1931: Prep work



He was quicker than I would have thought, and I paid for it.

I’d entered the room with more confidence than I should have felt. There’d been the steady thwack of a blade into meat and cutting board, but it hadn’t meant the butcher wasn’t paying attention, which was what I’d assumed.

I’d no sooner cleared the doorway than he spun around and charged. My pruning knife was no match for the cleaver he wielded.

And he could handle the tool, too.

He knocked my knife aside, I threw my left arm up to stop the back blow from taking off the lower half of my face, and I sacrificed a fair chunk of my forearm instead.

The blade was as sharp as it should have been, and so it was with little surprise – but a lot of anger – that I watched the lower part of my sleeve and a fair amount of flesh sail across the room.

As my unattached portion of arm slapped wetly upon the wooden wall, he was coming back toward me. I cursed at the lightheadedness sweeping over me and the blood soaking my left side. I managed to avoid another blow and step over my pruning knife.

The bastard handled the cleaver better than most men handled knives, and it took all I had in me to avoid disembowelment.

I snatched up a bit of offal from a table and threw it at him.

His reflexes were as good as I thought, and he ducked easily, a derisive grin on his face as he straightened once more.

The grin faded at the sight of the Colt I’d drawn with my good hand.

He raised the cleaver up to throw it, and I shot him through the hand, blowing his fingers off and shattering the handle of the tool. Fingers and cleaver landed on the floor together, and I watched with growing amusement as he struggled to draw a skinning knife from his belt. As the steel cleared the leather, I shot him in the hip, dropping him like a felled ox.

He bellowed in pain, then shrieked as I stepped down on his wounded hand. The butcher tried again to draw his knife, and I shot him in the groin, ending all resistance.

“I hate you,” he snarled.

“Figured that out,” I told him and drove my knee into his groin.

When his squeal of pain finished, I smiled and whispered, “I hate you, too.”

#paranormal #mystery

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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