THE LAST PORCH by Greg Lammers

They sat on the porch floor, near her old crocheting chair, and rocked back and forth. Rachel was calmer now. Roy couldn’t say how long they’d been out there. For good or ill this night wore on forever.

He stroked her hair and sang. She laughed at his rendition of “Hot Blooded,” and even joined in on “The Joker.” When he ran out of songs he hummed aimlessly. She tensed up. He started in on stories.

Remember when that guy that looked like the actor, what was his name? Ewan McGregor, had grabbed her hand as they were leaving Joy’s Diner? Roy, fast as light, popped him one straight in the face.

That Ewan McGregor lookin’ guy was mad as hell, but he didn’t do nothing about it, just sat there glaring, rubbing his square chin. She’d laughed and laughed, doubled up in front of the gumball machine by the wood panel glass-topped counter.

The stories came faster; Rachel laughed with recognition and amusement. In between stories the laughter turned to sobs, and tearful apologies. Roy told her not to apologize this wasn’t her fault. This wasn’t nobody’s fault, except maybe the moon’s, or the devil’s.

It was twenty years ago next summer that she’d puked on Sheriff Noe. The sheriff always looked so nice, he took pride in his office and his appearance. But you pull over enough kids driving out of white oak ringed fields late at night, it’s only a matter of time before a pretty teenage girl throws up on your brand new shirt, sharp pressed khaki slacks, and your shiny black shoes.

She always laughed, a little embarrassed, when they talked about that, even after all this time. Now she was silent. He took it as a bad sign.

He pulled her away from his shoulder, held her head in both hands, and looked into her eyes. He saw the blood pumping, heard her moans as she sought to hold back the inevitable. He could feel her straining with the effort. God he wished he could help her, and himself.

She half screamed her last apology. She’d clung desperately to her mind, now she felt it give way. Heat washed through her head and then down her. There were no more words, no more past or future, or names or places.

She pinned him down, ripping through his old flannel shirt with speed and power that shocked him at first more than the pain. He attempted to defend himself without injuring her. Part of him knew his attacker was no longer Rachel. It was no use.

She slashed and tore his torso and bit into his face and neck. He thrashed, groaned, and screamed unintelligible things. He stopped moving and grew silent.

She knelt over him, devouring what was easy to get at. Then she stood and walked down the porch steps, across the windy yard, and onto the shoulderless two lane asphalt, instinctively turning toward town.

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