Beach Bum

I saw her when I was on my morning jog down the beach. The sand between my toes, cradling my wide feet while the sun rose over the edge of the ocean.

The pink shawl she wore danced on the breeze. What a beauty. Dark lashes, silk hair. I wondered what her story was.

As I neared, I could see more of her features, the positioning of her body. Not what I expected on my morning run.

She wasn’t resting on the beach. She was dead. Blood was dried around a large gash in her dress, what looked like a knife wound.

I moved closer, stooped, then kneeled, pressed my fingers to her neck. No pulse.

What a treat.

Normally I had to hunt for new specimens for my collection. Never had I ever just found one. I tucked my arms beneath her neck and legs, then carried her stiff corpse back to my garage and closed the door, hoping no one had been watching from their back windows that morning. She would be perfect for my new vase case. I couldn’t wait to start the dissection.

 

THE END

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Beach Bum

Sushi, yeah?

Becka kicked Harley’s leg under the table.

Harley choked down her water. “Hey!”

“Nails and sushi after school?” Becka raised her eyebrows.

Harley took a long drink of water. Pretended to snub her off.

“Hey dork. Pleeeease. I don’t want to be bored today.”

Harley softened her posture. “You know I can’t resist sushi. First to tap has to pay the bill.”

“Deal.”

 #   #   #

Harley parked her Volvo in front of SushiLot just in time for the dinner doors to open. She walked a slow stiff walk, careful not to damage her fresh toenail paint. “I haven’t been here before.”

“They have a bunch of authentic shit and don’t even serve soy sauce unless you request some. You’ll love it.” Becka opened the door.

They slid their shoes off at the dining entrance, then sat, kneeled, still positioning to preserve their polish.

Water, tea, miso soup, plus four plates to start. They picked at the rolls and meat slabs with their chopsticks, happily talking about friends, assignments, summer job searches, and college prep.

“Adults complain so much about work and say to enjoy our youth, but it’s like really? You justwork.” Becka sipped on her soup.

“Right? I dare them to survive one of our days. They’d either crumble or explode by third period.”

Their laughs filled the quiet restaurant.

“What else can I get for you?”

“Can we get a refresher on our tea please, and this, this, this, this, aaaand,” Becka’s finger circled around the menu, “This.”

Their waitress nodded, lowered in a slight bow, then backed and turned from the table. She returned moments later with a tea kettle. The sickly color of the steaming tea made Harley think of the last time she vomited.

Two octopus nigiri, four tobiko nigiri, a small row of something specialty, and a few slabs of salmon sashimi were delivered.

Becka bowed her head. “Arigato.”

“Kochira koso arigatou gozaimashita.” Our waitress took a few steps back, but she didn’t leave.

When Harley looked at her, she smiled, nodded, bowed, but didn’t move. “O-kay.” Harley picked up her chopsticks. “What’s this one?” She pointed at what the waitress called tobiko.

“Fish eggs.”

“Hmm.” Harley popped one of the octopus pieces in her mouth, then einie-meenie-miney-mo-ed which fish egg pile she was going to eat.

The octopus was extra chewy. Her teeth ground at the meat, but she wasn’t making much headway. She chewed the rice down and kept trying.

When she gripped either side of the tobiko nigiri, the eggs shuffled. She paused, stared. She squeezed a little harder, causing the rice and eggs to bulge upward. Something was rolling around inside.

“Becka, do you see this?” Harley leaned in. She had stopped chewing, left the octopus tentacle tucked in her cheek. “Look, there’s something…” She squeezed harder. An eyeball popped up from beneath the orange eggs; white, round, and rolling. The iris was dark brown, the pupil wide. Harley dropped her chopsticks and kicked back.

The tentacle came alive then, fighting the pressure of Harley’s cheek, squirming to pry open her teeth. Harley stuck her fingers in her mouth, trying to pull the thing out. She choked, spit, gagged. As soon as her jaw parted, the meat slab moved past her teeth and shot down her throat. Harley choked when it lodged itself there.

