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Tasty Treats

Tasty Treats

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01/14/2013

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Tasty Treats

By Bradley Ramsey

A man's gotta eat – that's what my momma used to say. I wonder if she ever thought her son would end up eating people for a living? It's a hell of a way to dispose of the body, but it's a dirty job and someone's gotta do it. And let's face it: everyone knows people taste like chicken. Tonight’s dish was far from the loins of a recently dead chicken. No, tonight’s menu was Jerry Parkinson, some kid living in the slums of beautiful New Orleans, who thought he could borrow money from the biggest mobster in town, not pay him back, and somehow get away with his life. Damn, people are stupid. I grasped the zipper on the black leather body bag that Frankie had brought poor Jerry in and pulled it open, revealing Jerry’s pale and fearful face underneath the leather flaps, like the final expression of a banana as it’s peeled open. The first thing I noticed was that the kid had a quarter-sized hole in his head laced with coagulated blood. I sighed loudly, and I heard Frankie shuffle nervously behind me. “You fuckin’ shot him, Frankie? What did I tell you about shooting them?” Frankie snickered loud enough for the neighbors to hear him. “What did you want me to do? Give him a lethal injection and read him his last fucking rights? I ain’t a priest, Clyde; I’m a ruthless mobster, and I wanna keep it that way.” I closed the flaps back over Jerry’s horrified face. I hated looking at it. “Well, you could have stabbed him, or maybe drowned him – anything that doesn’t put gunpowder in the body I’m about to eat. That’s like mixing the mashed potatoes with the peas on your dinner plate, Frankie; you just don’t do it, man!” Frankie either didn’t get the joke, or he got it and didn’t think it was funny. He ran a hand through his jet black hair and shrugged. “Whatever, man. The rest of him is still good, right?” I shook my head and waved for him to go as I turned around to start. I could still feel him standing behind me though, and I sure as hell didn’t hear the door to the warehouse slam shut. "I don't like anyone to watch me while I'm working, Frankie. You can go now," I said, looking back at him. Frankie just stood still, curiously eyeing the body of the man he had just ordered killed. Jerry Parkinson owed him money and, like any good mobster, Frankie collected on his debts with a large caliber pistol. "What are you going to do with him?" Frankie asked. I hated his squeaky Mexican voice. He was built like a freight train, but talked like a mouse. I never understood that. "I'm going to eat him, Frankie; it's what I do."

Frankie released a deep guttural laugh. "You're one sick fuck! You know that?" I shook my head, setting down the hand saw that I was preparing on the table next to Jerry's right hand. I turned around to face Frankie, eager to end this conversation. I hadn't eaten since lunch. "I could give less than two shits what you think about me, Frankie! So long as your money's good, this kid is going to find himself a permanent resident of my large intestine, and you'll get away with murder, again. Sound good?" Frankie nodded, the smile fading from his face. "Yeah, sure. I'll leave. Enjoy your dinner." I winced at the amount of sarcasm Frankie placed into his last sentence and watched as he left through the door, closing it with a metallic clang that rang across the wall of the warehouse. I turned back to Jerry and reached for the remote. It was just about time for Shelly Barnes' show on the Food Network. I chuckled at the thought as I drove the spinning handsaw in my hands down into the recently deceased flesh of Jerry Parkinson. The skin separated in a beautiful fountain of coagulated blood. I’m sure wherever Jerry is right now, he wishes he had bathed before the boys from the dock came a’lookin’ for their money. Or maybe he just shat himself when they blew his brains out. I always hated it when they did that – ruins all the head meat; then, I gotta eat around the gunpowder. I turned off the saw, silencing its shrill cries and placed onto the table next to the now severed hand. It was one thing to break the gun rule, but I’m not eating shit. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and quickly dialed Frankie’s number. The line rang several times before his nervous Mexican voice answered. “I thought I told you not to call me after nine!” I didn’t bother apologizing. That was his job here. “Sorry, but I have to ask, did your boys realize that this kid shit himself before they did him in? I told you, Frankie; I don’t eat shit – never have and never will. My mamma raised me better than that.” Frankie laughed sarcastically. “Your mamma raised a sadistic bastard, so you’ve got no right to talk. But I can see how that would be unpleasant. I’ll raise the payment by ten percent.” He had to be joking. “Twenty percent, Frankie, or I call the cops,” “Fifteen, and that’s my final offer, asshole.” I smiled silently, giving him a moment to let the thought of life in prison sink in. “Fifteen, it is. Pleasure doing business with you, Frankie! Tell Sharlene I said hello!” Frankie started to say something else, no doubt another low brow insult, as I closed the phone. I looked up from my work and took a moment to appreciate the lovely woman on the modest television across the room, preparing a steak on her famous show that airs Sunday nights on the Food Network. “Tasty Treats,” it was called, or something along those lines. I usually don’t work on weekends, but Frankie Ramirez pays good to have his dirty work disposed of, and Lord knows I need to pay the bills. I looked over to my right, at the display of knives, power tools, and utensils splayed across the metal cart – all of which were charitably donated by the local hospital. As I picked up the cleaver, I held it ever so carefully over the fingers of the severed hand. As I did, Shelly Barnes made a comment about putting basil on the meat to give it that sophisticated flavor. You would go great with some basil, Jerry! I thought as I brought down the cleaver on the pinkie finger. The finger popped off the hand like a cork from a wine bottle and began rolling across the metal slab. I leaped over and caught it just before it fell off. I raised the

