Three Steps to Heaven

Self-fulfiling prophecy is a strange thing.

In the Gutter, it's more like self-serving prophecy. And in the end, there ain't much difference. Except for the body count.

Three Steps to Heaven by Max Booth III

Step 1

Sally stood behind the couch, hopping on one foot as she forced the other one into a sandal, her mascara streaking down her cheeks. “Sometimes I think you need help. That you ain’t right in the head.”

Jack laughed, as he leaned forward, closing the footrest on his recliner. “You think something’s wrong with my head? You need to take a good long look in the mirror, darlin’. And while you’re at it, maybe get one of those cocks out of your mouth.”

“Goddamn you!” She grabbed one of Jack’s work boots and threw it in his direction. It bounced off the wall behind him. She was already backpedaling down the hallway before he could stand up.

His beer bottle flew after her, exploding on the ground at her feet. She screamed, hand fumbling for the doorknob behind her.

“If you wanted to play rough, baby, all you had to do was ask.”

She managed to get the door opened, and ran out into the night, finding God through the engine of her little Chevrolet in the driveway.

Step 2

“The truly fucked up part is, I’ve never even cheated on him. Not once in my life.” Sally lit another cigarette and nodded at her empty glass. “Yet he won’t believe me. He refuses to. It’s almost like he wants me to be screwing someone else. I just don’t get it.”

Todd refilled her glass, placing the bottle back behind the counter. “Working this bar, I encounter these types of assholes just about every day. They aren’t happy until no one else is.”

“That’s Jack, all right.”

Todd leaned in close, elbows against the bar. “Do you want my opinion?”

She chugged the whiskey, set the empty glass down. “You’re going to tell me to leave him. Yeah. I know.”

“What’s holding you back?”

Sally held her hands up in front of the bartender’s face, clenching her fists into tight balls. “Do you see these chains? The ones tearing away at my wrists, making me bleed all over the place?”

Todd took a step back, eyebrow raised. “All I see is your skin. There’s no chains.”

She dropped her hands and nodded at the empty glass again. “Oh, there’s chains all right. They’re just not meant for you.”

“They’re made up in your head.”

She stabbed her cigarette in the ashtray to her side and motioned at the glass again. “I swear, sometimes I just want to go fuck somebody else just so he can actually have a reason to hate me. I get so tired of these accusations. I might as well prove him right, ya know?”

“Maybe you should.”

She snorted and lowered her head. “Yeah. Sure. I really see that happening.”

Instead of a refill, Todd placed his hand over hers. Slowly, she raised her head, meeting his eyes with her own. “What are you doing?”

He squeezed her hand. “I’m not your husband. I’m not going to hurt you.”

Step 3

Jack watched the little bitch enter the bar and then he watched her walk out of it an hour later. Except she wasn’t alone. Of course she wasn’t.

They got into Sally’s little Chevrolet and stayed parked there. They weren’t going anywhere. They’d already arrived at their destination.

Jack waited a few more minutes and stepped out of his own car. He’d finally caught the little bitch in the act, and now it was time to make her pay.

He watched them going at it for a while. He’d never seen her so alive.

So free.

Jack tapped the barrel of his .357 against the window.

Max Booth III is the editor-in-chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and the assistant editor of Dark Moon Digest. He is the author of They Might Be Demons, Toxicity, and The Mind is a Razorblade. He currently resides in San Antonio, TX, with his life partner and dachshund. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth and visit him at