Blood on the Bluegrass - Chapter One

The Palace pawnshop in Paradise, Florida, was located in a shabby strip mall catering mostly to the town’s poor and the random tourist stopping by looking for a bargain. The gaudy purple and orange décor of the building constructed to resemble a palace looked out of place nestled between a run down liquor store and a consignment clothing store. Neither was open at this hour. A palm tree leaned over the parking lot, only one stiff brown frond quivered in the still air. The heat and humidity were already an oppressive even at eight o’clock in the morning. The air seemed full of tension, and expectancy.

Joe wasn’t worried too much about being seen. A huge Santa Clause as tall as the leaning palm tree beside it blocked the view from the street. Nor could they be seen from inside the pawnshop. Joe had parked his old Cadillac behind a van that he knew must be broken down; it had sat in the same spot for weeks.

“Every Day is Christmas at The Palace” the store’s slogan read. Multicolored Christmas lights around the sign, windows, and door, blinked on and off twenty-four hours a day, every day, creating a hideous riot of color on an otherwise drab street.

Joe looked at Zoe, her brown eyes blood shot and dreamy with black eyeliner and mascara like two palmetto bugs lying on white sand. He kissed her and said, “When I get out you scoot over here and keep the motor running. If something goes wrong just tell the cops that you thought I was just here to pawn something, okay. I’m not going to let you get into trouble.” Zoe nodded.

Nervous, his legs trembled as he watched the door to The Palace. “Come on, its eight o’clock already, open the fucking door.”

“Calm down, honey.”

“There she is, Miss High-and-Mighty.” Joe said as he eyed the pretty young blond fumbling with her keys. “She always acts like she’s doing me a big fucking favor by charging me out the ass to pawn.” Melanie was her name he remembers.

“Do you think she’s pretty?”

“Pretty on the outside maybe, but as Forrest Gump might say, ‘Pretty is as pretty does.’ now you on the other hand are beautiful.”

“You’re funny.” Zoe said with her small giggle.

Pulling on his black leather gloves, Joe got out of the old beat up yellow Cadillac. He checked his loose fitting t-shirt concealing a pistol, hidden in the waistband of his baggy jeans that hung low on his hips and drooped between his legs.

“Joe, are you sure you want to do this? Someone might get hurt.”

“I’ve got it under control. Just in and out with the cash, and we’re on our way.”

The Palace was gun free. Rick, the owner, was a convicted felon himself, and could no longer buy, sell, or possess any kind of gun. Rick spent three years in Gainesville’s grey stone motel for a cocaine charge. Most pawnshops have more fire power behind the employee counter than they have out for sale. Not this one though.

Joe felt an adrenaline rush as he pushed open the door and walked in. He watched Melanie walk behind the counter. On the counter there lay a necklace with a huge ruby and diamond pendant on a heavy gold chain. A pawn slip lay beside it. Joe couldn’t imagine anyone who could own something like that needing to pawn anything. It was probably hot. Fucking Rick didn’t care. He was probably close by although Joe didn’t see his car out front. He knew there was an alarm button behind the counter as well.

“Hello Melanie, where’s Rick?” Joe said breathing in Melanie’s strong perfume.

“He’s around. What are you here to pawn this time?”

“How much could I get out of the silver in my piercings?” Joe snaked out his pierced tongue at her.


Melanie struggled to ignore the repugnance of those words. Joe made her stomach flip anyway. He was Rick’s most disgusting customer, in her mind anyway. His face covered with acne boils, and scars, a pierced nose, lip, and eyebrow. With his shaved head, whelped face, and scrawny build, he looked to Melanie like a worm that had been used again, and again, on a fisherman’s hook.

One of these days, she thought, I’m going to get a real job so I don’t have to deal with these lowlife jerks. Rick’s never going to leave his wife, and marry me anyway. After eight years of working for him, and listening to all his promises, I ought to have my head examined. She looked down at her flawlessly groomed hands, admiring the diamonds and gold momentarily forgetting her customer.

“You know we don’t buy silver.”

