They found Lenny the Louse dead that Friday morning from two gunshot wounds to the chest. A neighbor heard a noise in the night, but she didn't call the cops until the next morning. She knew something was wrong when she went outside before breakfast and found her newspaper still lying wrapped in plastic on her lawn. Lenny, she said in her official statement, always stole her newspaper, read it, and returned it sans the plastic wrapping before she woke up. Until that morning she had always found it on the lawn, the first few pages soaked with morning dew.
"I never knew the important stuff that was going on in the world," she said. "The first three pages were always ruined. I had to watch the TV if I was gonna stay up on the current events, the cheapskate."
Lenny the Louse was born Leonard Dixon to a shoe salesman and a housewife, and by several odd turns of fate found himself in the hair business. By twenty-two he'd moved to Los Angeles and had started a business supplying prosthetic wigs to the local motion picture companies. He gained his nickname from his love of hair and for the way he clung to the industry like a parasite.
Really, it's misleading to say he loved hair. He loved the money, and he made quite a bit during his days in Hollywood. But hair love? No evidence ever supported this theory.
But his position did put him close to celebrities, and he, lived off their fame, style, and glitz for three decades.
Finally Lenny's less than virtuous ways caught up with him. One of the secrets to his fortune was the secret deal he’d struck with local morticians. Lenny was allowed access into several mortuaries' private chambers where makeup and hair artists prepared the deceased for viewing. Lenny would take the hair from viable candidates and have the artists replace it with a cheap imitation of synthetic fibers. He would then use the stolen hair to create the wigs he sold. The difference between the cost of the cheaper, synthetic wigs and the amount for which he sold his own ill-gotten booty he shared with the morticians. The portions he gave out, according to several insiders, were mere pennies on the dollar, however, and when the authorities uncovered the hair-smuggling ring, Lenny's old business partners turned on him like vipers. He was disgraced and forced out of business. With nothing left, he returned to his old hometown, now torn down in favor of a cheap, suburban imitation. The irony.
Life in the suburbs was not Hollywood, and for years Lenny suffered his existence, running a small wig shop in the only old part of town that remained standing after the renovations. His family lived hand to mouth for several years, and Lenny became an alcoholic. What little that was left over from his drinking binges he blew in Atlantic City casinos until he was banned from there as well.
On the morning of Thursday the 6th Lenny woke as normal and went to work. At work that day he sold an auburn prosthetic to a breast cancer victim and a cheap, Lorne Green Special to a fellow named Lou. That evening he closed up shop for the last time. One of the last people to see him alive was Cole, the owner of a nearby newsstand.
"'Lenny' I says to 'im," Cole told a reporter covering the crime for a local newspaper. "'Whaddya think about the Knicks at the Celtics tonight?' And he says to me, 'Aaahhh, what do I care? I don't got two nickels to put toward it anyway.' 'Yeah,' I says, 'but whaddya think?' 'Well, if I had to say so I'd put the Knicks down to beat the spread.' Then he paid me a quarter for a paper, but he forgot to take it with him, the paper. I felt bad for the guy, y'know? He had that drinkin' problem. Anyways, so I...uh, well you can't blame a guy for gettin' a little action now and then, right? So I found this guy I'd met through a church mixer, and he set me up with this bookie. I put down a bill on the Knicks and threw in Lenny's quarter, too. If we won I was gonna give him his cut for helpin’ me out. We won, if you can believe that, and that night Lenny got himself a bullet, or so I've heard. Poor bastard. Never had any real luck."
Another unfortunate side of Lenny's personality, or so his wife Camilla told police, was his propensity for violence.
"He only got violent when he was in his drink," she said, "but as the years went on that was more and more often."
Lenny came home angry and with gin on his breath. Over dinner he told Camilla about the wig he'd sold to the cancer victim.
"Pretty soon that bitch's tit is gonna fall off, and I ain't got no sympathy for her. It's what she gets, the whore. You're all whores." With that he proceeded to eat a pork chop.
Fate was a cruel thing when you consider Lenny the Louse. It seems that very day Camilla had been to the doctor complaining of soreness in her left breast. During an examination they'd found a lump.
"They were talking biopsy, and I know what that means," she told police. "That means Cancer, no two ways about it. They told me they weren't sure about that and not to get upset until they had the results, but I knew. I knew. And when he started talking about that poor woman I thought to myself all the times he'd hit me and all the times he'd wished bad things on me. And now this. It was too much. I snapped. So I went into our bedroom and found the pistol we kept for protection. Then I walked back into the dining room and shot him. I didn't say nothing. I just shot him. I hope he burns in Hell."
A funeral was held for Lenny the following Monday. No one showed up, not even the priest.
"L. Joseph Shosty lives in Texas with his wife and son. His work has appeared, or will appear, in Stupefying Stories, Aoife's Kiss, Title Goes Here, and Nasty Snipps II. Abattoir in the Aether, a novel set in the Space: 1889 roleplaying game universe, is out from Untreed Reads. Follow him at http://themadaccount.blogspot.com."