Shaved Legs and All: LGBT Pogrom

Wet Summer - By Mizeta Moon 

Finding a spot to sunbathe that summer was like being part of a fleeting romance on a cruise ship. A few caresses, a few warm kisses, then abandonment. The kids wanted to set up a lemonade stand but that wasn’t practical when the rain seldom let up. A brief window of brightness would run and hide until several days later, then repeat the pattern. Sitting inside all the time led to lots of frowns and a restlessness that defied satisfaction. You can only play Monopoly so many times before it becomes boring, and when your only exercise is eating you get sluggish and fat. Doing yard work became next to impossible due to long wet grass clogging the mower blades and its wheels leaving muddy ruts in its trail. Perennial flowers were slow to bloom in an omnipresent overcast. At times it sounded like a crazed drummer was practicing their chops on my roof. By mid-July low lying areas were standing pools, and creeks and rivers were well beyond flood stage. I kept expecting to see salmon migrating up Main Street and spawning in the park.

August was warm and led to the irrepressible nature of kids breaking out swimsuits and their SlippySlide, then frolicking in the continued downpour. Rather than feel put upon, I valiantly wiped up muddy footprints when they came inside and laundered dozens of soggy towels. At least they weren’t glued to devices and on their way to becoming sedentary introverts, although I’ll admit I was looking forward to school starting and providing a respite for me. I’d be able to go back to the office during the week and return to being a full-time parent on the weekends. Just before Labor Day I was put to a test of my compassion and tolerance due to a visitor arriving on our doorstep. A pregnant, half-drowned cat was curled up on the mat when I stepped out to check the mail.

People have often called me hard-hearted for not adopting pets. They’ve banged on about how I’m cheating my kids by not having a dog or cat they could bond with without understanding how severely I’m affected by their presence. Red eyes, constant sneezing and breathing constriction aren’t a good trade off for taking on the expense and responsibility for their care. As soon as the kids saw the cat they begged me to let it come in. Their pleading eyes and voices rocked me to the core but my mind was telling me I should call the shelter and have it picked up. To my credit, it only took an hour of coercion before I made them a deal. It could stay in the garage if they took full responsibility for its care, never let it in the house, and washed their hands after every encounter. I knew there would be incidental contact with hair clinging to their clothes but as long as they tried hard to spare me I’d give it a shot. And, besides care and feeding they’d have to go online and find homes for the kittens when they were weaned. They eagerly set up a bed and a feeding bowl, then fawned over the refugee for an hour before I called them in for dinner.

Fortunately, the universe decided that I needn’t suffer unduly for my act of kindness. A week after the kittens were born, momma cat chose to relocate her family. On one of the rare days of sunshine she carried them away while we were out shopping and the garage door was open. Evidently, nursing the kittens elsewhere was more desirable than enjoying our accommodations. Of course, the kids cried and looked around for her but she was nowhere to be found. I called the feral cat people so they could keep an eye out, then spent the evening consoling the kids. It finally quit raining the week school started and being around other kids quickly refocused their attention. Momma cat became a fond memory and life moved on. If the subject of pets ever arises again I plan to suggest a household robot. Circuit boards and plastic won’t make me sneeze


Discomfort - By Mizeta Moon 

I was at the rodeo and wishing that I was anywhere else because what my companion purported to be a lot of fun turned out to be a pack of lies. “It’s not just a bunch of yahoos,” she’d said. “It’s a family event open to everyone.” My mind hadn’t wanted to believe her but my heart wanted to share an experience with someone so interesting so I agreed to go. We hadn’t even cleared the parking lot before the first rude comment scorched my ears and I thought about bailing then but didn’t. That was a mistake. Walking away would have saved me from a very trying day.

