You're Cheatin' Heart
Submitted by David F. Chapman

Living on the streets is harder than I thought it would be.  Those wash outs, just sitting there, "got any change?"  I thought they had it easy.  I was wrong.

I've only been out here on the street for three days now, but I've already been punched in the face, hit by a car and would do anything for some food.

I've got some time before I sort things out, so I guess I could tell you what's been going on.  As best I can, anyway.  I think it must be the lack of blood sugar or something.  Dizzy and light headed.  Getting forgetful.

I've got another couple of blocks to go before I get home.  May take a little while, that car really bruised my leg good.  The grey suit that I used to have to wear for work, back when I still had that job?  Well, it's looking a little worse for wear.  I probably smell pretty rank too.  Looking forward to a shower, if that bitch isn't in there.  With him.   I'll show her.  I have my gun.  Bitch.  Kick me out onto the streets for loverboy there.  I'll show her.

Okay, so I'm not the greatest looking guy around.  I suppose you could say that I'm a bit portly.  The hair is going a bit as well.  Hell, I'm surprised I bagged a catch like her at all.  But, I guess that was some time ago now.  I didn't hang over the belt-line of my trousers so much then.  The hair was thick at the front without any signs of receding.  I wasn't so bad back then, but certainly not the kind of person you would look twice at.  Stephanie never really noticed me at high school.  I would spend all my time gazing at her, my heart swelling until I felt it would almost burst.  I used to time leaving school at the end of the day just so I would walk at the same time as her.  Not together.  Just a little bit behind her, watching her chatting to her friends.  Then, as she went off up the crescent to her home and I turned off to mine, I'd finally have gained the courage to say something.  You know, that casual, "Oh, Hi," type of comment, as if I didn't realise that it was her there all along.  As if I wasn't really watching her every move.  I'd raise my hand, and out of my mouth would come some stupid guttural sound or a stupid comment.  Needless to say that the rest of the journey home would be me berating my own stupidity.

The night of the Prom was the first time I think she really actually noticed me.  What was the name of her date?  Oh, Ian or something stupid.  Fucking loser, jock.  Feeling her up in that rented limo of his, like that was ever going to be good enough for a goddess like her.  I heard her struggling and I felt the blood drain from my face to the pit of my stomach.  I knew what I had to do and before I could stop myself I had opened the car door, grabbing him by that hired shirt and his fucking clip on tie.  I raised my hand high, balled into the tightest fist I could muster, and staggered backwards to the floor.

I never saw the hit coming, but I'm glad in the end.  She told him where he could go in the end, realising the bully he was.  It was like something out of a teen drama come true.  She stayed with me, nursed my bleeding face and listened to me for the first time.

* * *

I can't remember much after that.  The blur of the working world.  Offices, computers, phones and all that pointless shit.  The time seems to just get drained out of your life.  She said she was pregnant and wouldn't be going to college, and it was mine.  But the baby never came, some phantom or something wrong.  The marriage, the suit, and the endless grind that came with it.  Working my way up the ranks in a pointless company that seemed to specialise in moving forms and shit from one end of the office to another, and back again.  I should have had this gun then, saved all that effort and time.  Saved all this mess.

So hungry.  Anyway, that won't matter soon.  I can go home, sort things out, have a nice cool beer and some of that pepperoni pizza with the double ham and pineapple topping.  It'll be just like the old times.

Like before.

* * *

The streets are quiet again today with hardly a sound.  Not like last Tuesday was it?  Everyone had gathered out in the streets to see that comet.  In the daylight it seemed to give the sky a bright green hue that made the world shine.  The scientists said that it was perfectly safe, nothing to worry about.  They even recommended taking some time off from work to see such a once in a lifetime event.  A cosmic happening like this comes once in a lifetime.  Once in a millennia.

I did just that.  I hadn't had any time off since last Christmas, and even then it was only the one day.  I m ean, who needs these stupid pieces of paper anyway?  Fuck it I thought.  I grabbed my thermos, the cold chicken sandwiches on the slightly stale bread I slammed together before leaving this morning, and headed to the car.

Driving back it was like getting an eighteen-wheeler through a parade on the fourth of July.  The streets were lined with people just staring up at the sky.  Like it was the last day on earth or something.  I kinda hoped it would be.  The boredom of that job, hell, it would have been a nice change from the old routine. 

The other car in the drive was a surprise.  Wasn't Stephanie's.  No, this one was new to me.  Probably family come to visit her, an old cousin or something was the first thought that went through my head.  It wasn't until I went into the house and heard the shower running that my suspicions were p iqued, to say the least.  The groans that came from there were like nothing I'd ever heard before.  I mean, I knew that girls, you know, knew how to have a good time by themselves, you catch my drift?  These programmes on the TV, all releasing your inner desires or something like that.  T hat's what I figured anyway. 

