Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The prompt this week was to choose a line from the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and use that as our starter sentence. The genre was open, and I went a bit wild with this one, but that's what makes these challenges so much fun. The sentence I chose was "He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot." Please enjoy.


"He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and he was wearing one of the Santa suits from the Mission. I know it was one of theirs because I’ve been doing the Santa thing for years--you get a hot meal and a bed every night from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. All you have to do is ring the bell when people walk by and hope they put money into the pot. At the end of the night, you turn the money in to the ladies there.”

Lyle Richmond, Detective with the Pleasant River PD for about three years, was losing any patience he had when this began. Why do the holidays bring out the crazies? He tried to keep this moving. It was already half an hour past his shift’s end when this weirdo ran in raving about someone being eaten. Yes. Eaten.

“Mr…uh…, so you saw somebody out there bothering your friend?” Lyle checked his watch again.

“Yes. Well, no. I mean, we weren’t friends. It’s just that I do the Santa thing every year so I can get a meal and a bed and so does he and in between, sometimes we run into each other. They have lunches at the Mission, but on the holidays, they find stuff for us to do so we can have a place to sleep. It’s warm in there…”

Lyle was getting ready to dump this old geezer on one of the patrolmen in the stationhouse who were standing around trying desperately not to laugh out loud.

“Focus here. Tell me what happened tonight.”

The man in the shabby Santa suit took a sip of the coffee provided for him, and continued.

“Oh, okay. I had my pot on the corner of Fifth and Broad. You know, down the street from Maisey’s Coffee Shop? This other guy, the one who got eaten, I think his name was James. Anyway, he was across the street on the corner. Well, he wasn’t exactly on the corner. He had his pot set up in front of the alley. You know, the one between the old movie theatre that’s been closed for years now, and that nudie shop you boys shut down a few weeks ago. You know.”

Lyle nodded. Today, old man. Today.

“Anyway, there weren’t too many cars out tonight, since it’s cold and snowy, so we were yelling back and forth to each other about stuff to pass the time. Not too much longer and we could take our pots to the Mission and get something hot to drink and some cookies and then a bed for the night. So, we’re yelling back and forth about how we both decided we weren’t going to help ourselves to any of the money, when I saw this--uh--thing, come out of the alley. He--it, was dressed in the Santa suit and it was so big. It had claws on its hands and was furry all over, and it had really big teeth, and growled and then grabbed James from behind and bit his neck. Looked like it just bit his throat out, and then it pulled him into the alley and started eating him, and that’s when I ran here to tell you about it so you could catch him--uh, it.”

The detective closed his eyes and silently counted to ten.

“Okay, then, thanks for reporting that and we’ll get over there. You’d better get over to the Mission now so you don’t miss out on the cocoa, cookies and bed. Can we reach you there if we need more info? Great. We’ll be in touch. You be careful out there now.”

He managed to get the old man back out onto the street and closed the stationhouse door. Alright. Not too late. Still plenty of time to head over to Jimbo’s for a couple of beers before he went home. Maybe Sarah from Hale’s Department Store would be there having a quick one. Running into her would be a nice way to finish up Christmas Eve. He’d be spending Christmas Day at his brother’s house with him and his family, but tonight he was on his own. Sure be great if he could spend some of it with that pretty lady. As he rounded the corner into the parking lot, the old man in the Santa suit grabbed his arm.

“Don’t ever do that,” he released the grip on his gun. “I almost fucking shot you. What is your problem, old man? You want this to be your last Christmas?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Detective, sir, I didn’t mean to startle you, but I remembered something that I thought you might need to know about James that might explain why this happened to him.”

Oh God, the detective thought, will this never end?

“Great,” he said, trying to appear calm, even though his hand still rested lightly on his gun. “Tell me what you remembered that will probably solve this case.”

