By Jeffrey R. DeRego


We’re in the men’s room. His tongue tastes like old cigars, cheap whiskey, and garlic. His hands are all over me, but I don’t concentrate on that because he’s got a holstered pistol under his left shoulder. I push back just a little and unsnap the leather strap keeping the gun in place. He doesn’t notice. “I can’t do this in here. I’ll lose my job.”

He mumbles something about not giving a shit and pushes back in for another kiss.

“And you’re on camera.”

He freezes.

I point to a little hole in the ceiling. “Where’s your car. We can go there.”

He shakes his head. “I didn’t drive and we’re parked out front. Take me to your place, or I’ll get us room at the motel up the road.”

“I have a better idea. Wait for me outside, out back.” I kiss him again then squeeze out of the bathroom.

Rosemarie is waiting in the narrow hallway. She hands me the keys to her car. “I didn’t think you’d do it Josie.”

I wink and sneak into the back to fix my lipstick and tap out a line. I’m shaking but the coke takes my mind of being nervous. The dressing room emergency door opens to the back parking lot. I slip out. Diamond Ring is there pacing slowly near the dumpster.

Rosemarie drives a little tiny Hyundai, two-door, so two adults in the back seat is impossible. I toss the keys at Diamond Ring and slide into the small passenger seat.

His hands are on me before he even gets the door closed but I stop him and make him put in the key and turn on the radio.

Then I draw his pistol. “Drive.”

He isn’t sure yet that what I’ve just done has actually happened. “I don’t understand.”

“Drive the fucking car!” I make sure the safety is off. “And keep both hands on the wheel.” He starts the engine and takes us out of the parking lot. I keep the pistol against his right side. “Where’s the chief’s kid?”

“You’re as good as dead,” he says.

“The kid!” I shove the barrel hard against his ribs. “Take me to where you assholes have him!”

“My friends are going to come looking for me.”

“Drive me to where they kid is and they might find you alive —”

“They’ll scramble every single cruiser for thirty miles if they think something’s happened. You’ll never be able to hide —”

“Shut up and drive.” He drives us in a zig-zag pattern until we reach far into the north end and a row of tenement buildings stretching down towards one of the city’s abandoned mill complexes. He parks between a black Ford Explorer and a red minivan. “Address, apartment number. Now.”

“Thirteen. Third floor.”

“If I get up there and you lied to me, I’ll kill you.” I smash the pistol across his nose, then hard down on the back of his neck. “Sweet dreams.”


Jeffrey DeRego  was born in the seaside city of New Bedford, Massachusetts, one time home to both Fredrick Douglass and Herman Melville.  A graduate of New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, He now lives in Derry, New Hampshire, with his children Ian and Margaret and the memory of his beloved wife Cindy. His wildly popular Union Dues stories have appeared in audio format at Escape Pod, and Clonepod. His post award-winning post apocalyptic tales of Pleasant Hollow are available at Tales of The Zombie War. His novels, Escape Clause and Fleas, are available wherever books are sold.