I wasn’t dressed glitzy that day. A simple dress with flats, conservative jewelry, and makeup, and a light brown wig. Even so, I got stared and laughed at as we walked towards the grandstands in search of our seats. As soon as we sat down, people moved away from us. “EEW! lesbians” one woman in boots, jeans, and a straw cowboy hat exclaimed as she grabbed her kids and beat a hasty retreat. I ignored her and tried to concentrate on the events happening in the arena but there were constant murmurs about drag queens from others in the crowd. At that point I dug my heels in so to speak and resolved to tough it out instead of giving into prejudice. I could tell my companion was regretting inviting me to something she’d honestly expected to be fun. Going to rodeos was part of her childhood and sharing it with me was her way of giving me a glimpse of who she was.

It was a hot day, so when I got thirsty I headed to the concession area to get us a couple of cold beers. I’m so fearless when negotiating public gatherings that I didn’t beg her to accompany me. Besides that, her favorite event was transpiring at the moment so I wanted her to enjoy it. I expected more snide remarks but even with all the machismo being displayed violence didn’t feel imminent. A few tough guys made sure to bump me hard as I walked through the throngs but they kept moving when my temper didn’t flare and my mouth stayed shut. In fifty years of crossdressing I’ve learned not to give bigots an excuse to be stupid. Letting them feel they got one over on me is less damaging than bruises and broken bones.

The hardest part of the day for me was walking past the MAGA booth and being jeered. I wondered how hatred and xenophobia were going to make us great again. Weren’t we already a great nation? It seemed to me that a return to the dark ages would only benefit the few and not the many. But the beers were nice and cold and needed drinking so I gave my new friend hers and put a dent in mine after regaining my seat. We laughed at the clowns, cheered on the contestants, and basked in the sun just like everyone else. Despite efforts to spoil our day and create discomfort we shared the moments wrapped in our own little bubble. Simple kindness and tolerance would have made things even better, but I’ve learned not to expect it. But when people share the world with me willingly I always appreciate their ability to recognize the beauty of diversity. Though I don’t agree with someone I can’t find it in my heart to hate them or attempt to void their existence. If I ever go to the rodeo again I’ll probably dress in feathers and rhinestones. Might as well make a statement if I’m going to get laughed at anyway. I’m sure there were plenty of cool people there who would have rescued me if someone tried to hurt me. I just didn’t bump into them that day.   


Implosion - Mizeta Moon 

A pile of laundry on an unswept floor held no interest. Nor did the remains of a birthday cake she baked for herself out of habit rather than a desire to celebrate. The ants would eventually carry it away. Her life had become a sandcastle eroded by each passing tide. Ramparts breached, turrets crumbling, the penthouse sinking to the basement, leaving her tattered flag lying on a lonely beach. Were it not for auto deposit and pay, an eviction notice would arrive with each post.

The kids never called. They were daddy’s girls and she was the evil stepmom despite loving their father fiercely and never treating them badly. His passing made her a thing of the past. The days no longer held hope, only shattered dreams, and unfulfilled promises. A life without meaning, colorless, and devoid of bright music. Only a dull symphony of despair remained to serenade hours filled with loneliness. No joy could dwell in such a barren heart, whose every beat prolonged her agony.

It hadn’t always been that way. The bloom of youth once caressed her skin and her  eyes shone with anticipation of each new dawn propelling her to greater horizons. Setbacks were overcome with a seemingly boundless wealth of optimism that eventually became vulnerable to tragedy and pain. Had she known what lay ahead, she would have surrendered early rather than suffer gradual dissolution of her happiness. To be nothing but a shriveled shell awaiting the death knell seemed scant reward for valiant effort.

She’d tried to make sense of it all. To believe there was something waiting when one journeyed on from a world filled with pestilence, war, misery, and greed, but failed to find comfort in words delivered by hypocrites. She’d struggled to care about others but was repugned by those who exploited anyone in their path for money and returned nothing but disdain. The lack of concern for the welfare of society became an ulcer in her bowels she couldn’t ignore when her naivety faded. She would die alone but unafraid, and eternal darkness would be greater comfort than a light-filled existence in a world without love.

