Thoman’s Word


1:1 First time I heard baby Jesus say my name—bless his little heart—I was changing the oil on a rusted-to-shit Honda 500; it had dents in the gas tank and a sissy bar I wanted to cut off with my Sawzall. He said—baby Jesus did—that His word was truth and that, through Him, I could have a little truth myself. I thought He sounded like a porch-front preacher with chewing tobacco in his cheek, but you hear a voice and you can’t do much but listen. You ever hear it, and you’ll know I speak the truth. The words—clear as an exhaust leak—came from Him and He said I should kill old Richard who ran the diner out near Kelso Depot. Like I said that He said: You hear a voice and you can’t do much but listen. I guessed old Richard had it coming.

1:2 My name is Thoman B. Ruth; I got three motorcycles, a mobile home my daddy won in a bar fight, a decent stock of power tools, and I never once killed nobody on purpose. Like most folks, I got a few accidents in my past, but He never said a man got through life without a sin or two. It was He who died for them sins and it was He who said I better kill Richard, for it was He who didn’t like them greasy eggs and that turkey bacon. It was He who sayeth and I who heardeth. Or however they sayeth it. Killeth the man, He said and kept saying.

1:3 I got that oil changed and I left the sissy bar on because I didn’t have the time to take it off, but I packed my Sawzall in a leather satchel and before I heard Him speak again I was on the highway cruising through a sea of dust devils and tumbleweeds. When I got to Richard’s half-shit diner, I parked right out front and walked into the place—it was empty and Richard looked up from a hunting magazine with that brushy mustache he always wore. And it was He who said I should pull the Sawzall out of my satchel and plug it in; it was He who told me to act on His word. I had to listen, you understand. Richard asked me if I wanted the same breakfast I always had—two eggs and turkey bacon with a dash of bitter coffee. I shook my head and said He sent me—baby Jesus did—and I need you to sit right here in this booth, Richard.

1:4 It wasn’t easy, but I did what He said and soon I had Richard in the booth, both his hands flat on the table, like hand-shaped pancakes. I said that He told me I had to and that He said Richard needed a good bloody killing. It was He who said to take Richard’s thumbs first. And it was He who said to chew them like big rubber shrimp until they went down my belly like mush. Haha. It was He who said I better take them hands off next and it was He who said that Richard’s screams meant truth. I said, now I can see you’re in a little pain, Richard, but you know He doesn’t like greasy eggs and that turkey bacon when it tastes like sandstone. I said, He doesn’t like the way you wear that brushy mustache and He told me I better saw you up until you die. It was He who said to take your toes off, Richard. And it was He who told me I better take these teeth. I said, this Sawzall is a noisy little fucker, Richard. But I can still hear His voice. And I tell you, Richard, you hear His voice and you can’t do much but listen to Him. Don’t you worry now, Richard. You’re going to liveth, Richard, I said, you’ll liveth forever in paradise.

~ fin ~

Matt Phillips lives in San Diego. His books are Three Kinds of FoolRedbone, and Bad Luck City. He has published crime stories across the web at Powder Burn Flash, Near to the Knuckle, Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Manslaughter Review, and elsewhere. More info at