severed pinky finger to eye level and took a bite, tenderly pulling the meat off of the bone with my teeth. It was raw and chewy, but it tasted perfect, just like the first time I ate human flesh. Truth be told, it was an accident, but I’ll never forget how my life changed that day. My brother, Timmy and I were jumping on my mother’s bed, something she absolutely hated, but we were kids back then and we never really cared about what she thought because we took her unconditional love for granted. We were leaping back and forth across the mattress when suddenly my brother’s fist collided with my face. I remember it hitting my right with such force that it knocked me back off of the bed. He was desperately trying to apologize while I stood back onto my feet. I was dazed and confused, but mostly I was royally pissed. I leaped back onto the bed and dove onto his arm. I suppose that’s when, faced with complete and utter rage, we resort to whatever weapons we can muster to exact our vengeance. Right then, my mouth was loaded with pearly white weapons of mass destruction. I bit down on his arm, hard, until blood began to flow between my lips. He screamed something fierce until our mamma came in, hootin’ and hollerin’. She couldn’t believe I bit him, let alone hard enough to draw blood. I said I was sorry, but deep down, I wasn’t. In fact, I was savoring the taste of blood and the juicy tender flesh of his arm. I spent a long time after that, dreaming about eating my own brother. Of course, I would never do such a thing, and I never told him or my mamma about my newfound taste for human flesh. I was able to suppress it for a while, but then I got into this business, and business is good. I looked up just as Susan was facing the camera and smiling as she took a bite of the steak she had just made. Like any good Food Network host, she moaned as if aroused by the taste of her own steak. Jerry was pretty tasty, but I wasn’t about to moan while eating him. After severing all the fingers, I moved onto removing the limbs. I used the power saw to cut through his elbows and shoulders. The forearms and biceps make great roasts while the fingers will go great in a soup. Wendy’s had the right idea when they put that finger in someone’s chili. As I finished dismembering Jerry, I moved on to his chest and torso. As I flipped him over onto his stomach, I could smell the simmering shit covering his backside. I looked down at the seat of his pants and saw the pancake shaped stain covering his entire backside. Damn, Frankie literally scared the living shit out of this kid. Judging by the bullet hole in his head, it was pretty easy to assume how the whole scenario went down.

Frankie Ramirez brought his expensive Italian Loafers down hard on the door. The cheap and rotting wood gave way as a cloud of splinters exploded from the door handle. It swung open, revealing a half-naked Jerry Parkinson sitting on his couch amongst the rips in the fabric and cigarette burns on the arms. He turned away from his episode of Jerry Springer just as the armed and ruthless Frankie stepped into the modest abode, "You're fuckin' dead, Jerry!" Frankie shouted, raising his desert eagle into the air. Jerry fell backwards out of the couch and began awkwardly crab walking across the room. His bottom lip trembled, and he whimpered like a wounded dog as he tried to retreat. He collided with the back wall and winced as his head echoed across the stained wallpaper. Frankie caught up with him quickly, placing the barrel of the gun to his head. "You're dead!" he shouted again. Jerry continued shaking his head like a frightened mute. His whimpers slowly evolved into fragmented words before he was finally able to construct a sentence. "No, Mr. Ramirez, please! I swear I'll have your money next week! It's been slow at the

