Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Bad Shepherd By Mick Rose

“Lenny’s got a floozy,” Deborah Harris whined, sucking down the dregs of a dirty martini—courtesy of my office bar, olives the only vegetable in her otherwise liquid lunch. She tugged a strand of matted hair that might look lovely woven in a natty eagle’s nest.

Working as a minister at a Unitarian Church and counseling dipshit wives is one of the horrors I endure to protect an important truth: I’m a successful serial killer—

Among other creepy things.

“Can’t say I blame him, Deb.”

“OMG, Reverend Taylor. You’re taking adulterous Lenny’s side?”

Vacant gray eyes glazed, she gulped at her empty glass … cheeks and lips pumping—like a puffer fish freshly plucked from water. I hoped she wouldn’t drop and flop around my plush teal carpet. Which I steam-cleaned yesterday to remove all traces of an Alabama virgin I kidnapped on a whim.

I know what you’re thinking. I entertained doubts about her virginity, too. But during thirty playful minutes of serious waterboarding in a nearby-Vegas dungeon? That little Southern Belle never changed her story. Sadly Deborah Harris lacks that kind of spunk.

“I don’t make moral judgments, Deb. I’m honest and objective. Making yourself a righteous victim won’t solve your problems or potentially save your marriage. When’s the last time you took a sober look at yourself in a mirror? If our bodies are God’s temples? Yours looks like a crack house. And why the fuck do you wear flannel shirts? Even junkies don’t wear flannel in Henderson, Nevada.”

She somehow pried her flailing limbs from the leather sofa. Yanked a pistol from her handbag—

Plopped her sagging ass cheeks soundly on my desk.

“When I find Lenny’s floozy? I’ll blow her cunt to kingdom come.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Mrs. Harris.” I wrapped a fist around the barrel—wrenched the Luger Taurus from her sausage fingers. Dropped the piece in my desk drawer. Slammed the sucker shut.

“Where’d you get the gun, Deb?”

“It’s Lenny’s,” she mumbled, teetering on the desktop. “He’s got a slew of them.”

I snagged Deb’s shoulders before she toppled—led her back to safer ground on the leather sofa.

“When’s the last time you gave Lenny a good ol’ sloppy blow job?”

“Well … never.”

Never? How the hell did these two sad sacks survive twenty years in this god-forsaken institution people call marriage?

History doesn’t tell us who the twisted fuck was that invented marriage. But Adam and Eve never married. After they indulged on that forbidden fruit—and got tossed from Paradise? They simply shacked-up in the burbs, where they lived in sin. The first friends with benefits since they had no other options.

Assuming of course, you believe Bible stories.

Debilitated Deborah snaked a hand across my thigh. “Do you think … maybe?”

“Do I think maybe, what, Deb?”

“That I could practice giving you blowjobs?”

Lord have mercy. I need a new day job. Something far less stressful. And more optimistic. Like maybe morgue attendant.

Oh, hallelujah—

Mrs. Harris passed out. A blessing on one hand. But an annoyance on the other.

I filched the keys from her handbag. Strapped on a shoulder holster, donned a white linen sport coat and a lightweight pair of Isotoner driving gloves. Stashed two burner phones in my coat, one in each side pocket. Looped a Cross pen through the trigger guard to retrieve Deborah’s Luger. Good—

The safety was on. I checked the chamber and the clip. Polished the ugly pistol with a towelette. Slid the gun in my holster.

Deborah still sprawled sleeping. Surprise, surprise she didn’t snore. But drool oozed down her chin, puddling on her flannel shirt. I ducked into the bathroom: cranked the shower full-blast.

Yeah, I know. I’ve got posh office digs.

Unlike Mrs. Harris, Lenny’s new flame excelled at sloppy blowjobs. And in six mere months a motivated Mr. Harris masterfully quadrupled his massive real estate holdings. I’m no prophet. But the future looked bleak for the current Mrs. Harris.

I rang Lenny on my cell phone. “Disturbing news,” I announced. “Deborah’s literally gone ballistic. She’s got a goddamn gun and intends to shoot your floozy. Deb’s words, not mine—and in the pussy—of all places. Then she plans to deal with you.”

“Jesus Christ,” Lenny muttered. “I filed for divorce this morning. Just left my lawyer’s office. What a clusterfuck.”

“Well, amigo. You fucked your way into this mess. So I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for god’s help. If you wanna save your asses? I’d hop on your corporate Leer—and take a quick flight. Somewhere close and comfy. Like Palm Springs, California. Don’t use credit cards, pay for everything in cash.”

“Good idea, Taylor. I can hit the links. Whack some balls around. And get mine sucked in peace. What kinda gun’s she got?”

“How the hell do I know, Lenny? I’m a minister for god’s sake. But if you don’t get out of Dodge? You could lose your balls, mate.”

“God forbid, Taylor. Christ don’t talk like that.”

“Then get your balls in gear. Don’t go to your office—or even worse, your house—Deb told me you own a slew of guns. I’m gonna call Holly. We’ll try to track your wife down and get her into detox. Call me when you’ve landed?”

“Roger that reverend. Thanks for your help. Me and my balls owe your church another sizeable donation.”