She was glad that cancer was eating away at her organs and they would fail soon. She wasn’t brave enough to commit suicide. She’d been offered hospice care but couldn’t stand the thought of someone pretending everything would be fine and that she would be missed. When the neighbors smelled the stench of her corpse and called someone to cart it away, what little she owned would be sold or donated and her home would be seized to pay back taxes. She’d arranged to be cremated years earlier when her husband was still alive. No urn would be required as no one remained who cared enough to tend her ashes.

When her little teapot started whistling, she shuffled from her chair to the stove and poured its warmth into an old mug she won at a carnival long ago. Like her, its surface was crackled and worn, Cradling it, she stared out the window as photographs from her life turned on the pages of her mind. Daffodils were pushing their way into the light and spring lurked just around the corner. She doubted she’d see this year’s roses but hoped the new tenant would enjoy their scent like she had over the years and appreciate the beauty they bring to an often gray world.    

Biomorph - By Mizeta Moon 

The idea of having an organ transplant was spooky. I wondered if having someone else’s tissue in my body would cause mixed signals being sent to my brain and result in behavior changes. If my new heart came from an executed murderer would I develop sudden urges to slit the throats of snotty clerks or moms who couldn’t control their screaming children? If it came from a preacher would I cease being agnostic and start praying all the time? What if it came from a hooker? Would I be high class or a street walker? One of my worst fears was that I’d turn into a racist bigot instead of being a live and let live kind of girl. I had so many reservations it was tempting to just check out quietly and hope I’d made enough of a mark in the world that someone would remember me. My doctor kept telling me that all I would feel is better, but my dreams were still filled with weird scenarios.

Two days before the surgery was scheduled I decided to let chance decide whether I went through with it or not. I made myself a cocktail, then sat at the dining room table with a deck of cards. I shuffled them, then covered my eyes with one hand and cut the deck with the other. If the card showing at the bottom of the cut was red, I’d do it. If it was black, I’d call the crematory and confirm my reservation. There was a side of me that wanted to go two out of three to make sure, but waffling wasn’t the true me. Clear cut decisions had been the mantra of my life. Since you’re reading this story it’s obvious the card was red and I went through with it.

At first, everything seemed the same and I felt the doctor had been right. Lately, however, I’ve come to believe my organ donor had to have been a hippie. There are mornings that I wake up, then go to the garden and put flowers in my hair. I recently traded in my Subaru for an old Volkswagen van with tie-dyed curtains. The other day I went to the fabric store and bought some paisley cloth to make a kaftan to wear with my peace symbol necklace. I walk around humming songs about world peace, smiling on my brother, and everybody getting along right now. While the world devolves into a war torn ghetto filled with hatred and prejudice, I give people hugs and tell them I love them.

It's sad to think that so many people vote to be under the thumb of separatists and have the personal freedoms of others restricted by draconian laws, but the heart I received is filled with hope and the belief that humans are not inherently evil. It beats with the joy of watching birds fly into a magnificent sunset or hearing the ocean kiss the sand of a windswept beach. It tells my eyes to see the beauty in all things while understanding their dual nature. It tells my mind to not dwell in darkness and ignore the wonders of light, color, and diversity. It cannot accept the sadness of a world shackled by lack of acceptance and constricting agendas. That heart fills my veins with a life brimming with happiness and the possibility of cohabitation. It sings songs composed by a soul fueled by love. It seeks to share and build, rather than hoard and destroy. Whoever left this world and passed their heart to me has earned my undying gratitude. Hopefully, I can use it to be an instrument of positive change and compose a symphony of peace, love, and joy, transcending the passage of time.           

Restart - By Mizeta Moon 

After my wife left me for another woman, my life was like watching a horrible movie where I was swimming upstream trying to scale Niagara Falls. I felt like I would drown if I stayed in the same house, kept the same job, and associated with friends we had in common. Wherever I went I couldn’t escape the feeling they were laughing at me behind my back. Getting drunk didn’t ease the pain and only succeeded in making things worse. I got mouthy and rude and became a pain in the butt to everyone in the bar, so I quit going out to make sure I didn’t end up in jail. I thought about stalking her so often that I knew I had to move as far away from her as possible. The far side of the moon felt like it would be too close but there had to be somewhere I could go and heal. That’s how I wound up booking four consecutive around the world cruises and becoming an online stock trader to support myself.