“Okay,” the man said quietly. “I had asked him where he got those gloves he was wearing, and he said he had grabbed them out of a bag a lady had when she walked by. She was hollering at her kids and put the bag down to swat one of them, and he grabbed the gloves out of the bag. Then when she was done swatting the kid, she picked up the bag and went on and didn’t notice the gloves were gone.”

Detective Richmond vowed to request some leave as soon as the holidays were over--a lot of leave.

“And” he asked, “what does that have to do with why he was kil…, eaten?”

“Oh,” the man said, “he took what didn’t belong to him. He was naughty on Christmas Eve. The furry Santa with the big teeth was probably real mad about that.”

The old man in the Santa suit gave the detective a knowing look, a small salute and went on his way toward downtown. Oh yeah, he thought, it’s time for a few drinks and the company of anybody who’s sane. His partner, Detective Danser, certainly didn’t qualify. After the old man had been removed to the street, he had actually asked Lyle if he wanted him to check the alley out and then get on the phone to see if there were similar cases in any of the surrounding towns. After all, there were documented cases of lycanthropy and there were people with a particular medical condition… Maybe this guy dresses up like Santa and stands on corners at night so he can find victims. Who’s going to pay attention to a guy in a Santa suit at Christmas? But, Danser wondered aloud, I wonder what he does the rest of the year? Definitely, Richmond had told him, you do just that. Then I want you to put an APB out on Santa aka Werewolf Claus. And next spring, we’ll put one out on the Easter Bunny. I’ll bet he can deliver a helluva bite too. He told Danser to go home to his wife and kids and have a Merry Christmas. This ‘case’ was closed. They’re all nuts, he said aloud. All. Nuts.

The man didn’t see anyone on either side of the street and his and James’ pots were still there. I’ll just empty his into mine, he decided. That way, maybe I’ll get an extra helping of cookies. He crossed the street, wishing a stream of cars would come by. But the area was totally deserted. He put the change from James’ pot in his pockets and peeked into the alley. It had begun to sleet and the old man thought it so odd that there was no trace left of the man he had been speaking to a couple of hours before. Nothing but one of his gloves. The growl from the back of the alley startled him. Before it even dawned on him to scream, the furry thing in the Santa suit jumped out and was on him, biting and tearing. All he could think before it all went dark was how he really shouldn’t have bumped into that man and taken his wallet. Shouldn’t have been naughty on Christmas Eve…

* * * * *

A couple of days into the new year, when Richmond got the report that one ice-covered glove and one of his cards with blood mixed with saliva all over them had been found in an alley on the other side of town, he felt a chill. Both empty collection pots were returned to the Mission, and nothing about that night was ever mentioned again. He kept the file containing one sheet of paper that contained the old man’s narration in the middle drawer of his desk as a reminder to listen next time. Really listen. And if he came upon a corner Santa at Christmastime, he’d cross the street before he got to him. You just never know…

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


In accordance with this time of year, the theme was The Christmas Spirit. The prompt was a themed word list: Unearthly, Concealed, Attic and Shiver.

We are all familiar with the stories about the ghosts of Christmas and what effect encounters with them have had on the living. But can the reverse also be true? Can the effect be a mutual thing? Let's see. I present,


Sully Janofsky was pissed. It was Christmas Eve, the sky was going to dump a ton and a half of the white crap, and he had been looking forward to yet another uneventful holiday. But, no such luck. He had been up in the attic in an attempt at a brief change of scenery when he heard them come in. Sounded like a man, a woman, and what the fuck? Was that a kid? Hell. He would take a great deal of pleasure scaring the crap out of mom and pop, but kids were bad luck. They whined and cried and raised such a ruckus, it wasn’t near worth the effort. Maybe they wouldn’t be staying for the whole weekend, what with the big storm coming. Maybe they’re just lost and stopping to see if there’s a phone. Maybe Sully wasn’t really a ghost, cursed to forever inhabit this lousy cabin and roam the bear-infested lot it was on. Oh yeah. And a few maybe’s and a dollar might buy you a pack of smokes.

