricia motions.

“How much do I owe you?”

“It’s on Hector.”

“Why you tell him, thank you very much.” Feeling better, she digs into her pocket and pulls out a five. Slapping it on the bar, she says, “Thanks again, Patricia.”

No sooner does she turn around, than Jimmy, who at last has decided to show up, wraps his arms around her and starts twirling. Sensing a purge surging, Candy wriggles out of his grasp.

“Please, let me go, you’re making me sick.” She pleads.

Setting Candy down, Jimmy studies her, and says, “Oh, sweetie, so sorry I’m late. It’s the roads, they’re terrible, and a girl can slip off them if she’s not careful.” Jimmy doing his May West impersonation.

Candy Jane smells booze, but isn’t sure if it’s him or her, or the two of them. She scurries past Jimmy. “At least you’re here, and I’m telling you right now, I’m leaving at eight no matter what happens.”

“Yes, honey, anything you want.”

“Right, you can start by dropping the drag queen act, and help me clear some plates away.”

“My, my, aren’t we testy.”

“Shut up, Jimmy. I’m not in the mood.”

Candy and Jimmy swoosh through the beaded doorway and out into the large dining room. “Man, when did all these people come in?”

“Right at five, three minutes after you called saying you’d be late.”

“Hey, I’m sorry!” Jimmy smiles, and Candy suddenly knows it’s wasn’t the roads that delayed him.

Candy slaps him on the back, saying, “You dog, I know what kind of delaying you were doing.”

Jimmy struts in front of Candy Jane, glancing back at her, he teases. “I don’t kiss and tell.” Flipping his handsome head around, Jimmy’s caramel colored hair flutters in the streaking light.

“Who is he? The same guy you’ve been sneaking around with, for what, a month now. What’s his name, you know, the married one.”

Wrapping his arm around Candy, Jimmy nuzzles his nose into her neck. “Now, honey, discretion is the key to having an affair. I mean, even though you are my best friend, I can’t tell you. And trust me, there are a lot of men in this one horse town who want me.”

“Cane, Prescott.” Turning their attention toward the kitchen, they see Toth rumbling out, screaming their names.

“My gosh, Hector.” Jimmy voices. “You don’t have to yell, we’re standing right here, sweetie.”

“That’s the point. You’re standing doing nothing, while tables need to be bussed, glasses refilled, and food served.” Toth folds his arms across his chest.

Jimmy peers over to the group, and grins. “They don’t look like they need any more food to me, that’s for sure.” He begins laughing to himself, and Candy Jane tries hard not to join him.

Glaring at Jimmy, Toth huffs away. “Just get to work.”

Still laughing, Jimmy smacks Candy on the arm. “Come on, that was funny, and you know it.”

“Yeah, it was kind of. But I’m not going to laugh at the customers while Toth is standing right here.”

“Well, you’re no fun.” He grabs her hand. “Come on, let’s go.”

The two of them clear away what seems like tons of dirty plates with wasted food. The stream of people flow throughout the evening, even with the weather worsening. Candy Jane prays for the night to end, but whenever she looks at the clock, it reads six forty-five. She swears an hour goes by, yet time stands still.

Candy Jane yanks Jimmy’s arm as he sweeps by her. “Hey, what does your watch say?”

“Does anyone have the time?”

“Come on, stop it.” Candy is wound tighter than a top.

“Geeze, calm down.” Shaking the jewelry down his wrist, Jimmy raises his arm to look at it. “It’s twenty to eight. You’re almost out of here, Miss Cranky.”

“You’re a card.” Candy snaps at him.

“Yes, I know, the Queen of Hearts.”

Candy can’t help but giggle. “Listen, I’m going to stop taking tables. The place is emptying, and by the looks of it outside, I don’t think we’ll see many more people tonight.”

“Yeah, why don’t you get your raggedy ass outta here.”

“Why, thanks for making me feel better, but I’ll take you up on that. First, I’m getting a drink.” Candy meanders to the bar and hears the slight steps of Jimmy following behind.

“Hey, wait for me.” He squeals. Seeing Patricia, he dashes over and lifts her in a gigantic bear hug.

“My word, it’s not as though you two haven’t seen each other in years, you’ve been working together all night.” Candy shakes her head and reconsiders staying.

“Yes, but we didn’t get a chance to hug.”

“Oh, hell.” Candy slides onto a stool, deciding to have a quick one. If Jimmy ever lets Patricia go.