Yeah, I can tell what you're thinking.  You've got it in one.  While I was thinking that I would just sort of edge in there and, you know, help her out... after all, it had been a while...  You nailed it.  Another guy.  I don't know who it was, some fuckin' labourer from some punk-assed part of town where they send the thick fucks who can't fuckin' write or nothin'.  I pulled back that shower curtain.  The look of surprise on his face.  She didn't care though.  Thought it was funny and just kept grinding away.  She didn't think it was so funny when I cracked his fucking skull with the thermos.  Present from her mother as well.  Shattered the insides, but those stainless steel ones, you know they're pretty sturdy.  Certainly screwed his head up some. 

The blood spurted all up the tiles as he slumped into the bottom of the bath.  The water was rinsing away the blood from the wound, exposing the soft grey underneath.  God.  Stephanie, of course, just screamed and screamed.  I couldn't help but laugh.  Hell of a way to go.  At least he was kinda happy.  If I had to chose, you know, that'd be the way I'd want to go.  Not with Stephanie, not after what she did.  Maybe one of those strippers from that club that opened last month.

* * *

You know, I think my leg's getting better.  It doesn't hurt much.  Not now.  

* * *

Anyway, Stephanie freaked, and called the cops.  I didn't notice, I was too busy just staring at him.  I never even knew his name.  And I took his life. 

It slowly dawned on me what I'd done, and Steph just stood there, receiver in hand screaming for the police.  Hell, that's just great, I thought.  Wasn't he enough for her?  The cops were going to have a field day, finding her standing there, naked, waving the phone at me like a gun.  She was right, of course.  I'd fucked up, big time.  The cops were on the way.  I'd killed someone.  She was right.  I had no choice but to run. 

I can't remember why, but I just dropped the thermos and stumbled out.  Th e crowds outside on the lawn where getting worse.  I guess I thought I'd make more headway in these crowds if I stayed on foot.  Blend in. 

* * *

That's why I've been out on the streets.  Living in the gutter.  Can't use my cards or the cops would trace me.  Living like an animal.

It wasn't hard keeping out of the public eye, and even easier to avoid the cops.  They all had their attention focused elsewhere.  Of course I didn't know until I walked past Dickerson's, you know, the electrical place up on Elm?  Their window is just a mass of TV's and I figured I'd go and watch the wrestling.  It was late and the streets seemed to be fairly quiet, so I wouldn't be bothered. 

'Course, the wrestling wasn't on.  It was one of those bulletins about the dead rising, you've seen them.  God, I'm so hungry.  Sorry, keep forgetting where I am, what was I saying? 

Yeah, it seems that those scientists were wrong, as usual.  All the money they put into research and stuff, and then they go and say "it's sa fe to watch the comet."  Yeah.  Seems there was something in the tail that effects tissue or something.  The dead rise from their resting place and walk around.  Bet they didn't see that one coming.  Laugh's on them.

So the cops, they figure that there should at least be a curfew to stop the carnage that is supposedly happening in the streets to a minimum.  Hell, I can't see any carnage.  It's just quiet out here.  No traffic, no noise.  Finally some peace.

* * *

Not far now, then I can introduce you to Steph.  You can see the two faced whore for what she really is.  

* * *

Anyway, it was a couple of days later that I first caught a glimpse of the dead.  You know, walking and stuff.  I was sitting down the alley off of East Finch, reading one of the papers that had been stuffed in the trash, thinking about getting some sleep, when this girl comes into view.  I use the term "girl" very loosely here.  She was this sickly color, pale and bluing around the edges.  Staggering like her legs were tied together at the knees.  It was kinda funny, really.  Then the cops showed up.  The flashing lights of the squad car startled her, and she broke into this run.  As good a run as she could make with her legs, towards them and me.  Shit, I wasn't going to hang around.  Zombies, cops, hell they were both after me.  So I ran too.  As well as my out-of-shape-thirty-something body could.

The zombie girl grabbed one of the cops and bit deep into his neck, ripping out the guy's Adam's Apple.  It was pretty gross.  The other cop ducked back into the car as I ran out into the street.  That's when I got hit by the cab.  At first I thought it was broken, my leg.  The pain was unbearable, but as you can see, I'm up and about now, so it can't have been that bad.

I was laid flat in the road, while the cabbie stopped to check I was okay.  Dumb schmuck shouldn't have been out this late anyway.  Only a real idiot stays out after curfew.  Idiots and the homeless.  Anyway, the zombie girl grabbed him by the throat and dug her fingers into the back of his scalp, ripping the skin away from the bone like she was taking some sort of grotesque mask off of the guy.  Only what was beneath was even more horrible than the expression on his face.  I'm not going to forget that in a hurry.

The other cop chickened out and started driving off, leaving his partner bleeding on the floor.  We both lay there with that same desperate look of agony, you know.  That moment when you know you are going to die, everyone in the same situation becomes your long-lost brother.  It's supposed to be like that with passengers on crashing planes or something.  You hear stories of them all realising they are going to die, people making out on the seats for that last moment of human contact.  I can't remember where I heard that.  So, this cop and I were laid there, and we knew we were going to die from this zombie chick.  She was going to eat us or whatever they do.  He reached over to his revolver that was laying on the tarmac, fumbling for what seemed like hours to grab hold of the grip.

