“Wave goodbye,” she said.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“Oh, yeah, you are. You just don’t know it yet.”
She rolled over, one voluptuous hip emerging from the covers like a sleek fish. She took a swig from the bottle by the bed, held it out to him. He chugged, as much for the taste of her lips as for the burn of the bourbon. She gave him a little shove.
“Damn it, Stella, why do you have to be so cold?”
She laughed. “You knew what you were getting into the first time we got together.”
He shifted, heaved himself off the mattress. “What does someone have to do to get through to you?”
“You really want to know?”
“Yeah, of course I do.”
“Bring me the head of John the Baptist.”
He watched her lovely throat ripple with laughter. He reached out. She pushed his hand away.
“Okay, but seriously,” she said.
“Seriously.” He knelt by the side of the bed, gripped those lovely shoulders, felt her heat, fell into her eyes. Just touching her like this, he was hard again. She was the most fascinating woman.
“Seriously. I’d do anything.”
That was why, two weeks later, he was running out of oxygen, eighteen feet underwater near Key Largo, drilling a hole into the hull of a yacht. Could he break through the hull before he had to come up for air again? Doubtful. If only he learned to scuba dive.
The drill kicked back and bit his hand. Blood spumed in the water. He breached, sputtered, went down again. Another forty seconds, and he was in. He set the explosive and kicked hard for the shore.
Stars painted the night sky silver. He lay in the shallows, catching his breath and listening to the cicadas cree. Then the night exploded, and rubble rained down.
It was just his bad luck that his rental car blew a rim on the rutted sand track leading away from the inlet. Worse luck that the fire-truck chose that same rutted route to catch the blaze.
Better luck that lazy police work and Florida’s lax lawmaking landed him just nine years for involuntary manslaughter.
She was long gone when he got out. But he was too far gone to let it slide.
He found her, finally. Living in luxurious squalor in Bimini. She was asleep when he broke in, sprawled on satin sheets, her skin tanned the color of wheat toast except where the white bikini lines cradled her breasts and the honeypot between her legs.
“I never loved you,” he told her.
“Oh, yeah, you did,” she snarled.
She was right. Another thing he hated her for.
“It’s not too late,” she said.
“It was too late for me the minute I met you. “
He lay on top of her, licked that cinnamon throat. Then bit it with his knife. Blood soaked the sheets. Like blood drifting in water. Like the bitter end of his life, flooding away from him.
About the author:
Susan Kuchinskas mashes genres with impunity in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s the author of two science fiction/detective novels, Chimera Catalyst and Singularity Syndrome. Her crime, science fiction and erotica has appeared in a variety of journals and zines, including Shotgun Honey, Rock and a Hard Place, Terror House and the Sisters in Crime anthology Fault Lines. Find out more at kuchinskas.com or follow her on Twitter.
Denny and Sam hated each other with the passion reserved only for terrible roommates.
Sam hated that Denny ate his food even when Sam wrote his name on containers or put leftovers in his own unique purple plastic storage-wear. How many times did he ask, beg, and threaten the younger man hoping that one day his wishes would be at least considered, if not honored? So far, no dice.
Denny, for his part, believed that Sam might be the devil. Not in a Biblical way, of course, but he went on and on about how the carpet needed vacuuming and the fridge needed cleaning, how Denny’s laundry emitted the particularly musty odor of stale sweat and athleticism.
Sam complained about Denny’s girlfriends spending the night, and yeah, maybe they got a little loud, but it wasn’t Denny’s fault that Sam was too worried about cleaning and eating sweets to ever get laid.
Besides all of that, Sam was also just downright mean to Denny, calling him lunkhead and moron, telling him he was a waste of space and water. “You’ll never be anything, Denny-boy! You’re too fucking stupid!” That rightly smarted, and Denny, usually very mild and passive for all his supposed obnoxious behavior, got mad.
The day Denny drank some of Sam’s chocolate milk right out of the carton, Sam watched from the living room with a scowl as Denny chugged then wiped his mouth clean. Denny then picked up a small bag of powdered doughnuts from the counter and tossed the bag to Sam. If Sam saw Denny’s grin, as the milk carton crumpled in his hand, Sam might not have eaten any.
But Sam didn’t see it and only smiled back.
“What are these for?” he asked as he pulled the first doughnut from the bag. His joy was almost creepy, making Denny more scornful than usual.
“Just because. I get it now, that I shouldn’t eat your food.” He shook the crumpled chocolate milk container. “Sorry about this. I promise to be better.”
“No reason to bother,” said Sam through a mouth of doughnut. “I actually got that for you. I don’t mind if you eat some of my food. I’ll just tack the cost onto your rent and shop accordingly.”
“Really?” said Denny, feeling bad for the first time since he devised his plan.
“Yeah, I feel like all of our problems with each other are going to be over real soon.”
“I guess so.” Denny wore a hangdog look. Too late to turn back. Maybe he should’ve thought this through a little longer. His mouth went dry, and he took another big swig of chocolate milk, feeling suddenly and strangely tired.
“So, um, I lied…” Sam said. He began coughing. It turned to choking. Piece of doughnut must’ve gotten lodged, he thought, clutching at his throat.
“Sorry, man,” Denny said. Sam started turning blue. “You aren’t choking, your throat is closing up because of the--”
Denny cut off as the room began to pulse and spin. He looked at the half-empty milk carton, as Sam, through his gagging, expelled a single rusty hinge giggle before he began thrashing in his chair.
Denny dropped the carton to the floor, lost his footing and crashed forward, landing in Sam’s lap. Before Sam’s world went black, one more dry, grating, airless chuckle escaped his throat as Denny’s body relaxed. In death’s final convulsion, Sam’s arms dropped from his throat, his right hand landing on Denny’s head.
“In an apparent double suicide, two men, living as roommates, were found dead in their midtown apartment. Suspected of ingesting poison, leaving friends and relatives shocked and confused, Denny Riggs and Sam Hendricks died holding each other. Sandy Riggs, Denny’s sister, has stated that the tragedy was preventable, as both the Riggs and Hendricks families would have shown support for the men’s relationship had they known about it.”
About the author:
Shayne K. Keen lives in Northern Michigan with his boyfriend and their two cats. His work has appeared recently in the anthology "A Walk in a Darker Wood" published by Oxygen Man Books and in the "Weirdbook Zombie Annual."