There is something fascinating about watching someone get that far out there, that split second moment of madness before he or she goes off the deep end. Here is one of those moments.

Decocked by Stephen D. Rogers

It's easier to get shit-faced than get out of the trouble it causes.

A gun, however… Cocked. Decocked. Cocked. Decocked. Cocked. Decocked. I could repeat that cycle a hundred times an hour.

Well, less, probably. After all I was shit-faced. "Okay let's go."

I slipped out of my car and then slipped on something but I was smooth, and I slipped into the convenience store without anybody noticing me.

The packages were all so shiny bright.

Cocked. Decocked. Cocked.

Nacho chips. I really wanted some nacho chips. Regular. Small. Cupped for dipping. Restaurant style. Made from white corn. Made from blue corn. Flavored with lime.

I walked past the nacho chips and towards the big glass refrigerators.

Decocked. Cocked. Decocked.

Eggs. Milk. Flaccid containers of deli meats. Sour cream. Curds and whey. Blocks of cheese. What? Did I miss a refrigerator? How could they not have shredded cheese? It was a crime, I tell you, a crime. No way was spreadable cheese product touching my nacho chips.

Cocked. Decocked. Cocked.

Decocked. Cocked. Decocked.

Maybe the person up front knew something. I grabbed a shiny bag of nacho chips or at least I thought they were nacho chips but what did it matter when the effing store didn't even carry shredded cheese? I tossed the bag over my shoulder.

Cocked decocked cocked decocked cocked.

"I wanna speak to a manager."

Sahib pointed at the ceiling with both hands.

I looked up. There was no manager up there.

"What do ya mean? Did the manager die? Well then the company needs to send somebody else. No wonder you don't have any shredded cheese. Your orders are probably all messed up. For your sake I hope someone is doing payroll."

"There's less than fifty dollars in the drawer."

"I'm not surprised. People aren't going to come in if you don't have what they want. You should demand a new manager."

I banged my gun against the counter for emphasis. "Shred. Ed. Cheese."

"Shredded cheese. Yes."

"You tell them that a customer complained. You tell them that I demanded shredded cheese. And not just one kind of shredded cheese either. I want some variety. You tell them that I'm not coming back until they get their act together."

"Yes, sir."

"Don't worry, my friend. They won't be mad at you. You're just the messenger. I was holding a gun on you. They can't fault you for delivering my demands."

The room spun a little. "But why should they listen to me, just one person? You can see that I'm holding a gun but how would they know you weren't lying? Maybe I didn't have a gun. Maybe I wasn't even here."

I needed to convince them of my seriousness.

The gunshot made me jump. Not that it sobered me up. Neither did the black coffee I walked over and poured. And if a cold shower had been available, that wouldn't have helped either.

As I said before, it's easier to get shit-faced than get out of the trouble it causes.

Stephen D. Rogers is the co-author of A Miscellany of Murder and the author of Shot to Death, Three-Minute Mysteries, as well as more than 700 shorter pieces. His website,, includes a list of new and upcoming titles and much more.

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