Bob Pastorella lives in Southeast Texas. He's published with Outsider Writers Collective, Nefarious Muse, Troubadour 21 and his short story "To Watch Is Madness" is featured in The Zombist: Undead Western Tales Anthology. Bob is currently working on a vampire-noir novel. You can visit Bob at his blog, www.bobpastorella.com.
The fig tree was always off limits as long as Danny could remember. Mr. Katz would yell bloody murder if anyone even stepped in his yard, though the empty lot next to his house was fair game. Every summer it was scuffed up old tennis balls and aluminum bats. No one knew where the bases were except for home plate, which was a worn patch of dirt and grass as big as a car, so they used pieces of cardboard and left over roof shingles. As long as they didn’t hit any of the cars passing down nearby 25th Street, the kids could play all they wanted.
Bartel slid an unopened pack of Marlboro Lights across his desk. “I know you’re pissed. I’d be pissed too. Go on, take one. I might even join you.”
Conner stared at the cigarettes. Finally he grabbed the pack, slapped the top across his palm four times. Four was his lucky number. Four months trying to get in, and now he was there. “What about the No Smoking signs in the hall?”
Larson bounced on his toes, loosening up. Cracking his knuckles, he adjusted his neck- tie then grabbed the ends of his shirt cuffs, pulling them down.
“You look fine.” Grouse said. “Quit bouncing or you’ll start sweating.”
He bounced once more, then rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, wingtips creaking.
“Nervous?” Grouse asked.
“No. Just ready to get it over with.”
“As soon as Harris gets off the phone with his wife in there, you’re up.” Grouse reached out and straightened Larson’s lapels. “Harris is going to try and stall. You know this.” Grouse grabbed Larson’s chin, made him look right at him. “You know this. It’s all a game. Do not screw this up.”