Being on a ship simplifies making new friends since there’s basically nowhere to go. You can stay in your cabin and generally avoid people if you choose, but self-imposed isolation can turn into a major drag and lead to jumping overboard and being eaten by sea creatures. When I’m not at my desk working at making money I enjoy all the amenities the ships offer and interact with people I’ll never see again instead of wallowing in lonely girl misery. It still feels like manic denial sometimes but overall I’m getting better, except for the fact I’ve become a shopaholic.

It started with buying a rundown villa on the Italian Riviera. I was making money hand over fist so having a new place to live when I was done cruising sounded great. According to the brochure there are olive and fig trees galore on the property, as well as several varieties of citrus and acres of grape vines. The place hadn’t been well maintained for a few years due to the owner dying so the idea of a fixer upper got my juices flowing. That led to shopping sprees in every port we visited. Arranging for my purchases to be shipped to my future residence was necessary since I couldn’t store them in my cabin. I now possess hundreds of shoes, dresses from all parts of the world, and enough furniture and décor items to fill several shipping containers. When this final cruise is over it’s going to be fun to unpack it all. Hopefully, the caretaker I hired through an online interview has done a good job of storing things as they arrived. 

The dilemma now is that I’m reluctant to bond with someone and share that life awaiting my arrival. Sure, I’ve had great sex and fun with people I’ve met on board, but they went away at the end of the cruise and I had no desire to follow them. Getting over someone I really loved has turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. The idea of trusting someone with my heart and hoping they won’t break it gives me sweaty nightmares. Not to mention they might only be interested in my money. I guess the best thing to do will be to focus on rehabbing my new home, socializing in my fabulous new wardrobe, and letting the cards fall where they may. If I meet someone incredible that will be great but if I don’t I’ll at least have a great base for my golden years. I can travel to Paris, have lunch in Rome, or pop over to London for fish and chips and a pint. Endless possibility awaits now that I can afford it. We’ll be docking in Miami tomorrow and my days at sea will finally come to an end. I’ll be flying out the next day and am determined not to look back. It’s hard to start over sometimes but I know it can and often has to be done. Whatever the future brings I plan to greet it with a smile and a great glass of wine from my very own vineyard.    

The new sheriff - By Mizeta Moon 

Greasewood Flats had been a safe haven for crooks for years, but that changed drastically after John Three Crows came to town. His pistol packing skills were legendary throughout the Sidewinder Hills and not only did criminals fear him, women constantly vied for his attention. When he wasn’t busy running thugs out of town, he could be found at someone’s dinner table or serenading them with a voice that could coax birds from the trees. Sometimes he thought about hanging up his six shooter and pursuing a career in opera but didn’t want to live with the excess weight opera singers notoriously carried around. He liked being a lean, mean, fighting machine and collecting bounties to bank for his retirement years.

At the moment, he was sitting on a shaded bench at the train depot waiting for a payroll delivery for the miners at Cactus Copper. He was hoping no one felt like dying that day while attempting to hijack the cash but the stupidity and desperation of criminals could never be underestimated. He’d normally have a deputy with him but Oliver Redhawk had been bucked off his horse the day before and was laid up with a broken leg. That meant he had an extra pistol tucked in his belt and a rifle leaning against the wall beside him. He didn’t see a dust cloud on the horizon that meant the Langston gang was riding into town, so he breathed a small sigh of relief. Taking all of them out would be difficult alone.

When the train pulled in with the sounds of screeching brakes and hissing steam, he picked up his rifle and sauntered over to the baggage car door. Ken Gladstar, the paymaster for Cactus Copper was waiting there with two muscular miners who’d help load a mule cart with bags of money. Three Crows planned to ride along while they wound their way through the hills to the mine office, then head toward Margy Hunter’s spread for a steak dinner. Margy was a great cook and he always looked forward to one of her meals. Later, he’d stop for a drink at Mabel’s Saloon and Mercantile before heading for his cot at the jailhouse. The cells were empty for a change and he was glad to be freed from the care and feeding of unwelcome company. Any savings from his yearly budget helped his bank account grow.