Scowling at Candy, he sets her down, and Patricia quickly scurries behind the bar, a little embarrassed by Jimmy’s actions. She eyes Candy. “The same as earlier?” The Swiss asks.

Suddenly, Candy Jane feels slightly uncomfortable, as her voice quivers when replying. “Yes, please, and a Corona.”

Jimmy saddles up next to Candy Jane, and she nudges him for some space. “Hey, sorry about the horn dog, Patricia. I swear, you could give him a donut and he’d be happy.”

“Hey, don’t talk about me while I’m sitting right here, at least not until I’ve had a cocktail.” He flutters his eyes at Patricia.

Instinctively, she reaches behind her, and grabs the Jack Daniel’s bottle, sailing the amber liquor into the glass setting on the bar.

“You’re good!” Jimmy exclaims, as she places it in front of him. He spins his chair to face Candy. “To you, my little chickadee.”

“Cheers!” They clinked glasses. Candy Jane sips this drink, squeezing lime in her mouth after every swallow. She watches Jimmy down his in one gulp.

“Should we have a quick smoke?” He gasps.

“Sure.” Candy Jane replies, striking a match, as Jimmy places a cigarette between his lips. She hears the tobacco sizzle, as he inhales and then blows out a stream of blue-gray smoke. Taking another drag, he hands the fag to her.

“So what’s the matter?” Jimmy inquires, taking the cigarette back. “You’ve been a little testy all night, and I know it’s not about you having to work.” Another quick puff. “So the only other thing that causes you grief, is Billy.” He tries to hand the coffin-nail back, but Candy Jane declines, feeling the slight head rush of the nicotine.

“You know me so well.”

“So what happened?”

“Nothing really, the same crap. He shows up drunk, and expects me to drop what I’m doing just because he’s horny. Nope, it doesn’t work like that. He’s beginning to get a little possessive, and that scares me.”

“Scares you, and me. You’ve been sleeping with him for three years now. How, I have no idea. Maybe he’s looking for something more than just the occasional romp.”

“If that’s what Billy is searching for, then he’s sniffing in the wrong place.” Candy finishes the rest of her drink as Jimmy orders two more. “I don’t know if I have time for another one, Jimmy.” Candy protests.

“Ah, just one more. Now, go on.”

“Well, ya know, I want something else in a man, I want to feel a spark, a tingle, a heart palpitation, when I see my guy. Not this nausea every time I think of Billy.”

“So, you mean he’s not going to be the father of your children?” Jimmy jokes.

Pretending to gag, Candy punches Jimmy in the arm. “Hell no, and there’s never been any question when it came to that. I’d get an IUD, use the sponge, diaphragm and pill, all at the same time, while making Billy wear six condoms, if there was ever the slightest chance of me getting pregnant.”

Jimmy chuckles. “Well, the rubbers might enhance his endowment.” This sends the two of them hollowing, as Patricia eases over, trying to quiet them before Toth hears. After calming down, Jimmy says, still sniffling with laughter. “Wait here, I’m going to see if anyone new came in.”

He disappears for a moment, returning quickly. As he sits back down, Candy asks. “Hey, Jimmy, do you want to hear this dream I had last night?”

“Sure, why not.”

“I’m sitting in the plaza by the bandstand with all of these people from town, except I don’t recognize anyone. We’re all staring up at the sky because we think a plane is going to crash, but as it gets closer, everyone realizes that it is a brown horse with one of its legs cut off. The leg is falling beside the horse. When it hits the ground, it splatters, and in a craze, the crowd rushes over to the mangled torso and begins eating off of it. They are devouring it so fast that meat is being flailed back at me, and it feels like I’m breathing it in.”

“Man, you’re sick.” Jimmy moans. “What in the hell did you eat before you went to bed, a can of Purina?”

“Ha ha, you’re so funny.”

Jimmy surveys the room, making sure no one is in ear shot, he leans closer to Candy Jane and whispers. “Hey, do you want to know what I dreamt about last night?”

“No, not really.” She teases. “I’m sure it’s something sexual.”

“I dreamt me and Toth were making it together.”

“Oh gross, and you say my dreams are sick.”

As if on cue, they hear a slight squeak of the kitchen door as it opens. Downing their drinks, they slip a tip on the bar for Patricia, and hurry back to the dining room. By the tension in Hector’s face, he’s in no mood for goofing off.

Marching up to the two of them as they pretended to be busy, he orders. “Cane, punch out. Prescott, you’re staying until we close at nine.”

Jimmy peers outside and notices the storm getting worse. The snow now falling in a straight white sheet. “It seems like it’s getting pretty messy out there, Hector.”

