By Bruce Stirling

She found his face by chance on the web. Surprise rocked her to the core. He lived down the block; had moved in just last week. Fat, middle-aged. Smarmy white smile. He came and went at all the wrong hours. She'd confirmed his identity yesterday when she saw him talking to her son after school. He'd given her son a poem, a love poem on pink paper, a Tootsie Roll taped at the bottom.

She eased the curtain back. He was on the far side of the street, the same place he was last night, pacing the shadows as he stared up at her son's window. She marched across the street, her husband's .357 in hand.

"Excuse me?" she said, loud and clear.

He bowed his head and walked away. She put a bullet through his spine. He crumpled like a dirty rag. She stood over him.

"Are you a poet?" she asked.

He screamed as his bladder broke.

She cocked the trigger. "I said, are you a poet?"


"Good. That's all I wanted to know."

She shoved the barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The top of his head exploded, blowing chunks of brain and skull along the curb. As she turned for home, unseen hands started clapping. Two hours later the body was still cradled in the curb, still swimming in blood.

The police finally arrived. She poured them a second cup. They asked one last time if she was sure she hadn't seen the shooter. She was sure. She signed their piece of paper, then watched as the ambulance hauled the body off.

Come morning, the skunks were still fighting over the blood coagulated in the curb. Come evening, someone had left a note with flowers at her door. She opened the note and found a poem on the same pink paper as before. Paling, she read.

Dear Mother

many poets
are in the world
promise I'll make
your boy a girl

She felt something inside the envelope. She opened it and found an empty Tootsie Roll wrapper.
Bruce Stirling's story, Screw the Pepperoni, was published in OOTG #4. It will be released as a short film in January, 2009. Check him out at:

1 comment:

Frank Bill said...

Sick and twisted shit. Love it. Kicker of an ending...