After delivering the payroll to the mine and striking out for Margy’s, his plans for the evening suddenly changed. He came around a bend in the trail and heard the sound of splashing water and female giggles, so he went to investigate. Janet, Heather, and Suzi, three dancehall girls from the next town over were sitting on the creekbank wiggling their toes in the water. A picnic basket sat on a red blanket near to hand and all the ladies held glasses of wine. Having such a great opportunity to sing for his supper couldn’t be allowed to slip away, so he dismounted, ambled into the clearing, tipped his hat, and said howdy.

The moon rose full that evening, causing coyotes to howl like they were accompanying his lilting songs. The girls hadn’t brought extra wine so he’d pulled a pint of whiskey from his saddlebag and sipped it slowly while nibbling delicious treats from the basket between tunes. It was almost midnight when he hitched his horse in front of the jail, unsaddled him and took care of its needs. The sounds of a piano playing at Mabel’s echoed in the still night but unless a fight broke out his presence wasn’t required. It felt good to take off his boots and settle in for the night in a town whose safety he’d secured. The longer it stayed that way the better he’d feel. It would be even better if the Langston gang signed up to ride with Pancho Villa and fell by the wayside in Mexico. Everyone he had to bury took another bite out of his budget and supporting the undertaker wasn’t a priority for him. Maybe he could lower the death rate so severely that the undertaker moved away. It was doubtful, considering human nature, but something to ponder while drifting off to sleep.   

Lovers quarrel - By Mizeta Moon 

The night I killed her we were parked by a rippling pond, drinking wine from paper cups and celebrating our one year anniversary. When we first got together everyone thought we were too different to be a good couple but we’d proved them wrong until then. She was the favorite child in her family and I was the black sheep of mine but there’s an old saying about opposites attracting. I suppose that’s true with magnets, so it must apply to human relations. Anyway, I’d bought her a Chia Pet bust of that famous painter guy and a box of assorted chocolates, and she gave me a gift pack of shower gels and a bottle of cheap perfume. We both pretended to be excited while secretly wishing for something romantic like tickets to an Engelbert Humperdink concert.

I remember the radio being on and crickets chirping. I remember counting stars through the windshield while the moon slid below the horizon. I remember how warm the blood felt on my hands, but I don’t remember what we argued about. From what they tell me, I had a psychotic episode, blacked out, and stabbed her repeatedly with the corkscrew. They say I’ll never get out of here but they don’t realize how devious I am and that I have a plan. When I escape, I’ll go back to that pond and try to remember exactly what we argued about. It must have been something big to cause me to go ballistic. Sure, I’d tortured the neighbor’s cat when I was young and burned ants with a magnifying glass but I was sure I’d grown out of that type of behavior. Well, except for throwing a perfectly good dog onto a freight train headed to who knows where. I always hoped it would get adopted by whoever found it, so that surely counted as good karma.

Other than wanting to wander down memory lane there’s no real reason to escape. I don’t have to work. I get fed anyway and the doctors give me drugs to keep me happy. The grounds are nice when they let me go outside and I’ve made friends. I just wish they weren’t so catatonic and prone to drool. Game night is fun. We get to play bean bag toss as long as no one lobs them at the staff. We used to play checkers until Mattie swallowed six of the red ones and choked to death. Watching her flop around on the floor like a fish was fun but now everything has to be bigger than your mouth.

I told my therapist that I might remember what set me off if he bought me a bottle of wine and played some Engelbert, but he said that alcohol wouldn’t go well with my pills. I think he said that cause he’s secretly in love with me and wants to keep me around. I told him that girls my age should be able to drink if they want to but evidently there’s rules. My parents are coming for their annual visit tomorrow so the nurse curled my hair for me and laid out my green dress and sandals for the occasion. It’ll be a nice change from slippers and inmate sweats. One of the coolest thing about them coming is the goodie bag they bring. I used to share the chocolate and the chips but now I eat them all myself because a year is a long time between treats. The only regret I have about that night is not buying a bottle with a screw cap. If I had, my girlfriend and I might be married by now. They say hindsight is twenty, twenty, but you can’t change the past no matter how hard you try. 

