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Deepest Cut

Crime doesn't pay. And payback is a bitch.

According to Gutter math, that would equal absolute zero, and then everyone gets fucked.

Deepest Cut by Mark Slade

It was her.

My ex-wife was lying in bed with a man whose back had a long scar from his left shoulder to his right. She had her legs wrapped around his shoulders, and their bodies were dripping with sweat, and just a slither of sunlight cast terrible shadows on the wall behind them. I could hear her shallow breaths and his creaking effeminate nasal voice moaning. I was in the room next to them, listening to the sounds of love making. There was a hole in the wall just above the headboard.

Yeah, that was her. My Nora, doing what she did best. This time it was screwing my best friend, Jeff.

I was married to Nora for three years before she ran off with Jeff. When I met Nora, me and Jeff were on our way up. We had backing from the Costner family, running the bowling alley on Southbound for Mickey and Collin. That was where Jeff got that scar on his back. Some fat stinkin’ redneck and his family got out of hand, smacking his frail wife in a bad Dolly Parton wig. Jeff and I tried to break up the fight. The asshole broke a beer bottle and cut Jeff across his back. Needless to say, he left out of the bowling alley with both hands broken.

Nora was working in the Trip nightclub as a leggy, dark-haired hostess. She was something else. She had a mouth on her, and if you didn’t give her the back of your hand once in a while, the situation would get out of control.

But she was damn good in bed. A real wildcat, and afterwards as sweet as honey. I guess Jeff knew all that, too.
It was her idea to rob the Trip. I had to talk the Costner brothers into letting us do the job, with their blessing, and thirty percent of the cut. That was very generous for those cocksuckers. She said on a Friday night they closed at 2 a.m.; the manager was still in the backroom having a game with a couple of out-of-towner’s. She left one of emergency exits unlocked. So me and Jeff bust in there and held the cocksuckers up. There was five of them. Little did I know, the mayor was in there also. And the chief of police with a .22 riding his ankle.

I caught a .22 slug in my left shoulder and went down hard. When I came to, I was riding in the back of a cruiser. That was six years ago. Every day, I prayed I would run into her, thinking all those times she whispered, “Flip, I love you.”        

I just got out of Kantuckah work farm and was held up in a fuckin’ low-rent seedy hotel room peeping through a hole in the wall watching my former best friend bang my ex-wife from behind.

Jeff finished and patted Nora on her ass. She looked over her shoulder and said, “Jeff, baby? You still gonna give the Costner brothers their cut?”

“I don’t think so, sweet pea.” Rolled out of bed and stood up. “In order for us to have more of the share from the bank job, somebody has to get screwed.”

“Oh.” Nora sighed deeply. She cupped her breasts. She closed her eyes and said a little prayer like she always did after sex.

“They won’t miss it anyways,” Jeff said. He dressed quickly, sliding on paisley-blue slacks over his boxers after he buttoned up his blood-red dress shirt, leaving the top three undone. Same old Jeff, still dressing like it was disco days.

“Where’s the money, Kitten?” Jeff said after he kissed Nora hard and licked her bottom lip.

“Under the bed, sweetie-pie.” She jumped off the bed and slid her navy blue dress over her head, stepped into her heels. That bitch. That was her nickname for me. “Y’know, those Costner brothers might be old, but they still got pip left in them.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself, darling.” Jeff stuffed the Beretta in the back of his pants. “It was essential you help me get approval to rob that bank on their turf.” He pulled out a scarred, brown duffle bag from under the bed. He briefly looked inside it, and smiled. “I had a feeling they would take a shine to you.”

“To tell the truth, sweetie-pie, I had to do a little spit shining myself.”

Jeff reached inside and took out a few rolls of bills that were banded together by pink paper strips. He had this shit-eating grin on his face, reached in again, then jerked back quickly. His hand had a huge gash on the palm. Blood drizzled down his wrist. Confusion, then disbelief as he fell lifeless on his back.

I went inside the room. Nora was standing over Jeff’s limp body.

I grabbed her ass and kissed her hard. “I guess you didn’t tell Jeff you’d been coming to the jailhouse and seeing me the last six months.”

“No,” Nora said nonchalantly. “The subject never came up.” I kissed her again, ran my tongue across her face. Nora giggled. "Sweetie-pie?”

“Yeah?” I removed Jeff’s hand out of the duffle bag, zipped it back up.

“Where’d you learn to put cyanide on razor blades?” Nora asked.

“You learn a lot of things in prison,” I said.

Mark Slade has appeared in anthologies Tales of the Undead; Suffer Eternal, Hell Whore, and Tortured Souls, as well as magazines Blood Moon Rising and The Rusty Nail. He lives in Williamsburg, VA, with his wife and daughter. He also runs the story and podcasts Blackout City and Dark Dreams.