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Kobe (Excerpt)

Kobe

An Excerpt

By Christopher S. McLoughlin

 

Soapbox Publishing Retains all rights to Kobe

© Copyright 2016

All rights reserved under international and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. With the exception of brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without publishers consent.

Shakespir Copy – 1-59408-273-X

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I’ve not been so wrapped up in the fate of a township since I read Stephen King’s IT. Chris McLoughlin’s tale of addiction, twisted relationships, misplaced duty and corruption is almost as terrifying as the multiple, supernatural horrors that lie beneath the festering facade of humanity known as Kobe.

-Tom Adams,

Author of Psychonaut and Defiled Earth.

Kobe is a wonderfully gruesome tale with a diverse cast of intriguing characters that Chris masterfully interweaves creating a town where the moral boundary is blurred.

-Caleb Campbell

Author of the upcoming bestseller Nefarious Zoo

For Tiffany McLoughlin,

Without you, none of this would be possible.

Chapter I

28 seconds Behind the Badge

As told by Sherriff Judd

It ain’t easy struttin’ with a six shooter in Kobe. To be a sheriff, you gotta make tough decisions every second. Those decisions could be to kill, to kick in a door with no clue what’s behind it.

You can’t bend or break.

Either pull the trigger or put the cuffs on ‘em. It’s as simple as that.

Yessir, killing ain’t just about strippin’ a soul from its skin, it’s about keepin’ yours secure.

First time I killed was for my wife. I was young and fulla baby batter back then. I didn’t know what I was doing, especially about releasing another fella’s spirit.

The second time I killed I was a rookie cop in the fall of ninety-three. My ol’ man was the sheriff all them years ago. He’d seen the worst of the worst, well, for a podunk town like Kobe.

I didn’t go patrolling with him much. Pops felt it compromised the situation. ‘Feelings had to stay in the heart and outta the head,’ he used to say, but I rode with him that night.

Only two other officers were on shift, Travis, and McGrady, and they were out grabbin’ a pizza. Kobe had less than half the population it does now back in ninety-three, and a fraction of the police force. Hell, we didn’t need it. So instead of having about twenty officers, it was just dad and me runnin’ the show.

There was this asshole drunk, Clint, that worked at the tire factory. A real piece of work, I tell ya. He’d go to the Watering Hole on payday, or whenever he could scrounge up drinkin’ money. Sometimes he’d put his hands on a broad, or start a fight. We were used to picking this prick up for acting a fool.

We got the word Clint lost his shit at the bar, there was lots of cussin’ and screamin’ in the background when dispatch took the call.

The first thing I saw was the bartender. Shit, that girl couldn’t have been more than twenty-four. She looked like a crocodile got a hold of her. Half her goddamn neck was missin’, but it wasn’t a knife that cut her open, her throat looked like a candy bar with a bite chewed out.

She was shiverin’ and shakin’, mouth fulla vomit or god knows what.

I radioed for the ambulance, but it didn’t matter if the squad took ten seconds or twenty minutes. She was on her way to serve Bloody Mary’s to Jesus by then.

Body parts were scattered from the booths to the dance floor, we totaled four dead from the wreckage. Bloody handprints covered the emergency exit from the lucky bastards who got away.

Bill Schmidt was by the pool tables, the last man standing far as I could see. He was swinging a cue stick at Clint, just tryin’ to get a piece of him.

I saw that son of a bitch Clint grinnin’ with chunks of flesh stuck between his teeth. The bartender’s sexy neck just a floss away from being forgotten.

You could tell he was waitin’ to let loose on Bill. Maybe he got a hold of some crack co-caine or PCP, maybe the devil stretched up from hell and grabbed him by the short and curlies, but that smile, it wasn’t human.

My old man yelled to distract the monster.

Bill Schmidt grasped the opportunity and swung his pool cue as hard as he could. The stick cracked Clint over the head, and the wood separated into splinters.

The blow didn’t even faze him.

Clint wrapped his blood stained hands up in Bill’s brown hair and pulled him toward his snarlin’ lips.

The monster opened wide and wrapped his teeth around Schmidt’s whole ear like it was a donut.

Saliva dripped down Billy’s lobe as fear coated his face. His eyes locked with mine, begging for help, but I froze.

Clint chomped down and stretched the cartilage of Bill’s ear to its full capability.

What spilled out of Bill’s mouth…those screeches. Shit still gives me the willies. It was like a gasp mixed with a bathroom fan on the fritz.

Clint’s head whipped back and forth, I heard the velcro sound of flesh separatin’ flesh, and Bill’s ear ripped clean off. The hollow tube inside his hearing canal was all that remained.

The monster finished his snack and settled his sights on me. His eyes had bright aqua irises surrounded by blood from a busted vessel.

Pure evil.

Dad reacted quickly. He pulled his iron and fired a round into Clint’s chest.

Shoulda split him like a Hollywood marriage, but it didn’t.

Instead, he came straight for us. He jumped at least four feet high. When he soared through the air, it felt like one’ them freeze-frame moments that roll through, you know what’s gonna happen but you’re paralyzed by Father Time.

Clint landed on my old man, snarling and angry.

28 Seconds

I pointed my pistol at him.

26

Clint’s jaw locked onto my Dad’s jugular.

24

He yanked out my old man’s throat.

22

The monster leaned back and chewed through the tendons.

20

A round entered the chamber on my nine millimeter.

18

A hollow-point sliced through the stale air and made direct contact. Half of the demon spawn’s jaw split off and went flying across the room. Teeth scattered all over the floor.

16

I dove into that bastard and knocked him off my dad.

14

I grabbed onto his hair and busted open his nose with the butt of my gun.

12

I squeezed the handle on my gun as tight as I could, and pressed the barrel against his throbbing temple.

10

I pulled the trigger and the bullet cooked Clint’s brains like a T-bone steak.

8

I threw down my gun and went to my dad.

6

I put my arms around my father’s mutilated neck.

4

His last few breaths escaped.

2

I told him I loved him.

0

Just enough time for him to die in my arms.

Chapter II

Junk Food

The tall triangles of Leroy’s mohawk flap vigorously in the wind. His pasty skin oozes sweat despite the chill of the autumn evening. Piercings and tattoos decorate his face like a punk rock Christmas tree.

Leroy stops in front of a corner shop with the words ‘Kool Beans’ etched above a coffee seed wearing shades. Leroy’s nose ring clicks against the frosted glass as he peers inside the cafe.

Gooey snot gurgles in his nostrils, he wipes the boogers on his Social Distortion hoodie.

The desolate street is lit by the luminous glow of streetlights, and the subtle shine of a September crescent moon.

