The first shot was for Marty down at the car wash. The bullet clipped her left shoulder, and bits of blood-colored plastic sprayed the white wall behind her. Joe gripped the gun and closed his eyes while the burnt gunpowder became the smoke from Marty’s cheap cigar. It vaguely wafted through his nose, just as it had the day he found Marty’s signature bandana in the back of Maria’s car.
The second shot was for Ray, the bartender at the new pool hall. She tried turning away, so as the bullet ripped through the wire tendons in her calf, Joe felt an odd mixture of delight and pity, watching her rubbery mouth wince in mimicked pain. He tried imagining what his own mouth must have looked like the time he overheard the boys down at the station call him a sad bastard.
The third shot was for his best friend, Miles. Joe felt his stomach contract the way it had that day when he found their cars parked at a cheap motel. So, he took aim at her stomach and watched as a red carnation bloomed in the center of her standard issue white smock.
While he watched her plastic hands drop to the floor, Joe noticed the ruby polish that adorned her fingernails—the same color Maria had been wearing in the sample photo he gave them. Then, he moved his gaze to her eyes. Though made of glass, the brown irises were a dead ringer for Maria’s. He remembered something Maria had said to him once: “When I die, I want to feel like a feather, floating softly toward the sea.” His ears stung. He wondered how many others she had said that to, and for that, he shot her in the heart.
Once the light outside Joe’s chamber turned red, the janitor made his way in with a mop and towels. While taking in the copious amount of synthetic blood and globs of plastic flesh, the janitor let out a whistle slow and low between his teeth.
Helping Joe out of his plastic suit, the janitor quipped: “Guess it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy, eh, Sarge?”
After putting his gun in its case, Joe dumped the soiled towels into the marked bin by the exit. He looked up at the janitor, trying to focus on what he just said.
“Yeah, I guess.” Joe managed a grimace, averted his eyes quickly, and headed home.
By the time Joe rounded the corner of his block, dusk had fallen. He took the steps to his apartment two at a time, suddenly aware of the cold air filling his lungs. Before he could get his key out of his pocket, Maria opened the door, curiosity scrawled all over her face.
“Why didn’t you call?” Maria’s voice was whiny.
Joe searched into her brown eyes for a moment. Not finding his answer, he shifted them toward the kitchen. He walked past her and went in search for a beer.
“I’m talking to you!” Maria’s voice was agitated.
He mumbled a curt “sorry” from inside the refrigerator.
“Well, you’ve been avoiding me for days now. Are we gonna talk about this or what?” Maria’s voice was anxious, for once.
“Not tonight, Maria. I’ve had a long day.”
Her soft facial features hardened. She brushed past him, careful to make sure her breasts softly glided against his back as she returned to her spot on the couch and began filing her fingernails.
Joe swilled the rest of the beer, allowing the cool liquid to move from his throat to his stomach in one fluid motion. The empty bottle made a thud as it hit the counter, causing Maria to flinch, though she didn’t look up from her manicure.
He went into the bedroom and began to undress. Once he removed his badge and empty holster, he set them down on the corner desk, cautious not to let his gaze linger on the medals for bravery and other honors he had accrued in his ten years on the force.
Joe sat down on the bed. He took his gun out of its case and began to clean it.
Sarah Martin is an Eskimo parade organizer. I think. Sarah Martin is a super hero costume tailor. It's possible. Sarah Martin keeps animals - in her house! Maybe. Sarah Martin is, and this I know for sure, a fun-haver and a story writer. Applause!