Meanwhile, zombie girl had decided she'd had enough of the cabbie and started looking in my direction.  Okay, I confess, I screamed like a girl.  I actua lly think I had an uncontrollable bowel movement or something when her nails dug into the sore flesh of my leg.  Maybe that's why I smell so rank at the moment.  God, I want a shower.

That's when, Lord Bless him, the cop levelled his gun at her, and blew the top of her head open.  Last thing he did was save my life.  A killer.  Killing out of rage and jealousy.  But you know, even if he'd known what I'd done, I don't think he'd have done different.  As I said, in those moments, we were brothers.

I laid there a while, letting the pain numb in my leg.  Surrounded by the dead.  Then I remembered what the zombie was, and I wondered how long it would be before the ill fated cabbie, or my new brother the cop would rise from the gutter to hunt me down as food.  I managed to get to my feet, placing as little pressure on my injury as possible, and hobble away.  Maybe that's where I got the gun.  I think it must be.

* * *

Well, this is it.  My house.  This shouldn't take too long at all...

* * *

She should be around here somewhere.  Lying and cheating little whore.  I'll show her.  I'll show her I'm not to be messed with.  I loved her.  I was always there for her.  Providing for her.  I worked my ass off to keep her and feed her.  I can hear you in here, Stephanie.  Come out.  Daddy's home.

I see that her toy-boy decided to come back from the dead.  Laying there in the middle of the living room.  Still naked as he was when I clocked him.  I guess she must have taken care of him.  The circular hole in the front of his head.  She must have seen that "shoot 'em in the head" item on the news.  Don't know what she must have used for that, we never owned a gun.  But I do, now.  I have a gun, and I'm going to show her who's boss.

I can hear you in the kitchen, Stephanie.  There you are.  Now I'll show you.  I have my gun.  Stephanie.  


God...  what am I doing?  I'm sorry.  Look, I'm putting the gun down.  See?  I don't mean it.   Stephanie.  You look like you've been through hell.  I'm sorry honey.  You know I can never stay mad at you for long.  I've loved you since I saw you in school, you know we were always meant to be together.  You and me.  Always.

I love you.  What's wrong?  I won't hurt you.

Why are you screaming?

What is it?

Tell me.

* * *


"Get away from me," she screamed.  Her hand edged over the work-top, leaving trails like bleeding slugs.  On the side was the battery charged hand drill that she used on Jay.  She was so worried about the zombies outside that she forgot about the dead guy in the bathroom.  It wasn't long before she had to deal with him.  But she didn't have the stomach to move his corpse from the living room.  She decided it was probably easier if she never went in there again.  Besides, she figured that the police would need to take forensic photos once this whole epidemic died down.


The rotting form of her husband loomed ever closer.  The constant moans had increased in their ferocity when it clumsily dropped the gun.  Stephanie wondered if zombies could even use guns.  It wouldn't matter, because she knew that her beloved had never used one before, and she doubted he could ever fathom out how it worked no matter how many cop shows he'd watched.  The cathode addiction hadn't helped his life even now that he was dead.

Her fingers gripped around the yellow plastic handle of the drill, she backed up into the corner of the kitchen.  The handle of the oven door digging painfully into her thigh.  But she had to concentrate on the approaching form before her.  Limping on the stump that once held a foot in place.  The bloodied, putrescence dripping down its darkened suit pants to leave a festering trace on the linoleum.

"I'm warning you, back off or you'll go the same way.  You can't scare me.  You're dead." she shouted into his pale, dampened face.

"Uuuuuurrureureeeuugh!" it moaned, staggering closer, arms outstretched towards her.  She had no choice.  She revved the hand drill, checking it was fully charged.  Reassured, she waited for the corpse to walk close enough before jamming the drill hard up into its jaw.  The bit span and dug into the flimsy and oozing flesh, burrowing quickly into the zombie's brains.  Its head vibrating and screaming as the synapses were scrambled into a greying jelly that vomited from its face.  She pressed harder, keeping the trigger fully depressed throughout the zombie's twitching and flailing, ensuring that it really was not going to rise again, before ripping it quickly from its throat, letting the body fall to the floor.

* * *

Stephanie stood shaking in the kitchen.  The trembles were almost uncontrollable as she shuffled to the breakfast bar, tears and mucus pouring down her face.  She poured a glass of the strongest liquor she had in the house, emptying most of the bottle over the counter in her nervous condition.  Swallowing a large mouthful, she leaned against the top and stared at her husband, or rather the zombified corpse that was her husband, on the floor.  She sniffed hard, feeling her throat burn with the mix of scotch and snot.  She began rocking herself in a comforting motion as she started singing quietly, in a cracking feeble voice, an old country tune she used to know.

"Our D - I - V - O - R - C - E..."


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