Kokos cookies WalMart

Girl Scout Cookies

2020.09.11 08:30 TheOminousDarkness Girl Scout Cookies

🎵 DING-DONG! 🎵
Despite the clearly labeled sign affixed to his front door meant to discourage solicitors, Gregory Kinkaid had become accustomed to salesmen and Jehovah's Witnesses that obviously couldn't take a fucking hint. However, he somehow knew his visitor that day was none of the above. He took another deep swig from a sweating can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and listened, anticipating the deep and rich tones of the doorbell ringing again. He began to whisper to himself, counting down: "Three… two..."
🎵 DING-DONG! 🎵
He arose from his threadbare plaid recliner and half walked, half stumbled to the door, knowing that when he yanked it open he would probably find a damn Girl Scout hawking her cookies. Yesterday, he'd seen a small table set up outside Wal-Mart, surrounded with little girls in their uniforms swapping boxes of thin-mints for cash. He'd successfully dodged them, but he couldn't forever. Although nothing irritated him more than unwanted company, he always answered the door on the small chance that Publisher's Clearing House would pay him a visit with an over-sized check and a television crew.
It really was hard to tell the little bitches no. They were so cute in their little uniforms, freshly pressed by their over-protective and sexually-frustrated soccer moms. He paused for a moment allowing himself another deep drag of his cigarette, unlocked the door, and pulled it open.
And there she stood, little Suzy Derkins. She was as cute as a button, how could anyone refuse her overpriced and overrated snacks?
Her curly red hair bounced as she rocked back and forth on her heels, her jade-green eyes twinkled in the bright sunlight, and she wore a smile that could melt the heart of the Devil himself. Parked next to her was a small, red wagon. It was heavily laden with boxes of various cookies.
"Hi, Mister Kinkaid, it's me, Suzy!" she said cheerfully. She brought her right hand up and gave him a little side-to-side wave that threatened to destroy him with cuteness overload.
"I know you said last year that you didn't want any cookies this year but I thought maybe since we have new cookies maybe you would like to try them and if I sell enough I can earn my badge and then I can go on the camping trip and my mom said that since your wife died I shouldn't bother you but I think you will like the new cookies!" -She said all of this in one breath, without pause. When she finished, she beamed at him with the innocence and vigor of her age, which he figured was about nine or ten.
He flicked his cigarette into the yard, turned his head and coughed, then spat over the porch railing.
"New cookies, you say?" He asked in a gravelly smoker's voice. His wife Helen had always hated his smoking, but she'd lived with it. When she'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, he'd thought it might have been his fault, but the doctors had assured him that cancer had nothing to do with his half-pack-a-day habit. Besides, he'd never smoked in the house or in the car, or anywhere near Helen for that matter. It wasn't until after she'd passed that he allowed himself to enjoy his guilty little pleasure inside. It had been almost six months since Helen had gone to meet Jesus, and he knew she was watching from Heaven so he tried to be as polite as she wanted him to be.
"Yep! And they're low-fat, too! Would you like to try one?" She batted her eyelashes at him hopefully.
"What kind of cookies are they, Suzy? Last year I got some of those caramel cookies, and I spent almost a whole day on the shi-" He stopped mid-sentence, realizing he was about to embarrass himself and this precious little girl with his recollection of an evening spent glued to the commode shitting his brains out. He backtracked quickly, stammering.
"Uh, Suzy… you know, they um… well? The thing is, you know, they uh, made me sick, sweetie. These new ones aren't going to make me sick, are they? What kind you got now?" He gestured uncomfortably towards the wagon.
"Oh! Mister Kinkaid, I'm so sorry to hear that! My daddy gets sick when he drinks too much wine, which is like, all the time." She looked at her feet as she shuffled them, and then brightened again, meeting his eyes. "These new cookies are the best! They're Koko Kookie Krunchys, and they're sooo good! I ate almost a whole box all by myself yesterday!"
He eyed her warily. "A whole box, you say? Spoiled your supper, I'd wager. You got samples?"
She giggled. "Of course! You wanna try one?"
"Yeah, why not? You're such a good saleswoman, you've talked me right into it!" He gave her a sly grin and waited as she began to rummage through the wagon. When she found the box she was looking for, he was amused to see that the Girl Scouts had upped their game. Gone was the usual bland cardboard. This package was shiny and multicolored; almost like new chrome muffler of a motorcycle that has begun to take on a rainbow-like hue. The side of the box was embossed in large, garish golden print that read: KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. Two cartoon Girl Scouts were laughing comically and high-fiving with cookies in their other hands.
Suzy fumbled with the flaps of the packaging, then offered the box to Gregory. He peered down inside and saw two neat stacks of what appeared to be miniature chocolate chip cookies. He gingerly reached inside and plucked a cookie from the plastic tray in which it had been nestled. It looked like a smaller version of the popular Chips Ahoy! cookies, and he was certain it would probably taste about the same.
He gave it a perfunctory sniff, an odd quirk that he'd picked up from his mother. He always sniffed everything before he ate or drank it, the only exception being his beer. He trusted Pabst. He tossed the cookie into his mouth and was pleasantly surprised. The texture was indeed crunchy, but not overly so. It seemed to him that some snack foods were intentionally designed to destroy the roof of your mouth. For this reason alone, he couldn't enjoy corn flakes or Doritos as Helen had.
The flavor was much more intense than he'd imagined. Instead of the dull hint of chocolate that he'd come to expect from packaged cookies, this flavor was robust and bright. The chocolate chips melted slowly, flooding his mouth with a rich sweetness that was mildly intoxicating. He chewed slowly, savoring the treat until finally he swallowed it down, licked his lips, and smiled at Suzy.
"Young lady, that is by far the best cookie I've ever had! I'll take a box right now!" He began to reach into his back pocket for his wallet. "How much?"
"These new cookies are ten dollars per box." She said. "Because they're limited edition." She said this proudly, grinning shrewdly.
"Ten dollars?! For a single box of cookies? That's outrageous!" He began to tuck his wallet back into his pocket.
"Yeah, Mister Kinkaid, I know. I've heard that a lot since we started selling them, but everyone sure does like them. I really want to go on this year's camping trip, and if I sell my share I can. Are you sure you don't want a box?" she asked breathlessly, sounding quite dejected. Her wide, green eyes seemed to be brimming with tears. Was she going to cry? Surely not. Over a box of cookies? Then she bit her bottom lip, and that made him feel like shit. He could imagine his dead wife standing beside him, scolding him for being such a cheap bastard. Hell, now that he thought about it, Helen would have probably bought two boxes. One for themselves, and one to share with her book club over tea. Besides, what was ten bucks, anyway? Christ, a meal at McDonald's costs that much, he reasoned, and a Big-Mac with fries and a Coke couldn't hold a candle to these deliciously intoxicating cookies.
"You know what, Suzy? I'll take two boxes. How's that?" He reached again for his wallet.
"Oh, wow! That's great, Mister Kinkaid! Thank you so much!" She was almost bouncing with joy as she carefully selected two of the radiant boxes from her wagon and placed them into a plastic bag with the Girl Scout logo boldly emblazoned upon it. He fished a crisp twenty-dollar bill from his wallet, and once she'd handed him the bag, he forked over the cash.
"Thank you, Mister Kinkaid! I hope you enjoy them!" She smiled broadly, and before he could respond, she turned to make her way along the sidewalk to the next house, her little red wagon trundling obediently behind her. She turned to give him a little wave as she went, and he couldn't help chuckling at the realization that sweet little Suzy had most likely just talked him into buying some cookies. Yet, he raised his own hand and waved back.
He shuffled into the kitchen and deposited one of the boxes on the counter. He broke another Pabst from its plastic collar and returned to his recliner with the cold beer and the other box of cookies. He pressed the play button on the remote and resumed the black-and-white western he'd been watching. Then he began to nibble on KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS.

---


The next morning, Gregory awoke with a massive hangover and an insatiable craving for more of those unbelievably tasty KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. He'd passed out in the recliner and was dismayed to find the crumpled remains of one of the cookie boxes on the coffee table. He picked up the box and peered inside, hoping that maybe he hadn't actually eaten all of the cookies, but knowing he had. He ventured into the kitchen on unsteady legs, remembering that he'd thrown the first empty box away, so he began to rummage through the trash thinking - no, praying – that he might find one single cookie that he might have missed. No luck.
The more time that passed, the more consumed he became with his desire, his need, for more of those fucking cookies. He threw every cupboard door open in the kitchen, delirious with the idea that maybe any cookie would suffice, but he came away empty-handed, rewarded only with some stale graham-crackers and a box of raisins that had expired back when Obama was President.
Completely contrary to logic, he walked out of his front door un-showered and wearing yesterday's wrinkled clothes. He impatiently slid behind the driver's seat of his Subaru Forrester. He knew goddamned well where to find those cookies, and that's exactly where he was going to go.
Twenty minutes later, he parked near the front doors of Wal-Mart and hastily hung his handicapped tag from the rear-view mirror. As he left the car, he caught sight of the same table that he'd seen a few days ago, and it appeared to be completely swamped with people clamoring for cookies.
He hobbled towards the table, still a little shaky from last night's overindulgence, and became one with the throng of arguing and shouting people that surrounded it. He could see through the flailing arms and angry faces that there were only a few of the shiny boxes left, and he feared that maybe he'd arrived too late. When he finally managed to work his way to the front of the crowd, he was relieved to see that there was a handsome stockpile of the cookies stacked neatly behind the girls and their mothers stationed there.
"What do you want, mister?" A pug-nosed and overweight freckle-faced girl in her early teens leered at him.
"I'd like to have five boxes of Koko Kookie Krunchys, please." He said sheepishly, feeling rather foolish.
Freckle girl nodded and smiled knowingly. "Five boxes, coming right up! Would you like a paper or plastic bag, sir?"
"Oh, um, I suppose paper is fine, thanks," he answered timidly, "better for the environment and all that." He knew that he really shouldn't be here, buying these cookies. What would Helen think of this? He quickly brushed the thought aside, reasoning that Helen would have wanted him to be happy, and knowing she'd never have denied him something as innocent as Girl Scout cookies. He reminded himself that Helen was a firm believer in donating to charities, and supporting good causes. Why, yes, she would have completely approved.
Freckle girl had neatly stacked five shiny boxes of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS into a paper bag and slid them across the table towards him. She held her hand out, palm up, and said, "That will be one hundred dollars, please!" She smiled widely, revealing teeth stained dark brown presumably from stuffing her fat little face with the cookies she was supposed to be selling. He didn't quite grasp what she'd just said to him.
"Excuse me, how much?" he asked.
"One hundred dollars, sir." Freckle girl replied impatiently.
"ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS?" He nearly shouted in reply. "Where on earth did you come up with that amount?"
"Sir, " she said impatiently, "you asked for five boxes of Koko Kookie Krunchys. They're twenty dollars per box. Five boxes at twenty dollars per box is one hundred dollars. Basic math, or don't you understand?" She waggled the fingers of her outstretched hand.
"No," he returned, "I understand, but you must be mistaken. Yesterday I bought two boxes from Suzy Derkins, and they were ten dollars per box, and if you ask me, that's highway robbery for a box of cookies." He planted his hands firmly on his hips. "They're ten dollars per box, and that's what I will pay."
"I'm sorry sir, but that was yesterday. Today, the price is twenty dollars per box." Freckles answered, amused and undeterred.
"And what makes you think anyone is going to pay twenty dollars for a box of goddamned cookies?" He shot back angrily.
"Sir, I don't appreciate your language! Now, look behind you. There's a line of people waiting for these cookies, and if you don't want them for this price, I'll be happy to sell them to someone else that will." She was now grinning menacingly, knowing she had the upper hand.
Gregory slowly turned around to see that a line of people had formed behind him. A tall, lanky man with thick eyeglasses in a cheap gray suit tapped him on the shoulder and said: "I'll take them if you don't want them. They're simply amazing! Worth every penny!"
Gregory's mouth went slack. He was dumbfounded. The craving for the cookies increased tenfold when he saw the meandering line of haggard and impatient people behind him, gawking and waiting to get their hands on his cookies. He quickly turned back to the fat freckled girl.
"Fine. I'll take them. But tell me, why has the price gone up?" He begged.
She narrowed her eyes shrewdly. "Supply and demand, sir. You demand them and we supply them. Basic economics, or don't you understand that either?"
He reluctantly tugged his wallet out of his rear pocket and tweezed two crisp fifties from inside. He placed them in her grubby little hands, returned his wallet to his pocket, and pulled the bag against his chest protectively. He stared at her for a moment and then quickly added, nearly in a whisper: "You should be ashamed of yourself!"
As he turned and began to walk away, Freckles tittered cheerfully as she waved after him, "Thank you for supporting your local Girl Scouts, sir!"
Gregory eased behind the wheel of his Subaru, but before he fastened his seat-belt he yanked a box of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS from the bag. He frantically tore open the packaging and quickly shoved three cookies into his mouth. As he chewed, he closed his eyes and moaned softly, ecstatic with the flavor of them and suddenly high on the endorphins they'd released. The rush he felt was comparable to the first orgasm he'd ever had. He began to remember it vividly as the cookies dissolved upon his tongue: He and his high school sweetheart under the bridge that passed over the creek next to the high school, her warm mouth working magic on him that he'd never imagined. When he came, his legs had quivered and he'd thought that if only he could feel like that forever then he could conquer the world. As he came back to reality and swallowed that first mushy mouthful of cookie, he was surprised and somewhat embarrassed to find that he'd become somewhat aroused. That little trouser mouse hadn't stirred in years and now, here in his car in a crowded Wal-Mart parking-lot, he felt the overwhelming desire to reach down the front of his pants and take hold of himself.
"What the flying fuck, Greg?" It was Helen.
Except, it wasn't. Not the real Helen, anyway. No, this was the Helen that sat on one shoulder, reminding him to take his pills on time, and not to drink too much or to flip off shitty drivers in shittier traffic. This was the Helen that spoke to him when he needed her the most.
"What the… Jesus, Greg." He whispered aloud. A bottle of water sat in the cup-holder, and now he seized it and unscrewed the cap. He guzzled half of it down before coming up for air. A thin sheen of sweat had broken out on his forehead, and he leaned forward in the seat and examined his face in the rear-view mirror.
He chuckled at himself. "Gregory, you sir have lost your fucking marbles!" He took a deep breath, and crammed three more cookies into his mouth before speeding home.

