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Meet FFO Fixer & P.R. Con-Man Mick Rose: Breathless

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Writer and con-man Mick Rose contributes to FFO's coffers by convincing investors he's a lobbyistand that Flash Fiction Offensive is a trade magazine for an International military-industrial complex hell-bent on producing weapons of mass destruction and biological warfare. However his repeated youthful attempts to sell the state of Texas to the Mexican government proved a miserable failure and nearly cost him his life.

Besides digging graves and acting as a wheelman for Jesse Heels Rawlins, he hosts Center Stage with Mick Rosewhich routinely shines the spotlight on an an International cast of writers, poets and illustrators. As his story "Breathless" shows us the delinquent Mr. Rose has got a thing for birds. With or without feathers.

Breathless by Mick Rose

Pain. Hammering his skull. Like a Jehovah Witness’s zealous fist assailing an unanswered wooden door. Drew peeled opened bleary-eyes to an even more unwelcome sight: a grisly pair of shotgun barrels primly-pointed at his chest.

Certainly not the first time Drew had surfaced from the Land of Nod—and discovered himself aroused with a loaded gun that wasn’t his. (Though he much preferred stiff nipples brushing hard against his chest.) But if his luck held true to form this wouldn’t be his last—

“You lookin’ to get killed, Mister?”

“Naw, I’m just lookin’ to find a Starbucks.”

“You got a real long walk ahead of you then—closest one around here is sixty miles east.

“Course if you had yourself an iPhone you’d know that.”

Shifting the shotgun to her shoulder, she strode right out the barn.

Abandoning his gear and beer (empties littering the hay), teetering Drew followed, shielding swollen-eyes against the early-morning sun. Staring at her ass easily made him seasick. But no pain no gain—and Drew enjoyed the view.

“Kick-ass place you’ve got here,” he hollered, clawing straw from his hair.

“For five-million-two it’s yours—no more skulking in the barn.”

“Why you selling?”

“Cuz I’m the kick-ass realtor who holds the exclusive listing on this private kick-ass place.”

That explained the pencil skirt—and the three-inch pump stilettos. He’d glimpsed a lovely canyon of yawning golden cleavage. But that slender finger on the trigger had commanded his full attention.

“Not a for sale sign in sight. And you’re the first person I’ve seen all week. The owners living elsewhere and just decide to sell?”

She fished a nearby flowerbox. And flipped a key to Drew. Who much to her surprise snatched the silver Yale in stride. Though he fumbled with the lock before the deadbolt finally snicked. Then they stepped into the kitchen—where the Keurig caught his eye.

“What I wouldn’t do for hot coffee and a shower—”

She leaned the shotgun by the entry and left the back door open, key still in the lock. “Hot coffee, hot shower—you probably want hot pussy next.”

“Do I have to walk sixty miles to get that, too?”

“Depends how bad you want it. Or what you’re willing to settle for. This was once a working ranch. There's still some livestock out there.”

“Right now I’d settle for coffee.”

“Help yourself—you’re good at it: cups are in the cupboard above the stove; everything else is on the counter.”

Drew snagged a Boise State Broncos mug, selected a Dark Roast from the Sampler pack, snapped the K-cup in place, and idly tapped Start.

“I like your work, Drew. It inspired me.” Smirking she waggled an iPhone, her back propped against the fridge; those fine long-legs crossed above the ankles. “Did a magazine hire you for this here job—or are you freelancing?”

Drew stared at his Facebook Profile. Jesus, how long had she been in the barn rifling his gear? “Both. Photojournalism’s a ruthless field. Even worse than a frenzied band of Bargain Basement shoppers—all hopped on crystal meth when Black Friday rolls around. I learned early: save your best photos for yourself—everyone wants quality but no one wants to pay.

“And male Greater Sage Grouse are truly magnificent birds few people ever see. They’re secretive creatures. And outside mating season, they live in isolation. But late February to April, they gather to court. Watching these birds perform their rituals always leaves me breathless.”

“How did you know these birds were here?”

Drew shrugged. “I network.”

“How did you get here?”

Drew set the empty mug in the sink. “Hired a ride from the airport.” His propensity for DUIs had bereft him of a license. And sixty nasty days in jail had curbed his propensity to drive without one.

“Hot shower’s down that hall, to your left,” she instructed.

Drew shuffled off, pleased with his good fortune. He took his time in the pulsing steam. And returned to the kitchen, wrapped snugly in a towel, his right-extended-arm gripping balled-up grungy clothes.

