The promise of cinnamon rolls had him in a good mood, otherwise he would have dropped the guy right there in the checkout line. Five people stood ahead of him, all staring at their feet and afraid to make eye contact. Only Sam had. Fucking moron. He’d looked right at the chatty-ass comedian.
“What’s my wife and Uranus have in common?” the man asked. He’d already dropped one Uranus joke. No less than thirty seconds ago.
Sam held up his tube of rolls. He wanted to get home, pop the thing open, and get baking. His daughter, his beat-up copy of “The Dharma Bums”, and Jeopardy awaited. Course he’d shave off the itchy black beard. He’d been growing it out for a month in anticipation of today’s job. Blood crusted the base of his fingers. None his, but that didn’t mean they weren’t throbbing. “Listen,” Sam said. “I…”
“They’re both full of gas!”
This brought a snort from the cashier further up the line. The woman quickly recovered and continued scanning as if she hadn’t heard a damn thing. Sam’s cell vibrated in his khaki Dockers. The kid, he figured, anxious for her gooey rolls. Better be his client. He lifted his dark blue flannel and reached for the phone. The man, carrying a small shopping basket full of Zingers, Ding Dongs, carrots, and Dr. Pepper, rolled his shoulders and settled the basket on his large gut, which he made no effort to hide by wearing a tight yellow tee shirt. The man’s carrot-colored beard curved into a friendly smile. With his free hand he tossed back his shoulder length locks, colored red as sunset, and the two made eye contact again. Sam winced as he unlocked the cell. Asshole was about to drop another gem.
“What else does Uranus and my wife have in common?”
The Client. He pecked out a message, half listening to the annoying-as-hell shopper. She’d picked up a burner phone. Good. No connections. Two grand waiting for him tomorrow. Sam replied that he’d knocked out the lawyer at lunch. He turned up at the burger joint in Japantown just as she’d told him. Took out a couple of his teeth. Cut his fucking knuckles doing it, but the attorney wouldn’t eating anything heavy for a while.
Sam reached Sausalito about an hour later and found the boy toy at the gym just as she’d told him. Her boy toy, he figured, but couldn’t be sure. None of his business either. Client wanted them bloody. That was his business. For a trainer, fucker had a glass jaw. Sam hadn’t waited to be identified at either place. Walk in, throw down, and shave the beard in the morning. Two down, one to go. Gooey rolls and Jeopardy beckoned.
“Come on, everyone! What else does Uranus and my wife have in common?”
Sam nearly squeezed the microchips out of his phone.
“On most days you can see them with the naked eye!”
At the grocery store, he texted, still waiting on the husband’s pic. He wasn’t going to stick around any longer. He’d loitered in the place for the last hour carrying nothing but rolls. Between three and five every day for snacks, she’d told him, but without a pic he was shit out of luck. He’d have to return to the joint tomorrow. Wouldn’t be able to shave in the morning.
Little Sam razzed him for it. Said he looked more like Ginsberg than his idol, Kerouac. Sam, with a full head of black hair, never needed glasses and he wasn’t balding. He didn’t appreciate the comparison but loved that she’d been paying attention when he shared his interests. She stopped salivating over those BTS kids long enough to listen to her old man. Shit warmed his heart.
Carrot Top Jesus kept them coming. “What does my wife and Captain Kirk have in common?”
“They’ve both seen the Klingons on Uranus!”
His phone vibrated again. A photo appeared in the text box. Sam looked down at the image of a chubby dude with long red hair and a beard colored as orange as a pumpkin. Here’s the prick, she texted. Thank Christ. He tapped out his reply and told her the money better be there tomorrow.
“I know you guys want more.” The shopper laughed. “I got more! What does my wife…”
He never finished thanks to a tube of cinnamon rolls against the chin. Sam swung the tube three times before the man dropped his basket of food. On the third strike, the tube popped open. Clumps of dough flew out. His nose bloody, a dark split visible on his lower lip, the comedian fell to the ground. He held up his hands and begged Sam to stop.
“You’re wife like those jokes?” Sam asked. No, he was sure she didn’t.
Patrick writes fiction and nonfiction, the latter of which includes the books “Haunted Monterey County” and “Murder and Mayhem in Tucson.” His writing can be found in Punk Noir, Pulp Modern, Switchblade Magazine, Guilty Crime Story Flash, Shotgun Honey, Hoosier Noir and in the anthologies “Bitter Chills,” “Wild Violence,” and elsewhere. Look for his author interviews and book reviews in Suspense Magazine.
Damn. Remind me never to tell a Uranus joke in public.