curio by laura ellen scott




Bun started with little kids because that seemed like protocol, but when he realized he wasn’t into rape and murder or permanence he snatched hikers, housewives, drywall hangers napping in their trucks--anyone in reach. He took them back to his broken cabin, shut them in and watched. He’d done this for years, never been caught. Never been sought, to his knowledge.

The cashier at the Food Lion used to be a girl, one of his. She wet herself and yanked the head off her own baby doll in frustration. These days she’s still blond, but not true blond like she was. He always gets in her line, and she smiles at him like they’re old friends. Like he was the guy who played Santa at her dad’s parties. She can’t take her eyes off his cracked, golden fingernails.

All it took was the time to stop crying. A window jimmied or smashed. The door jerked off its hinges. Cabins are like that, pure crap. But it had taken her forever to work up the nerve to try the unlocked door, and when she did she ran right down to the river. They all did, every time. They scrambled away, leaving Bun delighted and sad.

The cashier tries to jam a twelve pack of Natural Light into a flimsy plastic bag for him. It tears. She trembles. Mistakes the feeling.

He doesn’t. Bun cradles the gaping sack on his way back to his battered, salt grimed Cavalier, parked behind the store where the delivery trucks roll through. He thinks he’d like to see a pile of dead bodies. A real pile, just once. In person.

The cashier appears on the load ramp, sucking a cigarette. Break time. She smiles, waves. He waves back and climbs into his stinking cold vehicle. It’s a thing with them.