“I need your help, Drew.”

“With what?”

She waved a half-liter-bottle of Absolut. “Open this, will you?” 

Drew considered his clothes—and tossed them out the door.

Accepting the open vodka, she swallowed a tentative sip, and gave him a tentative kiss. 

Passing back the bottle, she plunked her ass on the kitchen table: and delving her black blazer—suddenly produced his knife.

“I want it rough, Drew. Starting with my clothes. I want you to shred them. I want you to leave me … breathless.”

Hearing hinky housewife shit was nothing new to Drew. Slugging Absolut, he calmly reclaimed his knife 

But bit back the growing urge to whistle while he worked.

Setting blade and vodka on the counter by the Keurig, horny Drew leaned forward to twist a tender nipple. “Now this is what I call prime real estate. Your husband’s a lucky man—”

“Stop talking!” she ordered. And slapped him in the face: long, artificial nails strafing cheek and neck. Drew’s reflexive backhand smashed her in the mouth—extracting blood-for-blood. All thoughts of foreplay vanquished, he ripped away the towel and plunged his cock between her legs—her pussy even drier than arid dessert sage. And just about as cold as far-flung fucking Pluto.

“That’s it, Drew, take what you want. Take it, take it, take it!” 
He slammed a fist into her ribs: a blow that left her breathless—

Drew soon passed out on the floor. But eventually opened bloodshot eyes to a familiar unwelcome sight: a pair of goddamn shotgun barrels—pointed primly at his chest.

“Congratulations Drew. You left your jailbird fingerprints everywhere. Your DNA’s under my nails. And your mess lies in the barn. 

"So when the cops find your corpse splattered around this kitchen? Well, naturally they'll agree I shot you in self-defense. Once they’re out of my hairand the crime scene photographers have had a bloody ball? I'll sue the idiots who hired you. They should fork up several million to keep my case out of court."

All that primo real estate in all its naked glory. But the last thing Drew laid eyes on was that single slender finger.

Yeah, that finger left him breathless—

Crime author Mick Rose pens haiku and prose while wandering the United States in a Quest for the Perfect Pizza. His stories have kindly found good homes in half a dozen online mags, including England’s Close To The Bone, Punk Noir Magazine and Horror Sleaze Trash. Care to say, “Hello?” You can visit Mick on Facebook and also at Goodreads.

"Breathless" first appeared at Yellow Mama Webzine.

Bad-Ass Books with Kevin Lear (April 2019 List)

Today in Bad-Ass books we're pleased ta introduce crime-lovin' hooligan Kevin Lear, who loves ta read about Crooks-on-Nook. The Mysterious Mr. Lear has graciously agreed to share 5 of his favorite all-time Indie crime reads with us each Quarter. Here's his first 2019 List. Hope you'll check these out. And return once again when Kevin does in June.

Any words you see in RED? We gleefully call 'em "blood trails." They're all hypertext links that will magically transport you clear across Cyber Space with just a single click or tap. We encourage y'all to go Trippin'! (Magic Mushrooms not included.)

Cheers and Happy Trails!

PIGGY BACK by Tom Pitts
Published by Down & Out Books
Also available on Amazon

When Becky and Shelly steal a car with a trunk-load of drugs they think they’ve got it made. But when the guy whose drugs they stole sends a psycho to chase them down? These two gals wind up on a road trip for their lives. A great pulp page turner.

Published by Down & Out Books
Also available on Amazon

This book involves a metal band—weary road dogs—driving gig-to-gig across Ohio’s turnpikes and backroads, and making just enough money to get by. Things get crazy when the drummer hooks up with a groupie. Part music-driven, part love story. My kind of pulp.

2000 MILES OF OPEN ROAD by Trey R. Barker
Published by Down & Out Books
Also available on Amazon

All Hal wanted was to buy a DVD. Not just any DVD. One with an actual murder on it. And for $20,000 it was his. But suddenly he’s on the run with a hooker riding shotgun—and a load of bad shit coming his way.

Published by Minty Goodness Press
Available on Amazon

This is a story about a couple of con men—who hook up with a mark they couldn’t con. In an RV built for the rich, these three head cross country. But some of the angry folks they’ve conned are looking for some payback. A lot of twists and turns certainly kept me reading.

