Author: Michael D. Hilborn

Twenty minutes had passed since the cop had taken Donald’s license and registration back to the patrol car, and Donald was feeling famished.

As if he had spoken out loud, Samantha said, “Don’t do anything foolish.”

“But I’m hungry,” said Donald to his wife, “and that guy was being a jerk.” The cop had certainly been out of line, screaming at Donald at the top of his lungs for what amounted to a minor speeding infraction. The cop deserved whatever was coming to him. “Besides, you’re hungry, too. I can tell. Do you really want to continue eating that crap?”

Samantha paused, her plastic spork hovering over the cup of coleslaw and bucket of fried chicken she held in her lap. The corner of her mouth skewed upward.

“I didn’t think so,” he said.

Samantha lay the spork down in the cup and stared right at him. He loved her eyes, those beautiful yellow irises, those slits for pupils. Too bad the cop and the rest of mankind couldn’t see her like he did. They didn’t know what they were missing. “I don’t want to have to disappear again, Donald,” she said. “We have a nice home, some nice neighbors, good jobs, a nice life. It would be shame to lose all of that.”

“It’d be easy enough to start over,” he said, noticing in the rear-view window that the cop was returning. “We’ve done it before, and we’re due for a change. You’ve said you always wanted to live upstate. All we need to do is continue heading north.” He pointed at the sign to Saratoga Springs, and he smiled his most convincing smile.

Her inner eyelids clicked together, a signal she was considering what he had said. Then: “No, Donald.”

He sighed. “Suit yourself.”

“Just be polite,” Samantha said, and rolled down the window for the cop to lean in.

The cop, unfortunately, was not polite. Donald tolerated a minute of the yelling and pejoratives before he flicked out his tongue. It snapped across the car’s interior and planted its spiked tip squarely between the officer’s eyes. The venom took hold in an instant: the victim froze in mid-tirade, his expression not even having time to register surprise. Donald’s tongue snapped back between his rows of teeth.

“Dammit, Donald,” his wife muttered. Nevertheless, she dragged the paralyzed officer through the window. “Those patrol cars have cameras, you know. No way we can go back home now.” Anger laced her voice, but Donald noticed she was already prodding the officer’s fleshy neck with the spork.

“Saratoga Springs, here we come.” Donald grinned, put the car in gear, and continued heading north.