Sully could hear the man downstairs shouting obscenities at the woman and then he heard what sounded like a powerful slap. Wonderful, Sully thought, he’s a woman beater. A Class A mope. Of all the shit he had done in his life, one thing Sully wouldn’t put up with was a man who hits a woman. If a man really is a man, he should only fight another man. Use a fist, a knife, a .38, whatever’s handy, but whatever the beef, it should be handled man to man. He heard a door slam. Probably the woman went into one of the bedrooms. Just as well. The frames and doors were solid and strong. She’d be safe in there. But what about the kid?

He heard someone coming up the attic stairs and sat down on some boxes. No point in hiding, he thought, the living can’t see me. Sully found he could touch the living though, and pick up objects and throw them around if he wanted to. All that made it so much easier to run folks off. He wasn’t sure how all that worked, but there was no one to ask and he’d learned a long time ago to just use what you got. The door opened and in walked a little girl, probably around 8 or so. Pain in the ass like all kids, Sully was certain, but still a pretty little thing. Problem was, this one had the saddest eyes he’d ever seen. Like her world never stopped ending. Fuck. He wasn’t sure why or how, but Sully felt a headache coming on.

“I knew it,” the girl smiled a tiny smile. “I prayed you’d be here and you are. Are you going to be at my door when I go to sleep to watch over me? Is that how guardian angels work?”

Sully wasn’t sure what was happening here. If this kid was talking to him, that could only mean that she could see… Damn. Guardian what?

“Uh, kid?” he began, “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m not your guardian anything. I’m a spoo…, I mean, spirit, I guess, and don’t go getting all bent out of shape over it either. I’m getting a migraine and I don’t need any noise. See, I’m a very bad man, kid, and this is my Hell, I think, because I can’t leave this cabin or go past the property line. This guy double-crossed me awhile back and I fuc…, I mean, I messed him up real bad and he died. Then his partner, that I didn’t know about, splattered my brai…, shot me dead. I woke up here, this used to be my hideout, and I supposed this was what I got for crossing the line once too many times. Or some shi…, stuff like that. Anyway, this is my place, used to be, and I can’t stand having anybody around, so the three of you can just scram. Okay?”

It was like he hadn’t said a word because the girl just shook her head and there was that tiny smile again.

“It’s alright. I won’t bother you, guardian angel. I go to bed around seven because Richie says I should, so if you could stay by my door, that would be super. I have to go now and make Richie something to eat. That way, Mommy can rest some more after her accident. Love you.”

Why’d she have to go and say shit like that? Damn kids. But, still. Sully didn’t like the images running through his mind. Why does the kid want me to stand guard outside her bedroom door? Maybe this Richie-not-Daddy and he should have a spook-to-prick chat…

Sully waited until after the kid went to bed and he made sure her door was closed tight. Richie-not-Daddy was alone in the living room gulping beer, and never noticed Sully enter the room. Why can just this kid see me, he wondered. Creepy. Richie tossed the empty bottle into the fireplace and put on his coat and hat and went out the back door. Sully decided he’d pay for that move; ever hear of a garbage can? And, what the hell was he doing outside at this hour?

Sully couldn’t believe his eyes. The idiot’s out there with the back porch light on, digging a hole. Deeper and deeper. What? When Richie’s cell phone rang, Sully moved in closer. He didn’t want to miss a word.

“Yeah, we’re here and they’re both asleep. I’m digging a nice deep one out back here for her. Rachel gets up before anybody and gets her own breakfast. I’ll tell her I’ve got something to show her and then get her out here and a quick snap of the neck, into the hole, throw on a few leaves, and I’m rid of that little pest forever. I’m going to tell Rosie a bear grabbed her; nothing I could do. Then, I’ll shoot her up, we’ll come back to the city, and I can turn her out and she can make me some money. She won’t do squat as long as that pesky kid’s around. Okay. I’ll let you know. Later.”