LEADFOOT by Eric Beetner
Published by Down & Out Books
Also available on Amazon

LEADFOOT is part of duo with RUMRUNNERS its companion. In LEADFOOT, Calvin shows his teenage son the ropes to the “family” business—which involves hauling loads the authorities don’t need to know about. Most days it’s business as usual: make the haul, collect the money, and then it’s time to head on home. But when Calvin’s son loses his haul, all hell breaks loose as well.

Kevin Lear was raised by a single mother, who was also a member of Mensa. Thanks to her, some relatives, and teachers—including an 8th grade nun, he grew to love reading, good authors, and good books. A fan of Barnes & Noble, he often reads about crooks on Nook.

Tough Titties by Carman C. Curton

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Ain't nothin' like an ol' fashion Gutter pissing contest to get the juices flowing. Toss in rat dicks and horse pussy? Yee-haw! We've got Carman C. Curton makin' her Gutter Gal debut while flashin' her "Tough Titties."

Tough Titties by Carman C. Curton

To: Levi Common
From: Cat McAlba
RE: Tuff Cuff Urine Cup


I found a harness online that will let the horses walk around and still collect the urine. Not only would it get PETA off our backs because the mares wouldn’t be in their stalls 24/7, they’d also be more comfortable, and we’d have less shit to shovel if they were in the great outdoors during the day. I’ve attached an order form. Want to look into it?

Catherine McAlba
Broodmare Urine Collection Technician
Champion Meadows

To: Cat McAlba
From: Levi Common
RE: Tuff Titty

My life’s tough. Keeping this fucking farm running is tougher. I’m stuck in this office all day. Doing my job. Do I give a rat’s ass if these horses are stuck inside all day, too? The fuck do u think? If you can’t do your job without pissing and moaning about shit then get out and I’ll give it to someone who can. Stuff your tough cup where the sun don’t shine. And stop calling me “L” like I’m your pet or something.

Levi Paul Common, Jr.
Owner, Director of Operations
Champion Meadows

To: Levi Common
From: Cat McAlba
RE: Tough Stuff


Strix and Peeka are getting contact rashes. No way they’re going to pass the next walk-thru. It’ll be rough making the minimum quota if we lose two more mares. Would you like to hear about tough? I didn’t start in horses. When I was 17, I artificially inseminated rats. For money. Good money, too. You’d be surprised how many rats you can jerk in an hour. Those little rat dicks are a riot. In no time at all those silly stiff-dick males were in heaven. One—'cause my finger and the glove and that test tube did them just right. Two—I’ve seen females eat the males afterwards if they weren’t so happy with the proceedings. They wanted me and not a big, fat girl rat. C

Catherine McAlba
Director of Dick Tickling Operations

To: Cat McAlba
From: Levi Common
RE: Tuff Titty

I don’t care if you sucked rat dick for money. And said thank you after. These horses are piss machines not pets and they got numbers not names. If names and this job are important to you start using mine. L-e-v-i.

Levi Paul Common, Jr.
Head Dick in Charge of Everything

To: Levi Common
From: Cat McAlba
RE: Tough Enough


Hatch said the foal out of Filanza (#114) died of septicemia yesterday, and I put down the colt from Perky (#79) for cleft palate. So they’ll be ready for the stallion in a week or two. That would balance putting Charlie Girl (#193) and Fay (#216) out of rotation while I treat their sores. Here’s something about tough. When I was 16, I bred mares for Roaring Spring Stables, but not for the money. Because I got off on it. I liked stringing up that mare’s leg. Wrapping that chain around her lip, so she had to take it. I liked grabbing that stallion’s flapping dick and shoving it in for him. I loved the mare’s scream. The biting. The blood. Good stuff. Nothing like it. C

Catherine McAlba
Executive Stallion Stroker

To: Cat McAlba
From: Levi Common
RE: Tuff Titty

I don’t give a fucking shit what you done with rat dicks and horse pussy. I been on the phone twice today with Pfizer about minimum production standards and storage tank temperatures. Cause quality mare’s urine matters when old biddies need hormone cream for their dried up pussies. Crying about how horses can’t move and mucking out two times a day and making sure no piss ever touches their boo-boos means you don’t got your priorities right. I told you, these aint your pets. Take the names off the paperwork and make sure only the numbers are on before you leave tonight. You’re on notice.

