sutcliffe lovingood

(illustrations by konrad kraus and danny delacroix)

tony didn't look like an assassin, especially not like an assassin who killed a whole lot of people, but he was one.

he was average size, skinny, but kind of mean looking. and he looked impatient, like he couldn't believe how stupid people were.

i first saw tony when me and my mom and my brother joey and my sister jocelyn got evicted.

it was a bright sunny day. we had everything in one big suitcase. mom was dragging it along the sidewalk and the wheels on it were squeaking.

the bus pulled up beside us and stopped.

tony was driving. he got off the bus and looked at us and the suitcase. he didn't ask us if we wanted to get on the bus.

"that suitcase is going to have to go in the luggage compartment," he told mom. he started to open the luggage compartment door on the side of the bus.

"uh - maybe we could just not get on the bus?" mom asked him.

"lady, are you serious? you just got evicted, right?"

"yes, we did."

"are these your kids?"


"all three of them?"

"yes, all three of them."

tony shook his head. "just get on the bus. you know the rules."

"they are kind of new rules."

"so what? they are still the rules."

"come on, mom," jocelyn told her, "there's no sense arguing." jocelyn never liked mom to embarrass her.

joey didn't either. i never let it bother me much.

we got on the bus. there were four or five other people scattered around the bus. none of them were sitting together.

it was kind of dark on the bus. the windows were not completely tinted, but it was dark.

tony got on, got behind the wheel and we started off.

we went directly into the tunnel.

so this was it - the end. i didn't know how long the ride would be but i knew we would be killed when it ended. that was just how it would be.

i felt sad. i was sitting by myself looking out the window. mom and jocelyn were in the seats opposite me but the rows of seats were staggered so they were actually a little behind me.

joey was somewhere else. probably behind me, but maybe in front. i couldn't tell, because the seats were so high.

nobody spoke. not us, or the other people on the bus.

i guess we were all sad because we were going to die at the end of the ride.

why didn't i run when i had the chance? when tony was putting the suitcase in the baggage compartment i could have run and he might not even have noticed.

i decided to try to slip away when we got off the bus. maybe nobody would notice.

it would be a long walk back to the city, even if i could get away.

a really long walk.

because the bus just kept going and going. out of a tunnel, into a tunnel. out of a tunnel, into a tunnel.

when we were out of a tunnel there was nothing much to see, just flat land. no houses or buildings or trees or anything that i could see.

i thought maybe it was "farm land". i didn't really know what "farm land" looked like.

i didn't see any cows or sheep or pigs.

jeez louise, we just kept going and going. how was i ever going to walk back?

maybe someone would come along in a car and i could thumb a ride?

but they would be just as likely to turn me in as drive me back to the city.

i would worry about that later.

i decided to definitely make a break for it. no matter how long the walk was. what did i have to lose?

but first i would tell mom i was going so she would be cool about it and not be asking where i was.

that was the plan.

finally we stopped. there was a gas station, a few old buildings. you wouldn't exactly call it a town.

the building we pulled up beside looked kind of like a church. it was white.

we all got off the bus. tony came back down the aisle and made sure everybody got off.

when we got outside everybody gathered around tony. he and mom seemed to be having some kind of conversation. i realized there was no way i could tell mom i was going without tony hearing.

so i just slipped away. i felt bad about not saying goodbye to mom and jocelyn and joey.

i didn't look back. i started back down the road the bus had come on.

i kept walking. and walking. i didn't hear anything behind me.

maybe i was safe. maybe nobody noticed me.

finally i heard something. it sounded like gunfire. i figured tony or somebody else was probably shooting everybody that had been on the bus.

i kept walking. i finally saw somebody up ahead.

it was four girls. they were a little older than me. they were all chattering and laughing together, not walking all that fast.

when i came up behind them they just glanced at me and didn't say anything.

i saw they all had fat asses. the fat ass sisters, i thought.

i decided not to say anything to them either, and just passed them by.

i was walking a lot faster than they were and after a while i looked back and i couldn't see them.

it started to get dark. i didn't know how much farther i had to go.

then i heard a car behind me.

i started to step off the road - darn it, i thought, i should have been walking beside the road instead of right on it - but it was too late.

the headlights caught me and i stopped.

the car stopped and a guy got out. i thought it was tony.

it wasn't tony, but he looked like him. maybe he was his brother.