“Hum, let’s start all over then. You’re going to move away from the security alarm button.” Joe said as he clumsily pulled the 38 revolver from the back of his jeans. The action further loosened them, and they threatened to fall to his ankles. With a quivering unsure hand Joe aimed the gun at her. She almost laughed out loud as he tried to pull up his pants. The desperate look in his eyes stifled the laugh in her throat.

This wasn’t Melanie’s first robbery at The Palace, there’d been so many that they were almost becoming old hat to her, but this guy was dangerous. His jerky hyper movements, and drug crazed eyes scared the life out of her. Plus, how could he not know she’d be able to tell the police who had robbed them.

Joe took the necklace lying on the counter, and put it in his pocket. “We’ll start with what’s in the cash drawer, and then move on to the floor safe in Rick’s office.”

Melanie’s wee legs turned to rubber, and she couldn’t make them move. At last, with conscious effort, she backed away from the counter, and the alarm button, twisting her foot inside her red high heeled shoe, nearly falling.

Joe came behind the counter, and stuffed the contents of the cash drawer deep down his front pocket without taking his eyes off her. “Now, lead me to the floor safe.”

 Trembling so severely that she went completely numb, Melanie could hear the boy’s voice, but her conscious could not believe what he was asking her. It was as if she were in a bubble, removed from her surroundings. Her mind had already left her, and all her body would do was shake. She just stood there because she simply couldn’t move. Her stomach was flipping and she thought she just might throw up

Without warning, Joe pistol whipped her across her face. The bubble she was in burst, and so did her bladder. Warm urine ran down her panty hose, and into her red high heeled shoes.

Squeezing Melanie at the nape of her neck with his boney fingers, Joe led her into the office. “Why honey, you’ve done pissed yourself. Calm down, come in here, and open this safe for me.”

“I don’t know the combination, only Rick does. Seriously, I do not know the combination. Please don’t hurt me. The jewelry safe, I can give you what’s in the jewelry safe. There’s a lot of …”

“Shut up, I know what’s in that safe. A bunch of shit I can’t get rid of. Open the fucking floor safe bitch and do it now!” Joe’s breath in her face nearly turned her stomach.

Melanie goes back into her bubble, but sees herself flailing at Joe with her tiny fists, knowing all the while that was a mistake. She hits him on his nose scratching him with her fingers.

“Bitch!” Joe screamed more surprised than hurt.

The gun went off; the bullet hit her in the chest. She watched as her blood sprayed as if in slow motion across Joe’s white t-shirt. She felt herself falling backwards landing on top of the safe she’d never known the combination to.


  Zoe Black moved to Paradise, Florida, with her mother two months ago. Coming from Chicago where she actually had friends, she’d been plunked down here, and didn’t have a friend in the world. She knew that she would just shrivel up and die. Florida, the town, was beautiful, but everyone looked at her funny and she didn’t have a friend. All the kids in town were cliquish and preppy, and she just didn’t fit in.

Joe was the first boy she met. Hell, he was the first person in the whole damn town to give her the time of day. Zoe found him sitting on the hood of his old Cadillac in front of her house one day cleaning his nails with a knife. She felt self conscious with him at first, but over the next month or so she felt like she’d found her destiny. They shared their most intimate feelings and fears. He had told her about his stepmother who was a whore and treated him bad, and that he’d left home as soon as he was old enough to drive. She felt she knew him inside and out, and she loved him.

The first time he had tried to get in her pants she told him she was a virgin. That’s when he said he wanted to make her his bride. Zoe knew that it wasn’t real, like legal or anything, but she would be his, for better or worse. She had stolen her mothers wedding dress, and worn it that night. They smoked some crack and had wine. Joe said she looked pretty with her long brown hair put up with white flowers. She had worked, and prepared herself all day.

The only problem was that Joe was homeless. He lived for the most part in his car, occasionally crashing at his crack dealer’s place or down by the lake where the other homeless lived, but he’d found a lovely place for their wedding, a large old house downtown. She didn’t know how he had come by the place, but it was perfect.

