Corn Nut Caper by Holly West

“Oh my God, there’s a tooth in my corn nuts,” Casey said.

I glanced at the contents of her cupped palm. “It’s not a tooth, dipshit.”

“It’s a goddammed tooth, Ray. Take a closer look.”

I poked at the kernels. “They’re corn nuts, Casey. They all kinda look like—“

I held one up and examined it. Damned if it wasn’t a mother-fucking tooth.

“I told you,” she said with satisfaction.

“Maybe you’d better not eat those until we find out how this got in there.”

“I’ve already eaten half the bag.”

“We should call the police or something.”

Casey laughed. “Who’re you gonna call, the snack police?”

I wasn’t thinking so clearly. We’d been tweaking hard for the last twenty-four hours. Plus, I was hungry.

“Hook me up with some of those,” I said.

She poured a pile into my hand and I tossed them all into my mouth. The salty goodness helped to clear my mind. I sat down on the cinderblock fence and inspected the tooth.

“It looks like a carnivore,” I said.

Casey scrunched her face up, confused. “A cadaver?”

“No, dip shit, a carnivore tooth. The ones that help you tear meat off the bone. Canines, that’s what they’re called.”

“You think it’s a dog tooth?”

“No.” It was way too complicated to explain.

Casey put her head on my shoulder, looking up at me with her pretty blue eyes. “What’s wrong, Ray?” she said.

“I really need to figure out how this tooth got in your corn nuts, babe. It’s like my new mission in life.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “Ok, let’s think about it. Do we know any toothless people?”

“Johnny’s missing a tooth,” I said.

“Yeah, but I don’t think it’s a cadaver.”

“Canine.”

“Canine,” she repeated.

“You’re right about Johnny though.” He’d been missing that tooth since I met him five years ago. Seemed unlikely it would’ve made its way into Casey’s corn nuts now.

I put my hand on Casey’s knee. There was blood on my knuckles.

“Holy shit,” I said. “What the fuck happened to my hand?”

“Let me see,” Casey said, pressing it the wound. “Does that hurt?”

I pulled my hand back. “Hell yes, it hurts. Why’d you do that?”

“I’m sorry, Ray, I wanted to see if it was broken. I used to be a nurse, I know about these things.”

“I feel sorry for your patients, then.”

Casey crossed her arms in front of her, pouting.

“What’s got you all bent out of shape?”

“You didn’t have to say that, Ray.”

“What’d I say?”

“You said you felt sorry for my patients. I’m a good nurse and you know it.”

That was how we met; I’d cut my finger on a jigsaw and she was the ER nurse who treated me. But that was a long time ago; I couldn’t remember if she was a good nurse or not.

“Say it!” she said.

“Say what?”

“Say I’m a good nurse, goddammit.”

“If you were a good nurse you’d have a job.”

“And if you were a man you’d have a job.”

That was taking shit too far. I got up in her face, raising my hand to hit her. That’s when I got a good look at her mouth. Her lip was all plumped up and bloody.

“The fuck happened to you?” I said.

Casey started crying. “You’re so mean! I’m gonna leave you, Ray, I swear I am.”

“Christ, girl, settle down. Smile at me.”

“I ain’t gonna smile at you, asshole.”

I laughed, pointing at her. “You dipshit, that was your tooth you found in the corn nuts.”

“No fucking way.”
“Open your mouth.”
“No.”

“Open it, Casey! I just wanna check.”

She clamped her mouth shut. Goddammed women. Why’d they always have to make things difficult?

I lunged toward her and tried to force her mouth open but she kicked me, grazing my balls. I doubled over, cupping my crotch.

“Goddammit Casey,” I said. I struggled to find her tooth on the ground in front of me. ”I got your tooth, right here!”

But Casey had run off and I realized all I had was a corn nut in my hand.

Pass the Peanuts by Holly West

“Look at the plumpies on her, Dallas,” Travis said. “Makes me wanna stick my head between ‘em and–“

I raised my hand. “Don’t talk about my sister that way.”

He looked from me to her to me again. “Man, I’m sorry, I had no idea. You two look nothing alike.”

“I was adopted.”

“That right?” He trawled the bowl of peanuts. “They say bar snacks are spiked with traces of urine, you believe it?”

“Where’s the money, Travis?” I asked.

“You didn’t get my message?” He popped a peanut in his mouth.

“Nope.”

“Something came up. I’m a little short.”

“How short?”

“I got nothing.”

I leveled my eyes at him. “Harry isn’t gonna like this.”

“So what should I do, rob a bank?”

“I wasted the whole day driving out here.”

“Leave the stuff with me, I’ll pay you next week. You know I’m good for it.”

“No, I do not know that.”

Travis shrugged. “Whatever, man. Harry don’t like it, he can find someone else to do business with.”

“I gotta make a phone call,” I said.

I went outside and checked my messages. Nothing from Travis, the lying sack of shit. I called Harry.

“Yo, Dallas,” he said.

“Travis says he’s broke.”

Silence.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.

“You know what to do.”

I went back inside, half expecting to find that Travis had hightailed it out the back door. But he sat on the same stool, shoveling peanuts into his mouth and drinking a Bud Light. I sat down next to him.

“Chick ain’t your sister, man,” Travis said. “I asked.”

I smiled and put my hands up. “Ya got me.”

“What’d Harry say?”

“He left it up to my discretion.”

“Great,” Travis said. “Leave the shit here. Give me a week and I’ll pay you back, with interest.”

I summoned the bartender. “Fat Tire,” I said.

He set a bottle in front of me and I drank while Travis continued wheedling. I drained the bottle quickly and laid a ten on the bar. “I’m parked out back,” I said.

“We’re cool then?” Travis said. “Thanks, man.”

He followed across the dirt lot, empty except for my truck. I unlocked the passenger door and reached under the seat. I could feel Travis right up on me. “Christ, back the hell up,” I said.

“Sorry, man.”

My hand passed over the leather briefcase and found the 9mm. I turned around and pointed it at Travis.

“The fuck?” he said, eyes locked on the gun.

“I’m not gonna shoot you, Travis. But I am gonna teach you a lesson.”

He dodged to the left but I slammed the gun along the side of his head before he could get out of my reach. He crumpled to the ground.

“This is from Harry,” I said, kicking him in the stomach. “And this is from me, jackass, for making me come all the way out to bum fuck Egypt.” Travis curled up in a ball, shielding his head and face with his arms.

I felt the bullet rip into my chest a split second before I heard it fire. I cried out and dropped my gun, staggering backward against the truck and slid to the ground.

“Goddammit, Travis,” a female said. “Get his gun!” It was the woman from the bar. She hurried toward us, “plumpies” bouncing.

She picked it up herself. Travis got to his feet and she handed it to him. “Where’s the stuff?” she said.

“You heard her, where is it?” Travis said, pointing the gun at me with a shaky hand. He kicked my foot.

Before I could answer, the woman grabbed the brief case from under the seat.

“I got it,” she said. She tried the locks. “What’s the combination?”

Sirens wailed in the distance. She waved her gun at me. “What’s the mother-fucking combination?”

I coughed. Blood spewed from my mouth and down my chin.

Travis seemed to come to his senses. “Ricki, we gotta go!”

As my consciousness faded, I watched Ricki and Travis run off with the case.

Harry is definitely not gonna like this.