Everybody’s Got a Price


I went to Galena to kill a 417 whore I’d never met for an even grand. That’s how I knew I loved my girl. My girl JoJo demands a price that guys like me line up to pay. Wart said this job would pay me enough to buy a ring and a ring buys a future. What he didn’t say was having me silence his side piece of tweaker ass was buying him a future too.

I didn’t have to break down her door. A layer of ex-football fat hides a pistol real easy under a coat and I gotta smile even grannies love, sweet like those hard candies they like to suck. I gave the whore a good chubby boy smile and she opened the door wide. The pistol grip slick with sweat and waiting. JoJo’s lipstick kiss still wet on my neck.

There’s a saying, best laid plans and shit. I got the shit part. Blood in my mouth, maybe mine, maybe not, and never enough spit to mask the metal of it.

Five miles of no shoulder county roads swerving in front of my headlights until I made it to Wart’s place., Wart took the gun from me, said get your shit together. He wiped the butt of the gun off on his shirt, the blood mixing with the oily black stains from his grease monkey job. He tucked it into his waistband and gave me directions with his eyes.

Sit the fuck down

I sat on the stool at his kitchen counter. He snapped his fingers at his most recent investment and she handed him a bottle of Jack. Close your eyes. It stung like hell when he poured it over my head, but I didn’t flinch.

Stupid fucking grunt

Wart slid two percs across the counter to me. I tried to look at her through the sting and decide if I thought she was worth killing over. She ain’t no JoJo.

Any other fuckups you need to tell me about

I felt the needle push into my scalp and pull out again. I tried not to think about what dirty piece of shit thread he was using to stitch me up. No I said.


Wart’s replacement whore waited for me to chase down the pills before she took the bottle back to the couch. The Honeymooners flickering from a rabbit eared TV, each new frame lighting up a different part of her pale jail bait skin. He broke the thread with his teeth and pushed me from the chair.

Two weeks—I better not see you before

At 3 a.m. I didn’t worry about nobody seeing me around. JoJo would be waiting for me across town, pacing or passed out one, but I drove to the place of her pretty painted mouth anyway.

A thousand bucks

That’s the price of a person, doesn’t matter if you are the dead one or the one making them dead. It only matters who’s paying. This time it was Wart, but I ain’t stupid, next time maybe he finances my expiration date. I put my hands in my pockets, rubbing the gritty bills between my fingers. The cash felt like a destination, like a wad of better decisions I could finally pay for.

But I got kids to feed

That’s what the hot-rolling bitch kept shouting before I knocked her in the teeth with the butt of the gun. Then she didn’t say nothing, just gurgled her own blood and spit, her pupils big black mirrors. I didn’t see the other fuckin’ meth head, didn’t know she wasn’t alone. I got the stiches to prove it, but no extra cash. Wart don’t pay for no one he didn’t order.

You’re supposed to treat a girl like she somethin’ special

But JoJo ain’t talking about other girls. I’ll stay out of sight a few weeks. Give my cash to a guy who has a big ass diamond from a Jew’s jewelry box in Clearwater. He’s just been waiting for the right kind of buyer. I’m bought in.

A thousand bucks

The price of a person. Whether you’re killing them or trying to keep them.

~ fin ~

Heather Luby grew up in the Ozark Mountains with plenty of pickup trucks and bass fishing. Her short fiction has appeared in JMWW, Word Riot, LITnIMAGE, Bartleby Snopes, and a few other places along the way.  She has an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles and her novel Laws of Motion is represented by Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents.  She has been relocated to the suburbs of St. Louis, but she is still a hillbilly at heart.