“Yeah, and so?”

“Don’t you think it might be a good idea if we close early. I bet you there aren’t going to be many people daring the roads tonight, and I’m sure the crew wouldn’t mind getting out of here before conditions become more treacherous.”

At first Candy Jane thinks Toth is going to scream at Jimmy, like he did the other day in the store room. It was the first time in their tense working relationship that he has ever gotten hostile toward her. Instead, he glances out the window, and says. “We’ll see what it’s like at eight-thirty.”

Toth’s tone catches Jimmy off guard, as he opens his eyes wide in surprise. “Okay, Hector.” Jimmy lisps. “I’ll come find you then, and we can decide what to do.” He bats his eyelids, like Doris Day.

Candy can’t believe Jimmy is coming on to Toth. Good thing Hector doesn’t have a clue, otherwise Jimmy would be lifting himself out of a snow bank. Without saying another word, Hector disappears into the kitchen.

Tugging Candy’s arm, he rushes her over to the front door with him. “Quick, let’s put the Closed sign up.”

She laughs at Jimmy’s vagary. “What if Toth sees it?”

“He won’t. He’s oblivious to details like that. We’re the ones who always turn the board anyway.” Jimmy pauses. “Plus, he’ll be so mesmerized by me, he won’t notice anything else.”

“Let me make a suggestion, Jimmy. Be careful with Toth. I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who’d take another man flirting with him, ya know?”

“Yeah, yeah! You’d be surprised how many men want Mr. Johnson. The statistics are staggering.”

“Believe me, Toth isn’t one of those statistics.”

Dismissing Candy’s warning, Jimmy says. “I think I could use another drink before we start breaking things down.”

“We? What’s this we crap?”

“Hey, I figured since you’re leaving, and I’m gonna be here till the wee hours of the morning, that out of the kindness of your heart, you’d want to help me clean up.”

“I’ll help a little, but I don’t want another drink.”

“At least keep me company.”

“Okay, but let’s make it fast. I’ve been here long enough.”

They ramble through the swinging red velvet door, leading to the speakeasy style lounge at, Sven’s All You Can Eat Smorgasbord.

 

b   b   b

 

“Oh, no!” Billy snips, jumping out of bed and reaching for the phone. “Damn-it!” He’s gonna be late picking up Candy Jane. Now, he has to call, deal with her mood, and tell her he’ll be right there. He’ll explain that he fell asleep, which he did, but Candy will accuse him of passing out. How many times have they replayed this scenario?

Maybe he can sweet talk Candy into driving over here. Tell her his mom’s gone for the evening, so they’ll have the place to themselves. Promise he won’t drink, or at least, not get drunk.

Tapping number three on the speed dial, Billy lays back on his pillow, listening to the tin-can sounding ring. He outlines the cowboy figures on his sheets with his finger as he waits. It seems to be taking forever, they can’t be closed yet, Billy ponders, glancing at his digital watch.

His head is pounding, as fierce winds whip wildly at the frost bitten windows. Billy is just about to hang up, when a crackling voice comes over the line.

“Hello.”

“Um, oh yeah, hey dude. Um, let me talk to Candy Jane.”

Billy hears a ruckus in the back ground, and then the foreign voice comes back on the line.

“She’s a little busy right now.”

“What do you mean busy, she’s supposed to be done at eight.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.” The voice sounds curt. “Can I take a message?”

“Yeah, tell her Billy called, and I won’t be picking her up, so just come over to my house, but get some beer first.” He hangs up before she has a chance to reply. “Damn-it,” he hisses, grabbing a Bud out of his cooler.

“How much longer do I have to wait to get laid?” Billy asks himself, hoping that by now, Candy Jane would be getting ready to go home, not just be arriving.

Running his hand through his dirty red hair, a noxious scent stings his nostrils, and shaking his head, Billy knows Candy Jane will have nothing to do with him, smelling like this.

Displeased he has to shower when it’s so cold out, Billy swings his legs over the side of the bed, and stands up. A quick rinse will do it, he grumbles to himself.

Shimmying out of his sweats, he sniffs them, and turning his face away, throws the sodden gray pants across the room. They melt down the wall like a fainting shadow.

Yanking his tank-top off, he ruffles the orange, fuzzy patch of hair on his chest. Creeping across the frigid floor, Billy sneaks into the shower, standing under the steaming stream of water jetting rapidly from the breast shaped nozzle.

