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by Richard Godwin

The diner was empty apart from the guy in the corner.

“You have a light?” he said.

“Sure,” Patty said, flicking her Zippo, hiding the stain, snuffing it out. “Spare a cigarette?”

“Oh yeah.”

The waitress looked at them out of the corner of her eye, curling her lip.

Patty stepped outside into the diesel fumes. They began the smokers’ chat, weather, money. Then he said it.

“Last night I killed a man.” He blew smoke skywards. “A guy got smart. He was nobody, really.”

“That right?”

Silence. And just two burning cigarette ends in the cold.

“Why you telling me this?” she said.

“Cause there’s one thing I always feel like doing after I kill someone.”

“No shit?”

“You look good to me.”

“I ain’t gonna sleep with you.”

“I ain’t asking you to sleep with me, honey. How old are you anyway?”

“Twenty-six.”

“No shit. There’s a bad dude out there, in case you ain’t heard, he’s been chopping women up.”

“I can look after myself.”

“Heard one woman got her throat opened up real bad. They call him the maniac trucker, although I hear this guy drives a pick up.”

“Thank you for the smokes,” she said, walking back in.

Inside, the waitress stared at her and went out back. Patty felt weak as Jim walked in.

“Come on, darling, we can do it in the john,” he said.

“How much you got?”

“I knew you were a pick up. I reckon you’re worth a hundred.”

“Hundred and fifty.”

“Done.”

He peeled a stack of tens out of his wallet and laid them in her palm.

“I’ll see you in the john,” she said.

She was standing at the back when he came in and put a broom handle against the door. She walked into the cubicle, pulling down her jeans. She thought she heard someone trying the door as he entered her. She looked over Jim’s shoulder at a fly crawling across the graffiti. She felt the cold wall against her buttocks as he stopped. He ran his finger across her cheek.

“Told you I ain’t the maniac trucker.”

After he left she heard a pick up drive off as she checked herself in the mirror.

Then the door opened and the waitress walked in.

“I fucking knew,” she said. “I saw him leave, I’m calling the po-lice.”

“Why the fuck you such a bitch?”

“You just made a big mistake, you ho.”

“You don’t get to call me no hooker, you’re just a fucking waitress.”

She was trying to leave when Patty grabbed her hair. She spun round and struck Patty hard across the face. Patty had one fist clenched in the waitress’s uniform as she pulled her switchblade from her pocket and opened up her throat. The blade was still moving in the air as the waitress spurted blood on the wall, staggering round with her eyes popping. Patty stepped over the body and out of the diner and hailed a passing truck.


Richard Godwin is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour,One Lost Summer, Noir City, Meaningful Conversations, Confessions of a Hit Manand Paranoia and the Destiny Programme.

He is also a published poet and a produced playwright. His stories have been published in numerous paying magazines and over 34 anthologies, among them The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime and The Mammoth Book of Best British Mystery, alongside Lee Child, as well as the anthology of his stories, Piquant: Tales of the Mustard Man. His novels have sold numerous foreign rights. Richard Godwin was born in London and obtained a BA and MA in English and American Literature from King’s College London, where he also lectured. You can find out more about him at his website www.richardgodwin.net, where you can also read his Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse, his highly popular and unusual interviews with other authors.

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