ST. VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE
He reached over to the wooden block of serrated steak knives on the kitchen counter and yanked one out, clutching it in his fist. He slashed and slashed, and the blood splashed and splashed. Over the walls. Over the countertops. Over the floor. Over skin and clothing and shoes.
When he finished his bloody business, a little brown face looked up at him from the doorway. The French bulldog’s eyes went wide as she tilted her head in question, wondering about the strange events taking place in the kitchen of her home. She issued a soft whine. He tucked the thick roll of bills into his jacket pocket, zipped the pocket closed to keep the cash secure, and reached down to give the dog a quick pat on the head. “Don’t worry, girl. Everything’s going to be all right.”
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART STOPS
Fort Worth Police Officer Megan Luz
“What do you say, Megan? Shall we form a pack?” Seth, my hunky, blond, broad-shouldered firefighter boyfriend was down on one knee in the foyer outside the police chief’s office, the place where we’d first met. Our K-9 partners, Brigit and Blast, sat beside him. Brigit was an enormous German shepherd mix with an abundance of fur and even more attitude. Blast, on the other hand, was a sweet, submissive yellow Labrador. All three gazed anxiously at me, Brigit and Blast with big brown eyes, Seth with sexy green ones.
“Yes!” I burst into happy tears as Seth leaned forward and slipped the beautiful brushed-gold ring on my finger. It fit perfectly. The round diamond glittered in the dim after-hours light.
As he rose from the floor, I rose from my chair. We wrapped our arms around each other and held tight for a long moment, our chests pressed together, our hearts beating in syncopated rhythm. Appropriate, given that it was Valentine’s Day, a holiday in which hearts factored heavily. Not wanting to be left out of our love-fest, the dogs nudged our knees with their noses, trying to force their way between us.
I released Seth and wiped my eyes with my fingers, unable to stop smiling. I glanced at my watch: 9:15. My mom and dad would still be up. “Let’s go tell my parents.”
“They’re not out celebrating Valentine’s Day?”
“They’ve been married forever, and Mom’s got classes in the morning. They probably got each other a card and ordered a pizza.” Despite having conceived five children, my parents weren’t exactly romantic, at least not in the traditional sense. They were too busy for poetry and picnics in the park, and too budget-constrained to splurge on expensive gifts for each other. Theirs was a solid but practical kind of love, expressed through laundry services, mowed lawns, and shared laughs.
Seth eyed me. “Think we’ll take each other for granted like that someday?”
I slid him a smile. “If we’re lucky.”
We made our way to the elevator, rode down to the ground floor, and headed out to the parking lot, where we loaded our furry partners into his seventies-era blue Nova with orange flames down the sides. We aimed for my parents’ house in Arlington Heights, an older neighborhood in Fort Worth where both I and popular folk singer John Denver had graduated from high school, though he’d preceded me by approximately five decades and had later escaped the brutal Texas summers by moving to Colorado. My parents’ three-bedroom, two-bath wood-frame house could use a fresh coat of paint, but no matter how many times my father looked at the house and commented that he needed to go to the hardware store for painting supplies, he always forgot about the task once he’d crossed the threshold.
I used my key to unlock the front door, and Brigit and Blast trotted in ahead of us humans. As usual, they headed straight for the kitchen, hoping to steal what remained in the bowl of kitty kibble my mother maintained for her three indistinguishable orange tabby cats.
The dogs having cued a greeting, my dad appeared in the kitchen doorway. Thanks to his Latino heritage, my father had dark hair and warm brown skin, both of which he’d passed on to me. Thanks to time, his hair bore some silver streaks, more with each passing year. “Hey, you two,” he said. “There’s leftover pizza if you want any.”
Seth and I exchanged a knowing glance.
“Thanks,” I said. “But we’ve already eaten.”
Copyright © 2020 by Diane Kelly.