Fried Chicken

by Todd Grimson

I don’t know if, in the back of my mind (yeah, I figure my mind is a place), I was planning on doing it this way all along. People have a way of doing things, little things maybe, that show how they really feel about you, underneath all the smiles. “And Jim here, Jim would like a drumstick, isn’t that right?” said Carl, and I didn’t like it one bit. I didn’t want no drumstick. That’s for kids. I wanted a breast, or a thigh.

Carl was smiling, yeah I saw that smile, his wet lips pulled back so I could see his big sharp yellow teeth, teeth that, if thought he could get away with it, would gnaw me down to naked bone. He and old Bob were pretty brave now, in the kitchen, drinking bourbon while Carl’s wife fried up something to eat. It was a different story, I’m telling you, back at the bank. Now I could see them looking at each other, secret, like maybe they’d already come up with a way to cheat on the count.

Numbers, you see, man, have a kind of life of their own. And when you get into Division, it’s like, well… Divided by three, divided by four…that’s a whole lot different than divided by one. There’s a lot of sense in divided by one. That’s what I was thinking, and maybe I’d been thinking it all along. If I didn’t trust them, they could probably see it, and then they didn’t trust me, and that’s no good, you can’t leave things like that, drive everybody nuts.

Carl’s wife, Suzanne, stayed over by the stove, she didn’t want to look at me, I could tell. It was hot, and there were a couple of flies in, past the hole in the screendoor, and I was sweating, smelling the strong, dirty smell of all that chicken grease, and I was afraid if I got greasy fingers I’d never get anything done. I took a bite of potato salad, and said, “This is some fine potato salad, Suzanne.”

Carl and Bob both laughed, and it was that laughing — I don’t know what was so funny — made it real easy to pull out my second gun, a .32, out from my armpit under the leather jacket they’d said something about me wearing in the heat.

“Hey, kid…” began Carl, he was always talking, always had an expert opinion on everything — then right after I shot him in the face Suzanne swung the skillet of hot grease so I shot her and then Bob, who’d caught himself most of the chicken fat and was making some kind of noise, I shot him dead. Twice in the heart. Shit, I could always shoot.

I was all jacked up then, and Suzanne didn’t seem too bad, she had an old butcher knife and just about nailed me, she tried to stick it in me and just nicked me through the leather jacket as I put the last few bullets into her and jumped away, I was trying to keep from stepping in a lot of blood. I never had anything against Suzanne, she made a sandwich for me once when I came over and on one else was home, but what was I supposed to do? She knew there was nothing left to talk over, no way I could leave her be.

I got what I needed then, some weaponry, the money, and some other stuff, like hitting the medicine cabinet just in case, and I walked out of that house chewing on a piece of chicken — a breast, in case you’re interested — that so far as I was concerned needed some salt. I wasn’t about to go back inside after a salt-shaker, though, you can bet. It still tasted pretty good.

Divided by one. The one and only. That’s me.