Leroy’s beady eyes glance down the street, left then right. He casually smashes his fist through the window closest to the door handle. An alarm whines as he pushes away shards of glass and reaches in to unlock the door.

His footsteps are quick and quiet as he zigzags behind the front counter. Leroy inserts a screwdriver in the bottom of the cash register and pops it open.

Nothing.

“Shit the bed,” Leroy whispers to himself.

A small steel lockbox underneath the register catches his attention. He kneels down and slides the flathead in the crevice of the safe. Once in place, he stands up, lifts his combat boot high in the air, and stomps on the screwdriver.

The lockbox snaps open and in a matter of moments Leroy has a fist full of cash. His happiness is quickly thwarted as the high beams of a police cruiser shine through the front window.

“This is the Kobe Police Department, come out with your hands up!” Distorted words echo through a bullhorn.

Leroy snarls, shoves the money into his pockets, and runs out the back door. To his dismay, a familiar staple of the small town awaits his arrival.

Sheriff Judd; a tall, stocky, hillbilly in his forties sucks on a lump of tobacco. He points his revolver at Leroy and cocks it. The criminal takes note of the weapon and stops dead in his tracks. He raises his hands and clasps them behind his head.

“Hankerin’ for a cup uh Joe, son?” Judd asks as he holsters his weapon.

Leroy attempts to dash, but Sheriff Judd grabs him by the collar and presses the Junkie’s oily face into the coffee shop’s exterior wall. Drool smears on the bricks as the cop clicks a set of handcuffs around the punk rocker’s wrists.

Judd reaches into his back pocket and puts on a pair of latex gloves.

“Now, you wouldn’t have any sharp objects that might stick me, would ya?”

“Yeah, my dick,” a snicker passes through Leroy’s chapped lips.

“I doubt it. All the shit you pump into your system, that thing ain’t stuck nuttin’ in years,” Judd slowly digs into the perpetrator’s pockets, the cash crinkles in his hands. “Now what’s this here, son?”

“My lunch money,” Leroy spouts off, “my mom forgot to pack me a sandwich.”

“Cute. They’ll like that in lock up.” Sheriff Judd places the greenbacks into a plastic evidence bag. He escorts Leroy through Kool Beans and tosses him into the back of his cruiser.

“Easy there officer, I ain’t no duffle bag,” Leroy situates himself.

“Oh, I’m sorry Mr. Brown, I’ll try and be more careful,” Sheriff Judd gets in the car.

“How’d you know I’d run out the back door?” Leroy Brown asks. “Pretty clever for a fat slab of bacon.”

“You junkies ain’t got much gumption. I ain’t clever, just smarter than you stick pin dolls.”

  • * * * *

Sheriff Judd drives past businesses on the main strip into the residential part of town. The houses scoot across the slightly tinted windows; balconies, garages, clean cut lawns.

“This ain’t the way to the station,” Leroy says with a slight cringe in his voice. The snot runs down his ugly mug and catches in the pockmarks around his mouth.

“You’d know wouldn’t ya?” Judd chuckles. “The two of us have taken that stroll a time or two, ain’t we? Don’t fret your pretty green head, Pumpkin, we’ll be there directly.”

Street lights freckle the road as they pass a route twenty-three sign. Gravel spins underneath the tires as the cruiser enters a driveway. The predator and the victim drive until the main road is just a memory.

Judd stops by a wooden shack, shuts off the engine and exits the cop car. He casually opens the back door and retrieves Leroy from the vehicle.

“Take me to jail or let me go. I got rights!” Leroy spits in Sheriff Judd’s face.

“Keep sweet talkin’ me princess.” Judd laughs deeply from his chest and wipes the thick, bubbly mucus from his cheek.

The Sheriff cracks Leroy over the head with his nightstick. The green haired porcupine stumbles and falls. Blood spills from his mouth as his eyes flicker like old cafeteria lights. When he’s down, Judd whacks him in the dick with the black club.

“Now you really are a princess, ain’t cha.” Judd pokes him in the guts. “I don’t get to do this often, but when I do, I love pickin’ you pricks out. Like veal from cages. Weak. Fragile. You junkies need a crutch to walk a mile.”

Judd drags Leroy’s body into the shack. Inside, an array of dead pigs, cows, and deer, swing from meat hooks. Zed, a short skinny man with glasses, slices up a freshly smoked pig and throws the meat into a foil pan.

“Hey Judd, whatcha got there?” Zed shouts as he adjusts his bifocals. His greasy silver hair sticks to the side of his head with sweat.

Judd drops his captive on to the wooden floor boards near the entrance, bringing him back to consciousness.

“My, my, if it ain’t Leroy Brown,” Zed wipes his bloody hands on his jeans.

“I caught this sad excuse for a criminal breakin’ into Kool Beans,” Judd says.

Zed walks over to meet the prisoner. “He used to work as a cook at the Barbeque Pitt.” The short skinny man bends down near the junkie’s face. “Ain’t that right Leroy? You use to take the trash out for me and wash dishes, ain’t even smart enough to boil water.”

“Appears it’s gonna be a homecoming for ya Leroy,” Judd tells the perpetrator. “Strip down to your spankies, boy.”

Leroy rolls over and clutches his bruised, broken, cock. The tears and whimpers squeak out of him.

“The fuck?” Leroy spits out the words as slobber dangles on the edge of his lips. “I always…” Snot mixed with bits of dried blood hangs from his nose ring. “Knew you was weird, Zed…” he lifts his head for a split second and drops it down on the cedar floor, “but I never thought you was a faggot.”

Zed picks up a pork chop and slaps Leroy in the face, “this ain’t got nuttin’ to do with pleasure boy, this has to do with bidness. Nobody here, probably nobody nowhere, wants to fuck that slimy ass of yours. Now yer either gonna strip down to your panties, or Judd’s gonna pistol whip the ugly off ya.”

‘How’m I s’posed to take off my clothes with my hands cuffed?” Leroy whines.

“You sound like such a pussy!” Zed says, “ya get busted in the balls one time and ya act like yer whole world’s gonna stop spinnin’.”

Judd un-cuffs the junkie, “now strip.”

Leroy unbuckles his belt and peels off his grimy jeans, leaving dark blue stains on his legs. His underwear reveals the shape of his busted walnuts.

“Whatcha gonna do to me Zed? I ain’t never stole from you,” Leroy whimpers.

“Mighta not stole from me,” Zed shackles Leroy’s feet to the tile floor, “but you stole from folks I know, everything you poisoned yourself with came from someone else’s pocket,” Zed reverts his attention to his brother, “ready hoss?” Zed asks as he grabs Leroy underneath his skinny ribs.

