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Fiction #337
(published July 5, 2007)
Cold Hard Steel
by M.J. Rizzella
"Janice, we've been dating for two years! We've made plans; we even talked about this." Kevin said, hurt.

Janice just sat there in the middle of her living room and stared. She couldn't say a thing because she knew he was right. They did make plans, they talked about getting married, they even looked at rings together. Hell, he even bought the ring she wanted. But, she just couldn't go through with it.

"It is that damn Frank, isn't it? You've got to drop this. How long has it been? Three years, four? He's not coming back, he's not thinking about you and he sure as shit doesn't care. He used you, pure and simple. Can't you get that through your head?!?"

Kevin was angry by this time, but he kept it under control, barely. Finally, he took a deep breath and in a collected voice said, "Alright, here is what I'll do. You keep the ring and think about this. Clear your head, go on vacation, take a long drive, skydive, anything, but let me know what you wanna do and soon. I can't hang on forever." And with that, Kevin took his car keys and left.

Janice continued to stare into space, thinking of everything and nothing. She was numb. She knew she was an idiot to not marry Kevin. He was sweet, kind, smart and considerate, but yet she could not do it. She couldn't help it, but she was still in love with Frank, stupid girl that she was. She did not understand this hold, but she believed she would never get over him.

Janice sat for a long time. Suddenly, she felt claustrophobic and needed to get out. She got up, took her keys and went out into the rainy night.

Janice drove for a couple of miles and decided to visit her favorite bar. When she arrived she saw the parking lot was empty and thought it may be closed. Just as she was going to turn around and head home, she saw light coming from inside. Janice sat for a moment debating, then figured she could use a drink.

Janice ran to the bar entrance, cursing herself for not bringing an umbrella. She stepped in the door, shook off the rain and walked over to the bar. Shane the bartender visibly brightened.

"Hey, Janice! Tough staying dry tonight? Well, at least now I have some company."

Shane liked Janice and considered asking her out on date. For some reason he never did and wasn't sure why. Oh well, he thought.

Janice smiled at Shane and asked for an Irish coffee with a double shot of whiskey.

As Shane made the Irish coffee, the 10 o'clock news came on the TV. The talking head opened with a local story about a serial killer who was leaving no clues and seemed to have no pattern concerning victims except for a single blade wound across the throat.

Shane handed the drink to Janice. He commented, "You know, Janice, this shit is really scary. The cops have nothing, nada, not a thing. It's really weird."

Janice agreed with Shane it was weird, but noted it was taking place many towns over. They fell silent while Shane sat on his stool surfing channels. Janice drank her Irish coffee.

Janice finished her drink and got to up leave. She paid Shane, left a healthy tip and told him goodnight. Shane said something about closing up early and told Janice to have a safe trip home.

The rain started to slow down a bit and Janice walked to her car. She couldn't believe how dark it was and she berated herself for moving from the city to the boondocks. Oh well, she thought, it is safer here. And boring. And dark.

Janice pulled out of the parking lot and started to head home. There were no other cars on the road and again she noticed how dark it was. Suddenly, flashing lights pulled up behind her.

Janice pulled over and counted how many drinks she had that evening. One... two... three... maybe four? She didn't think she was over the limit, but thought she could be close. Wonderful, she thought, lawyers, court dates, suspended licenses and money.

The cop knocked on the window with her flashlight. Janice rolled down the window and the cop said, "License, registration and insurance." Janice thought this cop was lacking in social graces, but she did not say anything. She handed the cop the paperwork. The cop glanced at it then pushed everything back at Janice while ordering her to get out of the car.

Janice resigned herself to the sobriety test that was sure to follow. She saw the cop was completely covered in rain gear, head to toe, so what did she care about the rain?

The cop barked, "Turn around, hands on the roof of the car and spread your legs!"

Janice couldn't believe what she was hearing, but decided not to try the cop's patience. Cooperation seemed the best move and who knows; maybe she would get out of it wet, but unscathed.

Janice heard the cop rustling around for something and then heard a click.

She felt the cold, hard steel of the straight edge slide across her throat.

Janice's last word was Kevin.

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