Boy, the month seems to have flown by and here we are again on the first Sunday of th
e new month with another short story. I post one every month as a thank you to all of you wonderful readers. And as always a grateful thank you to my amazing editor Liane at Mystic Canyon Publishing. Hope you enjoy the stories as much as I do writing them.
This month's story FINGER SANDWICHES delves into the realm of dark karma. READER DISCRETION ADVISED, this may not be suitable for all audiences.
If you enjoy my short stories please consider trying my books, The Blood Prophecy, and Inferno of Secrets.
Cory Roacha was a twice-divorced newspaperman back when people still got their news from destroying trees and splattering them with toxic ink. He thought nothing of the practice other than needing to make his deadline and ensure his name showed in the largest font possible, leaving him with no time for his four children. He rarely spent any time with his family.
The truth was, he never liked kids, not even his own. There was always too much work for him to do. For Cory, it was all about the headline, what page the story ran on, and the overwhelming need for recognition. The fast-paced life of an ambitious reporter was now long behind the retired man, not because of his health but to the decline of the hard copy print. By the time everything went digital, Cory’s advancing age had made him unwilling to learn how to submit work online. It was all digital these days, and Cory chose to be a dinosaur. He told himself he didn’t care if he was no longer a reporter, and now he was free to pen that novel he’d never had time for and had talked about writing since he was in his early twenties.
He did indeed start it, but writer’s block set in shortly after chapter three, and it was more fun to drink a bottle of Gin and boast about the Pulitzer prize it was sure to win when he finally finished it. But time passed, and the work sat collecting dust while the empty Gin bottles multiplied. “It doesn’t really matter when I finish it,” he would complain. “Half the people in the world are writers and the other half doesn’t read. The modern world simply wouldn’t know what good literature is even if it hit them over the head.”
Cory stayed busy with his strict routine of a healthy glass of prune juice first thing in the morning with a couple of aspirins to wash away the hangover from the night before. He would follow it up with one poached egg, not too soft but not too hard, and one piece of rye toast. “I’ll make my own damn breakfast. The stupid restaurants never cook the egg right anyway.” Then he would walk the four blocks to get to Harry’s corner store in his little town of Hope, Connecticut, where he would purchase a small cup of coffee and one quick-pick lotto ticket. According to Cory, anything larger than the small coffee was a ripoff. He made sure to tell the young brunette at the cash register, which she then nodded to without saying a word, since Cory had done this to her every day, without fail, for the last three years, and she’d learned the hard way to just let him rant if she didn’t want an hour lecture.
The morning ritual was then completed to Cory’s satisfaction and the afternoon ritual began. He would slowly walk two more blocks to ensure he arrived at the park in the center of town at precisely noon. Memorial Park was where Cory met up with his so-called friend, Emil Kellemes. The two had played cards together every afternoon for ten years now. Emil taught Cory the Hungarian game of Ulti. The two men had known each other from the newspaper. Emil had emigrated from Hungary and had learned English well enough to have become a reporter and was about the same age as Cory. The slow walk to Memorial Park was Cory’s favorite part of the day, and he didn’t miss it no matter what the weather. You see, this was when Cory could watch the other townspeople who shared the sidewalk with him and point out every fault in them he could find. Some he simply told himself, and others he would share with whomever he wanted to make feel bad that day, which was most everyone. He would look for the one homeless man in town and smile to himself at how clever he was about spending his money. “If you give it all away to the needy, bleeding hearts, you end up a bum.” Cory took great delight in never buying the cookies from the children trying to raise money for either their sports teams or the Girl Scouts in front of Harry’s corner store. He loved the disappointed look on their small faces as he waived his money at them as if he were going to buy something, only to stuff the bills back in his pocket and sneer, “If you want money, then get a job, you lazy kids.” Making others feel bad made Cory feel good about himself, and Cory liked reminding himself how wonderful he was as often as possible.
As Cory spread his venomous leers and snide comments to the town folk on his way to Memorial Park, his friend Emil walked from the opposite side of town to meet with him. The two men were not exactly friends but more acquaintances from their old reporter days, and Emil was the only one who would tolerate Cory’s nasty disposition. He felt sorry for Cory and would play cards with him, even bring cupcakes his wife would make on occasion. Unlike Cory, Emil was a kind and giving man who loved his wife and children and often donated his time to the Hospice on the west side of town. Emil loved to learn new things, and since the paper closed, he had authored a novel and had been trying to get it published for the past two years. Cory would always smile to himself when Emil would tell him about the latest rejection letter from the publishers. Yet, Emil never became upset, he simply sent out more query letters to other publishers and continued to persevere. But Cory loved Emil’s failures. He savored every rejection as if it were a piece of candy slowly melting in his mouth. But Cory never let on, he just smiled warmly at Emil and would tell him how sorry he was to hear the sad news even though he didn’t mean a word of it. Cory didn’t want Emil to know what a bastard he truly was and have him not play cards with him anymore. After all, he was his only friend.
