An illegal chocolate peddler gets a summer surprise that soon becomes a horrible nightmare.


              The caustic summer swelter dragged on, searing rays lancing through men and turning them into dry husks of misplaced rage.

             This was why Morris spent the entirety of summer with his knees glued to the floor praying for fall.

             That was before the summer shipment.

              So rare were these summer shipments that any whispers involving one had to be treated the same as sightings of unicorn-mermaids or detailed accounts of true love. Under the weight of summer’s odd jobs and the prodding jabs of the sun, Morris ignored reports of summer shipments. His focus was snatched away by the lengthy bouts of oral fixation and memories that spoke of the empty well his life had become, full of only a pocketful of dust that languished at the bottom of it all. Memories he had trapped behind padlocked doors until the sweet scent of autumn drifted around the corner, searching him out to open up a new chapter of the year that would add the enrichment of a childhood delight and make him new again.

              Morris paid no attention to fairy tales, and yet, he stood out in the desert cast in sheets of fiery air, his shoes practically turning to jelly under him, the only signs of movements for a hundred miles in every direction were the wavy heat lines sketched across the horizon.

Even out here, the only evidence needed to prove why summer shipments were impossible, you could only ignore those rumors for so long until curiosity and hope whittled you down from a stone monolith of a man to a few crumbs of dust scattered by the wind.

              Morris’s eyes slid over to Clive sweeping his forehead dry with a handkerchief.

Clive, the mechanical man. Morris had to drag him kicking and screaming to the slow burning cinders of this rumor, this unicorn-mermaid captivated by the grasp of true love.

              Clive bounced back and forth over a five foot patch of dirt, from one invisible wall to the next, watching out over the horizon as a growing cloud of dust ruptured from the still ground into the white hot sky. At the front of the cloud, a silver missile of a truck blasted through the empty desert, engine roaring against the heavy heat, hurdling toward them.

              “You bring a gun?” Clive said, kicking up a plume of dirt and looking over at Morris.

              Morris, his face empty as the dirt they stood on, answered his question by reaching under his shirt and into his jeans to pull out a hefty chunk of metal, forged, without a mistake, from steel.

              Clive’s jaw dropped, “Holy hell. Is that a Colt Forty-Five?”

He approached the weapon glistening like an oiled god in the sun, entranced by its beauty, “How the Christ did you pick something like that up? I didn’t think they even made those anymore, not even for the military.”

              Morris grinned, “They don’t. It’s a replica.”

              Clive’s face burned red with what Morris figured was anger or embarrassment, but as far as he knew, it could have just as well been the heat. Whatever it was, the mechanical man was reduced to his basest components.

“We’re about to meet a militia! Don’t you know what that means? These guys would tear our fingernails out and gouge our own eyes out with them out of sheer boredom. Not that they’d have to. No, they’re going to be hauling machine guns, military-grade. Jesus, Morris. You’ve got a vendor in the lobby of your building! Why would you get a replica? You’d be better off bringing a fork and knife to defend us! At least that would open up the possibility for mild bodily harm.”

              Clive peeled off and walked away from Morris for a few seconds to a new patch of desert identical to that which he had occupied before, the soul-crushing disappointment.

              The truck—which had turned out to be a truck and an accompanying SUV—drew closer. Attention all employees: temper one’s excitement for any potential summer shipment. The possibility remains that it’s just a wrecking party of a couple dozen militia men looking to beat a couple chockies to death for their clientele lists—or for kicks. Thank you.

              “Whatever,” Morris said. “No one’s looking to die today.”

              Morris looked across the horizon at the militia bearing down on them. “You show them a sign post with a rusty nail in it, and they’ll tape their dicks to their legs for a minute or two.”

