The grass danced, silver-headed, like a thousand serpents tasting the wind. I felt my hackles raise, felt the weight of dawn’s approach and knew the night was ending too soon, too damn soon. Golden fingers touched the sky and pools of murky, half-lit shadows laid claim to the morning.
The wind bit at my throat, sending dandelions into frantic flight, sending a shiver down my spine.
No time to hide the body.
I turned and hit the meadow, galloping.
But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.
Always tell a story from the beginning, not the end.
She was being leaned on, heavy. She came to me for help ’cause she was tired of running. She came to me ’cause there was nowhere else to go.
She stepped into my burrow, all ears, sultry, seductive. She was barking up the wrong tree. Business and pleasure don’t make great bedfellows. It always turns bad – and hell, I’ve gotta get paid. She was getting leaned on, heavy. The squirrel wanted his money, and they don’t mind how you pay, whether in digits or dollars. They get their money’s worth. How much? Twenty large, she made it, but my ears pricked up when she mentioned the rodent. I know what it’s like to live under his thumb.
“You came to the right place, sweetheart,” I whispered, all snakeoil, all confidence, trying to charm her out.
I already knew how this was all going to go down.
“You got spine comin’ round here, I’ll give you that.” The Squirrel raged – he thought it’d scare me, intimidate me. It didn’t. “Some nerve, showing yourself underneath my tree!” I told it to him straight, told him just how it would be between us.
I told him she came to me, that she needed protection.
I told the Squirrel the score.
“I do this for you and we’re square, Squirrel. Understand?” I spat the question. He nodded.
Her eyes…she begged, pleaded, grovelled before me.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
She fell forward, an arc of sunset-rust red, a choking, spluttered wheeze.
She fell. I hit the meadow, galloping.