Yup, he certainly is the ladies man, he dreams, wishing more than ever that Candy will show up. Heat fills his taunt body, and Billy feels like just ending his misery now. But he’ll wait, it’ll just be that much better with Candy.

Fiddling with the faucets, he turns the hot water off, and twists the cold onto high. His shrill voice screams, as coldness coats his shrinking phallus.

Grabbing the Irish Spring from the soap dish, he lathers the bar and rubs it all over. Quickly finishing, Billy bends over to turn off the water, and stepping out, leaves the shower curtain open so his mom can see the tub needs to be cleaned.

Retreating back into the bedroom, he picks up the still cold brew and hears behind him. “Hey, big boy!”

Billy jumps at the voice. Turning around, and remembering he’s still naked, he glares at the figure sitting in the corner chair toasting him with one of his precious Budweiser’s.

“What the hell?” He screams, slamming his beer down on the plywood dresser, regretting the act the minute the brew starts to foam over.

“Calm down sweetie,” she says, standing up and slithering over to Billy. In one svelte move she thrust her tongue down his throat. Feeling her hand reach down and strike gold, Billy knows he should stop her, even though he’s inclined not to.

Pushing Cynthia away, he screams in pain as she rakes her pointed fingernails across his bare chest. “Damn-it, Cynthia, what do you think you’re doing?”

Moving a step closer, as Billy edges back, she taunts him. “Come on, Billy Boy, I know you want me, and always have.” She charges toward him as he stumbles on his heels.

“Stay away from me, and get the hell out of my house, you crazy bitch.” Billy yells, trying to fend off her advances.

Stopping in her tracks, she razor stares her prey. “Well, you’re gonna change your tune, once I tell you what I found out.” She chimes.

Billy reaches down and grabs yet another pair of dirty sweats from his bed. Man, his mom is really slacking off. Stuffing himself into them, Billy sneers at Cynthia.

“What are you talking about?”

“Toth and Candy.”

“You’re not making sense.”

Scrunching her face, Cynthia spits. “Your precious little girlfriend is screwing Hector Toth.”

“You’re insane.” Billy searches for a shirt.

“Oh yeah, just see for yourself.” She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a picture, handing it to Billy.

At first, he doesn’t know what he’s looking at until he holds it closer. “This is bullshit.” He flings the photo back at Cynthia. “It’s a fake.”

“No, it’s real, I took it myself.”

“When?”

“Tonight! Candy Jane didn’t have to work, she stayed late to be with Toth.”

Billy pushes past her, reaching for his beer on the nightstand. “You’re a lying skank.”

“Am I?”

Billy feels rage rush over him, his body fuels with fire. Grabbing Cynthia, he begins kissing her harshly on the lips. His clumsy hands grope for her skirt, tearing it off, he notices she has nothing on beneath.

Turning Cynthia around, he bends her over his desk chair, nailing her like a hammer to wood. “Oh, oh Cindi, you were right, you feel so good. Oh, baby.”

He begins pumping faster and faster as Cynthia moves along with him, pretending to be enjoying his rabbit movements. Giving her one last thrust, he stills for an instant until his body spasms. Ripping himself out of her, he falls backwards onto the bed. “Oh, my,” he gasps. “What in the hell did you do to me?”

“It’s a secret.” She teases. “I’m not finished with you yet.” Strutting over to him, she hands him his beer. “Here, finish this first.” Smiling, Cynthia’s surprised at how quickly the crushed Viagra, she laced his drink with, is working. Crawling on top of his hardened body, Billy Mendelson can’t believe he’s ready to fire again, as Cynthia Scotchland slides down on him.

 

b   b   b

 

Sheriff Jon Anderson sits in the living room trying not to doze off as he listens to his wife finishing up the dishes in the kitchen. She’s been in there for the past hour, and to him, that seems like a long time. For some reason he feels like she’s avoiding him, but doesn’t know why.

Her queer behavior started a couple of weeks ago, when she began disappearing before he’d get home. The only reason she probably didn’t go out tonight is because of the weather.

“Maybe at last I can get to the bottom of this,” he whispers to himself, watching her shadow on the door as it reaches up and hangs a pan.

Glancing up at the Coo-Coo clock placed above the mantel, Jon admires the fireplace he and Carol built together, rock by rock. They’d planned on raising a family, but Carol couldn’t conceive, so the two of them have lived in this large house by themselves for twenty-one years. John loves the space, but obviously, Carol is feeling a little cramped.

Closing his eyes, Jon recaps his day. The only incident was with that Bryant boy who was skate boarding on the sidewalk. All Jon wanted to do was give the kid a warning, but he skated off, flicking Jon the finger as he disappeared down an alley.

