By Margi Desmond

Tiphany Locklear mashed her stiletto-clad foot on the gas, cutting off a Buick, right hand blinker on, preparing to turn into the crowded parking lot.

"Oh my," thought the Buick's elderly driver. "That young lady came out of nowhere." Mildred Powell's dear husband, Carl, had warned her to drive defensively. At an advanced age her reactions were slower. She must watch out for irresponsible, distracted drivers. Tears filled the old lady's eyes as she thought of Carl, how he'd taken such good care of her until his fatal heart attack two months ago. She made the sign of the cross and kissed the small gold crucifix hanging from a dainty chain around her neck. Grief, still fresh on her mind.

"Mom!" Nine-year-old Ollie squealed from the minivan's back seat. "You almost hit that car." He craned his neck, watching the lady who reminded him of his nana.

"No, I didn't." Tiphany scanned the parking lot in search of an empty spot. There were none. She pulled into the loading zone, killed the engine, and checked her lipstick in the rearview mirror. "Come on. I'm in a hurry."

Ollie trotted behind his mother, into the grocery store as a clerk yelled, "Hey, lady! You can't park there. You're blocking — "

The mechanical doors slid shut, muffling his protest.

A display advertised bags of seedless grapes, $1.13 per bag. Tiphany plucked a few from the nearest container and popped them into her mouth. "Mmm, these are good. Have one." She handed a grape to Ollie.

"But Mom, Ms. Pate says that's stealing."

Tiphany grabbed her son's arm, jerked him towards her, and leaned down so the tips of their noses nearly touched. "Your stupid teacher doesn't know what she's talking about. How am I supposed to tell if the grapes are any good if I don't try them?"

"The sign says there's a money-back guaran — "

"Shut your smart mouth." Tiphany turned from her son and proceeded to take clusters of grapes from one bag and add them to the bag she planned to purchase. Once she had crammed the bag to capacity, insuring the best bang for her buck, she clip-clopped toward the meat department. In the process of shoving past other shoppers, her purse knocked a display of McCormick Grill Mate seasoning rubs. The containers tumbled and rolled in various directions as they made their escape across the floor, as if scurrying in her wake.

"Mom — "

Tiphany shot Ollie the evil eye and hissed, "Shhh! They have people to clean that up."

* * *

Ollie squirmed in the seat beside his mother during the parent-teacher conference. "Your son is a bright young man," Ms. Pate said. "I certainly enjoy him being in my classroom."

"But..." Tiphany said, knowing there must be bad news to follow, otherwise why have a meeting?

"Occasionally, he hasn't completed his homework."

Tiphany turned to Ollie. "I ask you every night if you've finished your homework and you say, 'Yes.'" Ollie's cheeks grew red. He opened his mouth to speak, but Tiphany pointed her long, thick acrylic fingernail in his face. "You're a lying little bastard, like your sack of shit father."

"Ms. Locklear." Ms. Pate's posture grew visibly rigid. "Maybe name-calling isn't the best route to take."

"No, you're right," Tiphany said. "I'll beat his ass when we get home so he'll think twice next time he lies to me."

"I think you've misunderstood — "

"Oh, I understand all right. The question is, do you understand?"


"Do you have children, Ms. Pate?"


"How about a husband?"

"I'm engaged."

"Good for you. Let's hope he doesn't knock you up and leave you to raise his bastard like Ollie's sperm donor did to me."

A tear welled in Ollie's eye. He knew little about his dad. He tried to look away from his teacher to hide his shame. She leaned over and patted the child's hand. "Ollie, why don't you stand in the hall and give me a moment with your mommy, okay?"

The child nodded and walked out of the room.

Ms. Pate closed the door and returned to her seat across the desk from Tiphany. "Ms. Locklear, it's hard raising a child on your own, but you must be careful to — "

"Don't you lecture me." Tiphany slammed her fist on the desk. "Maybe if you did your job as a teacher and didn't expect me to help him at home with all that damn homework then we wouldn't be having this conversation in the first place. You work till three o'clock in the afternoon and have the summers off. I think you could at least do your stupid job for that short amount of time."

