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DESERT SNAKES

A father watches his little girl blossom into a little lady on her sixteenth birthday through the lens of a camera, and his nostalgia. A man watches, and wonders where he'd missed his chance at family, as he searches for the courage to end his life. A student, facing doubts about his own family, and his faith, sees a threat, and acts. A boy with a gun has had enough, and decides that they must all face his wrath.

On that one day their lives are shattered, and in the years that follow, they search the pieces for another chance.

 
 

Excerpt:

Chapter II: Kitten’s Game

(...)   

    When he was twenty miles closer to Vegas he saw a white big rig parked just off the opposite side of the highway behind a large painted billboard sign. The red smears on its cab confirmed what Victor already suspected. He hadn’t realized until spotting her just ahead that he’d put the pedal to the floor. He eased off the gas, and four miles further slowed his car alongside Kitten to match her casual stroll.

    “Have a good time?” Victor asked, playing it cool, sweating visibly.

    Without batting an eye his way, Kitten replied, “Just Peaches!”

    “Just Peaches,” he echoed.

    Kitten gave a nod as she kept right on walking, naked from the waist up and covered in drying blood. It made him nervous seeing her in the open this way, but something in her poise aroused him too much for that to matter. Her bare feet had been blistered by the sizzling asphalt, her skin was already sunburning, and fresh bruises were purpling her right breast, arm, and shoulder. None of that seemed to bother her. Nothing seemed to bother her just then. Kitten appeared as though she believed she were the only real thing in world of dreams. He’d seen that look in her before. There was an alluring sense of contentment about her, a glowing satisfaction rising from her eyes. It was why he was ready to believe, though never confess, just how crazy in love with her he was. She was as free-spirited a woman as any he’d ever met, but when her games were over she transmogrified into something even more enchanting; a dazzling fearless being, her vitality reborn by the death of men.

    Always by the death of men.

    Had he been just a little less paranoid he would have given in to his cravings to take her. When Kitten was high like this she was an amazing lay. The thought of bending her over the hood of his Cadillac and burying himself inside her put a knot in his throat. He swallowed hard and it hurt. There would be time for that later. As much as he wanted her now he knew he had someplace to be and daylight was burning. Making Mickey wait was his way of gaining the upper hand in their friendly little pissing contests, but he was not about to waste Rivelli’s time.

    “You don’t exactly go out of your way to hide things, do you?” Victor tried to sound nonchalant but could hear the weakness and urgency in his tone.

    “Where’s the fun in that?” she was all smiles and no worries.

    “You’re lucky nobody saw you,” he almost scolded, his sexual frustration further shortening his temper.

    “Not a concern,” Kitten finally stopped walking and faced him; arms akimbo, exasperated, gory all over.

    Victor pressed his foot on the brake and put the car in park. “Not a concern? You’re a walking bloodbath!”

    In an obviously condescending tone, Kitten said, “Think about it, sweets. I’m just a pretty little lady in the middle of nowhere. Even if I wasn’t covered with blood people would still stop and offer some kind of help. Since I am covered with blood I practically couldn’t keep people from trying. I wouldn’t even have to say anything. I’d only need to start crying and whatever guard they’d have would go right down. Then it would be their own goddamned fault when I knife them for being so gullible.”

    Kitten’s expression became unexpectedly dolorous. Her shoulders heaved as she began sobbing, tears running clear streaks through her blood-soaked face. She balled her hands into fists, took in a long gasping breath, and shrieked.

    “Jesus!” Victor’s head darted nervously around for witnesses. It was a reflexive act, he knew there wasn’t anyone else there to see or hear her little spectacle. His nerves were jangled all the same.

    “SOMEBODY HELP ME!” Kitten screeched, crying hysterically now.

    “Babe, will you knock it off?” Victor’s voice was shaky.

    Kitten’s body jerked forward as she screamed again. “HELP ME PLEASE!”

    Victor flinched, eyes still nervously scanning the area. “You made your point, babe. Just stop already!”

    Kitten’s peculiar serenity appeared to return as her tearful pleas gradually dissolved into a cruel deriding laughter that made Victor’s blood curdle.

    “If I wanted I could just tear off the rest of my clothes and scream, and just about anyone passing by would assume I’m probably a rape victim. Think people wouldn’t lower their guard for that? They’re too busy saving the damsel to suspect the damsel, and I can’t imagine an easier throat to slit than the ones that believe they’re saving defenseless little me,” Kitten crinkled her nose as she chuckled, thoroughly amused by the idea. “Easiest game there is.”

(...)