“There’s just no respect, these day,” he mutters.

Strolling in from the kitchen, Carol asks. “What did you say?” She continues to wipe her hands on the blue-striped dish towel.

“Nothing.” He replies, rolling off the couch, like a bear from a rock. “You all done?” He wraps his arms around her, nuzzling her cheek.

Gently pushing him away, she responds. “Yes, with the dishes, but now I have to make a cake for the grade school bake sale tomorrow.”

“Bake sale, why are you baking one?”

“I volunteered.”

Shaking his head, and sitting on the couch, Jon says. “I just don’t get it.”

“There’s nothing to get Jon, I like participating, it keeps me busy. Plus, I enjoy being around children, they make me feel alive, not stifled.”

“Now you’re being stifled?”

“No, you’re taking this the wrong way, and I can tell which direction this conversation is heading, so let’s just drop it. Okay?”

“I don’t want to drop it. You’ve been acting strange lately, and I want to know what’s going on.”

“There’s nothing going on, Jon. I just feel like I need to make a few changes, do something invigorating so that I can start growing again.”

Rising quickly, Jon sweeps his arm around the living room. “This isn’t stimulating? Our life, our home, me?”

Carol Anderson looks at her husband longingly, “Yes, Jon it is. I just feel I need some outside inspiration. You don’t understand.” Carol snaps as she retreats back to the kitchen, leaving Jon mesmerized in her wake.

“What the hell.” He yelps. “Carol, get back here.” He half orders, knowing she won’t respond.

Baffled over the turn of events, Jon thinks about going down to the station and finishing up some paper work, but then reconsiders as he hears the winds howling from outside. It would be crazy to go out in this weather, instead, he decides to lock himself up in his study and watch some TV. If Carol wants to talk, she knows where to find him.

 

b   b   b

 

“I’m busy, I’m busy,” Candy Jane waves her hands at Patricia, signaling she doesn’t want to talk to Billy right now. The slim bartender understands, it’s not the first time she’s had to lie.

“Billy wants you to go over to his house instead of him coming to pick you up.” She relays the message to Candy.

“Thanks, Patricia.” Turning toward Jimmy, Candy grumbles. “Billy’s nuts if he thinks I’m going to drive clear across town in this storm.”

“I thought you wanted to see him tonight.”

“Part of me does, but the other part just wants to go home.”

“Then you should go with your gut.” He takes a sip of his Tom Collins, having switched cocktails midstream. “You know, Miss Cane, I have a couple of friends I can set you up with, they’d really be into you.”

“Oh, no, we’re not going there. I’m not into women at all, so don’t start up.” Candy grunts.

“See, you all ready know how to cough up a fur ball.”

Candy punches him in the arm.

“Ouch!’ Jimmy whines. “The point of the matter is, you need to have a new yacht docked in your slip, if you get my drift.”

“Nothing like a little phallic symbolism.” Candy Jane snorts. Grabbing her tip bucket, she spills the money onto the bar. A pile of change clanks against the wood, as dirty, green dollar bills flutter on top.

“Slim pickens, I’d say.” She grabs a handful and begins straightening the money out, heads on heads.

Peeling through the contaminated currency, Candy sneers, “Man, I can’t live on this.”

Jimmy gleams at her. “What’d you make?”

“A little over sixty bucks.”

“Ouch! For ten hours?”

“There should be a mandatory restaurant etiquette class before anyone can go out to eat. Yeah know, teach these ya-whoos the rights and wrongs of the business.”

“That’d be the day.” Jimmy lights another cigarette and hands it to Candy, she shakes her head no, still feeling sick from the first one.

“Listen, I think I’m going to cruise. I’m beat, and the roads are getting pretty bad.” Candy slips out of her seat.

Placing his hand on her arm, Jimmy asks. “So, what are you going to do?”

“About what?”

“Billy?”

“I don’t know. Go home, get a good night’s sleep, and then see how I feel in the morning. That’s about all.”

“You can do better.”

“I know, but there’s just something about him.”

“You’re the only one who sees it.”

Becoming slightly annoyed at Jimmy’s constant Billy bashing, Candy Jane snaps. “Hey, lay off him, you don’t know the man, and tonight you’re going a little too far with your Sinicism.”

 “All right, all ready. What’s the big deal, I’m just joking, you’re being way too sensitive.”

Reaching into her apron pocket, Candy Jane pulls out the box of Fruit Loops she’s been eating, and nervously shoves some in her mouth. It’s like she’s addicted to them.