Judd helps his brother lift their victim off the ground.

“Now you might feel a slight sting,” Judd tells the punk rocker.

The men position Leroy just right, and lower him onto a sharp, sterilized, meat hook.

“Je-suss!!!” the flesh stretches, than tears to conform to the steel, “fucking!” Leroy holds his breath as his jaw bulges with tension, “Christ!”

He yelps in pain and kicks his legs vigorously. Morsels of vomit expel from his mouth.

Zed raises a calm hand and pats Leroy’s shoulder, “simmer down now. All that kicking and screaming ain’t gonna help you none,” Zed spits brown tobacco juice into a pail, “you was a piece of shit cook, boy, you know that? Always wandering off to get high with your stupid friends.”

“I…I’m…s…sorry,” Leroy’s body twitches and trembles.

“I don’t give half a horse fuck about what you did two years ago, but I care about what you’ve been doing lately,” Zed says,” I can’t have any drugs in your system. It’ll fuck up the recipe.”

“You ‘bout done with me, boss?” Judd asks, “I gotta get back to fighting crime before someone notices I ain’t patrollin’.”

“You’re good, I can handle this junkie from here.”

“See ya hoss,” Sherriff Judd waves as he walks out the smoke shack door.

“Just us now,” Zed tells his prey as he walks around the workshop.

Metal and plastic shakers full of seasoning fill the shelves. The floor underneath the hooks is tile, with a drain for easy cleanup. The rest of the shed is cedar and designed to work like a sauna, allowing toxins to sweat out as the body creates a fever state.

“How’re ya feelin’?” Zed asks his victim.

“It… it hurts… really… bad.” Leroy shivers.

“You’ll get used to that hook holding you up. Wanna beer?”

Zed walks into the refrigerator and grabs two light lagers. He cracks one of the cans open and feeds it to his victim, some of it goes into Leroy’s mouth while the rest dribbles through the stubble on his chin. Zed opens the other beer and chugs it down.

“It takes the edge off,” Zed laughs to himself, “not really. It takes more than a sip of suds to ease your fried out mind. You’re in the shittiest situation you’ve ever been in. Luckily, this is the last shitty situation you’ll ever be in.”

“Why?” Leroy belts out. Just a painful scream disguised as a three letter word.

“Leroy, you are a complete piece uh shit. You terrorize the neighborhood. Break into cars. Steal purses. You need to provide for yerself, have a job.”

Speechless, the only thing that comes out of Leroy’s mouth is slobber mixed with strands of pink puke.

“You never worked a day in your life,” Zed says, “complete lack of determination. Lack of discipline. You got no redeeming characteristics at all. Is that enough to kill you?” Zed shakes his head. “You bein’ a dirty, doped up fuckhead ain’t enough for me to kill ya,” he smiles, “but a legendary BBQ recipe is. And you’re…” Zed pokes Leroy’s nose, “the secret ingredient.”

Zed opens a cabinet that displays knives, bone saws, and other butchering tools.

“It’s a long process,” the short, skinny man chooses an old-fashioned straight razor, “first a victim’s brought back to the smokehouse in good condition. Bruising the body hurts the meat, and boy, you got a crack in your head the size of the liberty bell. We gotta let that sucker heal.”

Zed makes small incisions in Leroy’s stomach and thighs. The spike-haired victim sucks air through his teeth and clenches up his muscles.

“Next, the meat’s injected with flavors and salt water solution. Garlic, onions, carrots, celery, almost like a marinade. As well as a good blood thinner. Well at the beginning. After the toxins escape your liver, we let it thicken back up.

That blood keeps the meat moist later on. That’s one reason I like to make these little cuts, to see how fast you bleed out and how much I gotta tweak it.

“I’ll keep you alive until your skin grows around that there hook, makin’ it a part of you. That’s usually enough time to get all the drugs outta yer system.

“After I get ya pumped fulla nutrients and clean out the drugs, I slice open your throat and bleed ya like a pig. After that, we smoke you with hickory and just a bit of maple wood.”

“I’m gonna die like a pig?” Leroy gurgles.

“Keep cryin’ and you’ll die like a bitch.” Zed pierces Leroy’s abdomen with a syringe full of marinade and presses the plunger to circulate his concoction into the meat.

“Oh he’s bad, bad, Leroy Brown, baddest man in the whole damn town, meaner than ol’ King Kong, gettin’ smoked like a Kobe hog.”

  • * * * *

Austin, a muscular line cook with ear length sandy blonde hair, sits in a booth nursing an ice cold draft. The beer is amber in color, with hints of pumpkin and spice. Kobe’s very own Octoberfest brew. In front of him is a big, beautiful, BBQ sandwich.

Krystal, a tan twenty-two year old waitress, with her brown hair in a ponytail, walks up to the table. “How’s the food sir?” She smiles brightly accentuating her dimples.

Austin takes a huge bite of his Grinder. “Awesome,” he says, “almost like I made it myself.”

Krystal rolls her hazel eyes, “you just add the sauce and shred it,” her white teeth peak out from her plush lips, “your Uncle Zed does the real work.”

“I would cook it too if he’d ever let me in that damn smokehouse.”

“He will someday,” Krystal rubs Austin’s head vigorously, making a mess of his pretty golden hair, “I’m sure he has his reasons.”

“I guess so,” Austin chomps into the grinder, “you almost off?”

“I’m finishing my outs now, I only have one customer left, and he better tip well.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, or else he’s not coming over later,” Krystal gives a subtle wink.

“You seen Katie?” Austin asks with BBQ sauce dripping down his chin.

“Nope,” Krystal smoothes a loose strand of hair behind her ear, “she hasn’t shown up for her shifts the past couple days, Jess and I stopped by her apartment last night, but she wasn’t home.”

“Hope she’s okay.”

“She’ll turn up. Jessica’s been blasting about it all over Twitter and Facebook, I’m sure somebody’ll let us know where she is.” Krystal gives him a quick peck on the cheek and walks into the kitchen.

Chapter III

Breezeblocks

As told by Curt

Her eyes looked like glass this morning, and her cheeks were puffy and blue. Hard to believe it was only a couple months ago she waltzed into my life.

I’ve always loved the BBQ Pitt, even before it became famous. The rib meat falls right off the bone, the brisket melts in your mouth, and the pulled pork can make a grown man cry tears of joy.

The Pitt has a smokehouse, and I swear any animal that breathes or breeds in Kobe might end up in there.

Zed, the proprietor of the Pitt hired my beautiful Emmaline to be a waitress because she was smart and didn’t take any shit. The fact her ass was hot enough to melt butter didn’t hurt her cause.

