Randy went through Jake’s pockets while Mary flipped the channels looking for HBO. They’d managed to pick Jake up at a rest stop, Randy offering to blow him in his truck, only to have Mary stick a knife in his back. They used the husky man’s cash to procure the motel room, then hog tied him with duct tape once inside.

What’s your password for the ATM machine, Randy asked.

Jake was facing the wall, and struggled to arch his head over to look at Randy.

It’s the same one for all of them, he said. Sixty-nine sixty-nine.

Well, hell. I can remember that, Randy said.

You’ll want to take me along, Jake said. So the cameras won’t see you.

Randy pocketed the cards and smirked. Got a place in mind that don’t have no cameras.

Son, you have to think this out. The ATMs have cameras-

Mary leaned over and swatted Jake on his ear. He began to gasp, his white polo shirt soaked through with perspiration.

Lord, what a sack of shit, she said. She took the roll of duct tape off of her wrist, tore off a piece and mashed it over his lips. Randy stepped over to the door.

I’ll be back before long. Figure he’ll stay quiet if you leave him alone.

Mary hopped off the bed to her feet. Randy waited a beat, expecting a response. She sat at the desk, pulled open the drawer and produced a Gideon’s Bible. She started reading, humming to herself.

Randy drove over to a 24 hour fireworks superstore called Sad Sam’s. It tickled Randy how firework stores around here were always named after dudes with emotional problems. Sad Sam’s, Nervous Charlie’s, Angry Pete’s. A few years back a monster fireworks outlet had opened called Fireworks Superstore and it had disgusted him.

He was relieved to discover that Jake was truthful. The ATM spit out eight hundred dollars between the three cards. He pocketed the cash, then picked up a pack of roman candles, a case of beer and a bottle of chocolate milk he figured he’d drink before he made it back to Mary. He put it up on the counter and the clerk grinned.

I can’t sell you that beer, buddy.

Why not?

It’s Sunday.

Oh. Well, hell.

He smiled wide. I’m just messing with you.

Randy drove back, guzzling the chocolate milk. He figured Mary wasn’t the marrying type, but maybe she’d have a kid with him. They’d never used condoms, but it seemed to be an unspoken rule for him to pull out. Maybe the next time he wouldn’t and gauge her reaction.

The motel room was quiet upon his return. He fumbled a bit with the card key, pushed his way in with the beer and fireworks in hand.  Jake’s white polo shirt was pink with blood. He was wheezing. Wet, pitiful breaths. Randy counted eleven gashes on the fat man’s back before he gave up.

What’d you go on and do that for?

Well, shit. The Bible’s boring.

Mary smirked, gestured at Jake’s leg. Randy had been so focused on Jake’s back that he’d neglected to notice the bowie knife still lodged in his thigh.

Randy sat the beer and fireworks on the TV stand before stepping over and taking the knife out of Jake’s leg. Randy tugged back Jake’s head and slit his throat.

I knew you were sweet on him, she said.

Do what, now? I done killed him.

Mercy killing. You really are queer.

That ain’t true.

You sell it like pretending to be a male prostitute is your way of protecting me. You just like playing with peckers. Funny, since you can’t get yours up for me.

That’s only happened one time, and it was after we’d done it twice already.

Pathetic. Bet you could get it up three times for Jake over there.

Dadgum, we’ll never know now.

Can’t even deny it. Queer.

Randy figured tonight wasn’t a good night to talk about starting a family. Not until they’d had a few beers, anyway.

~ fin ~

Craig Garrett used to live in Nashville. Now he lives in Queens.