Unhooking her orange parka from the coat rack, she slips her arms through the gaudy downed mass. “I’m outta here.”

“You’re not going to help me clean up?”

“No.”

“Good, then take your snooty attitude home.” Sarcasm laces Jimmy’s words, and she tries to ignore him, knowing the booze is starting to hit.

“Prescott, go home.” A booming voice waves over them before they see Toth stampede through the lounge door. “We’re closing, so finish up.”

“Thanks, Hector, any plans for after work?”

“Not with you.”

“Prick.” Jimmy curses under his breath.

“You’re certainly a piece of work. I’ll see you later.” Candy Jane heads toward the entrance, but hears Jimmy’s footsteps padding behind her.

“Hey, wait, Candy Jane, I’m sorry, sometimes I don’t know what gets into me.”

“I do. Too much sauce.” Candy says. “Be careful out there, Jimmy, and I’ll see you tomorrow.” She kisses his cheek.

“Bye.”

Candy thinks Jimmy looks like a wounded puppy, but also knows it’s a ploy used quite frequently. She wheels through the screeching century old door, bracing herself before it spits her out into the frigid night air. Snowy winds whip her face as Candy lowers her head and tightens her hood.

Opening the unlocked car, she stuffs herself in. Her coat is so big it squishes against the steering wheel. Turning the key, the engine roars to life. “Nothing like a new battery,” Candy tells herself, sitting there shivering, waiting for the heat to kick in and windows defrost.

For a brief instant, Candy considers going to Billy’s, but then decides otherwise. The blizzard is getting much worse, and tonight she just wants to be in her own bed. She’ll call him from home.

Grinding the gear into first, she removes the emergency brake, and slowly inches forward. Flicking the lights on, she switches the wipers to fast, and listens as the rubber blades crunch against the frozen windshield. Hanging on tight to the steering wheel as the vicious winds attack her, Candy Jane slowly eases away.

 

b   b   b

 

Billy Mendelson awakes with a start, and at first, doesn’t know where he is. Ruffling his hair, he moves his hand down his body to where he feels sore and achy. Jolting up, he surveys the room. Where is she?

Rolling his legs over the bed, Billy groans, “Damn, what did that bitch do to me?” He mumbles, picking the alarm clock up off the floor and glimpsing the time. “And where the hell is Candy Jane?”

Bending over and reaching from his pants, Billy groans as a sharp cramp creases his midsection. Maybe it’s best if Candy Jane doesn’t come over tonight. He hurts so bad, Billy doesn’t think he can perform again.

The ringing phone rattles his fuzzy brain. Picking up the receiver, he chokes out.

“Hello.”

“Billy? Hey Billy is that you.”

Covering the mouth piece with his hand, he hacks, then replies, “Yeah, hey Candy Jane, what’s up?”

“What’s wrong with your voice?”

“Oh, nothing, I just did a bong, and almost coughed out a lung. My throat is really raw.”

“That’s real healthy.” Candy hesitates. “Hey, I think I’m going to stay home this evening. The roads are getting pretty bad, and I don’t want to be out. You won’t be mad, will you?”

The throbbing ceases slightly, but still, there’s no way he wants any more sex tonight. “No, that’s fine. I don’t want you taking any risks, so just stay put.” Relief overwhelms him.

Put off by his quick response, Candy wonders what he’s up to, and asks. “What are you doing?”

“The usual. Laying around, getting high and having a couple of beers.” He waits for a sarcastic sting, but nothing comes across the line. “So, why are you calling me so late?”

“I just got home. I haven’t even taken my coat off yet. Give me a break.”

Billy hears a tightness in Candy’s voice and tries to ease her down. “I’m worried, that’s all.” Tired of talking, Billy attempts to get off the line. “Why don’t we plan for tomorrow, okay. You sound exhausted. I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Billy, can you try not to be drunk?”

“I can try.” He says, trying to be funny.

“I’m serious.”

“Well, then let’s get together early.” Chuckling.

“You’re unbelievable. I’m gonna go. Good night, Billy.”

“Night, Candy.”

Billy listens as the phone clicks, and then a moment of crackling static. He hangs up, as a growing concern waxes over him.

 

b   b   b

 

Candy Jane snuggles deeper beneath her down comforter as she stares out the bedroom window watching the storm mount. Amelia bounds up behind her head, and tramples across the pillow to the other side, the cat’s new sleeping spot. Reaching out, she pets the feline, her short orange fur soft to the touch.