Zed knows a business can thrive simply by keeping the community happy. He gave Grinder sandwiches to the Kobe High football team and played cards with the Mayor. He could easily go into politics, but getting his hands dirty in pulled pork is better than getting them dirty in bullshit. At least, that’s what he tells everyone.

Emmaline greeted me with a smile and asked for my order. I could see the crystals dancing in her eyes. Specks of teal mingling inside a navy blue circle. The fading freckles next to her nose were cute, however they were a reminder that the long days of summer were coming to a close.

“I’ll have a margarita,” my words resonated in her small round ears. At least, I hope they did.

“We’ve been getting a lot of those tonight.”

“New here?” I asked.

“That noticeable, huh?” Her strawberry blonde curls bounced ever so slightly as she chuckled.

“Nah, I just come here a lot and I’ve never seen you. A few years ago a Mexican joint popped up. I wouldn’t say a bad word about their burritos, chalupas, or the complimentary chips and salsa, but they can’t make a margarita like the Pitt. I’ve been to a lot of different bars, resorts, and damn near every Mexican restaurant in Columbus, but none of them come close.”

“Oh, yeah?”

The smile on her face prepared me for a retort.

“What about Tres Amigos?” she asked, with a wide grin.

“Testing me huh? Do you mean Tres Amigos on Twenty-Three or the one in Grove City?” I asked.

“Twenty-three,” she said. “It’s closer and no offense, but I’d rather Mexican’s cook my Mexican food. Not that anything’s wrong with Americans, I just think it’s more authentic,” she said.

“You got a point. Tres Amigos goes heavy on the tequila, but they lack in the flavor department. I’m surprised Zed didn’t make you try one yet.”

“He made me the best Bloody Mary I ever had. I was in one night with a couple friends,” Emmaline said, “he covered for the bartender so she could go home to her kid or something. Anyway, he mixed up a Bloody Mary with all sorts of spices and blended it. Then he made each of us a flaming Doctor Pepper. Coolest thing I ever saw.”

“Did he light the fire in his mouth?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer, he does it for pretty girls all the time. I think the man’s gotten laid for making those crazy shots, almost as much as he’s gotten laid for being a rich bachelor.

“He sure did. Then he gave me a job.”

“Right on the spot?”

“Right there in all my drunken glory.” She looked down at her server pad. “Can I get you some wings?” She asked, “Or a Grinder to go with your world famous margarita?”

“Maybe later, I just got off work so the drink’ll do me fine.” I continued to take her in, her subtle scent, those curls. I wanted to talk to her for hours but, at the same time, I couldn’t wait for her to walk away for a different point of view.

I hung back to socialize until it died down to just the regulars. And us. With her mind on business, she never gave up an opportunity to engage me, to make sure I was watching. It’s a dance performed by many but rarely executed with such finesse.

Emmaline wore jeans that hugged around her tightly, but they didn’t show everything. Other girls wore yoga pants and leggings, clothes that reveal ass and titties for tips. Emmaline didn’t have to. Her charm was enough.

Zed rolled his eyes when he saw me help her clean the place after the Pitt closed. He always said the easiest way to get free labor was to put a pretty face next to a heavy workload. Good ‘ol Zed knew the dance even better than I did.

The BBQ Pitt was on the other side of the woods from where I lived. It took less time for me to walk than to drive. After a few nights talking till three or so, Emmaline feigned some interest. She got off early one night before the sun set, so we went out for coffee.

We talked about where I’d been and the life she led. I asked her to come up to my cabin when she dropped me off. She declined, that’s how I knew she was perfect.

I continued to go and see her but slowly left earlier and earlier instead of at last call. And then I stopped going in at all.

She asked Zed and some of the other regulars about me, what I was up to, where I’d been, that sort of thing. It was all part of the game, her chasing me, even for just a friendship. She called my cell phone, shot me a text here and there. I was never rude, never dismissive.

I went into the Pitt for a quick bite to eat and I saw her there, I always memorize their schedules. When performing the dance, I have to be precise. She was excited to see me. We chatted for a bit, and she asked me on a date for that weekend. I informed her I would be out of town visiting a publishing house for a few days, but when I got back she’d be the first to know.

The thing about women is that even the most prudent ones respect patience. If she turns you down and you act like it never happened, she begins to pursue you.

I booked the hotel for my business trip, ordered my plane tickets, and did everything online using a personal credit card, for authorization if the cops got wise. I drove to the airport in my green Honda and bought a parking pass for the weekend. I walked through the airport for a bit. Watching couples greet one another, a beautiful sight indeed. After about an hour I took a cab back to my cabin in the woods.

Emmaline had a reliable car, an old two thousand three Toyota Corolla. At about ten thirty that night, I slid a nail into her back tire. Just enough to start a slow leak.

I casually strolled through the woods to my humble cabin. I wanted to surprise her. The basement in most houses can be so lifeless. I turned mine into a guest room set up for the game, with all the luxuries a beautiful girl like Emmaline could ever desire.

Once I tidied up our future home, I went to look for my damsel in distress. I was driving my silver Dodge Charger, the same car I always drive this time of year, the same car I drove all those years ago when it happened.

She wasn’t far from the Pitt, on a back road, conveniently near my cabin. She was nervous when I pulled up, especially since she had never seen my Charger before, she hadn’t been in Kobe long enough to know my dark side. She was relieved when I appeared at her window.

Emmaline had no way to change the tire and it was awfully dark. I told her I would bring her back in the morning to fix the car. The lie that usually gets stuck in my teeth made it out quite easily this time around.

I opened the passenger door like a gentleman, and she slid onto my heated leather seat.

“Ooh, that’s warm,” Emmaline said with wide eyes.

“I can’t buy a car without them anymore. Where to?”

“Well, it’s late. I should get home. I thought you were out of town.”

“I wanted to be with you this weekend,” I said.

Her familiar laugh sweetly tingled my ear drums. “It’s not even the weekend yet, Curt, It’s only Wednesday.” She fixed her shirt and looked down at her pretty pink fingernails. “What happened? Did they cancel?” Emmaline looked up inquisitively.

“No, they just rescheduled for next month,” I said.

Her brow relaxed as she smiled, her trust, so warm in my hands. She never expected the sting, and certainly not the slumber. The syringe pierced the meat of her thigh. Before she could scream, it was lights out.

  • * * * *

When Emmaline and I woke up naked in her new bed, she asked what happened.

I lied.

I told her we both drank the night away with Zed after the Pitt closed.

“Was I that drunk?” she asked as the peak of her nipple rubbed against my stomach.

