Born to Kill
Robert S. Wilson
First ebook edition © 2012.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead (unless explicitly noted) is merely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 Robert S. Wilson. All rights reserved worldwide.
The line had been standing still for only a few minutes, but the back of it continued to grow like the severed tail of some regenerative lizard. Jared only wanted a pack of cigarettes. From behind, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned to face an incredibly tall man with a dark wrinkled face, a long scar along his cheek, and furious eyes.
"Somebody ought to teach these people how to keep a line moving, eh?"
Jared laughed in an awkward high pitch. If he hadn't been fiending for a smoke for so long, he might've just walked out, went home, and went to bed. Behind the counter, the tall man with long brown tied-back hair, an acne-ridden face, and thick black-framed glasses looked up at the scar-faced man with narrow bloodshot eyes as he scrambled at the cash register.
A heavyset woman with slightly graying hair stood several places ahead in line. Her hand rested on her hip as she tapped her foot and sighed. Beside her stood a slender blond boy in his late teens with an anxious look about him. Warm breath blew against the back of Jared's neck. He kept picturing the scar-faced man putting his arm around his throat and stabbing deep into his lower back with a long blade.
A bell chimed and everyone turned to look at the door. A short stocky Latino with a black, greased-back ponytail wearing a long leather trench coat pranced in toward the back of the line. He leaned as he walked, eyeing everyone in line, his eyes like fire.
A large bulge stood out along the side of the man's trench coat. Jared hoped it was just his imagination. He turned back to the line and waited, desperate for a cigarette even more. The line finally started to move.
The next thing Jared knew, the woman in front of him was at the counter arguing with the clerk. She said something Jared couldn't hear as she waved several bills in the clerk's face.
"Ma'am, you gave me a ten," the clerk said, his face flushing bright red.
"I gave you a twenty," she said, her voice slow and rising.
The clerk stared at her for a long moment. Some of the people in line began to murmur. He pushed up his glasses, his green eyes shining in the reflection of fluorescent lighting, and started to hammer keys on the register with his index finger. The drawer opened. He pulled out a bill and handed it to the lady, glaring at her all the while. She turned with a smirk still showing on her face and the blond kid walked up to the counter and set a bottle of Coke and a Slim Jim on its bright red surface.
But the clerk was still glaring at the back of the lady walking toward the door. His right hand gripped the back of the cash register and his left fingernails scraped paint from the counter. Everyone went quiet and even the blond kid turned to look at what the clerk was staring at. The heavyset woman was reaching to open the door when a loud click from within its frame echoed throughout the room. Confused, she pushed, but the door wouldn't budge.
Several people left the line to try and figure out what had happened until almost the entire line crowded around the door in a flurry of voices. Everyone but Jared seemed to have forgotten the clerk. But Jared had been so determined to have a cigarette he'd almost taken advantage of the distraction and went to get his smokes when he saw the look on the clerk's face.
The clerk was watching the people crowded around the door and smiling with a tortured, angry expression. Jared stood still and turned back to look at the door. Through the crowd, someone outside was looking in with a confused expression. Murmuring rose until its volume filled the room completely.
An abrupt slam came from the counter and the clerk screamed.
"Shut up!" His voice cracked.
Jared’s throat tightened as the room went silent. The clerk stared at the crowd, his face twitching. The Latino stared back and reached into his trench coat, but before he could get out whatever was in there, his body seemed to crumble backward and he screamed in pain.
"Nice try, asshole." The clerk jumped onto the countertop effortlessly, almost seeming to float up to it. He reached out his hand and the Latino grabbed at his temples, his face constricting as though the flesh were tightening over his muscles. The clerk made a gripping motion and a flutter of movement came from the man's trench coat. Something flew up from it in a blur, going directly into the waiting hands of the clerk. It was a sawed-off shotgun. The clerk looked down at it and made a twisted kind of smile.