Slim Jim


Glen’s Liquor Store was just off the main drag along the way home. The joint was lit up with half-dead, flickering red neon lights surrounding a shit-pile.  I’d meant to stop in for the past week, but the bossman had me doing other things off the normal route. The overhead bell jingled when I pushed the door open. If I’d seen what was going on inside, I might’ve waited a bit. You couldn’t see shit with all the faded beer posters plastered all over the glass front.
Inside was this kid in a black hoody holding a chopped double barrel. The barrels swung my way, the kid was in a panic.

“Whoa…”I said. “Now wait….wait….”

An old man was behind the counter. His thin arms held high over his head. “Mister…just stay there fer God’s sake.”

I let the door close behind me and kept my hands out and up. “Easy, kid.”

The kid was wild-eyed, swinging the barrels back and forth. “The money, old man!” He pointed the barrels my way for the hundredth time. “You….ju…just stay there.”

“First time, kid?”


I pointed at the shotgun. “You ain’t got the hammers cocked.”

His eyes darted around like a pinball machine. His face pock-marked with pimples. Maybe sixteen tops. He worked a hammer back on the shotgun.

“Now, you got a live round going, but keep your finger off the trigger unless you mean it.”

“Huh? What?” He stammered.

“I’m just trying to help is all. I can tell you ain’t done this before.”

“I don’t need no help, Mister!”

“What the hell you doing, Mister? You helping the kid rob my place?” The old man yelled.

“Just trying to help out and keep us from getting blown in two,” I said

“You done told this kid to cock that man-shredder!” The old man’s angry orbs rolled over looking at me.

“What’s your name, old man?”

“Gaw…Ga…Glen.” The shakes were bad.

“Alright Glen, just stay steady and get the kid his money.” I turned back to the kid. The barrels were shaking. “You want my wallet?”

The kid wasn’t sure what I meant. He was shaking too, ready to piss himself. “Wa…Wallet…”

“I’m going to reach down, real slow, and get my wallet,” I turned slow so I could show him my good intentions. I tugged the wallet free from under my jacket, and let it drop to the floor. I kicked it over to him. I could write the loss off on my expense report.

“No funny stuff,” he said. He knelt slow, the barrels on the doubles kept shaking. The wallet disappeared into his pocket. Glen finished taking the bills out of the register. The kid grabbed the money from Glen’s sweaty grip. The kid looked up at me, puzzled.

“Now, go on,” I whispered.

The kid stuffed the money in his hoody pocket.  Clutching the shotgun, he jerked the door open, and disappeared into the inky darkness. The sound of pounding feet faded.

I lowered my hands, smiling. Glen wasn’t amused. “Gawd dammit! I can’t believe you went and done a thing like that! You done actually helped him rob me!”

I snickered, wandering up to the counter. “But we’re alive, right? I lost a fistful of dough too.”

He pulled a dirty rag from his pocket and began dabbing away the heavy beads of sweat. “I reckon…but still don’t fix the fact you helped him.”

“Now, Glen, let’s get down to business,” I plucked a Slim Jim from the counter display, peeled away the wrapper before reaching behind and pulling the .357 Magnum from my waistband. I laid it on the counter, finger on the trigger. The lights reflected off the stainless-steel finish.  “I’m here for the real money, Glen. You a month behind on payments, or you forget you borrowed a nice amount from my bossman to go gamble with?”

“B…boss?” he stammered.

“Your loan from Duprie?”

Glen scrunched up his old face in realization and began shaking again. “I… just done got robbed.”

“Don’t matter none, you got money in the back, right? Don’t make me do something bad, Glen. The boss man don’t give two-shits if you got robbed or not.”

I bit into the Slim Jim.

~ fin ~


John L. Thompson currently lives in New Mexico with his wife of twenty-nine years. When he is not searching for lost remnants of the old west, he can be found working on several writing projects or collecting antique or vintage paperbacks. He is the current cover designer for the Casca the Eternal Mercenary series written by Tony Roberts, and the occasional graphic artist for Yellow Mama e-zine. He is the author of Truck Stop and Monkey Wrench. His third novel Dead Blow, the final installment in the Truck Stop trilogy, is set to be released in September 2021 by Dusty Desert Press.