It was a gray November morning. The smell of snow lingered in the air with a heaviness that could be felt to the bone. The sound of brass bells filled the streets as several men from the Salvation Army were already dressed in Santa Clause suits, perched on every corner looking for donations of spare change even though it was two more weeks before Thanksgiving. Cory bought his quick-pick lotto ticket as he usually did every morning, grumbled to himself about how Christmas started earlier and earlier each year. He had just finished telling the brunette behind the counter yet again what a ripoff anything but a small coffee was, when she had had enough of the nasty old man. She knew he met with Emil in the park each day because Emil would also stop in at the store, usually minutes before Cory, to buy lotto tickets. Emil never waited for Cory at the store, knowing how he liked to complain about the townspeople, and he preferred not to hear it. Unlike Cory, she had bothered to learn both the men’s names since they came in every day. Cory had been coming to the store for years but still referred to her as “hey girly,” whereas Emil called her Ms. Sarah. “Isn’t it time for you to go live in a retirement home with all the other ancient people yet?” She said with the friendliest smile on her face. She wanted to tell the old fucker to jump off a building and splatter to his death before burning in hell, but she didn’t want to lose her job and stuck with just thinking it instead. Cory knew her smile was insincere, but he took such pleasure in the knowledge that he had pissed her off that he didn’t care.
When Cory arrived at the big gazebo in the park, Emil was already sitting on one of the three benches inside, huddling both his hands around his steaming cup of hot coffee. Emil looked up at Cory and frowned. “What’s your problem?” Cory growled in his usual unhappy tone. “Don’t tell me you’re already cold? Are you going to start that crap about playing cards inside the senior center again? I told you, you stupid Hungarian, that I ain’t hanging out with all the decrepit ass-wipes and that you should just wear a warmer coat!”
“No, Cory. I’m very sorry, but I’m not going to be able to play cards with you anymore.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Cory grumbled.
Emil pulled a sheet of folded paper from his pocket and the frown he had been wearing turned upward into a wide smile as he handed it to Cory. Cory unfolded it as a steamy grunting snort wafted into the frigid air from his nose. He treated the paper as if it might be filled with poison and preceded to read the words on the paper out loud.
“It is with great pleasure we would like to inform you that your manuscript, ‘The Sky is Always Blue’ has been accepted by Branson New York Publishing House.”
Cory’s heart dropped into his stomach, and he glared at Emil, but Emil was much too happy to have noticed.
“Not only did my book get accepted, but I won enough money on yesterday’s lotto to buy my son the special van he needs to transport my grandson Victor’s wheelchair in. The poor kid has Cerebral Palsy and has to have Social Services come to take him to all his doctor’s appointments, but now I can afford to buy their van!” Emil said with a big smile on his face while waving the winning lotto ticket in his hand around in the air above his head. “This is going to be the best Thanksgiving and Christmas ever!” Emil squealed with happy delight.
Cory, of course, didn’t share in Emil’s joy. He smiled at the old man as if he did, but inside, he fumed with enough hot, jealous envy to start a bonfire that could be seen from outer space. How could that useless Hungarian get so damn lucky when here I am scrounging for every little thing I have? He thought to himself.
“Well, bully for you, Emil. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy,” he said with more forced smiles through his half-rotted teeth. “Tell you what, why don’t we go over to Harry’s store, and I’ll buy you a fresh hot cup of coffee to celebrate.”
Emil was much too happy to be suspicious of Cory’s goodwill and accepted his more than generous offer, at least by Cory’s standards, at any rate.
The two men began walking slowly up the boulevard toward Harry’s store, passing several corner Santa’s ringing their bells and apartment buildings. They passed Mick’s Hardware store and Margaret’s Tailor Shop when Cory suddenly announced that he had to take a piss.
“We're only two blocks from Harry's, can't you wait?" Emil asked.
"No, I won't make it. Come with me into the alley behind the apartment building and keep a lookout while I take a leak. It won't take long," Cory said.