restaurant, and the tips have been kinda light. I know you said no excuses, but I'm trying my best, Mr. Ramirez. I just need more time!" Frankie responded not with words, but with a quick backhand courtesy of the barrel of his gun. The cold steel collided with Jerry's face, shattering his jaw bone as he collapsed onto the floor. He climbed to his feet and ran out of the living room, shouting through his broken jaw as he did. Though, his words flowed like syrup from his swelling lips. "Don't kill me!" Jerry skittered around the corner of the kitchen entrance and propped himself up against the wall. He tenderly rubbed his jaw as the pain continued to emanate from the impact point. Meanwhile, Frankie stood proudly in the living room, chuckling as he produced a small handkerchief with his initials embroidered on it in red stitching. He tenderly rubbed the cloth across the barrel of the gun, cleaning off Jerry’s blood. “I remember the first time this baby killed someone, Jerry; it was messy. Point blank, straight to the head, sent his brains flying all across the room. Even ruined my favorite suit. But ya know something, Jerry? I don’t like this suit very much.” Jerry’s mind was racing, he was looking for any way to save himself. “Won’t the neighbors hear the gunshot?” he asked. Frankie nodded, picking up a ragged cushion off of the couch to his right. “Good point, Jerry. Guess I need a silencer, huh?” Frankie began walking towards the entrance to the kitchen. “I used to believe you were a pretty stand-up guy, Frankie. How the hell did you get into this business?” Frankie stopped and looked into the kitchen. He could see a pot of boiling water sitting on the stove. Long tendrils of steam rose from the bubbling liquid. “You were cooking something, Jerry?” he asked. Jerry looked over to the pot on the stove. He was boiling water for some chicken-flavored ramen noodles. He imagined himself leaping forward and throwing the steaming liquid onto Frankie’s smug face. He lowered his hand to the floor, preparing to move. Frankie stopped again, just outside the door. He clutched the cushion tighter in his hands. “You know, Jerry, I used to be a square, kinda like you. Then, I realized something when my first wife left me and I lost my job: being straight and narrow doesn’t count for shit in the real world. If you want something, you gotta grab it by the balls and take it for yourself. This world rewards the bastards who see what they want and take it. If you had lived a bit longer, Jerry, you may have figured that out.” Jerry climbed to his feet as Frankie stepped into the kitchen. “I never want to be like you!” Jerry screamed as he ran across the kitchen. He grabbed the pot of water and slung it to his side. The steaming liquid splashed across the ground, soaking Frankie’s shoes and the bottom of his pants. Part of it seeped through, scorching his skin instantly. Frankie roared in pain as he charged towards Jerry. Jerry stumbled over a chair at the table as he tried to make his escape and fell face-first on the floor. Frankie wasted no time in mounting him and turning him over onto his back. Jerry whimpered loudly as his bowels gave way and steaming excrement filled the bottom of his jeans. Frankie slammed the cushion down onto his face, placed the barrel of the gun to the center, and pulled the trigger. Bang! And pop goes the Jerry! Poor kid. I knew that something like sympathy was a cancer in my line of work. If I felt bad for every bastard who came through my door in a body bag, I’d have enough tears to cry the Nile River. Jerry looked young, though. He looked like he had life left in him, potential even. It saddened me to see him taken from this world so quickly and without warning. Sure, he brought