              “What does that even mean?” Clive said, running his fingers through his hair, his fingers parted, wringing out some of the sweat as they passed through, which he wiped on his Rolling Stones t-shirt, “Did I not make myself clear about who we’re dealing with here? You’re measuring beasts with the yardstick of humanity. ”

              The words tore a tattered gash through Morris’s threshold for Clive’s banal moaning. The circumstances surrounding this potential jackpot were irrelevant. Gun or no gun, militia or no militia, their whole year and perhaps the one after this hinged on this whisper. Sometimes risks needed to be taken.

              “Clive,” Morris said, blowing what he imagined was steam from his nostrils, “what was your previous occupation?”


              “Before you met me, what was your job?”

              Clive sighed and turned his eyes to the cloudless sky that offered him not a thread to cling to, shrinking into a non-existent singularity as if the acid was extracted from his argument with a syringe.

              “Florist.” Clive said with a shrug, shaking his head.

              “Really? A florist? That’s funny. I didn’t know daisy peddlers had become authorities on the goddamn militia.”

              Clive nodded and then shook his head and then nodded again, diverting his eyes to the ground.

              Morris puffed out his chest, a shot of confidence for the encounter to come.

              “Listen,” Morris said, taking a step toward the two trucks caked with dirt that grinded to a halt twenty or so feet before them, “We have what they need. It’s a give and take, a synthetic relationship. As long as you didn’t bring a list of our clients, we’ll be golden.”

              “Symbiotic, and no, I didn’t.”

The trucks and those inside sat without movement for a minute, waiting as the dust cloud they had kicked up behind them, swallowed them up and spit them out from the other end. The engines grumbled to a stop, the fiery air which threatened to combust all it touched, passing through their exhausted innards.

              Morris licked the dust off of his lips and bowed his head. What shipment could survive a day like this?

              “Show that gun a little more,” Clive said, taking a couple of steps toward him. “Let ‘em know what’s up.”

              Morris ignored him.

              The doors to the SUV swung open and men began pouring out of the car. At least, they appeared to be men. Their movements, bounded by layer upon layer of body armor, were rigid and unnatural. Every step was calculated and carried out with caution. Hell, they had to be; their faces were covered so completely with masks, dark sunglasses, and oversized blast helmets that Morris really did begin to wonder if he wasn’t staring down a few honest to goodness robots.

              “You’re armed,” said the foremost juggernaut, shifting about in his armor that rustled and clanged together, a tan assault rifle clinched in gloved hands so padded that he probably couldn’t distinguish a gun’s trigger from his own ass. “Didn’t know chockies armed themselves. Thought them to be something close to pacifists.”

              Clearly, the group of six huffing and puffing through their armor were more intimidated by the thermometer banging on a hundred and twenty-five than the replica in Morris’s pants.

              “It’s fake,” Morris said, his voice unwavering and confident, even as Clive was reduced to a muddled succession of nervous tics beside him.

              “Calm down, little lady,” said one of the other soldiers near the back of the pack, his face obscured by a dusty sash.

              “No one’s getting testy here,” the first soldier said, easing the other juggernauts around him with a motion of his left hand, which he pulled off of his rifle. “We’ve got a lot of product. It stands to be worth about three-hundred grand if you divvy it up and charge a hefty price for it, which you should. It’s Canadian. Real choice. We’ll take two hundred grand. You’ll keep whatever’s left.”

              Smiles were for the ride home and the after-parties. They had no place in business meetings where machine guns and armor fit to deflect howitzer shells were a concern. Words like those, however, had no consideration for the etiquette of the trade, superseding the rigid face of Morris and drawing a sheepish smile from his lips.

What kind of burn would it be to go over such details as these if they were looking for a couple quick kills? Why bring them all the way out to the desert though? Why bringing a cargo truck like this? The dominos were falling, and legend was becoming tangible fact, a dewy ooze solidifying in Morris’s hands.

              All he had to do now was keep the two of them from getting killed.

              “Sounds like a pretty incredible haul,” Morris said. “You telling me it’s real.”

              The first soldier nodded, “You both stand to make a lot of coin off of this.”

              “Well, coin is what we like,” Morris said. “Isn’t that right, Clive?”

