Kelli Jae Baeli



A collection of short fiction about right and wrong, greed, estrangement, a Chihuahua, what makes us real, bad
customer service and rude patrons, a loveable mutt, a lesson learned, a
talking newspaper, dealing with the unschooled, apparitions, the future
as past, and accepting loss.




style=’mso-fareast-language:EN-US’>Carl Hammond steered the Jaguar out of
Beasley’s Fine Imports
, his
hands loose upon the wheel. No more white-knuckled driving for him. No more
fears of a blowout on the interstate at sixty-five. No sir, by God, he’s
crossed over into that Promised Land of financial security. Money had a way of
changing a man’s outlook.

Downshifting, he
timed the left to pass, and sped past the Chevy that sputtered from a rough
idle into the intersection. A backfire announcing the Chevy’s shift into
second, while Hammond was headed for fourth. “Have a slice of this, Homeboy!”
he sneered at the Chevy as he passed.

Hammond adjusted
the rearview mirror so that he could watch himself as he maneuvered in and out
of traffic. He was beginning to look like a wealthy man. His cheeks glowed. And
with that hair transplant and maybe a surgical tuck here and there, he’d look
ten years younger.

Lighting a
cigarette, he considered his options. Since Mandatory Insurance legislation had
been overturned, business had been slow. No one wanted to spend money if they
didn’t have to. So he had pursued another source of income, and with the feel
of the leather beneath him, and the power beneath that, he had no misgivings.
Tomorrow, he might even pleasure himself by telling his boss where to put his
lousy insurance job.

Running a red
light, he barely missed a Pontiac coming at him from the left. Less than a
block beyond, he noticed the blue lights behind him. Smiling, he toyed with the
idea of outrunning the squad car riding his bumper. A blast of the siren
encouraged him to pull over.

The trooper
approached his window and went through the routine: “…do you know how fast
you were going?’ And “May I see your license and registration, sir?” And “I
clocked you at eighty” etcetera, etcetera. Hammond signed the ticket
obligingly, thanked the officer and was on his way. A drop in the bucket, he told himself smugly.

It hadn’t taken
long to collect the cash that enabled him to walk on the lot and purchase the
Jag. His new source of income had been steady for several months. His product
was going directly to a clientele of upper class businessmen, according to his
associate. Who cared why they wanted it? It was the drug of choice, and he
never touched the stuff.

He pulled into his
driveway, still smiling, and saw his wife hurrying out to greet him. He’d take
her for a ride as soon as the shock wore off. But her face was strange. Her
eyes were red and puffy. Pulling the emergency brake and switching off the
engine, he faced her. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Joey—he’s
dead!” She sobbed inconsolably and fell over the door, clutching at his shirt.

Stunned, he pushed
her up. “What happened?”

“He O.D’d.”

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©1994-2013 Kelli Jae Baeli

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Any reproduction, sale, distribution or use of this work

is prohibited without the expressed written consent of the author.


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