it down on himself, but everyone makes mistakes. Mamma would say that it’s all part of God’s plan, but I don’t think God’s plan ever included murder. If there’s one qualm I have with my line of work, it’s how God sees me. I’m not sure if it’s a sin to eat another human, but I am sure that being an accomplice to murder is. I can’t imagine how many criminals, or how many times Frankie, have gotten away with murder because the body just “disappeared.” The pay was so good, though – enough to have an apartment in the city and rent a building by the docks and still have spending money. ‘Course, I saved all of it. Sent most of it to my mamma, telling her I’ve got a successful job and a beautiful house. As I reached down to undress Mr. Parkinson and hopefully hose off the undesirable materials from his backside (like scrapping the burnt part off of your toast), his phone began ringing in the pocket of his jeans. I fumbled with trying to roll him over as the stereotypical Nokia ringtone echoed across the empty walls of the warehouse. By the time I pulled the phone out of his pocket, it was silent. The small screen on the center of the top flap pictured a closed envelope. I opened the cover and read the message. “One missed call: Emma.” Maybe a girlfriend? It also stated that she left a message on the voicemail. Looks like someone is missing you already, Jerry, I thought as I dialed his voicemail. “You have one new message,” the automated voice began, followed by a soft and sweet voice that sounded instantly familiar. “Hey, brother, it’s your sis. Just calling to check up on you. I don’t know if you got my letter, but I got that money you sent me. You really shouldn’t have. They probably won’t even listen to the demo tape. No sense in wasting money on the submission fee. But you’re sweet for supporting my singing career. Maybe someday soon I’ll be performing somewhere else besides the Cup of Stardust coffee shop. Anyway, thanks again for the help. By the way, I finally got moved into my new apartment downtown. The address is 469 South Orleanna Road, Apt 155; come see me soon, alright? Love you!” I closed the phone ever so slowly and set it down next to Jerry. You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. I was about to eat the brother of the woman I loved more than anything in the world. Of course, she had no idea who I was; that would be impossible. If she knew me, she would run the opposite direction. But that didn’t stop me from visiting her every time she performed at the open mike night at the local coffee shop. I remembered that I had just been there the night before. I was seated in the back as always, alone except for the cup of artsy coffee that I ordered only to fit in. I don’t drink coffee, but I always felt compelled to order one, just to remain anonymous during my visits there. The waitress came over with tonight’s experiment, a caramel macchiato, I believe it was. She smiled as she laid the ceramic mug down, pausing to push her pink-colored hair out of her mascara-ridden eyes. I nodded cordially to her as she left. I looked over to the stage and watched as the band before, a rag tag group of two girls and one guy all dressed in old-fashioned nurse uniforms, left the stage. Soon after, Emma walked on stage, carrying her polished and finely-crafted mandolin. Her golden blonde hair glistened underneath the stage lights as she tenderly grasped the microphone. She sat down on the stool and pulled the mandolin close to her. How I wished I could become that instrument, to be held in those magnificent arms against her no doubt rapidly-beating heart. The audience members paid her the obligatory applause, but nothing more, as the whispered into the microphone, “This week’s song is something I wrote myself, about a very special person in my life...” I felt my hands

tighten around the mug, which was still extremely hot. No, not a boyfriend! Her next two words seemed to come an eternity after the first fifteen. “...my brother.” I sighed as I lay back in the stiff wooden chair. That was close! As she began to play, I felt myself sinking lower and lower into the chair, becoming more relaxed and complacent with each passing note. The song was brilliantly written, with flowing chords and utterly angelic notes that sprang forth from her lips. I loved her. I couldn’t explain it, but I loved her more than anything else in this world. Part of me – in fact, most of me – knew that I would never be with her, but I still dreamt, and I still came out every open mike night to see her. I could still hear Emma’s song ringing in my head as I stared down at her brother’s lifeless body. I felt my appetite slowly fading the more I looked at him. I could only picture his sister’s, my love’s, horrified face when she discovered that her brother was missing and most likely dead. This time, it was my phone that began to hum in my pocket. I pulled it out, watching as Frankie’s name slid across the display. I opened it and placed it to my ear. “I thought I told you never to call me after nine, Frankie?” “Very fucking funny. Listen, I need you to get rid of another body.” he said. I looked down at Jerry. Well, I suppose misery loves company, eh, Jerry? “Sure thing, Frankie. Who is it this time?” Frankie seemed almost excited as he replied. “You’ll never guess this one, Clyde. It turns out that Jerry did have my money, but he gave it all to his fucking sister! My boys found a letter from her in his apartment. If she’s got my money, then the broad’s gotta go, too; you know what I’m sayin’?” No way, Frankie. Not Emma. You can have any broad in this whole city, but not her! Of course, I couldn’t bring myself to say what I was thinking. I just sat in silence on the phone. “Hey, people eater, you still kickin’ or what?” I nodded, as if Frankie could see me. “Yeah, Frankie, sure thing,” I replied, still dazed from the sudden wave of revelations. “Good man. I’ll have the body over there in an hour. Looks like you’re eating good tonight!” Frankie hung up without a goodbye. Just as well; I only had an hour to stop him. I looked down at Jerry. I still had trouble staring at his gaping mouth and eyes that were still widened from fear and surprise. “I’m sorry you got dragged into this, Jerry, but I want you to know, I ain’t gonna let that bastard hurt Emma!” I left him lying there. I wasn’t hungry, and there wasn’t time. I ran across the barren warehouse, leaving the TV on while Susan Barnes prepared yet another steak. As I burst out of the door and into the humid night air of New Orleans, I could see a full moon still rising in the sky. Emma’s address was at least ten miles from here and I had no car, not even a bike. I usually took the bus everywhere. That wouldn’t do; I had to get there, and fast. I saw several cars parked along the dimly lit street. People just leaving their cars out in the open. God bless America! I walked over to a rusted Nissan Maxima. It looked like it was white at one point, but now it had faded to a speckled crimson mess of rusty flakes. It looked serviceable, though. I ran to the door and tried the handle. It was locked. Well, at least there are still some redeeming qualities in humanity. I glanced left and right and then pulled my shirt up over my head. I wrapped the damp black cloth around my fist and bashed the window with a short, straight punch. The glass caved into the driver’s seat. I reached down and opened the lock, waiting for the alarm to go off, but silence still dominated the night. Lucky for me, this guy was either too poor to afford an alarm or the damn thing broke right about the time that the paint started to peel.