              Clive didn’t answer. He was probably balled up in the fetal position, a moat of his own tears forming a protective perimeter around him. Morris didn’t take his eyes off of the militia trudging about.

              Shambling over to what looked to be a modified moving truck, the soldier smacked his gloved paw against the side of the enclosed bed of the truck, a dull clang sounding off with each smack.

Inside, the sound of someone rustling about was roused.

              Now moving to the back of the truck, every step crunching the dirt beneath his feet, and the soldier motioned Morris and Clive to join him, though Morris could hear only a single set of footsteps crackling over the dust below.

              The soldier now smacked the back shutter of the truck a couple times. The shutter shot upward, thrown upward by one of the militia as a blast of icy mist washed over Morris and felt like the hand of  heaven calling him forth.

              Cardboard boxes stacked on high, many of which had been strewn about, rattled in the back of the truck like a couple of dice, their edges dented but their contents safe.

              “Open,” the soldier said to his man in the back of the truck bundled up some ratty overcoats frayed at every edge, who reeled a cardboard box in with his free arm and tore it open before shoving it to the edge of the truck right in under of Morris’s wanting eyes.

              Words could not describe, and to try would only ruin his ecstasy.

              As valuable as gold but without the sterling shimmer, rows and rows of slender, wrapped delights, solid and at attention like a company of the world’s most respected soldiers.

The breath stalled in Morris’s lungs. Had the militia put bullets through his chest here at this moment, he would have been hard-pressed to complain.

              “Mr. Wrangler Bars,” the soldier said, looming over Morris’s left shoulder. “Toppa’s Poppas, Leevee’s, Rosscat Cups, Simply Yum’s, Yancy Dans, Kreeg Bars.”

              Morris took a Kreeg Bar in his fingers, it’s red, reflective wrapping kissed by a dull glint of the sun. Its body frigid and rock hard to the touch. It was real. The summer shipment was realer than the largest warehouse shipment hoarded in the biting months of winter. This Kreeg Bar was the oasis in the midst of the desert sand that refused to melt away into a handful of sizzling dirt, no matter how close you crept. An authentic Kreeg insignia as enjoyed without second thought by millions of Canadians. Blue letters curved into a smile of days that had died long ago. His fingers wrapped around the bar, the crinkle of the wrapper under his touch so sweet a sound.

              “Go ahead and try it. It’s real.”

              Morris licked his lips caked with a thin shroud of dust and tore into the wrapping in a full on assault, wasting not a second to shove nearly half the bar down his throat and jamming his teeth down into its frozen hide, ripping it half and chomping down against its solid hull. The sulty body, brown and smooth, marked by the imperfect mounds of peanut protruding from its frame crumbled in his mouth, melted by the warmth of his saliva and mushed into a fine concoction more perfect than the eyes of any woman he had ever seen. Chocolate melted into a sweet sauce caressing every corner of his mouth and clashed against the tangy caramel before being joined by the shards of shattered peanuts that worked their way into the equation.

              In such perfect harmony, the sugary blend assaulted all of the senses and brought Morris into a stratosphere that screamed of contradictions. The cruel sun. The sand baking beneath his feet. A feast like this was forbidden to exist in such a place, and yet he was experiencing it firsthand.

A chockie’s discretion. That was the only reason he was presented with such a treasure trove.

              Running chocolate was a capital offense akin to murdering a family of four and stringing up their housecat amidst the raging flames of their home, and the only crime more dangerous than selling chocolate was buying it.

              For that reason, chocoholics revealed their addictions only to those they trusted to enable their addictions, which almost always excluded the men who danced around in layers of battle armor three inches thick, popping anything that they thought would make a funny noise. Such a reluctance to deal with the trigger happy thieves who stole the chocolate necessitated the services of the valued middle men, the chockies.

              Morris gave no thanks to God, the stars, or the powers of the universe. All he could thank was his own work ethic, the process that kept his clientele list growing and out of the hands of competitors, and it was this process that stripped away the golden gleam of the shipment just as fast as he had found it.