Sully couldn’t believe what he had heard. First, he’s a woman beater. Second, probably a pedophile. Now, he’s going to murder a child? Well, we’ll just see about that. Sully peeked in on little Rachel and then on her mother. Mommy’s entire face was swollen and black and blue. No doubt Richie-not-Daddy had delivered so much more than a slap. Fucking coward.

Morning came and true to his word, Richie waited until Rachel finished her bowl of cereal and then told her he found something special out in the backyard. He took her small hand and led her out the door. Sully could see the child shiver at his touch. The edge of the hole was concealed behind a big pile of leaves. As they moved closer, Richie let go of Rachel’s hand and started to put them on her neck. All at once, he felt his left arm being pulled behind him and twisted, hard.

“What the fuck? Who’s there? What’s going…”

He took a hard punch to the back. Now, Sully was grateful for the being-able-to-touch thing. Rachel looked up, frightened.

“Don’t worry, kid. You go inside now, and get Mommy up and put your stuff in the car and go back home. Richie-not-Daddy and I are going to discuss good parenting practices and then he’s going to have an accident. You’re familiar with accidents, right, bud?”

“Who the fuck are you and what do you want? Are you one of those invisible unearthly things? Please don’t experiment on me. Take the woman and the kid. You’ll have a better time with them. I won’t tell anybody about this, I swear.”

Invisible what? That remark just reinforced what Sully already knew. This jerk double deserved what he was going to get this Christmas. He had prepared a big speech, but decided this scum wasn’t worth the effort. Just a quick snap of the neck and Richie-not-Daddy was tossed, and not gently, into the hole and covered with a few leaves. That way, Sully knew the bears wouldn’t have any problem locating their next meal.

Rosie took a quick peek out the back window after Rachel told her about Richie‘s accident. There was a small pang of guilt--her finally feeling free, and it being Christmas and all, but knowing the two of them would now be safe erased all of it. While she was packing the car, Rachel ran back inside, where Sully was waiting.

“Thank you, guardian angel,” she whispered.

Sully took the child’s face in his hands.

“I told you, kid, I’m no angel. And there’s nothing to thank me for. All I did was remove some trash from my cabin. Besides, I’m a really bad man. Remember?”

“Yes,” Rachel said with a smile. “I remember. Thank you again, and have a Merry Christmas.”

She gave Sully a big hug and ran to the car. Sully thought that for once in his miserable existence, he might be able to do just that.

While he didn’t expect to sprout wings and fly up into some Heavenly light, he did believe that if, in some far off corner of this fucked up universe, his Maker did briefly allow Himself a small grin on Sully’s behalf, that would be just enough.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Prompt: You are trapped (alone or with others) in a single location during the fury and/or aftermath of a blizzard of historic proportions.
Genre: Open
Word Count: 1500 words or less

What delightful circumstances, and what a perfect setting for a monumental practical joke. Or maybe not...


Jerome Hoggstratten couldn’t be happier. He had never belonged to any in-crowds, either during his school years or during his be-on-your-own years. Actually, he had never really belonged to anything or anyone, for that matter. Of course, in the past, that was perfectly alright with Jerome. After all, he read the papers, religiously followed the news, and watched each and every forensic, cop, mystery, and cold case show on TV. He’d seen some of them two or three times. Reruns were such a blessing, as sometimes one was momentarily distracted by outside occurrences and one might miss a detail or two. It might appear small on the front end, but more often than not, these minor points ended up turning the investigation every which way from Sunday, and resulted in the identification and apprehension of the perpetrator. Lives were saved and the world was made right again. At least until the next one decided to show his or her stuff…

Serial killers, mass murderers, devil worshipers who performed human sacrifices--they were out there all around us. Jerome knew it, and accepted the harsh reality of it. So, he was going to make sure that he was totally prepared for the day he crossed paths with one. Statistically, it was a very real possibility. Many individuals’ lives connected in some way with one of these monsters, and unless victimized, never knew it until the face of evil was plastered all over the 6 o’clock news. Then came the ‘he seemed so normal’ and the ‘she was such a nice girl and helped me with my groceries’. Well, Jerome wasn’t about to be duped like so many others. He would know. He watched documentaries.

