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  Cover Issue 2 MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE

by
Gary Clifton
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"Shoulda heard the bitch scream and beg, Sammie," Franco became visibly aroused as he told of his latest murder.  He tapped the newspaper spread on the dirty kitchen table.  Fifth Victim of Slasher Burglar Found - Police Say No Leads, blared the headline.

 

"You gonna get caught, dude.  Them cops...they give you the needle you keep that crap up.  You my little brother...mother's dead...man you gotta quit."

 

"Don't tell me you don't get off when you hear the stories, Sammie," Franco's expression was pure leer.  Thirty, fat, ugly, with stringy long black hair, Franco resembled a hog. 

 

"It was mother's fault you screwed up, Franco...bringin' home men...layin' 'roun' waiting for the welfare check."

 

"Don't be blamin' mother, dude," Franco eyes were narrow slits of anger.

 

"You gonna get busted."

 

"Stupid cops stopped me walkin' two blocks from the last one.  Then jus' lemme go.  I'm gonna do that old gal down the block this very damned night...you know, the female cop who lives with the little girl in the red brick house.  I been watchin' her.  She's ripe for a visit. Wanna come along?"

 

"Good God, Franco," Sammie's horrified expression answered the question. "I know that little girl...sorta.  Her name is Shelby.  Whatta you gonna do with her?"

 

Franco had watched the woman several nights.  She was gorgeous and careless about pulling down shades when she pranced around naked.  Mother was right.  Women are evil. He'd wait until the kid went to bed, then make his move.  Once he got the woman tied up, he'd bring the kid in and make her watch him carve up her mama...then it would be the little one's turn.   What name did Sammie call her?  Shelby?

 

The night air was crisp when he slipped the back door lock.  Stupid broad shoulda installed better locks...maybe an alarm system.  Oh well, that was her problem.  He felt his way down the hallway to her corner bedroom.

 

This heifer would pay for his hard labor...havin' to put up with that crap from them bitches at the welfare office...fill out them forms...wasn't easy.  He was entitled to that money - just like mother had always said.

 

Light emanated from under her bedroom door.  She was awake, but that wouldn't save her.  He pushed into the room and was astonished.  She was radiant, sitting on the edge of the bed in a flimsy negligee sipping a glass of red wine.

 

"Well hello," she said in a sultry alto.  "You're that handsome stud from down the block...Freddie...no Franco?  I've had my eye on you."

 

Franco had never factored this type reception into his plans.  He stood, slack jawed.  "Yeah," he stammered.  "That's me."

 

She stood, dropped the negligee to the floor and handed him a glass of wine, then reached out to squeeze his neck in a lingering embrace. In a minute, Franco the monster, was Franco the stud pony.  She followed with a wet kiss.  Franco vacantly sipped from the wine glass he held awkwardly.  Another passionate kiss and Franco felt his legs sag, then darkness...

 

Franco struggled to consciousness, his ears screeching with a horrible headache.  He was in a cluttered basement, tied with electrical wire to a long metal table.  His backside painfully told him he'd been dragged down stairs.  Horrified,  he realized he was nude, then recognized the bare skin of another victim tied to an adjacent table.  He strained to see the person and realized it was his brother, Sammie, bloody and not moving.  "Sammie!" he shrieked, straining at his bonds.

 

"He's probably not dead...not just yet," she said, standing nude beside the table.  "He'll bleed out shortly.  Damned fool came by a while ago to warn us you were coming by.  We figured he'd make a good addition to the evening's festivities."

 

"Who the hell are you?"

 

"Oh...my name is Margo."

 

"You lemme go, dammit!" he sobbed, struggling.  His bladder failed.

 

"My goodness Shelby," she said to someone out of Franco's view.  "Bring mama's knives over here.  We might as well start by potty training this one...like we did his idiot brother." 

 

"Yes, mama," Shelby's giggle blended into a hollow, hideous cackle as she laid a box of knives on Franco's table.

 

"Baby," Margot said.  "Make sure the hose is working and the drain there open, please.  We're bound to have more blood than we need."

 

"Yes, mama," Shelby giggled again.       

 

Franco shrieked again, then again, then louder.  "Baby," Margo turned to her daughter.  "Slice off Freddie's ears...we'll stuff them in this fool's mouth as a gag."

 

Shelby picked up a large knife and turned away.  Franco managed to scream once more as Margo began the first cut.

 

 

   
   

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Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has over sixty short fiction pieces published or pending with online sites including Bewildering Stories, Flashes in the Dark, Spinetingler, and Black Heart Mag.  He's been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued and is currently retired to a dusty north Texas ranch.  Clifton has an MS from Abilene Christian University.  Gary’s stories have twice in HelloHorror.  Blood Passion, appears in the January 2013 issue, and Measure Once, Cut Twice appears in the April 2013 issue.

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