              A stockpile of money and the promise of repeat business from buyers brought a smile to Morris’s bank account, but no amount of money could assuage the frustration of seeing chocolate wasted.

His anger driving a force of imagination in which he pictured himself so joyfully strangling these beacons of human embarrassment sitting in their underwear during the nth day since their last shower, watching daytime programming and waiting for the chockie to knock on the door so they could dump a couple months’ salary down their throats without taking so much time as to actually taste what they were eating.


To Morris’s eyes, the trove of the summer shipment was an endless well of delights.

Two days was all it took to destroy this illusion, as he returned each day to find the stock evaporating before his eyes. With every box that vanished from the back of that truck, Morris’s muscles strained with the desire to impale the hearts of his ungrateful customers on the sharpened edge of a frozen Mr. Wrangler Bar. Pathetic men and women who thought nothing of the treasure they ingested, only knowing that it would quell a desire that would only resurface in a matter of days.

              Two bars.

Morris had taken two bars for himself in a sample deemed appropriate by the mechanical man, Clive.

Clive. The thought of his name capsized Morris’s stomach. The overbearing machine taking stock of every bar of chocolate day after day, watching with indifference as box after box melted away in the mouths of people unfit to appreciate their elegance.

              Every day, Morris arrived at the truck hidden under a tarp in a desolate backlot and opened the shutter, the icy mist swirling around his head, the flurry of a reveal before a cruel slight of hand a slight of hand: “Now you see me…”

              Morris kept his hands off the chocolate, and Clive handled the business, hawking the sugary gold for handfuls money gathering bacteria under a fat man’s couch, his clammy hands soaking each bill in sweat as he handed them over to Clive, who had the audacity to issue a smile as he threw the Rosscat Cups and the Sledge Choco-Slugs into empty pits devoid of integrity to see the artisan craft.

              At the end of the day, the night strangling the daytime into shades of blue and purple as a the daytime as a warning to clear the streets, Clive would hand Morris his share without a word spoken, filthy bills that Morris could have chucked over his shoulder without a tinge of regret.

              That look of indifference in Clive’s eyes. God, how Morris wished he could take a chainsaw to that look. He could be frightened by his own shadow, but giving away priceless works of art did nothing to a man who had no capability to bear warmth. To hate Clive was to understand him. Years younger than Morris, Clive grew up after an age when store shelves were covered in an endless wave of chocolate of varieties inconceivable to most men born after the fact. When Clive tasted chocolate as a boy, he did so by the grace of government vouchers he exchanged for stale, plastic farces of what Morris had grown up with, hollow mannequins compared to the touch of a real person. Not long after Clive hit middle school, Morris guessed, chocolate had gone “extinct.”

              Clive would never feel the fire of Morris’s crusade. He would never know the gravity of a man of sixty crumbling to pieces on the ground at the sight of a piece of chocolate. Ignorance didn’t excuse Clive, however. If anything, his ignorance was more of a reason to stop him. He couldn’t be allowed to squander a fortune in gold just because he couldn’t appreciate its value.


              Five days had come and gone with all of the grace of trying to swallow a shard of glass, and with that fifth night came a quiet anticipation that brought Morris to life. His head, moist with sweat, was planted against the door of his apartment painted green. The paint chipped away and bore the rotting wooden frame that could have been cracked with little more than a well-placed sneeze.

              Clive had said these words himself without a hint of remorse: “Roughly forty percent left.”

How could he have let it come to this? Less than a week, and he’d seen a childhood dream revisited spiral down the drain without lifting a finger to stop it. Like the girl sitting next to you in the coffee shop, the one you’ll never see again when she walks out that door, Morris had watched the chocolate disappear. Love’s sultry tastes and the svelte texture of its embrace could do little to match the might of sensation of melting chocolate sailing across the tongue, and while women were abundant to the point of becoming pests, once the chocolate was gone, there could be no telling when something so grand would return.