Billy’s acting weird, she thinks. He’s up to something, but she can’t figure out what. She knows eventually she’ll get to the bottom of it, but tonight all she wants to do is lay here in bed and not think about anything or one.

Flicking off the silent television, a quiet darkness fills the room, until the brightness of the snow from outside illuminates the walls into a soft white. Candy hears the tiny pellets of sleet click against the aluminum siding. A familiar and comforting sound. Closing her eyes, sleep comes quickly as Candy slips into her dreams.

 

b   b   b

 

Mira Mendelson hears the phone ring, but doesn’t answer it, figuring it’s for her son. Plus, she doesn’t want Billy to know she’s home yet. He’ll undoubtedly have something to complain about, or a chore for her to do as if she’s his personal maid. Mira loves him dearly, but it’s getting too be time for Billy to start thinking about moving out.

Pouring water into the tea kettle, she sets it on the stove, igniting a small flame beneath the pot. Sighing deeply, Mira wishes the weather hadn’t gotten so bad. The Mongoose Falls Book Club was just getting going when they all agreed to call the meeting due to the snow.

The group of six women have been gathering now for little over a year, and the camaraderie between them is strengthening. Especially with Carol Anderson. They used to be best friends when they were younger, early high school years, but then they had a falling out, and their friendship just kind of dissolved. Mira can’t recall if it was over a boy or not.

At first Mira hesitated joining the club. She’s more or less become a hermit after her husband, Stanley, died five years ago. It was a freak accident, some whispered suicide. It’s quite feasible for a painter to get tangled in a rope, fall and hang himself.

“This town just wants something to gossip about,” she believes.

Even now, it surprises Mira how little she feels. Is she a bad person just for thinking that?

Their marriage was okay, more disappointing than anything. He never laid a hand on her, but boy did he drink. Mira figures that is where Billy gets it from. He, being the biggest let down of her life.

The kettle begins to whistle and Mira quickly turns the flame off, hoping Billy doesn’t hear the shrill. Listening for a minute, she hears nothing, and continues making herself a cup of tea. Tip-toeing to her bedroom, she gently closes her door, making sure it’s shut tight before turning on the light.

Maybe she should ask Carol out to dinner some night. It doesn’t seem like she has many friends, either, Mira contemplates. Who knows, there might be a chance the two of them can try to rekindle their acquaintance of so many years ago.

A lightness fills Mira as she lays down and watches the drifting snow. It’s stopped falling, but now as the temperatures dip, and the winds become more severe, Mira’s glad she’s home.

 

b   b   b

 

Hearing a noise downstairs, Billy figures it’s his mom, and turns out his light, hoping she doesn’t come and bother him. He’s not in the mood to listen to one of her boring stories about the Book Club. His mind races as he lays back down, and reaching for a beer in the cooler next to his bed, opens it and drinks thirstily.

Candy’s suspicious, he senses it. Can tell by the doubt in her voice. Billy knows how clever she is, and when she finds out, that will be the end to them. He feels sick. What came over him? It’s as though Cynthia sprayed herself with those pheromone perfumes. He’s heard they’re supposed to make you real horny, and it certainly worked on him.

Snickering, he rolls over in agony as a pain jabs his groin. This is no laughing matter, he believes, leaning his head on the back board. Closing his eyes he suddenly feels tired, and sets his beer down on the stand. He’ll finish the brew in the morning.

 

b   b   b

 

Hector Toth opens the door to his double wide, still astounded at how Candy Jane can be so blind to his feelings. How much more open does he have to be? Sniffing, he smells an odd odor, but puts it off as the trash.

Stepping into the dark kitchen and opening the fridge, he is squirted in the eye with a stream of bright light. Dazzled, he blindly reaches for a PBR, and grabbing one, closes the door behind him. Blue flecks float in the air as he listens to the snow filled gales whip and howl against his tin box trailer.

He has to figure out how to get Candy’s attention; a way that she’ll notice him. But what? Cupping his face in his hands, he shakes his head as the incident with Cynthia earlier replays in his brain.

Gosh, he wishes she would leave him alone. That’s one of the things that drove him batty to begin with, her neediness, and how she clung to him, making him feel suffocated.

So what if she has issues with her past. It’s not his problem that she had an abusive childhood, and plus, how much of what she says is true? Taking a pull off his beer, Toth smells that stench again, and this time wonders where it’s coming from.

Switching on the light, Hector notices muddy foot prints on his clean floor, bee-lining for the pantry. Tip-toeing across the white Formica, he wraps his hands around the accordion closet door handle, and rips it open.