I climbed into the car, wincing as the glass began to chatter beneath me. There was no time to waste, though. I had to hotwire this beast and get on the road. I yanked the casing off of the ignition wires below the wheel and went to work hotwiring. Once I had the cables ready, I placed the copper wiring together and released a yelp of excitement as the engine groaned and eventually turned over into a full roar. I pulled the car into drive and sped off down the road and into the night. I looked down at the fuel gauge, just above a quarter of tank. That would be plenty. The digital clock embedded in the dashboard was five minutes fast – a fact that I discovered upon comparing it with my watch, not to mention the radio stations programmed into the channels were all a mixture of genres that I didn’t particularly care for. And so, my attempts to bring that drive above anything other than a stressful and dreadful trip failed miserably. The address was close to the coffee shop. I was there with about ten minutes to spare. I didn’t see Frankie’s car, which was a white escalade and very prominent in just about any part of town. I parked the car just outside her apartment complex, Seaside Condominiums, which was a stupid name because the closest ocean was down by the docks. I remembered her message saying apartment one-fifty-five. I walked through the open gates of the complex and began eyeing the buildings. I found myself walking down the finely manicured sidewalks that paralleled each of the aqua-colored buildings. I passed the occasional dark blue mural of a flowing wave sliding across the side of a building. I found her apartment on the bottom floor of one of the mural buildings. As I approached her door, my heart rate began to grow exponentially until I finally stopped just in front of her bronze knocker just below the golden numbers on the door. What am I going to say? Your brother is dead, and I was just about to dine on his corpse when I suddenly realized that the same man who killed him is going to kill you. Oh, and by the way, I’m absolutely in love with you. It could definitely use some tweaks. I decided to wing it; there wasn’t any time. I reached up and pounded the knocker down, letting the sound echo through the wood. I began frantically trying to clean myself up, running a hand through my balding head and trying to smooth the wrinkles out of my blank-blue shirt and my khaki shorts. I smelled my armpits to check for B.O., which was unfortunately abundant, but without solution at the present moment. I heard the doorknob click and watched as it swung open. Emma was standing in the doorway in a radiant orange blouse with a pair of blue jeans. Her golden hair was pulled into a ponytail behind her head, and I could see tiny earrings glistening in her ears. I saw confusion in those beautiful shining emeralds that were her eyes, but I didn’t care. “Hi. Can I help you?” she asked. I could see her sizing me up, and judging by the look on her face, I wasn’t exactly earning a top score on her man chart. It took me a moment to compose myself and form words, but once I got going it wasn’t half bad. “Hi, Emma. You don’t know me, but I’m a friend of your brother’s. My name is Clyde.” I extended my hand. “Clyde Higgins.” Emma reached out and grasped my hand in hers. Her skin was soft, just as I had imagined, and so very warm. I wanted to pause time right there, after weeks, maybe even months of watching her from a distance, I was finally not only talking to Emma, but touching her. The level of pathetic that could have been assigned to my thoughts in that moment was through the roof, but I didn’t care; I was happy. This was the first time that something living and human had ever made me happy. She broke our handshake far too quickly, but she was right in speeding up the process. “May I come inside?” I asked. She seemed apprehensive, but allowed me to step inside. I closed the door behind me and took in the cool air conditioned abode.

