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by Paul Heatley

Despite the cold, the girl wore little. She paced the pavement outside the drug store in a pair of denim cut-offs and a too-small white tank top that showed off the tops and sides of her red bra. A Day of the Dead skull tattoo covered her left shoulder and most of her upper arm. Her right hand held a cigarette. She smoked it angrily, glaring through the glass. The kid behind the counter flicked through a magazine, ignored her.

Justin stopped beside her. His hood was up and his hands were in his pockets. His breath misted. The girl realised he was there and wheeled on him. “The fuck you lookin at?”

Up close, Justin realised her right leg wasn’t real. A prosthetic. “Not your leg,” he said.

She sneered. “Fuck you.”

“Why you so pissed?”

She blew smoke. It went up his nose. “What do you care?”

“I’m a white knight, and you look like a damsel.”

“Fuck you.”

“A damsel in need of a broader vocabulary.”

“Fuck you.”

“You ain’t mad at me. Not really.”

“It’s that asshole.” She tilted her head of big hair toward the cashier. “He won’t serve me.”

“How come?”

“He got told not to.”

“That ain’t an answer.”

She flicked the cigarette, shifted her weight from the real leg to the fake.

“You an addict?”

“It’s just painkillers, man. Shit, you try losin a leg and tell me you don’t need somethin to get you through. Damn thing hurts like a motherfucker, and when it don’t hurt it itches.”

“How’d you lose it?”

She sucked her teeth, but she was warming to him, he could tell. A lot of the aggression had gone out of her. “Came off a bike.”

“Motorbike?”

“Yeah.”

“Yours?”

“Boyfriend’s.”

“What’d he lose?”

“His life.”

Justin smiled. “That’s a damn shame. How long ago was that?”

She thought. “About a year.”

Justin nodded. He looked round. He squeezed the handle of the gun in his pocket. “Can you keep a secret?”

She raised an eyebrow.

“Can you?” He was still smiling.

“Sure.”

“I’m gonna knock this place over.”

She blinked.

“I ain’t got money, and I ain’t got drugs. You know what I’ve got? I’ve got a gun. And my car’s just over the road there. How fast are you?”

“Fast enough.”

“Wanna come?”

She sucked her teeth. “Why?”

“You can take what you want. Fuck him.”

“Why’d you do that for me?”

“Shit, I always been a sucker for a pretty face.”

The clerk looked up from his magazine as they made their way towards him. He saw the girl. He knew her name. “Uh-uh, Emmy — it ain’t happenin.”

Justin pulled the gun, stuck it in the clerk’s face, pressed the barrel into his cheek. He slid a bag across the counter.

The clerk’s arms shot up. “Shit, shit, man! What do you want?”

“I want cash, motherfucker. As for the drugs—” Justin turned to Emmy. “Lady’s choice.”


Paul Heatley’s stories have appeared online and in print for a variety of publications including Thuglit, Near to the Knuckle, Horror Sleaze Trash, Flash Fiction Offensive, and Shotgun Honey. He is also the author of six novellas available for Kindle from Amazon. He lives in the north east of England.

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