Richard sat in his car, watching with pent-up anger as his co-workers stood in the parking lot, puffing on their cigarettes. Richard had nothing against smokers – if they wanted to kill themselves, that was their business – but he did have a problem with their second-hand smoke. It drifted past his window in great noxious clouds, forcing him to hold his breath while the poison floated by. He thought about rolling his window up, but it was nearly ninety degrees outside and his A/C was broken. He would bake.

The air inside the shop was thick with hazardous fumes that burned his nose and made him dizzy. The building’s ventilation system consisted of a single exhaust fan, its rusty blades so caked with grime they barely spun. And the company-issued particle masks were a joke. Richard’s ten-minute break was his only reprieve, his only chance to snatch a few token breaths of fresh air before heading back into the haze of acetone, paint thinner and mold release agents. And it had been enough until spring arrived and the jerks with the coffin nails climbed out of their cars and started polluting the air with carcinogens just as dangerous as the fumes he sought to escape.

Nearly as annoying as their smoke was the group’s conversations, which usually consisted of opinionated statements concerning the previous night’s football game (“The Lions need to fire Matt Millen.”), the war in Iraq (“We ought to just nuke them towel-headed fucks and get it over with.”), or – how profound – the weather (“Ain’t no such thing as global warming.”). But today, a new topic dominated their discussion – the recent disappearance of several female joggers. And even though the police suspected foul play, these morons were convinced they had it all figured out. According to them, the women (“bitches”), all of whom were married, had simply run away with other men.

As Richard watched the smoke and the ignorance spew from his co-workers’ mouths, he decided he’d had enough. It was time for the payback.

He started his car, the engine groaning and rattling in protest, and pulled out of his parking space. He drove past the small group of men to an empty spot on the other side of their vehicles, and then backed his car in and killed the engine. Now they were downwind of him. And it only took them a few moments to notice the smell. Richard giggled as he watched the men turn toward him, their faces contorted at the stench of what he had in the trunk.

Or, rather, who he had in the trunk.

And even though they all wore athletic pants, sports bras, and running shoes, it was rather obvious that they hadn’t exactly “run away” with him.

Copyright: © 2009 Chris Reed
Chris Reed lives in Davison , MI , with his wife and two children. His fiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of small press publications including Black Ink Horror, Aberrant Dreams, and Aside from writing, Chris enjoys frozen pizza, Seinfeld reruns, and hockey fights. He is also the artist/writer/creator of Used Addictions, a comic book about a cigarette butt, an empty wine bottle, and a used condom. Visit his website: