The Werewolf and the Zombie – 1

Henry Montgomery walked into the McDonald’s on the corner of Acorn Street and Eastex Freeway at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 27th. He wore a blue Polo shirt, tan khakis, and black Nikes. He looked like an employee at the Academy Sports store across the street, which he had been until last week, when he’d screamed at an indecisive woman in the shoe department. She’d been agonizing over which pair of hundred-dollar Reeboks to buy her ten-year-old son. Henry had said words to the effect that the stupid bitch was better off saving that money, because her brat would outgrow the sneakers in a couple of months.

(In his defense, he’d worked with her over an hour and a half, fetching shoe boxes from the top shelves and from the stockroom, while her son knocked shoes off displays when he wasn’t playing Angry Birds on her iPhone and ignoring them.)

Henry apologized, but his manager, who, at twenty, was half his age, canned him. Henry had felt the firing coming for a while. The manager had wanted to fill the store with his friends from the community college. Now, he’d finally gotten his way.

So why he came into McDonald’s armed with a .45-caliber Remington 1911 handgun, instead of into Academy, no one knows. But he did. He shot the teenaged boy behind the counter who’d asked what he’d like to order. Then he shot the teenaged girl who’d been working the shake machine. The car she’d been waiting on in the drive-thru raced off, nearly T-boning a truck on Acorn Street.

Then Henry swiveled around, nailed an elderly couple in the booth nearest him. Shot a guy in a red jacket who’d only stopped in to use the ATM. That guy didn’t even like McDonald’s, but he took three to the chest anyway. Poor bastard was dead before his back hit the dirty linoleum.

Henry calmed down a bit after that. He didn’t shoot anyone else; he just paced around near the counter while the eight remaining customers huddled under the tables and tried not to cry too loudly.

Meanwhile, cops from the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department showed up. Three of them. More on the way, along with the county’s SWAT team. They blocked the entrances with their cruisers and huddled behind them.

Two of them did, anyway. The third snuck around to the back and entered the restaurant. She crept past the stockroom, gun drawn and pointed at the floor. Darted past the walk-in freezer, the manager’s tiny office. Crouched behind the 6-foot-tall plastic Grimace statue that had been part of the playground, before it had been torn down to make room for more parking space. Ahead of her, the narrow corridor opened out into the food prep area. The fryer was on her right. The food prep area cut into her view of the front of the restaurant, but she could see a body down behind the counter. Could see the gunman walking in a circle. He walked to the soda machine. Turned around. Walked out of her view to the first cash register, where he’d shot the first victim. Turned back around. Walked to the soda machine.

More importantly, she could smell blood. And gun smoke. The gunman’s cologne and deodorant. The gun he held. The oil and solvent he’d used to clean it the night before. All he had was that pistol. No other weapons. No other guns, anyway. If he had a knife, she wouldn’t know it until he pulled it. But he wouldn’t get the chance.

She took a deep breath. Wished she’d worn the bulletproof vest. If she took a bullet, she wouldn’t be able to explain the bullet hole and bloodstain. Took another deep breath and stood up just high enough to get a shot, but still low enough that the counter offered some protection. She shouted the usual cop shit.

Henry faced her. The gun was at his side. His finger was on the trigger. He took a step back. He raised the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger before she could shout anything else. He blew his brains out. A tiny piece of his skull landed on the guy in the red jacket. That guy would find it later, after he’d sat up and walked out of the restaurant.

That guy was me. Josh Hamilton, pleased to meet you, and no relation to the baseball player.

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