“I barely remember cashing out.”

Her eyes half closed, and with a smile stretched across her face like a Cheshire cat, she took my hand and spread out my fingers. She let go and tussled my chest hair. Our bodies intertwined.

“I’m glad we made love,” Emmaline cooed.

Her magical teal eyes broke through the hangover my little potion created.

“I wish I hadn’t blacked out,” she said.

“Would you wish upon a star?” I asked.

She laughed and rubbed her nose against mine. Her smile. So enticing, so perfect. She was careful not to kiss my mouth, a very sweet girl putting me before her morning breath. Her small velvet hands pressed against my chest as she climbed on top of me.

She leaned in millimeters away from my face. The heat of her breath toasted my earlobes. “I don’t think I need a star, do I?”

Her thick, ruby red lips explored the contours of my neck as she positioned herself. Her light red hair smelled like lavender, and her skin was soft and warm. I squeezed and massaged her entire body, learning each sensual spot as we rolled around my guest bed.

We held each other briefly until we both traveled back into dreamland.

When Emmaline woke up the questions flowed out of her mouth. She asked where her phone was. I lied. Where her car was, I lied.

Every question she asked, I gave a fictitious answer. She rolled onto her side and I gave her a shot of slumber solution in her butt cheek.

  • * * * *

The second day she woke up, the pieces started to surface. Of course, she overreacted.

Emmaline asked for a ride home, begged for one phone call. She screamed and hit me until the skin on her knuckles cracked and bled.

All couples fight.

I gave her another dose of medicine and locked Emmaline in her new home.

I walked three miles through the woods and caught a cab to the airport. I paid in cash of course, we’re all under record.

My fake vacation to New York was over. I really do have a book deal, but it hasn’t been finalized, so my alibi can stand, but I will never need one, at least not in Kobe.

The moon and stars were aligned for my ritual. When I arrived home, I found Emmaline clawing at the basement windows. Her pink fingernails jagged with splinters stuck beneath the cuticles.

“Please just let me go,” her voice cracked.

“I can’t,” I shouted, “I love you, Emma.”

“I told you, my name’s Katie! You keep calling me Emmaline! I really like you, I’ll read your books, I’ll make your lunch and pack it with little notes. Please stop. I just want to go home. I’ll still… I’ll still make love to you, I’ll do anything you want, just let me get back to my car.” Her soft sweet voice dissipated into hot gravel, churning in her throat.

I turned the water on in the tub.

“Please don’t go…” I shook my head, “I love you so.”

Her hands pressed against my chest as she stared deeper into my eyes.

“Just break my heart,” I said.

I picked Emmaline up and threw her into the bathtub. The hot water pelted her angelic skin and soaked into her strawberry blonde hair. She choked and swallowed bubbles until her lungs filled up with water.

Then it stopped.

I sat with my back pressed against the cement wall, and it happened. I was able to cry again.

Like the first time.

Her eyes looked like glass this morning. Lifeless. Broken. Katie was Emmaline, was everyone else I’ve murdered. The game is over. Our anniversary will come again, and briefly, I’ll be able to bring back the happiness that was stolen from me.

Chapter IV

What Reagan was Talkin’ ‘Bout

Empty cigarette packs blow in the wind like tumble weeds as the sun rises over the Manor Carryout parking lot. Skaggs paces near the side of the convenience store, careful not to step in front of the window. Loitering is a quick way to get the police called in this part of town. He kneels down, picks up a half smoked cigarette butt and lights up.

A momentary calm.

Like clockwork, as soon as the flame burns down to the filter, the anxiety returns.

Skaggs isn’t difficult to pick out of a crowd. Abscesses hide beneath puss filled pimples and his skinny arms and legs suggest an infomercial level of malnutrition. The look of his dark black hair is wet, greasy, like it was dipped in trash can water and left out in the sun to dry.

He’s the Bayside beauty queen.

  • * * * *

Jaybird pushes the convenience store door open and walks outside. His large aviator sunglasses shield him from the morning sun. Another white man raised and molded in an urban lower class community.

His knuckles are the size of walnuts from the heads he’s had to crack open growing up in Bayside Commons. A checkered past he’s proud to have at his heels.

Jay notices the stench from Skaggs before he sees him. “Goddamnit,” he mutters under his breath.

“What up, Jay?” Skaggs yells, his unique aroma stems from poor dental hygiene, among other factors. The junkie smiles with cracked teeth, exposing rotting enamel around his puffy red gum line. A root canal isn’t on an addict’s priority list, but it could do Skaggs some good with the ladies.

Jaybird looks towards Skaggs but not at him. He hates this piece of shit. Junkies are the reason he got out of the cocaine game in the first place. He just wants some peace. Potheads don’t hassle him at sunrise.

“I ain’t gonna serve you,” Jaybird opens up a pack of Krisp menthol cigarettes. They have a recessed filter, to offer a nice bump of dope in a jiffy. A trick from his younger days when he used to dabble in his own wears. He lights up and walks past Skaggs to a black Escalade.

“What the fuck ya mean you won’t serve me?” Skaggs yells, “I just want some blow,” the addict runs up to the SUV. “You got the best in town, homie.” His lips are cracked in the center from dehydration. Blood and scabbed skin are like junkie lipstick in Bayside. His eyes are mere reminders that a soul used to reside inside, but the dope chased it away.

Jaybird thinks about splitting his head open, swelling up those vacant eyes. What kind of idiot yells about coke in the middle of a parking lot?

“You and Leroy been actin’ a fool lately,” Jaybird says, “breaking into houses, stealing purses, anything you can do to buy dope. We got a social stigma attached to this part of town. I’m tired of you morons feeding fuel to the flame.”

Jaybird opens his car door and scoots in. As soon as the key twists the ignition, the bass thumps so hard pebbles pop up from the parking lot.

“Jay, you’s a fuckin’ dope dealer, man!” Skaggs spits the words out along with little pieces of phlegm.

“First of all,” Jaybird says, “I’m not a drug dealer, at least not some clown on the corner holding weight. If I was, I wouldn’t even sell you a blunt.

“Go ask that fool Billy, he’ll serve anyone. You need to get some scruples. You rob someone I care about, I’ll stick my foot so far up your ass my toes’ll tickle your tonsils.”

  • * * * *

Curt drains the water from the bathtub. Katie’s face is still beautiful even though it’s a bit blue. Her veins are like a roadmap under pasty flesh.

Her expelled bodily fluids wash into the sewer as Curt scrubs her clean, careful not to tear her fragile flesh. He dries his dead lover with a towel and begins to brush her tangled, yellowish-red hair.