Oldies - By Mizeta Moon 

The road ahead, the road behind

The road ahead is a mystery,

The road behind, a memory.

The road ahead is often gray,

While behind the sky is blue,

But just to keep the balance

The opposite is also true.

Ahead is beautiful, the rear majestic,

Turn around and see from where you came,

You’ll forever want to go back again.

Ahead brimming with unfulfilled promise,

Behind lie footsteps in mud and sand.

Ahead tomorrow, behind yesterday,

What difference left or right?

Over, around, under, through, backward, forward,

It’ll always be you living in the now.

Going nowhere, somewhere, that’s where you are,

As you wander, mountains sit and watch you seek.


Speak to me

River, sweet river life,

Flow by and through me today.

Spin me songs of time and travelers,

Crossing your waves and windswept ripples.

Carry tree news to my ears awaiting,

Messages from inner earth through roots and veins.

River, sweet river life,

Flow over and around me with love.

Rocks, I am touching your essence,

I swim in your breast like a fish, oh river.

I sit in sand wiggling my toes,

On banks where egrets play.

While glittering, soft, downy grasses,

Reflect sunlight from that wondrous orb,

Casting rainbows from a cascading waterfall.

River, sweet river life,

Deliver me from toil and trouble,

Into soft cool breezes of thy oasis.

Exploring - By Mizeta Moon 

Relocating to Oregon was a big deal to her because she’d longed to escape the desolation of west Texas for years, but until recently that dream had been out of reach. One day a recruiter for a big firm in Portland contacted her and asked if she would be willing to relocate for a lucrative position. Needless to say, she jumped at the chance. Packing a U-Haul and leaving the scrub and sand of the desert southwest behind, she became increasingly excited as she steadily climbed into the forested lushness of the Pacific Northwest. The gleaming towers of downtown Portland were a stark contrast to the stucco and adobe she’d grown up with. As she moved into her office in the Portlandia building she couldn’t stop looking out the window at the magnificent view. What a difference, she thought. She knew right then that there was no going back. Ever!! This was paradise on earth.

When she was young, the neighborhood kids would amuse themselves by taking BB guns to a dry creek bed behind her house and hunting lizards. As a teenager she tried rodeo riding but found she was too prissy to wear boots covered with dirt and dung. Her first job was selling sombreros, maracas, and other tourist items at a kiosk in a mall. Faced with a mundane existence in a Cowtown she enrolled in community college and earned a degree in marketing. Within a few years she’d finished a master’s in business administration course and was working for the biggest retailer in the area. This led to a chance encounter with a Portlander who was in town to visit a dying relative, and ultimately her office with a view of the Willamette river and Mt. Hood.

Every weekend she would choose a different location to explore. Quaint fishing villages on the coast. Farming communities amidst green fields and rolling hills. Wine tastings at vineyards offering excellent beverages and food pairings. Something she was currently looking forward to was a dinner cruise on the Spirit of Portland and then several days later she’d be taking a paddle wheeler ride up the Columbia river. The only thing missing in her life was companionship. She didn’t need to be in love. She just wanted someone to talk to and share the experiences. Online dating was a bust because people lied and made themselves out to be what they felt you were looking for. She’d been asked out by several guys at work but knew that workplace romances could be disastrous so she declined. The breakthrough came one Friday evening when she was playing slots at Ilani Casino. The woman next to her was winning big and buying drinks for everyone near her.

Her name was Lindsay, and when they started talking there was an immediate rapport that led to them having dinner after cashing out, then moving to the bar while waiting for a table at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse. Serendipitously, Lindsay worked three floors below her in the Portlandia building and lived in an apartment complex two blocks away from her. The more they talked the more they discovered mutual interests and the next few months became a whirlwind of adventure. Visiting Seattle and the Space Needle. Taking a ferry ride around Puget Sound. Skiing at Mt. Bachelor after shopping in Bend. She was happy to have finally found a friend that she could trust and believe in.

