By LB Sedlacek
Kim stared at her computer. She was looking at rough draft number she didn’t know what. She’d lost count, there had been so many changes. Her characters were no longer her characters. Her publisher wanted them all to be despicable. No good ones anymore. All bad to various degrees.
She groaned. She slammed her head into her hands. “I’m fed up with this! These characters are awful.”
Her accent waffled from southern to no accent at all. Too many years living out of the south. Too many years back. She often joked her voice didn’t know what it wanted to sound like.
Joseph grumbled at his car. It puffed and smoked and finally choked its way into his assigned parking space outside of the factory.
He stared at the flowers beds, all blooming and fresh. He stared at the equally glorious blooming trees alongside the flower beds.
He mumbled “Beautiful outside. But inside those factory walls it’s like death.” His accent was all southern. He’d never left home. He’d never been out of North Carolina not even over a state line to buy fireworks in South Carolina, to see Dollywood or Nashville in Tennessee or to go to Busch Gardens in Virginia.
Kim typed “It wasn’t always easy being squeaky clean or appearing to be that way.”
Joseph entered the giant rectangular windowless red brick building and moved past the group surrounding the man tied in the chair. His Boss, well everyone’s Boss, was stuffing $1 bills down the guys throat.
It wasn’t even lunchtime when the town shook from the boom. Kim flipped on her scanner app to hear “There’s been an explosion at plant 7.”
She typed “Plant 7. Exploded with a thunderous roar.”
Money or rather shredded pieces of dollar bills blanketed the town for hours. The newspaper headlines later read “It’s raining dollar bills.” A contest was held with folks guessing how much money had floated all up in the air around town.
It was decided that $5000 sounded like the right amount. Joseph knew it was exactly $5000. They’d made him practice on new hires until he got the count just right – how many dollar bills do you have to stuff down someone’s throat to kill them.
Technically, five would do the trick. Maybe ten if the person had a large mouth.
Kim typed “Joseph had a change of heart. He quit and moved and then he took all the money for the throat stuffing and sent it to the victim’s families.”
She thought, “Let’s see if my publisher likes this.” Then she laughed and typed “Characters are people, too.”
LB Sedlacek has had poems and stories appear in a variety of journals and zines. Her poetry books include “Swim,” “The Architect of French Fries,” “The Poet Next Door,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “Happy Little Clouds,” and “Words and Bones.” Her short stories “Backwards Wink” and “Sight Unseen” both won 1st Place Prose for different issues of “Branches” literary magazine in 2022. Her latest fiction book is “The Jackalope Committee and Other Tales” published by Alien Buddha Press. Her fiction books include the award nominated mystery “The Glass River” and “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.” LB also likes to swim and read. Find out more at: www.lbsedlacek.com