  • * * * *

Skaggs, lost and shaky, shuffles behind the Manor carryout. His skinny frame squeezes through a hole in a chain link fence. On the other side is Bayside Apartments. The ghetto of Kobe. It isn’t a third world country or the projects in Detroit, but it’s the worst area in this small town.

Skaggs trudges through the tall grass until he reaches familiar territory, Apartment building F. Where he lives, but more importantly, where he can score dope.

The burgundy carpet squishes underneath Skaggs’ worn out running shoes. The stink of stale beer and vomit overpower the average red-blooded American. Not Skaggs. He’s seen and smelled it all.

He stops in front of apartment 1408. Although a bit apprehensive, he knocks.

No answer.

He pounds louder until he hears the sound of shuffling feet, then cranes his neck and leans his ear against the door.

“Who the fuck?” a gruff voice calls out.

“What up, Billy? It’s Skaggs.”

“Goddamnit! It’s seven o’clock in the fuckin’ mornin’!”

“You’re already up now.” Skaggs smirks in the hallway.

Billy, a mass of high school muscle underneath a thin layer of flab, opens the door. “Da fuck?” Billy asks in between yawns.

“I need some shit, man,” Skaggs says.

“Whatcha need?” Billy’s throat scratches the words out.

“Some of that Bobby Brown, brotha.”

“You’re way too white, and it’s way too early for you to talk like that.” Billy staggers to his couch. He picks up a blanket and covers his half naked body.

Skaggs follows him in and shuts the door. Beer bottles, bongs, and empty pizza boxes litter the dealer’s apartment.

“So can you do anything for me?” Skaggs puts his hands in his pockets and rocks back and forth on his heels.

“I only have a little bit of heroin, and that’s my personal stash. I got some Xanax, a couple Adderall,” Billy pulls out a cigar box looking through his leftovers from a busy Saturday night. “I got some loud, I always got that.”

“I need heroin, and maybe some coke if you got it.” Skaggs says.

“You and Leroy always speedballin’. Shit’s gonna blow up your heart one day. Why don’t you just smoke? I’ll give you a blunt of Kush for like ten. I got the best weed in the building.”

“No coke?”

“Motherfucker. It’s Sunday morning,” Billy puts the cigar box on his coffee table, “The goddamn day ain’t even started yet. I sold out of party drugs by like, three am. No molly, no acid, no shrooms, no coke.” Billy takes a cigarette out of a pack and lights it up.

“Mind if I get a shot?” Skaggs pleads.

“I just told you, I only got personal. I never want to be in that bind where I’m starting to quiver like some… junkie.” He ashes his cigarette and lies back into his couch. A layer of fat squeezes over his six-pack.

“Just one shot?” He begs for it like a starving puppy.

  • * * * *

Zed monitors the gauges on Leroy Brown.

‘As an upholder of the law, I see more evil go unpunished than I see good prevail’.

That’s what big brother Judd preaches. The government gives people trials. Innocent until proven different. Bullshit. Leroy’s a menace with more than just a criminal mindset, he’s a sick puppy.

The type of guy you have to watch around your kids. There isn’t much you can do with a lowlife like Leroy, except make him into award winning BBQ.

Leroy’s sweat and blood drip down the drain, along with shit and piss through catheters, both rectal and urinary. It makes it easier for clean up.

Zed adjusts the feeding tube lodged down Leroy’s narrow throat.

The shack is only a quarter mile from the Pitt. The restaurant was built on the interstate for obvious reasons, and the smoke shack was the original house on the property. Zed built a much larger home when the restaurant took off.

Over the years, to help transport the protein, Zed built a tunnel from the shack to the Pitt. Zed loads up a cart with eight foil pans of ribs and makes his way through the tunnel.

  • * * * *

Billy shifts his jaw to the side, he wants to knock a couple of those rotten teeth out of Skaggs’ melon for waking him up at the crack of dawn. However, the businessman in him understands that Skaggs gives him hundreds of dollars a week.

Double taxed.

No one else in the Bay will serve the ugly freak, so Billy reaps the rewards. He leans back on the couch and examines the situation. He knows this fool, sure, but you should never trust a junkie. He grabs a desert eagle from behind the couch cushions. Just in case. “Whatever man,” Billy puts the gun on his knee in plain sight, “it’ll be twenty dollars.”

“For one hit?” Skaggs’ eyes stretch open.

“The economy crashes until at least two pm. I’ll let you know as soon as I get supplied, but if you want a hit, I’ll sell you one for twenty bucks. Then you get the fuck out and let me sleep. Take it or leave it, but hurry up so I can go back to bed.”

“I’ll take it.” Skaggs pulls a twenty out of his sock. “You seen Leroy?”

Billy looks at Skaggs in disgust. “Yo. You better lay that cash on the table, you stank smellin’ mutha-fucka! I ain’t takin’ no sock money from you, at least not hand to hand, I’ll wipe that shit off after it airs out.”

“Fine dude, I’ll put it on the table.” Skaggs does as he’s told. “Anyway, Leroy went out on a run to get some cash, and never came back. I been watching round and I know people thought he was an asshole, but I don’t think anyone ‘round here woulda clapped him. I think Judd killed him, man.”

Billy doubles over with laughter.

“Judd killed Leroy? Sure man, cause a junkie would never steal from another junkie, right?”

“Leroy wasn’t like that.” Skaggs shakes his head. “It’s possible Judd took him out to the city limits and put one in the back of his skull. Cops’re crooked, I’m just sayin’ it’s possible.”

“Yeah it’s possible,” Billy shrugs, “it’s also possible your mom’s cunt smells like cool ranch Doritos, but I don’t put my nose in other people’s bidness.” Billy puts a tiny amount of dope into a crack sack and hands it to Skaggs.

“Mind if I shoot up here?” Skaggs asks.

“You can’t wait ten minutes to get upstairs to your apartment?”

Skaggs looks down at the floor.

“Whatever man, at least take yer nasty ass to the bathroom.”

  • * * * *

Once he’s in the bathroom with the door locked, Skaggs reaches inside the bottom pocket of his cargo shorts. He retrieves a small case with a zipper on the side. Inside the case are his essential tools for survival, his narcotic cooking equipment. He sets up the works on the bathroom sink and ties off. The sweet smell of melting heroin soothes his weary mind, but not as much as the warmth crawling through his body after he mainlines.

Once the ritual is complete, Skaggs staggers through the hallway back to his dealer’s living room.

“You gonna be good for the rest of the day?” Billy asks.

“I’ll stop by at like three, but I ain’t too sure if I’ll be able to hold out for that long,” Skaggs answers with a frog in his throat.

