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by Paul Greenberg

Danny and I met at the Boothbay Mall every day. It was a place to hang out that wasn’t a halfway house or his mother’s basement. We watched the stores close their doors and pull down their steel gates, making it look more like a prison than a thriving retail development. We spent our money on smokes, meth, and booze. If we got hungry, $2.99 could buy a Chinese plate we could split.

One morning Danny handed me a half-filled cup of coffee. He pulled a pint of Jack Daniel’s from the pocket of his hoodie and filled our cups. When it was empty he aimed for the trash barrel, took the shot, and missed. No one gave a shit.

We sat sipping our coffees, thinking about our next smoke, money, and getting high. “Take this,” Danny said, slipping me a tiny piece of square paper. “What is it?” I asked, putting it in my mouth. “Acid,” Danny said. “I got it from the kid at Abu’s Smokerama. Free with every hookah or twenty bucks for two. I figure I could do without the hookah.”

Between the booze and the acid we were pretty fucked up when we sat down in front of the Old Navy store. I stared at the mannequins, dressed in their happy plaids and sunny colors, and started to get real agitated. Danny calmed me down by telling me that mannequins were worth money.

“Who buys mannequins?” I asked.

“Oh, retail shops, designers, artists, makeup people, tailors, morticians, Alice Cooper,” Danny said.

We decided to steal as many as we could. The plan was to toss them in the dumpster outside and come back later when we could find a car. It all made sense.

“In and out in three minutes,” Danny said. We fist bumped. “But let’s fuck ‘em and kill ‘em first,” he said.

We got up off the floor, stretched, looked around, and jumped into the store. Danny went to work on the blonde with the red lipstick, licking her face and gnawing on her forehead. I dropped my pants and was dry humping the preppy African American man, when his hand broke off. Danny picked it up, scratched his balls with it, and stuck it in the pocket of his hoodie.

It wasn’t long before six slovenly looking security guards appeared. Steel batons, pepper spray, and tasers were drawn as they lined up storm trooper style and cordoned off the entrance. “Drop the dummies and put your hands up,” came the high-pitched voice of one pimply-faced guard.

Danny and I knew we were screwed. We were putting the mannequins down when one of the guards, mistaking the mannequin hand in Danny’s pocket for a pistol, screeched, “He’s got a gun!” Danny pulled the hand from his pocket, also mistaking it for a pistol, pointed it at the cops, and screamed, “Die you Nazi bastards!”

The cops in turn reduced Danny to a puddle of piss and blood as they stepped forward wielding their telescopic steel batons and tasers, breaking Danny’s arms and legs and blinding him with pepper spray. I quietly crawled thirty feet to the exit, crying and screaming, “Meet ya back here tomorrow, Dan,” my pants still at my ankles.

Paul Greenberg’s short fiction can be found at Out of the Gutter/The Flash Fiction Offensive, Shotgun Honey, All Due Respect, Thrills Kills & Chaos, and Yellow Mama. He recently read at a Noir at the Bar event in Boston. He’s on Facebook and Twitter at pgreenbergcrime. He also has a blog, pgreenbergcrime@wordpress.com, where you can read all of his stories and follow his adventures at local book sales. Besides writing, reading, and book collecting, he also enjoys sunflower seeds, dogs, carbonated water, and monster toys.