Without waiting for Emil to answer, Cory had begun walking behind the big brownstone. Emil let out a sigh, stuffed his cold hands deep into his pockets, and began to follow Cory with no further complaint. The two men had no sooner disappeared around the corner where no one could see when Cory, while having his back turned toward Emil, pulled from his pocket his old Swiss Army knife. Before Emil even noticed what Cory was doing, the old man spun around suddenly and buried the four-inch blade deep into Emil's throat, puncturing his jugular vein with every ounce of vile energy the old man could muster. Emil let out one quick gasp of steaming air as the blood spurted in long streams from his neck. He could do nothing more than stare at Cory with wide, shocked eyes as he quickly slid down to the cold pavement below. Cory then pulled the knife from Emil's neck and proceeded to slice across his throat from one ear to the other with the force of a much younger man. Cory pressed the knife so hard into Emil that it practically severed his head from his shoulders. Then he kicked Emil in the groin with his steel-toed boot.
"That's for busting my balls with all your good news!"
Cory then pulled the dripping knife away and smiled at his handy work before rifling through Emil's pocket for the winning lotto ticket. Blood poured onto Cory's black boots and splattered upon his pant legs and down the front of his woolen coat, but he still managed to keep the lotto ticket clean. The smell of blood-filled Cory's nose so heavily that he could even taste the salty liquid on the back of his throat. Emil could only make a few gurgling sounds and a moment or two of wheezing through all the blood that poured profusely from his neck before finally falling silent at Cory's feet. Cory's heart raced wildly. He hadn't felt that alive in decades. He may not have been able to take the publishing victory from Emil, but the money from the lotto ticket was now his. He couldn't stop himself from chuckling with ravenous delight for the hatred he felt for his friend's windfall burst from within him with repeated Tee-he-hees and a grin so big it caused pain to the rest of his face.
Cory left Emil's still warm and bleeding corpse at the back of the alley behind the brownstone and hurried to his small, dark apartment to wash the blood of his handy work off and disposed of his pants and coat in the fireplace. He scrubbed his shoes clean with a wire brush, then wasted no time in getting back to Harry's store to cash in his ill-gotten winning ticket. The brunette, Ms. Sarah, gave him a cold stare as she told him the address he would need to go to the lotto headquarters to get his winnings since the store couldn't give payouts as large as thirty-five thousand dollars. Cory grinned as the thoughts of what he was going to do with all that money danced wildly through his head.
"Looks like it's my lucky day, girly," he scoffed at her over the ringing bell of the door as he pushed his way back out to the street. He hurried off to the lotto headquarters that was four blocks away with a small coffee in one hand and the winning ticket in the other. After walking a block or so, the adrenalin of the day's events began to wear off, and he realized he was quite tired and sat down on a bench at the bus stop to rest a moment. There was no one else at the bus stop, and Cory felt safe to giggle uncontrollably over his good fortune without a drop of remorse for how he obtained it. As he relished in his glory, he took notice of a brown lunch bag that sat on the ground beneath the bench. At first, he dismissed it as nothing more than garbage and then thought it better to see what, if anything, might be inside. To his surprise, on opening the bag, he found a small bottle of prescription pills; he shook it to hear how full it was, then looked at the small print on the label to find it was marked as Viagra. He couldn't believe his luck but then dug deeper into the brown bag to find a crisp fifty-dollar bill. This time he laughed out loud and stomped his feet on the ground with glee. He didn't care who might think him to be crazy. I've hit the mother lode; this has to be the luckiest day of my life, he thought as he pounded his hands on the bench and laughed hysterically.
It only took about twenty minutes for the lotto headquarters to cut him a check for the money, and Cory was off to the bank to deposit it. He put all the funds but the fifty in cash into his savings account, so it could begin accruing interest. After all, he did pride himself on being wise with his money, "not giving it away to a bunch of needy pansy-asses." He then took two Viagra, even though the bottle said to only take one; he wanted to be sure it would work since it had been years since he functioned fully as a healthy man. He then boarded the three-fifteen bus into Hartford, where he proceeded to the north end to find himself a hooker with giant tits and an ass to match. How he longed to poke his dick into something substantial. He had no interest in any of those lettuce-licking bitches he saw on the cover of magazines. Yes, this truly is my luckiest day ever, he thought as he showed the curvy redhead with torn fishnet stockings and fuck me stiletto heels his fifty-dollar bill and checked into the one-hour motel.
