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The Best of Times Short Story Competition


Autumn 2016 Results




The Wolf in Central Park

Copyright © Tara Marlow 2016


Once upon a time... yeah, I’ve always loved it when stories start out that way. It always gives the impression that there’s a happy ending. But as we all know, not all stories go that way.

Take mine, for example.

I live on the wrong side of Brooklyn. It’s pretty down and dirty. At any moment of any day, deals are going down. People who look like thugs probably are, and people who don’t, probably are worse. They're just cleaned up nicer. Anyway, you get the gist.

So, this one Saturday I was hangin’ out in the park in Manhattan. You know, Central Park. We like to go there on the weekends. You can really pick a mark easily, especially in summer. Tourists are the easiest, but there's usually a local you can hit, oblivious to everything around them, as they chat to their rich bitches on their latest iPhones and whatnot.

Anyway, this one Saturday I was waiting for my friend Rob. He was late, as usual. So I’m just hanging out on a park bench when I see this sweet young thing waltz into the park. She just looked dumb. The chick was wearing a short denim skirt, some ridiculous red high-heeled shoes and a bright red leather jacket over a white t-shirt. Seriously, did she not know how warm it was? Must have bought it at Barneys or something. Anyway, she was in her own world and singing along but not just singing, but singing way off-key. I thought some stupid brat in the park was swinging a cat around, but nope, it was Red Jacket Chick singing. Singing like some Beyoncé wanna-be.

She deserved to be hit.

Turned out she was an easy mark. As easy as they come.

I walked up to her and said hi. She stopped, smiled and actually asked how my day was. As I said, the girl was dumb. I then used the line I use on most chicks in the clubs. As expected, she fell for it. When I asked where she was going and suggested hanging in the park a while, she said she had to get over to her Grandmas or some such bullshit. She even told me where her grandmother lived and that she’d been sick awhile. Well, my brain ticked over at that.

She said she was stopping first at this bakery nearby to pick up some pastries her granny loved, but she’d planning on spending an hour or so over there after that. I swear the girl must have been visiting because no New Yorker would be so free with the information.

I knew where her grandmother lived. Had a friend who lived in that ‘hood a while back, so I pressed her for more details. Seriously, I wanted to shake my head at how gullible this one was. She gave me the damn address for fuck’s sake. My brain still ticking, I thought: Grandma probably has some good shit and being sick, an easier mark than this one. So, I got the chick’s phone number and arranged to meet up for drinks later.

She cheerily went on her merry way, and I bolted to Grandma's. I figured there was enough time to get in and out of Grandmas before Red Jacket Chick got there. I knew that bakery. It was usually busy on Saturdays. Then, in meeting up with Red Jacket Chick later, she’d be completely unsuspecting of who hit Grandma’s place and she wouldn’t be pointing the finger at me. I was just some guy she met in the park.

So, I get to Grandma's, knock and expecting her dumb as dirt granddaughter, she tells me the door is unlocked and to come on in. Apparently the apple doesn’t fall far from the dumb tree. Who leaves their door open in New York City?

I went in, all quiet like, and low and behold Granny is on the couch, the tube is on but her back is to me.

“Come on in dear.” A minute later, the gun was to her head.

“Not your dumb granddaughter granny, but she was smart enough to tell me where you lived. She’ll be here soon, so why don’t you tell me where you keep your fancy stuff.” As shit scared as she was, she freely told me where the stuff was.

Then I whacked her.

No, not as in killed her. Just whacked her across the head. I carry a gun, but it’s not loaded. I’m not that stupid.

As I was perusing her closet, I discovered she had some great stuff. Being a bit of a closet whore, I tried on a great floor length gown that was hanging in the back of the closet. O.K. Yeah, I like to wear the girly stuff and for a Brooklyn guy, it’s not something that I really share, ya know? But, shit, I had time. The bakery was going to be busy. I grabbed a blonde wig and put that on. Fabulous. Then, I discovered the makeup table. Fake eyelashes. Score!

Before I knew it, there was a knock on the door. Shit, Red Jacket Chick was faster than I thought. The knock repeated.

“It’s me. Sorry I’m late.” Red Jacket Chick came in the door and I was standing there, with black sequins on and Granny unseen behind the couch on the floor.

“Granny, what a big eyes you have.”

“All the better to see you with.”

“Granny, what big shoulders you have.”

“All the better to hold you with.”

“Granny, what a large... bulge in your dress.”

“All the better to fuck you with.” And with that, I pulled the gun and threw her over the couch.

Next thing you know, the door is open and some guy is coming through it. A cop. He assesses things pretty damn fast and before I know it, Red Jacket Chick mutters, "Oh thank god you’re here, Dad,” before I have the fleeting thought:

Oh shit. I’m fucked.