Human, and Not-so (segment)

Luiz was about to close up his little corner bodega for the night and go home to his family, when the Stranger came in; and he knew he was going to be home late—or not at all, maybe. Because the Stranger had to die.

One of Luiz’s earliest memories was his abuela’s funeral. She’d been closing up this same store one night back in 1987, when a stranger had come in and killed her. Not just killed her, he’d nearly ripped her throat out. Nothing had been taken, and the man had never been caught.

Some kind of maniac, he remembered his relatives saying at the wake, as he stood around in an ill-fitting Communion suit that had been his cousin’s; not knowing what to do or say. He’d only been six.

Tonight, a middle-aged Luiz watched the man as he wandered slowly through the small market—past the racks with the fresh produce Luiz always made sure to keep misted with water, past the cooler with a few pieces of assorted meats he bought straight from the butcher every other weekday, and past the racks stocked with dry goods like pasta and instant soup. The Stranger was short, with a haggard, pockmarked face and long stringy hair that reached his shoulders. His eyes were sunken into the sockets of his skull so far they seemed almost not there, but for the way they would occasionally catch the light with a reddish-tinged glint. He wore old, tattered clothing, beat-up cowboy boots and a ratty trenchcoat that nearly reached the floor.

Luiz’s hand slowly reached for the shotgun he kept under the counter.

. . .

This short story, and many more by a dozen great pulp writers, is available in Starlite Pulp Review #1, edited and published by Brian Townsley for Starlite Pulp.


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