The sour truth swells inside of him. He knows he isn’t much. Not even worth the twenty bucks he stole from his mom’s purse.

The smack swims through his veins and attaches itself to his heart, his mind, his inner child. It takes more and more of the dope to make him whole. Hell, he wasn’t whole to start with, but the heroin never made fun of him. It never beat him up in school. Never laughed at him for having bad skin or greasy hair.

When you’re addicted to smack all you think about is your next fix. You’re never really sad, just temporarily sober. Skaggs snaps out of it and makes his way to Billy’s front door.

“You know what’s real cheap and gets you goin’ pretty good?” Billy stands and stretches, leaving his pistol in Skagg’s peripheral vision. “Bath salts. They sell ‘em at the Manor.”

“Don’t that shit make you go crazy?” Skaggs asks.

“Doesn’t everything? I mean, if it’s too strong, just mix it with a couple pills. Maybe a few xanax. I got purple footballs and full bars.”

“Gimmee two bars too, I guess.”

Billy smiles. A drug dealer doing what temporarily boosts America’s economy, his civic duty.

Chapter V

Sunday Morning Blues

Skaggs stands at the counter of the Manor Carryout, the little ghetto convenience store in the heart of Bayside Commons. He stares at a yellow box of bath salts with the label ‘Speed Racer’ on the front.

“These fuck me up?” Skaggs asks Akmed, the dark skinned clerk behind the counter.

“They are not for human consumption. You want to buy them?” Akmed looks past Skaggs, watching customers peruse his products. Thievery is common in this part of town, some business proprietors let it slide, but Skaggs knows the clerk’s reputation for pulling a shotgun on shoplifters.

“You ever try ‘em?” Skaggs asks as the line behind him grows.

“I don’t do drugs,” Akmed says in a thick African accent.

“Then why do you sell ‘em?”

“Same reason I sell tampons.”

“What?” Skaggs stares at the agitated clerk, puzzled, of course in his given state of expanded equilibrium everything is puzzling.

“I don’t want to argue my station in life. Either buy them or get out.”

“You can’t talk to me like that, I’m the customer!” Skaggs pounds his hand on the counter.

“I’ve poured my heart and soul into this business to keep it running,” Akmed says, “The day a doped up scab shuts me down, I’ll pack my bags and move back to Africa.” Akmed slides his hand underneath the counter.

“I’ll buy them, ok?” Skaggs nervously throws a ten spot on the counter.

Akmed hands him the box of bath salts, smiling, “thank you for shopping at Manor Carryout, come again.”

  • * * * *

Quinn’s skinny legs slap overgrown weeds as he walks through the Bayside apartment complex, the morning dew sticks to his baggy jeans. A cell phone firmly presses against his ear. “Yeah Rob, I can give you an eighth for forty-five. I’m gonna finish my math homework and I’ll swing by. Don’t tell anyone else I’m dropping the price for you, it’ll hurt business.”

Quinn crosses into a mulched area around a hazardous playground. Beer and liquor bottles litter the area. Condoms are tossed haphazardly underneath a plastic slide with forgotten children floating around inside.

He walks by a group of gangsters passing around a blunt. They stare at him for a moment. He puts his head down and picks up the pace. Once in the clear, he continues his conversation.

“Naw I got it from Jaybird. I don’t buy shit from Skaggs anymore he’s been acting sketchy as fuck. Did you hear his theory on your dad killing Leroy?” Quinn crosses a parking lot. “Twisted, right? He’s been doing all kinds of drugs lately. Like not weed and pills, but fucking heroin, meth. Shit like that.”

Quinn strolls past an elderly couple and waves.

“My mom’s gonna kick him out soon. I don’t know if he’s got anywhere to go, no one in the Bay wants to take care of him.” Quinn climbs a set of stairs into building F. The smell of dollar store carpet cleaner fills the air.

“I don’t even want to look at him, let alone have him sleep in my house. Did I tell you he stole half my script of Adderall? Fuckin’ prick. Anyway, I’ll call when I get done with my homework dude, see ya.”

Quinn unlocks the door to see his mom still asleep on the couch with half a beer next to her. Sunday morning blues. He eases the door shut and sneaks down the hallway to his room.

The smell of weed permeates the air as Quinn pulls out a twenty-eight-gram treasure from his pocket. He puts it up to his nose and inhales the exotic aroma.

Quinn removes a digital scale from a cigar box and sits it on the dresser. He presses the power button and places a plastic cup on the scale. Quinn presses tare and the weight goes from fifteen grams to zero. Crystals fall like snow from the bright green nuggets when Quinn drops them into the cup.

Twenty-eight point six, a little over an ounce.

Smoking for free is the code of most pot dealers. The most important rule by far is don’t carry a zip without a weapon. Bullets don’t fly often, but those pistols in everyone’s backpacks aren’t for target practice. It’s the Wild West in Bayside.

Quinn carries a taser.

He used it once on the way home from school. A couple guys started pushing him. When one of the goons tried to take his book bag, Quinn hit him with some electroshock therapy. The electricity surged through the thug, and the asshole shit his pants. The other guy ran like a little bitch.

That’s Bayside, the gated ghetto. Thugs lurk around the corners to harass helpless teenagers, scumbags, and addicts alike. A mom with two jobs generally gets a pass, mostly because they’re the strongest people in the neighborhood. Afraid to lose their hard earned money or pride.

Quinn worked his way up from the bottom of the drug dealing food chain, paying twenty bucks for a gram. Once he got in good with some of the stoners around the building he started buying it from Billy.

Jaybird used to stop by Billy’s place from time to time, collecting money. Whenever he came around he was always friendly to Quinn, and anyone else that was there. He’d usually spark up a blunt and let it pass around the room before he left. A very generous man, not pushy, he’d just come, get his money and leave.

One day, Jaybird pulled Quinn aside and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse; two hundred bucks an ounce.

Jaybird grows the majority of his weed and has different pay scales for each. The strain he sells Quinn is his pride and joy, Kobe Kush. No other member of the drug dealing community can get it for less than three, not even Roc or Billy.

Quinn keeps his lips sealed tight about the bargain. He just tells everyone it costs four hundred an ounce, well everyone except Rob and Austin.

It isn’t a mystery Quinn has a shitty life. A junkie for a brother, a drunk for a mother, and a ghost for a father, but he can make it out as long as a few dollars slide into his hands. Jaybird’s main buisness is real estate and he says as soon as Quinn can move six pounds he’ll get him set up with a home.

Not just a trap house, but an honest to goodness home outside of the Bay, with no piss stains on the carpets or bums in the courtyard.