Ms. Pate took a deep breath. "Ms. Locklear, I'm not sure you understand what teachers — "

"Spare me, okay?" Tiphany stood. "Don't call me again."

Ms. Pate's phone rang. She sighed as she watched Tiphany stomp out of the classroom. The caller was her fiancé, Eric. She hitched a smile back on her face. "Hi, honey."

"I'm on my way to pick you up. How're you feeling?" Eric asked.


"That's to be expected, sweetheart. This is your first chemotherapy appointment. You're going to beat this thing, I promise."

Nobody beat pancreatic cancer, Ms. Pate thought. But maybe she'd live long enough to at least enjoy her wedding day.

* * *

Tiphany slid the second book in the latest bestselling erotic trilogy across the counter to the librarian. She couldn't wait to go home, pour a glass of wine, and get all hot and bothered with the sexcapades of the juiciest literary couple ever! It made her nether regions warm thinking about it. She handed the librarian her library card. The monitor made a beeping sound when scanned. "Oh," the librarian said, "Ms. Locklear, it looks like you still have a book checked out."


"According to our records Fifty Shades of Grey is three weeks overdue."

"No, it isn't. I checked that in weeks ago."

"Mom, it's in — " Tiphany stepped on Ollie's foot, causing him to cry out in pain.

The librarian looked at Ollie. "You okay?"

"Just check out my book, would ya?" Tiphany shoved the book closer.

"But Mom, it's on your — OUCH!" Ollie rubbed his arm where his mother had pinched him.

Two policemen approached the circulation desk. "Mary," one said to the librarian, who immediately lost all color in her face.

"You've got to be kidding me," Tiphany said, infuriated. "I turned that damn book in weeks ago!"

"Let's go in the back," the policeman said to the librarian named Mary.

Another librarian approached the desk as the policemen escorted Mary to the back. "Sorry, ma'am. I'll check you out."

"What's that all about?" Tiphany asked. "They arresting her for being a bitch? They should. She accused me of not turning in a book when I know full well that I did."

"Her husband is with the Greenville Police Department. A visit from two fellow officers is never good news."

"Oh, cry me a river. You should fire her ass for embarrassing me in front of everyone."

The librarian furrowed her eyebrows and shook her head. "She was doing her job."

"I turned in the book weeks ago and if she was doing her job then — "

"But Mom, I tried to tell you that — "

"Get in the damn car!" Tiphany shoved Ollie towards the door.

"I'll make a note on your account that indicates you returned the book, but please double check your home." The librarian slid the book across the sensor and handed it to Tiphany.

"Idiot nerd," Tiphany muttered under her breath as she stormed out the door.

Meanwhile, the two police officers informed the librarian named Mary that her husband, Sergeant Miller, was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound sustained while responding to a domestic disturbance complaint.

* * *

The traffic light turned yellow, and Tiphany floored the gas, managing to zoom through the intersection as the light turned red. Ollie clutched his seat's armrest. "Mom, I kept trying to tell you that overdue library book is in your bedroom, on your bedside table."

"And I kept trying to make you shut your stupid mouth," Tiphany said.

"Why'd you lie?"

Tiphany steered towards a gas station. "The government takes money outta my paycheck every two weeks for taxes. I'm just taking a little back. They owe me. I liked that book and might want to read it again sometime."

"But, Mom, you tried to get that lady in trouble."

"I had to make my argument look legitimate, dummy." She pulled up to a gas pump. "Make yourself useful and fill 'er up."

Young Ollie struggled with the pump while his mother remained in the driver's seat and lit a cigarette, the vehicle's engine still running. As he stood, waiting for the gas tank to fill, he noticed a familiar face behind the wheel of a Buick slowly pulling into the handicapped spot in front of the gas station. He made eye contact with the lady who looked like nana. She smiled and winked at him. He smiled and waved back. His missed Nana. She lived in Florida and Ollie hadn't seen her in over a year. His mom and Nana had a huge fight, and he wasn't allowed to even call her anymore. When she'd mailed him a birthday present last month, Mom threw it out without letting him open it. She said the "old bitch wasn't going to poison him against her." Ollie was scared to cry in front of his mom, but he did, later that night into his pillow.