The redhead unenthusiastically pulled up her black leather mini-skirt and flashed her shaved sex into Cory's face for a few minutes, letting him rub his pointed nose into the moistness of her before she lowered herself onto Cory's all-be-it stiff, but a rather blue penis. She came down onto him slowly at first before working him into a fast frenzy of creamy delight. He let out a long but almost forgot moan and let the red-headed hooker do all the work while he lay on the bed vibrating in pleasure for what turned out to be over an hour before she abruptly stopped, climbed off his still hard and throbbing dick, and in a thick Hungarian accent told him if he wanted her to finish him off it would cost him "anodher fifdy." Cory let out a sick-sounding laugh, and all the angry hooker got was a hard fist in the mouth, which ripped her lip open, and blood began to spew from her as she screamed in her thick accent.
"I put a curse on your ugly old bones, you fucker!"
Blood sprayed on him, but he paid her no mind and found the strength to hit her once more in the face, this time ripping open the delicate skin beneath her eye when even more blood flowed like a waterfall down her face before dashing from the room with the fifty still in his hand. Stupid bitch, he thought. I've never paid for a piece of ass in my life, and I sure as hell ain't going to start now. He laughed with triumph as pulled his pants up and went to board the bus back to Hope.
Cory reached his apartment just before six, but the gleeful exuberance he started with had long faded. This, however, did not apply to the now painful erection in his pants that hadn’t disappeared after his encounter with the hooker. He poured himself a giant glass of Gin with just a splash of Vermouth, sat in his lazy-boy chair in front of the evening news, and proceeded to release the immense pressure in his now purple penis with his grizzled old hand. He pumped and pulled at himself as hard as he could bear before he finally exploded across the chair and all over the adjacent wall before passing out from exhaustion.
Cory woke just before noon, his head ached, and his genitals felt as if they were on fire. "Damn! That stupid bitch better not have given me some kind of STD," he screamed at the bathroom mirror as he gingerly lifted his massively swollen scrotum. He got himself dressed and headed ever so gingerly to the emergency room. He bitched endlessly for the three-hour wait and then for another three hours as he waited for the test results before a doctor finally returned to talk to him.
"I’m sorry to inform you, Mr. Roacha, but the test results show that you have bone-Cancer.”
“And exactly what are you going to do to cure me?”
“I’ve put you on the donor list for a bone marrow transplant, and all we can do is hope we find a match in time before cancer spreads to your other organs. But I’ll have to be frank with you, Mr. Roacha. A man of your age is not likely to get approval from the transplant board. The cut-off age is usually fifty-eight, and for someone in good health. After that, the success rate drops to less than five percent, and the hospital board won’t accept you for the surgery. And you, Mr. Roacha, also have high blood pressure and the beginning stages of cirrhosis of the liver.”
“Well, then hurry up and get me a damn approval!”
“That can take a while, and as I said, you have to be relatively healthy to get the donor board to approve. I’m sorry, Mr. Roacha, but the best thing you can do now is simply go home and get your affairs in order.”
Before Cory could say another word, the doctor had swiftly turned and left the room. Cory went home and drank himself into a drunken stupor for the next five days. He wept, drooled, and soiled his pants and bed as if he were already dead, but not out of remorse or guilt for any of his past misdeeds. He couldn’t believe how fast his luck had changed. There has to be something I can do, he thought. After wallowing in the stench of vomit, urine, and excrement on his body, he finally couldn’t stand his own smell any longer and took a shower, which cleared the smell but not his mind. He then, in a rather dazed state, found himself slowly walking toward Harry’s store, following the path of his old daily routine. The ringing bells of the street corner Santa’s boomed in his ears as if they were symbols from a marching band, smashing together in rhythmic horror inside his head. He breathed a sigh of relief as soon as the door of Harry’s store closed behind him and blocked the noise from outside. He bought a lotto ticket and a small cup of coffee and said nothing to the relief and surprise of Ms. Sarah, and silently began heading for Memorial Park. The coffee warmed him as he took small sips between shuffling steps of his dragging feet, his body feeling as if his blood had been replaced by molten led. Deep down, he knew Emil wouldn’t be waiting, but his feet and body were simply moving on autopilot through the steps he had been ritually doing for the past five years. The November sky was thick with clouds and the air cold enough for snow, but Cory didn’t notice as he sat down on the same park bench inside the gazebo alone.
