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I didn’t really know Val Dino… (Valdino?). I don’t really know most people… and, do I really even know the people I really know? Several of the few people I do know were very close to him. If you aren’t yet aware, local Magician and

Balloon Artist, Orlando Valdez (Val Dino) was killed in a car accident on November 14th along with his passenger Dana Watson. He was an amazing artist and a talented entertainer who would have gone on to do so many creative and exceptional things. You may have seen his balloon sculptures at the Alamo Drafthouse or caught him as a guest on the local news, but it seems that if you didn’t have the chance to get to know him personally then you weren’t as blessed as those who did. I only met him a few times through friends and had a few text exchanges regarding local business nonsense. If you must know, I was asking his connection to the management at Golden Corral. I also just now realized that for a couple of weeks in August, I regularly destroyed him in Word Blitz on Facebook messenger. Sorry? Since I cannot truly speak to the character that was Valdino, here are a few words from a couple of his closer friends: To say that Valdino was ubiquitous would be an understatement. It often seemed as though he could be in many places at once.

I first became acquainted with Val about 9 months ago through my partner Leslie Lea. He was always around. We joked about him being like a house cat. We would find him asleep in a soft beam of sunlight on the couch or sofa. At other times he would be constructing one of his remarkable balloon creations in the living room. If he wasn’t doing these things he was preparing for a gig or a themed seasonal party to be held in the backyard. That’s how we knew him. And that’s how we remember him. Beyond everything, Val was our friend, our comrade and quite often an irreplaceable confidant. In the wake of his passing the scope of his life came into true focus. Valdino, the magician and Orlando, our friend, touched the lives of so many. He had an impact in this community. That is something that can’t be forgotten. He was loved and he is dearly missed. But his legacy remains with us in the way magic has a habit of doing. Because if there is magic in the world it exists because Val was magic. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. Rest in peace, Valdino We’ll see you in Valhalla M.R. Luxemburg Leslie Lea V

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Publisher/Creative Director: Wil Henneberger Contributing Writers: Will Vent, Javi Luna, Paul Aster Cohen - Zombie Art by Russell Tippit Disclaimer:The Vent is a satirical publication and is not intended for readers under 18 years of age. The Vent uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. Any statements made expressed or implied in the Vent are solely those of columnist and do not represent the position of our advertisers, who do not accept responsibility for such statements. All characters, products, and photos published are trademark and copyright of their respective owners. facebook.com/theventnation

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Dear Assholes, I am burnt out! I’m done… I just don’t have another year in me. The economy has gone down the crapper. Four of my reindeer died last month under suspicious circumstances. Diabetes finally claimed my left foot. No surprise there. My wife left me due to “sexual incompatibility”. I don’t even know what polyamory is! I’ve had it up to here, and have hence decided that there will be NO Christmas this year or any year from now on. Yes, I feel like I am letting a lot of people down, but where were all of you people when I needed someone? Where were you when I was curled up in the fetal position, eggnog drunk off my ass, and crying for the simplest most pure thing in the world? Human touch. Sure, I have these elves at my disposal and of course they will obey my every command, even if my request venture into dark and depraved territory familiar only to the sickest creatures, I’m talking about you Tooth Fairy, you disgusting fruity ass-less chaps wearing creep. Have you ever felt an elf ’s skin? In reality they look just like the leprechaun from that awful movie franchise. Imagine if that thing had a vagina and ask yourself, if you’d go anywhere near it. So as you can see, I’m in no state to celebrate. I am however feeling like I need to vent, so maybe you can spare a few column inches for the old friend who broke protocol and brought you that flesh-light a few years back.

paper a long time ago. I don’t remember the last time a read one of your stories and thus have no idea if there has been any improvement at all (my money is still on NOT though). I usually just pick it up to see if you keep printing my letters and to my surprise every month, you do. I kind of admire you for that. Not a lot of people are able to take criticism let alone pay to publish it for all the world to see. And by world of course I mean the strip club/smoke shop patrons of the greater Corpus Christi metropolitan area. You obviously have a great sense of humor about that whole thing or you’re so desperate to fill some pages that you’ll print almost anything I say. And that’s just great from where I’m standing. Like many fine “Corpus Christinos” (you’re still trying to make that happen right?) I walk a line daily somewhere between misery and complacency. I work all year long at the workshop, dealing with crazy magical scaly midgets. It helps to be able to take out all my frustrations on you. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to vent, Mr. Vent. Happy Holidays to you and your estranged family. Sincerely, Kris Kringle

