Happy Days

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Much to do About Nancy

Samantha was an old school katana sword, the type that you’d find at swap meets, carnivals, or mid-level smoke shops. The steel was rolled hard, with an acid washed edge that left a dull, serpentine line on one side. The sheath was wooden, painted mother of pearl white, and the hilt and straps were wrapped with purple nylon cord. It had a certain feminine quality that Frankie didn’t want to hear shit about, and he’d spent hours- days, even- honing the edge until it was razor sharp. Not that it helped overly much.

Frankie was kind of a funny guy. Despite his hillbilly vernacular, he was highly intelligent. But he was still a hillbilly, and he loved his redneck good times. We’d gone out beyond the barrier together countless times, and he’d killed more than his fair share of deaders. But where I felt a release bordering on orgasm, Frankie tended to celebrate like a running back that had just won Super Bowl. In short, he viewed every kill like a hunter that had just brought down big game.

“Fuck yeah, donkey!” was his favorite line; I couldn’t tell you why.

Frankie carried Samantha with him frequently when we went out. He’d brought down a lot of deaders with her, but it was always a sloppy affair; even more so than my bat. With my bat, at least, I knew exactly what I was doing, and could end it fast if I chose. When Frankie used Samantha…eh, that was a different story.

See, cutting off a head is much harder than you would think. It’s not the deaders flesh that’s the problem; that shit wilts like an apple three months out of season. It’s the bones. Flesh may die, but bones stay as hard as they ever were. It’s damn near impossible to cut through a neck unless you manage to hit the tiny space between the vertebrae. If you miss, the head just flops to the side from the impact and it keeps coming at you.

Not that that ever stopped Frankie. He would just hop back a bit and take another Babe Ruth swing. He had a tendency to hum “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘N Roses when he did it. Once again, I couldn’t tell you why. But I’d always liked that song, and when Frankie got at it, it always seemed to fit the mood.

We’d left the house that he and Lacy shared a few minutes ago, strolling down Branberry street. Frankie had the swagger of a high school quarterback going to Homecoming after having thrown the winning touchdown of the game. I walked the way that felt normal to me. I’d never recognized it as such, but it was a stride that the people of Branberry had learned meant I was out to do business.

We were only a dozen yards away from the wooden planked gate that was constructed across the mouth of the road when I heard a front door crack open from off to my right. Sure as shit, it was Nancy, belting out of her front door as Frankie and I strolled past. Her hair was undone from her typical tight bun, and her flaccid tits bounced as she jogged our direction.

“Are you going out?” she called, her voice tinged with desperation that I knew had nothing to do with our well being. I already knew where this was going.

“Nah, darlin’,” Frankie called back with a smile, his pawn shop katana bobbing over his shoulder with every step. “We’re just gonna walk up and down the street a few times; see if anything changes.”

Nancy let the faintly veiled sarcasm roll over her and rushed up to us.

“See if you can find any Xanax,” she said breathlessly. “Prozac, Zoloft; anything at all.”

“I got some fresh ‘shine back at the house,” Frankie said with a mocking smile. “Take a few sips of that and you’ll feel right as rain.”

Nancy’s face hardened into grim lines that made the wrinkles around her mouth stand out sharply. “I won’t drink that swill; it’s the Devil’s work.”

“You an’ Sister Tracy been spendin’ time together, again?” Frankie barbed as we walked past Nancy. “Hell, you go on an’ tell’er I said hi. I’m goin’ to find Jesus. Have you found Jesus, Nance? Want me to tell you where I find him?”

“Knock it off,” I said under my breath, but there was no conviction behind it. I said it because it was the right thing to do, even though I secretly enjoyed hearing Frankie rip into my elderly neighbor. As expected, Frankie ignored me completely, and it didn’t bother me in the least. My brother in law turned around, walking backwards, talking at the shrinking form of the perspiring woman standing in the middle of the street.

“I don’t need you to find Jesus!” Nancy shrieked, her voice cracking. Her balled fists were shaking at her side like a three year old throwing a tantrum, “Find Chartreuse!”

Nancy stood there in silence with heated eyes, awaiting a response. Frankie and I had just reached the gate, but before we could climb over it he turned back to her. His face contorted in confusion, like she was speaking a foreign language.

“What the fuck is a Chartreuse?” he asked, spitting off to the side.

“It’s her dog,” I said under my breath, but still smiling to myself. Frankie was always good for a laugh. He played dumb, but he knew exactly what he was doing. Nancy wasn’t quite as bright.

“Now, hell,” he continued, his face a false mixture of confusion. “I thought those deaders killed your dog?”

Nancy looked ready to fly into a fury once more. Maybe the subject was that sensitive, or maybe she just needed her sedatives that badly. I wondered what she would do if she knew that Larry had packed a huge supply the day that Lewis and I had met him, and that I had it stored up in a spare bedroom of my house. She pointed a wild finger at me, and that little digit was chock full of accusation.

“You killed Verdance!” she shrieked, eyes full of righteous indignation. “Not the deaders!”

“Verdance?” Frankie asked, looking at me in a questioning manner. He was playing. I knew it and he knew it, but Nancy didn’t. This was fun, so I played along with it.

“Her other dog. A deader ate him. Chartreuse ran off after I told her to go home.”

It was true. After I’d taken down Pat, my high school sweetheart- admittedly killing Verdance in the process- the other Terrier had slipped out of its collar and run off. Nancy was still blaming me, though, rather than having an ounce of gratitude that I’d saved her life.

“Who names a dog that?” Frankie asked, face crinkling like someone- and a dirty someone, at that- had just defecated on his dinner. “Thor, Thunder; hell, even Bull or Shadow. T-Bone. Now, those are dog names. Char-treusse?” he asked, drawing the word out. “Damn, woman, that’s like asking your dog to get raped by a cat. I ain’t never known a good dog with a name like that.”

Nancy looked ready to shriek again, but instead drew herself up to her full (less than intimidating) height. She huffed in offense, beads of sweat clinging to her hairline, and stormed back up to her house.

“Bye, Nance,” Frankie called out jovially as the front door to the old bag’s home slammed closed. “I’ll let you know if I find Jesus!”

“Can we please get the fuck outta here, now?” Frankie continued, bending down and lacing his fingers together into a rough step for my foot.

“Yeah,” I said as I put my very expensive sneaker into the web of his clasped hands. Frankie was a big guy, and it didn’t take much for him to heave me up so that I could pull myself over the lip of the wall.
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