"you're not tony, " i said.

"no, i'm terry. get in the car." he didn't seem angry or pissed off. "i don't know what you thought you were doing."

i walked around and got in the front passenger seat. terry got back behind the wheel and started the car .

to my surprise, he didn't turn around but kept going toward the city.

"i asked, " did you see those four girls?" i don't know why i said it - just to be saying something, i guess. as soon as i did i wished i hadn't.

"what! no, i didn't see any girls. where were they?"

"just walking along."

"ahead of you?'

"they were, but i passed them."

"fuck!" he stopped the car. then he made a u-turn, back away from the city.

we drove along slowly. i kept my mouth shut. terry was scanning the sides of the road.

"what side were they on?"

"just kind of in the middle of the road."


we drove along. it got completely dark.

"there's something!" he said. i looked and saw a little light in the field on one side of the road.

terry stopped the car. i didn't say anything. i thought maybe i could try to escape again.

terry took a gun out of the gun compartment. i don't know what kind it was - i don't know anything about guns.

he pointed it at me. "get out. walk ahead of me."

we got out and walked into the field, toward the light.

we got closer. the four fat ass sisters were sitting around a little fire. two of them were sitting on a wooden board, the other two on the ground.

one of them was holding a stick over the little fire. it had something on it - a marshmallow?

another had something bigger on a stick - it looked like a little bird or animal. smoke was drifting off it.

all four had cans in front of them, of beer, or mountain dew, or whatever.

"hey terry, what's up?" said the one with the marshmallow.

he pointed the gun at them. "what do you think is up? what are you sluts trying to pull?"

"calm down," one of the two sitting on the board told him. one or two others laughed.

"if it wasn't for this little lady here, you might have got away with it."

for the first time they seemed to notice me. they started screaming - at me, not him.

"who the fuck are you?"

"you stupid little cunt!"

"we'll see you in hell, you little bitch!"

"we're the devil's daughters, and we'll fix your skinny ass!"

terry started shooting them. four shots, one in each of their foreheads. it took about two seconds.

they were all sprawled on the ground around the fire. they looked deader than pieces of peanut butter fudge.

"what a fucking mess! now i'll have to come back and clean it up." terry kicked at the fire, and then kicked one of the bodies.

"that was pretty efficient," i said.

"it should be, i've doing this shit long enough. come on, let's go."

we got back in the car. terry didn't put the gun back in the glove compartment but on top of the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel. he turned the car back around toward the city.

"where are we going?'" i asked him.

"i got something to do. what do you care?"

i didn't answer. we headed back towards the city, real fast this time.

before we got there he turned off a side road, that i hadn't even seen.

we drove about two miles.

we came to a gas station and pulled in. there was a diner beside it. it wasn't a mcdonalds or arby's or anything, just a diner. there wasn't even a sign outside, at least not one i could see in the dark.

terry got out . he took the gun off the dashboard and stuck it in his belt. i got out too, even though he hadn't told me to.

i followed him into the diner. it was pretty dimly lit. there were no customers. there was a fat person behind the counter. i couldn't tell if it was a guy, or a woman with short hair.

"coffee," said terry, as he sat down on a stool. "and a cheeseburger." he turned to me. "you want a burger, too?"

"yes, please," i answered. "just a burger, no cheese. but onions, if you've got them. and do you have fries?," i asked the fat person.

terry started to laugh. "did you hear that? she wants fries. do you want a cherry on top of it, too?"

"fries are only seventy-five cents extra," said the fat person. i could tell from the voice it was a woman.

"sure, give her some fries. but no cherry." terry took his phone out of his pocket and started checking his messages.

"do you have ketchup?" i asked the woman, as she turned toward the grill.

"yeah, right down on the counter there. see it?"


sutcliffe lovingood is another member of the Pessoan ensemble that is the horace p. sternwall stable of writers.
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