Dear Police, You have been very naughty! What’s this I hear about killing unarmed African Americans… If I were doing Christmas this year, I’d have a good mind to bring Fighting the urge to end it all, you all a lump of coal, but you’d Santa probably just stick it in a stocking and find a minority to beat with it. I have a better idea, maybe Dear Mr. Vent, I should bring you some small I am writing to you digital cameras to wear on your because I have a confession to person at all times, so that you make. I stopped reading your might actually feel some sense of

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accountability! I wonder would it even make a difference. I mean for crying out loud, you know that I am always watching and yet you continue to take the lives you are supposed to be protecting. Get your crap together police. If you are walking around so scared, then maybe you should be wearing that uniform. Why can’t you be more like Brooklyn NineNine, I love those cops. I’d even settle for a bunch of drunk Jimmy McNultys from The Wire, at least he was good police. I’m watching you, Santa Dear Trump Supporters, Maybe you don’t realize this, but I am a foreigner… I know you all like to think that your favorite people like Jesus and Ted Cruz are white and while I am pretty white, I am by no means an American. If you bothered to pick up a book now and again you might know this. Part of the reason I am canceling Christmas indefinitely is because I don’t appreciate getting cavity searched by Border Patrol every time I cross into the U.S. Yours, Democratic Socialist Santa

You have been very naughty! It seems you haven’t been keeping accurate financial campaign data or filing your finance reports properly. Now, on top of the $3,000.00 fine you have to pay, you can also expect a huge lump of coal in your stocking. I’ve seen this happen many times with children of politicians… Tell us the truth Mikey, your heart isn’t in this whole politics thing, is it? You don’t need to go through all this just to get your dad’s approval. Your dad is the great Texas House Representative Todd Hunter. It’s better for you to realize now that you will always live in his shadow and reap only whatever spots in local government you can achieve by name-recognition alone. Embrace the shadows, Santa Daddy Dear Mrs. Claus, I know I have been a bastard, working all hours, and neglecting you beyond reason. I am writing you to say that I am glad you have moved on and I hope you and Frosty have a great life together. I now understand why I would always find those beat up carrots in our bed. You deserve to be happy. You were my first love and I will never forget you, unless I find some hot sexy Latina to sit on my lap.

Dear City Councilman Michael Goodbye you old bag, Hunter, Santa Baby www.ventdaily.com

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Listen up! Scabby gots something to say about this holiday shopping chaos that seems to have taken over the city. First off, if I almost get hit by some F150 driving, Costa sunglass wearing, overpaid base employee trying to turn in to La Palmera to get his side ass some Victoria’s Secret undergarments on his lunch break so his fat wife don’t find out, one more time, I am liable to kill the motherfucker. I don’t understand where we went wrong as a society. It’s like we’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas and it’s now all about the gifts and spending. Well Scabby is here to tell you cut the consumerism crap in exchange for more cost-efficient holiday ideas. I give you Scabby’s Favorite Money Savers for Christmas 2019. 1. Scabby’s Medicine Cabinet Trail Mix Mama always said the best gifts are homemade. Now is the perfect time to clean out the old

medicine cabinet of your expired or near-expired medication from 2019. It really is the perfect gift for the junkie in your family. Not using those Tylenol 3’s from the root canal last February chunk them bad boys in a little goodie bag, toss in some of those Xanies your doc gave you when you went through that divorce a couple years ago, and add some Sudafed (the good kind, don’t be stingy it’s the holidays) for filler; tie a bow on that baby and voila you’re the Trap House Martha Stewart. 2. Buzzball Christmas Ornaments Nothing gets the festivities going like booze, right? So why not decorate your Christmas Tree with booze. Head down to your favorite neighborhood bodega and load up on some of those brightly colored Buzzballz in the ice bin. Hot glue some fishing hooks on those Santa’s little helpers and your tree will have never looked better. Plus, whenever those little ingrates start their belly aching because they didn’t get the new Furby or Tickle Me Elmo, or whatever is the hot toy this year, you can just pop open an ornament and forget about the little asshole for a minute. Hell, put a little in their sipping cup so they can take a nap and enjoy Scabby’s favorite holiday classic “Ernest Saves C h r i s t m a s .” Boy do I love that Ernest. He sleighs me. Get it? Anybody can light up a Christmas tree but how many can say their Christmas tree got THEM lit? 3. Hobo Santa I don’t know if you have seen what they are charging for a picture with Santa over at the La Palmera lately but it oughta be

