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The scene below unfurled in slow motion. Pauley felt like she was running through quicksand, unable to get down the stairs fast enough. Tomas’ gun aimed at Stan’s head, his finger on the trigger, and she knew she was useless to help. She cried out, but Tomas never flinched. That was until Vivian came out of nowhere, like an avenging angel. A really pissed off angel.

She had seen the results of Vivian’s ministrations, but never witnessed her in the act of killing someone so up close and personal. Still, she couldn’t think of anyone who deserved it more than Tomas.

By the time she and Lenore made it down the stairs, the struggle between Tomas and Vivian was over. Pumped full of lethal toxin, Tomas succumbed to the poison quickly, but not so soon that he didn’t realize who was responsible. While he still had breath, Lenore walked over to him, and with a well-placed foot kicked him hard enough to crack ribs. Her last act of defiance was to spit on her former boss, “Podridão no inferno!”

Pauley helped Vivian to her feet, torn between making sure she was not injured and running to Stan, overwhelmed by how close he came to being shot by Tomas.

“Are you hurt?” Pauley asked her friend, but was looking to Stan.

Stan tucked his gun back into his waistband, then held out his arms and slowly turned to prove there were no bullet wounds.

“I think,” Vivian grunted as Pauley guided her to a chair. “She was talking to me.”

Pauley sat in a chair beside Vivian, and began to shake. “You two are killing me. I can’t take all this drama. What happened to just doing a job and walking away?”

Lenore walked over to Stan, and the two calmly watched Pauley and Vivian.

“Did you take care of the other two?” Stan asked Lenore, ignoring the drama unfolding between Pauley and Vivian.

“Si, Pauley and I worked well together,” Lenore kept looking over at Tomas, as if he would rise from the dead. “You and Vivian not so much.”

Stan chuckled at Lenore’s assessment. “I can guarantee, we will never work together again. You and I, though, need to talk.”

Pauley kept touching Vivian, as if trying to make sure she was still there. “Where’s Danela?” Suddenly realizing the young woman was gone.

“I told her to run to your car, and hide there until I finished your botched job,” Vivian tried to sound dismissive, but held Pauley’s hand against her arm.

Pulling out two more chairs, Stan offered one to Lenore, then sat at the kitchen table with the other women.

“We can’t stay here,” Stan said, tapping the top of the table to get Pauley and Vivian’s attention. “And, you aren’t safe in Sao Paulo, Vivian. You have to decide what you want to do now.”

“That’s unfortunate,” Vivian said, straightening her blouse. “I was beginning to really like it here.”

*Catch up with the adventures of Pauley and Vivian, beginning with “Dead Money.” The second chapter in this week’s installment is “Machine Gun Blues,” written by published author, Lance Burson.

Author: Tara R.

I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

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