She grabbed her neck, squeezed at the bulge. Her skin burned. Her eyes ached. Her pulse pounded her head, shaking her brain in its cavity. She was already starting to black out. When Harley looked to her friend, hoping for some form of rescue, she saw Becka slurp down the last of the eyeball fish egg pieces.

The chef came from between the cloth curtains in front of the kitchen then. He held a butcher knife, and blood stained his apron.

Becka licked her fingers. “Can I have five sashimi pieces and five nigiri please? Oh and a little of her stomach twisted into a roll?”

 

THE END

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Sushi, yeah?

Startled

Chelsea knocks. “Can I borrow your hair dryer? Mine just stopped working.”

I answer her through the closed door. “Not right now.”

“What do you mean?” Chelsea wiggles the handle. “B, let me in.”

I’ve jammed the chair in front of it, so it doesn’t budge.

“What the hell?”

I don’t respond. I thumb through the photos on my phone. Bethany, Vic, Sam, all going to their dream college. When Hersh died, I hadn’t even bothered applying. I couldn’t. I barely pulled through to get my diploma last week.

“B!” Chelsea is shouldering the door now.

“Go away Chels, not right now.”

The bullet slides into the chamber. I close the cylinder. Just two finger movements, and it’s over. Thumb then first finger.

No practice rounds. Dad only left one bullet in his sock drawer. Mom and Dad would be upset, but they would be okay. They had Chels. She was the better of us twins anyway. Came out first and never stopped going. My whole life revolved around Hersh after I met her. More than anything, I just don’t want to think anymore. I’m tired. I’m ready to rest.

I cock the hammer. Chelsea is really laying into the door now. I better do this before she…

She breaks in. I don’t think. I aim the gun, pull the trigger, only I don’t shoot myself. I shoot Chels. I didn’t mean to…when she burst in, she startled me. I collapse on top of her and hug her as tight as I can while she dies beneath me.

 

THE END

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Startled

Me and You

You should move back home, they say. Surely there’s someone you can call, they say. As if age has anything to do with anything. I’m eighteen so I must have two parents and be getting ready for college?

What if my parents died when I was five, and because I had no family willing to take me, I became a ward of the state? What if I’m out here because the job I’m working full time doesn’t pay me enough to make rent this month if I want to eat? What if I’m trying to help feed an ill friend who can only work so much, because she’s dying? But ‘they’ are more worried about what they think I should be doing, so I get scolded as they drop thirty cents in my cup. I take it because it’s my penance.

* * *

I watch her take people’s money all day. Freeloaders, free spirits, hippies, millennials; they’re all bad, the lot of them. No one else will do anything about it, cops drive right past beggars on the corner, so here I am. I’ll wait until she packs it in for the day. Surely she’ll turn down an alley or quiet neighborhood street, maybe tuck into a long apartment hallway. All I need is five seconds with no eyes, and she’s mine.

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Me and You

Off to College

I held her body close. I needed to feel her warmth one more time.

We had been best friends growing up. Field trips, notes in class, sleepovers, boyfriends, heartache, learning to drive, lying for each other…we had been inseparable.

I looked at her face.

When she came in to tell me she wasn’t going to NYU, hadn’t even applied, I was hurt. Why hadn’t she told me? I could have applied to Berkeley, too. Unless she didn’t want us to attend together. I had so many questions she wouldn’t answer.

Now for the hard part. What next?

Her arms, her legs, her head, all laid on the floor in a pile. I released her torso, let it fall heavy beside the rest of her parts.

Am I going to burn, dump, or bury all this?

 

THE END

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Off to College

Untitled

I look down at the loose change in my hand. A few quarters, dimes, some nickels, and a load of pennies. Should be enough to get something from a dollar menu. The long trek home from the bus stop wasn’t bad today considering it was technically still summer. Rain rolled through the day before, and, with it, came a slight cold front.

I pass the gas station. I don’t have money for a candy bar. Will power.

Darcy had been a bitch at work. I know I’m new, and kind of clumsy, but they are supposed to train you. If she would just help a little, I would be an asset. Four days in and she already expected me to get a report done…in an hour…when no one has shown me the software, despite my asking.

I pass the church. 