Ollie finished pumping the gas and climbed into the car.

"Shit!" Tiphany said. Ollie braced himself for another tirade. "I forgot to get wine at the grocery store. I'll just run in there and grab a couple bottles. You stay here." Tiphany left Ollie in the idling car while she shoved past the old lady leaving the gas station shoppette.

Ollie watched the lady shuffle to their car. She tapped on the window and he rolled it down. "Hi, sweetheart," the lady said. "Are you okay?"

"You remind me of my grandmother," Ollie said. "I miss her."

"Did she pass?"

"No, she lives in Florida but my mom won't let me see her."

"You poor little thing." The old lady smiled. "You remind me of my grandson. He's the shining star in my life. We're very close."

"He's lucky."

"You take care, son. Things have a way of working out. Stay strong."

Ollie watched her limp away as his mother strode from the shoppette. "One more errand, then it's home to my novel and a bottle of vino." Tiphany peeled out of the gas station and headed to the post office.

"Target identified," the old lady mumbled to herself.

* * *

Tiphany parked across the street in the lot designated for Jolene's Craft Shop customers, since the post office parking lot was full. She had to return the dress she'd bought from Talbot's mail order catalogue in order to get her money back. She'd worn the beautiful dress to a cocktail party but certainly couldn't afford to keep it, so she'd send it back and get a refund. Nobody would be the wiser. She found it was a great way to wear kick-ass clothes without having to pay for them. "Stay here. I won't be long." Tiphany said to her son. Slightly nauseated by her erratic driving, Ollie welcomed the chance to sit still and try to feel better. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

Oblivious to her surroundings, Tiphany started to jaywalk across the street to the post office. The clip-clop of her stilettos gave way to a scream and wet thud. Ollie looked up to see his mom crumpled up on the road as a Buick sped around the corner.

* * *

Ollie dunked another Oreo — his fourth — into a glass of milk and crammed the soggy cookie into his mouth, a reward for his straight-A report card. "It's good to see the little fella so happy," Nana said.

"He certainly deserves it, doesn't he?" Mildred said. "Why don't you go into the den and play with your new XBOX, Ollie."

"Okey-dokey." He grinned a milk-mustached smile and trotted into the living room.

Nana shook her head in disgust. "Tiphany Locklear was one bad seed. She ran off my poor son before he got to know little Ollie."

"Is that what caused him to join the Army?"

Nana nodded. "And he came back from Iraq in a body bag. My beloved son."

Mildred patted her friend's hand. "Don't fret now. You have Ollie. Our plan was perfect. The police didn't suspect a thing. I stopped in North Carolina and paid an automotive shop to repair the damage. I played the demented granny card to a tee. You should've seen me." She placed her hands on both sides of her face. "Oh my, the deer appeared out of nowhere." Both ladies laughed. "I made the sign of the cross and started crying. Move over Helen Mirren, the Oscar for Best Actress goes to me, Mildred Powell." She posed with an imaginary statuette.

"Priceless," Nana said.

"The cop was comforting me. Ha!" The ladies toasted with a clink of their teacups.

"I hate that bimbo for forcing me to take such drastic actions, but I couldn't let poor little Ollie live with such a narcissistic tyrant oblivious to everyone and everything around her. Life brings us all hardships, but that's no reason to treat each other badly. You never know what someone is going through."

Nodding, Mildred fingered the cross hanging from her neck, gave it a kiss, and thought of dear Carl.

Margi Desmond's publishing credits include more than 100 non-fiction articles and short stories. She holds a Bachelor of Science in communication, a minor in English, and a diploma in private investigation. She facilitates a writing program for the Army Europe Library System, serves as a selector for the Colorado Book Awards, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America.

This is Ms. Desmond's fourth short story to be published on omdb! online. "Home Sweet Gnome" was published in March, 2012, "Till Death Do They Part" in November, 2012, and Big Brother" was published in January, 2013.

Copyright © 2013 Margi Desmond. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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