Posted on: September 18, 2014

“When life hands you lemons…” the old man says, offering me a smile as sweet and sugary as the pale yellow liquid he poured into two glasses. He slides one across the table and I notice his eyes crawl across my body, savoring every angle and curve.

Lemons indeed, you sick old perv.

While he mentally undresses me, I glance around the house, taking stock. Obviously a bachelor pad, the place hasn’t seen a woman’s touch in years, if ever. The kitchen is tidy, though outdated. A battered and stained plaid couch dominates the small living room. The only decorative touches are a few pieces of rudimentary taxidermy that hang upon the wood paneled walls. A dim hallway leads to the back of the house. High up in the Hollywood hills, sitting on a piece of land worth millions, it is not what I expected.

“Ahem.” My little cough grabs his attention. Red-faced, his gaze jumps from my tits back to my face.

“Thank you again, for saving me,” I say.

“You’re welcome. It’s a lucky thing I came along when I did. You could have been stuck out there all night. You really should have a spare tire.”

He may be talking about my car, but I can tell that he’s thinking about my ass. These pigs are all the same, let me save this little damsel in distress and I’ll get some.

Well trust me pal, no one is getting lucky here tonight.

I take a sip of the lemonade and put my hand in the pocket of my jacket, feeling reassured by the cool touch of the Walther 9mm that I had retrieved from the glove box before getting into his car.

“You don’t happen to have anything a little harder, would you?” I ask.

My question touches a nerve. His face bunches up and for a moment it looks as if he is going to cry. We stare at each other, the silence as uncomfortable as the plastic chairs we sit in. Finally, he shakes his head.

“I’m sorry dear, but no.” He manages a little smile. “Those days are long past for me.”

He gets up and pours himself another glass of lemonade, gesturing out the window to the sprawling mass of lights that is Los Angeles at night.

“I used to be kind of a big deal down there, producing movies and TV shows and whatnot. I had it all. The money. The fame. The fortune. Surrounded by young, beautiful women like yourself. But I drank it all away.”

He stares down at the lights of the city below.

“I tried the whole sobriety thing down there, but I couldn’t take it. Pardon my language, but that’s a pretty fucked up town. It’s amazing what people will do to each other to get ahead.”

You are preaching to the choir my friend.

“Once I wasn’t living inside a bottle I found out that my skin wasn’t thick enough to deal with it. So now, I just want to be left alone up here, living the simple life and communing with nature.”

Communing with nature?

A shudder passes through my body and my eyes are drawn back to the taxidermy that adorns the room. I fixate on the owl that is sitting on a shelf above the TV. His eyes are bright, fierce; not the usual muddied, opaque marbles.

Los Angeles is not the only thing fucked up around here.

“It’s getting late. You can sleep in my bedroom, I’ll take the couch. Don’t worry--we’ll get you fixed up in the morning.”


I almost feel a twinge of guilt as I stand over him, his nostrils flaring with each soft snore. It’s so much easier to dispatch them when they’ve been pawing at me with their lecherous hands. But, decent man or not, he made it too easy, and too worthwhile.

Once I was sure my host had fallen asleep, I had done my recon. The top of his dresser was littered with bank statements, and the plethora of commas and zeros on them was enough to make any girl swoon. I found his wallet and the keys to the Cadillac on the table. Only one thing remained.

Sorry bud, it’s nothing personal, but a girl’s gotta eat.

My finger starts to tighten, taking up what little slack there is in the trigger. I take a deep breath and prepare for the recoil of the silenced handgun.

A piercing shriek cuts through the air behind me. I spin around and the gun jumps in my hand, lodging a bullet in the couch next to the man’s head. He screams and kicks at me and I tumble over the coffee table, ducking just under the owl as it swoops down on me. The pistol flies from my hand and slides across the living room floor. The enraged raptor redirects its attack and lands on my back, beak and talons tearing into my flesh.

I manage to get to my feet and make a break for the door and, owl still in tow, we burst into the cool, quiet California night. I race to the Cadillac, fight free from my tormenter, and slide in, slamming the door on one of the bird’s wings. It thrashes about, struggling to free itself, a writhing, screeching mass of blood and feathers.

I fumble with the key, trying to slip it into the ignition. Out of the corner of my eye I see the man lurch through the door of the house. The car finally starts and I speed up the steep incline of the driveway. Just as I am about to turn onto the road, a hulking black shadow appears in front of me. I slam on the brakes and skid to a stop just as the bear rears up and brings its crushing weight down on the front of the car.

I sit there frozen and watch as more animals: deer, coyote, fox, skunk, raccoon, opossum-- emerge from the shadows and ring the car, their preternatural eyes aglow in the beam of the headlights.

What the fuck?

The car door opens. The owl flaps away and lands on the hood, glaring at me and nursing its injured appendage.The old man raises the gun, my gun. I stare down the barrel, and wait for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Written by: Ben Cook
Photograph by: Anna Westbury

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