Funny how others didn’t appreciate this critical insight of his. People would seem friendly and appear to want to get to know the real Jerome, but the minute he tried to share some life-saving tips of how to see behind the mask of evil, they were gone. Jerome knew they would be the ones identified as being the body found dismembered under a picnic table in the park. So, if they didn’t want to take advantage of his expertise, fine. They would become victims of the Ted Bundys and the John Wayne Gacys of this world. But not him--not Jerome.

The co-workers at his new job were so different though. They shared all his interests and even invited him up to spend a long weekend at a cabin one of the guys owned. He could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of being able to spend several days with those who viewed the world his way and saw it as the dark and terrifying place it was, with danger and death around every corner. He couldn’t wait to get up there, so he decided to leave hours ahead of schedule. He had been told where the key was, so he packed a couple changes of clothes and several books exploring the minds of those who kill for some light reading while he waited for his new friends to arrive.

He had been wise to arrive ahead of schedule since the weather had taken a real turn. Light snow had been forecasted, but as it was, he was barely able to find the cabin in the blizzard that came out of nowhere, much less even make it out of his car. The snow was coming down so thick and fast, by the time he parked at the side of the cabin, he could barely open his door. He fought the wind and white-out conditions as he brought his suitcases in and finally shut and bolted the door. The generator would keep the power on, the fireplace was a Godsend, the cupboards were well stocked and there was even a full walk-in freezer off the kitchen. Everything he would need to get through the next few days in warmth and comfort. Everything except friends.

Jerome knew none of them would be able to get there in those conditions and he would be alone. Again. Well, he thought, at least I brought my books and I can study and take notes. When the storm lets up and my friends arrive, I can use my notes during our discussions. I’m sure it won’t be too much longer.

* * *

Jack Knowles couldn’t believe that weird-ass from the mailroom, Jerome whatever, had fallen for it and actually shown up. He, Tommy Silverman, Sharon Gitsby and Lucille Wohby, had laid it on pretty thick to him how truly interested they were in all that killer bullshit of his. What a Class A jerk. Sharon had approached Jerome and handled the invite. The way she looked deeply into those vacant black eyes of his and told him he simply must join them this weekend, while gently stroking his cheeks and running her hands through his barely there hair had done the trick. Now, the four of them sat in an RV behind the cabin, drinking beer and planning how to scare the crap out of good old Jer. They knew he’d be early, so they came earlier than early and hooked the RV up to the generator and waited. They knew Jerome wouldn’t go out back, what with the woods and all that surrounded the cabin. A serial killer might be hiding there. One never knew. They had to laugh. What a grand time they were going to have and what an even grander time they would have telling everyone back at the office what a pussy Jerome was. They knew he’d freak and the girls had their camcorders ready to catch every second of his meltdown. Trapped by a blizzard in a snowstorm, total white-out so no running to the car and trying to summon help… Maybe they’d upload it to the Web. Oh yeah. Now, that would really be an award-winning joke on the Jermeister.

* * *

On Monday evening while on his drive home, Jerome felt conflicted. On the one hand, he was so proud of himself having survived his encounters with what he knew would be called ‘The Cabin Killers’. He’d send an anonymous letter to the authorities explaining how they’d been caught, but taking no credit for himself. Give credit where credit is due. Basking in glory was not Jerome’s way. The downside of all of this was the betrayal by his co-workers. All of them psychotic, sociopathic and deadly. Lying in wait for him at the cabin, moving around in the dark when they thought he was asleep, planning his demise. And the cameras? My God, he shuddered, those evil girls were going to film it all: My torture, my death, and most likely, my dismemberment. The axes had been plentiful around the cabin. Bastards. Now, the world was all upside down again and he’d have to find yet another job. How could he ever be sure there weren’t more of them within that firm. He couldn’t. Not really.