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illegal. Highway robbery I tell you. I am used to jolly fat men paying me to sit on their lap, not the other way around. So Scabby has the perfect solution for those parents on a tight holiday budget. My buddy Lars is the spitting image of St. Nick right down to the alcohol induced twinkle in his eye and the rosy cheeks. He reeks of livestock too. You can usually find him down around the picturesque Artesian parks most days and for the price of a Four Loko he’ll let just about anybody sit on his lap, even the little fatties. 4. Posada Crashing I don’t know if I’ve ever properly expressed Scabby’s love for my Messcan amigos. They’re always good for a party and hell their families are so big they almost never notice a few extra people at the pachanga. Christmas time is no different because our South of the border friends throw these nightly parties leading up to Christmas called posadas. So, if you see a bunch of them walking down the street, knocking on doors and singing songs, THAT is the immigrant caravan you wanna keep an eye on because it leads straight to a party full of free good food. I’m talking tamales, menudo, empanadas, chimichangas, the works. Best part is it’s a religious thing, so they can’t really kick you out. Denying someone shelter is kind of what the whole thing is about. Say a couple Hail Mary’s a sing a verse or two of Oh Holy Night and you’re in. 5. Smokable Christmas Wreath You know what I never understood about that movie ‘The Breakfast Club’? Why was that cute little Juddy Nelson whining about getting a carton of cigs on Christmas? Hell, I woulda killed for some Pall Malls under the tree when I was in high school. I was on pinterest the other day when I was checking my email down at the central library when it occurred to me that Marlboro Reds and Menthol make the most beautiful combination of holiday colors. If you’re going to spend money on decorations you might as well get something out of it. So get yourself a couple cartons and smack those puppies together with a glue gun and smoke em as you need em. Decorative and Functional. You’re welcome. There you go my little Hohoho’s you’re all set to spread some holiday cheer without breaking the bank, the Scabby way. V

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It’s another sunny December in Corpus Christi, and the girls and I are out in full swing. It’s easy to take for granted the almost yearround prostitution weather we get here in South Texas. In some part of the country, we ladies of the night have to suffer through long freezing winters. Believe me, you do not want fellatio from a girl whose teeth are chattering from the cold. Still, we do get the occasional drop in temperature, and it’s important to keep warm when you’re on the street between Johns. Unfortunately in our

profession we cant afford to cover up the merchandise simply to stay warm or alive, so any kind of coat or even sweater has to be off limits. If you are feeling chilly or dying, you can coat your body in KY Jelly. This can be costly, so feel free to use one of your normal lube substitutions like fresh blood or motor oil. Here is a trick I picked up (not that kind of trick) a few years back. Keeping blood flowing is essential so you have to keep moving. A 9-volt battery in your cooter will keep you going like the energizer bunny. Just remember to remove it before sex or

your client might not be too happy. Warning; if you do this too often, you will become immune to its effects. After a couple of decades you might require 8 D batteries like I do. Lastly, some people will turn to alcohol or even drugs to give them that warm feeling, but remember girls, you’re on duty and you’ve got to stay sharp or you might end up giving back the wrong change or swallowing something you weren’t paid to swallow. Stick to coffee, when injected directly into the blood stream its all you need to keep your temperature above corpse level.


Paul Aster Cohen is an award-winning journalist for The News of San Patricio weekly newspaper and writes fiction in various genres. His next novella, Once Upon a Time in Rehab, will be released in the coming months. He is working on the second novel of his Koufax series as well as completing the Sunglasses trilogy. He spends what little free time he has with his wife and three children who live with him in Corpus Christi, Texas.