              Autumn. Clockwork. He could say with certainty that the next shipment would stumble through the gates come late September, mid-October at the latest. Autumn was future that had no right existing yet to Morris. A murky window that only grew hazier as he tried to peer through it. Morris dug his fingernails into his damp palm. Autumn? Who the hell knew when that would come?

              A numbness crawled across the inside of his chest, growing in thick, a gummy mold feeding on his misery. Morris grimaced, closing his eyes to see the hundreds of smiling faces taking chunks of his dream in their diseased mouths, chunks of chocolate bouncing down their lips like boulders tumbling over a cliff side.

Morris plugged in his clientele into the equation he scratched into his brain hoping to squeeze out an estimate for when the shipment would be reduced to an orgy of cockroaches shoved together over a thimbleful of crumbs.

They hadn’t even started running the high schools yet. Rats, the lot of them. Just another passing horde of mindless consumers. At least the doughy dullards pinched between their armrests knew the authentic stuff from the brown cement wrapped in sandpaper that counterfeiters cooked from their basements.

              Peeling his forehead from the door, Morris stared at the circular patch of perspiration that marked the door. Palms moist, heart swimming, Morris’s skull split into shards with the endless variables that ate away at the supply. He may as well have been watching it melt away in a vat of acid.

The weight of his emotions had never been so punishing, not when he was on the run, not even when making the pick-up with the militia did he feel a rot so intense.

              Christ, you start running the schools, it’s gone by the weekend. Fact. “Roughly forty percent” Clive had said, with the sting of a handful of salt to the eyes. Damning words.

  1. What did that even mean? Roughly meant that there may not even be that much left.

              Morris slipped away from his apartment. Down the steps and out the front door of his building, movements in the control of forces operating from another plane of existence. They slid him forward like a chess piece, a hand of god urged by Morris’s cries of injustice and the words uttered by the mechanical man, Clive Yatz: “Roughly forty percent left.”

              The idea that his future might be one of regret was a familiar one to every man, but the idea that his present was one of immeasurable torture existed in his sweat and shivering bones, a punishment that rendered any later regret as a flickering light resting in the distance.


              Morris slithered through desolate alleys populated by an orchestra of fleeing cats and the distant pockets of gunfire being traded far away. His shadow fluttered under cones of yellow light aligned above him. Should he be caught out in the open now by a band of bored marauders or a family of desperate bandits scouring the streets from their apartment windows, he’d be a corpse before he could beg for mercy. Just a squished bug, one leg kicking out against death, glued to the palm of savages.

              The endgame dwarfed the presence of death, however, glowing bright enough to render the bandits and marauders as nothing more than a speck in the corner of his vision. He would find roughly forty percent of that stash, nestled in a series of folding shelves stacked from the dilapidated frames of trashed cars, and then he would be happy.

              Passing the limp wired fence tattooed in warnings of armed guards and attack dogs that Morris hung as shoddy decoys, he crept between a gathering of mangled cars, their headlights punched out, black eyes watching his movement.

              The truck was tucked under a length of tarp slathered with dirt and stale dust that hung untouched by the still breeze. Slipping beneath the tarp, Morris drew his steps back into a deliberate crawl, careful to throw his leg over the thick cables connecting the sweet treasures inside to a nearby cooling system and pull the other over without so much as a sliver of contact to disturb the life support for the supply.

              Morris’s key slipped into the titan of a padlock clamped over the truck’s shutter and tossed it to the dirt.       Clamping his eyes shut, Morris held his breath and threw the shutter up to a chilling string of rattles that sang out against the night, sounds that Morris was positive everyone in the city would awake to, sounds that would summon every militia this side of the city, sounds that would bring Clive to him.

              After a minute of waiting, Morris was satisfied to proceed into the chilled truck where his prize for all of the anguish and misery he had suffered was waiting for him.

              Morris’s skin was torched red and seething with the echoes of the shutter that he wished he could wrangle in and bury beneath the ground. The attention calls like those could draw, the scoundrels who could come running with tongues dangling from their mouths, stoked by the scent of chocolate.

