"Last Licks" is a featured in the anthology, THE KILLER WORE CRANBERRY (mystery series) published by Untreed Reads. The book is available for purchase wherever ebooks are sold.
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I didn’t know what hit me. All of a sudden there was a thud! and a wet splat! that triggered everything to go flying everywhere—atop the sparkly crystals of the gently swaying chandelier; the steaming gravy boat that sat alongside that big, trussed up bird, half of it carved up on a platter; the beads of sweat rolling down the glass water pitcher; and even onto the cheek of this runny-nosed kid, who was sitting in a highchair across from the scene of the crime. After it happened, there was silence. Nobody moved. Nobody breathed. Every face looked at every other face, pale and stunned. But it wasn’t until one of the tall, wax tapered candles singed and launched a curly ribbon of smoke in its wake, and that snot-nosed kid started crying, that I knew things were bad. Real bad. And here I was, just a few forkfuls away from cleaning up in the betting pool.
It’s a long story that started back when we were surrounded by this oppressive darkness. There was lots of it. The two of us, Spud and me, we had been stuck in a heap for three months, covered by mounds of well-drained, moist-textured soil that smelled of clay and compost. It was a small plot of land tended by folks who had way too much time on their hands and believed in tomorrow. Every morning, noon and night, I could feel their determined footsteps trampling all over us. The ground quaked with their hard work and ambition. The heavier one wore clod-hopper boots whose soles sank into the earth like dull spikes. He got down on his knees and dimly mumbled his prayers aloud while he dug in the dirt until his fingernails turned black...