“Did something happen to Jerry? I haven’t been able to get a hold of him.” She was straight to the point. I liked that. “Jerry is dead, Emma. I’m so sorry.” Yeah, way to go, asshole! You couldn’t have delivered that one a little lighter? Emma looked as if she had been punched in the face. Her lips moved, but words didn’t form as the thought of her brother’s presence being gone from this Earth began to sink in. “What happened?” she asked after managing to still her already flowing tears. I walked over and placed my hand on her shoulder. She seemed to back away at first, but then sunk into my grasp. I had to fight the urge to smile; this was a solemn moment. “He owed some bad people a lot of money. He and I met at work, and he told me about what was happening. He told me that, if anything happened to you, that I should come get you before those same people try to get to you, too.” I was surprised at how convincing the entire charade sounded. “I just, I can’t believe he’s gone! We have to call the police!” I gripped her tighter, as if replying to the question. “No, no, we can’t call the police. We need to get you out of here before Frankie and his boys shows up.” Emma broke free of my grasp and turned to glare at me through her tear soaked eyes. “Frankie Ramirez! The mobster who is always on the news? Jerry was involved with that scumbag?!” I nodded which sent Emma into another burst of moaning sobs. Strike two, Romeo. Now, get her out of there before Frankie shows up to hit a home run right between those beautiful eyes. I placed my hands on Emma’s shoulders again. “Listen, Emma, we need to go now. It’s not sa—” I was interrupted by a loud and commanding pound on the door. I could hear Frankie’s unmistakable voice from behind the doorway. “Pizza delivery for Ms. Parkinson!” he shouted. The sarcasm was almost tangible. He pounded on the door again. I gave him one, maybe two more knocks before that fat foot of his would come crashing down on the knob. I grabbed Emma and pulled her through the living room and towards the back door leading onto the porch. “Listen to me! Go out the back, leave the complex and look for a Nissan Maxima parked on the curb. The door will be open. Wait for me there!” Emma ran out of the living room, and I began to follow her when I heard the wooden door screech and crack as Frankie pushed his way into the apartment. “Knock, knock. Anybody home?” he shouted. I stepped out onto the porch and climbed over the railing as I slid between the plastic lawn chairs. I could hear the muffled sounds of Frankie and his boys moving through the apartment as I ran to the car. Before I was even able to leave the complex, my phone began to buzz. I saw it was Frankie and picked up, trying to wet my mouth, which was now dryer than the Sahara Desert. “Hey, Frankie. What can I do ya for?” I asked, trying not to sound nervous. Frankie sighed into the phone speaker, causing massive waves of static on my end. “I got a problem here, Clyde. You see, my boys checked on little Miss Parkinson about an hour ago and they said she was home for the night. Now, I get here and she’s suddenly gone. This tells me that someone tipped her off. Now, I know it wasn’t my boys, and it sure as hell wasn’t me. So, that leaves one other person in the whole fucking world that knows about my coming here tonight – you, buddy.”