---


As he extricated himself from the Subaru, he brushed crumbs off of his shirt and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. From Wal-Mart to his home was only seven miles, and in that short journey he'd scarfed down an entire box of cookies. He found himself suddenly possessed with vigor and motivation. Before he knew it, he'd cleaned the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, and was busily sweeping out the garage when he was finally overcome with hunger. He glanced at his watch and found that it was nearly five in the evening. He'd been moving non-stop for nearly eight hours straight.
He hadn't felt this good in ages, and at first, he was a little shaken by the sudden burst of energy. If this were any other day he would have spent the majority of his time in the recliner, or in one of the rocking chairs on the front porch, sipping beer and swatting at houseflies. For a man of his age, the aches and pains of a rapidly deteriorating body were expected, and he hadn't been spared. But today, if he weren't nearly starving he could have kept on going until the sun had set. He leaned the broom against the wall of the garage and headed for the kitchen. As he passed through the breezeway, it occurred to him that he felt none of the usual aches and pains in his joints. In fact, he felt great. He half-joked to himself that there might be a connection between his sudden spurt of energy and those chocolate chip cookies, but of course he knew better than that.
He stood before the refrigerator, one arm perched atop the open door. His options were somewhat limited. There was leftover pizza, now three days old. A pot of chili he'd made almost a week ago that probably should have been thrown out by now. A case of Pabst with a few cans missing. Most of the time, he simply picked up something from one of the fast-food joints in town, or he'd order delivery. If only Helen were still alive, the fridge would be full of various snacks and leftovers, but he just didn't spend that much time in the kitchen. It didn't feel right to him. This was her domain.
He shut the refrigerator door and yanked open the freezer. He was hoping to find some Hot-Pockets or a Hungry-Man dinner, but there was nothing inside except two empty ice trays (he never used ice, so why bother filling them?) and some frozen venison that his neighbor had given him after he'd returned from his last hunting trip. He was hungry now, and he began to regret that he hadn't picked up some rations when he'd already been right there at Wal-Mart blowing money on stupid cookies...
He eyed the paper bag that sat on the end of the small table in the little alcove that Helen had lovingly referred to as "The Breakfast Nook." He always found the nickname kind of funny, because neither of them had spent much time enjoying breakfasts in there. Her sewing machine and skeins of cloth and a wicker-basket full of supplies occupied most of the table. Other than the paper bag full of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS, he hadn't so much as touched a single item on that table since his dear Helen had died. Looking at it now, he felt a pang of regret. They should have enjoyed some meals there. Hell, when they'd bought this house fifty years ago, she'd been so excited about it. She'd painted it salmon (he said pink) and had stenciled birds along the top edges of the walls. Above the table, he'd hung a miniature chandelier that she'd found at a yard sale not long after they'd moved in. She'd really spent a lot of time making that little niche comfortable and cute and welcoming, and he wondered now if he'd ever thanked her for it. Damn it, he missed her so much.
His stomach growled noisily, and he remembered why he'd come to the kitchen in the first place. He was hungry, and there just wasn't much to eat in the house. It appeared that a second trip to Wal-Mart was in order. He needed to take a quick shower and put on some clean clothes, but first, he needed to satisfy the emptiness in his belly. He reached down inside the bag and withdrew one of the boxes. He tore open the packaging and removed the plastic tray inside. He pinched three or maybe four (who was counting?) cookies between his fingers and shoved them into his watering mouth. As he began to chew, he desperately wished for milk, but beer would do. With a mouthful of cookies still crunching in his mouth, he returned to the fridge and yanked a can of PBR from the case. The tab popped with a satisfying psshhh! and he drained it in several deep chugs.
He tossed the can into the recycling bin, and against his better judgment returned for another beer. He cracked it open, shoved five more cookies into his mouth and chewed them hastily. Again, washing them down with cheap suds. He belched loudly, finished the beer and dashed off for the shower. An hour later he was behind the wheel of the Subaru for the second time that day. Nestled between his legs, a box of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS disappeared three at a time.
By the time he arrived, he'd completely finished the box, yet he was still insatiably hungry. He found another parking spot near the front of the store and wasn't surprised to see the same little table parked near the entrance, surrounded by cookie junkies. Determined not to fall victim to the wily Girl Scouts and their damnable wares, he decided to walk down to the other entrance. Besides, it was closer to the grocery section.
He hustled inside at a sprightly pace. The pep that the cookies provided surely wouldn't last much longer, so he figured he'd better make the most of the visit while he was there. He walked through the motion-activated sliding doors, took a few steps and then suddenly stopped. What he saw before him was bewildering beyond comprehension: Just inside, in the small area reserved for coin-operated games and soda machines, those fiendish little bitches had erected not one, but two more tables and both were clearly covered with nothing more than KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS.
The flavor and residue of the cookies he'd eaten on the way still remained on his tongue, yet his mouth began to water, much like Pavlov's dogs. People were crowded restlessly around the tables waving fistfuls of cash. He gave the table and the junkies a wide berth and made his way towards the microwaveable dinners.
By the time he finished his shopping, he'd nearly forgotten about the potential fiasco that lurked near the front doors. He simply couldn't justify spending another red cent on cookies, and as much as he'd enjoyed the spurt of energy that had come from them, he had no intention of ever buying another box. But it's no secret that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
After paying for his purchases, he continued to the exit. He could see that there were still quite a few people clustered there, so he made the rash decision to exit the store through the garden center. Yes, it was a longer walk, but what of it? He still felt rather well, and the additional exercise surely couldn't hurt.
What he hadn't anticipated was the large rental truck parked right outside the garden center doors, packed completely full with nefarious Girl Scout cookies, and a veritable platoon of young girls, all in uniform. They were literally selling cookies out of the back of the large box truck, like a street thug hawking stolen electronics.
He made his way through the throng of people that had gathered around the truck and rushed to his car. He looked over his shoulder several times, in awe of the strange sight. People were arguing, cursing, and it appeared that two younger women were squaring off to fight. What had gotten into people? Surely there was enough to go around, right? He thought about the three remaining boxes nestled comfortably in the brown paper bag at home. His mouth began to salivate, and he was suddenly overcome with a gnawing and maddening need. A need that must be met.
He released the trunk lid of his Subaru, quickly packed the groceries inside, and walked the buggy to one of the corrals near the box truck. He joined the small crowd of people and waited for his turn.
An hour later he'd finally made it to the front of the line. He wasn't the least bit concerned about the frozen (but now most likely completely thawed) microwave dinners and three piss-warm cases of beer in his trunk. All he could seem to focus on was his singular need to get his hands on those goddamned cookies. It briefly occurred to him that it would've been much faster to simply get back in the car and drive home to get his fix. But that wasn't important. What was important was that there must be a reason for the frantic demand of the cookies. Hadn't Suzy said they were a limited-edition or something? He was reminded of the McRib for some reason. He'd only tried the sandwich once in his life, and that was enough. The truth about the McRib was that it was one of the worst sandwiches that McDonald's offered, but people fucking loved it. Why was that? It was because it was only available a few times per year. And people just had to have something when they knew it wouldn't be available later. It was a phenomenon that applied to just about everything. The newest television? Gotta have it. A brand new iPhone with thirty-five cameras and a built-in coffee maker? Name your price, Apple, I'm buying it. It really was a disturbing and-
"Sir?"
He blinked in the bright sunlight, momentarily confused. A tall and skinny pimply-faced girl of about thirteen was looking at him as if he were a rack of yard-tools at the Home Depot. Her hands were planted firmly on her nearly non-existent hips, and she was sneering at him through a mouthful of dental-work that must have cost her parents a month's wages.
"Oh, uh… I'm sorry, miss. I was wool-gathering there, wasn't I?" He chuckled uncomfortably. "I do that from time to time, you see, I'm getting along in years, and it's-"
"How many do you want?" She interrupted impatiently.
"Oh! Um, I think I need, oh, I don't know. Say, are they still twenty dollars per box, like this morning?" He shifted nervously. He was normally a frugal gentleman, and between Helen's life insurance, his pension, and his social-security checks, he wasn't hurting for money. Still, twenty bucks for a box of cookies was a lot of dough. Cookie dough? he thought, grinning stupidly.
"SIR! Are you wasting my time deliberately? Look at the sign, right there, see it?" She pointed at a comically hand-lettered sheet of poster-board that had been hastily duct-taped to the side of the truck. It read: " KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS! LIMITID-EDITIEN! $50perBoX!"
Jesus Christ, he thought. Don't these kids know to spell?
"Sir! How many?" metal mouth demanded.
He reached into his back pocket and thumbed through the small bills folded neatly within. After the buggy full of groceries, he was a little strapped for cash. He counted seventeen dollars.
"I'm sorry miss, I guess I'm going to have to run to the ATM machine. Could you hold a few boxes for me?" He asked nervously, fearful of reproach for having wasted another minute of her precious time.
"Not a problem, sir. We take all major credit cards!" She smiled, her braces glinting in the sunlight. A large chunk of what could only be the remains of a cookie was lodged in between her braces and two front teeth. She gestured towards a small, hand-held card reader that sat on the table among boxes of cookies.
"Wonderful!" He said politely.