At first, the sounds around him were painful, and he managed to block them out when the torturously loud sound of calliope music came crashing into his ears. He could feel the pressure of the steam forcing its way up through the pipes with an ear-bleeding whining hum. He stared at the hustle and bustle of workmen on the other side of the park, setting up the traveling circus that always passed through town right before Thanksgiving. He watched with bloodshot eyes as they put up the big tent and played that unbearable music of the calliope, or steam organ as it was often called, to attract attention for the upcoming show. Without thinking, he found himself walking toward the music, perhaps in an attempt to kill whoever was playing the horrid instrument. In the midst of the frenzied activities, he came upon another smaller red and white striped tent and ducked inside with a renewed vengeance. The flap of the tent flopped closed behind him, and, as if on cue, the music abruptly stopped, leaving a deafening silence in its wake. He found himself shaking his head for a moment, and when he stopped, he saw an old woman with long white hair sitting at a round wooden table. She didn’t seem to notice Cory as she nibbled at small sandwiches that lay on a piece of wax paper before her. It wasn’t until she reached over and took a long sip from the plaid thermos bottle on the table when she finally looked at him and acknowledged that he was there. Her eyes were dull and covered in a white film. At first, Cory wasn’t sure if she could even see.
“You look as if you need some of my sandwiches,” she said in a voice that sounded as if she had been a smoker for many, many years.
“No, your stupid sandwiches can’t help me, and from the looks of it, they aren’t doing anything for you either.”
Much to Cory’s surprise, the old woman smiled at him with big, perfectly straight, bright white teeth that looked as if they should have been in the mouth of someone considerably younger before she spoke.
“How old do you think I am?”
“How the hell would I know? Maybe sixty or seventy?”
“Very kind of you to say, but I am one-hundred and forty-three.”
“Oh, come off it, lady. I’m not a stupid tourist, so stop bull-shitting me.”
“Believe what you will,” she replied with nothing more.
Her unwillingness to explain herself unnerved Cory. “Well, if you are that old, then what’s your secret?” he asked without really expecting an answer.
She smiled again with her beautiful big teeth and held up the thermos in one hand and one of the small sandwiches in the other. She held them in the air for a moment and continued to eat and drink without another word.
“You telling me that you lived to be that old just because of some stupid little sandwiches? Pffffff,” Cory waved his hand in the air as if to dismiss the notion.
“Believe what you will,” she said again and continued to eat.
At first, Cory turned to leave. The hideous music had stopped, and that was all he truly wanted. Then he even took a few steps before a crazy thought crossed his mind, and he whirled back around to face her.
“Those sandwiches don’t cure illness by any chance, do they?”
She smiled even wider than before, “But, of course. They are very powerful.”
Cory’s insides suddenly felt lighter. Could this crazy old bitch really have something that could help me,? he thought “In that case, I guess I will have some after all.”
She smiled and pulled a small blue cooler bag out from behind the table, and handed him two little bundles of wax paper. He greedily took the packages from her hand and sat down on the cold ground in front of her table, and wolfed the tiny, chewy but crunchy morsels down despite the horrid smell of rotting feet that accompanied them. As soon as he finished, she lifted the thermos toward him without saying a word. Cory grabbed it and washed the sandwiches down with a great big gulp.
“What is this stuff?” he asked in a huff. “Don’t tell me it’s some of that newfangled chia tea because those push-start Indians don’t know shit about tea.” He didn’t wait for an answer to his racist statement and took another swig. “A little salty, but not bad,” he said as he handed back the thermos to the old woman and turned to leave without a single offer to pay for the food and drink. It wasn’t that it hadn’t crossed his mind. It was just that he had no intention to pay her anything.
As he reached the flap of the tent, he heard her say ever so softly behind him, “In order for the sandwiches to do their magic, you must eat two each day for three days in a row.”
Cory stopped dead in his tracks and turned back around to face her. “Let me guess, if I don’t pay you like a hundred bucks for the next two installments, I don’t get anymore?”
This time she didn’t smile. Not a single sign of kindness crossed her face. “Nothing is free in this life, Mr. Roacha, especially for a man with a curse on his head.”
A shiver ran over his skin, and every hair on his body stood up stiffly. He suddenly felt like a cat that’s fur had been rubbed in the wrong direction. How did she know my name? I never told her my name. He thought hard if he had and hadn’t realized it, but after thinking for a moment, he knew he hadn’t, let alone mentioned that some European two-bit hooker had spewed a blood curse on him five days ago. He pursed his lips at her, “pffffff,” was all he said as he dismissed the entire absurd situation and left with a speed that surprised even him.
