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Broken Window

I'm going to be honest. We don't have all the answers in the Gutter. It's nice when a story comes in, and I can write a pithy intro, slap that fucker up and get on with my day. This story, however short, is not so easily remedied.

Senseless violence? Racism? Class warfare? I'll chalk this one up to my underlying, cheery life-view: sometimes (i.e., most times) this world is just a festering fuckstain of senseless pain.

Broken Window by Rob Pierce




The window crashed in as the bastard came through. Richard woke up and reached under his bed for the aluminum bat. He rolled out of bed scared, but he stepped toward the burglar and he straightened up and swung like the stranger’s head was a hanging curveball. It was a beautiful swing. The man’s head snapped back but not all together. Blood and bones and the mush that had been the burglar’s face dropped, his body beneath it, onto Richard’s carpeted bedroom floor.

Richard dropped the bat. There would be cops soon and he would never get the good night’s sleep he needed, not like the fucking bastard who lay on the carpet, staining it with blood. That would never come up with shampoo. The body down there didn’t move and Richard realized that even if someone had seen the break-in and called 9-1-1 they wouldn’t have gotten through yet. Richard looked down at the guy, who lay face up, flat broken nose sunk back into a head that was now only three quarters its previous depth, in the middle of a bedroom hardly worth robbing.

Richard knelt down beside the body. Hesitantly he reached over with one hand, checked for a pulse, a heartbeat. Nothing. The man was black and young, gold teeth in his mouth, and Richard figured he wouldn’t have liked him anyway. He looked like that guy at the four-way stop this morning who went before his turn, took his left turn alongside Richard’s car, then rolled his window down as he stared at Richard, who kept his own window up but told the guy to fuck himself and hoped he could read lips.

The dead man on the floor was probably that type. Richard rolled him over hard so he lay face down, his wallet bulging out of a rear pants pocket. Richard removed it, flipped it open. There was a couple hundred bucks in there, far more cash than Richard ever carried. He took it, shoved the wallet back into the dead man’s pocket.

There weren’t any sirens yet, maybe because there hadn’t been any gunshots. Richard got up, walked into the kitchen, grabbed a beer. He opened it, returned to the bedroom and sat on the edge of his bed, looked down at the dead body and waited. For what. The cops, he guessed. Or another black guy with gold teeth. Richard held his beer in one hand, picked up his bat with the other, ready for whatever came in.

Rob Pierce is a mess. He takes it out on his readers. His fiction has been published in The Literary Underground, Flash Fiction Offensive, Swill, Zygote in My Coffee, The Doctor T.J. Ecklesburg Review, and Monday Night. His editing skills are on display at Swill (www.swillmagazine.com)