---


When he arrived home twenty minutes later, it took him five trips between the car and the house to get everything inside. He managed the bags in the trunk on the first go-round.
Gregory had purchased six cases of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. Each case held twelve boxes. Seventy-two boxes of cookies. At fifty dollars per box. He had charged thirty-six hundred dollars to his Visa, and he was just fine with that.
The week following his excursion to Wal-Mart passed in a disjointed blur. He slept restlessly the first three nights, and then none at all since. He hadn't bathed or eaten a single microwave dinner, which was probably for the best: He'd neglected to put them in the freezer, instead carelessly tossing the bags of food onto the floor of the kitchen. The only thing that made it into the refrigerator were the cases of beer.
Exactly one week after he'd dropped nearly four grand on a carload of Girl Scout cookies, he tossed the last one into his mouth and was terrified beyond description when he did so.
The house was a disaster area. If Helen could see their quaint little home now, she'd die again, but this time from a heart attack. At first, he'd simply sat in the recliner and flipped through the television channels, munching on cookies and guzzling beer, never satisfied with whatever channel he landed upon. He was an old-school guy and didn't have the internet. He had basic cable and a few movies on DVD, and that was the extent of his entertainment. When he'd become bored with the TV, he began to disassemble anything and everything he could get his hands on.
Helen's sewing machine sat dismantled on the small table in the breakfast nook. The larger pieces were smeared with dried chocolate residue and machine oil. The smaller pieces were scattered throughout the house for safekeeping. The bobbins were in the mail-box.
The DVD player that Helen had bought him for Christmas a few years ago was now just a discarded pile of plastic and wires. Most of it sat in the bathtub.
The hood of the Subaru was propped up, and various pieces of the engine had been removed and were now languishing in the bright sunlight of his front yard. He'd spray-painted them gold, and sat them out to dry. Three days ago.
The lawnmower fared no better. He'd become convinced that the small engine was infested with cockroaches, so he'd submerged it in the garden pool to drown them.
He was suddenly aware of his overwhelming craving for KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. It was as if his entire body was thrumming like a live electrical wire. He'd been picking at his skin, and now his fingers were seeking out the small scabs that littered his arms and face. His eyes bulged in their dark and sunken sockets. He reeked of urine and a little shit. The toilet had become unusable after he'd tried stuffing it with every pair of Helen's shoes that he could find. He'd taken a painful dump in one of the empty cookie boxes and stuffed it under the bathroom sink.
Greg had, for lack of better words, lost his fucking mind.
The small and somewhat logical part of his brain that remained became fixated on finding more cookies. He ransacked the house, burying his arms up to the elbow between the cushions of the couch. He crawled on his hands and knees in front of the recliner, carefully examining the plush carpet, and snatching up what few crumbs he could find. He allowed them to dissolve on his tongue and then resumed his search.
He would have died from dehydration by now, but old habits are hard to break. He had drunk almost all of the beer, but half-full cans littered the house. Whenever his eyes fell on a can, he would snatch it up and slurp greedily, his body thankful for the moisture.
When he'd finally come to the conclusion that there were no more cookies to be found, he located the telephone. Mrs. Derkins' cell phone number was printed neatly on a small card Suzy had given him, and was clinging to the refrigerator door with a magnet in the shape of a maple leaf.
Suzy's mother answered on the third ring, and when he asked for Suzy, Mrs. Derkins was taken aback. When he assured her that he was only interested in acquiring some more of those delicious cookies that her daughter had sold to him, she laughed good-naturedly and told him that the sale was over. The local chapter of Girl Scouts had sold every single box, breaking last year's record by a landslide.
He hung up the phone and began to weep.
After a few moments of sheer panic, a fuzzy idea began to form in his brain. He put on his shoes, ventured outside, and glanced up and down the block. After Suzy had left his house last week, she'd made her way down the sidewalk to peddle her cookies elsewhere. He seemed to remember that she'd led her little red wagon down his neighbor's driveway.
Hester Talbot was eighty-seven years old and had been widowed for ten of those. Spry and quick-witted, she enjoyed crossword puzzles and tuned into Wheel Of Fortune every night. She didn't receive very many visitors these days, so when Gregory Kinkaid rang her doorbell, she was somewhat confused. It was nearly eight o'clock, and she liked to be in bed by eight-thirty. She'd already slipped into her favorite nightgown and topped off Murray's food dish. (Murray was her fat tabby tomcat, a stray she'd rescued when he was a kitten.)
She made her way to the front door from the kitchen where she'd been warming up Murray's nightly saucer of cream. None of that watered-down milk for her Murray, he deserved the best.
At first, she thought that maybe she'd left the television on. She hadn't heard the doorbell ring since last week when angelic little Suzy came by and sold her four boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Hester had no intention of actually eating them, planning instead to give them away as gifts. But, just yesterday, she'd developed a hankering for something sweet, and opened one of the boxes. She'd only had two of the cookies, but she knew immediately that they were far too rich for her blood. She'd sat up until nearly midnight last night, knitting a cute little winter hat for Murray.
She hesitated, unsure if she'd been mistaken. Then it rang again.
She shuffled to the front door and stood on her tiptoes to see through the peephole. She saw Gregory Kinkaid, she didn't recognize him immediately. He looked like he'd been in a nasty fight and came out on the loser's end.
"Hello? Who's there?" She asked in a thin, reedy voice.
"Oh, hey, sorry to bother you, missus Talbot. Hey, uh, it's Gregory Kinkaid? From next door? Say, you got a moment?" He was scratching at his cheek furiously with his left hand. Something had burrowed under his skin, and it was crawling around under there.
She began to unlatch the door. "Greg? Is something wrong? It's nearly my bedtime! Are you hurt?"
"No, ma'am. Well, maybe a little, yeah. Could I have a moment, please?" His mouth had gone dry. He wished he'd brought a beer with him.
"Alright then, hold on just a moment." She backed away from the peephole and turned the deadbolt. She opened the door and was completely unprepared for what she now saw clearly. Greg stood before her, quivering, and scratching. There were open sores all over his face, some were bleeding. His hair was disheveled and thickly matted with something that resembled clay. His clothing was filthy, stained, and damp. The odors that wafted in as the door opened nearly knocked her over. He absolutely reeked. Her milky blue eyes grew wide with concern.
"Oh my goodness! Greg! What's happened? Come in and let me get a look at you. Have you been in an accident? " Her brow furrowed in concern as she backed away from the doorway to allow him to enter.
"No, no. Nothing like that at all." He stepped across the threshold and his eyes began to dart around the room. He didn't see any KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. That didn't mean she didn't have any. "Missus Talbot, I'm so sorry to barge in on you so late, but, uh, I need to ask you for your help." He tried to compose himself, yet he still quivered and thrummed, every nerve singing in desperate agony for a cookie. His eyes had begun to well up with tears, threatening to cascade down his face.
She reached out and took his shaking hands in hers. "Anything, dear! What can I do to help?"
He licked his lips, parched. "You know little Suzy Derkins? The Girl Scout? She was running around the neighborhood this past week, and, um, did she, you know, come by here at all? Maybe try to sell you some cookies? Chocolate chip cookies?"
Her eyes lit up, and she smiled broadly. "Why, yes she did! Precious little girl! So sweet. Why do you ask?"
"Well, you see, I was wondering if maybe you'd bought any from her?" He asked hopefully.
"I sure did! Four boxes to be exact!" She said, nodding.
"Four boxes! Perfect! I would like to buy them from you, could I?" His eyes were red and swollen. His nose was running. He wiped at it with the back of his sleeve.
"Oh, I'm sorry, but no, I'd rather not, Greg. They're gifts, you see. For my grandchildren. You understand?" Her eyes narrowed, suspicious.
"I could pay you double for them! Right now! Please, I promised Helen. She loves them so much! You remember Helen? She loves those cookies. I promised her, you know? She needs those cookies, right now, more than you do." His teeth were clenched tightly.
She furrowed her brow, deeply concerned and a little uncomfortable. "Gregory, I'm sorry, but no. I'm sure if you go down to the Wal-Mart tomorrow, those girls will still have plenty left. I saw the picture in the paper. A whole truckload!'
"No." He said, exasperated. "They're sold out. There's no more. Look, I don't have any cash on me right now, but tomorrow I will run down to the ATM and get some. I'll give you fifty dollars for each box! Look, you don't understand, I just have to have them. I won't take no for an answer!" He was kneading one tightly clasped fist with his other hand.
"That's about enough of this nonsense, Gregory Kinkaid! I think you've had quite enough cookies tonight, and from the smell of you, enough beer to drown a horse! Why don't' you go on home, and get some rest? You'll feel better in th-"

POW!

His fist shot out quickly and connected squarely with her nose. It made an audible crunch and blood began to pour from her like water from a tap. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed onto the floor. He stood looking down at her in utter disbelief. She was snoring, deeply. He'd knocked her unconscious.
His eyes began to dart around the room again until they found a heavy cast-iron stoking bar near the fireplace. He stepped over her, and in three long strides, he reached out and plucked it from the rack where it stood with the other tools. He turned around and tiptoed over to where she lay, frothy streams of blood and snot trickling down her cheeks.
He raised the iron bar and brought it down in a swift and heavy motion, like someone chopping wood for a campfire. It connected with her skull, and her gray hair was soon a wet mop of dark crimson. Her body convulsed, so he gave her another whack and she became still. He watched her closely for a moment, and then tossed the stoker onto her chest, and whispered softly: "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Talbot, but I need those cookies."
©2020
submitted by TheOminousDarkness to HalloweenStories [link] [comments]


2020.03.19 00:23 TheOminousDarkness Girl Scout Cookies

🎵 DING-DONG! 🎵
Despite the clearly labeled sign affixed to his front door meant to discourage solicitors, Gregory Kinkaid had become accustomed to salesmen and Jehovah's Witnesses that obviously couldn't take a fucking hint. However, he somehow knew his visitor that day was none of the above. He took another deep swig from a sweating can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and listened, anticipating the deep and rich tones of the doorbell ringing again. He began to whisper to himself, counting down: "Three… two..."
🎵 DING-DONG! 🎵
He arose from his threadbare plaid recliner and half walked, half stumbled to the door, knowing that when he yanked it open he would probably find a damn Girl Scout hawking her cookies. Yesterday, he'd seen a small table set up outside Wal-Mart, surrounded with little girls in their uniforms swapping boxes of thin-mints for cash. He'd successfully dodged them, but he couldn't forever. Although nothing irritated him more than unwanted company, he always answered the door on the small chance that Publisher's Clearing House would pay him a visit with an over-sized check and a television crew.
It really was hard to tell the little bitches no. They were so cute in their little uniforms, freshly pressed by their over-protective and sexually-frustrated soccer moms. He paused for a moment allowing himself another deep drag of his cigarette, unlocked the door, and pulled it open.
And there she stood, little Suzy Derkins. She was as cute as a button, how could anyone refuse her overpriced and overrated snacks?
Her curly red hair bounced as she rocked back and forth on her heels, her jade-green eyes twinkled in the bright sunlight, and she wore a smile that could melt the heart of the Devil himself. Parked next to her was a small, red wagon. It was heavily laden with boxes of various cookies.
"Hi, Mister Kinkaid, it's me, Suzy!" she said cheerfully. She brought her right hand up and gave him a little side-to-side wave that threatened to destroy him with cuteness overload.
"I know you said last year that you didn't want any cookies this year but I thought maybe since we have new cookies maybe you would like to try them and if I sell enough I can earn my badge and then I can go on the camping trip and my mom said that since your wife died I shouldn't bother you but I think you will like the new cookies!" -She said all of this in one breath, without pause. When she finished, she beamed at him with the innocence and vigor of her age, which he figured was about nine or ten.
He flicked his cigarette into the yard, turned his head and coughed, then spat over the porch railing.
"New cookies, you say?" He asked in a gravelly smoker's voice. His wife Helen had always hated his smoking, but she'd lived with it. When she'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, he'd thought it might have been his fault, but the doctors had assured him that cancer had nothing to do with his half-pack-a-day habit. Besides, he'd never smoked in the house or in the car, or anywhere near Helen for that matter. It wasn't until after she'd passed that he allowed himself to enjoy his guilty little pleasure inside. It had been almost six months since Helen had gone to meet Jesus, and he knew she was watching from Heaven so he tried to be as polite as she wanted him to be.
"Yep! And they're low-fat, too! Would you like to try one?" She batted her eyelashes at him hopefully.
"What kind of cookies are they, Suzy? Last year I got some of those caramel cookies, and I spent almost a whole day on the shi-" He stopped mid-sentence, realizing he was about to embarrass himself and this precious little girl with his recollection of an evening spent glued to the commode shitting his brains out. He backtracked quickly, stammering.
"Uh, Suzy… you know, they um… well? The thing is, you know, they uh, made me sick, sweetie. These new ones aren't going to make me sick, are they? What kind you got now?" He gestured uncomfortably towards the wagon.
"Oh! Mister Kinkaid, I'm so sorry to hear that! My daddy gets sick when he drinks too much wine, which is like, all the time." She looked at her feet as she shuffled them, and then brightened again, meeting his eyes. "These new cookies are the best! They're Koko Kookie Krunchys, and they're sooo good! I ate almost a whole box all by myself yesterday!"
He eyed her warily. "A whole box, you say? Spoiled your supper, I'd wager. You got samples?"
She giggled. "Of course! You wanna try one?"
"Yeah, why not? You're such a good saleswoman, you've talked me right into it!" He gave her a sly grin and waited as she began to rummage through the wagon. When she found the box she was looking for, he was amused to see that the Girl Scouts had upped their game. Gone was the usual bland cardboard. This package was shiny and multicolored; almost like the new chrome muffler of a motorcycle that has begun to take on a rainbow-like hue. The side of the box was embossed in large, garish golden print that read: KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. Two cartoon Girl Scouts were laughing comically and high-fiving with cookies in their other hands.
Suzy fumbled with the flaps of the packaging, then offered the box to Gregory. He peered down inside and saw two neat stacks of what appeared to be miniature chocolate chip cookies. He gingerly reached inside and plucked a cookie from the plastic tray in which it had been nestled. It looked like a smaller version of the popular Chips Ahoy! cookies, and he was certain it would probably taste about the same.
He gave it a perfunctory sniff, an odd quirk that he'd picked up from his mother. He always sniffed everything before he ate or drank it, the only exception being his beer. He trusted Pabst. He tossed the cookie into his mouth and was pleasantly surprised. The texture was indeed crunchy, but not overly so. It seemed to him that some snack foods were intentionally designed to destroy the roof of your mouth. For this reason alone, he couldn't enjoy corn flakes or Doritos as Helen had.
The flavor was much more intense than he'd imagined. Instead of the dull hint of chocolate that he'd come to expect from packaged cookies, this flavor was robust and bright. The chocolate chips melted slowly, flooding his mouth with a rich sweetness that was mildly intoxicating. He chewed slowly, savoring the treat until finally he swallowed it down, licked his lips, and smiled at Suzy.
"Young lady, that is by far the best cookie I've ever had! I'll take a box right now!" He began to reach into his back pocket for his wallet. "How much?"
"These new cookies are ten dollars per box." She said. "Because they're limited edition." She said this proudly, grinning shrewdly.
"Ten dollars?! For a single box of cookies? That's outrageous!" He began to tuck his wallet back into his pocket.
"Yeah, Mister Kinkaid, I know. I've heard that a lot since we started selling them, but everyone sure does like them. I really want to go on this year's camping trip, and if I sell my share I can. Are you sure you don't want a box?" she asked breathlessly, sounding quite dejected. Her wide, green eyes seemed to be brimming with tears. Was she going to cry? Surely not. Over a box of cookies? Then she bit her bottom lip, and that made him feel like shit. He could imagine his dead wife standing beside him, scolding him for being such a cheap bastard. Hell, now that he thought about it, Helen would have probably bought two boxes. One for themselves, and one to share with her book club over tea. Besides, what was ten bucks, anyway? Christ, a meal at McDonald's costs that much, he reasoned, and a Big-Mac with fries and a Coke couldn't hold a candle to these deliciously intoxicating cookies.
"You know what, Suzy? I'll take two boxes. How's that?" He reached again for his wallet.
"Oh, wow! That's great, Mister Kinkaid! Thank you so much!" She was almost bouncing with joy as she carefully selected two of the radiant boxes from her wagon and placed them into a plastic bag with the Girl Scout logo boldly emblazoned upon it. He fished a crisp twenty-dollar bill from his wallet, and once she'd handed him the bag, he forked over the cash.
"Thank you, Mister Kinkaid! I hope you enjoy them!" She smiled broadly, and before he could respond, she turned to make her way along the sidewalk to the next house, her little red wagon trundling obediently behind her. She turned to give him a little wave as she went, and he couldn't help chuckling at the realization that sweet little Suzy had most likely just talked him into buying some cookies. Yet, he raised his own hand and waved back.
He shuffled into the kitchen and deposited one of the boxes on the counter. He broke another Pabst from its plastic collar and returned to his recliner with the cold beer and the other box of cookies. He pressed the play button on the remote and resumed the black-and-white western he'd been watching. Then he began to nibble on KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS.