Levi Paul Common, Jr.
Owner Champion Meadows—where your Ass-is-Grass

To: Levi Common
From: Cat McAlba
RE: Tough Muff


Let me tell you something about tough. I started fucking men when I was eleven because it hurt less than getting hit. And usually took less time. Never liked it. Still don’t. But I learned when a man can really hurt you, and when he wants to hurt you but doesn’t have the stones. It’s a useful skill. C

Catherine McAlba
Executive Officer of Cock Jockey Operations

To: Cat McAlba
From: Levi Common
RE: Tuff Titty

You’re fucking nuts. Don’t bother coming in tomorrow. Hatch’ll mail your check.

Levi Paul Common, Jr.
Executive Director in Charge of Cum Dumps

To: Levi Common
From: Cat McAlba
RE: Tough Snuff

You wanna see tough?

You’re about to see the face of it. Look out your office door, Levi. Time to meet the titties—

Carman C. Curton consumes caffeine while writing a series of microstories called QuickFics, which she leaves in random places for people to find. She’s been published at Snakeskin Poetry and was shortlisted for the Fiction War Fall 2018 competition. You can talk with her about flash fiction and your noir-ish tales of woe on Twitter @CarmanCCurton.

Flash Fiction Offensive crime authors Nick Kolakowski and Travis Richardson nominated for 2019 Derringer Awards

Hey folks, Jesse here. 
Pleased to share the news that crime authors Travis Richardson and Nick Kolakowski have been nominated for Derringer Awards in the Flash Fiction category by the Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS).
Nick's story "Sonny The Wonder Beast" and Travis's suspense tale "A Misunderstanding" both published here at Flash Fiction Offensive in 2018 during crime author Hector D. Junior's editorial tenure.
These stories proved very well-received by readers, and neither of these writers are strangers to FFO. Nick's fun story "Auditions"—the first tale I ever read by him—appeared at FFO in September 2017. And he writes some of the finest author interviews around over at Shotgun Honey.
Travis's tale "A Misunderstanding" was one of last year's top draws. FFO publishes many kinds of stories, and when supplementing our Submissions Guidelines in February, I included Travis's story as an example of the kind of tales me and my miscreant editorial crew are looking for. So hot damn—it's great to see our tastes validated. And we look forward to having Nick and Travis back.
Kudos also to all the Derringer Award nominees in all of SMFS's categories. The hard-working folks at SMFS, currently under the leadership of Kevin Tipple, have been awarding Derringer's since 1998. You can find a full list of current Derringer noms at the link below.
Meanwhile, I talked to Hector Duarte, Jr. last week. Hector says things is goin' well—butt he's shifted most of his activities to Twitter. So if you're lookin' to show him some love his Twitter handle is @hexpubs
Care ta read "A Misunderstanding," "Sonny The Wonder Beast," and "Auditions?" Then you're in luck! We've included these links below, as well as Travis's 2015 FFO classic, "How I Got Into The Navy." Both these dudes have authored books, too—and you can check them out on Amazon and maybe do some shopping at the links below their stories.
As a reminder ta writers: You can't get nominated for SHIT if you don't SUBMIT. So what are ya waitin' for? Here's our Guidelines and Magic Submission Portal. Cheers y'all

Gut-Shots: Role Player by Matt Phillips

Life ain't easy in The Gutter. But when Opportunity knocks? You gotta know when to take your shots, as Matt Phillips shows us.

The Role Player by Matt Phillips

Coach Egan shoved his cock into his tightie-whiteys. Stuffed his button-down blue shirt tails deep inside his pants … and tried to fasten the fucking things—black pleated slacks he’d let out two summers in a row. He figured he was the last division one men’s basketball coach in the country with a five figure salary. Middle five figures. Served him right for giving up on his teaching cert and taking this coaching job at Saint Matthew’s—a small college outside DC. Now he made what a seventh grade teacher did. Had to explain to his slutty wife why she couldn’t keep flying out to Oahu la-di-da Hawaii to sleep with her former college roommate.

The affair didn’t bother Egan—turned him on, in fact.

But they needed that god damn money. Paper his players called it.

And here Saint Matthew’s was for the first time in school history, a thirteen seed in the country’s biggest basketball tournament. They won their first two games, so oddsmakers started believing—had them as slight underdogs for the next game. And now his dumb shit kids were wearing Cinderella’s glass slipper, hoping to knock off the number one team—a squad led by Riggins Joe, an All-American out of Inglewood and headed for the NBA lottery. One and done, as they say: the odds of St. Matthew’s getting back to the big dance were the same as Egan’s chances of having a threesome in Oahu.