I Wear My Sunglasses At Night - Chapter 1 The clapping of her bare feet against the warm concrete mixed with the sound of buzzing amber fluorescent lights above which echoed through the parking lot of the mostly abandoned motel. The young lady had long, slender suntanned legs that stretched from the wet concrete all the way up into a pair of blue jean cutoffs, which then lead up to a toned midriff covered by an oversized, ratty t-shirt, spotted with holes. Thin bronze colored arms slid out of large holes where the sleeves once were and swayed by her side as she moved down the sidewalk. Her long brown hair was up in a loose, messy ponytail with strands dipping around the sharp features of her face. She stopped in front of an old soda machine. There, bathed in somber light, the image resembled a Calvin Klein ad from the 90s that always seemed to showcase models wearing barely anything, but were in fact meant to try and sell clothes. She tapped one foot on the ground and bit her lip as she decided which drink she wanted from the faded soda logos staring back at her through cracked plastic bubbles. She hadn’t even bothered asking Derrick what flavor he wanted when she left the room. He always got orange. She leaned forward and ran her finger down the selections before resting her finger on a generic diet soda she had never heard of. She thought about it for a second, let her lip slip through her teeth, then kept going further down. She grinned when her finger found some sort of off-brand root beer. The girl pulled out a handful of crumbled dollars and began sliding them back and forth on the corner of the vending machine, trying to flatten them out the best she could. She paused. The air was still but something was there. Watching her. She could feel it. Slowly she turned to the woods that

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by Paul Aster Cohen

hugged the rear of the cheap motel and saw a coyote sitting by a dumpster, across the empty asphalt lot, staring back at her. It licked its chops and lowered its head, keeping its eyes focused on her, looking very much like a hungry puppy. She slowly slipped a dollar into the machine’s slot, tossing nervous glances behind her at the coyote. The machine accepted the dollar with a ‘wrrrr’, held it, then spit it back out at her. “Come on, man,” she said in a low whisper, looking over her shoulder at her new admirer. She slid the dollar in again and this time the machine swallowed. She continued with another dollar then smashed the orange soda selection button. When the soda fell with a loud thud, the coyote’s ears perked up and the girl froze. She peaked through the strands of falling hair and saw the coyote on his feet, all its attention on her. She jumped a little when the coins jangled in the small metal return pocket of the vintage machine. She slid another dollar in and then another. She selected her root beer but nothing happened. The coyote shifted his paws. She smashed the selection button over and over nervously before looking at the machine and seeing a blinking red light letting her know it was sold out. Looking over her shoulder, she blindly began punching selections until she heard some gears creaking and popping inside. A soda can fell with a hard, metallic thud against the orange drink and she winced again. The long-limbed girl cautiously looked over at the dumpster but the coyote was gone. She looked around wildly for the beast, beginning to panic, thinking it was somewhere nearby, ready to pounce. Quickly she reached in and grabbed both sodas without looking and made her way back to the room, her

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bare feet creating the sound of excited applause on the cement as she did. She cradled the sodas in her bare arms as she looked up and down the dim walkway then over to the woods to see if the coyote was stalking her. She glanced down at the cold drinks and sighed when she discovered that grape soda was her choice. “Really?” she whispered to herself, mouthing a curse word. When she turned the corner to the room she stopped. Her heart screeched to a halt along with her lungs and her mouth fell open and eyes widened. There, in front of their motel room was the coyote, sitting near the now open door. It was staring at her, looking calm and harmless, once again like a pup. It peered into the room, tongue bobbing up and down out of his mouth, then glanced back at her before getting to all four paws. The coyote’s eyes shifted to the room once more then simply strutted off. She watched as it sauntered towards the woods and disappeared through the edge of the tree line. She looked at the open door and quietly placed one bare foot in front of the other, unsure of what was now inside. And what would cause a coyote to suddenly take interest. She quietly stepped towards the edge of the walkway and leaned to one side trying to peak inside the room through the open door as she inched closer. “Derrick?” she muttered softly. She heard something in the room rustle. Through the open door she could hear stranger’s voices and then saw more than one shadow cascade across the edge of the twin bed and the back wall it rested against. “Derrick? Is everything ok?” Silence. continued on page 10