His logic was sound – something I never expected from him. I thought about lying, about trying to preserve my miserable life. Something hit me in that moment; a sudden realization, if you will. Maybe it was from God, or maybe it had just been planted within me ever since I laid eyes on Emma. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to be with her, and the way I saw it, Frankie and my way of life had to both pack their bags and leave for good before that could happen. I decided to remove one of the problems right now. “Damn, Frankie. I’m impressed. You put together that whole though all by yourself? Be honest; your little fuck buddies helped you out. Or maybe I just underestimated you. Either way, it’s true; I tipped off Emma. In fact, I’m gonna take her someplace safe so you can’t have her.” I could almost feel the rage boiling off of Frankie through the phone speaker. “You got one chance to go back, Clyde, one fucking chance, and then it’s war. Be careful what you say next. Ask yourself, is this broad really worth dying for? You don’t even know her! I doubt you’ve ever even met her before tonight. Point is, you’d better be damn sure about your decision. And you had better be ready to face the consequences of the choice you make right now.” He probably expected me to back down, which is what the old Clyde would have done. No sense in dying over spilled milk. But this time, this Clyde was different. This Clyde was going to make something of himself. This Clyde was going to change, for Emma. “Well, fuck you very much for the offer, Frankie, but I’m going to have to disrespectfully decline. You see, I love Emma and, sooner or later, I think she’s gonna love me, too. But either way, I’m done being your lap dog. I’m done helping you get away with murder. I’m finished with this life.” Frankie didn’t like this. Retorted almost with a pause between our sentences. “I decide when you’re done, you miserable fuck! I made you who you are! And rest assured, I know where you live. I’m gonna bring hell down on your scrawny ass. Do you hear me?” I chuckled. “Sure thing, Frankie, but here’s the kicker. You know where I work, but not where I live. I’ve got a place in town that I use. And you know what’s even better? I always do research on my clients, so you had better sleep with one eye open tonight, Frankie, because I’m coming for ya.” Frankie laughed, but I could hear his resolve beginning to fade. “What’re you going to do, Clyde? My boys will tear you to shreds!” “Your boys won’t ever see me coming, Frankie. I’ve got enough loot that I’ve collected from bodies to start my personal World War Three, which I just might do. But here’s the bottom line, Frankie: I’m going to find you. I’m going to kill you, and then? I’m going to eat you.” Frankie didn’t respond, and I didn’t give him time to. I slammed the phone shut and ran out to join Emma by the piece of junk I had ridden here in. I felt a warm sense of satisfaction as I climbed into the car. Emma was sitting in the passenger seat, nervously playing with her hands. “Are they in my apartment?” she asked. I looked over, hurt by the sad and tear-stained expression on her face. “Listen, I’m going to take you somewhere safe, then I’m gonna make sure that Frankie never bothers you again.” I reached over and grasped her hand to stop her nervous playing. She let her fingers into mine, which I didn’t expect. I knew full well that she was probably just allowing me to get close to her only because I was the last thing she had in this world, now that her brother was gone. Not to mention, I was promising her safety and refuge. She looked over at me again.

“How did you meet my brother, again?” she asked. I pulled the car into drive and smiled at her. “At work,” I replied, sending the car down the road towards my apartment. When we reached the apartment, I let Emma inside. The interior was fancy, to say the least. It was an expensive rent check every month, but right about now I was glad that I had it. “How do you afford this on the pay you and my brother make?” she asked, exploring the lush interior of the apartment. “I have some side jobs, just odds and ends that bring in extra income. Listen, why don’t you lie down? I need to get some stuff together and go, but I’ll be back later.” Emma had massive red blotches around her eyes from all the crying. She nodded groggily and collapsed onto the couch in my living room. I wasted no time in running to the bedroom where a closetsized safe was placed on the far side of the room. I ran to it, fumbling to spin the dial to the correct combination. I pulled out all the weapons I had procured over the years – some from would-be assassins, others from street thugs. I found an assortment that was to my liking, consisting of two silenced pistols and a twelve gauge shotgun for the big finale. I had to make certain that I didn’t break my rules, though, and so, I also grabbed a modest steak knife from the kitchen for Frankie. It was the same type of knife that Susan used on her show. Once I had everything together, I brought the care package out to the living room where Emma had fallen fast asleep on the couch. I went into the kitchen and grabbed a pair of rubber gloves to ensure that no fingerprints would be found on the crime scene. Before leaving the apartment, I placed a blanket from the closet over Emma. It was my grandmother’s blanket, given to me by my mamma when I left the house so that I would be warm no matter where I went. I grabbed the duffel bag I had packed everything into and climbed into my car. Upon arriving at the entrance to Frankie’s lovely villa overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, I saw that he had guards stationed at the gate and around the perimeter of the house. The whole place was lit up like a Christmas tree. The faded orange color of the house’s exterior was like a glowing sunset in the night. I pulled the silenced pistols out of my duffel bag and began examining them. I had never fired a gun before, but I had played a lot of video games as a kid. I brought the bag with me and moved up the hill to the iron bars surrounding Frankie’s place. One of the guards was dozing off at his post. I watched as his head began to wobble like a bobble head. I raised the pistol and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. I looked down and saw that the safety was still on. This may end in disaster, just so you know. I silenced the thought as I brought the now-live pistol to eye level again. With another pull of the trigger, a soft thud echoed through the air, and I watched as the guard collapsed onto the ground. I tossed my duffel bag through the bars and squeezed through into the perimeter of the house. I moved through the shadows, silently dropping each of the guards like clockwork. It was true what they say, that killing gets easier the more you do it. I wasn’t thinking about the lives of these men, though, and I didn’t feel any remorse as I took each of their pathetic lives. In fact, I felt quite the opposite. It gave me a rush. After the outside patrol was eliminated, I walked right up to the front door and laid down the duffel bag. I pulled the twelve gauge out of the darkness and checked to see that the loader was filled to the brim with beautiful crimson shells. I calmly reached down and rang the doorbell, pausing to check and see that the safety was off. The beautiful painted doors swung open, revealing the confused face of one of Frankie’s lackeys. I smiled.