              A minute passed with all of Morris’s senses trained on the air, searching for the shuffle of feet or the scent of stale sweat seeping through the tarp. Through the dreadful sixty seconds, only the barking of a dog a thousand miles away could be heard now, calling out to Morris, assuring him that the coast was clear. Nothing to worry about now.

              As he climbed into the back of the truck, the sweat that had wrapped around him like a damp towel during his trek seemed to freeze upon contact with the cold air that encased the chocolate tomb. A child again, Morris came face to face with the dim yellow light and the freezer at the far end of the truck humming away, swatting back the heat outside, and stepping in deeper still, he felt himself being plucked away into a fantastical world disconnected in every way from the hopeless world he hailed from.

              Where the jabs of summer continued to dominate the outdoors and punish every living being in the city, a woven sheet of winter folded around Morris as he grabbed onto one of the cardboard boxes and tore through its seal to the rows of chocolate that poured out onto the floor of the truck.

              Morris plopped down onto his belly and swam through the chocolate, bathing in it, grabbing handfuls and scrubbing his stomach and underarms with as if it were soap, his laughter scattering the plumes of icy air.

              Morris ripped through the wrapper of one of the bars with enough force that the bar popped out of the wrapper flipped through the air. Grabbing it with both hands, Morris dug his teeth deep into the body of the bar chilled solid and tore away half the bar in one bite.

              He chomped down in rigid motions, like a cow crushing a mouthful of cud in her mouth, and before he had swallowed the first bite, he had shoved the rest of the bar into his mouth and was hunting for his next victim.

              With the second bar, this time a Yancy Bar, he did the same, shoving it in his mouth in two bites and shoving two maimed halves of the bar down his throat.

              By the time he got to his sixth bar, the name on the package meant nothing. By the eighth, they all tasted the same, solid, rectangular husks of sugar churned from the same identical machine. With a tongue coated in sugar, the taste of caramel, peanut butter, nougat, and whatever else was housed in each bar couldn’t cut through to his taste buds.

              He was through one whole box, dozens of deformed wrappers, maimed and shredded, scattered across the floor like a battlefield of discarded corpses, and as he tore through the cardboard on his second box, the consequences were no longer real. He was no longer real to anyone who existed outside of this paradise. Any price he would pay belonged to a different world and would administered in accordance with a different set of rules than this one.


              Morris’s body jumped to life. His eyes sprawling open and chest inflating like a balloon, searching for oxygen as if he had awaken in deep space. His skin was drenched, sizzling, and the air was paying a direct homage to the surface temperature of the sun.

              “Uh, oh,” Morris said aloud, a chocolaty sludge caked into the crevices of his lips.

              The taste of chocolate after the night’s binge set alarms racing through his body, and he was soon reeling with the pain of his insides decaying after consuming the equivalent of Luxembourg’s entire sugar reserve.

              Through the violent revolt of his vital organs, Morris fought to sit up and was greeted by the burn of the sun’s rays ripping through the interior of the truck.

              Lifting his arm to shield his eyes from the sun, he realized that the tarp that had hidden the stash had been removed.

              The combination of the heat and the most colossal of sugar crashes had left his mind in shambles he struggled to piece together. He craned his neck, pushing against the stiffness of his muscles to see what had become of the rest of the supply.

Empty. Barren. Desolate. Shit.

 Not a single box remained. Someone had followed him. Someone had heard the commotion and followed the trail, waiting until he was too far gone to steal it all. Even the cooling unit had been disassembled and looted for scrap metal.

              The roller coaster ride that had culminated in his chocolaty feast had given way to the drop. Straight down he fell, so fast that he couldn’t make out his surroundings, a fall that was reached rock bottom with the sound of footsteps approaching fast, crunching the gravel and broken glass that seasoned the lot.