  • * * * *

Music pulses through the beige apartment wall. Skaggs sniffs a line off a small square mirror, the last in a four lane drive. He backs away, tilts his head north, and snorts back the drain letting the mixture drip down his throat.

His cheeks clench.

His teeth grind.

His abdominal muscles tighten.

After his body begins to let loose, Skaggs dumps bath salts into a mortar and pestle. The white crystals bounce around inside the bowl. He squishes the speed into dust relatively quickly. He adds five Adderall tablets, five Ambien pills, a Xanax bar, and two Percocet twenties in with the store bought Methylone. He crushes the ingredients until they blend into one heavenly powder.

  • * * * *

Tina wakes up on her worn out sofa. Music from her idiot son’s room pounds in her brain. Skaggs, the boy who broke her heart, the child who doesn’t care that she works fourteen hour shifts to pay for his thievery. The son she carried in her womb for nine months and ten days.

“Turn that shit down!” Tina rolls off the couch and sort of spins to the bathroom, it’s not a walk, but she isn’t really falling either. It’s the hung-over shimmy.

Inside the bathroom, she turns on the shower in preparation for another day.

  • * * * *

Skaggs drops and does twenty pushups.

He jumps up and shadow boxes, dancing violently with his reflection, to ‘Killing in the Name Of’ by Rage Against the Machine.

“I’m gonna fuck you up, Judd!” he screams.

We’ve all done this move, the angry yell at the fake man in the mirror. Flexing our muscles at ghosts.

The heroin is all gone. The Adderall and Percocet mingle like two strangers in a bar before their first drink. The bath salts, a legal substance, have already taken hold. The Xanax makes him lose control of his inhibitions. He can only think of revenge. A sheriff’s shield buried below six feet of dirt.

Skaggs picks up a hatchet. His smile is sinister in the reflecting glass. A box-cutter catches his eye, and the wheels in his brain excel with manic thoughts.

  • * * * *

Quinn fills a backpack with clothes, an electronic tablet, a couple chargers. The essentials.

“Yeah I’m comin’ over now, Rob. It’s gettin’ too crazy here for me. Skaggs is high as fuck, stomping around the room, and making all kinds of noise. My mom’s in the shower so I’m gonna wait and tell her goodbye. She ain’t gonna be home until six in the morning.

“Poor lady’s pulling graveyard again. I slipped an extra twenty in her purse while she was drinking last night, enough to get her gas and food.”

He tosses his bag over his shoulder and makes his way to the door.

  • * * * *

Tina massages her sore arms with a pink loofa. The water washes over the wrinkles on her face.

“I’m going over to Rob’s ma,” Quinn yells from outside the bathroom door.

“If you wanna wait a few minutes, I’ll drive ya.”

“You sure?”

“Of course babe.” Tina hears his footsteps wander away, leaving her with nothing but the rhythm of tap water and incessant bass oozing through the wall.

Skaggs, her other son. The one she sometimes wishes was never born, but only for a moment. She comes back to reality and remembers him as a little league baseball player, a kid that took piano lessons. The bass thumps and Tina cries.

  • * * * *

Skaggs pulls apart the box cutter. He meticulously picks up a razor blade out of the plastic casing. Careful not to drop the stainless steel sliver onto the dirty carpet, he digs it into his yellowish fingernail until secure. The maniac picks up a hatchet, and with the flat of the blade, whacks the razor hard enough to split through his index finger.

His neurons play laser tag with each other, bouncing around his mind, riding each brainwave like a Tsunami.

Skaggs puts down the hatchet and takes another razor blade out of the box cutter. He digs it through his middle fingernail, once he gets to the pink flesh, he leaves it be, watching intently to make sure it’s positioned perfectly. Satisfied, he smashes it through his finger.

He repeats the process until his homemade claw is complete.

  • * * * *

Tina opens the curtain and steps out of the shower. She wraps her forty-year-old body with a towel. Varicose veins map out her trials and tribulations.

Her tits, once so sought after in her twenties, are now victims of gravity. She uses a green towel with bleach stains to wrap her hair up.

Tina hears loud banging from the adjacent bedroom.

“Damnit boy! I’m through with all your bullshit!” she screams through the bathroom wall.

She fixes her towel, opens the door, and darts down the hall to Skaggs’ bedroom.

“Get your shit packed and get the fuck out! I’ve had it with you!”

She walks into the living room and sees her purse open on the floor, her medicine ruffled through, damn near gone.

Tina dashes back to Skaggs’ bedroom door and pounds as hard as she can. “Open up you piece of shit!”

Skaggs opens the door, slowly. He’s higher than she could ever imagine. Geeked out.

Zooted.

His pupils stretch so far, all she can see is black with a slim line of green and white.

Tina looks beyond Skaggs’ hollow eyes, down to his bloody hand. She can only imagine how the razor blades dug into four of his digits.

“Hello, mommy,” Skaggs says with an eerie innocence.

“You, um.” She tightens her discolored towel. “You need to get your stuff packed up and leave.” The fear in Tina’s voice cages the anger she had only moments before.

“You don’t want me to live here anymore?” Skaggs tilts his head sideways and smiles wider.

“I think it would be best if you…”

“What’s wrong, mommy? You don’t like my new manicure?” He wiggles his fingers. “I did it just for you, I thought you would finally be proud of me.” His smile fades, the music disappears, all that’s left is the subtle drip of blood from rusty razor blades.

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Kobe (Excerpt)

Kobe (pronounced Ko-bay) is a great town and a decent place to raise a family. Our school district has high marks in both education and athletics. The caves and forests are great spots for hunting and hiking. Less than an hour south is a beautiful lake with waterfalls and caverns. Watch out for wolf spiders, although not poisonous, the arachnids are known to be aggressive. The number one attraction is the world famous Grinder sandwich from the BBQ Pitt. Best BBQ in Ohio, maybe even the entire mid-west, but perhaps I'm bias. Every town has its problems, such as psychotic drug addicts, or an occasional murderous stalker. You may run into devil worshippers burning young girls at the stake. We aren't perfect. However, the law enforcement in Kobe is top notch, so if a problem exists, don't hesitate to call. Bert's probably answering the 9-1-1 hotline as we speak. So stop by the BBQ Pitt to grab a Grinder, and a cold Kobe brewed beer. Maybe if you're lucky Zed will let you sample his latest batch of finely crafted whiskey. Make sure you tip your waitress, you never know what might happen if you're rude in this town.

  • Author: Christopher S. McLoughlin
  • Published: 2016-08-24 20:20:10
  • Words: 10221
Kobe (Excerpt) Kobe (Excerpt)