“No worries, pally-o. But make sure that wad ain’t sticky.”

I turned off the shower, grabbed the landline on my desk. “Hi, Holly. It’s Taylor. Don’t mean to disrupt your day, but I’m trapped here at the office—your sister’s drunk off her ass, and passed out on the sofa. Can you play Florence Nightingale and take her off my hands? Otherwise my only option is to call an ambulance. I think she’s okay. But what the hell do I know.”

“Wow. Good thing it’s Friday and I took the day off. Gimme twenty minutes. I’ll drop the kids at my mother’s.”

I kept busy in the meantime. Used one encrypted burner and a VPN to buy an airline ticket with a prepaid MasterCard. Printed the boarding passes. Stuffed them first into an envelope, then a Ziploc bag, and finally my pocket. I also retrieved my kit: a backpack I secret in a top-notch floor safe underneath my desk.

Craving a cigarette, I slipped through the slider to the outside deck. Sparked a Maverick menthol and killed the next five minutes. Cooper tires squealing, Holly swung a white Chevy van into the church lot—braked to a halt at the Handicapped ramp. She slung the side door open, lowered a ramp of her own. Reappeared with a wheelchair, a leather satchel on the seat, and joined me on the deck.

“Glad you’re here, Holly.”

She glanced at my crotch. “So I see,” she said.

I followed her inside. “Don’t flatter yourself, woman. That’s a gun in my pocket.”

“Right.” Her green eyes sparkled. “Locked and loaded no doubt.”

Bending over the sofa, she checked Deb’s vitals, starting with her pulse. With nothing else to do, I stared at Holly’s ass.

“Eat your heart out, Taylor. I’m not wearing panties.”

“No need to state the obvious. Or fish for compliments. Your ass is sweet, but you are not. As you damn well know.”

She waved a blood pressure cuff. “No need to state the obvious. My husband feels the same—but he’s not tired of me yet. Okay, playtime’s over. Let’s get her in the chair.”

We rolled Drooling Deb gently down the ramp, limp head flopping like the Easter Bunny till we secured her in the van.

“In my line of work I don’t say this often, Holly, but I trust your judgement. Though Deb belongs in detox, I know she’d resent us if we pulled an intervention. While I respect her privacy, I’m walking a thin line here: she threatened to hurt someone. Could’ve been the booze talking. But if she gets drunk again? Who knows?

“I took your sister’s keys so she couldn’t drive, and I’ll keep them for the moment. Here’s my private number, the keys to my cabin at Arrowhead Lake, and a prepaid VISA card for $1,500. If you choose to go, your entire family’s welcome. The address is under my number. Short-term Deb’s in need of some healthy TLC. Perhaps you might get her hair done. And take her clothes shopping—but nothing made of flannel, including shirts or nightgowns. At the very least? Please buy yourself some proper panties woman. Thongs don’t qualify.”

Hell, yeah, Holly blushed. And yes she flipped the bird as the van peeled away—scorching burn marks in its wake.

No rest for the wicked: idle hands are the devil’s workshop. I tugged the battery from my cell phone. Wedged my six-two-frame into Deborah’s BMW—tossed my kit in back, cruised to the Harris residence. The driveway sat empty. But out of sight means out of mind: I stabbed the garage remote, rolled the Beamer inside. And once the door closed, entered the Harris kitchen through the connecting breezeway.

I’d never been invited to the Harris home. No surprise to find the kitchen’s alarm unarmed. But the guest bedroom shocked me: Lenny owned more guns than your average SWAT team. None of them locked away. I stufffed a Glock and a Beretta deftly in my kit bag. A menacing automatic rifle also caught my eye, along with a box of shells. After snatching both, I jogged to the waiting Beamer. Stowed everything in the trunk. Covered them with—you guessed it—Deborah’s fucking flannel blanket.

Once I left the Harris house, I got snarled in Friday traffic while heading north toward Vegas. Deborah’s BMW had outlived its usefulness. Despite the allure, criminal activities aren’t all fun and games. I spend far more time stealing, stashing, ditching, and burning motor vehicles than I do trying to get laid. To keep a fleet out of sight and available at all times, I rent six garages, scattered across two counties.

Tapping the steering wheel, I nursed a Premier chocolate shake packed with thirty grams of protein, and reviewed my inventory. A black Cadillac Escalade with dark tinted windows would blend well at my next destination—and also afforded privacy.

Took me thirty dreary minutes before I could make the swap. I traded my linen coat for a nylon jacket and aviator shades. Tossed my repackaged kit on the front passenger floor. Left the rifle in the Beamer

I didn’t plan to fight a war.

This time I drove west for six-point-three miles, and arrived at Shady Acres. Shady my ass. The only trees standing in this thrift-rate subdivision are sporadically-planted palms. I’d cased this place for months, and sidled to the curb on a dead-end street—where a service alley splits two adjoining house lots.

I recognized both cars sitting in the drive for the single-story ranch at 30 Mandarin Court. Stretching for my kit I heard a car door slam … and I kept my head bowed until the revving car passed.

