Midnight at the Quick n' Save

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Original Publication & Date: 
City Slab Issue #8 - 2006

Originally published in City Slab magazine, Midnight at the Quick n' Save featured an altered ending that the editor felt was more in keeping with the sort of fiction he published. Presented here for the first time is the original version of the story; one that I like a helluva lot better, and I hope you do, too.- JF Reilly 1/14/09

(Note - 7/5/10):  This story will be republished in an upcoming E-Anthology from Apex Books due out Q3 of 2010! Therefore, you only get this little samplin' 'til then!!)


City SlabBoots pushed through the door, anxious to leave the hot, sticky mess of the night behind him, and was greeted by a wave of cold air that plastered the sweat-soaked t-shirt to his muscular frame. He headed to the cooler in the back of the store, and reached inside for a Coke. He took a sip as he walked to the counter. The soda was warm, but his dry mouth welcomed it. He swished it around. The bubbles buzzed his tongue. Frida looked up at him and gave him a wink as she waited on a short old man who was fumbling through his pockets. Spare change jingled. Frida looked pissed, her face a frowning olive pancake sprinkled with pepper; lips fire engine red, Vaseline glossy.

The old man fished. Frida grew impatient. Boots stood in close behind him. The old man had that old man smell; sweet cologne, dead skin, dirty laundry. His hair was dyed black, slicked back, parted by river of snowflake dandruff floating in greasy pomade. He cursed and mumbled as he continued to fumble, and Boots leaned in on him hard.

“Get off my back you black bastard,” said the old man.

Boots recoiled, smiling, shocked. Frida wouldn’t have it. She slammed the register closed and pointed to the door.

“Get your wrinkled old ass outta here,” she shouted.

The old man waved her off and shambled toward the door. As he slowly pushed it open he turned back, his hatchet face twisted in scowl, black bean eyes quivering under fluorescent glow.

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