              Morris jumped to his feet, his plump belly, packed with sweets, hanging like a pendulum made of lead as he stood. Against the harsh sunlight, all he could see was a silhouette of a man standing before him. Staring straight through his black profile, Morris remained still, captivated by a figure that exuded inhuman qualities in its stillness and the depth of its shadow.

              The figure cried out in agony, and Morris sighed in relief. All at once, the figure’s mystique was brushed away.

It was only Clive.

              Morris stood up for what felt like the first time in his life. After gaining steady footing, he took a step toward Clive, who was already hoisting himself into the truck.

              “Clive,” Morris said, his words slurred and uneven. “I tried to stop them.”

              Garbled words sputtered from Morris’s mouth couldn’t match the speed of Clive already soaring through the air and landing atop Morris.

              Tumbling to the ground, Morris needed a few seconds to piece together that the sharp clamping feeling around his neck was connected to the mashed together look of twisted rage on Clive’s face.

              Taking a hold of Clive’s wrists damp with sweat, Morris cried out in a desperate whisper, “You’re choking me! You’re choking me!”

              “You bastard!” Clive screamed at the top of his lungs. “You killed us! You killed us both! I knew I couldn’t trust you with this!”

              Morris clawed at Clive’s hands but found that his effort would have been better spent clawing at a brick wall.

              With his throat pinched shut, Morris’s vision wavered. His heart danced about in disorganized thumps. With desperation kicking in, Morris shot his hands upward toward Clive’s face in a last ditch effort, digging into his skin with his fingernails, churning and pushing on Clive’s face, imagining as he did so that he was tearing chunks of flesh out of his face.

              Clive howled with pain, relinquishing some of his grip, and Morris capitalized by taking a handful of Clive’s slick hair in each hand and driving the side of his head against the side of the truck as many times as his beleaguered arms would allow. The shots piled up, sapping Clive’s strength with the dull chime of a gong, and after four blasts to the head, Clive reeled over, moaning in pain, his packed his hands against the bloodied side of his head.

              Rolling out of Clive’s destructive path, Morris sat up and let his lungs take their fill of the desert air.

Clive seethed about, shattered on the floor. Morris threw his head back, glaring down his nose at his fallen adversary. He couldn’t help but smile at the intensity that had thrust him into action and against his own partner no less.

              In the middle of the truck, the blood poured in between Clive’s fingers as he whimpered incoherent prayers and then to Morris in a clearer voice, “They’re going to kill us, Morris. They’re going to kill us. Why’d you do it? Why’d you kill us?”

              Morris got on all fours, the palms of his hands frying on the floor of the truck, and crawled to the exit. He didn’t respond to Clive, taking his ability to speak as a sign that he may not be out of this fight yet, but Morris sure was.

The accusations against Morris came in loops, amplified by the tin box that was his megaphone. With the defeated cries of Clive assaulting his ears, running him down faster than he could manage to crawl, Morris was plagued by the idea that an apology may be in order.

Why bother? Morris didn’t know any old chockies. Just like a soldier zipping through a hail of bullets or a cop turning into that dark alley in pursuit of a criminal, a chockie’s job was bound catch up to him. A familiar warning, one that the mechanical man must’ve have been aware of.

              As Morris plopped down out of the truck onto the ground, he shouted out a few curses at Clive.

              “This is just as much your fault as it is mine,” Morris said, pulling himself up to his feet and yanking down on the shutter to the back of the truck.

              The sound of the shutter slamming shut once again shot through the air like machine gun fire, but under the sun, the clattering was somewhat muted, and picking up the padlock he had discarded on the floor the night prior, Morris replaced it on the shutter and clapped it shut with a satisfying clink.

              Starting off toward the lot’s exit through the mangle of the rusted frames of automobiles and severed chain link fences, Morris dug around his mind tossing and upending every last thought in search for just the right thing to say. Whatever happened from this point forward, Clive was gone; that was that. Morris had a few phone calls to make, and the right words remained as the last barrier to ensure that he wouldn’t end up beside him.





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