Waiting for the Butcher


Hannah watched from across the road. Tucked between a Little Caesars and a tanning salon, the law offices of Grubby and Gunster hid behind beige glass and an ‘appointment only’ sign.

The lights dimmed across the strip mall. A woman with a purple rinse locked up a second hand bookstore. She shuffled to a station wagon two spaces over from Hannah.

In three days, Hannah hadn’t left her car for longer than five minutes. Fast food wrappers and coffee cups threatened to smother her, but Hannah wasn’t going anywhere until she had her revenge. The death of her parents was tragic. The disappearance of Troy was unacceptable.

At 2am, a car lurched into the parking lot with all the grace of a rodeo bull. When the screen of dust fell, Hannah saw a guy getting a handjob.

She stayed put.

At 8am, the station wagon returned, barely disturbing the gravel.

Hannah squirmed in her seat until the bookstore’s lights flicked on. As Hannah left the store’s restroom, a cup of coffee obstructed her path. She followed the bent fingers and twisted hand up to the smiling face of a grandmother.

“Here honey.” The woman gestured to a tall armchair by the window. “Have a seat.”

“Thank you,” Hannah said. “You didn’t have to.”

“It’s nice to have company. Do you mind if I sit?”

“Go ahead, it’s your store.”

“It was always Chuck’s dream.”

A Buick stopped in front of the law offices. Hannah shifted in her seat and reached into her pocket. Her fingers wrapped around the grip of Troy’s backup revolver. The driver exited the vehicle and entered the tanning salon.

“Sorry,” Hannah said, relaxing her fingers. “Is Chuck your husband?”

“He spent his life in the meat packing business, but he wanted a bookstore.”

The shelves of neat books held the musty smell of neglect.

“Chuck loved sitting here, watching the street, reading a book.”

A stack of cowboy novels waited at Hannah’s right.

“Troy loved westerns,” Hannah said.

“Troy?” she said.

“My brother. When we were kids, he wore his cowboy hat constantly, pretending to ride his horse and right wrongs. It was all a game to him.”

Hannah produced a picture of Troy. His hair was two shades away from blonde and his blue eyes shone brighter than the blue of his uniform.

“Police found his car torched,” Hannah said. “The GPS brought me here.”

“That’s terrible. A handsome looking young man. Family is so important. When my Chuck passed, I spent a lot of time here. It kept me connected to family.”

“After our parents were killed, Troy took care of me.”

“I’m sorry, honey. A car accident?”

“No. My mother was the prosecutor in the Sal the Butcher case.”

“Oh, I heard of that one,” she said, her face contracting with recognition.

“The trial was almost over. My mother had destroyed Sal’s lawyers, Grubby and Gunster. My parents went out to dinner and didn’t come back.”

Hannah paused. A Lincoln Continental eased to a halt. The passenger got out and returned with a pizza box.

“Troy told me he became a police officer to find justice for others, but I know he was looking for Sal.”

A silver BMW skidded to a halt. A breeze block of a man tucked into a shiny suit heaved himself out of the car. He flicked away a cigarette butt with the downward motion of a hatchet plunging into a carcass.

Hannah didn’t need a mugshot to recognize Sal the Butcher.

“That’s him,” Hannah said. Her head felt heavy. “I need to go.” She stood up, unsteady on her feet. A haze of dizziness descended over her vision.

“Oh honey, with all the Xanax I put in your coffee, it’s not a good idea to go anywhere.”

Hannah dropped back into the armchair. Reaching for the revolver, Hannah’s numb fingers failed to respond.

“I need to kill Sal,” Hannah said, “for my family.”

“I spoke to my Sal last night. He’s everso good to his grandmama. He knows you’re here. He’ll be over shortly to take care of you, just like he did your brother.”

~ fin ~


T.W.Garland‘s fiction has appeared in Dash Literary JournalDark DossierThe Daily Drunk MagazineSchlock!Ghostlight and different anthologies. In his dreams, he is somewhere between a hard drinking cop and a criminal doing the right thing. When he is awake, he spends too much time reading crime novels and wishes he had a better work ethic. Find him at @TWGarland