One by one they had come and one by one he had vanquished them. Them in their ski masks and black clothes jumping out at him and laughing. All that laughter. Once Jerome ran Jack through with a poker, his laughter stopped. A carving knife drawn quickly across Tommy’s throat ended his mirth. Lucille had come in with her little camera whispering for Jack and a swift twist of her neck had put her down. Sharon had been the last, creeping in and calling for the others. Jerome let her see it coming. She deserved it, luring him there the way she did. He did her with a pair of gardening shears. It was slow, and she was still breathing and reaching for him when he placed her, along with her co-conspirators, inside the walk-in. Thought you put one over on Jerome, didn’t you, he had said to her as he closed the door and bolted it shut. That’ll hold them till the police can get up here.

No one would know he had been there since he had kept his gloves on the whole time. Forensically, that was wise. There were never going to be any DNA errors where he was concerned. He wouldn’t be wasting away on Death Row for a crime he didn’t commit. Not him--not Jerome.

What he most agonized over though was how he had almost been taken in. He had obviously missed a sign somewhere in their behavior. He had to give them credit though. As mass murderers or serial killers--he would have to figure out what category they fit in later--they were good. So very good. Give credit where credit is due, Jerome always said.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Prompt: The common, or not so common, cold — at least one character must be miserable. Really miserable.
Genre: Open
Word Count: Under 1500 words

Before we begin our story, a word to the wise. If you're not 100% certain about something, ask. NEVER assume. EVER...


I lost my job two days ago. It was a good job too. I was doing well, but recently, took it upon myself to go above and beyond. That’s when it all went terribly wrong. Let me explain.

I was employed by Mr. Winston Grafton. Yes, you heard me correctly. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of ordering the execution of several United States’ Senators. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of defrauding several CEO’s of major international corporations out of billions of dollars. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of money laundering, dealing in narcotics, as well as other assorted illegal activities. Remember, I said ‘accused’--not ‘indicted’ or ‘prosecuted’. Mr. G. is very powerful, and has a way of making accusations--and accusers--go away. Permanently.

My role was as a numbers cruncher. Not to crunch anything literally, since I’m on the hard edge of 55, 5’2” when I’m wearing thick socks and my orthopedic shoes, and huggably round. But I am a whiz with numbers. I would accompany Mr. G’s enforcers on their weekly calls and when they would explain compound interest and such, I was there to refigure their new payment amount. My job paid well, and I was always treated with respect. By Mr. G, that is, which is why I felt the need to get personally involved when the big guy fell ill.

One day, he’s out and about, and the next, he’s down for the count. It started with some sneezing and a stuffed head, and within a couple of days, it left him confined to bed, feverish, with swollen eyes and a voice that was barely a whisper. His doctor told us that some virus had taken hold of him and was not going to let go until it pulled him six feet under. He could be kept comfortable, but beyond that, there wasn’t much that could be done.

I remember peeking in his room one morning to pay my respects when I witnessed the saddest display I have ever seen. There he was, clutching a photo of his dead wife, with tears spilling down his cheeks. I knew there were no words I could offer, so I simply went in, sat in the chair at his bedside, and asked if there was anything I could do for him. He looked at me with eyes that were nearly swollen shut, and pointed at the photo. I told him I knew what had happened and how sorry I was. He looked away briefly, and remembered his pain.

When I came on board, Jeff, one of the fellas who took care of the grounds, told me what had happened to Mrs. G because, even though her pictures were all over the house, she was no longer around since she had been killed by a drunk driver the year before. The boss had used all his resources and his money flowed like water trying to find out who was responsible, but to no avail. The search took a backseat over time, but he never gave up. His one wish was that he would be able to someday look into the eyes of the one who was responsible for his wife’s death. Now, it appeared as if the one hope that kept him going all these years was going to elude him.