Unfortunately, in the corporate world the sands are constantly shifting. Lindsay’s company decided to relocate to Atlanta and she would be moving with them. She couldn’t help crying when they shared their last bottle of wine at the City Grill since being that far away would lead to a constantly increasing gap in communication. Losing a lover can be devastating but losing a friend can be even more so. Laughter and pleasant company can be harder to replace than romance. Hopefully, someone else would come along to share her free time with. Until then, there were still roads and corners to explore in a state that never ceased to amaze.       

Public Service - By Mizeta Moon 

When she was still on the force, stakeouts involved stale coffee, donuts, and 7/11 burritos, but the results of her pre-retirement physical changed her lifestyle for good. The doctor was worried that her heart couldn’t survive the constant overload of cholesterol, caffeine, sodium, and sugar, exacerbated by job stress. These days, her surveillance meals included gluten free strawberry scones, Tibetan herbal tea, and superfood salad with fat free dressing. She’d lost weight and ran at least a mile every day along with regular trips to the gym. She needed to be sharp now that she was waging a private war against the dregs of society.

As a cop she’d watched the broken justice system spit unpunished and unreformed criminals back onto the streets to continue preying on hard working citizens. There were times when she arrested the same person three times in a year only to see them on the sidewalk two days later. At the time, all she could do was follow orders and do her job. Now, even though she could go to prison for it, she was doing her best to eliminate the most corrosive elements from the equation. Junkies, thieves, and low-level dealers got left for the cops to deal with. Her targets were sex traffickers, serial rapists, high-volume opiate dealers, etc. Those whose disregard for human life made them unrepentant in their wanton destruction of social dignity. She didn’t consider herself a moralist, simply a pest control agent protecting children and innocents. Though it was like fighting the tide with a teaspoon, she was determined to do something rather than helplessly watch the chaos escalate.

This night, she was parked across the street from a motel where kidnapped teenaged girls were being forced to service local businessmen in order to satisfy their induced addictions to heroin and other drugs. Her targets were a man known as Oracle and his girlfriend/recruiter Big Bev. Big Bev would lure them to parties and Oracle would take care of the rest. Grieving parents could cry for help all they wanted but few returned home. Even when freed, many of them were so far gone that they went back to the life voluntarily. Her informant, who worked at a strip club had called earlier and said that Oracle and Big Bev were planning to meet the head of a biker gang at the motel that evening and sell him a dozen girls for use at their club house. Taking the biker out at the same time would be a bonus.

She watched quietly as the targets arrived, shook hands after surveying the area for possible threats, then went to a room on the motel’s lower tier. According to her informant they always ordered Chinese food to be delivered while negotiating deals. Tucking her pistol into her belt, she slid out of her Jeep, then crept into the shadows of an overhang to await the delivery driver. When they arrived, she made her presence known before they could exit the car. Tapping on the window, she held out two one hundred dollar bills and took possession of the bag. She knew every move from that point on had to be perfect or she’d be the one to die.

Big Bev’s eyes registered surprise as the first silenced round pierced her heart when she opened the door. Oracle and the biker were in the process of snorting lines at the coffee table and were slow to react since no one had ever dared to brace them on their home turf. Stepping over Bev’s body, she shot the biker first since Oracle never carried. She thought about extending and relishing the moment as his hate-filled eyes glared at her but realized delayed gratification would prevent accidental intervention. She did, however, empty the clip into him. Each squeeze of the trigger became payback for hundreds of tortured women. After retrieving her brass and scooping up the bag of cash that might have become misdirected evidence, she pulled the door closed behind her, then calmly walked to her Jeep. What she didn’t need for gas and ammo she’d mail to women’s shelters anonymously. Hopefully, the Chinese food would be tasty. Killing maggots made her hungry.