Awesome. A solitary car now occupied the driveway. Lock picks in hand, kit clinging to one shoulder, I crossed the street to the alley; cut across the drive to the ranch’s rear entrance.

Hey, lucky me. The door sat ajar—

No one in the kitchen.

No one in the living room.

I discovered her bent over in the master bedroom, ass cheeks winking sweetly from a plaid mini-skirt. Blonde locks tied in pigtails.

“Where’s lover boy, Julie?”

She wagged a velvet bag. Displayed an open palm. “I sent him out for pizza and a bottle of white wine.”

“Why didn’t you call—and say he brought the loot?

“I decided to count these first. And I wanted to surprise you. I’m nearly done packing. Lend me a hand? The silver and gold bars are already in my Lexus, locked in a wheelie Samsonite.”

“Sure.” I shrugged. “I bought you a ticket to Hawaii. Connecting flight’s in San Francisco for the cross-Pacific trip. Departure’s in two hours. But since you like surprises—” I fired the Luger twice. Watched her head explode. A dazzling stream of diamonds cascaded everywhere … raining down like hailstones. She collapsed on the bed, where blood and scraps of brain goo splattered the satin headboard and the wall above.

I imagine she felt grateful I didn’t shoot her in the cunt.

If diamonds are indeed a girl’s best friend? Julie hadn’t died alone. The stupid glittering rocks didn’t interest me. Way too hard to fence; and I don’t trust fences. Besides. With all those diamonds lying there? And no evidence of a break-in? Even the dumbest cops would likely rule out robbery.

I dropped the Luger where I stood—yanked out the Beretta—tossed the keys to my stolen Escalade into an open suitcase lying on the bed. Tucked the Hawaii boarding passes securely in Julie’s purse, snagged the keys to her Lexus. Let the cops conclude she tried to sucker sugar daddy, and planned to bolt alone in the hot Cadillac.

Elapsed time since the gunshots? Less than sixty seconds.

Killing always makes me hungry.

But I didn’t wait for lecherous Lenny and his fresh, hot pizza. I slipped out the back door, making sure the lock snicked tight, and calmly drove away in Julie’s red Lexus… leaving his floozy’s corpse behind, cuz I’m not at all like Dexter—

Chopping up dead bodies. And dumping the bloody cuts at sea. That dude’s a fucking psycho.

Driving to a storage locker to stash the gold and silver, my adrenal rush petered. I yawned non-stop puttering further south to Julie’s rented condo so I could ditch the Lexus in her Henderson garage. Trudging on foot to the Sunset Station Hotel and Casino, where I flagged a cab, felt like Eternity.

Safe and sound at the church once again, I lacked the energy to play with my Alabama virgin. I hoped she didn’t feel abandoned, chained alone by the ankles on a Friday night. But she had plenty of food and water. And a stack of horror novels to keep her entertained.

I hopped in my Porsche. And at nearly nine p.m. secured an outdoor table at The Angry Butcher Steakhouse. Despite the restaurant’s motto—“Flavor worth fighting for”—not my favorite steak joint, but I like their patio.

My private cell phone buzzed, goosing my ass awake.

“Hey, Taylor. Good news. I took your suggestions. We’re all here at your cabin. I found a local detox—and Deb’s agreed to go. She checks in at eight tomorrow. By the way,” she added, “I’m still not wearing panties.”

“Thanks, Holly. You held my rapt attention—until that last announcement. Now say good night you wretched woman. A smoking hot waitress is coming my way with a bone-in ribeye steak.”

“Liar, liar, pants on fire. But if you bone her think of me. Catch ya later Taylor gator.”

I winked at the waitress. She winked back.

Maybe I’m not as tired as I thought. The restaurant closed at ten. And hope springs eternal. Or so they say.

Holly and her family hadn’t yet heard the news: the cops had arrested Lenny and booked him for murder. They found him in bed with Julie … cranking his carrot among the carats after he called 911—a half-eaten bacon pizza on the bedside table.

But who am I to judge how people spend their Friday nights? Or how they grieve. Soon, I imagine, he’ll be giving sloppy blowjobs. If Deborah visits him in prison maybe Lenny can give her pointers.
I hoped they’d all sleep well tonight. They’d certainly need their strength in the days ahead. Which reminded me—

I tapped my Memo app, typed a quick note. Sign up at Indeed: apply for morgue attendant jobs.

My church phone chimed just as I hit save.

“Hello, Reverend Taylor. This is Gladys Parker. Sorry to call so late, but I’m a sobbing, drunken mess. George told me he’s involved with a thirty-year-old girl.”

Good lord. George and Gladys just turned seventy. Been married fifty years.

“I’m sorry to hear that Gladys. But tell me … when’s the last time you gave George a good old fashioned sloppy blow job? With or without your dentures.”

Crime author Mick Rose pens haiku and prose while wandering the United States in a Quest for the Perfect Pizza. Though his crime fiction can loom dark, and not for the faint-of-heart, he typically tells tall tales involving sexual humor (which sometimes prove explicit). His stories have kindly found homes in print and online mags, including Yellow Mama Webzine, Punk Noir Magazine, and The Rye Whiskey Review. Care to say, “Hello?” You can visit Mick below:

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