Yet here they were at halftime, his team down by only two. All because of Jame-O, their freshman swingman, another swinging dick from—yeah, that’s right—the projects of Inglewood, CA.

About the only thing Jame-O didn’t do right in the first half was shoot free throws. He was four for ten from the line. But with twenty-two points, nine rebounds, and four assists, the six-eight freshman was well on his way to a tourney triple-double. College ballers called that a reckon me.

As in: Reckon you NBA scouts will draft me?

So here Coach Egan was at halftime, down two in the tourney, pissing blood in a bathroom stall and trying to buckle his pants. Who’d have fucking thought? He sucked in his belly … pointed his chin at the ceiling, managed to button his slacks. But damn he almost puked when he let out his breath.

Trotting from the locker room and into the tunnel, Egan made a turn toward the court—

And rammed straight into Cirrus Greek.

Egan almost fell, caught himself, and straightened. “What the fuck?”

“Just wanted to have a chat, Coach—”

Egan jammed a fat index finger into Cirrus’s chest. The jackass reeked like a nasty combo of drugstore cologne and feta cheese. “It’s your boy Jame-O who’s fucking up out there. Almost perfect, except for his shit free throws.”

Cheeks plum-red, gray eyes squinted in anger, Cirrus slapped Egan’s hand away. “Jame-O knows what’s at stake. Besides, the kid wants to drive around in a black Escalade and bump Kendrick Lamar.”

“You saw the first half. And you see the fucking score.”

Cirrus cupped a hand behind Egan’s flabby neck, pulled their faces together, whispered in his ear. “I told you, Jame-O knows what’s at stake. And me? I want my motherfucking money. You hearing me on that, Coach?”

“Jame-O thinks he’s going to the league.”

Cirrus smirked. “He can think in one hand—and shit in the other. See which comes first. That knee injury his junior year in high school? Still gives him pain. Jame-O’s gonna be lucky to ride the bench on a ladyboy’s pro team in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is our best shot at making money off this kid.”

Egan tried to pull away, but Cirrus tightened his grip, clenched fingers pressing circles into his pasty skin. “The way your boy’s playing, I’m wondering if Jame-O remembers the spread. Sometimes I think the kid can’t fucking add.”

Cirrus chewed on his own saliva before whispering again. “Just make sure you remember the spread, fuck face. This much money on the line? We can’t afford fuck ups.”

Egan planted both palms against Cirrus’s chest, shoved him against the wall. Free from the bigger man’s grip, he trotted again toward the court and the packed buzzing stadium.

Cirrus’s narrowed eyes followed him out onto the court before trekking to his seat. He liked to put his time and money into up-and-coming fighters: boxers and mixed martial arts. But he had a soft spot for Jame-O. Brought the kid up through middle school, AAU ball: saw him make All-City four straight years in high school. The knee injury in the last game of Jame-O’s junior year fucked the kid’s offers up. Made Cirrus take out that insurance policy on him—just in case. A big chunk of green that thing cost him.

Jame-O took a partial ride at Saint Matthew’s. Thought he could transfer to a mid-major if he had a good freshman year. And it was good. He averaged fifteen points and eight rebounds, got his team into the tourney—for the first time.

But Cirrus heard the whispers. Jame-O was too skinny for the league. Rail-thin, as a matter of fact. He had a couple uncles in and out of the joint. His family was as accomplished as trailer park janitorial staff.

And something else.

The crackhead gene ran deep in Jame-O’s fucked up family tree. And Jame-O was caught on video doing lines at a Motel Six after their last win. The chick who sent Cirrus the video wanted ten Gs—

Or she’d send the vid to TMZ when the tournament was over.

But Cirrus didn’t negotiate with assholes.

Did he feel bad for the kid? A little. He remembered letting Jame-O crash at his place in Culver City when the kid’s mom started shooting up in the living room. Remembered talking Jame-O out of jail time after he roughed up a dude from Watts at a street ball tournament. But mostly he remembered everybody asking why Cirrus Greek was putting his money on a ballplayer and not into fighters where it belonged. And they were right—

Unless Jame-O did what he was told.


Riggins dribbled left down the baseline.

Jame-O slid right, put one foot out of bounds. Riggins slammed into him, put up a wild finger roll that hit the side of the backboard. Jame-O flopped backwards, sprawling onto the hardwood. Screams poured onto the court like the waves of a tsunami.

Saint Matthews took the ball up court, and with the shot clock dwindling, Jame-O took a pass and went up for a dunk.

