I was joking around with a friend on twitter today and the subject became darker and darker until I had to stop and shift gears…to something even darker. All I’ll say is that it had something to with a head. For those who’ve read The Book of Paul, you will find this either as disgusting or amusing or some combination of both as you did the first time. For those who haven’t, it’s a heady (ba-doom-boom!) mix of the humor, thrills, chills and horror awaiting you, should you choose to push the magic button on the right.
The first two chapters are less than one page, but help to set up the finale, called ONE-WAY CONVERSATION. It’s one of my favorites. I’ll post the intro as an excerpt, then you can read on for the punchline. Enjoy!
JUST ONE KISS
Rose groaned with disgust and the effort of pushing the splattered corpse off Martin. After she helped him up, he put his arm around her, looking in all directions for any sign of witnesses. Nothing. This is weird. After all that shooting, there must be someone. Then, assuming they were all alone, he did the most unexpected thing. He bent his head down and kissed Rose tenderly on the top of her head.
It was a beautiful sight. Even I had to agree. Tony, the fifth young punk, didn’t find it the least bit endearing. As it turned out, he wasn’t that big a coward after all. Yes, he ran away, but not very far. He was catching his breath at the far end of the street, tucked under his own shadowy stoop. And surprise, surprise: Tony also had a gun, which he was now pointing squarely at the crown of Martin’s lowered, kissing head.
If Martin had known, he might have not waited so long before raising his head again. Even that little movement might have saved his life. Because that little punk Tony had him dead in his sights. And to make matters worse, he was a really good shot.
Tony squeezed the trigger long, slow and even, just like he’d been taught by Carlos, the very man Martin had just delivered from a lifetime of white canes and Braille Hustler magazines. His aim was perfect. Martin lingered with his kiss to make it even easier. Nothing in the world should have been able to save Martin from that long, slow, squeeze and the speeding bullet that followed.
Nothing at all. Except, just maybe, for a wee bit of luck.
Tony couldn’t see him. Neither could Rose or Martin.
Paul was coming like a great black ghost, his hair glowing under the streetlight. He was moving fast, but there wasn’t the slightest sound from his footsteps. He snapped the sickle open and it locked into place, its chrome engraved death’s head emblem gleaming under the street lamp. Tony turned around at the sound, knowing it had to be some kind of knife or switchblade, guessing the newcomer must be in league with the tall guy and his rabid girlfriend. As he turned, he continued the slow squeeze of the trigger, his gun thrust out at eye level, gripped tightly in both hands for steady support.
Tony decided he would start firing as soon as he fully turned around. At this range, any hit will slow him down. Then I’ll have time for a follow-up shot. And that’s exactly what he would have done. If he still had a head.
“C’mere! C’mere! Quick!” Paul hissed at Michael, trying to remain unobserved by Martin and Rose long enough to delight in one of his most trea- sured indulgences. When Michael didn’t move fast enough, he grabbed his hand and dragged him over, under the shadow of a barren tree.
There it was. It could have been mistaken for a half-deflated soccer ball, if it weren’t for the ears. “Look!” Paul hooted, practically bouncing with excitement. It was still alive.Read More