He began walking back to his apartment, and at first, he dragged along as before, but by the time he reached Mick’s Hardware store, he felt his feet getting warmer. The warmth slowly crept up his ankles and then into his calves. By the time he reached Harry’s, the sensation had made its way all through his body. His insides felt as if he were being bathed in warm, soft sunlight, and a strong sense of excited joy spread through him. Jesus, what the hell did that old bitch give me? He thought as his pace quickened with a new sense of strength that surged through every part of him. By the time he walked into his dark apartment, he felt as exhilarated as a newborn and as horny as a teenager. His swollen balls had gone back to their normal size and color, and all the pain in his body and head had vanished. A joyous feeling pulsed through him with vibrating heat. He felt so good that he wanted to scream his excitement out the window to the street below. “This is incredible. I can’t believe what I’m feeling. Maybe my luck has changed again, and I’m not going to die after all!”
Then the old woman’s words filled his head, “Nothing is free in this life.” Damn it, she probably knows about the money. Maybe she was at the lotto headquarters, and I hadn’t noticed her. That’s how she knew my name. Then he thought for a minute more and realized that there was no way she could have known about the hooker. She must have just said that stuff about the curse to scare me, and she didn’t know anything about it. Yeah, that has to be it. Well, I’ll show that bitch. I’ll go back tomorrow and tell her I’ll pay her after the third day after I’ve eaten the last of her sandwiches, and then I’ll cut the old bitch’s throat, and she can dance in hell with that bastard Emil.
He let out a frantic laugh that echoed off the walls of his apartment, grabbed his fifty-dollar bill from his lockbox, and headed for the local bar down the road in hopes of finding himself a drunken maiden to fuck. He decided it would be safer to buy some bitch a few drinks rather than to piss off another hooker. With his new vigor, it didn’t take Cory long to win another hundred bucks at the pool table, much to the displeasure of a couple of young men who thought the old guy would be an easy mark. He laughed and drank and charmed a woman half his age, that in the end, didn’t go home with him but did give him a rousing blowjob in the backseat of her rusting Cadillac. He was no longer in any hurry. It wasn’t as if he was dying any longer.
Cory kept to his plan and went back the next day and found the old woman again alone in her tent. He made his offer to pay her after the third day, which she accepted without any mention of what exactly the amount would be. All Cory told her was that he would pay her whatever she thought was fair. Cory felt even better after the second set of sandwiches. He was stunned to look at himself in the mirror to find he looked ten years younger.
On the third day, Cory returned with a large hunting knife buried inside his new woolen coat. He planned to eat and drink and put the bitch to death before the evening circus performance. He arrived earlier than he had told her to catch her off guard, but as soon as he arrived at her tent, the dreadful calliope music was already blaring, and there were two men with her. Both men stood over six feet tall with oversized, protruding foreheads and arms so long that their knuckles practically dragged on the floor. That would have been if they had all their fingers. Both men were strangely missing the same three fingers from each hand and only had an index finger and a thumb left. Neither the old woman nor the troll-like men had seen Cory enter the tent. They weren’t expecting him until much later. The old woman was bent down in front of another frail-looking man that the two trolls held tightly by the arms. They were pinning his hands down on the table while he wildly struggled in vain against his captors. The two trolls looked as if they were laughing, but no sound could be heard over the hideously loud calliope music. Cory’s eye’s widened with horror as he moved closer to see that the old woman was gnawing at the frail man’s fingers with her big teeth and spitting the well-ground bits from her mouth into a large stainless-steel bowl while the frail man writhed in pain. She then took the bleeding stump of his hand and held it over the mouth of the thermos to drain him of blood a moment before going back to gnaw off yet another finger.
Cory let out a scream that couldn’t be heard over the blaring music. Intense heat ran up his face as he instantly knew what the sandwiches he had been eating had been made of. The thought brought bile up from his belly to his throat. He could see the frail man’s face also screaming and again understood that the payment for his good health would cost him much more than mere money. But by the time Cory had this revelation, the old woman and the troll men had, at last, noticed his presence, and before he could run, the trolls had grabbed him by the arms.
No one heard Cory’s high-pitched screams as the old woman began to chew off all his fingers. No one heard anything at all after she gnawed off his tongue with her large teeth. In the end, he could do nothing but tremble and shake in intense pain as she took the last and most important bits from between his legs where Cory Roacha, at last, had paid off all that he had owed.