My feet ache. Shelby told me to bring comfy shoes for the walk. I just can’t imagine wearing a casual skirt and a button shirt with sneakers. But then again, I keep all forms of makeup in my bag for touch-ups through the day. Shelby’s not that kind girl; comfort over composure she says. I think of my mom, all those years pulling her hair into a tight bun. She didn’t believe in comfort.

As I approach the cemetery, I see a man, presumably homeless, sitting on the signage out front. His head is down, his back sags heavy. Normally I spare change when I can, but I can’t today. I have to hold out for that two-week paycheck. I expect to have to deny this man money as I walk by, but he doesn’t acknowledge my presence. I continue, pass, then pause. 

There’s something.

“Sir, excuse me, sir.”

He lifts his head, looks at me.

“Uh, oh, I don’t know what I wanted, I saw you sitting here, and you looked defeated. I just wanted to talk to you.”

His back straightened. “Oh?”

“I mean, everyone has bad days, and I hate seeing sad people, especially when you don’t know if they have anyone to talk to.”

“Well that’s all right. I don’t know if I would say I’m sad, but you’ve already made my day a bit better.”

His name is Al and he’s been all around the states. He said his wife was in the cemetery and he wanted to say bye. He was getting ready to hitch a ride far away and didn’t know when he would get a chance to visit again. 

I look over the headstones. Some flat and new, some sticking from the ground in arcs, statues, towers. There are a couple of monuments tucked in the corners. “My mom is buried here too.”

“I’m sorry to hear she’s gone. You’re young.”

“I am. She was, too.”

We are quiet for a while. I enjoy the stillness with the stranger.  He has a comforting voice, a soothing soul. I wonder where he’s headed, but I don’t ask. He knows where he’s going, and I know where I’m going. That’s all that matters. 

I reach my hand in my pocket, pull it out holding my loose change. 

“Here. In case you want to grab dinner on your way out. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.” 

He protests. I try to insist.

He holds my hand closed, then lowers it, looks at my pocket. “You need it, you need to eat. Besides, it will do me no good anyway.” 

“You don’t have to be like that. I know it’s meager but it’s literally all I…”

“I know, I know Martha, you don’t have to explain.”

I yank my hand from his, take three steps back. “I never told you my name.”

“When you are what I am, you don’t have to ask. Thank you for talking with me.”

He seemed so normal before. Great. What did I get myself into? I don’t have anything for self defense. I step back, one foot at a time, hoping he doesn’t try to hurt me. I’ve heard the bath salt stories.

“Tsk. Tsk. I’m not going to hurt you Martha. You were kind. You are safe.”

I continue adding distance between us. A young man is walking our way on the sidewalk, and I consider yelling a warning to him, but then I feel silly. This man hasn’t done anything. He’s just a little off is all. I’ll be fine. I just need to get away, get home.

“It’s too bad. I rather enjoyed talking with you. Maybe I’ll see you again someday.” He winked at me, then jumped up and crouched on the ledge where he had been sitting. In fractions of a second, he leaps in the air, is upon the young man, then they’re just gone. A smear of darkness passes my vision and disappears into the cemetery and surrounding trees. I stand there, stunned.

What did I see? Who do I tell?

I hold my neck, out of instinct I suppose, pop off my heels, then scuttle as fast as I can the rest of the distance home. 

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Untitled

Employed

“I got the job!” Michelle, my roommate, is so excited she can’t stand it. I watch her jump up and down, do two laps around the apartment, and call her parents. “Let’s go to dinner to celebrate.”

She throws open the window in our high rise. “I got the job, everyone,” she yells from the open orifice. “I got an offer from…” her voice cut off. When I turn around, she is gone. I freeze. It takes me more than a few seconds to realize she isn’t hiding in the apartment somewhere. I walk to the window, slowly. I float. I can’t really feel my feet.

When I lean over the ledge, I see her, but not splattered into the cement like I thought she would be. Michelle is just floating in the air, below the edge of the window.

“Got you.” She grabs me by my shirt collar and pulls me from the apartment, then lets me go. I watch the street approach. My stomach flys to my throat. My joints tingle from the adrenaline. I turn over just in time to see her crawl back into our window. I close my eyes.

 

THE END

 

Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Employed