Latest Flash

Sonny The Wonder Beast

If we're made in the image of God, 

the deities must be really self-conscious.

Sonny The Wonder Beast by Nick Kolakowski

Bobby couldn’t recall how many men he’d killed over the years. Of course, he remembered his first: a soft-boy snitch with bad teeth who’d sent Bobby’s father on a five-year bid in the hole for embezzlement. He would never forget the weirdest: a pyromaniac midget named Hard Harvey who was surprisingly fast and strong. This latest assignment? Well, this was a new one.

Bobby had never been ordered to murder a dog before.

The thought of pulling the trigger on motherfuckin’ Lassie made his throat tighten. Stopped at a traffic light, he retrieved the over-sized flask from his jacket pocket and helped himself to a deep swig of whiskey. The alcohol burned his throat, but failed to kill his jitters.

The dog’s name was Sonny the Wonder Beast. He was a bulldog, and the hilarious bastards at Premium Winner Off-Track Betting™ had made him a throne out of a discarded easy chair they’d found in the alley out back. They had even spray-painted the fucking thing gold—the chair, not the dog.

And why not? Sonny was the best thing that had ever happened to them in their miserable lives.

Bobby parked the car a block away from the betting parlor, opened the glove compartment, and pulled out the stubby .38 from its nest of old Chinese takeout menus. For the first time, he regretted not investing enough in some kind of retirement fund. When living on a little patch of Florida beach, nobody asked you to put a bullet in a cute pup.

He slipped the gun into his shoulder holster, where it tapped against the flask. Keep it simple, he thought. Walk in, bam, walk out. Hate yourself later. 

The parlor was jammed with old guys with too few teeth and nothing better to do than burn their Social Security checks. The screens above them flashed a dozen horse races. Even in 
the midst of the geriatric maelstrom, the throne was impossible to miss. It shone like real gold in the cold fluorescent lighting and Sonny the Wonder Beast lolled in its seat like a drooling, hairy king.

Bobby had a hand beneath his jacket, on the pistol’s grip. He paused, transfixed by the ancient dude in the stained wife-beater who knelt on the dirty linoleum before the bulldog, extending a folded piece of paper. The animal stared for a long moment with its head cocked and tapped the paper with its left paw.

The old man shed tears. His lips quivered. As he stood, he stepped backward—practically kowtowing as he retreated to the nearest window to make his bet.

On the screens, the horses finished their latest races. Men came alive, cheering, clutching their tickets, hopping on arthritic legs. It reminded Bobby of his childhood, his father in the big tent preaching so hard he spat blood. Daddy, the fake Man of God, always with one hand in the congregation plate.

But this dog—maybe it was the real thing. Bobby’s boss had said so, but Bobby hadn’t believed it, because street myths were usually a speck of truth buried under a steaming heap of bullshit. And yet, dozens of guys—hardened types, totally faithless—were bowing to this slobbering critter.

Besides, even if you thought these guys were delusional. . . Well, there was always the money. For the past five weeks, ever since they had found a starving Sonny in the street, the patrons of Premium Winner Off-Track Betting™ had a track record (so to speak) of constant wins, with virtually no big losses. Because the dog. . . The dog. . . 

The oldster in the wife-beater, shaking the wad of hundred-dollar bills in his hand, yelped at the top of his lungs. “This dog is fuckin’ psychic!”  

Tightening his grip on the pistol, Bobby stepped closer to the throne. He felt a dozen gazes on him, the room crackling with energy. In a second they would sense something very wrong and then his options would narrow. . . Do it now.

Sonny’s black eyes locked on Bobby. There was a whole universe in there, so deep that Bobby’s stomach tumbled, as if someone had hurled him off a high cliff. From what felt like miles away, his hand began to draw the weapon from his jacket. “I’m sorry,” Bobby wanted to tell the dog. I know you’re a miracle, but I don’t have choices here. 

And then the .38 was out, pointed at that wet snout, Bobby squeezing the trigger—and then that black universe exploded white, filling with pain, and Bobby felt cold linoleum on his back, his face wet, his arm on fucking fire.

The pistol had exploded in his hand.

What were the odds?

Sonny barked, farted, and settled back.

That’s what you get for fucking with a minor god.

Nick Kolakowski is the author of the noir thrillers "Boise Longpig Hunting Club" and "A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps." His short fiction has appeared in Out of the Gutter, Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, and various anthologies. He lives and writes in NYC.