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The rusted pickup truck parked outside ends your pursuit; you pause in the doorway, your eyes adjust to the haze and track the room, past the jukebox, past the all-you-can-eat buffet, past the couple, their hands below the table rubbing each other’s thighs, and then you see he’s there, the black shirt in the middle, his back faces you, but the bar’s mirror reflects his stare into his empty shot glass, and you’re certain it’s him because you’ve seen his bald spot when watching from above on the manager’s balcony at the grocery store, watching that spot, white and as round as a softball, swivel slowly, while scanning barcodes of one item and then the next, and you’ve watched that swivel pause to watch your teenage daughter in the next lane, wearing her mask, her blue work shirt which you’d told her was too damn tight; didn’t you tell her she needed one size larger, not as tight as the one from twenty minutes before – top buttons ripped off, tail untucked – when she stumbled from the employee break room with the wild-eyed stare of the hunted, shortly after this balding fuck clocked out ahead of schedule so here you are advancing toward him, your feet sticking to the spilled beer on the floor, crunching the peanut shells tossed there too, gaining a speed they never achieved on the ball field and you grip the bat you pulled from your back seat, the one you keep for pickup games after work, and the palms of your perfectly manicured hands tighten around its neck, hitting with a force only mothers achieve.
Anne Anthony’s gritty, tender, and amusing stories feature compelling but flawed characters who rise to reveal superhuman traits in ordinary life. She’s been published in Brilliant Flash Fiction, Carolina Woman’s Magazine, and elsewhere. In 2019, she released a short story collection, A Blue Moon & Other Murmurs of the Heart. She lives and writes in North Carolina with her husband and feisty Plott hound, Clara. Find more of her writing here: http://bit.ly/anneanthony