“A really, really, bad pick-up line…”

By

Tina Nelson

It was a chilly and bleak November day in Minnesota.  Normally, I love bleak days but on this particular day I wasn’t especially happy with my life.

Too many people who should be nice to me…weren’t.

Too many people who should appreciate me…weren’t.

Too many people who should love me a lot…or even ‘just a little more’…don’t.

And the worst part about this was that I couldn’t understand why.

If I actually thought that the problem was with me, I would have done something…anything to change the situation.  But it wasn’t me.

I had spent many hours soul searching and many hours asking questions…trying to know what it was that I was doing wrong…or not doing right.  But no answers…so no solutions.

So I got into my car and took a little drive down to River’s Edge Falls, a wonderful little park in the heart of Minneapolis, to watch the icy, cold water race fiercely over the rocks and then crash down to the bottom.

It was always a soothing place for me to visit but unfortunately, I found I was coming here more often…needing more and more comfort.

Sigh.

The park was beautifully deserted.  Good.  Mondays are like that.

I could just lean against the ancient stone wall and watch the water crash down…over and over…the rhythm so relaxing and the deafening noise somehow comforting and calming.

I knew I would get my focus back…re-charge…decide the correct path and take it.  I’d figure it out…I always did.  I wasn’t born yesterday.   I had some life skills.

“Hey there little lady, how would you like to come with me to those bushes over there and warm me up on this chilly day.”

The man’s voice was mean and angry.  His words slurred.  Could I feel a tiny prick of a knife in my back…?  No matter.

As I slowly turned, I reached into my inside jacket pocket and pulled out my loaded Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver that I always carried…because…why not?

And then I shot him through the heart.  Twice.

No one heard the shots as I watched him fall to the ground…left hand still clutching a very sharp-looking steak knife.

“Fuck …you…” he croaked as the blood flowed quickly out of his heart and in seconds he was dead.

“Apparently not…” I said and I walked back to my car.

The End

 

…keep reading…

It was never a love story…not really…

Chapter 21

…Larson’s Grocery…

…NOW….

I stepped back…I could not believe that Tommy Clark was standing less than three feet in front of me…smiling that disgusting smile of his.

My heart began to pound like a jack-hammer.

I had been wrong…all these years…I had been so wrong.

Not everyone was dead after all.

They say…that if you are ever confronted by a vicious  animal, you should never run.  They will instinctively think you are prey and chase you .

And when they catch you…and they will catch you…they will kill you.

Instead, shout as loudly as you can or grab a couple of rocks and bang them together.

Your chances are good the animal will be momentarily startled at least for a short time…giving you a chance to escape.

I had no rocks.  My mouth was so dry I could hardly swallow…much less shout. And what exactly would I shout?   So I stood and waited.

“You look good, Riley.”

I suddenly felt dizzy and I swayed just a little.

“I need to sit down…” I said and made an effort to walk back to where I had been sitting.

But Tommy took my elbow and steered me out the door of Larson’s.

“I think what you need is a drink, Riley.  I know I could use one.  There’s a friendly-looking little bar a couple of doors down.”

It had started to rain ever so  slightly…and still holding tightly to my arm…he led me down the block.

Maybe Tommy had mellowed.  It had been so many years.  Maybe this was just a chance encounter.

Maybe his frightening smile was just a…smile.  Maybe this was a dream and I would wake up.

And maybe pigs could fly…

 

 

Chapter 22

Two doors down from Larson’s was the kind of neighborhood bar that seldom saw strangers…especially in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon.

Sure enough…when we walked in…the three men at the bar turned at the sound of the door opening…stopped talking and just looked at the two of us.

Tommy gave them a nod and then guided me to a booth way over in a corner by a window.  It was stuffy in the bar and Tommy opened the window a little.  The cool air felt good.

An older woman…perhaps in her sixties came right over and leaned against the side of the booth.  I had a feeling she may have been the owner.

She gave us a cool smile…and I’m sure she was thinking…”Now…who the hell are you two?”

But she said pleasantly, “Nice rainy day, right?”

I returned her smile…and desperately tried to think of something I could say or do to get me out of this booth…and away from Tommy.

I had decided…pigs can’t fly.

“Where is the ladies’ room?” I asked.

She looked away from us and pointed to a neon sign on the other side of the bar…past a few tables.

I made a move to get up…but Tommy reached across and put a restraining hand on my arm…

“Riley, can you hold on for just a couple of minutes?  Let’s order first.  I’m starving.”

He gave the waitress a big smile and said, “We’ll need a second or two.”

He reached for the little menus propped up by the salt & pepper shakers.  His jacket fell open a little.

That’s when I saw the holster…and the gun.

