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Click! Mary took a picture just before she died. And it was a quick death. She plopped to the asphalt, her arm spreading like bike pegs. Painless. But before the gritty plop or the pulling of a trigger, the spiraling of the bullet, the penetration of the left eyeball, or the destruction of her brain, there was her purchase of the double-shot-no-foam-ginger-essence-chocolate-teased-mint-dipped-shaken-but-not-stirred–triple-cream-caramel-macchiato-Venti-double-cupped espresso. Her usual morning drink. And it was a usual morning. She got up out her Californian King Bed, showered, pissed, put on her Robert Rodriguez pencil suit, the gray one of course, and then squeezed into her pair of black Dolce and Gabbana heels. She put on her eyeliner carefully, flawlessly: first the left eye, then the right. Always the same. She kissed good-day to her owning-only-one-testicle husband still sleeping and would probably be wet dreaming when he would receive the horrid call. Despite his exhaustion and his single sacked scrotum, he was a good husband, at least for Mary’s purposes. He was all muscly and obedience. He would be all but perfect if his testicular cancer’s crappy treatment hadn’t required zapping and killing all his good life-giving swimmers and hadn’t killed her dreams of mothering a two point five member family. But that was gone. And here she was at the top of her career, near menopause, and childless. All she wanted was a little boy, a baby of her own.

She could get rid of her cancer-surviving husband and find a replacement but that would be just wrong. And wouldn’t look good in the public eye or at the office. No. But she could cheat with the cook? She often imagined his Jamaican accent calling her name as he thrusted his essence into her, and they would tussle over the marble satiny countertop. She would struggle then submit. Yes that would be nice but irresponsible. And she didn’t like jerk chicken, and she would be damned if her children had some ancestral desire for it.

Could she adopt? Of course, but that’s such a lottery. And she’d rather not risk raising a serial killer’s kid.

And on that usual morning, she turned into Starbucks for her usual espresso. Always the same. But somehow that college student always seemed to get it wrong. “I said chocolate teased!” she would always say, and he would smile. It was always a very cute smile. And she would think, does Starbucks have a large enough countertop?

No, no that would be irresponsible. But nice, really nice. She would smirk back.

And this morning was usual.

All those events happened just like she forced them to. But then she, only she, saw the toddler.

He, the toddler, walked alone. All alone.

Not like those playground kids with those watchful soccer moms. He was alone. Alone. And only she saw him. And Mary left her usual espresso on the counter to walk up to the solitary child.

“Where is your mama, mama?” She said and nodded her head and stretched her arms to him.

No answer. But toddlers aren’t known to be loquacious; but I could make him, I could be mama, she thought.

His eyes shined like bubbles caught in the morning light. His cheeks looked like they needed her lipstick on them.

“No mama?”

He tilted his head. So adorable.

His shirt had the silliest little stain. Maybe grape juice, such a sanguine color, she thought.  Mary pulled out her phone and took a picture. Click! Then tilting his little, bitty head, smiling so much, the little guy lifted his gun and held it a millimeter from her iris. Mary’s eyelash touched the gun’s sight. Then he pulled the trigger. Click! Then a millisecond later POW!

Mary didn’t see the gun the midget held, but everyone else did. She didn’t see the carnage the small man left behind, but everyone else did. Nor did she see the bag of money at his feet. Nope. All she saw was the kid, the toddler, the baby she wanted, needed, and of course of course of course never ever will have. But she took the picture. Click! And the last thing she heard was the Click! of death.

 

 

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