She had been very shy that night. Joe led her to an old red velvet chaise lounge, the kind you see in old movies. He’d instructed her to lie down. It was hard in that wedding dress with all the layers of material so stiff and binding. They made out, and then he slowly undressed her. He’d started off so gentle and kind. The wedding dress seemed to float to the floor like a fluffy cloud. She remembered the kiss he gave her when he saw her naked, it took away all her inhibitions, and she knew she’d be his forever.

It was like a dream. Mesmerized by love, music, and the effects of the drugs, Joe lay her back down on the chaise. Her heart beat wildly as they began to make love. She thought she would actually get sick from the intensity. Then he had done something unexpected. He told her that he wanted them to be a part of each other in every way. While he was still inside her, he took his knife, and made a small cut on his sweaty collar bone, then did the same to her. He wanted me inside him, he had said, as he was inside her. He sucked the blood from her wound. Every nerve in her body felt alive. She felt the very essence of herself draining into him.

Then she did the same to him, and felt Joe’s soul pour into her. His blood was warm and alive with the taste of all the nutrients of life. It was the taste of good, and evil, and power. Her spirit soared from her body, and she could feel Joe’s spirit as they became one. It was pure bliss.


Zoe was so lost in her memories that she didn’t see Joe storm out of the pawnshop. He opened the passenger side door, and she was terrified by what she saw. He was covered in blood, literally soaked.

“Fucking bitch wouldn’t open the safe! Said she didn’t know the combination. She’s probably been fucking Rick for years, and the jerk never even gave it to her.” Joe pulled off his gloves. “Go, go!”

Zoe didn’t have a driver’s license, and had never driven a car before. Hell, she was only fifteen, but she put the car in drive, punched the gas pedal, and sped off, running over the grassy median in the process.

Fuming, Joe stripped off his bloody shirt, and stuffed it into a blue plastic Walmart bag then shoved it under the seat. Blood smeared on his face and Zoe wondered if it was his blood or someone else’s.

“Are you alright?” she asked as Joe frantically counted the stack of money. “What happened?”

Ignoring her, Joe said “Seven hundred, and sixty-nine dollars. That’s it. If I could’ve gotten in that safe there would’ve been thousands.”

Joe’s eyes were wild as he looked around, and behind them. “Step on it girl!”

“Damn it Joe you know I don’t know how to drive!”

“Pull over on that service road.”

Taking the curb out, they bounced, and jerked to a stop. Joe jumped out of the car, and she slid into the bloody passenger seat. He put the car in drive, and the tires screeched as he sped down the deserted service road.

“What happened?”

“I shot the cunt, that’s what happened! She hit me on the nose. I can’t believe it, only seven hundred and sixty-nine dollars.”

“Is she dead?”

“I don’t know damn it. I’m not a fucking doctor, okay?”

Zoe chewed her black fingernail polish as Joe sped down the road. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. Did this make her a murderer too, at least an accomplice she thought?

“Joe, I’m scared. I thought there weren’t anybody going to get hurt.” Zoe said hands trembling violently as she wiped blood from her arm.

“Shut the fuck up!” Joe said as he pulled over in between a stand of trees.

“But what are we going to do?”

“We’re going to torch this car, and get the fuck out of Paradise.” Joe said as he gathered his music from the car.

“What do you mean? Go where?”

Joe opened his door, and started out then turned to look at her. “We’re going to Kentucky, my lovely bride. Well, get out unless you want to burn up too.”

Legs shaking so bad she didn’t know if she could stand up, she managed to get out of the car. She had blood all over herself from sitting in the blood soaked seat.

“I don’t think I can go, Joe.”

“Fine then, stay here, and go to prison. I don’t think you understand. You’re in this with me. You’re my bride. You don’t belong to your mother anymore. It’s you and me. Now, do you have a fucking problem with that?” Joe said as he pulled two heavy gas cans from the trunk of the car.

“I don’t guess so.”

“Good, now take one of these, and help me douse this car.”



There are no messages yet
Novel / Novella
writing TaintedBlood
Author, Blood on the Bluegrass
Bookmark and Share

You must log in to rate.
This has not been rated.

Chapter One