“Hello, there!” I pulled the trigger just as he went for his gun. The barrel exploded and sent a crackling gunshot through the foyer of the house. The lackey exploded in a thick mist of blood as he sailed backwards, sliding across the glistening tile floor and stopping just short of the intricate staircase that wound its way up into the second floor of the house. Frankie knew I was here now, which is exactly what I wanted. “Oh, Frankie, come out to play!” I shouted, satisfied at how my voice echoed through the cavernous foyer. I saw a group of three henchmen burst out from the doors on the far side of the room between the staircases. They all raised their guns to fire, but I beat them to the draw with another crackling shot from my shotgun. They flew back into the room they came from, breaking down the door with the force of their own weight. I wasted no time in mounting the staircase, heading up towards the bedrooms. More of Frankie’s men emerged from the numerous doors, only to be obliterated by a shotgun blast. I stopped at the last door, which seemed to be the most ornate of the entire floor of bedrooms. I kicked open the door, just like Frankie would, and saw Frankie and his wife huddled against the back wall of the bedroom, in front of a massive window. Frankie was holding his wife against him while playing with his Desert Eagle in his other hand. He wife was whimpering like a scared dog and Frankie, although trying to hold his tough guy face, was starting to crack. “So, here we are, Clyde. Business partners to mortal enemies in sixty seconds flat. I hope she’s worth it.” I cocked the shotgun, sending an empty shell sailing out of the chamber as another slid in. “She’s worth it, Frankie.” I said, touching the trigger with my index finger. Frankie chuckled, looking down at his gun. “So, I suppose one of us is gonna have to make a move, huh, Clyde?” I nodded. Frankie smiled again and looked to his wife. “Or maybe you could just kill him for me, huh, sweetheart?” The wife nodded and pulled a small caliber pistol out of her pantyhose. As she turned to face me, Frankie stepped back to watch the show. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to end the way he intended. I stepped forward and fired the gun, sending Frankie’s one and only sailing through the bedroom window and on an express elevator straight to hell. Frankie watched as she descended and turned back to face me. “I’ll fucking kill you!” he screamed, raising the famous Desert Eagle. I dropped the shotgun and ran forward, ducking under his gunshots as I brandished the steak knife I had brought. I plunged the knife into his gut, shoving it upward as I stood up to face him. He dropped his gun and screamed in pain as I twisted the knife around. I saw his eyes look over to me, as his warm blood began to flow down my arms. I made eye contact with him and smiled. “Bon appetite, mother fucker!” I shouted, shoving the knife deeper into his gut. Frankie let out one last gurgle before he collapsed onto the ground. The news played off the whole event as if it were some sort of gang war gone horribly wrong. They never did find Frankie’s body, though. Emma decided to stay with me for a while. I had convinced her she had to lay low. A few nights after the shootout, I decided to make her dinner. She sat excitedly at the table, lit only by candlelight, as I brought out the night’s main course. It was a beautiful slab of meat that had been marinating in a special Mexican-style sauce for the past 24 hours. I placed it onto the table and cut her a slice before cutting one for myself. I sat down and waited for her to take a bite. She moaned just like Susan on the Food Network. “This is fantastic, Clyde! Are you sure you weren’t a cook in some past life?”

I laughed. “No, no, I’ve just had a lot of practice with meat.” I took a bite of the meat. It was tender, juicy, and utterly perfect. Life was looking up. Emma seemed to enjoy my company, and I had enough money to support us both, if need be, until I found a new job. I suppose revenge is a dish best served cold, but I’d rather marinate it and cook it on 400 degrees for six hours before dining. You know, for all the shit you put me and Emma through, Frankie, you don’t taste half bad!

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