---


The next morning, Gregory awoke with a massive hangover and an insatiable craving for more of those unbelievably tasty KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. He'd passed out in the recliner and was dismayed to find the crumpled remains of one of the cookie boxes on the coffee table. He picked up the box and peered inside, hoping that maybe he hadn't actually eaten all of the cookies, but knowing he had. He ventured into the kitchen on unsteady legs, remembering that he'd thrown the first empty box away, so he began to rummage through the trash thinking - no, praying – that he might find one single cookie that he might have missed. No luck.
The more time that passed, the more consumed he became with his desire, his need, for more of those fucking cookies. He threw every cupboard door open in the kitchen, delirious with the idea that maybe any cookie would suffice, but he came away empty-handed, rewarded only with some stale graham-crackers and a box of raisins that had expired back when Obama was President.
Completely contrary to logic, he walked out of his front door un-showered and wearing yesterday's wrinkled clothes. He impatiently slid behind the driver's seat of his Subaru Forrester. He knew goddamned well where to find those cookies, and that's exactly where he was going to go.
Twenty minutes later, he parked near the front doors of Wal-Mart and hastily hung his handicapped tag from the rear-view mirror. As he left the car, he caught sight of the same table that he'd seen a few days ago, and it appeared to be completely swamped with people clamoring for cookies.
He hobbled towards the table, still a little shaky from last night's overindulgence, and became one with the throng of arguing and shouting people that surrounded it. He could see through the flailing arms and angry faces that there were only a few of the shiny boxes left, and he feared that maybe he'd arrived too late. When he finally managed to work his way to the front of the crowd, he was relieved to see that there was a handsome stockpile of the cookies stacked neatly behind the girls and their mothers stationed there.
"What do you want, mister?" A pug-nosed and overweight freckle-faced girl in her early teens leered at him.
"I'd like to have five boxes of Koko Kookie Krunchys, please." He said sheepishly, feeling rather foolish.
Freckle girl nodded and smiled knowingly. "Five boxes, coming right up! Would you like a paper or plastic bag, sir?"
"Oh, um, I suppose paper is fine, thanks," he answered timidly, "better for the environment and all that." He knew that he really shouldn't be here, buying these cookies. What would Helen think of this? He quickly brushed the thought aside, reasoning that Helen would have wanted him to be happy, and knowing she'd never have denied him something as innocent as Girl Scout cookies. He reminded himself that Helen was a firm believer in donating to charities, and supporting good causes. Why, yes, she would have completely approved.
Freckle girl had neatly stacked five shiny boxes of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS into a paper bag and slid them across the table towards him. She held her hand out, palm up, and said, "That will be one hundred dollars, please!" She smiled widely, revealing teeth stained dark brown presumably from stuffing her fat little face with the cookies she was supposed to be selling. He didn't quite grasp what she'd just said to him.
"Excuse me, how much?" he asked.
"One hundred dollars, sir." Freckle girl replied impatiently.
"ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS?" He nearly shouted in reply. "Where on earth did you come up with that amount?"
"Sir, " she said impatiently, "you asked for five boxes of Koko Kookie Krunchys. They're twenty dollars per box. Five boxes at twenty dollars per box is one hundred dollars. Basic math, or don't you understand?" She waggled the fingers of her outstretched hand.
"No," he returned, "I understand, but you must be mistaken. Yesterday I bought two boxes from Suzy Derkins, and they were ten dollars per box, and if you ask me, that's highway robbery for a box of cookies." He planted his hands firmly on his hips. "They're ten dollars per box, and that's what I will pay."
"I'm sorry sir, but that was yesterday. Today, the price is twenty dollars per box." Freckles answered, amused and undeterred.
"And what makes you think anyone is going to pay twenty dollars for a box of goddamned cookies?" He shot back angrily.
"Sir, I don't appreciate your language! Now, look behind you. There's a line of people waiting for these cookies, and if you don't want them for this price, I'll be happy to sell them to someone else that will." She was now grinning menacingly, knowing she had the upper hand.
Gregory slowly turned around to see that a line of people had formed behind him. A tall, lanky man with thick eyeglasses in a cheap gray suit tapped him on the shoulder and said: "I'll take them if you don't want them. They're simply amazing! Worth every penny!"
Gregory's mouth went slack. He was dumbfounded. The craving for the cookies increased tenfold when he saw the meandering line of haggard and impatient people behind him, gawking and waiting to get their hands on his cookies. He quickly turned back to the fat freckled girl.
"Fine. I'll take them. But tell me, why has the price gone up?" He begged.
She narrowed her eyes shrewdly. "Supply and demand, sir. You demand them and we supply them. Basic economics, or don't you understand that either?"
He reluctantly tugged his wallet out of his rear pocket and tweezed two crisp fifties from inside. He placed them in her grubby little hands, returned his wallet to his pocket, and pulled the bag against his chest protectively. He stared at her for a moment and then quickly added, nearly in a whisper: "You should be ashamed of yourself!"
As he turned and began to walk away, Freckles tittered cheerfully as she waved after him, "Thank you for supporting your local Girl Scouts, sir!"
Gregory eased behind the wheel of his Subaru, but before he fastened his seat-belt he yanked a box of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS from the bag. He frantically tore open the packaging and quickly shoved three cookies into his mouth. As he chewed, he closed his eyes and moaned softly, ecstatic with the flavor of them and suddenly high on the endorphins they'd released. The rush he felt was comparable to the first orgasm he'd ever had. He began to remember it vividly as the cookies dissolved upon his tongue: He and his high school sweetheart under the bridge that passed over the creek next to the high school, her warm mouth working magic on him that he'd never imagined. When he came, his legs had quivered and he'd thought that if only he could feel like that forever then he could conquer the world. As he came back to reality and swallowed that first mushy mouthful of cookie, he was surprised and somewhat embarrassed to find that he'd become somewhat aroused. That little trouser mouse hadn't stirred in years and now, here in his car in a crowded Wal-Mart parking-lot, he felt the overwhelming desire to reach down the front of his pants and take hold of himself.
"What the flying fuck, Greg?" It was Helen.
Except, it wasn't. Not the real Helen, anyway. No, this was the Helen that sat on one shoulder, reminding him to take his pills on time, and not to drink too much or to flip off shitty drivers in shittier traffic. This was the Helen that spoke to him when he needed her the most.
"What the… Jesus, Greg." He whispered aloud. A bottle of water sat in the cup-holder, and now he seized it and unscrewed the cap. He guzzled half of it down before coming up for air. A thin sheen of sweat had broken out on his forehead, and he leaned forward in the seat and examined his face in the rear-view mirror.
He chuckled at himself. "Gregory, you sir have lost your fucking marbles!" He took a deep breath, and crammed three more cookies into his mouth before speeding home.