Empty?

“Damn it, Cynthia, if you’re here, come out. I’m not in the mood for games.” Racing through the house, Hector flicks on every light. He senses her lurking right in front of him. Hiding behind a curtain, a chair, a shadow.

“Cynthia!” He screams. Charging into the bathroom, Toth wisps his arm across the shower curtain, pulling the rod out of its holder. “Now, I’m really pissed,” he growls, throwing the pole and curtain against the wall. Glancing out of the small window, and into the snowy distance, he sees a pair of frosted red-tail lights disappearing into the darkness.

“God damn-it.” He curses, whipping his beer bottle into the tub. “I’m gonna kill that little bitch,” Toth swears. “If it’s the last thing I do.”

Tramping back to the living room, Hector plops hard into his chair, and tries to calm down. A sparkle by the front door catches his attention, and he walks over to it. Getting closer, he recognizes it as being Cynthia’s rhinestone scarf she wore earlier.

Picking it up, he stomps outside and throws it in the fire barrel. Spraying the garment with lighter fluid, Hector strikes a match and tosses it into the pit, backing away as the flames kiss his brow. “Take that, you sleazy tramp.”

Jogging back to the trailer, he shuts the cheap, metal door against the winter winds. Just as he latches the lock, the lights flicker, and then total darkness. “Great,” Hector groans. “This night just keeps getting better and better.”

Loading the pot belly stove, he starts a fire easily. Hector, opening another beer, sits close to the heat, waiting for a calm to over take him.

 

b   b   b

 

Cynthia Scotchland feels something snap in her head as she runs further from Toth’s house, away from his screaming voice. Reaching her car without falling, she starts the brown Corolla and feels her wheels spin as she peels onto the highway.

“Dagnabit.” She yells, waving her fist in the air. She’s not done with Hector yet. She’ll teach him a lesson, one he’ll never forget.

Laughing to herself, she leans closer to the windshield, trying to see the road before her. Maybe she’ll tell Toth that she screwed Billy Mendelson, make him really jealous. Cynthia thinks about Billy with a dissatisfied taste in her mouth.

Seeing the flashing motel sign up ahead, Cynthia is relieved as she nears her home.

She’s been staying in an efficiency for over a month now, after her stepfather kicked her out of her mom’s. Nobody knows, not even Toth. She used an alias when she checked in, not wanting to be found by anyone. It’s a nice enough room, a little kitchenette, bath and bed. The owner keeps it really clean too, which Cynthia enjoys. Seeing she hates messes.

Crawling into the parking lot, Cynthia turns off her lights, not wanting to draw any attention to herself. It’s bright enough outside so she can see where she’s going. Pulling around to the back, she slips out of her car, bracing herself against the winds.

Tomorrow she’ll return to Toth’s and reveal her conquest.

 

b   b   b

 

Jimmy Prescott cringes as he turns into his driveway and watches the lights flicker out. “Shit,” he yelps, banging his palms against the steering wheel. Now what is he going to do? He steers the red Tacoma into the car port and gets out, scrambling around in his pocket for the house keys.

Finding them, he opens the door, then leaning over, grabs a few little logs from the wood pile, almost dropping the six pack of Miller High Life into the snow. He’d be shit out of luck if he let those fall.

The harsh gales push Jimmy inside and the screen door slams him from behind. He stands panting for a moment, trying to let his eyes adjust. Setting the beer down, he bounds over to the fireplace, dumping the logs onto the stoop. One rolls off and hits his shin, sending waves of electric vibes rippling through his nerves.

“Ah, fudpucker!” He curses, jumping up and down, trying to rub the pain from his bruising leg. Bending over, he picks up the stray, and tosses it into the fireplace. It’ll be the first to burn.

Prepping the kindling, he strikes a match and lights the paper. The dry splinters catch quickly, and before he knows it, Jimmy’s feeling all comfy and cozy. Plopping down in the Laz-E-Boy chair, he tilts back, and twists open a beer. This is nice, he contemplates, a little peace and quiet for a change.

 

b   b   b

 

Patricia Moldine grits her teeth as she ducks from the oncoming headlights. The vehicle whizzes by her dark car parked on the side. Was it that Scotchland woman? Good thing she pulled over for a moment, otherwise she would’ve been hit.

Deciding not to go over to Toth’s tonight, Patricia turns right instead of going straight to his place. She wants to surprise him, tell him of her feelings for him, but the weather is turning into her nemesis, and the safest thing to do is go home. Love can wait until tomorrow.

 


 

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