Mickey opened the freezer, removing some center-cut pork loins. Behind him he heard the door open and close.
“Eddie, you’re late,” he said, grabbing a bag of frozen vegetables. “That’s the third time this week. If you don’t start getting here on time, I’m going to have to let you go. And I know you have those two little girls to think of. Not to mention your wife.”
He put the pork and vegetables on a counter just outside of the freezer door. He reached in and grabbed another couple of loins.
“Speaking of Dana, how’s the couples counseling going? Did you ever find out what she was hiding from you? I’m telling you, I think she’s gonna leave you. I would just cut the broad loose, and let her fend for herself, and get custody of those two little gems of yours. God they’re cute. I remember when Alyssa was bouncing around the front of the restaurant in pigtails and her Sunday best after church that one time. You remember? She was skipping and humming that church tune. You know the one. He loves me, this I know, or whatever. She’s what now? Fifteen? Almost ready to start driving. That busted up Chevy of yours isn’t gonna be good enough for her. That’s why you need to start coming on time. You’ll need the money to get her a car.”
Mickey turned, and noticed the kitchen empty behind him. The garbage was gone, and the rear door was open.
Something banged outside, sounding like a solid object hitting the metal dumpster.
He only heard the sound of the freezer’s motor.
He walked outside. The wind began to chill his skin. There was no sign of Eddie, except for his car. That Chevy pick-up of his was sitting in the nearest parking spot. The hood was still warm.
Mickey moved over to the dumpster, and looked inside. All he saw were trash bags. He shivered and went back inside. The pantry door was open.
“I don’t know how you got back inside without me seeing,” Mickey said.
The pantry was an odd design. It was curved into an L shape. In the very back of the pantry was the rear entrance to the freezer. He followed the L, and saw the door was open. He gave the open door an aggravated look and closed it.
“Ed, damn it, I already have the other door open. You need to look before you—”
The door behind him slammed closed.
He started to shout, but the words evaporated from his lips as he noticed a picture taped to the back of the door. It was something printed off an Inkjet. Little Alyssa in her Sunday best. In the background, Mickey was standing with Dana. Her eyes were lowered, focused on his hand. His hand, which was on her hip.
He ripped that photo away, to find another underneath.
It was of a Motel 6. Mickey and Dana’s cars were snuggling under a lamppost.
Underneath, Eddie had written: Goodbye, Mick.
Kristin Lea Berry is a graduate of The Ohio State University’s creative writing program. She has a passion for writing fiction and poetry, the stranger the better.
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