---


As he extricated himself from the Subaru, he brushed crumbs off of his shirt and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. From Wal-Mart to his home was only seven miles, and in that short journey he'd scarfed down an entire box of cookies. He found himself suddenly possessed with vigor and motivation. Before he knew it, he'd cleaned the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, and was busily sweeping out the garage when he was finally overcome with hunger. He glanced at his watch and found that it was nearly five in the evening. He'd been moving non-stop for nearly eight hours straight.
He hadn't felt this good in ages, and at first, he was a little shaken by the sudden burst of energy. If this were any other day he would have spent the majority of his time in the recliner, or in one of the rocking chairs on the front porch, sipping beer and swatting at houseflies. For a man of his age, the aches and pains of a rapidly deteriorating body were expected, and he hadn't been spared. But today, if he weren't nearly starving he could have kept on going until the sun had set. He leaned the broom against the wall of the garage and headed for the kitchen. As he passed through the breezeway, it occurred to him that he felt none of the usual aches and pains in his joints. In fact, he felt great. He half-joked to himself that there might be a connection between his sudden spurt of energy and those chocolate chip cookies, but of course he knew better than that.
He stood before the refrigerator, one arm perched atop the open door. His options were somewhat limited. There was leftover pizza, now three days old. A pot of chili he'd made almost a week ago that probably should have been thrown out by now. A case of Pabst with a few cans missing. Most of the time, he simply picked up something from one of the fast-food joints in town, or he'd order delivery. If only Helen were still alive, the fridge would be full of various snacks and leftovers, but he just didn't spend that much time in the kitchen. It didn't feel right to him. This was her domain.
He shut the refrigerator door and yanked open the freezer. He was hoping to find some Hot-Pockets or a Hungry-Man dinner, but there was nothing inside except two empty ice trays (he never used ice, so why bother filling them?) and some frozen venison that his neighbor had given him after he'd returned from his last hunting trip. He was hungry now, and he began to regret that he hadn't picked up some rations when he'd already been right there at Wal-Mart blowing money on stupid cookies...
He eyed the paper bag that sat on the end of the small table in the little alcove that Helen had lovingly referred to as "The Breakfast Nook." He always found the nickname kind of funny, because neither of them had spent much time enjoying breakfasts in there. Her sewing machine and skeins of cloth and a wicker-basket full of supplies occupied most of the table. Other than the paper bag full of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS, he hadn't so much as touched a single item on that table since his dear Helen had died. Looking at it now, he felt a pang of regret. They should have enjoyed some meals there. Hell, when they'd bought this house fifty years ago, she'd been so excited about it. She'd painted it salmon (he said pink) and had stenciled birds along the top edges of the walls. Above the table, he'd hung a miniature chandelier that she'd found at a yard sale not long after they'd moved in. She'd really spent a lot of time making that little niche comfortable and cute and welcoming, and he wondered now if he'd ever thanked her for it. Damn it, he missed her so much.
His stomach growled noisily, and he remembered why he'd come to the kitchen in the first place. He was hungry, and there just wasn't much to eat in the house. It appeared that a second trip to Wal-Mart was in order. He needed to take a quick shower and put on some clean clothes, but first, he needed to satisfy the emptiness in his belly. He reached down inside the bag and withdrew one of the boxes. He tore open the packaging and removed the plastic tray inside. He pinched three or maybe four (who was counting?) cookies between his fingers and shoved them into his watering mouth. As he began to chew, he desperately wished for milk, but beer would do. With a mouthful of cookies still crunching in his mouth, he returned to the fridge and yanked a can of PBR from the case. The tab popped with a satisfying psshhh! and he drained it in several deep chugs.
He tossed the can into the recycling bin, and against his better judgment returned for another beer. He cracked it open, shoved five more cookies into his mouth and chewed them hastily. Again, washing them down with cheap suds. He belched loudly, finished the beer and dashed off for the shower. An hour later he was behind the wheel of the Subaru for the second time that day. Nestled between his legs, a box of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS disappeared three at a time.
By the time he arrived, he'd completely finished the box, yet he was still insatiably hungry. He found another parking spot near the front of the store and wasn't surprised to see the same little table parked near the entrance, surrounded by cookie junkies. Determined not to fall victim to the wily Girl Scouts and their damnable wares, he decided to walk down to the other entrance. Besides, it was closer to the grocery section.
He hustled inside at a sprightly pace. The pep that the cookies provided surely wouldn't last much longer, so he figured he'd better make the most of the visit while he was there. He walked through the motion-activated sliding doors, took a few steps and then suddenly stopped. What he saw before him was bewildering beyond comprehension: Just inside, in the small area reserved for coin-operated games and soda machines, those fiendish little bitches had erected not one, but two more tables and both were clearly covered with nothing more than KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS.
The flavor and residue of the cookies he'd eaten on the way still remained on his tongue, yet his mouth began to water, much like Pavlov's dogs. People were crowded restlessly around the tables waving fistfuls of cash. He gave the table and the junkies a wide berth and made his way towards the microwaveable dinners.
By the time he finished his shopping, he'd nearly forgotten about the potential fiasco that lurked near the front doors. He simply couldn't justify spending another red cent on cookies, and as much as he'd enjoyed the spurt of energy that had come from them, he had no intention of ever buying another box. But it's no secret that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
After paying for his purchases, he continued to the exit. He could see that there were still quite a few people clustered there, so he made the rash decision to exit the store through the garden center. Yes, it was a longer walk, but what of it? He still felt rather well, and the additional exercise surely couldn't hurt.
What he hadn't anticipated was the large rental truck parked right outside the garden center doors, packed completely full with nefarious Girl Scout cookies, and a veritable platoon of young girls, all in uniform. They were literally selling cookies out of the back of the large box truck, like a street thug hawking stolen electronics.
He made his way through the throng of people that had gathered around the truck and rushed to his car. He looked over his shoulder several times, in awe of the strange sight. People were arguing, cursing, and it appeared that two younger women were squaring off to fight. What had gotten into people? Surely there was enough to go around, right? He thought about the three remaining boxes nestled comfortably in the brown paper bag at home. His mouth began to salivate, and he was suddenly overcome with a gnawing and maddening need. A need that must be met.
He released the trunk lid of his Subaru, quickly packed the groceries inside, and walked the buggy to one of the corrals near the box truck. He joined the small crowd of people and waited for his turn.
An hour later he'd finally made it to the front of the line. He wasn't the least bit concerned about the frozen (but now most likely completely thawed) microwave dinners and three piss-warm cases of beer in his trunk. All he could seem to focus on was his singular need to get his hands on those goddamned cookies. It briefly occurred to him that it would've been much faster to simply get back in the car and drive home to get his fix. But that wasn't important. What was important was that there must be a reason for the frantic demand of the cookies. Hadn't Suzy said they were a limited-edition or something? He was reminded of the McRib for some reason. He'd only tried the sandwich once in his life, and that was enough. The truth about the McRib was that it was one of the worst sandwiches that McDonald's offered, but people fucking loved it. Why was that? It was because it was only available a few times per year. And people just had to have something when they knew it wouldn't be available later. It was a phenomenon that applied to just about everything. The newest television? Gotta have it. A brand new iPhone with thirty-five cameras and a built-in coffee maker? Name your price, Apple, I'm buying it. It really was a disturbing and-
"Sir?"
He blinked in the bright sunlight, momentarily confused. A tall and skinny pimply-faced girl of about thirteen was looking at him as if he were a rack of yard-tools at the Home Depot. Her hands were planted firmly on her nearly non-existent hips, and she was sneering at him through a mouthful of dental-work that must have cost her parents a month's wages.
"Oh, uh… I'm sorry, miss. I was wool-gathering there, wasn't I?" He chuckled uncomfortably. "I do that from time to time, you see, I'm getting along in years, and it's-"
"How many do you want?" She interrupted impatiently.
"Oh! Um, I think I need, oh, I don't know. Say, are they still twenty dollars per box, like this morning?" He shifted nervously. He was normally a frugal gentleman, and between Helen's life insurance, his pension, and his social-security checks, he wasn't hurting for money. Still, twenty bucks for a box of cookies was a lot of dough. Cookie dough? he thought, grinning stupidly.
"SIR! Are you wasting my time deliberately? Look at the sign, right there, see it?" She pointed at a comically hand-lettered sheet of poster-board that had been hastily duct-taped to the side of the truck. It read: " KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS! LIMITID-EDITIEN! $50perBoX!"
Jesus Christ, he thought. Don't these kids know to spell?
"Sir! How many?" metal mouth demanded.
He reached into his back pocket and thumbed through the small bills folded neatly within. After the buggy full of groceries, he was a little strapped for cash. He counted seventeen dollars.
"I'm sorry miss, I guess I'm going to have to run to the ATM machine. Could you hold a few boxes for me?" He asked nervously, fearful of reproach for having wasted another minute of her precious time.
"Not a problem, sir. We take all major credit cards!" She smiled, her braces glinting in the sunlight. A large chunk of what could only be the remains of a cookie was lodged in between her braces and two front teeth. She gestured towards a small, hand-held card reader that sat on the table among boxes of cookies.
"Wonderful!" He said politely.

---


When he arrived home twenty minutes later, it took him five trips between the car and the house to get everything inside. He managed the bags in the trunk on the first go-round.
Gregory had purchased six cases of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. Each case held twelve boxes. Seventy-two boxes of cookies. At fifty dollars per box. He had charged thirty-six hundred dollars to his Visa, and he was just fine with that.
The week following his excursion to Wal-Mart passed in a disjointed blur. He slept restlessly the first three nights, and then none at all since. He hadn't bathed or eaten a single microwave dinner, which was probably for the best: He'd neglected to put them in the freezer, instead carelessly tossing the bags of food onto the floor of the kitchen. The only thing that made it into the refrigerator were the cases of beer.
Exactly one week after he'd dropped nearly four grand on a carload of Girl Scout cookies, he tossed the last one into his mouth and was terrified beyond description when he did so.
The house was a disaster area. If Helen could see their quaint little home now, she'd die of another heart attack. At first, he'd simply sat in the recliner and flipped through the television channels, munching on cookies and guzzling beer, never satisfied with whatever channel he landed upon. He was an old-school guy and didn't have the internet. He had basic cable and a few movies on DVD, and that was the extent of his entertainment. When he'd become bored with the TV, he began to disassemble anything and everything he could get his hands on.
Helen's sewing machine sat dismantled on the small table in the breakfast nook. The larger pieces were smeared with dried chocolate residue and machine oil. The smaller pieces were scattered throughout the house for safekeeping. The bobbins were in the mail-box.
The DVD player that Helen had bought him for Christmas a few years ago was now just a discarded pile of plastic and wires. Most of it sat in the bathtub.
The hood of the Subaru was propped up, and various pieces of the engine had been removed and were now languishing in the bright sunlight of his front yard. He'd spray-painted them gold, and sat them out to dry. Three days ago.
The lawnmower fared no better. He'd become convinced that the small engine was infested with cockroaches, so he'd submerged it in the garden pool to drown them.
He was suddenly aware of his overwhelming craving for KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. It was as if his entire body was thrumming like a live electrical wire. He'd been picking at his skin, and now his fingers were seeking out the small scabs that littered his arms and face. His eyes bulged in their dark and sunken sockets. He reeked of urine and a little shit. The toilet had become unusable after he'd tried stuffing it with every pair of Helen's shoes that he could find. He'd taken a painful dump in one of the empty cookie boxes and stuffed it under the bathroom sink.
Greg had, for lack of better words, lost his fucking mind.
The small and somewhat logical part of his brain that remained became fixated on finding more cookies. He ransacked the house, burying his arms up to the elbow between the cushions of the couch. He crawled on his hands and knees in front of the recliner, carefully examining the plush carpet, and snatching up what few crumbs he could find. He allowed them to dissolve on his tongue and then resumed his search.
He would have died from dehydration by now, but old habits are hard to break. He had drunk almost all of the beer, but half-full cans littered the house. Whenever his eyes fell on a can, he would snatch it up and slurp greedily, his body thankful for the moisture.
When he'd finally come to the conclusion that there were no more cookies to be found, he located the telephone. Mrs. Derkins' cell phone number was printed neatly on a small card Suzy had given him, and was clinging to the refrigerator door with a magnet in the shape of a maple leaf.
Suzy's mother answered on the third ring, and when he asked for Suzy, Mrs. Derkins was taken aback. When he assured her that he was only interested in acquiring some more of those delicious cookies that her daughter had sold to him, she laughed good-naturedly and told him that the sale was over. The local chapter of Girl Scouts had sold every single box, breaking last year's record by a landslide.
He hung up the phone and began to weep.
After a few moments of sheer panic, a fuzzy idea began to form in his brain. He put on his shoes, ventured outside, and glanced up and down the block. After Suzy had left his house last week, she'd made her way down the sidewalk to peddle her cookies elsewhere. He seemed to remember that she'd led her little red wagon down his neighbor's driveway.
Hester Talbot was eighty-seven years old and had been widowed for ten of those. Spry and quick-witted, she enjoyed crossword puzzles and tuned into Wheel Of Fortune every night. She didn't receive very many visitors these days, so when Gregory Kinkaid rang her doorbell, she was somewhat confused. It was nearly eight o'clock, and she liked to be in bed by eight-thirty. She'd already slipped into her favorite nightgown and topped off Murray's food dish. (Murray was her fat tabby tomcat, a stray she'd rescued when he was a kitten.)
She made her way to the front door from the kitchen where she'd been warming up Murray's nightly saucer of cream. None of that watered-down milk for her Murray, he deserved the best.
At first, she thought that maybe she'd left the television on. She hadn't heard the doorbell ring since last week when angelic little Suzy came by and sold her four boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Hester had no intention of actually eating them, planning instead to give them away as gifts. But, just yesterday, she'd developed a hankering for something sweet, and opened one of the boxes. She'd only had two of the cookies, but she knew immediately that they were far too rich for her blood. She'd sat up until nearly midnight last night, knitting a cute little winter hat for Murray.
She hesitated, unsure if she'd been mistaken. Then it rang again.
She shuffled to the front door and stood on her tiptoes to see through the peephole. She saw Gregory Kinkaid, she didn't recognize him immediately. He looked like he'd been in a nasty fight and came out on the loser's end.
"Hello? Who's there?" She asked in a thin, reedy voice.
"Oh, hey, sorry to bother you, missus Talbot. Hey, uh, it's Gregory Kinkaid? From next door? Say, you got a moment?" He was scratching at his cheek furiously with his left hand. Something had burrowed under his skin, and it was crawling around under there.
She began to unlatch the door. "Greg? Is something wrong? It's nearly my bedtime! Are you hurt?"
"No, ma'am. Well, maybe a little, yeah. Could I have a moment, please?" His mouth had gone dry. He wished he'd brought a beer with him.
"Alright then, hold on just a moment." She backed away from the peephole and turned the deadbolt. She opened the door and was completely unprepared for what she now saw clearly. Greg stood before her, quivering, and scratching. There were open sores all over his face, some were bleeding. His hair was disheveled and thickly matted with something that resembled clay. His clothing was filthy, stained, and damp. The odors that wafted in as the door opened nearly knocked her over. He absolutely reeked. Her milky blue eyes grew wide with concern.
"Oh my goodness! Greg! What's happened? Come in and let me get a look at you. Have you been in an accident? " Her brow furrowed in concern as she backed away from the doorway to allow him to enter.
"No, no. Nothing like that at all." He stepped across the threshold and his eyes began to dart around the room. He didn't see any KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. That didn't mean she didn't have any. "Missus Talbot, I'm so sorry to barge in on you so late, but, uh, I need to ask you for your help." He tried to compose himself, yet he still quivered and thrummed, every nerve singing in desperate agony for a cookie. His eyes had begun to well up with tears, threatening to cascade down his face.
She reached out and took his shaking hands in hers. "Anything, dear! What can I do to help?"
He licked his lips, parched. "You know little Suzy Derkins? The Girl Scout? She was running around the neighborhood this past week, and, um, did she, you know, come by here at all? Maybe try to sell you some cookies? Chocolate chip cookies?"
Her eyes lit up, and she smiled broadly. "Why, yes she did! Precious little girl! So sweet. Why do you ask?"
"Well, you see, I was wondering if maybe you'd bought any from her?" He asked hopefully.
"I sure did! Four boxes to be exact!" She said, nodding.
"Four boxes! Perfect! I would like to buy them from you, could I?" His eyes were red and swollen. His nose was running. He wiped at it with the back of his sleeve.
"Oh, I'm sorry, but no, I'd rather not, Greg. They're gifts, you see. For my grandchildren. You understand?" Her eyes narrowed, suspicious.
"I could pay you double for them! Right now! Please, I promised Helen. She loves them so much! You remember Helen? She loves those cookies. I promised her, you know? She needs those cookies, right now, more than you do." His teeth were clenched tightly.
She furrowed her brow, deeply concerned and a little uncomfortable. "Gregory, I'm sorry, but no. I'm sure if you go down to the Wal-Mart tomorrow, those girls will still have plenty left. I saw the picture in the paper. A whole truckload!'
"No." He said, exasperated. "They're sold out. There's no more. Look, I don't have any cash on me right now, but tomorrow I will run down to the ATM and get some. I'll give you fifty dollars for each box! Look, you don't understand, I just have to have them. I won't take no for an answer!" He was kneading one tightly clasped fist with his other hand.
"That's about enough of this nonsense, Gregory Kinkaid! I think you've had quite enough cookies tonight, and from the smell of you, enough beer to drown a horse! Why don't' you go on home, and get some rest? You'll feel better in th-"