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Cautiously, she made it to the door, pushing it all the way open until it met the wall. The sodas bounced on the concrete, spraying carbonated foam all over her feet, as she tried to make sense of what she was seeing. Three men – one holding a bound and gagged Derrick, with his arms behind his back – snapped their attention towards the noise and smiled at her. Derrick struggled to get free, but could barely wiggle his arms in the large man’s grip. The other two men, dressed in old dusters with numerous brightly colored bandanas tied around their sleeves, walked towards the girl, their eyes flowing over every small curve and appendage that jutted out of her barelythere clothes. “Well, lookey here, boys,” said one of the men, who had wild, spiky blonde hair jutting out of his skull that resembled bleach blonde fire. “You must be Nicky. Derrick’s told us so much about ya. But his words never coulda described what I’m looking at right now. Foxy, roxy.” She began backing up and looked at her helpless boyfriend, now kicking his feet in the air as the other mashed a piece of duct tape across his mouth, no match for the man behind him nearly twice his size. “L-l-let him go,” she hissed.“I don’t know what ya’ll want, but it’s best you both leave. N-nnow. I mean it.” The blonde-headed man laughed and continued to make his way towards the girl. “Sweetie, we don’t want no trouble with ya. Just let us be and we’ll walk right on by.” He bowed and motioned a sidewinding gesture passed her. “But!” he raised a finger into the air then slowly lowered it to his upward curled lips, looking around at the other men, “We do have ta take yer little BF wit us. Just let us stroll on by and you can go on about yer lovely little night. Just like dat.” As he grinned, Nicky cocked her head to one side confused as she noticed something off about the man’s grin. Her eyes followed the odd curves and creases around his nose and eyes. His strange furrowed brow. Like an animal almost. “Billy Boy, don’t fuck her up, man!” The larger man said from behind Derrick. “We got orders! Don’t you do it! We got the guy, let’s just go! Now! Give her the envelope and let’s go, man!” Billy slowly looked back at him, then turned to face the girl, focusing his now sapphire colored eyes on Nicky. “Oh naw, we good, man.” Billy’s teeth were sliding down into jagged fangs as his grin morphed into a grotesque display of stained yellow carnage. “We REAL good.” Nicky’s fists were tight, tiny balls of fury. She had slowly slid her feet to brace for a fight and her knuckles were molten steel white. They would never leave with Derrick. “Leave. Him. Alone.” “Look, bitch,” Billy said, spraying thick saliva at her though a few dozen thin fangs, “we asked ya to let us pass.” Derrick squirmed and mumbled something behind the silver tape. “Now, looks like we gonna have’ta make ya move.” He howled and lunged at her. Without thinking, she spun into a quick kick, her foot meeting his chest with a cold crunch. Billy was half inside an old cabinet TV tube with sparks shooting out in the dark before he realized what had happened. Nicky adjusted her stance once again and