But Riggins slapped at Jame-O’s elbows, swatted the ball into the stands—an act that drew a whistle. He shouted in Jame-O’s ear, “I’m the number one player in the country, motherfucker. You sit your ass down.”

Riggins stayed in his face all the way to the foul line. “Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll have a nice career in Taiwan. Be a good spot for you—I hear they small over there. Get you a few dunks every now and then.

“Yeah, earn yourself a trophy in the Taiwan basketball hall of fame.”

Jame-O felt anger rising … a bitter juice that fermented on the streets of Los Angeles. Playing on asphalt, making chain-link nets splash like small change. Now here he was in the tournament with another dude calling him a piece of shit.

Like his momma did.

Like his uncles did.

Jame-O missed both free throws. Again—

Coach Egan called a timeout. “Jame-O can’t hit a fucking free throw. Time to play two-man ball using Serge and Reggie—”

“Coach, I’ll hit the next two. I promise—”

“You promise, Jame-O? What is this, a fucking slumber party? I thought you came from the street. They’re going to keep on fouling you because your free throws are pure shit.”

“I can make—”

“You’re six for fourteen from the line.”


Jame-O? Shut the fuck up and do what I say.”

The next three minutes poured away. Jame-O begging for the ball. But Coach kept calling plays for Reggie or pick and rolls with Serge.

Up and down the floor: brick city for both teams. Until Riggins drove right through the paint, spun to his left, and flicked a soft floater—that splashed pure nylon in Jame-O’s sweaty face. The hometown crowd erupted in displeasure, the jaunts pinging like god damn needles in Jame-O’s freshman ears.

Saint Matthew’s down by one. Eight seconds on the game clock. Sweating like a frantic pig, Egan called a timeout. But other than the screaming crowd, Jame-O didn’t hear shit once coach told him he’d be throwing the ball in from the baseline.

Coach Egan suddenly grabbed him. “Keep an eye on Riggins. They’ll try to trap Reggie. And remember the fucking point spread.”

Jame-O saw the man guarding him turn to face the court, trying to double Reggie as he motioned for the ball. Jame-O tossed the ball at the defender’s ass, stepped inbounds—and scooped the ball in his right hand.

The defense recovered quickly, shifted, rotated.

But Jame-O slipped up the sideline, shaking a defender at half court by dribbling behind his back. Eight feet from the three-point arc Jame-O launched a rainbow … that hung for a year—

And dropped straight through the net.

The crowd erupted like an avalanche … multiplied by a hundred.


Right hand on the wheel, the other dangling a Winston out the rental Caddie’s window—Cirrus checked the GPS. One mile still from the Hyatt’s after-party.

“Man, that three-point shot was something,” Egan said.

Cirrus caught Jame-O’s beaming eyes in the rearview mirror. “Yeah—helluva shot. The way you sliced that defense? Then stopped and popped. Beautiful.

“And since you ain’t got your own wheels yet superstar, it’s hard to get out on the town, find you a lady—me and Coach special ordered something for you. Call it, I don’t know, dessert?”

Cirrus cut the engine, killed the lights. Flicked his butt to the curb, hit the power door locks, motioned the kid outside, and flashed a toothy grin.

Jame-O climbed out the XTS, tugged at his lapels. He squinted down a dead end alley—his dick already hard. DC hookers were legends up at Saint Matthew's. He couldn’t wait to tell his teammates about this.

Egan joined his star, looped his arm round Jame-O’s shoulder.

“What’s up, Coach?”

“What did I say in that last timeout?”

“You told me keep an eye on Riggins.”

“And what else, you stupid shit? That three-point shot blew the point spread. If you’d driven the lane, drawn a foul—and then hit your god damn free throws you still could have won the game. Instead, you had to be a showboat.”

Jame-O turned to find Cirrus—who licked his upper lip. “In my business, we call this ‘coming to collect.’”

Jame-O couldn’t get that final splash of nylon out of his head. He’d be hearing that swish for the rest of his life. It was Egan who drove his right foot through Jame-O’s left knee cap.

Egan’s blow and Cirrus’s cackle shouldn’t have surprised the tough kid from Inglewood.

But they did.

Matt Phillips lives in San Diego—he's plotting a takeover of the crime (fiction) underworld. His books include Countdown, Know Me from Smoke and The Bad Kind of Lucky. His short fiction has been published in Mystery Tribune, Tough and Shotgun Honey. You can visit him on Facebook and also on his web site.