POW!

His fist shot out quickly and connected squarely with her nose. It made an audible crunch and blood began to pour from her like water from a tap. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed onto the floor. He stood looking down at her in utter disbelief. She was snoring, deeply. He'd knocked her unconscious.
His eyes began to dart around the room again until they found a heavy cast-iron stoking bar near the fireplace. He stepped over her, and in three long strides, he reached out and plucked it from the rack where it stood with the other tools. He turned around and tiptoed over to where she lay, frothy streams of blood and snot trickling down her cheeks.
He raised the iron bar and brought it down in a swift and heavy motion, like someone chopping wood for a campfire. It connected with her skull, and her gray hair was soon a wet mop of dark crimson. Her body convulsed, so he gave her another whack and she became still. He watched her closely for a moment, and then tossed the stoker onto her chest, and whispered softly: "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Talbot, but I need those cookies."

TO BE CONTINUED?

submitted by TheOminousDarkness to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2020.03.19 00:21 TheOminousDarkness Girl Scout Cookies

🎵 DING-DONG! 🎵
Despite the clearly labeled sign affixed to his front door meant to discourage solicitors, Gregory Kinkaid had become accustomed to salesmen and Jehovah's Witnesses that obviously couldn't take a fucking hint. However, he somehow knew his visitor that day was none of the above. He took another deep swig from a sweating can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and listened, anticipating the deep and rich tones of the doorbell ringing again. He began to whisper to himself, counting down: "Three… two..."
🎵 DING-DONG! 🎵
He arose from his threadbare plaid recliner and half walked, half stumbled to the door, knowing that when he yanked it open he would probably find a damn Girl Scout hawking her cookies. Yesterday, he'd seen a small table set up outside Wal-Mart, surrounded with little girls in their uniforms swapping boxes of thin-mints for cash. He'd successfully dodged them, but he couldn't forever. Although nothing irritated him more than unwanted company, he always answered the door on the small chance that Publisher's Clearing House would pay him a visit with an over-sized check and a television crew.
It really was hard to tell the little bitches no. They were so cute in their little uniforms, freshly pressed by their over-protective and sexually-frustrated soccer moms. He paused for a moment allowing himself another deep drag of his cigarette, unlocked the door, and pulled it open.
And there she stood, little Suzy Derkins. She was as cute as a button, how could anyone refuse her overpriced and overrated snacks?
Her curly red hair bounced as she rocked back and forth on her heels, her jade-green eyes twinkled in the bright sunlight, and she wore a smile that could melt the heart of the Devil himself. Parked next to her was a small, red wagon. It was heavily laden with boxes of various cookies.
"Hi, Mister Kinkaid, it's me, Suzy!" she said cheerfully. She brought her right hand up and gave him a little side-to-side wave that threatened to destroy him with cuteness overload.
"I know you said last year that you didn't want any cookies this year but I thought maybe since we have new cookies maybe you would like to try them and if I sell enough I can earn my badge and then I can go on the camping trip and my mom said that since your wife died I shouldn't bother you but I think you will like the new cookies!" -She said all of this in one breath, without pause. When she finished, she beamed at him with the innocence and vigor of her age, which he figured was about nine or ten.
He flicked his cigarette into the yard, turned his head and coughed, then spat over the porch railing.
"New cookies, you say?" He asked in a gravelly smoker's voice. His wife Helen had always hated his smoking, but she'd lived with it. When she'd been diagnosed with lung cancer, he'd thought it might have been his fault, but the doctors had assured him that cancer had nothing to do with his half-pack-a-day habit. Besides, he'd never smoked in the house or in the car, or anywhere near Helen for that matter. It wasn't until after she'd passed that he allowed himself to enjoy his guilty little pleasure inside. It had been almost six months since Helen had gone to meet Jesus, and he knew she was watching from Heaven so he tried to be as polite as she wanted him to be.
"Yep! And they're low-fat, too! Would you like to try one?" She batted her eyelashes at him hopefully.
"What kind of cookies are they, Suzy? Last year I got some of those caramel cookies, and I spent almost a whole day on the shi-" He stopped mid-sentence, realizing he was about to embarrass himself and this precious little girl with his recollection of an evening spent glued to the commode shitting his brains out. He backtracked quickly, stammering.
"Uh, Suzy… you know, they um… well? The thing is, you know, they uh, made me sick, sweetie. These new ones aren't going to make me sick, are they? What kind you got now?" He gestured uncomfortably towards the wagon.
"Oh! Mister Kinkaid, I'm so sorry to hear that! My daddy gets sick when he drinks too much wine, which is like, all the time." She looked at her feet as she shuffled them, and then brightened again, meeting his eyes. "These new cookies are the best! They're Koko Kookie Krunchys, and they're sooo good! I ate almost a whole box all by myself yesterday!"
He eyed her warily. "A whole box, you say? Spoiled your supper, I'd wager. You got samples?"
She giggled. "Of course! You wanna try one?"
"Yeah, why not? You're such a good saleswoman, you've talked me right into it!" He gave her a sly grin and waited as she began to rummage through the wagon. When she found the box she was looking for, he was amused to see that the Girl Scouts had upped their game. Gone was the usual bland cardboard. This package was shiny and multicolored; almost like new chrome muffler of a motorcycle that has begun to take on a rainbow-like hue. The side of the box was embossed in large, garish golden print that read: KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. Two cartoon Girl Scouts were laughing comically and high-fiving with cookies in their other hands.
Suzy fumbled with the flaps of the packaging, then offered the box to Gregory. He peered down inside and saw two neat stacks of what appeared to be miniature chocolate chip cookies. He gingerly reached inside and plucked a cookie from the plastic tray in which it had been nestled. It looked like a smaller version of the popular Chips Ahoy! cookies, and he was certain it would probably taste about the same.
He gave it a perfunctory sniff, an odd quirk that he'd picked up from his mother. He always sniffed everything before he ate or drank it, the only exception being his beer. He trusted Pabst. He tossed the cookie into his mouth and was pleasantly surprised. The texture was indeed crunchy, but not overly so. It seemed to him that some snack foods were intentionally designed to destroy the roof of your mouth. For this reason alone, he couldn't enjoy corn flakes or Doritos as Helen had.
The flavor was much more intense than he'd imagined. Instead of the dull hint of chocolate that he'd come to expect from packaged cookies, this flavor was robust and bright. The chocolate chips melted slowly, flooding his mouth with a rich sweetness that was mildly intoxicating. He chewed slowly, savoring the treat until finally he swallowed it down, licked his lips, and smiled at Suzy.
"Young lady, that is by far the best cookie I've ever had! I'll take a box right now!" He began to reach into his back pocket for his wallet. "How much?"
"These new cookies are ten dollars per box." She said. "Because they're limited edition." She said this proudly, grinning shrewdly.
"Ten dollars?! For a single box of cookies? That's outrageous!" He began to tuck his wallet back into his pocket.
"Yeah, Mister Kinkaid, I know. I've heard that a lot since we started selling them, but everyone sure does like them. I really want to go on this year's camping trip, and if I sell my share I can. Are you sure you don't want a box?" she asked breathlessly, sounding quite dejected. Her wide, green eyes seemed to be brimming with tears. Was she going to cry? Surely not. Over a box of cookies? Then she bit her bottom lip, and that made him feel like shit. He could imagine his dead wife standing beside him, scolding him for being such a cheap bastard. Hell, now that he thought about it, Helen would have probably bought two boxes. One for themselves, and one to share with her book club over tea. Besides, what was ten bucks, anyway? Christ, a meal at McDonald's costs that much, he reasoned, and a Big-Mac with fries and a Coke couldn't hold a candle to these deliciously intoxicating cookies.
"You know what, Suzy? I'll take two boxes. How's that?" He reached again for his wallet.
"Oh, wow! That's great, Mister Kinkaid! Thank you so much!" She was almost bouncing with joy as she carefully selected two of the radiant boxes from her wagon and placed them into a plastic bag with the Girl Scout logo boldly emblazoned upon it. He fished a crisp twenty-dollar bill from his wallet, and once she'd handed him the bag, he forked over the cash.
"Thank you, Mister Kinkaid! I hope you enjoy them!" She smiled broadly, and before he could respond, she turned to make her way along the sidewalk to the next house, her little red wagon trundling obediently behind her. She turned to give him a little wave as she went, and he couldn't help chuckling at the realization that sweet little Suzy had most likely just talked him into buying some cookies. Yet, he raised his own hand and waved back.
He shuffled into the kitchen and deposited one of the boxes on the counter. He broke another Pabst from its plastic collar and returned to his recliner with the cold beer and the other box of cookies. He pressed the play button on the remote and resumed the black-and-white western he'd been watching. Then he began to nibble on KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS.