As I sat there, he reached for my hand and pulled me close. He tried to speak, but his voice was so weak, I could barely hear him. I finally figured out what he was trying to tell me. It was a name, but what was it? David? No. Darnell? Close. Danny? Yes. Then, he began again. I assumed that he was trying to tell me Danny’s last name. Bridges?. No. Binger? His nails were digging into my knuckles. Bidden? That’s it. He whispered the name and pointed to his wife’s photo. Oh God. That was what he wanted me to do. After all this time, he had located the man who killed his wife, and he was telling me his name so that I could find him.

Yes, I’ll find him. I knew that I couldn’t stop there though. This was such an important task he had given me, and I was not about to let him down. I would bring this excuse for a human being here, but after the big guy had his final look, I would send this slug on his way to Hell by my own hand. After all, I knew how to pull a trigger. I would join the ranks of the ones who made things right. The ones who evened the score. I would assume the role of leveler on this playing field.

It hadn’t been easy, but I tracked the scum known as Danny Bidden down. He was living in one of those pay by the week dumps, and I waited until he left his room and then went in with no problem. The fool didn’t even lock his door. What I saw when I stepped in filled me with a wave of nausea like I have never in my life felt before. Taped on the walls were newspaper clippings of the crash that killed Mrs. G. Some showed the mangled car, some showed the body bag being placed inside the ambulance, and most had a photo of her taken at some society luncheon on a bright summer day. She had a warm smile and bright eyes so full of life. The clippings were everywhere. The sick bastard. Reliving that night over and over. What kind of a monster was he? If I ever had second thoughts about being HIS Angel of Death, they had evaporated. This was going to be a pleasure.

It had been easier than I anticipated, overpowering this young punk. I have no doubt the gun I was holding was what ultimately convinced him to accompany me, but regardless. The end really does justify the means. I was so proud of myself. I was doing something for someone who had lost the will to live. Perhaps this would at least give him a moment’s peace on his way from this life to the next.

We stood at the foot of Mr. G’s bed. Big guy reached out and tried to sit up. I almost wept. I was so moved. I told him not to worry. I would take care of everything. For him. And for her. I put the gun up to his temple and pulled the trigger. The piece of garbage that was Danny fell in a heap. There wasn’t as much blood as I had thought there would be, which was a good thing, because I had just bought a new suit for the occasion, and I really didn’t want to mess up the old man’s room.

So, it was done. Mr. G pushed the button on his nightstand and Barry and Richie, two of his enforcers, came in. They looked at the lump on the carpet, and then at me in the oddest of ways. I hadn’t a clue as to the reason for their concern until later that day when the situation was explained to me.

Apparently, Mr. G and his wife had a son. It was obvious from the start that he wasn’t going to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the business, but he was family, so he was tolerated. However, after Mrs. G died, Daddy told his son that his presence would no longer be acceptable. He was given access to a trust fund and sent on his way, and never spoken of again. That is, until his name was spoken to me. Danny Bidden had been born Danny Grafton, and while he was never the apple of Pop’s eye, blood is blood after all, and Mr. G. didn’t want any glitches in the hinges of those Pearly Gates he was on his way to, so he wanted to make peace with his only son before he died. That was why he asked me to find him. That was why he said his name and pointed to the photo of his wife. He was asking me to find his son. And that was why Danny had all the clippings. It was all he had left of his mother. And I found him. And I brought him home. And I shot him.

And so, here I sit in the basement pantry. I’ve been locked in here for the past couple of days, but at least there’s bottled water and cookies in here. I’m sure they have nasty plans for me once the old man gets back on his feet. Oh, did I forget to tell you? His virus seems to be loosening its hold on him, and he is expected to make a full recovery. We are all blessed, his doctor had said. It won‘t be long, and he‘ll be up and around and back to business as usual. Yeah boy. Lucky me.