“Sure, blue eyes…I’ll be back.”

Tommy smiled at her again and then turned back…but there was no smile for me…he knew I had seen the gun.

 

 

Chapter 23

“Oh, don’t be scared, Riley…I’m not going to kill you.  The gun’s not for you.  I always carry now…it’s legal in Minnesota, you know…or maybe you don’t.  You’ve been gone for such a long time.”

But I do have a story to tell you and I want you to hear it.   I want you to know how…” he paused, folded his hands together in front of him, took a deep breath…and then began again.

“I want you to completely understand the consequences of your foolish actions that night when you and your uncle decided to call the police.”

I made an effort to speak but before I could say anything…

“No…let me talk.  I’ve waited a long time, Riley.”  Tommy seemed very calm…not angry at all.

I relaxed a little.

“Fine.  I’l listen to you, Tommy.  But I read about Sheila and Gerald in the newspaper.  I know what happened to them.”

“I read that about six months after we were all expelled from the University of Minnesota…they blew themselves up in an abandoned apartment building in New York City…along with four innocent teenagers who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“…and Mikey…I can’t help it that his marriage failed…or should I say marriages…and that he felt that suicide was the solution to his problems.”

“That’s not on me.” I said, feeling more sure of myself now…

“I’ve even kept track of you…Tommy…but I thought you were dead.”

 

 

Chapter 24

“I heard you went to California after the Kent State tragedy.  But then I heard nothing more about you.”  I said.

“You were so active in the protest movement…it was like you disappeared.”

“What happened…?” I asked.

Tommy didn’t answer but instead signaled the waitress over and ordered two whisky sours and two cheeseburgers with fries.

Apparently Tommy’s memory was still good.  He ordered my favorite food and drink combination from our college days…and still today, as well.

The curtain was fluttering beside me and I was just about to close the window when the waitress quickly returned with our drinks.

Again…Tommy gave her a big smile…and I’m sure she was thinking…big tip.  Well.  Maybe…

“I’ll be back in a few…” the friendly waitress said.

I took a sip of my drink. Wow!  It was strong…better go slow, I thought.

Tommy, however, drank almost half of his glass before putting it down.

Then he leaned  to the side so he could look around me.

Instinctively, I turned to see what he was looking at…

A group of eight or nine young people had come into the bar…all laughing and talking and carrying prettily, wrapped boxes.

One of them was very, very pregnant.  It was obviously a ‘farewell’ party for the beaming pregnant woman.

When I looked back at Tommy, he had the gun out and was attaching…what I knew from watching so many ‘cop’ programs on TV…a silencer.

My mouth flew open to cry out…but before I could even inhale enough oxygen to do so…Tommy very quietly said…

 

Chapter 25

“If you say one word, Riley, I will kill everyone in this wretched hole in the wall bar…and first to go will be the cute, little pregnant woman.”

“Do.  You.  Understand?”  He spoke each word so very carefully.

I could hardly breathe.  But I nodded.

Tommy chuckled softly.  “You really didn’t believe me when I said that I wasn’t going to kill you…did you, Riley?”

“Of course, I’m going to kill you.”

“I’ve waited fifty years to do this.  Have you ever heard of that saying, ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’?  Well, this ‘dish’ is almost frozen…and will be all the sweeter.”

“When Sheila and Gerald died…I was supposed to be with them.  I was the explosives expert…but I was dead drunk in some crap apartment I was crashing at with some crap girl I had met at a bar.”

“Do you know why I was drunk, Riley?  I had just received a letter…from the American Bar Association telling me that no state in this glorious country would grant me permission to practice law…due to ‘lack of good moral character'”.

“No moral character, Riley!  Me…who had spent the best six years of his life working to prevent the deaths of thousands of young men in that stupid war.”

“And poor Mikey…he never got over the deaths of Sheila and Gerald.”

“He blamed himself for not being there…blamed me too…used to send me pathetic letters…trying to make himself feel better.”

“Finally, after five years of guilt that he couldn’t handle…he hung himself.”

“But what happened to me…you ask?  I ended up in California and spent the next forty years working under a phony name, as a paralegal during the day.”

“They didn’t even check my fake references…they just wanted me cheap.  And at night…I drank myself to sleep in front of the television set…waiting…”

“I always hoped I would see you again, Riley.  After I “retired”, I moved back to Minnesota…kept an eye on little Alec and his lovely wife…and of course I bought this gun.”

“But you were always just a dream away…until  your angry Letter to the Editor last month in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the increase in suicide rates of veterans.”

“You shouldn’t have used your real name, Riley.  That was very careless of you…very careless.”

Suddenly there was a change in Tommy…the calmness was gone…replaced by a quiet rage.