---


The next morning, Gregory awoke with a massive hangover and an insatiable craving for more of those unbelievably tasty KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. He'd passed out in the recliner and was dismayed to find the crumpled remains of one of the cookie boxes on the coffee table. He picked up the box and peered inside, hoping that maybe he hadn't actually eaten all of the cookies, but knowing he had. He ventured into the kitchen on unsteady legs, remembering that he'd thrown the first empty box away, so he began to rummage through the trash thinking - no, praying – that he might find one single cookie that he might have missed. No luck.
The more time that passed, the more consumed he became with his desire, his need, for more of those fucking cookies. He threw every cupboard door open in the kitchen, delirious with the idea that maybe any cookie would suffice, but he came away empty-handed, rewarded only with some stale graham-crackers and a box of raisins that had expired back when Obama was President.
Completely contrary to logic, he walked out of his front door un-showered and wearing yesterday's wrinkled clothes. He impatiently slid behind the driver's seat of his Subaru Forrester. He knew goddamned well where to find those cookies, and that's exactly where he was going to go.
Twenty minutes later, he parked near the front doors of Wal-Mart and hastily hung his handicapped tag from the rear-view mirror. As he left the car, he caught sight of the same table that he'd seen a few days ago, and it appeared to be completely swamped with people clamoring for cookies.
He hobbled towards the table, still a little shaky from last night's overindulgence, and became one with the throng of arguing and shouting people that surrounded it. He could see through the flailing arms and angry faces that there were only a few of the shiny boxes left, and he feared that maybe he'd arrived too late. When he finally managed to work his way to the front of the crowd, he was relieved to see that there was a handsome stockpile of the cookies stacked neatly behind the girls and their mothers stationed there.
"What do you want, mister?" A pug-nosed and overweight freckle-faced girl in her early teens leered at him.
"I'd like to have five boxes of Koko Kookie Krunchys, please." He said sheepishly, feeling rather foolish.
Freckle girl nodded and smiled knowingly. "Five boxes, coming right up! Would you like a paper or plastic bag, sir?"
"Oh, um, I suppose paper is fine, thanks," he answered timidly, "better for the environment and all that." He knew that he really shouldn't be here, buying these cookies. What would Helen think of this? He quickly brushed the thought aside, reasoning that Helen would have wanted him to be happy, and knowing she'd never have denied him something as innocent as Girl Scout cookies. He reminded himself that Helen was a firm believer in donating to charities, and supporting good causes. Why, yes, she would have completely approved.
Freckle girl had neatly stacked five shiny boxes of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS into a paper bag and slid them across the table towards him. She held her hand out, palm up, and said, "That will be one hundred dollars, please!" She smiled widely, revealing teeth stained dark brown presumably from stuffing her fat little face with the cookies she was supposed to be selling. He didn't quite grasp what she'd just said to him.
"Excuse me, how much?" he asked.
"One hundred dollars, sir." Freckle girl replied impatiently.
"ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS?" He nearly shouted in reply. "Where on earth did you come up with that amount?"
"Sir, " she said impatiently, "you asked for five boxes of Koko Kookie Krunchys. They're twenty dollars per box. Five boxes at twenty dollars per box is one hundred dollars. Basic math, or don't you understand?" She waggled the fingers of her outstretched hand.
"No," he returned, "I understand, but you must be mistaken. Yesterday I bought two boxes from Suzy Derkins, and they were ten dollars per box, and if you ask me, that's highway robbery for a box of cookies." He planted his hands firmly on his hips. "They're ten dollars per box, and that's what I will pay."
"I'm sorry sir, but that was yesterday. Today, the price is twenty dollars per box." Freckles answered, amused and undeterred.
"And what makes you think anyone is going to pay twenty dollars for a box of goddamned cookies?" He shot back angrily.
"Sir, I don't appreciate your language! Now, look behind you. There's a line of people waiting for these cookies, and if you don't want them for this price, I'll be happy to sell them to someone else that will." She was now grinning menacingly, knowing she had the upper hand.
Gregory slowly turned around to see that a line of people had formed behind him. A tall, lanky man with thick eyeglasses in a cheap gray suit tapped him on the shoulder and said: "I'll take them if you don't want them. They're simply amazing! Worth every penny!"
Gregory's mouth went slack. He was dumbfounded. The craving for the cookies increased tenfold when he saw the meandering line of haggard and impatient people behind him, gawking and waiting to get their hands on his cookies. He quickly turned back to the fat freckled girl.
"Fine. I'll take them. But tell me, why has the price gone up?" He begged.
She narrowed her eyes shrewdly. "Supply and demand, sir. You demand them and we supply them. Basic economics, or don't you understand that either?"
He reluctantly tugged his wallet out of his rear pocket and tweezed two crisp fifties from inside. He placed them in her grubby little hands, returned his wallet to his pocket, and pulled the bag against his chest protectively. He stared at her for a moment and then quickly added, nearly in a whisper: "You should be ashamed of yourself!"
As he turned and began to walk away, Freckles tittered cheerfully as she waved after him, "Thank you for supporting your local Girl Scouts, sir!"
Gregory eased behind the wheel of his Subaru, but before he fastened his seat-belt he yanked a box of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS from the bag. He frantically tore open the packaging and quickly shoved three cookies into his mouth. As he chewed, he closed his eyes and moaned softly, ecstatic with the flavor of them and suddenly high on the endorphins they'd released. The rush he felt was comparable to the first orgasm he'd ever had. He began to remember it vividly as the cookies dissolved upon his tongue: He and his high school sweetheart under the bridge that passed over the creek next to the high school, her warm mouth working magic on him that he'd never imagined. When he came, his legs had quivered and he'd thought that if only he could feel like that forever then he could conquer the world. As he came back to reality and swallowed that first mushy mouthful of cookie, he was surprised and somewhat embarrassed to find that he'd become somewhat aroused. That little trouser mouse hadn't stirred in years and now, here in his car in a crowded Wal-Mart parking-lot, he felt the overwhelming desire to reach down the front of his pants and take hold of himself.
"What the flying fuck, Greg?" It was Helen.
Except, it wasn't. Not the real Helen, anyway. No, this was the Helen that sat on one shoulder, reminding him to take his pills on time, and not to drink too much or to flip off shitty drivers in shittier traffic. This was the Helen that spoke to him when he needed her the most.
"What the… Jesus, Greg." He whispered aloud. A bottle of water sat in the cup-holder, and now he seized it and unscrewed the cap. He guzzled half of it down before coming up for air. A thin sheen of sweat had broken out on his forehead, and he leaned forward in the seat and examined his face in the rear-view mirror.
He chuckled at himself. "Gregory, you sir have lost your fucking marbles!" He took a deep breath, and crammed three more cookies into his mouth before speeding home.

---


As he extricated himself from the Subaru, he brushed crumbs off of his shirt and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. From Wal-Mart to his home was only seven miles, and in that short journey he'd scarfed down an entire box of cookies. He found himself suddenly possessed with vigor and motivation. Before he knew it, he'd cleaned the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, and was busily sweeping out the garage when he was finally overcome with hunger. He glanced at his watch and found that it was nearly five in the evening. He'd been moving non-stop for nearly eight hours straight.
He hadn't felt this good in ages, and at first, he was a little shaken by the sudden burst of energy. If this were any other day he would have spent the majority of his time in the recliner, or in one of the rocking chairs on the front porch, sipping beer and swatting at houseflies. For a man of his age, the aches and pains of a rapidly deteriorating body were expected, and he hadn't been spared. But today, if he weren't nearly starving he could have kept on going until the sun had set. He leaned the broom against the wall of the garage and headed for the kitchen. As he passed through the breezeway, it occurred to him that he felt none of the usual aches and pains in his joints. In fact, he felt great. He half-joked to himself that there might be a connection between his sudden spurt of energy and those chocolate chip cookies, but of course he knew better than that.
He stood before the refrigerator, one arm perched atop the open door. His options were somewhat limited. There was leftover pizza, now three days old. A pot of chili he'd made almost a week ago that probably should have been thrown out by now. A case of Pabst with a few cans missing. Most of the time, he simply picked up something from one of the fast-food joints in town, or he'd order delivery. If only Helen were still alive, the fridge would be full of various snacks and leftovers, but he just didn't spend that much time in the kitchen. It didn't feel right to him. This was her domain.
He shut the refrigerator door and yanked open the freezer. He was hoping to find some Hot-Pockets or a Hungry-Man dinner, but there was nothing inside except two empty ice trays (he never used ice, so why bother filling them?) and some frozen venison that his neighbor had given him after he'd returned from his last hunting trip. He was hungry now, and he began to regret that he hadn't picked up some rations when he'd already been right there at Wal-Mart blowing money on stupid cookies...
He eyed the paper bag that sat on the end of the small table in the little alcove that Helen had lovingly referred to as "The Breakfast Nook." He always found the nickname kind of funny, because neither of them had spent much time enjoying breakfasts in there. Her sewing machine and skeins of cloth and a wicker-basket full of supplies occupied most of the table. Other than the paper bag full of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS, he hadn't so much as touched a single item on that table since his dear Helen had died. Looking at it now, he felt a pang of regret. They should have enjoyed some meals there. Hell, when they'd bought this house fifty years ago, she'd been so excited about it. She'd painted it salmon (he said pink) and had stenciled birds along the top edges of the walls. Above the table, he'd hung a miniature chandelier that she'd found at a yard sale not long after they'd moved in. She'd really spent a lot of time making that little niche comfortable and cute and welcoming, and he wondered now if he'd ever thanked her for it. Damn it, he missed her so much.
His stomach growled noisily, and he remembered why he'd come to the kitchen in the first place. He was hungry, and there just wasn't much to eat in the house. It appeared that a second trip to Wal-Mart was in order. He needed to take a quick shower and put on some clean clothes, but first, he needed to satisfy the emptiness in his belly. He reached down inside the bag and withdrew one of the boxes. He tore open the packaging and removed the plastic tray inside. He pinched three or maybe four (who was counting?) cookies between his fingers and shoved them into his watering mouth. As he began to chew, he desperately wished for milk, but beer would do. With a mouthful of cookies still crunching in his mouth, he returned to the fridge and yanked a can of PBR from the case. The tab popped with a satisfying psshhh! and he drained it in several deep chugs.
He tossed the can into the recycling bin, and against his better judgment returned for another beer. He cracked it open, shoved five more cookies into his mouth and chewed them hastily. Again, washing them down with cheap suds. He belched loudly, finished the beer and dashed off for the shower. An hour later he was behind the wheel of the Subaru for the second time that day. Nestled between his legs, a box of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS disappeared three at a time.
By the time he arrived, he'd completely finished the box, yet he was still insatiably hungry. He found another parking spot near the front of the store and wasn't surprised to see the same little table parked near the entrance, surrounded by cookie junkies. Determined not to fall victim to the wily Girl Scouts and their damnable wares, he decided to walk down to the other entrance. Besides, it was closer to the grocery section.
He hustled inside at a sprightly pace. The pep that the cookies provided surely wouldn't last much longer, so he figured he'd better make the most of the visit while he was there. He walked through the motion-activated sliding doors, took a few steps and then suddenly stopped. What he saw before him was bewildering beyond comprehension: Just inside, in the small area reserved for coin-operated games and soda machines, those fiendish little bitches had erected not one, but two more tables and both were clearly covered with nothing more than KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS.
The flavor and residue of the cookies he'd eaten on the way still remained on his tongue, yet his mouth began to water, much like Pavlov's dogs. People were crowded restlessly around the tables waving fistfuls of cash. He gave the table and the junkies a wide berth and made his way towards the microwaveable dinners.
By the time he finished his shopping, he'd nearly forgotten about the potential fiasco that lurked near the front doors. He simply couldn't justify spending another red cent on cookies, and as much as he'd enjoyed the spurt of energy that had come from them, he had no intention of ever buying another box. But it's no secret that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
After paying for his purchases, he continued to the exit. He could see that there were still quite a few people clustered there, so he made the rash decision to exit the store through the garden center. Yes, it was a longer walk, but what of it? He still felt rather well, and the additional exercise surely couldn't hurt.
What he hadn't anticipated was the large rental truck parked right outside the garden center doors, packed completely full with nefarious Girl Scout cookies, and a veritable platoon of young girls, all in uniform. They were literally selling cookies out of the back of the large box truck, like a street thug hawking stolen electronics.
He made his way through the throng of people that had gathered around the truck and rushed to his car. He looked over his shoulder several times, in awe of the strange sight. People were arguing, cursing, and it appeared that two younger women were squaring off to fight. What had gotten into people? Surely there was enough to go around, right? He thought about the three remaining boxes nestled comfortably in the brown paper bag at home. His mouth began to salivate, and he was suddenly overcome with a gnawing and maddening need. A need that must be met.
He released the trunk lid of his Subaru, quickly packed the groceries inside, and walked the buggy to one of the corrals near the box truck. He joined the small crowd of people and waited for his turn.
An hour later he'd finally made it to the front of the line. He wasn't the least bit concerned about the frozen (but now most likely completely thawed) microwave dinners and three piss-warm cases of beer in his trunk. All he could seem to focus on was his singular need to get his hands on those goddamned cookies. It briefly occurred to him that it would've been much faster to simply get back in the car and drive home to get his fix. But that wasn't important. What was important was that there must be a reason for the frantic demand of the cookies. Hadn't Suzy said they were a limited-edition or something? He was reminded of the McRib for some reason. He'd only tried the sandwich once in his life, and that was enough. The truth about the McRib was that it was one of the worst sandwiches that McDonald's offered, but people fucking loved it. Why was that? It was because it was only available a few times per year. And people just had to have something when they knew it wouldn't be available later. It was a phenomenon that applied to just about everything. The newest television? Gotta have it. A brand new iPhone with thirty-five cameras and a built-in coffee maker? Name your price, Apple, I'm buying it. It really was a disturbing and-
"Sir?"
He blinked in the bright sunlight, momentarily confused. A tall and skinny pimply-faced girl of about thirteen was looking at him as if he were a rack of yard-tools at the Home Depot. Her hands were planted firmly on her nearly non-existent hips, and she was sneering at him through a mouthful of dental-work that must have cost her parents a month's wages.
"Oh, uh… I'm sorry, miss. I was wool-gathering there, wasn't I?" He chuckled uncomfortably. "I do that from time to time, you see, I'm getting along in years, and it's-"
"How many do you want?" She interrupted impatiently.
"Oh! Um, I think I need, oh, I don't know. Say, are they still twenty dollars per box, like this morning?" He shifted nervously. He was normally a frugal gentleman, and between Helen's life insurance, his pension, and his social-security checks, he wasn't hurting for money. Still, twenty bucks for a box of cookies was a lot of dough. Cookie dough? he thought, grinning stupidly.
"SIR! Are you wasting my time deliberately? Look at the sign, right there, see it?" She pointed at a comically hand-lettered sheet of poster-board that had been hastily duct-taped to the side of the truck. It read: " KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS! LIMITID-EDITIEN! $50perBoX!"
Jesus Christ, he thought. Don't these kids know to spell?
"Sir! How many?" metal mouth demanded.
He reached into his back pocket and thumbed through the small bills folded neatly within. After the buggy full of groceries, he was a little strapped for cash. He counted seventeen dollars.
"I'm sorry miss, I guess I'm going to have to run to the ATM machine. Could you hold a few boxes for me?" He asked nervously, fearful of reproach for having wasted another minute of her precious time.
"Not a problem, sir. We take all major credit cards!" She smiled, her braces glinting in the sunlight. A large chunk of what could only be the remains of a cookie was lodged in between her braces and two front teeth. She gestured towards a small, hand-held card reader that sat on the table among boxes of cookies.
"Wonderful!" He said politely.