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held up her little fists in front of her face. “I’m 37-years-old, fuck face,” she quipped with a smirk. “You think I look this good by sitting on my ass all day? CrossFit on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Kickboxing on Saturdays. Knuckle up bitches.” Everyone paused. Derrick’s eyebrows jutted up towards his hairline, surprised at what he just heard. Billy yanked himself out of the TV and surveyed his torn jacked which was oozing dark, crimson liquid, but not quite the consistency of regular blood. “We gave ya a chance!” Billy spat, his face a gathering of sharp angles and red ooze. “Let’s tango, cunt.” Nicky’s eyes glazed over and her nose crinkled up in anger at that certain ‘C’ word. Billy bounded towards her again with amazing speed, but she simply gripped one of his outstretched arms and tossed him aside using his own momentum, which caused him to land halfway across the parking lot, skidding on his face, Chuck Taylors in the air. Nicky’s eyes followed him and as soon as his body plopped onto the asphalt, she tore off in his direction. Chunks of loose gravel dug into her bare feet but she didn’t care. A foot, a heel, an elbow, then multiple fists met Billy’s already torn apart face. Scarlet juice spattered her white tee and cutoffs as she continued her barrage of limbs and knuckles and joints and fury. After nearly a minute she stepped back, wiping the battle discharge from her face, to admire the damage and catch her breath. Billy coughed up massive chucks of bloody bits and long, serrated teeth as he laughed. He wiped his now disfigured face with the sleeve of his tattered duster and tried to get up. “Wowie, wow, wow,” he snarled. Rolling over to one side, he made his way to all fours and his mug began to leak profusely onto the ground. “What a woman!” He blew out a bloody snot rocket, popped his neck, snapped his jaw back into place and grinned once again, getting to his feet. “Yer a bad bitch. Me likey!” Nicky looked at him amazed he was still even alive, much less paying her compliments. He bounded at her so fast that she didn’t even have a chance to lift her bleeding, possibly broken, barely balled fists. And by the time she blinked, she was back inside the motel room, covered in glass and wooden splinters, sprawled out on the dingy carpet. Billy was in the doorway laughing and Derrick was being carried out over the big guy’s shoulder. Nicky was trying to get to her feet when she saw Billy’s looming shape coming towards her. He stutter-stepped forward, like a NFL kicker, and introduced his steel toed boot to her midsection, sending her more than a few feet off the ground and straight into the wood paneled wall behind her. Nicky landed with a wet thud onto the shag carpeting, her tiny frame leaving a large imprint in the smashed wall. She gasped for air and reached towards the now empty doorway. Her muscles twitched. Her veins pulsed underneath her sweaty, bleeding skin. Her teeth gnashed. Her eyes focused. Her fingers were taught. Lungs breathed. Nerves caught fire. Nicky slammed her hand onto the filthy carpet and flung herself to her feet and out into the night. She would not allow these two douchebags, dressed like bad 80s horror movie villains, take her

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man. She had fought harder to keep him during their tumultuous three year relationship and wasn’t about to stop now. As she slid to a stop in the empty parking lot, she heard the squealing tires from some vintage muscle car behind her as it reversed and spun out, spewing smoke and rubber. She turned and saw the walkway where the soda machine sat and a small corridor nearby that lead to the entrance. Her bleeding feet slapped against the blacktop, then the cement, then scrunched the moist grass surrounding the pool area in the center of the motel. The slapping of bare feet mixed with the screeching tires and echoed throughout the empty motel as the car fishtailed around corners. Nicky tossed glances at them through the various walkways trying to keep pace. She flew passed the lobby and leapt over a small, makeshift garden just as the car spun around the final corner near the entrance. Nicky slid to a stop over loose gravel, engulfed in headlights, and tried to breath, her chest pumping uncontrollably, busted hands in swollen fists. The driver’s side door popped open. Billy got out. “What the hells yer problem, bitch?” Billy sighed, his face now looking just as it was when they met, minus a few smears of blood. “We got orders to get this dude outta here. Somebody wants to see him, so if ya know what’s good fer ya, just cut the bullshit and get outta da way. Kapeesh?” She looked around for a weapon. Something, anything. “We ain’t got no beef witcha’ so step aside. Please, thank ya and yer welcome.” As Billy went to sit back down in the car, something clinked against the metal frame between the door and windshield. He looked down to find a wooden garden stake protruding from his chest. Bewildered, he studied the object as if he had discovered an alien artifact sticking out of his ass. He looked up at Nicky confused. She ripped another one out of the ground from a nearby garden and stared back, panting wildly. His face burst into an orgy of hate and anger. “You fackin’ c – ” Billy exploded into a mass of fiery, bloody meat slabs. Pieces of him slapped against a nearby dumpster and the concrete entrance of the motel. His innards sprayed throughout the inside of the car as Derrick’s muffled screams seeped out from the gag. Nicky jumped back, her head whipping around looking for someone with a bazooka, not sure of what just happened. The guy in the passenger side blinked heavily in disbelief and wiped pieces of his buddy off his face. Nicky dropped the other stake. “Shit. Did I do that?” The passenger shimmed over to the driver’s side, slammed the door shut, and peeled off onto the main road. Nicky just stared at a piece of intestine caught in the bottom of the door which whipped against the road. The driver’s blood soaked arm reached out as he gave her the finger. An oncoming car honked and clipped his appendage and she could hear him cursing in pain as they disappeared out of sight. Her lungs were now a raging inferno as they tried to capture as much air as they could. She doubled over, her hands resting on her knees, and listened as the rumble of the engine grew distant. GET THE ENTIRE BOOK ON AMAZON.COM

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