---


When he arrived home twenty minutes later, it took him five trips between the car and the house to get everything inside. He managed the bags in the trunk on the first go-round.
Gregory had purchased six cases of KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. Each case held twelve boxes. Seventy-two boxes of cookies. At fifty dollars per box. He had charged thirty-six hundred dollars to his Visa, and he was just fine with that.
The week following his excursion to Wal-Mart passed in a disjointed blur. He slept restlessly the first three nights, and then none at all since. He hadn't bathed or eaten a single microwave dinner, which was probably for the best: He'd neglected to put them in the freezer, instead carelessly tossing the bags of food onto the floor of the kitchen. The only thing that made it into the refrigerator were the cases of beer.
Exactly one week after he'd dropped nearly four grand on a carload of Girl Scout cookies, he tossed the last one into his mouth and was terrified beyond description when he did so.
The house was a disaster area. If Helen could see their quaint little home now, she'd die again, but this time from a heart attack. At first, he'd simply sat in the recliner and flipped through the television channels, munching on cookies and guzzling beer, never satisfied with whatever channel he landed upon. He was an old-school guy and didn't have the internet. He had basic cable and a few movies on DVD, and that was the extent of his entertainment. When he'd become bored with the TV, he began to disassemble anything and everything he could get his hands on.
Helen's sewing machine sat dismantled on the small table in the breakfast nook. The larger pieces were smeared with dried chocolate residue and machine oil. The smaller pieces were scattered throughout the house for safekeeping. The bobbins were in the mail-box.
The DVD player that Helen had bought him for Christmas a few years ago was now just a discarded pile of plastic and wires. Most of it sat in the bathtub.
The hood of the Subaru was propped up, and various pieces of the engine had been removed and were now languishing in the bright sunlight of his front yard. He'd spray-painted them gold, and sat them out to dry. Three days ago.
The lawnmower fared no better. He'd become convinced that the small engine was infested with cockroaches, so he'd submerged it in the garden pool to drown them.
He was suddenly aware of his overwhelming craving for KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. It was as if his entire body was thrumming like a live electrical wire. He'd been picking at his skin, and now his fingers were seeking out the small scabs that littered his arms and face. His eyes bulged in their dark and sunken sockets. He reeked of urine and a little shit. The toilet had become unusable after he'd tried stuffing it with every pair of Helen's shoes that he could find. He'd taken a painful dump in one of the empty cookie boxes and stuffed it under the bathroom sink.
Greg had, for lack of better words, lost his fucking mind.
The small and somewhat logical part of his brain that remained became fixated on finding more cookies. He ransacked the house, burying his arms up to the elbow between the cushions of the couch. He crawled on his hands and knees in front of the recliner, carefully examining the plush carpet, and snatching up what few crumbs he could find. He allowed them to dissolve on his tongue and then resumed his search.
He would have died from dehydration by now, but old habits are hard to break. He had drunk almost all of the beer, but half-full cans littered the house. Whenever his eyes fell on a can, he would snatch it up and slurp greedily, his body thankful for the moisture.
When he'd finally come to the conclusion that there were no more cookies to be found, he located the telephone. Mrs. Derkins' cell phone number was printed neatly on a small card Suzy had given him, and was clinging to the refrigerator door with a magnet in the shape of a maple leaf.
Suzy's mother answered on the third ring, and when he asked for Suzy, Mrs. Derkins was taken aback. When he assured her that he was only interested in acquiring some more of those delicious cookies that her daughter had sold to him, she laughed good-naturedly and told him that the sale was over. The local chapter of Girl Scouts had sold every single box, breaking last year's record by a landslide.
He hung up the phone and began to weep.
After a few moments of sheer panic, a fuzzy idea began to form in his brain. He put on his shoes, ventured outside, and glanced up and down the block. After Suzy had left his house last week, she'd made her way down the sidewalk to peddle her cookies elsewhere. He seemed to remember that she'd led her little red wagon down his neighbor's driveway.
Hester Talbot was eighty-seven years old and had been widowed for ten of those. Spry and quick-witted, she enjoyed crossword puzzles and tuned into Wheel Of Fortune every night. She didn't receive very many visitors these days, so when Gregory Kinkaid rang her doorbell, she was somewhat confused. It was nearly eight o'clock, and she liked to be in bed by eight-thirty. She'd already slipped into her favorite nightgown and topped off Murray's food dish. (Murray was her fat tabby tomcat, a stray she'd rescued when he was a kitten.)
She made her way to the front door from the kitchen where she'd been warming up Murray's nightly saucer of cream. None of that watered-down milk for her Murray, he deserved the best.
At first, she thought that maybe she'd left the television on. She hadn't heard the doorbell ring since last week when angelic little Suzy came by and sold her four boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Hester had no intention of actually eating them, planning instead to give them away as gifts. But, just yesterday, she'd developed a hankering for something sweet, and opened one of the boxes. She'd only had two of the cookies, but she knew immediately that they were far too rich for her blood. She'd sat up until nearly midnight last night, knitting a cute little winter hat for Murray.
She hesitated, unsure if she'd been mistaken. Then it rang again.
She shuffled to the front door and stood on her tiptoes to see through the peephole. She saw Gregory Kinkaid, she didn't recognize him immediately. He looked like he'd been in a nasty fight and came out on the loser's end.
"Hello? Who's there?" She asked in a thin, reedy voice.
"Oh, hey, sorry to bother you, missus Talbot. Hey, uh, it's Gregory Kinkaid? From next door? Say, you got a moment?" He was scratching at his cheek furiously with his left hand. Something had burrowed under his skin, and it was crawling around under there.
She began to unlatch the door. "Greg? Is something wrong? It's nearly my bedtime! Are you hurt?"
"No, ma'am. Well, maybe a little, yeah. Could I have a moment, please?" His mouth had gone dry. He wished he'd brought a beer with him.
"Alright then, hold on just a moment." She backed away from the peephole and turned the deadbolt. She opened the door and was completely unprepared for what she now saw clearly. Greg stood before her, quivering, and scratching. There were open sores all over his face, some were bleeding. His hair was disheveled and thickly matted with something that resembled clay. His clothing was filthy, stained, and damp. The odors that wafted in as the door opened nearly knocked her over. He absolutely reeked. Her milky blue eyes grew wide with concern.
"Oh my goodness! Greg! What's happened? Come in and let me get a look at you. Have you been in an accident? " Her brow furrowed in concern as she backed away from the doorway to allow him to enter.
"No, no. Nothing like that at all." He stepped across the threshold and his eyes began to dart around the room. He didn't see any KOKO KOOKIE KRUNCHYS. That didn't mean she didn't have any. "Missus Talbot, I'm so sorry to barge in on you so late, but, uh, I need to ask you for your help." He tried to compose himself, yet he still quivered and thrummed, every nerve singing in desperate agony for a cookie. His eyes had begun to well up with tears, threatening to cascade down his face.
She reached out and took his shaking hands in hers. "Anything, dear! What can I do to help?"
He licked his lips, parched. "You know little Suzy Derkins? The Girl Scout? She was running around the neighborhood this past week, and, um, did she, you know, come by here at all? Maybe try to sell you some cookies? Chocolate chip cookies?"
Her eyes lit up, and she smiled broadly. "Why, yes she did! Precious little girl! So sweet. Why do you ask?"
"Well, you see, I was wondering if maybe you'd bought any from her?" He asked hopefully.
"I sure did! Four boxes to be exact!" She said, nodding.
"Four boxes! Perfect! I would like to buy them from you, could I?" His eyes were red and swollen. His nose was running. He wiped at it with the back of his sleeve.
"Oh, I'm sorry, but no, I'd rather not, Greg. They're gifts, you see. For my grandchildren. You understand?" Her eyes narrowed, suspicious.
"I could pay you double for them! Right now! Please, I promised Helen. She loves them so much! You remember Helen? She loves those cookies. I promised her, you know? She needs those cookies, right now, more than you do." His teeth were clenched tightly.
She furrowed her brow, deeply concerned and a little uncomfortable. "Gregory, I'm sorry, but no. I'm sure if you go down to the Wal-Mart tomorrow, those girls will still have plenty left. I saw the picture in the paper. A whole truckload!'
"No." He said, exasperated. "They're sold out. There's no more. Look, I don't have any cash on me right now, but tomorrow I will run down to the ATM and get some. I'll give you fifty dollars for each box! Look, you don't understand, I just have to have them. I won't take no for an answer!" He was kneading one tightly clasped fist with his other hand.
"That's about enough of this nonsense, Gregory Kinkaid! I think you've had quite enough cookies tonight, and from the smell of you, enough beer to drown a horse! Why don't' you go on home, and get some rest? You'll feel better in th-"

POW!

His fist shot out quickly and connected squarely with her nose. It made an audible crunch and blood began to pour from her like water from a tap. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed onto the floor. He stood looking down at her in utter disbelief. She was snoring, deeply. He'd knocked her unconscious.
His eyes began to dart around the room again until they found a heavy cast-iron stoking bar near the fireplace. He stepped over her, and in three long strides, he reached out and plucked it from the rack where it stood with the other tools. He turned around and tiptoed over to where she lay, frothy streams of blood and snot trickling down her cheeks.
He raised the iron bar and brought it down in a swift and heavy motion, like someone chopping wood for a campfire. It connected with her skull, and her gray hair was soon a wet mop of dark crimson. Her body convulsed, so he gave her another whack and she became still. He watched her closely for a moment, and then tossed the stoker onto her chest, and whispered softly: "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Talbot, but I need those cookies."

TO BE CONTINUED?

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